Message in a Bottle

A writing exercise about final messages.

Another wave rolled up over the sand, sending a white froth to reach for Emmett’s toes. Moisture from the damp sand soaked into the seat of his pants as he pressed the power button on the side of his phone. Slowly, it came to life, and a picture of his wife filled the screen. The top of screen showed no bars, and the digits next to the red sliver on the battery icon read three percent. He had been here twenty-seven days, and each one that passed carried away a little more hope.

Emmett’s thumb tapped the Photos icon, and his most recent pictures filled the screen. A huge wasp nest dangling under the eaves of the house before he’d sprayed it with pesticide. A shot of his cat taking over the computer desk with a scornful, “Try me,” look. The one Emmett opened, though, was the most recent picture he’d taken of his wife. She was snuggled into the blue and cream striped comforter. Sleep had left her textured curls in disarray, and with her eyes shut and full lips parted, she seemed so at peace. He’d never told her he’d captured the shot. Shandra would have gone into destructo-mode if she’d known he’d taken the picture while she slept without makeup. The thought of her chasing him around the house for the phone left a smile on Emmett’s face.

With only two percent displaying next to the red battery icon, Emmett navigated to the phone’s camera and swapped it to front facing. The ocean breeze rustled the leaves farther up the beach. A press of the red button at the bottom started the recording.

“Hey,” he said, his heart beating harder in his chest. “My name’s Emmett Lewis. I was on the Research Vessel Santina. It sank on June 14th. I survived in a lifeboat and drifted for three days until I ended up on this island. Don’t know what happened to the others. If you get this, please come find me. I’ve survived here twenty-seven days, but I don’t know how much longer I can keep this go—”

The number next to the battery icon ticked down to one percent.

Emmett’s throat clenched and it took him a couple precious seconds to find his voice once more. “Please make sure my wife, Shandra, gets this. Baby, I love you more than anything. Whatever happens, remember that. I love you so much, and I want you to be happy.”

His cheeks were wet when he ended the recording. While the phone still had power, he went into the settings and turned off the passcode. Once it was powered off, Emmett placed the phone in the plastic bag that had once held it when he rode the drifting lifeboat to shore. He sealed that bag before placing it within another and yet another, each salvaged from his meager supplies. Each held enough air to make sure the phone wouldn’t sink.

He rose from his place on the beach where the waves were lapping on the shore a little farther away with each passing minute. Drawing a deep breath, Emmett Lewis glanced once more at the phone within its layers of plastic bags. He didn’t know if this would work, but at least there was a chance that someone, someday, could get that message to his wife. With all the strength his weakened arm could summon, he threw the phone out into the receding tide. It swept further out with the next retreating wave, carrying his remaining hopes with it.

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