She found messages and put them in bottles.
She tucked them away, where they would be safe.
Messages of hope and despair bubbled in the foam. Hatreds and loves ebbed and flowed. Swirls and eddies, friendships and enmities. The powerful dreams and dark fantasies of the mighty few…and all the little dreams and the quiet, timid fantasies of the mostly harmless many.
Every last message ever lost at sea, remained at sea.
Sent with last breaths and final thoughts. Received by the sea, and only the sea. The messages swirled and flowed and ebbed and eddied and sometimes, some precious times…she would find them.
Toes sinking in golden sand as the waves flowed past her legs, she would find them. Find them in the bubbled breaths of air, glistening gold in the foam in the early morning light.
The sea cared nothing for the messages, or so she thought. Lost messages of lost souls…it cared not.
But she did.
She loved them.
All of them. She heard them - twisted whispers of hate, exclamations of great love and everything in between. She loved them all…for they were all lost. Their purpose was lost. A message undelivered to those who were meant to hear it…what a terrible fate. Lost. Until she found them.
She put them in bottles, tucking them safely away, and she resolved to help them fulfil their purpose. She sent them back out on the retreating tide.
The lost messages of lost souls, now stowed away in little glass ships, embarked on a new journey.
Perhaps one day they would finally get to where they always wanted to go.
At least now they would have a chance…
…Or so she thought.
The sea may not have cared for the messages as it swept them along within its currents, but when she dared take them from its waves, and place them in the bottles…the sea grew dark with jealousy. The sea holds what it takes.
The sea grew dark and ever darker, then came the storm. Giant clouds rolled over the sky like tanks in angry grey and eldritch green - vanguard of the assault of howitzer wind and rain like bullets.
The next morning, as the beach still heaved, the sand and water in flux…all the bottles appeared back on the shore. The sea had thrown her folly back in her face. ‘Release my messages’, the sea demanded. ‘Release them back unto me.’
She stood on the heaving shore, looking at the bottles. Little glass ships returning to the only port they’d ever known, their passengers still undelivered to their destination.
So she saved them again. Carefully, so carefully, she retrieved the bottles from the shifting sands. She could still hear the messages inside, and the hates and the loves and everything in between now sounded plaintive. Lamenting that their final purpose would never be fulfilled. They would never reach their destinations. They would never be heard by the people meant to hear them.
‘Release my messages,’ the sea repeated.
She looked down the beach, past the heaving sand and waves and saw the tree. It stood sentry, watching over the sea, battered but unmoved. She gathered all the bottles, all the messages, and placed them in the tree. She knew it would keep them safe.
The sea raged. She had taken things that belonged to it, and now she had given them to the land. It raged and stormed and spat…but all the fury of the sea could do nothing more than gently clink the bottles together, tied to the branches of the tree.
The messages of hate and love and everything in between were now chiming together, and she smiled to hear it. Chiming in the face of the sea’s fury, free of its jealous grasp at last.
Eventually, she heard something in the chimes. The jangling notes…they were the messages themselves. Transformed into strange music, discordant harmonies, released to the wind to roam the air as they wished.
Messages undelivered, yet delivered from the purgatory of the tides. Loves and hates and dreams and fantasies – not found, but no longer lost. At home in their tree by the shore, chiming harmonies in the wind, making music from nothing. And in that music, to be released to the air. Perhaps one day to be heard. To be at last delivered to those meant to hear them.
Nothing is ever found but purpose.