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The Messenger

I found a message in a bottle, once.  Not on a beach, in the woods, in a dark amber bottle with a piece of cork stuck on top.  Inside there was something hand written on old yellow ruled paper.  I opened the cork.  It had been in for years and didn’t come out easy:  there was a pop, almost a small explosion.  I gently reached my smallest fingers in the bottle and maneuvered the folded paper out the narrow opening – much easier to get in than to remove.  I unfolded it, there in the woods, while the wind blew and the leaves rustled and a small spider with long legs crawled down the tree next to me.  I had to turn the paper right side up, and blinked three times before I could make the two words out.

They said “You’re it.”

I put the paper back in the bottle, stuck the cork back in, and carried it with me back to my Corolla in the parking lot.  I drove out of the park, and I got on to the highway, and I drove past my exit.  I drove 30 hours, only stopping for gas, until I came to this field outside of Minneapolis – the last place I’d ever felt young.  I walked out, into the rising soy beans, and I dropped the bottle down, onto the ground.

Then I walked back to my car, drove to a hotel, and checked in.  I called the office to let them know I was taking personal time.  I drank at the hotel bar, met a woman, bought her whiskey, almost brought her back to my room, and fell asleep very late, very tired, and very delusional.

That was the last time, I think.  Yes, that was the last escape for me.


Benjamin Wachs has written for Village Voice Media,, and NPR among other venues.  He archives his work at

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