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Young Writers Project: You Find a Message in a Bottle and ...

Jordan Abisch listens during Ed Ramos’ algebra class at Cardigan Mountain School on Friday. Ramos’ students have done well in the annual Smart Market contest. (Rob Strong photograph)

Jordan Abisch listens during Ed Ramos’ algebra class at Cardigan Mountain School on Friday. Ramos’ students have done well in the annual Smart Market contest. (Rob Strong photograph)

Each week, Young Writers Project receives several hundred submissions from students in Vermont and New Hampshire in response to writing prompts and selects the best for publication here and in 21 other newspapers and on vpr.net. This week, we publish responses to the prompt, Bottle: You are walking along and find a message in a bottle. What does it say? Read more at youngwritersproject.org.

Message In a Bottle

I feel like sending up a flare
A bright and vivid sight
But my SOS is all locked up
In a chamber dark as night
No ships to save me from myself
Or hear my silent cries
I’m a message in a bottle
Unseen by smiling eyes
A castaway, sad and alone
No one to understand
My fears and all my worries
Are buried in the sand
But today I saw a glimmer
In the ocean, clear and blue
A bottle with a message
And the message said
“Me Too”

I wander along the shore

My feet sinking into the cool, soft sand

The morning sun peeks over the horizon

Staining the sky and the land

The morning is silent

Just the rhythmic beating of waves upon the coast

The soft whooshing reminding me

That it is this time of day I love the most

I ponder as I amble

Leaving behind a pitter-patter of footprints

Lined by a mosaic of seashells

Of varying shapes and tints

Suddenly I startle as I see something odd

Among that mosaic I see a gleam

An old bottle, buried in the sand

Sparkling from the early morning light beam

I gently dig around it

And pick it up with care

Inside I see a parchment

Should I pull it out? Do I dare?

I tip the bottle on the sand

Dumping out ages of grime and muck

Upending all its secrets

As it finally comes unstuck

A parchment ages old

Soft from weather and age

I unfurl it carefully

And look at the worn, torn page

I see a swirling script

The words of a broken-hearted man

Writing to his beloved

“Dear Anne ...”

Letting the waves push me onto the shore,
the sand sticking to my skin,
the view of the beautiful setting sun.
Midnight, a time of darkness,
when something unexpected creeps upon me.
In this a case, a bottle.
A clear, glass, floating bottle, a cork wedged in the top.
Curious me, silly me, I open it.
A slip of paper is folded inside and writing is upon it.
“Help,” the letter reads. “Help me! I’m alone, I was abandoned.
“Stuck on an island, with nothing. Please, give me the time of day.
“Let me live, with help.”
I stare, following the lines the voice in my head is reading.
“Yeah, right,” I say to myself. Sounds familiar.

Like the boy who cried wolf, only to have karma catch up to him.
The same, about to happen to me.

I look up only to see the boat sailing away.
Oh why, oh why, did I open it?

A bottle washed upon the shore in silent reverence,

Not bright nor brilliant, but dull and greenish,

Molded smooth by the waves.

There was one difference, however, on this bottle from the sea

From its brothers and cousins and relative kin,

To set it apart from the rest.


This bottle had a story, as all bottles do, but this story shone

Like the sun upon the sea, caught in the ocean flow,

Twinkling and flickering with the waves.

A bit of parchment shouted from inside the bottle loud,

A hollow sort of panicked shout, screaming to be released,

To tell its story.


Oh, Traveler! it devotedly spoke, if you get this message,

Washed upon the earth, be it sandy beach or rock cove,

Or slimy bog.

May you listen to my story!  Let me tell it to you here!

I too am a traveler, or was, many a year,

But no, not anymore.


I was walking by the beach one day, blithe without a care.

I spoke not, felt the sun upon my back and thought of nothing

But the strong salt air.

On the shore I saw a bottle, oddly green and worn and wet,

And lying in its center was a little piece of parchment,

A story of a traveler.


It’s the traveler’s fate to travel until his mind can move no more.

It’s a traveler’s heart I hand you, and I ask for you to listen

And help a poor old friend.

Sail out across the ocean as straight and true as your heart

Until you come upon an island, I will be there,

Waiting for the next traveler.


Climate Change Writing Challenge: Write about one of the biggest issues of our time, for prizes and recognition on Earth Day.

Respond in poetry or prose to one of these prompts:

1. The year is 2050. Looking back, the climate crisis was solved in the most unexpected ways. You were there for a crucial moment. What happened?

2. Do you believe the world can solve the climate crisis? Tell us why.

Due date: March 29.

More contest details at youngwritersproject.org.

Presented by YWP and Vermontivate, the sustainability game for Vermont communities.

Next Prompt

Outrageous. Write a story that begins, This is the funniest story I’ve ever heard … Alternate: Thirty-five. You wake up and you are suddenly 35 years old. What is your life like now? Due March 15.