I sat at the shore, watching the water come and go. Beside me sat a basket filled with bottles, each one containing a note about my past and my secrets.
Something’s wrong with me, one said.
It broke me, said another.
I can’t forgive myself for it.
No one can ever know.
For years, I kept the bottles in the cellar, lined up neatly on a shelf. I often thought about letting them go. Sometimes I’d take them down and store them in a box only to pull them out moments later. I buried them once. I didn’t make it inside before rushing back to dig them up. And on a long winter night, I knelt by the fire ready to burn them all. The fire burned out before I could bring myself to do it.
I brought them to the sea that day to say goodbye. I’d been there before. Many times, actually. Each time hoping that would be the day I had the courage to release them. Each time, watching the waves move in and away and leaving at sunset with my basket full.
But on that day, I had a plan. I would toss them out before I had time to change my mind.
I flung them into the sea and shouted to the water, “Take this and this and this. Take them all far, far away from me.”
The sea took them with gentle hands as I looked on, catching my breath. And I panicked.
What have I done?
I dashed into the water to retrieve them. I fought against the waves that pushed me back to the shore and watched, helpless, as the bottles bobbed out of sight. Every last one disappeared.
I spent the afternoon pacing the shore, digging in the sand, hoping to discover one that I’d missed. I found a bit of sea glass but nothing more.
When the sky grew dark, I returned home. Home felt unfamiliar now. I crept to the cellar and ran my fingers along the shelves where my collection once stood. I slept beneath the empty shelves that night.
In the morning, I returned to the sea to resume my search, hoping to take it back somehow. Bottles lined the shore.
I filled my arms with them, and carried them back to my basket. The bottles were cool and comforting to hold. Relief washed over me.
I sat at the shore and thanked the waves for bringing my bottles back. I opened one to remember what I’d salvaged.
Truth is your name, it said.
I opened another.
Peace is your name.
Joy is your name.
Serenity is your name.
Hope is your name.
The last stated simply, Love, Child. Love.
I spent the afternoon watching the sun set over the water and contemplating what had taken place. Where there was fear now was love. I couldn’t explain it any more than I could deny it.
When the sky grew dark, I packed up my basket and carried it home.