For Wren and Adi’s first Christmases, I created board books titled, “Who Love Wren?” and “Who Loves Adi?” They were pattern books with pictures of all of the people that love them. Today, these books remain among their favorites. They love to see themselves and the people they care about most and it doesn’t hurt that they know all the words.
So now that Wren is starting to read some sight words and her fifth birthday is approaching, I thought I could create a new book for her. After spending a week at the beach in Maine, I thought about using some pictures from our trip and creating another pattern book. But then, tonight as I was showering, another idea came to mind-an idea inspired by our trip started to grow in my mind.
I thought this might be the perfect place to begin a draft…
Message in a Bottle
“Wren! Let’s look for treasure,” Maverick yelled to me as he grabbed a beach bucket and headed towards the ocean. Maverick is my cousin. We’re almost like twins. Our birthdays are just six days apart. We were at our Mimi and Poppy’s beach house. We go together every summer and we love to collect beach treasure like special rocks, seashells, and seaglass.
“Wait for me!” I shouted as I quickly scanned the sand to find a bucket of my own. I grabbed the first bucket I saw and hurried to catch up to Maverick.
We walked along the shore, waves crashing at feet and our eyes glued to the sand, looking for the most perfect stones and shells. When something caught our eye, we’d hold it up to examine it, studying the shape and color in the bright sun. If it passed the test, into the bucket it went. Treasure.
“Look at this one, ” I called to Maverick as I ran to show him a shiny round rock that looked almost like a golden egg. Maverick was bent over his own treasure, studying something in the sand.
“What’s that?” I asked as I bent to see what he had found.
“A bottle,” Maverick replied. “I think there is a message inside.”
I tried to get a closer look but as I reached for the bottle, Maverick pulled it away and skipped back to our beach blanket where our moms were sitting. I followed behind wondering how I could have missed that. Why hadn’t I seen that bottle first?
Back at the blanket, Maverick’s mom carefully removed the message as he hovered over her shoulder. “What does it say? What does it say?” he repeated as I watched from a distance.
“Fences become ladders. We all have the heart of a child” his mom read.
“Awesome!” Maverick shouted as he grabbed the bottle back and started to run down the beach to show his brothers.
“It must be your lucky day!” my mom called after him as I headed back to the beach in the opposite direction. I wanted it to be my lucky day too. I was on a mission to find my own message in a bottle.
I walked up and down the beach, every once in a while looking up to see what Maverick was doing. Each time he was busy showing off his bottle and reading the message to anyone that passed by. “Show off,” I whispered to myself as my eyes filled with tears.
“What are you doing down here all by yourself?” my mom asked as came up behind me. I quickly wiped away the tears and kept walking, eyes on the sand.
“I’m looking for a message in a bottle,” I grumbled.
“Oh, Wrenny,” my mom said as she put her hand on my shoulder. “Those are really rare and hard to find. Actually, you can’t just find a message in a bottle. It has to find you.”
My tears spilled over again as my mom hugged me in close. It didn’t seem fair.
All week, Maverick’s message in a bottle sat on the kitchen counter like a trophy…his trophy. And every day when we went to the beach, I secretly kept my eyes open for my own bottle even though my mom’s words, “It has to find you,” kept playing in my mind.
On our final day at the beach house, my mom handed me a small brown paper bag. “What’s this?” I asked as I peeked inside. It was a small glass bottle, similar to the one Maverick had found on the beach. Only this bottle was brand new and obviously came from a store. “I saw this in a little shop today and thought it might cheer you up.”
“I don’t want this,” I blurted out, shoving the bag back at my mom.
Later that night, I saw the bag on my dresser. My mom must have left it there for me. I pulled the bottle out and just stared at it. It didn’t feel as special as Maverick’s bottle. It hadn’t really found me.
Suddenly, I knew just what to do. I pulled out my sketchbook and colored pencils and got to work.
The next day, I woke up with the sun and ran to find my mom. I found her sitting out on the porch, drinking her coffee. “Can we go down to the beach one last time before we leave?” I asked. “I have something I need to do.”
As we made our way down the path leading to the sand, I held my mom’s hand with one hand and the bottle in my other. I lead my mom down to the water where I gave the bottle one more squeeze before tossing it into the waves.
“I hope it finds someone special,” I whispered.
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life. I started the Slice of Life challenge in March of 2017. I was inspired by the community of writers that I found. So I have continued to “Slice” every Tuesday. You can find out more and read other Slices here.