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Gulf (standard:Inspirational stories, 3950 words)
Author: OrraloonAdded: Jan 11 2004Views/Reads: 1786/1081Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Based on a real incident in the late seventies, this tale examines relationships between two families of differing classes and cultures, brought together by a million-to-one chance - a message in a bottle. But ARE they so different?
 



1981 MARGATE, ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY, USA. 

Anita looks up from her lawyer's letter.  "But I am interested Hon! 
It's just I have a divorce settlement to deal with, you know - 
important life or death things?  Tell me again angel - you went twenty 
miles offshore and threw a Coke bottle into the ocean?" 

"The whole class did, Mom –last year!  A school project, don't you
remember?  Maybe I should've gone with dad.  At least he listened to me 
- sometimes." 

"Yeah, if you could catch him sober.  You're fourteen years old,
Marilyn.  For goodness sake, try to act your age!  O.K.  So how many 
messages were found?" 

"Six, that's all, and most of them had only travelled a few miles down
the coast.  A fisherman at Key Largo, Florida answered Julie Brogan's 
message.  I bet her father drove down there and threw another one in 
the water, just so she could win the prize.  Mine is still out in the 
Atlantic, I guess." 

"Well, you just tell them to wait.  If Julie's took that long to reach
Florida, I guess yours could be on its way to Japan..." 

"No Mom, not Japan.  It couldn't...”  She switches her pretty dimpled
smile on, then off.  “Oh, never mind." 

1985. INVERNAVER, SUTHERLAND, SCOTLAND. 

Kirsty Morrison lays her washing basket on the ground.  "It's a while
since I've seen one o' them," she says, holding the clear but roughened 
glass bottle up to the sunlight.  She disentangles it from the flotsam 
her brother has raked off the field. 

"Well, I can tell you this, it seemed damned determined to come ashore. 
I've been throwin' it back into the sea for months, but it won't go 
away.  I was feart it might get broken and cut the sheep." 

By the back door of his cottage, on his small area of arable land, known
in Scotland as a croft, Murdo has unloaded a wheelbarrow laden with 
pieces of wood and tree bark.  In a county whose terrain is mainly 
heather moorland, bereft of trees, such material is coveted as kindling 
for the peat fire.  He has collected the debris from a line of dried 
seaweed, deposited within his perimeter fence by the high tide.  In 
order to protect his livestock, he has also gathered up plastic bottles 
and other non-perishable refuse. 

"Oh, but look Murdo - it's sealed and it looks like there's something
inside it.  Would it be a letter from a shipwrecked sailor on a desert 
island, d'you think?" 

The crofter straightens up, his large hands massaging his back muscles. 
The smile on his dark, weather-beaten features is frivolously mocking.  
"Well, I was reading there's a warm current flows all the way here from 
the Gulf o' Mexico.  You'd be surprised at the weird stuff comes ashore 
some days, but I haven't found any desperate young bachelors so far." 

She pushes him off balance with the palm of her hand.  "Maybe, but hope
springs eternal for the lonely old maid." 

He places a hand on his sister's shoulder.  "Oh, Kirsty.  You're still a
fine lookin' woman and you've had plenty chances to get wed, if you'd 
wanted to.  If you ask me, you're too fussy." 

"Nobody's askin' you and what if I am?  I'd rather be a spinster in my
own home than a slave in somebody else's.  All the same, that doesn't 
mean I'm willing to be housekeeper to you for the rest o' my days, and 
I wouldn't say no to a wee bit o' excitement now and then.  Fat chance 
o' that 'though." 

Kirsty's words seem to unsettle her brother.  "Sometimes we have to make
the best o' what we have..." 

"You think so, do you lad?"  Kirsty counters, "Jean's been gone a good
five years now; its about time you started lookin' to your own future.  


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