I couldn't possibly have known as I sat there reading my book and sipping my iced coffee that warm summer Saturday how the phone call I was about to receive was going to turn my life upside-down and inside-out. I was happy, content even. Life was fine, the kids were fine, even work was fine. Everything was rolling merrily along for a change. Looking back, I suppose I should have known. Nothing that idyllic ever lasts. It's just foreshadowing, that peaches and cream scene in the beginning of a made-for-tv movie when you just know that fate has a real doozie in store for them. And this one? It was a whopper alright. If I hadn't lived it myself I would never believe it.
But I didn't know any of this yet. I still thought my plan for the day involved curling up on the couch with a good book and drinking coffee, a few games of Shoots and Ladders, and possibly take-out Thai food for dinner.
I had just gotten to the part of the book where the plot starts to really come together and threaten to sweep you away when the phone rang. It was my friend Marcie. Lovable but ditzy Marcie. The one with the grand idea you simply MUST listen to, the Big Plan that will put her disastrous love life back on track, the get rich quick scheme that can't possibly lose. Yes, that Marcie. I smiled. Whatever her story was, it was as sure to be as completely without basis as it was ridiculous. It would probably be good for a laugh though, and whatever it was it would definitely be entertaining.
I picked up the phone.
Hi Marcie... Not much, just sitting here reading... You were where? The beach? That must have been nice, it's a good day for it... Hang on, slow down. You found a WHAT? WHERE? No really, what did you find?... Marcie, that's ridiculous, people stopped using bottles to send messages a hundred years ago. Castaways these days just call on their cellphone and a few hours later the cavalry arrives to swoop them up. End of story. No one writes a desperate plea for help inside a bottle...
No, you most certainly should not go running off to look for him. You don't even know where to start, and anyway, it's probably some 15-year-old's idea of a prank. What do you mean there's a map? And a reward offered? Marcie, this is ridiculous. Even for you this is ridiculous.
What? Yeah. Of course I'll come along. I don't believe a word of this bottle nonsense, but if you insist on setting off on this wild goose chase someone has to keep you out of trouble along the way, to make sure you don't try to sail to Cyprus on a wooden raft or get kidnapped by a roving band of smugglers or something else equally naive.
I threw a few sandwiches together, grabbed my wallet and camera (just in case she conveniently fell off a dock or got herself covered in bright blue whipped cream or something else equally photogenic - you never know when the next photo op might present itself when you're out with Marcie). I said goodbye to my family and started to leave. Hang on, on second thought I'd better grab a spare t-shirt and a change of underwear. This is Marcie after all. Who knows what kind of hare-brained scheme this will turn out to be. I gave my husband and kids another kiss and headed for the door, calling out "see you guys later, have a good day".
I had no idea that it would be 3 months before I was home again.
Look here to see what could have been inside that bottle.