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Message in a Bottle

by jbergz8495


“You should be lucky,” were the words Joanie heard every single day. “Not everybody can say that they’ve been zapped by the lab ray and been changed so dramatically.”

     But Joanie did not feel lucky.

     These words were spoken by her mother, a lithe, magnificent spotted Lupe and the biggest in the family. Her mother was once an amazing student of the all-powerful Techo Master when she lived in Mystery Island and still had the muscles from back in the day. Joanie had no muscles to speak of.

     Joanie was created a green Chia. She always thought it strange that her mother, a Lupe, decided to have a daughter that was a Chia, since Lupes were most well known for relentlessly snacking on them. When she was only a few days old, her mother took her to her first (and last) trip to the Lab Ray. Joanie remembered that day like it was yesterday. Her entire body was trembling and her mother was whispering softly in her ear, “Don’t worry, honey. It won’t hurt a bit.”

     It did hurt. Not as much as Joanie had expected, but her mother still didn’t have to lie like that.

     When Joanie saw her mother’s shocked face in front of her after her zap, she demanded to know immediately what had happened to her. The lab scientist gave Joanie a hand mirror but Joanie felt it too heavy to hold. The scientist held the mirror for Joanie when she complained about its weight and Joanie saw something small and green in front of her.

     On her first trip to the lab ray, where a change of color was rarer than winning any money at that darn Wheel of Excitement, Joanie had been turned grape.

     Of course, her mother went crazy. At first, Joanie thought her mother was upset, but it was actually the exact opposite. “You look so adorable!” her mother squealed. Joanie never thought those words would come out of her rough and tough mother’s mouth. “We need to get you some smaller clothes, don’t we!” She grabbed Joanie’s hand, something she had never done, and it took all of Joanie’s willpower to not snatch away.

     “C’mon, darling,” said her mother in a voice that seemed too high to come out of her mouth. It was like she was talking to a child. Joanie was only a little smaller, right? It wasn’t like her intelligence was erased.


     Seven years since that horrible lab ray zap, Joanie had never been back no matter how many times she begged her mother.

     Seven years since that horrible lab ray zap, Joanie collapsed her bed crying almost every day after school. It wasn’t her fault that she was smaller than everybody else! She was a grape Chia, for goodness sakes! But she heard the insults from a mile away. “Shrimp” wasn’t so bad, but “midget” and “munchkin”... munchkin was the worst. And the people who threatened to step on her. Joanie shivered as she imagined rubber soles of tennis shoes comes towards her head.

     One particularly normal day, the teasing had become too much. She ran into her room after school, omitted all homework, and grabbed a pencil and a piece of paper from her desk drawer.

     “Sign on this paper and pass it on if you feel like the world is too big for a speck like you.”

     That was the one sentence she wrote. Then she folded the paper into four quarters and found the glass bottle she kept underneath her bed, just in case.

     The idea of messages in a bottle always intrigued her. A person could just write a little message, seal it in a bottle, and only wonder who was going to read it. Maybe no one would ever read it. Maybe everybody would. Joanie once found a glass bottle on the street and kept it until that day, in case she needed to vent out her feelings to the ocean and whoever was on the other side of it.

     Joanie kissed the piece of notebook paper, stuffed it in the bottle, and closed it shut with a cork that she had also saved for that very purpose. Now all she had to do was drop the bottle on the shores of Neopia Central.


     A blue Bruce dressed in his warmest outerwear dipped his feet in the icy cold water. He didn’t care that it was below freezing. Maybe the entire Terror Mountain ocean would freeze and he could practice his ice skating in peace.

     It wasn’t his fault he was a Bruce and didn’t know how to skate.

     Both of his parents were champion skaters and they expected their child to inherit their abilities. Boy, were they wrong. The poor Bruce could not even stand up for two seconds without falling flat on his behind.

     His parents didn’t even talk to him anymore. This was competition season for the ice skaters and their son was the only Bruce not competing. What a shame to the family he was!

     Suddenly, the Bruce saw something peculiar floating in the water. It seemed to be a bottle sealed with a cork. He strained his eyes. There was a message in it! Quickly he fished the bottle out of the water and unfolded the message inside.

     Even quicker he searched for a pen inside his winter coat pockets and signed his signature underneath that sentence so powerful it made him spill tear stains on the paper. Then he released the bottle and watched it drift away.


     A young light Faerie sat on a cloud above the ocean and rested her chin in her hands. She didn’t even care that she was skipping school. What good was school anyway? All people did was look down upon her because she couldn’t do magic.

     It wasn’t her fault that her magical abilities hadn’t shown through yet.

     She had no friends because all of the groups at school spent their time flitting about and practicing spells. She sniffed. Nobody liked her.

     She strained her eyes over the ocean. Was that something in the water?

     The Faerie flew down and splashed clumsily into the water. “Great,” she said. “Something else I can’t do. Fly.” But she did see something near her. It was a bottle with a piece of paper inside.

     Within five seconds, the message was opened, read, signed, and sent on its way again.


     “What do you mean you’ve never been to the Kelp restaurant?” a Maraquan Acara said to her friend.

     “I guess my parents can’t afford it,” said the Maraquan Kougra swimming next to her. She twirled her paw around her tail. “We can’t afford much. Plus I don’t really going to places where a lot of people are.”

     “Well, you’re really missing out,” said the Acara. She turned around and saw another group of girls she knew. “Hey! Tasha! Lacey! Wait up!”

     The Acara swam away and the Kougra was left alone. The Acara had been her friend for years because their parents were friends. Unfortunately, the Acara managed to make other friends and the Kougra had not.

     She swam to her Neohome in silence. Why did everybody hate her? Why could she never fit in?

     Her eyes fixed upon something floating on the surface.

     I guess you can suspect what this Maraquan Kougra saw. And what she signed her signature upon.


     A few days passed and Joanie’s heart hurt. She thought the release of that bottle would be miraculous, like a weight lifting off of her shoulders, but she was wrong. It seemed like a weight was added.

     Her only solace was the beach, which she visited every day. She loved the crashing of the waves against her toes and the salt on her face.

     One particularly normal day, Joanie was sitting in the sand wishing that she could be as big as a wave. Waves aren’t scared of anything because they’re so big. Nothing could ever hurt them.

     Suddenly, a huge wave crashed against the tide pools and sand. Something drifted next to her body. A bottle. With a slightly crumpled and smudged note inside.

     Joanie held her breath and opened the bottle.

     “Sign on this paper and pass it on if you feel like the world is too big for a speck like you.”

     And underneath, three signatures of three people Joanie did not know.

     The weight lifted off of her shoulders.

     She was big enough to do something with her life. She was big enough to connect four random strangers through a simple message in a bottle. She fit just fine in the world, not a tiny speck at all. She could actually do something.

     Joanie walked away from the beach whistling, feeling as if she were twenty feet tall, tall enough to surpass even the largest wave. And the message in the bottle was left in the sand, waiting for somebody else to find it and pass it on.

The End

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