The Message

Angry waves crashed across the rocks along the shore. High tide fast approached.

Cora pulled herself from her spot in the itchy sand, dusting off her legs. She wiggled her
painted toes in the gritty earth. The pedicure had been a graduation gift from her mom. Just
before she’d been shipped off to spend the summer with her grandmother.

The ocean is magical, her grandmother would say.

She sighed. Magic or not, living at the beach for the summer was overrated.

Another wave crashed a little closer. She was just about to turn and head inside but
stopped.

Light glinted along the shoreline. Something bobbed in the shallow waves. Water sloshed
her legs as her feet slapped the wet beach to retrieve the object.

A bottle. Green glass. Something from an antique shop?

There was paper inside.

She gasped. A message in a bottle!

Cora popped the cork and slipped the note free. The paper was yellowed and crackled as
she unfolded it. Large bold cursive filled the page.

My dearest Cora. I’ve thought of nothing but you these past two weeks. The time we spent
together were the happiest days of my life. You are my sunrise, my sunset. My every thought rests
with you. Wait for me, my love. —J

She bit her lip. There was only one other person who had that name, and she had lived
here her entire life. Grandma Cora.

Cora raced inside the beach house. “Grandma!” She ran to the back bedroom where her
grandmother folded laundry. “I found a note written to you!”

Her grandmother startled. “What’s this?”

She took the note from Cora, scanning it two, three times. The color drained from her
face.

She handed it back. “This can’t be for me.”

Cora frowned. “But who else would it be for?”

Her grandmother huffed a laugh. “We are not the only Cora’s in this world.” She turned
back to her work, tucking a loose bit of white hair behind her ear.

On instinct, Cora tucked her ginger colored hair behind her own ear. The same hue her
grandmother once wore, decades prior. Another trait Cora shared with her grandmother.

Cora slunk from the room. Her grandmother’s words didn’t quite ring true. But did it
matter?

With nothing else to do, she decided to have some fun.

She quickly jotted down a reply.

J, I miss you, too. I long to hold you in my arms, to be held by you. Come home to me, my
love. — Your Cora.

She corked the bottle. Running out the door, she splashed into the ocean, tossing the
bottle. It drifted into the shadows of the sea.

Did her reply make sense? Maybe not. But it was fun to imagine this mysterious Cora’s
long lost love would somehow find the reply.

The next morning she awoke early. With (once again) nothing much to do, she dressed
and headed out for her morning beach stroll.

Cora wasn’t ten minutes into her walk before she saw a familiar sparkle in the waves. Her
chest squeezed tight. Could it be? She ran to the bottle—the same bottle—another note inside.

Most likely her note. Her shoulders dropped. Still, she uncorked the bottle to look.

Her jaw fell open.

This was a brand new missive! From the same author, the mysterious J.

Once more he spoke to Cora and his undying love for her.

Who was this J and how had her note reached him somewhere beyond the sea?

Cora licked her lips, then raced back inside the house.

For the next several days the pattern continued. Cora stuffed the bottle with a note, tossed
the bottle into the sea, then retrieved it the next morning, complete with a return note. Each
epistle was longer than the last.

It was surreal how this was actually happening, so she ignored logic and focused on the
romance of it all.

A story slowly unfolded. Of a love between J and Cora, of their separation from one
another. Of his promise to return to her someday.

The whole affair made young Cora’s heart flutter with each return letter.

After a week of this unusual courtship, she brought the letters to her grandmother, eager
to get her opinion on such drama.

“Grandma, I have something to show you.” She spilled the letters onto the dining table,
where her namesake sat shelling peas.

“Yes?”

“Remember that bottle I found? I wrote the person back.”

Her grandmother stilled. “What’s that?”

Cora smiled and melted into the chair beside her. “I wrote the person back. And they
have written me back, as well!” She nibbled her lip. “I’ve been pretending to be someone else,
probably not a fair thing to do to the sender. But still…look at all the notes!”

Grandma Cora lifted a letter, scanning the text. One after another, she read the loving
words written by J. Tears glistened in her eyes.

Young Cora furrowed her brow. “Grandma?”

Her grandmother sighed. “I knew a man once, by the name of Joshua. He was the love of
my life. Became a sailor in the war. We planned to marry.”

Cora swallowed. “But you married grandpa instead.” Her heart twisted at the mention of
her late-grandfather. “Could this be the same Joshua? Writing to win you back after all these
years?”

The girl jumped to her feet, excitement flooding through her. She snatched the letters,
ready to write Joshua back, to bring him back into her grandmother’s life.

The elder Cora raised a hand. “No, my dear. I’m afraid that isn’t possible.”

“Why not?” Cora sat back down.

Her grandmother gave her a sad smile. She picked up the letters, held them to her heart.

“Because, sweetheart. He never came home.”

Cora’s face softened. “But grandma, don’t you see? The bottle…the messages…he never
truly left. You were right. The ocean is magic, bringing his love back to you.”

Her grandma paused, then nodded. “The sea has finally given him back to me.”


Laura Zimmerman
Laura L. Zimmerman is a homeschooling mom to three daughters and a doting wife to one husband. Besides writing, she is passionate about loving Jesus, singing loudly, snuggling her cats and pretending to do yoga.

An avid coffee drinker, she gave up eating meat fifteen years ago and is a sucker for anything zombie related. She’s been married to her Mr. Darcy for 21 years and feels it’s her life goal to pass along her obsession with the Star Wars saga on to her offspring.

She loves to read sci-fi and fantasy for YA and MG, which in turn, bleeds through to her writing. (Watch your back: She occasionally writes horror, too!)

You can connect with her through Facebook and Twitter, or on her website.