The Boy In The Bottle.

The storm flickered and flashed on the horizon and the boy watched its nebulous fingers crawl toward him from inside his bottle. The dark sheen of night was punctured, violated by each flash of the lightning and it sparked across the outside of the glass. The boy placed his hand against the inside, slightly worn by his contact over the years and he was surprised he could feel no heat, so bright was the storms spark. The bottle was on the table, outside on the balcony, a small well carved into the table’s surface within which the base of the bottle could be placed. The boy squatted inside, a centimetre of space between his skin and the glass about him and looked out at the coastline that lay beneath the balcony. The rumble of thunder shook the world around him and the sky began to fill with the body of the storm.

Where normally there would be the sound of birds and the tide crashing against the beach there was silence, all hushed by the coming of a purer form of nature and the boy felt a tinge of excitement, a flash of what the storm itself promised. He felt imbued with electricity himself, as if the storm only existed to mirror an essence of those below. Did nature mirror him or did he mirror nature? He did not know, but as he placed his fingers to his lips he felt a spark leap from his skin onto his tongue.

Once, a dragonfly had perched upon the outside of his bottle and had spent many an hour travelling its surfaces, wallowing in its geography as the boy watched it with as much curiosity as it watched him. It was inconceivable, the form of that dragonfly, its body and movement alien and untranslatable to what the boy knew. How could something so different share the same state of life as he? How could two such disparate species share the same existence? Eventually, the boy’s caretaker wandered out onto the balcony and shooed the dragonfly away and it never returned, perhaps scared by the caretakers action or perhaps satiated in its study of the boy. Either way, the caretaker left no doubt as to his appreciation of nature.

He was inside at the moment, the caretaker, watching television and breathing in the chemical airs that he always did of an evening, unaware of the rolling thunder that roared and bellowed across the sky towards them. Mostly he was unaware of anything and would occasionally fulfil his duties by polishing the glass of the boy’s bottle and releasing the stale air from within through the nozzle attached. Other than that he was careless with his time and did nothing that interested the boy’s position of confined witness. He had hoped for a more engaging caretaker, someone more flamboyant and full of colour who could stimulate his sense more and allow him a vista of personage rather than the random showings of nature itself. The boy wished for human scenery, a landscape of moods and expressions that could fill the emptiness of his own inexperience. Yet all he had was a vegetable in a uniform and the whims of his surroundings. Tonight though it was enough and it provided a good showing of itself, as wild and unkempt as the boy’s own ragged feelings wished to be.

It hung above the balcony now, the storm and it stretched itself out fully, convulsing in its own light and sound and pissing its rains down upon the earth. It blew its icy breath hard and whipped the leaves from the trees and the trees from their roots and threw the waters of the ocean below until they ran pure white. The bottle rattled in its holding and the boy felt his pallid, sweating skin slap against the glass that confined him until red welts rose up upon his surface and he felt excited and scared all at once, realising that there was no difference between the two. He lurched to one side then the other as the bottle tipped and shuddered, helpless against the whirling tide of wind and the boy, prompted by the happening, threw his whole weight to one side. The bottle held for a second, balanced on one edge before it toppled over and the boy’s whole world lurched and heaved sideways. He felt himself crash against the inside of the glass and swayed back and forth as the great glass bottle slowly began to roll toward the edge of the table. Then it fell, seemingly held in mid air for a moment before crashing to the floor of the balcony and shattering into a great crowd of shards. The boy felt them scatter all about him and his deformed, twisted body stretched and arced as the winds rolled their breath about him and the rain baptised his skin. The lightning lit him up as if heralding his escape and the thunder blew trumpets, great cacophonous drones that heralded his arrival. A great sound of his own rose up within him, a huge yawping cry that bellowed as much in triumph as it did in pain and his muscles moved of their own volition as if it was the first time. Tears streaked his face, mixing with those of the storm and realising that it was only a matter of time before the sounds of breaking glass worked their way through the caretakers drug addled stupor and into his ear, the boy began to crawl. There was no thought as to where, just the instinct of his new found movement and the ache of limbs clamoring for the horizon.

He heaved his useless form to the edge and looked to the swirling foam of the waters below, his body drenched and his heart swelling out of his chest. With little thought to consequence he gripped his fingers to the side of the balcony and threw himself over its edge, flailing and bellowing as he fell into the waters and disappeared deep into their depths.

When the storm passed all that was left of it was the stain of its downpour, the tearing of the trees and the broken glass of the balcony. The waters calmed, the trees again swayed in sweet relief and the birds returned to their branches. No dragonfly’s returned to the balcony and when the glass was finally swept from its surface there was no trace that the boy or the bottle had ever been there.


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