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Message in a Milk Bottle

by Izabella Grace


Where are you?

I’m still on our cottage roof, but the icy water keeps rising. The Yellow River has swallowed the whole lane now, and its angry roar hurts my head. The rain bites my cheeks, like horseflies, and the stink of oil, rotting things, and churned mud slicks my throat.

What should I do? I’d swim, but you said to stay put because of the dead sheep and sharp farm equipment spinning in the tide. I could try climbing up onto the chimney. I could wait with the chattering magpies for the helicopter. Please, hurry up.

Did you find Mam and Kieran yet? Did the wooden raft get you all the way to Strandhill, or did you have to patch it up?

I checked the radio every so often, like you said, but then the batteries died. Just as the news lady warned about more torrential rain nationwide. That happened yesterday or the day before. I can’t tell. Things have gone fuzzy since you left. Everything ripples now: the air, the sky, the earth. Sleep tugs at my eyelids, and hunger stabs my belly, but I’m saving the last digestive for you. It tastes fine, if you pretend you’ve dunked it in tea.

Nothing looks like home anymore. The dark clouds hide our jagged mountain, and the fields have turned to marsh. Only the tops of the beech trees poke out of the black, churning water. The shed has gone. If I close my eyes, the roaring swallows me.

Rain seeps through my jacket and jeans, dissolving my skin and washing away my strength. The heavy sky tips and everything spins. My thoughts drip. My ponytail fizzes. My legs pour away from my body, melting like butter on hot toast. They whirl into a crystal-clear drop and plop off the slate tiles. They flow and rush with the bloated river towards the distant sea.

I miss you.

Can people eat raw birds?

Izabella Grace grew up in London but now lives with her family in rural Ireland. She still hasn’t got used to clean air, violent birdsong, and no buses. When her English teacher told her she’d make a good writer, Izabella, aged thirteen, smirked and said writing was boring. Her fiction has also appeared in Flash Fiction Online and Flash Fiction Online’s 2014 anthology.

Lead image: “Flooded Neighborhood, Cedar Rapids, IA” (via Flickr user U.S. Geological Survey)


  1. kimberly kimberly

    Brilliant I loved every word

  2. Wonderfully written story. Definitely leaves an impact.

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