The Mystery Bottle
Many years ago, my dad and I were walking along a sandbar in the Mississippi River. The river was unusually low, and there was quite a bit of detritus washed upon the sandy shoals. Mostly it was mussels and beer cans, but there were other things as well. There we found a brown glass bottle, half-full of a mysterious red liquid. The cork was solid, pushed flush with the lip of the bottle. On the bottom was the date “1847”. I picked up the mystery bottle and showed it to my dad.
“What’s in it?” I asked.
“I haven’t the slightest clue.”
We took the bottle home, rinsed it off, and stuck in on a shelf in the basement. Somehow, it came along with us on several moves. Years later, when we sold off most of our worldly goods, I found the bottle and rescued it from the auction. From then on, I kept it in my room.
The mystery bottle stayed in a storage locker while I lived in Samoa. I deemed it too delicate to move across the Pacific Ocean. But when my sister and I came back to the U.S. and cleared out the locker, the bottle went with the rest of my stuff down to Texas. Ever since then, it’s been on the shelf in my living room.
Every once in a while I pick up the mystery bottle and look at the reddish liquid within. I can’t help but wonder what’s inside. Is it the cure of cancer or the start of a zombie plague? Mostly likely it’s some useless patent medicine, perhaps diluted by water from the river. But no matter what’s inside, I like the mystery of it. It reminds me that there are many things in this world that I don’t know. The bottle keeps me humble and curious, so on my shelf it will stay for many years to come.