Message in a Bottle

‘They didn’t make it’, she remarked, lifting the bottle from the table and pouring. Waving it in front of Christian’s eyes, Serena jabbed a finger at the label willing the monochrome sketch of the chateau to jog his memory. ‘I tell you, they didn’t make it.’

‘They did Sweetie, you know they did.’ Christian smiled benevolently, noticing, not for the first time, how his wife tossed her hair to accentuate a point.

‘No, that bottle definitely came from the Maranteille Vineyard, not the Blanchard like this one.’ That toss again.

‘I distinctly remember. We bought all those on the middle shelf, along with that cheeky little sparkling number we had on Christmas Eve, from Blanchard,’ Christian turned up the benevolence.

‘No, You’re wrong’. It wasn’t the first time during the past 14 years she’d jabbed her finger towards his face.

‘But Sweetie, I’m surprised you think you can remember anything about our visit to Blanchard, seeing as you were pissed as a newt. By the time we’d finished the tasting, I had to pour you back in the car.’

As always, the ‘Sweetie’ grated on Serena’s independence and intelligence. Christian knew it would. He sensed this was very swiftly developing into one of their extended bickering sessions. She never used to argue. Not for the first few years, anyway. Never mind, he knew how to close her down, if needs be. He clenched and unclenched his fist a few times.

‘Why can’t you ever admit you’re wrong, Christian? We’re not likely to find out, the bottle went out with yesterday’s recycling.’ How had she ever found him attractive? Even the moustache she’d once thought so sophisticated now just looked pretentious. That really said it all.

‘Now, now, Sweetie. Come and sit down, have a nice drink of water and you’ll feel better. It’s never any fun being in the wrong.’

It had been the same ever since their wedding. She remembered how small he had made her feel when she had pronounced ‘Moet’ incorrectly at the reception, how he had criticised her driving on the way to the ferry and how she had been ridiculed for wanting to visit the Bayeux Tapestry. She had stood her ground and had sensed an immediate change in his mood; charm had turned to sulky; sulky to moody, moody to snappy and snappy to downright aggressive.

(This is a piece I wrote at one of our Crediton Creative Writers Group sessions. The exercise was to write a short narrative beginning with the words ‘They didn’t make it’. The obvious approach to the story would be something along the lines of a team of adventurers who had disappeared in the desert or similar. I attempted to put a different slant on the words.)

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