Message in a Bottle
I pour it into me and let
the drug take its effect.
This was my grandpa’s medicine, this gin
that tastes like pine trees
and feels like needles
going down my throat.
They say alcohol is a depressant and it’s true—
the glass is always half full
until I drink it.
But to him it was something different.
Dad tells me my grandfather used it
to treat toothaches and sore throats,
and I imagine how it must feel to be sick
all of the time.
For me it helps
to bridge the void between
the living and the dead,
to feel like him when I can’t feel
near him anymore.
But with each swallow I feel less
like myself, and I wonder then
if I ever really knew him at all.
I remember the last cigarette I ever had.
I was on the porch of some shitty apartment
wearing a leather jacket like it defined me
as I watched the smoke dance into the yellow haze
of the moon. That’s when I got the call—
the results were in. Her lungs had lit up
even though she never had.
“Thank you,” I said, putting out the flame.
My throat burned, and the words
fell from my lips
Luke Bell is a senior creative writing major and professional writing minor at Ball State University. Luke is currently the lead prose editor of The Broken Plate, Ball State’s national literary magazine. This is his first publication.