Editor’s Note: This piece may have been restricted to 400 words, but its grotesque imagery and wonderfully eerie tone knows no limit. It is haunting and mysterious, but most importantly, it stood out to us as the most unique interpretation of a “message in a bottle” in that it shows how you may not always want to know the answer to the message in the bottle…
-Bailey Tulloch, R2 Monthly Contest Committee Head
My First Wife
By Moez Dawood
She could feel blood slowly drowning her. Cold skin framed her, pressing with the force of an ocean. She had just been wearing her wedding dress, free and lively, celebrating a new chapter of happiness. Now, she was naked, enclosed but alive, and slowly withering.
Lily wished for a beautiful day, but instead, her wedding would be during a storm. Dave did not care - as long their love stood strong.
Lily was a florist. She thought of today as a sunflower: on the inside is a glowing beauty, revealed only during full bloom, but on the outside is a grotesque, prickly shell for a plant.
Both Lily and Dave were previously married. Lily’s marriage to a lawyer had a predictable dreadful ending. Dave was a pathologist and had married a pathologist. Their love of the postmortem united them. Unfortunately, Dave’s first wife disappeared shortly after their wedding. No resolution was reached. Distraught yet determined, Dave strived forward. One year later, he was marrying Lily. Lily admired Dave for this thick-skinned demeanor – it made her feel protected.
Later with calmer weather, Lily and Dave drank champagne and overlooked the sunset on the harbor. A serene blanket of sea interrupted by a singular glow. A shiny sliver of silver on a dark expanse, like a diamond on black velvet. Lily’s heart was exploding at the beauty, but Dave interrupted, “So Lily, I had an interesting autopsy several months ago.”
Caught off guard, Lily mustered, “Oh. That is good.”
“When I examined her bowels, I found a half-digested note.”
“That is odd.”
“Miraculously, the handwriting was legible.”
“What did it say?”
“Her husband’s name. She repeatedly wrote his name on the paper and swallowed it.”
“That is actually kind of romantic.”
“She wanted a closeness with her lover, so she swallowed him whole!”
“The case washed in from this harbor,” gestured Dave. Lily studied Dave. She thought he looked different.
“A human body found within another human body,” continued Dave.
“I do not understand?” responded Lily.
“The inside body was identified to be female,” glancing at Lily, “She had been buried alive inside of a dead person and thrown into the river. However, she was trapped inside a body, so she did not die immediately.”
Shattered glass and spilled champagne at Lily’s feet preceded one word: “Who?”
“My first wife. My name was on that paper.”
March Prompt: “Happenstance”
We welcome everyone to submit a piece! Email a short story or poem up to 400 words in length to email@example.com. Winners receive a $25 Coffeehouse gift card!
Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.