A Friend's Words
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A tall girl walked along the shore of the beach carrying a green glass bottle. Inside the bottle was a note she wrote. She walked into the water and threw the bottle as far as she could.

She had done this countless times over the past few years, and every time the bottle returned to her in the next day with another note from someone she had come to think of as a friend.

The girl returned home to wait for the message from her friend. She collected copies of the notes she has received inside a USB drive and thrown away the physical copies so as to not attract her parents’ attention.

As the girl went to bed, she wondered about the place her friend lives in and about what she must be like. She has received notes describing everything from the weather and the plants to the people and animals. All of these varied in description but seemed to have come from a child’s mind. The girl had a hard time believing most of what she was told, but then again, she had exchanged messages like this for the last few years. Sometimes she suspected that none of that was true, and that she was simply the victim of a prank or the correspondent of a person with a troubled mind and too much free time.

She fell asleep and dreamed of the possibility of visiting another world.

The next day’s first rays of sunshine touched the girl’s face through the window of her room. She opened her eyes and looked around, trying to remember her dream. She could recall crossing the ocean on the back of a rainbow colored dolphin and reaching a gigantic island-city in the middle of nowhere. She flew through streets and saw curved, pastel colored houses and people selling everything from dancing plants to a baby’s first laughter. The dream ended as she touched the knob of the front door of a house that she knew belonged to her friend.

Still somewhat sleepy, the girl got up from her bed and noticed that it was still 6:30 in the morning. She knew her parents were still sleeping, so she changed her clothes and went down the stairs from her room quietly. She left the house and headed straight to the beach to see if the bottle had returned.

Sure enough, it was there when she arrived, just like always. She ran excitedly and grabbed the bottle from the sand. She used the bottle opener she brought with her and took out a rolled up paper, a necklace and some seeds from inside the bottle. She unrolled it and read the message, written with what seemed to be a typewriter.

Hi Jane. So, you are turning fifteen? That’s great! Happy birthday to you! About your question regarding what kind of things I saw people selling during this year’s Rebirth Celebration, it was wonderful! There were these sweet red fruits called holiboms that fill your mouth with smoke that you can spit out and then control their shapes and directions with your thoughts. There were also emerald sculptures for decorating lawns, several types of horned ice beasts from the Frozen South, necklaces made of large seeds which you could ask to paint with any drawing you wanted and many pop-up books with tiny sound machines.

I also saw people from some of the poorer neighborhoods helping each other pay for some products by making a spectacle a few days before. They gathered in a plaza and reenacted the Third Great War’s final conflict in the Wild Daimojo Plains. The people interpreting the Warrok army wore leather masks and some home-made armor painted so well that it looked it was made of real steel! I almost cried during the scene in which they showed the soldiers of the various regions mourning their fallen comrades.

These were the new things I saw. The rest you know, although I didn't see anyone selling those dancing flowers you said you liked so much. They say the gardens where they grow those were attacked by fire bats. They have been reproducing like crazy lately, but no one knows why. Some think it has something to do with the smoke released by the lightning works. That hasn't been confirmed, however. I don't know much about chemistry, so I can't tell you if that is plausible or not, but if it's true, the government should create a law forbidding their use, or at least demanding new formulas. Those damn bats are harming the businesses and crops of everyone, and safety should come before fun, don't you think?

Inside the bottle is one the necklaces I told you about. You said you like flowers, so I got one with flower drawings for your birthday. There are also some seeds and instructions for you to grow your own holibom tree. Well, that's all. Until next time!

Jane rolled up the note and put it back inside the bottle. She hurried back home and added the new note to her pen drive and stored away her birthday gifts. She quickly wrote a response and put it inside the bottle. She then went back to the beach and tossed it into the ocean. Since it was a Saturday, she returned home and went back to sleep.

The bottle drifted through the ocean for some time before disappearing. It reappeared on the red shores of another world's beach. An old woman walked up to it an picked it up. She opened it and unrolled the note.

Hi Gedril! Thank you for wishing me a happy birthday and giving me this wonderful gift! This year's Rebirth Celebration sounds like it was a lot of fun! I'm just sad to know they aren't selling the dancing flowers. I agree with you, they really should make those laws if that is true. My parents are taking me to Disneyland this year to commemorate my fifteen years! Once we come back, I'll send you some pictures of Disneyland.

The old woman smiled and put the note back inside the bottle. She returned to her S-shaped, blue and pink house on a street filled with similar letter shaped homes covered in pastel colors.
She opened the front door and went to the room where she kept all of Jane's letters, organized neatly by date. She wrote a response, threw the bottle into the ocean and went back to her home.

The old woman then went to her kitchen and prepared some tea. Someone knocked on her door.
She went to answer it and was greeted by two identical men equipped from head to toe in fishing gear.

"Well, hi Galbo and Ridnim! Going to watch some birds, I presume?" She laughed at her own joke.

"Nope! Good guess, though!" replied the man on the left.

"We're going to the Beauties' Lake to fish. Wanna come with us?" invited the man on the right.

"Oh, I am sorry boys, but it'll be dark soon, and you know what the night's air does to me."

The men looked at each other and sighed simultaneously.

"Really, Gedril?" asked the man on the right. "You don't have to stay for the whole trip if you don't want to. You can leave any time you want. Let's catch at least one fish!" he insisted.

"I'd love to, but today is the last day I have to return some books I haven't finished, and I don't want to pay any fines," said Gedril.

"Ok then. We'll invite you to go fishing during the morning next time," said the man on the left.

"Of course, that sounds much better," answered Gedril.

"Alright then. We're leaving."

"Have fun with your books."

The men turned around and walked away, once again simultaneously.

Gedril closed the door. This was not the first time she had been invited to something she couldn't go to due to her condition, and it wouldn't be the last. She sighed and returned to the kitchen to finish her tea. After she was done, she picked up a history book, sat on an armchair and started reading.

As she read, she could see the day's light slowly starting to go away. She felt nervous and read faster to finish the book. She didn't make it, however, and had to leave her house and go to the library. She returned the book without talking much to the librarians and returned home as fast as possible. When she arrived, Gedril was sweating and panting. She looked at her wrist watch. It was 6:57 in the afternoon.

She locked all the doors, closed the curtains, took off her clothes, went to her room and waited. Only three minutes left until it started like it did every day.

When the room's watch hit 7:00, Gedril began to feel it. She started to convulse and sweat intensely. She felt an itch through her whole body, as if ants were crawling over her. Long strand of purple hair came out of her skin. Soon, Gedril was covered in so much purple hair that she looked like an overgrown, human shitzu.

Gedril slowly opened her eyes and looked around. There would be a lot of hair to clean up the next day.

She picked up another book and sat on an armchair. She carefully opened it and flipped the pages, having a bit of difficulty due to her hairy fingers. She read until she felt tired and went to bed.

The next day, Gedril woke up as a normal person, as she always did. She cleaned up the hair, went to the beach and saw the bottle on the sand. She picked it up and read the note.

It was from Jane. It said that she and her family had some problems and couldn't go to Disneyland this time, so there were no pictures. Gedril replied as she usually did. This cycle repeated itself for several days. Gedril noted something strange about the notes she received. Jane started asking questions that she normally wouldn't and used words that she didn't before.

Little did Gedril know, Jane no longer remembered anything about her. Jane had forgotten to follow the instructions for the holibom trees thoroughly one day. The tree ripped itself from the soil and started walking around on its roots through the neighborhood, alerting a group of strange men who came to Jane's house asking about the bottle.

A year passed without any messages for Gedril. The people she met during her daily activities noticed the missing playful spark in her eyes. When they asked if something was wrong, Gedril insisted that she was fine. She eventually stopped participating in the weekly chess and poker games with her neighbors. When she was invited to the wedding of a baker's daughter, she accepted, even though she only wanted to stay inside her house. When the daughter and her husband finally kissed each other, Gedril cried again. She told people it was because she was happy for them.

One day, while walking through the streets as she usually did, Gedril arrived at a port. She decided to stay and watch the men work and the ships come and go. She wondered if they would ever let her inside one of those ships and take her to wherever it was that Jane lived. Gedril knew it was impossible, however, and soon went back to her home.

She read some books without much interest, trying to push away her painful thoughts. The night came and she went to sleep. Gedril dreamed that she was in a new and wonderful world. In this world, she finally met Jane and all of her friends and family. They didn't even mind it when Gedril showed them her condition.

They would remain only dreams.

Gedril woke up with the sun's first rays touching her face. She didn't want to get up. She didn't want to do anything. Unfortunately, she remembered that she had remained in her house for so many days that she really needed to go to the grocery. She got up without any energy in her movements and left the house. After buying what she needed Gedril went back home and sat in her armchair.

For some time she couldn't count, Gedril simply remained there and thought. She began to feel as if someone was squeezing her heart and the tears began to fall. She sobbed and convulsed as the tears kept falling. Without the will to do anything but sleep, she went to bed.

This would repeat for the following weeks, and Gedril's health would slowly deteriorate. One day she began manifesting worrying symptoms. She went to a doctor, who told Gedril that she had a brain tumor and that she probably wouldn't live more than a month.

Gedril left the hospital with her spirit crushed and went back home. She thought of something Jane had once told her. "Our time on this world is short, and we never know when our last day will be". These words kept repeating themselves inside her head, until she could take it no more and made a decision. She would not go as someone who had surrendered to sorrow. She went looking for people who needed help in any way and eventually found a charity center. She worked there for the following month and quickly made many friends.

One day, while returning from the center at night, Gedril felt a strange sensation inside her head. She called all the friends and family she had and thanked them for all they had done for her.

She went to sleep and silently passed away.

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