Thursday, 9 August 2007

THE BOTTLE by Brian Hodgkinson

(The assignment was to describe an object so the emotional state of the narrator (point of view/character) is revealed without telling the reader what the emotional state is or what motivated the "said" state.)

It’s a beautiful bottle, really.

Not one of your conventionally-shaped round-shouldered red wine bottles.

Nor one of those slender tapering ones that white wine usually comes in.
Nor is it one of those saddle-shaped, hip-pocket-fitting flask sorts which normally contain spirits.

No, it’s so unusual, with a very narrow pouring neck and a slight profiling of the body, just at the right place to hold it when filling a glass.

You might almost think it would be unstable; it’s so narrow and seemingly weightless.
I’ve often seen his hands holding it, just at that right place for holding.

And the narrowness of the pouring neck seemed always perfect for the delicate way in which he filled the glass.

The colour? It doesn’t have a colour; really, it’s virtually transparent, except that it always took on the colour of the liquid within it, transforming even that with a variety of rainbow shades which were so elusive as he swirled it before pouring.

Pouring so often.

But, of course, I don’t see him pouring these days.

Not now he’s gone.

It just sits on the drinks trolley, along with the other, ordinary bottles.

So much more refined than the other, ordinary bottles.

In the same way that he always seemed so much more refined than the other, ordinary men.

Except in his alcoholism.

The label, you ask?

I don’t know, really, it’s just oval-shaped, with red lettering on a sort of ivory-coloured background.

But I can’t read it – it’s in a script which is unintelligible to me.

He could read it, of course, it wasn’t unintelligible to him.

He used sometimes to read it out to me, strange-sounding words in a difficult dialect sort of voice.

And laugh.

Laugh because I said that it was all Greek to me.

It is all Greek, he would say, and laugh again, pouring another glass, holding the delicate bottle in his delicate hands, watching the rainbow-filled liquid fill the glass.

It’s a miracle that the bottle didn’t break when he dropped it.

Dropped it on the hard tiled floor when he clutched at his heart, called my name in a sort of strangled way, and died.

I remember picking up the bottle and thinking “why didn’t it break?”
His heart broke.

My heart broke.

But the bottle didn’t.

Isn’t it strange?

Brian Hodgkinson ©

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