Story in a Bottle Contest—2019

We invited you to imagine a bottle riding the waves of the ocean until it finally washes ashore, where someone discovers the bottle, pulls out a cork, and...there is a message inside.

We asked you to tell us what the message says in 27 words or fewer.

Illustration by Claire Tomasi #alittleclaireity

Here we present the winner and finalists:


The floodwater licks the roof. The chimney is our last remaining refuge. We have no boat. No rescue in sight. God save our souls. -Louisiana, August 2005

Marina Stevenson
Harrisonburg, Virginia


This is your lucky day. I am a banker with 17 million USD in an unused account. Email: [email protected] for details on how to collect.

Allan Air
Shanghai, China

I’m alone on a forgotten island. I found this bottle on the beach with a genie trapped inside. On reflection I should have wished for a boat.

Martin Egginton
Willenhall, Great Britain

John, sorry for pushing you out of the boat. My mortgage trumps your royal flush. I promise to stop gambling. Hope you find an island.

Veneese Ipler
Stuttgart, Germany

I know the sign says "No Refills", but I didn't know if that was a company-wide policy or just regional. Please respond at your earliest convenience.

Matt Harrah
Hopedale, Ohio