This story is by Evelyn Guy and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“I have to have that bottle. I will pay you whatever you ask. Just tell me how much.”
“I told you, it is not for sale –for money.”
Amber didn’t know why this particular bottle appealed to her so strongly. It was a delicate, square, amber-colored glass. It reflected all the colors of fall, the amber, oranges, reds, and yellows in its delicate blown glass. It would make an excellent addition to her collection of amber glassware and bottles. Still, there was something more. She felt as if she couldn’t survive unless she got this bottle.
“So, you really, really want this bottle?” the shop owner asked. She turned it over and over in her hands, lovingly rubbing her long slender fingers over the smooth sides, admiring the strong fall colors. She felt warmth flowing from the bottle to her very being. Just as she convinced herself it was only her imagination, she realized it was glowing with a soft amber light. It must be from the sun shining through it, she thought, never noticing that there was no sun shining through the heavy draperies at the shop window.
“You can have it, but you can’t buy it for money,” the shop owner told her. “You have to be willing to pay its special price.”
“I thought you said it was not for sale. What is its price?”
“That doesn’t mean it can’t be had for a price.” The shop owner was speaking in riddles, but Amber was willing to humor him in order to get this exquisite bottle for her collection.
“I’ll pay whatever you want. Just let me know.”
“Sometimes we think we want something at all costs, only to discover that the cost is too high. Be careful you don’t offer more than you are willing to give.”
“I’ll decide if it is too high. Just tell me what I have to pay.” Amber wished the shop owner would quit talking in proverbs and riddles.
“To own this bottle, you must give your entire will over to its owner. You must protect it at all costs, even to the expense of your life. There are only two ways to get out from under its power. You must give it to another, or destroy it in some way. But, it is not as fragile as it appears. The spirit dwelling inside it is powerful, and will direct your very will. It will do what it can to protect itself and avoid the destruction of the bottle.”
Another cryptic message, Amber thought.
As the shop owner began to wrap the bottle gently in crushed tissue and place it in a box, Amber thought about how weird he was. Maybe she wasn’t safe in here with such a weird person.
“Just remember, I warned you,” the shop owner said, as he handed the box over to Amber. Take it and go,” he said, with relief evident in his voice. There was also urgency, as if he were afraid she would change her mind.
Over the next several weeks, Amber became driven by a force she couldn’t identify. She broke off her relationship with her fiancé, Jonathan. She alienated her family members, telling them she wanted nothing else to do with them. This was so unlike her. She was a sensitive, kind-hearted person, who quaked at stomping on a pesky bug. She would never willingly hurt another, either emotionally or physically. But, she was suddenly hurting all those around her, both friends and family. It was like she was being driven by a force she couldn’t define.
Suddenly, a name began to run through her head. The name seemed to come from nowhere –Tom Martin. She couldn’t get the name out of her head. She finally did research on the internet and found out a young man by that name had been accused of kidnapping a young girl, but had been acquitted when it was decided she ran away of her own free will, with no coercion. Since the girl was near his age, there was no reason to suspect foul play. He suddenly disappeared without a trace, the report said.
Amber suddenly became intent on finding out all she could about this person whom she had never met. She stopped communicating with her friends and family, intent instead on the pursuit of this person.
It seemed the bottle had a power that did something to her gentle soul, causing a strong violent reaction toward all others. She suddenly realized she was not in control of herself. Wasn’t this what the shop owner had predicted? Amber knew there were only two things to do. She had to give the bottle to someone else or get rid of it. She made her plan. She knew she couldn’t give it to anyone else. She couldn’t curse them with the overpowering spirit. She had to destroy it in some way. She began to plan, though she couldn’t think too much about it or the bottle’s owner might intervene. She was certain the evil spirit of Tom Martin would do anything to prevent the bottle’s destruction. She carefully made her plans. The time was right. She had to do it tonight. The strong Nor’easter would enhance her efforts.
Amber walked determinedly out to the ocean and to the end of the pier. She could hear a buoy bell ringing in the distance, but it was too dark to see anything beyond the rushing foamy water. She shivered as the wind picked up, knowing the late-season Nor’easter would hit in the next few hours, and knowing this was her last chance. It was now or never. She had a few moments of doubt, thinking it was best to just give it away. A part of her thought she should just give it away. Her will seemed to be warring with the evil spirit. Her own will knew the only solution was to destroy it. She just had to destroy the power by destroying the bottle.
Amber raised her arm and held the bottle high. Its other-worldly glow, flooding her senses with the beautiful colors of fall, still mesmerized her, nearly making her forget her planned mission. She felt at war with the evil spirit.
“I must do it,” she mumbled to herself. “He must be stopped for all time.”
Amber slung the bottle far from her, out into the sea, with all the force she could manage. She listened to the tinkle of breaking glass on the rocks. She knew his hold on this world was now over. She had destroyed the bottle as the shop-keeper had indicated—by either giving it away or destroying it. She was amazed at the power the bottle held over her, making is a struggle to destroy it. But, that part of her true will remained that would not let her give it to someone else to struggle as she had in withdrawing herself from all she cared about and focusing only on the bottle.
Amber started toward the mansion, head held high, awaiting the arrival of the big Nor’easter. She had successfully stopped the evil by breaking the beautiful bottle. At last she felt her will returning. She had broken the evil spell and felt a strong urge to restore her lost relationships, especially the one with Jonathan.