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October 2013, vol 8, no 3

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Ken Jones

A Magic Bottle

Behold ! A magic bottle
now half empty
now half full

Art deco passenger saloon. Muted light on cream surfaces; mirrors; reflections; soft furnishings. An Edward Hopper picture: the few occupants stare into space; are fitfully reading; or have fallen asleep.

As the rest of the ship fills up, from time to time newcomers burst in. With its identical seating the saloon has little to say to them. Their chatter falls away; their pace slackens. For where are the best seats ? They pause. They cannot agree or decide. They gesticulate; shake heads; move about uneasily.

Excitedly, a party of three find just the right seats . So sure are they that they politely evict the solitary reader whose reposeful presence first attracted them. But soon they begin to stir, whisper, look around., and with a new found resolution they make for the exit. In the noisy, crowded entertainments area next door they slump gratefully into the only vacant seats.

As for the seats they have just so hastily left, this sudden vacancy attracts a couple becoming agitated by the agitation. They leave the seats where they had once been quietly reading. and, looking anxiously to left and right, they bustle across to dump their bags on the three vacated seats -- and leave for the entertainments area..

At last, the atmosphere eases and tranquillity fills the air again..

Left on its own
an empty bottle
fills with light