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  • My boyfriend and I were in Venice on Tuesday on the kind of holiday a poor student can almost afford. It was our last night and we had not much money left, so we sat down after dinner in our chill spot on some steps by a canal and pondered what to do with the evening. We had planned on getting some cocktails and getting a bit drunk on our last night but this was no longer an option. So eventually I came up with the idea of going for an early evening water bus ride. On the way to the water bus stop Dave spied a bottle of wine selling in a shop window for eight euros, so we bought it, and unsure if alcohol was allowed on Venetian public transport, he held it behind his back as we negotiated our way aboard the first boat to come along, which was bobbing up and down violently. Sat on the open seats at the back of the boat, we stoically drank half of the vinegary wine in huge gulps and watched the last rays of the evening sun glancing off the rippling canals. As the boat swung out into the open lagoon a panorama of burnished orange melding into velvety twilight blue seemed to bring us into the concluding epic scene of our Venetian Holiday movie. We tried to capture it on camera but they came off all Hollywood and not at all as beautiful as in real life. The sun had gone down and the lagoon had deepened almost to black when we decided to get off. The boat had arrived in Piazza San Marco. We had been there earlier in the day under an unforgiving sun and I had been engrossed in drinking in the Doge's palace, St. Mark's Basilica and the Clock Tower. But now it was the atmosphere which was arresting. It was all waxy orange light reflected in the water, gothic gondola-shaped shadows moving silently through the canals and odd strains of classical music heard through the low murmur of human voices. Dave and I sat down next to a canal which was parallel to the Bridge of Sighs, or Ponte dei Sospiri; so called because from this bridge is where the recently convicted to life imprisonment would glimpse their last sight of Venice, and supposedly sigh at this beautiful but fleeting view before being taken down into the prisons. We finished our wine and chatted as I sketched the Santa Maria della Salute church in the distance and a gondola in the foreground. A deep operatic voice resonated suddenly from out of sight and drew nearer as a gondola slunk under Il Ponte. People clapped and whistled as a triumphant looking Gondolier emerged, stripe clad and ribbon boatered. Dave was waiting for me to finish my sketch and toying with the empty wine bottle.
    'You know what would be cool? If we put a message in this bottle and dropped it in the canal here.'
    ''Yeah, but the locals might be angry and think we're littering' I worried. But the idea had taken hold of me. Like many borne from boredom, it was a good one. 'Let's drop it in at that canal we were at earlier.'
    We set about thinking of things to write on it. Being drawn to things like detective novels, fairy tales and stories involving pirates, I was very keen. We came up with a few messages, laughing for a long time about how funny it would be if we simply wrote, 'you're a twat.' Haha. But then Dave said something like, ' say yes'. I was thinking about how it would be a message from strangers to a stranger, and then this rhyme presented itself in my head;

    'From stranger to stranger, a piece of advice,
    Say YES to everything in life.'

    This is somewhat our shared mantra. I wrote the message on some paper and we spent some time constructing it and making sure it was watertight. Then we walked through Piazza San Marco, bathed in golden light and full of people milling and dancing to the live band, to a deserted bridge overlooked by a single local spying on us through her window. We let go of it at the same time as though it were some kind of secret ceremony.
    'I wonder if anyone will get it,' Dave said, looking down at the bottle as it bobbed, moving unpromisingly little.
    'We'll never know.' I said. 'But I'm absolutely certain it will, because that would be the perfect ending to this story.'
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