X Marks the Spot

You’re a pirate on a small pirate ship, that consists of only you, one other pirate and a captain. Recently you ransacked another ship and found a treasure map. After weeks of following it, you’ve finally found the island where “X” marks the spot. Write a scene where you find the buried treasure, only it’s not exactly the treasure you expected to find.

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451 thoughts on “X Marks the Spot

  1. Cameronsdgva

    My name Is Jerry my crew the Dragon of Flames Just found some another pirate ship that had a x mark for treasure. My Captain Tom John just told to set sail for the Island of Treasure when we got there he said lts time to have show so he had his 1st commander Johnny Night Watcher spar against me.

    “Lets give them a bloody show.” Said Night Watcher
    ” Alright but you know this time I’m going to when and make sure your inactive for a good while” I said
    As the fight started tension started to build in the room and gave me a few doubts but before the first hit was about to be thrown one of our men came running to us out of breath and told us that they found they found the chest of George Abraham treasure chest was just found.
    ” Nice job men open the chest so we can rich.” Tom John
    But when the chest was open all there was is a note that said you just got fooled after that we went back to the boat to again find treasure.

  2. Cameronsdgva

    “Men dig it up, I want you to get me Gold Rogers treasure immediately those of you on break can help settling the ship to shore.” Said Captain Luffy
    “Sir, their is a problem the boat is a little damaged and we lost some our supplies so a few of our men will have to use their hands.” Said 1st Commander Ace. “Alright use your hands and you get to eat some our delicious stakes.” Said Luffy.
    In the hours of digging around gold rogers X mark they finally found it Gold Rogers money trail. But there was one problem I was left at a different ocean and the chest only had fresh delicious CHICKEN.
    At the end of the day the captains crew had delicious food and slept good.

  3. aurorasdgva

    “Leslie, do you see anything out there yet?” I ask. I has been three months since we had ransaced the boat where we found this peculiar map. Leslie would not come down from the balcony, even after The captain as well as I asked her to.


    “Island ahoy!” She yelled after three more hours. I reached out for my scope and looked ahead. An island, it was, but barely an island. Id say if I were to estimate, it was about 50 feet in diameter.

    “Not a very big lass is she?” Captain said. “Not near the size of me old ship.”

    “Are you sure it’s the one, Leslie?” I ask, not convinced.

    “Well, it is the only one in a 300 mile radius, so I bet me eye patch it is.” She slides down the long rope from the balcony to the deck. We bring down the sails, and get the anchor ready. As we get closer to the island, a petrifyingly sweet smell reaches our nostrils. It was so sharp it stung. We pulled closer, and tossed the anchor overboard.

    “Unload the lifeboat, will you?” Captain said, sounding annoyed. “I don’t want to wait for me treasure any longer.”

    I unlocked the ropes and got in, with the other two. Then I slowly let us down.

    We rowed a few yards, keeping the pace quick and steady. When we go to the island, Captain practically ran to the top, nearly tripping on his torn slippers.

    “And a X marks the spot!” He shouted. “Quick, me lass, hand me the shovel.”


    He dug and dug and dug for what seemed like a lifetime, when we finally heard a hard, hallow clunk.

    Leslie and I each got on one side and carefully lifted the chest. All the while, the sweet smell kept growing stronger.

    “Aye, my nose is burning,” Leslie whimpered.

    We pried open the box to see what was inside.

    Inside was

    a

    giant

    golden

    trophy. On the plaque it said,” Congratulations you just won $500! Thanks for being on our show! Sincerely, the Pranksters”

  4. adriannelaray

    “Stop! We hit something,” Smith said, “Look here, there’s a chest, a big one. Red, help me get it open.”

    I dropped my shovel and went over to Smith’s side of the hole. Sure enough there was a chest. I helped him brush the dirt off the top of it. Smith cracked it open and immediately we were assaulted by a smell so horrendous it caused us both to cough and gag. Smith looked up at Captain Greyson who nodded for us to continue. It was a big chest and it took both of us to lift the lid all the way open. We let the lid fall back as we looked into hell itself. We now knew what the smell was. There were four bodies, all beheaded with their limbs bound together and their heads at their feet.

    “Who would mark this place on a map?” I asked.

    Captain Greyson climbed into the hole. He reached into the chest, picked up one of the heads, and looked at it intently. It was a man’s head and unless I am quite mistaken, it seemed to resemble the captain. He dropped it back into the chest before pulling out his flask of whiskey.

    “You’re going to burn them?” Smith asked as the captain opened the flask and flung the contents over each body in the chest.

    I looked at them again. The bodies had been stabbed many times, seemingly after they had been put in the chest. All of their blood mixed at the bottom of the chest adding to the stench caused by their rotting flesh. They couldn’t have been there long, which didn’t make sense considering the age of the paper on which the map was drawn. They were also all men… perhaps we weren’t the only crew to come upon this site.

    “Could someone have replaced the treasure with these men” I asked as the captain lit a match and pressed it to the end of a cigar.

    “I have no doubt that is what happened. These men all bear the same mark,” Captain Greyson replied.

    “They were from another crew?” Smith asked.

    “Yes. It was my son’s crew. Someone left this for me to see it.”

    “But how could they know we would get that map?” Smith again, staring at the bodies and then at the heads. He picked one up… “George!”

    “That’s your son?” I asked.

    “No, this is a friend of his. And George was the only one I showed the map to.”

    “Why would your son kill mine, Smith?” Captain Grey son asked in a voice much too calm for the situation.

    “I don’t know, Captain. I don’t know that he did.”

    “Well you can ask him when you see him in the afterlife,” the captain said and kicked Smith into the chest and dropped his cigar in after.

    Smith screamed as the captain drive his cutlass into his heart and the fire began to catch on the first body. The captain took my own flask and emptied it into the chest before climbing out of the hole.

    “Get some wood. Stoke the fire. When they’re nothing but ashes, bury them.”

    “Aye, aye captain,” I said as I climbed out of the hole. I knew in my heart Smith’s son would suffer a worse death than this.

  5. Augie

    I promise a treasure at the end………………

    Daaaaaady, the nanny say’s your leaving again… How long daaaaady???

    Looking down at the precious bundle on his lap, he replies…

    ‘Sunshine’, aren’t you excited about tomorrow? It’s your first day of school!”

    Barnes looks at the laminated photo of his ‘Sunshine’ taped inside his K-pot once again.

    Scorp snaps him out of his vision….

    “PUT that brain bucket on dammit! We have no idea if this is a trap or not!”

    Barnes takes one last look at his daughters photo, then puts his combat helmet back on.

    The Captain shouts out coordinates as Scorp maneuvers the Humvee through war wasteland.

    “ Were getting close. You two stop the jibber-jabbing and focus! We don’t know if this map is leading us to their ammo site or ambush. They might have intentionally planted it our prisoner.”

    As always, being a ‘talker’, Barnes broke the silence,

    “You know guys, we must seem like modern day pirates to these people. I mean, we come to their land, pillage their cities and establish a new government.

    Scorp gives Barnes ‘the stare’.

    Barns, being insecure, wishes he could take back what he said and felt the need to explain.

    “Scorp, I know that your Native American and I didn’t mean anything by that! I mean, I have great respect for our natives, Like, Uhh, whats his name?. OHH, yes! Ira Hayes! He helped raise the flag on Iwo Jima! ….All for the land of the free!”

    Scorp gives the ‘stare’ again, “Barnes, stop trying to explain everything! I just want you to shut the hell up! And put that damn chin strap on!

    At that very moment…………….

    ……. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!……..

    Shrapnel and sand blast in the air as an IED explodes near the Humvee……….The nearly Six thousand pound vehicle sails as though it weighed five pounds,

    Barnes lay sideways, fading… .. His helmet inches away in the twisted metal. He squints trying to focus…. He sees her…. a small droplet of blood on her photo.. as though she was crying….

    Six days later…………….Some where in Germany………

    A very angry Native American is stopped at the nursing station…

    “Sorry sir, you cant go in there.’

    Scorp rips off his special warfare insignia from his chest and slams it on the counter.

    “This is my mark”

    “This is my stand!”

    You can call the police, their going to need a lot of back up! Not to mention, that your emergency room is going to fill up quick!

    Scorp walks past her, searching for the room his brother lay dieing in.

    Little did the nurse know, twenty more warfare pins were on the way.

    Scorp walked in the room…

    “ I brought you something Marine. Had to clean it up a bit,”

    Barnes gave a slight reaction, feeling the weight on his chest.

    One final breath…struggling…Barnes opened his eyes, seeing Sunshine for the last time.

    BllllllEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP “A chorus of ‘good by brother’, filled the room”

    Doctor and nurses rush in, as the team of brothers leave.

    One mission down, One to go..

    Fourteen years later……………

    All twenty one on sat in the stands… This is graduation day!

    Semper Fidelis plays loudly, as the graduates march. The same song Barnes marched to over twenty years ago when he graduated boot camp.

    Scorp asked Augila, “ What do you think he would say right now?

    Augila looked out, seeing Sunshine (Barnes), march in cadence.

    “ Probably, ‘good job’ raising her, although I don’t think she needed twenty one fathers!”

    …….Laughter filled their stand……

    “Do you think she’ll wear his helmet?”

    Scorp responds, “Naaaa, shes talked to it for years, time to wear her own.”

  6. Apollo

    After ten weeks of searching we had finally found it. The island of the buried treasure, we had run aground in all the excitement which left us stranded for the time being. The captain didn’t seem to mind; in fact he was rather happy. Most men would have called him insane, but Jeramiah and me call him savage happy.
    When we finally landed on the island and found that our ship would not be going anywhere, the captain ordered us the start walking in search of the buried treasure. Three days went by and Jeramiah was starting to go stir crazy and we had nothing to show for it.
    “Did you hear that?” He shouted pulling the flintlock out of his worn leather belt. He turned around multiple times searching the trees for an invisible enemy. I laid a hand on his should and looked him in the eyes.
    “Jeramiah, peace brother there is nothing there but the wind.” He looked into my eyes as if trying to look for my soul. After a moment his face softened and he said
    “I am sorry brother, I am… tired. For we have been here three days and have not anything, not a jewel nor gold to please my troubled heart.” I smiled
    “Brother it is alright for I too am getting tired of this search…” out of the corner of my eye I spotted something. “Look there!” I pointed above the palm trees and there was a bell tower
    “Is that not the one from the map?” Jeramiah asked. We took the parchment map out and scanned the figures until we found the same bell tower right where the “X” was. “Then we have found it!” he shouted with joy.
    We started running as fast as we could not caring for anything that might be lurking in the palm tree jungle. As we neared the bell tower we found that it was still attached to what was left of a cathedral
    “It’s at least one hundred years of age.” I said staring is awe. We stopped in front of the old dilapidated wooden door. I looked at my brother who nodded at me and we entered. We were greeted with a dust cloud that plumed outward and the fluttering of pigeons. When the dust cleared we saw that there was nothing left in side except for a few broken pews and cold grey candles.
    “What does the map say brother?” Jeramiah asked. I unfolded it and looked around the page
    “Ah here is it.” I said flipping the page over “Over there” I pointed to the front. We walked to the alter that had fallen and pushed it to the side. We found that the ground was hollowed out and a strong box. We slowly opened the box when I heard the sound of a flint lock cocking behind my head.
    “Don’t turn around boy.” The gruff voice said
    “C-captain?” Then the shot of a flintlock hung deadly in the air.

  7. Bilbo Baggins

    JACK’S LAST DANCE

    Under the faint glow of a silvery sliver of moon we arrived, our minds buoyant on wild expectations and whiskey distilled so poorly a skull would vomit it up. I crouched low to the sanded slab of wood we called the forecastle and examined the small harbor. A sagging pier was thrust underneath a shadowy guard house I bet hadn’t boasted a single musket in years. The birds had abandoned this place, and even the palms didn’t dare to sway.

    “Here we are, crew,” Captain Indigo whispered, adding to the conspiratorial aura of the night. The crickets nearly drowned him out as we coasted towards the dock. “You got the shovels?”

    “Yessir, cap,” Dancing Jack whispers back, a black bandana tied round his small head. He was a twelve-year-old skeleton from the port district who’d joined us to make ends meet and tried to grow up too fast in the process. We’d found him spinning on a tabletop for cackling sailors at the Blue Cod. I had a feeling this was all a game to him, a treasure hunt. And it was.

    “Alright, I’m gonna pull in, and it’ll be short and sweet. No gawkin’ allowed.”

    A small smile whipped across Jack’s face. I knew that’s exactly what he would do. He would allow the glittering coins to slide through his thin fingers, the most money he’d held in his life. Once we loaded the chest into our two-by-two “hold” he would probably want to sit on top of it. I would reluctantly oblige, us being friends and all. I kept him safe from the captain’s ungainly side, which mostly showed itself on Saturday port nights when he’d stagger back from devouring our loot at brothels.

    The bow hit the small sand spit, and our mission had begun. Captain unfurled his sandy map, each of us clasping a shovel, his pistol in his belt as a welcome precaution.

    “This map states our treasure’s under the left side of this rock.” He gesticulated towards a rock, which I could barely see. It must be marked somehow, but the burning mist in my eyes doesn’t see a thing. Except for the stars, which are innumerable and speckled like flashes on a sunny wave.

    “I see it, Cap!” but Jack restrained himself from running over to it. We reached the tree line and I could see the faint red cross now, guarding the way into the dense forest beyond. It scared me somewhat. I could battle three Redcoats at once in the daylight but shivered when a shadow crossed my path.

    “Let’s not waste any time now,” he muttered, shoving aside the first dirt load.

    In silence I toil to move away more earth, a small abyss forming in-between our feet. We should’ve uncovered it by three feet down, but I let a calm sweat carry me on. I cast a subtle look behind me to the crumbling tower, the vined windows, and wonder if we are really alone.

    “Get down!” and I shove Jack to the ground, just in time for a stray bullet to rattle off a shovel. Raw thoughts tumble after. I should’ve known it was an ambush. Too easy, too abandoned. Too many enemies. Hot breath on sand almost covers up small shouts from the pier.

    “Let’s take ‘em, boys, and all they have with ‘em!” A heavy accent I know to be Captain Millish, a brusque character who prefers his sword bloody and his eggs heavily salted. His name spoken in a tavern results in an odd collection of gasps, tears, and stunning hatred.

    “Back to the boat!” Captain nearly stumbles over his feet, raises his pistol, and aims for the nearest coconut, and not on purpose. We haven’t sustained any major attacks in our years together, but it had to happen somehow. Just not when all his flasks were empty.

    Now it’s a race to see whether our boots can make it to our sloop before the bullets can. Seven dark trees jump off the pier, and I just now notice the long boat, twice the breadth of ours, its masts down, sequestered underneath a stray fallen beam. So stupid were we.

    A firecracker jumps around my shoulder, but Cap’s at the boat, his hat askew, and his white ring clinging desperately to his chin wrinkled in desperation. He tosses the rope to me, and I jump in, not caring if I fall hard against the poop.

    “Come on, Jack!” I glance wildly over to our pursuers, who are running along the sand, even some in the trees, muskets clumsily raised for the final showdown.

    Indigo’s more to the point. “Get in the boat, ya filthy vagabond!”

    That’s when I realize, in a split second, that he’s gone to retrieve his bandana, which had fallen near our shovels. I whip my head back, a forgotten cry rising through my throat, when I see the cruel flash of red from behind a trunk. Jack’s chest is thrust backwards from the blow, his arms collapsing inward.

    Indigo pushes us out from the beach, the rugged oars slicing into the night. A half of my body is over the edge, my arms grappling for a hope that doesn’t exist. With one molded shoe he shoves me in. Somewhere inside his wasted cheeks is the same thing that erupts violently as soon as my elbow comes over my eyes.

    “Nothing’s fair,” he finally breaks the silence when we’re a mile out. That’s all he says for the night.

    The undulating salt sea slowly turns our boat around to face the island. A slight rustle leads the palms in a wave. I can imagine Jack’s light soul sailing up to heaven on top of them.

    Or maybe it’s just the wind.

    GH

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Pulled me into your story with….”Under a faint glow of a silvery sliver of moon we arrived..” And immediately I was thrust in the small boat. Joined your crew on the quest, even dodged the bullets. ‘Tis a colorful tale you’ve woven, so descriptive, terrifying and fruitless. Really enjoyed it for an early dark morning read. Good job, Bilbo!

    2. lionetravail

      [Somewhere inside his wasted cheeks...."Nothing's fair," he finally breaks the silence... That's all he says for the night.]

      Gorgeous writing. Even the balls-tough, bad guys can feel deeply: loss, disillusionment, and that life just isn’t the party no matter how hard you try. The story’s great, but you breathed so much life into the characters, it’s frankly amazing.

  8. Augie

    “They left me!”

    I ran around checking every door and window.

    “I’m trapped!”

    Panic overcomes me. They have left me before, just never here!

    “Where is here?” What strange things live here?”

    The captain said, “we have a new ship!” He then tied a bandanna around my head and said, “check it out!”

    The instant I went below deck, he sealed the door above me. That’s what I get for trusting him!

    I run from cabin to cabin, my feet slipping on the wooden floor.

    “Yes!” I found one small window I could reach and peered out, “I can see them!”

    Steam from my breath clouds the window as I watch the captain and his first mate walk down the pier.

    “Abandoned!”

    I continue to circle from room to room. Memories of our adventures at sea together flood my mind. Now, I am alone.

    “Or am I?”

    My mind scatters and I start shaking looking towards the dark corners of this strange place.

    “Could there be rats here?”

    “They know I am terrified of rats!”

    I can see them laughing at me right now! They probably filled this place full of rats!

    Hearing voices outside, I cautiously peek out the window.

    Normally I would yell out in rage at strangers, only to be reprimanded by the captain.

    Little did he know, I only felt comfortable showing aggression when he was by my side. I am his best pirate and wanted him to see me as fearless.

    “Rats?”

    I lower my body and crawl through the cabin. My jaw shuttered as I attempted to contain myself.

    One thing about rats, you can smell them wherever they have been.

    “Treasure!” “That’s right!”

    The last thing the first mate said was, “ We left you a little treasure, but you have to find it!”

    Maybe that is what this is about! I am a master of finding buried treasure. But not once has the captain said, “good job!” He just laughs and takes it away from me!

    Maybe this is a test? If I find the treasure they will come back?

    “Hell with the rats!”

    I stood tall, and started the search.

    “Nope, not in here”

    “Nope, not in here”

    “Not in here either!”

    Then I saw it! Over in the dark corner was two old ragged socks forming an X. I move the socks out of the way and saw the small chest. The lid was already open revealing hundreds of tiny golden nuggets.

    “What a treasure!”

    Just as I was rejoicing, the door opened and I heard the Captain whistle and call me.

    “ Black beard, come here boy!” “He’s a good boy!”

    The captain fed me a hand full of golden nuggets and scratched my belly.

    I wagged my tail like never before.

  9. yaxomoxay

    Taken,
    from me.
    She was
    Carried away by a Moonlight Shadow.

    Jolly Rogers
    Wa-
    ves
    now over my
    existence.

    We are at the
    eks .
    Thousands of years since,
    Mark the spot the Lord said.
    What for – someone asked.
    The treasure the Lord said.
    What treasure – someone asked.
    Life indeed! the Lord said.

    We are at the spot.
    We are at Life.
    I found,
    De
    ca
    de
    nce.

    I found myself.
    Others found themselves.

    But,
    No trace of Her.
    Who that night was
    Carried away by a Moonlight

    Precious Gold,
    I looked for wealth,
    I found it.

    Important Science,
    I looked for knowledge,
    I found it.

    Mythical Fountain of Youth,
    I looked for immortality.
    I found it.

    Beloved Her,
    I looked for You,
    But, forever Carried away

    I Sailed the seas
    Traveled the galaxies
    Visited the numerous universes.
    No trace.

    Yesterday, Tomorrow and Now,
    Whenever
    And Everywhere.
    Searching.

    At least I found THIS,
    the punishing,
    the wicked,
    the thief.

    The vessel, the last ever she saw me, is now staring at me.
    I found you! Cursed
    Moonlight Shadow.

    1. jmcody

      I agree with Kerry that this is remarkable. I read it several times, and each time came up with a different interpretation. Here’s what I think — Let me know if I am even close: I think you are writing about something lost, or something that is missing, but it is not necessarily a woman. It’s something higher, something sacred, like truth, love, meaning, God. The yearning for this missing thing is part of the human condition. We search for it in the things this life has to offer — wealth, knowledge, beauty — but it is these very things, and the nature of this life that keeps us from it. And the more we look for it in the things of this world, the more elusive it becomes.

      Or maybe it is just about a girl and I need to get some sleep. :)

      I have just one question: What is “eks?” I didn’t understand that.

      Thank you for writing and sharing this. I loved it.

      1. yaxomoxay

        Thank you! Well, I am the author so I should be the last person to suggest an interpretation. If you want I can give you my personal reading.
        The only thing I will tell you is that “eks” was supposed to be “X” spelled out… I decided to go this way as to suggest that things mutate, even letters as the MC is in a far away future. I guess it didn’t work out! :)
        And yes… GO TO SLEEP! ;)

        1. jmcody

          That was going to be my next guess. ;) Oh well, I still loved it, even if I was dead wrong. And yes, I really would like to hear your take on it. I am intrigued.

          1. jmcody

            Just mentally slapped myself in the head. I bow to your mental acuity Mr Charlton. I do need more sleep.

        2. yaxomoxay

          Kerry, yes.
          She is dead, and She will never be back. I can’t tell you if Moonlight Shadow is Death herself, but it is a symbolical reference to it. The MC searched for Her, the one that gave him the meaning of his life, forever. He found eternal youth and whatever he wished for. Except the one he loves. Now, after millennia of “pirating” through any single point in the universes, he realizes – or accepts – that She died a long time ago. But the only thing he can do now is stand in front of Moonlight Shadow (or Death, or whatever has taken Her away from him) who is staring at him. Being immortal – remember, the Fountain of Youth – he can’t join her, as death/MS will just stare at him without ever taking him away, to her. His desire to extend his own life to search until he found her made him renounce to the only possibility he had to actually join her.
          And to give full credits, “Moonlight Shadow” is the title of an amazing song by Mike Oldfield. Check it on youtube if you don’t know it, it’s beautiful.

          1. jmcody

            So much better than what I said! I will definitely check out the Youtube video (when I am not at work.).

            See you on the new prompt!

  10. jmcody

    Hey, it’s two-fer Tuesday…
    ________________________________________________________________

    “Arrgh, cabin boy, be ye ever comin’ above board?”

    “I don’t wanna,” came the response from below.

    “We be plunderin’ for treasure today, matey.”

    “Seriously, Mom?”

    “Ethan, put down the iPad and come up here. NOW.”

    Ethan’s face appeared in the open hatch, squinting into the glare.

    “It’s a beautiful day and I don’t want you spending it playing video games. When I was fourteen I would have given my eyeteeth to go exploring on a deserted island.”

    Ethan gave an exaggerated eye roll. “Ugh, that’s so lame.”

    “Can you see your brain when you do that?” teased Paul, Ethan’s Dad.

    “Real funny, Dad…”

    Lisa sighed. This day was supposed to be about making family memories… memories that would outlast this perfect June day and sustain them through whatever lay ahead.

    The previous night they had docked in Orient on their way to Block Island. A tale overheard in town was all it took for Lisa to promptly announce a detour.

    Peregrine Island was little more than a spit of sand off the east end of Long Island, too small to show up on most maps. According to local legend, when Captain Kidd buried his famous treasure on nearby Gardiner’s Island in 1699, he also stopped at the tiny, uninhabited Peregrine Island. Too obscure for tourists and too corny for the locals, Peregrine Island attracted mostly eccentrics and history buffs bearing metal detectors and shovels. Lisa, Paul and Ethan would sail there armed with only a camera and a picnic lunch.

    “If I’m going to look like a Pirate, I might as well act like one,” Lisa had joked. She even picked up an eye patch and yet another new bandana in a local souvenir shop, much to Ethan’s terminal embarrassment.

    It was a perfect sailing day; a “rails in the water” kind of day. The wind carried them along at an exhilarating seven knots, and even Ethan had to smile as the boat keeled dramatically and he and Lisa clung to the starboard rail.

    “Ready about!” yelled Paul as the sails began to luff. “Ethan, grab the wheel,” he yelled as he bounded to port and began to wind the sheet.

    Lisa ducked under the boom to the opposite rail. It was good to see her two men working as a team. Lately there had been tension between them, and Ethan seemed angry so much of the time.

    The wind was blowing harder now and the water turned choppy. The forecast had seemed perfect, but the weather on the sound could be unpredictable in early June.

    “Look” Paul pointed to a line of black clouds on the horizon that was advancing at an alarming rate. The sails began to snap loudly in the wind.

    “We’re going to have to turn back.” Even Ethan seemed disappointed at this. “Ethan, man the wheel while I wind the sails. We’ll have to motor in.” No sooner had he said it, than an enormous gust sent the boat spinning. Ethan yanked the wheel hard, and a loud clank issued from somewhere under the cockpit.

    “Dad! The wheel!” yelled Ethan. “I think it’s stuck.”

    “Crap,” blurted Paul. “Ethan, you know better than to oversteer. Now the rudder’s stuck.”

    Ethan looked crushed as what had been a moment of family harmony turned suddenly dark. Paul grabbed the wheel from Ethan. The stuck rudder was causing the boat to turn in circles like a puppy chasing its tail. In the distance, forked lightning slashed at the ocean’s surface.

    Lisa struggled to wind the sails on the pitching and spinning deck. She had always been an able first mate, but now, weakened from the chemotherapy, she wasn’t fit for much more than ballast. She was grateful when Ethan took the sheet from her hand and finished cranking the winch. Spray drenched them both as a gust of wind stole the bandana from Lisa’s head. Ethan stared in horror for a moment. Lisa’s baldness was something none of them had quite gotten used to.

    The moment passed quickly, as an idea flashed through Ethan’s mind.

    “The manual tiller!”

    The Sirenuse was old boat, a thirty foot C&C from the 1970s that had been upgraded with modern steering sometime in the nineties. The original tiller was displayed on a wall in the galley. Ethan apparently had been listening to his Dad more than either of them realized.

    Ethan bounded down the steps and returned in an instant with the tiller. Jamming it in the notch in the cockpit floor, Ethan leaned on it with all his might, his slight frame fighting against the wind and waves. Paul watched in admiration as his son slowly succeeded in righting the boat.

    As they motored into Orient Harbor with the wall of black still behind them, Ethan said “Sorry about your treasure, Mom.” But Lisa had not left empty handed. She looked at her husband and son and she knew: They would be allright. Both of them. No matter what happened.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        One of your very best, JM. Heartwarming and true to the heart. Obviously, you’ve sailed a lot. Theres nothing like the quiet, the slapping of the waves at the bow and the silent rolls of the sea. Brings back a lot of memories from earlier days.

        Days and months at Avalon, a barrier island on the Jersey coast, while growing up every summer.

    1. jhowe

      This was really good. I started to suspect the cancer when Lisa had picked up yet another bandana. I could see this story gracing the pages of a magazine.

    2. Critique

      Jmcody you can tell a story! This was a poignant heart wrenching slice of life portrayed realistically with your writing skill. Amazing.

    3. snuzcook

      Touching tale, JM! Like so many of your stories, this was not only well-conceived and well-written, but a story worth telling. And worth reading. Thank you!

  11. yaminoanil

    I couldn’t believe it. We had finally arrived at the “X” that had clouded my thoughts and haunted my dreams for weeks. As I grabbed the shovel my mate held out, we shared a look. Nate had a dopey grin on his lips, eyes wild and glassy in excitement. A giddy giggle slipped out of my mouth, quite unbecoming for a sea dog, but when treasure lay so close, pride went by the wayside.

    We were gonna be filthy rich.

    “Ar’right you two!” The captain grunted, his eyes scanning the map while he figured the precise location of the treasure. After a moment, he seemed satisfied with the positioning and motioned us closer. “De booty be right ‘ere. Get ta work!” he snarled, the trace of a grin on his bearded face.

    We dug for hours. The sun, which had been high above, was now beginning to slide into the sea, the sky turning red and purple. My hands were red and sore from the work and blisters were already forming. I drew my hand back to wipe my forehead, wishing I were hidden away on the ship like the captain, who had taken care to hide it near the cliffside. I knew he would be eating supper by now and I felt a flash of hot envy for a moment.

    But only a moment, for a soon as I dug my shovel into the earth once more, I felt something hard and unyielding, unlike the soft sand around it. I hit it again harder and looked up at Nate to see his gaze trained on mine, a stupid grin eating his face. We share a laugh and dig anew, uncaring of the blisters and blood slipping between the creases of our hands.

    It did not take long for us to unearth it and took us little effort to haul it out of the hole, powered as we were by greed. Nate inspects the lock and find it rusted and old. He quickly smashes the sharp end of the shovel to it and the lock falls away easily. Nate stares up at me and I stare at him. Then we are rushing for the lid, our greedy fingers ripping it open, our eyes blinded for a moment with glee.

    The glee is quickly replaced by shock and I feel my jaw drop. No. This can’t be it.

    My hands push away the top layer of worthless junk, seeking the bottom of the trunk, where surely the treasure lay. It takes only a second to realize that there was nothing else there. I fall to my knees and hear Nate let out a choked whimper.

    No.

    At sundown the captain came, the light of his torch finding us before his eyes did. He paused, unsure of what he was seeing. “What de hell dere, lads?” He rumbles, face twisted in angered confusion.

    Nate lets out a titter and flutters his lashes. “Don’t you just love it, cap’n? Ain’t we the prettiest girls ye ever did see?” he simpers. His hand comes up to adjust his powdered wig and the captain’s face displays a mix of horror and revulsion.

    I laugh and laugh and dance around the captain, surely scaring him when my shrieks of laughter turn to sobs. “Only dese wigs cap’n! Only dese wigs!” I repeat over and over.

    1. jmcody

      I thought this one was going to turn tragic, but it was actually kind of funny, in a tragic way. :). I loved the reveal with the wigs, and couldn’t help hoping there were some lovely gowns in that trunk too. You shifted from past to present tense about halfway through, but other than that it flowed well and was engagingly written. Thanks, I enjoyed it!

      1. yaminoanil

        Yeah I realized I changed tense after I posted it. It was weird, because as I was writing, I felt a bit confused. But there is no edit button as far as I know, hahaha. Thank you very much for your comment. :)

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