“Sammy? Let’s make a raft, pretend like we’re shipwrecked pirates! We could sail it out to the island and look for buried treasure!” said Ben, his face flushing with excitement. “I can draw us a map!”
“Okay, Ben. What are we going to make it out of?”
“A raft is made of wood, right? We could gather branches and sticks and tie them together.” Ben thought hard, picturing his brother and himself floating across the lake on rotted deadwood. He knew that the trees at the water’s edge didn’t belong to them, so they shouldn’t cut one down for the wood. Deep in thought, he puckered his lips in a lopsided grimace. In Ben’s imagination, they were bailing water halfway across and their arms gave out long before they reached Pirate Island. “I have a pool noodle, it floats. You have one, too.”
Sam nodded at his little brother. “That could work.” They gazed out. at the little island Ben had dubbed “Pirate Island.” It was a tiny, nameless landform that rose out of the lake, dotted with a dozen scraggly trees. People sometimes rowed small boats out there and enjoyed a picnic lunch. Sam and Ben were sure they could make it; many of the older boys swam out to the little island and back, every summer. “Maybe Dad’s got more stuff we could use out in the garage. We should plan this out better, so we don’t end up swimming to the island.”
“And we need the map. Can I draw us a map, Sam?” Ben pleaded with his older brother. He would use his new crayons and markers. It was an important responsibility, getting the treasure map just right.
Sam chuckled. “Good idea. We’ll definitely need a map, if we hope to find anything on that island. Sam didn’t point out that there was no treasure buried on the island. He didn’t point out that if there were treasure buried on the island, Ben would have to know where it was, before he could make a map. Sam, two years older than his brother, had not yet had “The Talk” with Ben about Santa Claus. But, Ben,” said Sam, very solemnly, “I hear the island is guarded by Bluebeard’s ghost!”
“I’m not afraid of ghosts!” Ben lied. Sam smiled at his little brother’s courage. He knew that Ben hadn’t figured out, yet, that there was no such thing as ghosts. Ben was afraid of the noises their house made at night as it “settled.” Whenever Dad said, “That’s just the house settling,” Ben pictured the house burrowing further into the dirt, in the same way that he scrunched himself up under a blanket on cold nights. He didn’t like to think of the house as a living, breathing, unsettled thing. He really didn’t want to think about ghosts. But intrepid Ben would brave Bluebeard’s ghost as it guarded Treasure Island from two swashbuckling young pirates.
“Still,” said Sam, “make sure the map shows where the haunted woods are. Better safe than sorry.”
“You’re right,” said Ben, making a mental note to do just that. He smiled to himself, as they headed home in search of raft-building supplies and tools, glad that his big brother Sam was just a little bit afraid of ghosts, too.
I’m taking part in Anita Ojeda’s #Write28Days. There’s a raft of prompts. And there’s a raft of blogs with writers blogging about rafts – both figurative and literal. What popped out of my brain, finally, was a short story fit for kids, or suitable as a springboard for reminiscing about being a kid. I’ve fallen behind, now, by two days – but the raft would not be rushed.