Talk to your grandfather.

Your grandfather is bent over in his garden, pulling weeds. He straightens as you push the gate open with a long squeak.

“That gate sure does squeak some,” he says, one hand on his lower back. “Sure would be good for someone to put oil on that. Oil’s in the shed by herb beds.”

“Hi grandpa,” you say, ignoring his hints. You step forward for the compulsory kiss, trying to ignore the familiar stench of garlic. “You know Anna? We wanted to ask you about some papers I found while I was cleaning your attic yesterday.”

You hand the pages to your grandfather, who peers at them. “I might need my glasses for these. Come inside and have some lemonade.”

You and Anna sit in your grandparents’ kitchen, sipping tall glasses of lemonade as your grandfather finds his reading glasses. While he reads, he taps his fingers on the table, his nails clicking on the worn wood. There is a fly buzzing here as well, circling lazily about the fruit bowl. It lands on the edge of the bowl, moving a few steps toward you before taking off and flying out the open door into the garden.

“You say you found these in our attic?” your grandfather says, looking up. His eyes are sharp, and you realize you’ve never noticed that they are a pale brown, like dirt blanched by the summer sun.

"It was in an old wood trunk at the back. Beside a dresser with blankets in it.”

Your grandfather nods. “I never opened that trunk,” he says. “I always meant to, but I think maybe…” He trails off, looking out the window over the sink. “Maybe I was a little scared.”


“That trunk belonged to my grandfather, your great-great-grandfather. He was a wild man. He loved to drink and cause trouble. My mother told me that he when he was young he sailed the Ten Lakes. But my mother didn’t talk about him very much. I think she was scared too. One night very late, he tried to break into our house. I could hear my mother downstairs crying, my father shouting. I never saw him again. There was a storm that night. My mother told me that he went to work for the rail company, but I saw the empty moorings the next morning. His boat was gone. It was a bad storm that night…”

The fly buzzes back through the doorway, landing on the faucet.

“Sometimes grandfather would take me out sailing. He took me to the Seven Islands once. It was one of those really sunny days, when the water is really bright – all white and it hurts to look at it. He took me to one of the Seven Islands, not the Big Rock, one of the smaller islands. He said something strange, ‘This is your island’ or ‘I am giving this island to you’ or something like that. When we sailed home, mother was angry. I guess I didn’t tell her where we were going, or maybe supper was burnt. I don’t remember now.”

“Do you know anything about these papers?” Anna asked, leaning forward.

Your grandfather shakes his head. “That’s all,” he says. He glances at the clock. “Looks like it’s time to go meet your grandmother. She went to the market, and I need to help her carry all her bags. She always did love buying things.”

As you leave, Anna sighs. “That didn’t help much,” she says. “And now we’ve lost a day of sailing!”

“But we learned something,” you reply. “There’s no point going to Big Rock. The treasure must be on one of the smaller islands, where my great-great-grandfather took grandpa!”

The next morning, you wake up early, eager to begin your search. But when you pull open the curtains, clouds loom on the horizon. It looks like it might rain. Should you try to go sailing anyway?

The End

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