A pirate was searching for his buried his treasure. “This,” he told his parrot, “is why one makes a map.”
He knew he preferred to bury his treasure on deserted islands, where there was less chance of it being discovered. Also, he liked to dig under palm trees. The whole thing was a bit clichéd — but so was the notion of “X marks the spot,” and what he wouldn’t have given for a timely X.
The first island they anchored at looked familiar. When the pirate dug under the one palm tree, he discovered a buried chest, but it was the wrong chest. This chest was filled with gold dinner plates.
“Nice, right?” he asked the parrot.
“Very nice,” the parrot agreed.
On the second island there were no palm trees, so the pirate counted ten paces from the shore, which, if it wasn’t a lucky number, did have a nice, round quality to it. Where the pirate dug he discovered a second buried chest, this one filled with a variety of jewels.
“Pretty,” said the parrot.
“Very pretty,” the pirate agreed.
He couldn’t quite remember what he was looking for. He could recall the day he’d buried it: it had rained, but the kind of rain you ultimately enjoy, either because it’s already humid or you’ve resigned yourself to getting wet (or both). The pirate had buried his treasure in the morning and had taken a nap in the afternoon, the perfect kind of nap, which leaves a person refreshed and not feeling at all groggy. It had been an excellent, unspectacular day.
“Why don’t you bury something?” suggested the parrot. “That always improves your mood.”
So the pirate did. He took off his jewelry and emptied his pockets and put everything in a hole in the ground. “You should make a map,” said the parrot, but the pirate didn’t feel like making a map, which was time-consuming, and, anyway, his maps were notoriously poor representations — laughably poor. The parrot rolled his eyes. This always happened.
A mouse told me this story:
Once I got stuck in a trap. It closed on my left-rear paw. I’d seen the damage a trap could do — spines broken, skulls crushed. I was familiar with the SNAP it made. I was also familiar with the treats used to bait it — cheese, bread crumbs, dabs of peanut butter. But, fool that I am, I stepped on this trap by accident, in the dark, in transit from one place to another. It nearly scared me to death, the sudden lurch! I squeaked. I jumped. I dragged that trap halfway across the room before the shock wore off and I was overwhelmed with pain. And then I died.
Another time, I fell into a pot of bone broth. The pot had been put outside to cool. This time it wasn’t an accident — I was drawn by the tantalizing smell and made sure to confirm the absence of humans. I didn’t mean to fall in. Or maybe I did. I was pleased to be submerged in this basin of warm, delicious liquid. I drank my fill. I floated on my back. But I soon discovered the walls were too steep to climb. As the night wore on and the bone broth rapidly cooled, it began to freeze all around me. I cannot say whether I drowned first and then froze or froze before I drowned, but it makes little difference in the end. I died.
Yet another time, I was cornered by a cat — it had me trapped in a hollow log. When I ran one way, it blocked the exit. When I ran the other way, it easily outpaced me, appearing there, too. When I held still, considering my options, the cat banged a paw against the log and gave me a fright, thus starting the process all over again. Lucky for me, it began to rain. The cat also sought shelter in the log and I used that opportunity to escape, dashing into the night. Unfortunately, an owl had been watching the whole time. He swooped down and ate me. Dead again.
Every time I died, I felt sorry for myself. I also felt relieved. I thought, Stupid me! But I also thought, This day has been coming. I wished for more time — every time I died, I wished for another hour, another day. I was greedy for more life. I suppose I always will be.
The two warring armies declared a truce. Truces never lasted for long, so the lance corporal resolved to make the most of his time.
First he dropped off his laundry — that way, it could be ready when he was done. Truth be told, he preferred to launder his own clothes. He enjoyed folding everything at neat right angles, including his socks. But having someone else do it was a luxury he could afford.
Next he went grocery shopping. The lance corporal didn’t have anything in the fridge. He didn’t have plans to cook that week — how could he, with a war going on? So he just bought whatever looked fresh, leaving himself with options. He also stocked up on basics, like coffee and lemons. On his way out of the store, he picked up a treat for himself, because he deserved it.
Last on his list was a series of phone calls. None of these would be particularly time-consuming, which was why, perhaps, he’d put them off from week to week. The lance corporal made a doctor’s appointment for himself; he called his mother; and he returned a call about his renter’s insurance, which was really a ploy to sell him a different insurance policy. He got off the phone in a huff.
When the lance corporal returned to the battlefield, it was just in time. The truce had just been lifted — it ended the moment he resumed his position. The lance corporal marveled at the timing of it all. Had anything taken incrementally longer or shorter, he would’ve been early or late, but here he was, firing his rifle at an enemy combatant as if he’d never stepped away. It was really quite remarkable.
Except he’d forgotten his laundry.
This is a repository for JY's original content that's yet to be bound in a book -- essays, short fiction, etc. There's little rhyme or reason, so jump in!