Tag Archives: The Simple Life

A Real Treasure

A Real Treasure
[A short story by Sha’Tara]

(A simplistic tale of a simpler time too many of us have forgotten.
Two things – One, I hope it proves entertaining. Two, I also hope I haven’t posted it already. Fortunately, it’s a short read. Enjoy)

“Life is full of treasures if one can only find them.” That promise,
from a happy-ending story read in class that afternoon, kept going through
his mind as he ran along the rough, rocky shore. His straight, unruly hair
blowing across his reddened face, his eyes watering in the spray, his
sleeve wet from wiping his runny nose, eight year old Jamie thought about
treasures: piles of gold and silver coins in an iron-bound pirate’s chest
with a huge padlock to guard against theft. He thought if he looked hard
enough, he would suddenly spy the corner of such a chest sticking out of
the loose gravel. Imagination, being free, is one of the real treasures
of the poor!
Forgetting his hungry stomach, he would regularly stop to scan the
rising swells for a familiar boat returning to the jetty, but the waters
were too rough and the visibility reduced to the line of shoals disappear­
ing in the in-coming tide. He shivered in the gusty, mid-winter winds. He
thought of his father and two older brothers out there on the sea. He
sighed, “If only I could help…

His keen eyes saw something dark floating in the water. A log! A whole
log being pushed ashore by the tide and wind. He waited impatiently as it
came close enough for him to direct it, then wondered how he would claim
and keep it. The tide may wash it away again, or someone else may find it
before he could run home and return with his mother. He decided to keep an
eye on it and let the tide do its work. His mom would worry and be angry
but when she saw the wood, she would understand.

The log floated higher. Too big for him to do anything with, there was
nothing to do but wait… All thoughts of pirate treasure left his mind:
his real treasure, representing several days of heat, and perhaps some
scraps for carving, was that log. He eyed it jealously, scanning the
shoreline for scavengers. He was relieved to see no one. Wandering around
while waiting, he searched for other treasures. His imaginary hoard now
was a whole pile of logs against the slate-roofed cottage just over the
top of the low, weather-beaten cliff separating land from sea.

He didn’t find any more wood, but he found an old rusty steel cable
tangled in blackberry bushes. Struggling to free it, he had an idea.
Laying out the cable, he found he could wrap it around the log then around
one of the larger rocks protruding from the gravel. He secured his log,
then using a broken piece of stone, laboriously scratched his name in it.
His hoard thus properly identified and anchored, he ran home. His mother
met him at the top of the path, scolding as he came up. He stopped to
catch his breath, then told his story of the log. She didn’t believe him
at first, but when he ran to the lean-to for the saw and the wheelbarrow,
she grabbed her coat and accompanied him down to the noisy, indistinct
strand, the clattering sound of their footsteps lost in the raspy,
turbulent surf.

Following her son, she looked eagerly for the treasure. Two motionless
figures were inspecting something in the gravel and Jamie cried out:
“They’ve found my log. Please, mom, hurry or they’ll take it!” Running,
nearly out of breath in the biting air, she came upon two men sizing up
the log. “Hullo, ma’am” one of them said, looking at her and touching his
cap. “Reckon this log’s ours ma’am, we found it first.” She looked at
Jamie and he pointed to the top of the log where he had scratched his
name: Jamie Willbrooke. They looked at the coarse but fresh inscription,
then the same one said, “Smart little fellow you have there, ma’am.” She
nodded and waited for the inevitable question. “Maybe, for a chunk, we
could help you haul it in, then?” She nodded again and took her son’s
hand. Holding it gently, she turned her head, permitting only the sea to
witness the love in her tear-filled eyes.