Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Round Island

The van drives over a long bridge and Fortune looks out the window. The rivers current is running slow and it makes the water of the river look still like a lakes. There aren’t many clouds in the sky. There are a few birds sitting in bare trees. He puts his hand to his forehead and squishes his nose against the glass. Every time they pass over a bridge Fortune makes sure he has his eyes ready. If he ever sees an island that looks perfectly round he knows to tell his father. Then they will stop and jump out and hunt for the fortune.
When he was younger, his father used to come into his room at night and tell him stories before bed. He did this every night. All of the stories always had Fortune in them. Fortune was always the hero and he always helped out others. He saved the whales. He put out wildfires. He caught falling buildings. He was always every where anyone ever needed him to be. But there was one story that didn’t have Fortune in it at all and that was the story of Round Island.
Fortune looks up towards his father. His eyes look tired in the rearview mirror. It has been a long time since he has told Fortune the story about Round Island. He used to come in after work, his tie loose around his neck and lean into Fortune. He would rub his hair around on his head and just jump right into the story.
It was in the middle of a war that happened long ago and the men were told to destroy an Indian village near a river. In the middle of the night they went. They rode their horses into the village and killed all the men, women and children while they slept. They burned the whole village down and destroyed everything in it. There was only one thing they kept from the village and that was a treasure chest that the Indians had stolen from someone else. The treasure chest was full of silver and gold coins and even a small chandelier. The men had to move fast because other Indians had heard them and were following them closely. The men scattered and moved down the river. They split up and some lived and others were chased down and killed. But legend has it that the men that had the treasure chest made it down the river to an island that was perfectly round. There they buried the treasure. Some say it’s buried smack dab in the middle of the island. Others say that it is buried somewhere in the riverbed. No one has ever found the chest. It is still somewhere out there near a round island in a river.
In this country, there are plenty of rivers that have plenty of islands that look perfectly round and if you ever find one, go and look at it, the ground will be full of holes and piles of dirt. There are people searching for hidden treasures all over, on beaches and in forests, not just islands. Some people have dug so far down that they almost dug to China. People bring metal detectors out in canoes. There are others who just dig and dig and only hit water.
My father told me this story and when he told me he also told me the secret to finding the treasure. He told me that if you ever need to dig for something, all you really have to do is close your eyes. You just have to think about what it is you really are looking for underneath you. Why you need it. You just have to close your eyes really tight and imagine yourself wherever you want to be. You don’t have to dig to China if you don’t want to. China is where people dig to when they aren’t trying hard. You can imagine whatever you want and if you need it bad enough, when you start digging you will find it. You will already be there. If you ever find yourself on a round island in a river, close your eyes, think really hard and dig. Dig. Dig.
Fortune rubs his nose back and forth against the glass. There aren’t any islands that he can see from here in this river. The river is just rocks and water. He looks up into the rearview mirror at his fathers eyes. They are covered by sunglasses but it doesn’t look like he is looking around for the island. His mother is flipping through a magazine. Fortune hasn’t seen them look around for Round Island for a long time. They used to slow down when they went over bridges just to look.
One night Fortune asked his father why the story of Round Island was the only story that didn’t have him in it. His father looked down and pulled his tie further away from his neck, slowly. He ran his hand through his hair and when he did this he smelled like old books and sighed. He said that right around the time Fortune was born neither he or mom had much money. So, they got a metal detector, a shovel, a cheap plastic snorkel for diving and some other tools and drove around nearly every other weekend for the first year of Fortune’s life trying to find the treasure. He said they went to over a hundred islands. His father said that they started calling him Fortune because they were so sure they were going to find it and called him it for good luck during the long car rides.
That is how Fortune is in the story of Round Island but Fortune wants to be the hero of the story and help everybody. He wants to be the one to raise the treasure from the ground with his own hands.

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