“Matthew.”
“What?”
“Did you need a towel?”
“Why would I need a – ”
James flicked his oar, splashing water across the front of the canoe.
“Hey!”
James laughed.
“Jerk.”
“Don’t be such a baby. I’m just playin.”
Matthew cursed, and began to paddle a little quicker.
“Wait, wait. Wait a second.”
“What now?”
“Look.” James gestured towards the great island’s shore behind them. “Pretty, ain’t it?” Hues of purple hung across the heavens, orange bled from a golden sun.
Mathew adjusted his glasses, watching as a flock of pink flamingos swooped down across the bay. “Whoa…”
“Nice, huh?”
“Real nice.”
James started to paddle. “We should go. I don’t want you getting all scared out on the water after dark.”
“I’m not scared of nothing,” Matthew replied, lowering his oar back into the sea.

“So what is this place exactly?”
James shrugged. “He said it was just some little island.”
“Never even knew it existed.”
“Same. But if there’s anyone who’s gonna know what’s out there, it’s him.”
“I still don’t know why he didn’t just go and get it himself.”
“He said it was a special job, just for us.”
“Really?”
“Yeah. We’re the oldest now.”
“S’pose we are, aren’t we?”
“Yep.”
“This must be pretty important then, huh?”
“That’s what he said.”
“Do you think pirates left it there?”
“Probably.”
Matthew chuckled. “It’s always pirates.”

The night was dark, the moon creeping quietly between the clouds.
“There,” said James, pointing proudly into the distance. “Land ahoy!”
Matthew squinted out across the ocean. “I can’t see anything.”
“Trust me, it’s there.”
Sure enough, a shadowy shape began to rise up from the sea.
“I see it! James, I see it. Land ahoy!”
“You only say land ahoy if you’re the first one to spot it.”
“Says who?”
“Says everyone. It’s the rules.”
“Not my rules.”
“Just keep paddling.”

The canoe landed softly on the sand.
“Stay in the boat,” ordered James as he climbed out. “I want to tie us to this tree.”
Matthew examined the island. It was small and bare, save for the cave itself and a lone coconut tree.
“Alright, we’re good,” James called out from the shore. “Let’s go.”
Matthew propped his oar against the stern and splashed down into the shallows. It was cold and uninviting, the chill of deeper waters nipping at his heels. He hurried to the beach, where he found James staring up into the sky. “James? What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I thought I saw him just now.”
Matthew looked up. The moon had begun to peek out from behind the clouds.
“Where?”
“I could have sworn…”
“Why would he come all the way out here?”
James shook his head. “Let’s just find this thing already.”

They peered into the cave.
“Where’s the lamp?” James asked.
“I thought you brought it.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“You said you had one.”
“I do have one. I didn’t say I was bringing it. You packed the canoe. I thought that meant you’d bring a lamp.”
Matthew shrugged. “Sorry.”
“Hopeless. Never mind, just look for the big rock. He said it would be buried underneath.”
They crawled inside, carefully patting their way forward in the dark.
“Matthew, over here.”
“Where?”
James took Matthew’s hand and placed it on the stone.
“Here. Lift it for me, will ya?”
Matthew grabbed it by the base. “It’s heavy.” With a groan he raised it up and over, a thud echoing through the cave as it struck the sand beside him.
“Good,” James said. “Now start digging.”
Matthew clawed as quickly as he could, working his way down until he felt wood graze up against his fingers. “I think I’ve found it!”
“Lovely. Get it out, would you?”
With both hands he pulled, slowly but surely prying the small chest from the sand. As it popped free it he fell back onto his rear.
“Oh, did you have a little fall there, Madam?” James teased in an exaggerated cockney accent.
“I didn’t see you doing any digging,” Matthew mumbled as he dusted himself off.
“Come on then, grab the chest. You did good.”

“Where’s the hell’s the canoe?” cried James.
“Beats me.”
“Well, can you see it?”
Matthew looked out across the sea. “Don’t think so. I thought you tied it to the tree?”
“I did!”
“Yeah, sure looks like it.”
“No, I did. I really did.”
“Hopeless.”
“I’m serious. I tied it up. I promise.”
“Ah, it’s fine. He knows we’re out here. When we don’t come back tomorrow, he’ll come get us.”
James looked worriedly towards the sky.
“James? He will come get us, won’t he?”
“Yeah. Yeah, sure he will.”

They sat down on the sand, the unopened chest on the ground between them.
“What’s wrong?” asked Matthew.
“Nothing. It’s just…the Indians are going to kill me.”
Matthew laughed. “Yeah, they are. Make sure you let me know when you tell em. I wanna watch.”
“They didn’t even want to lend me that canoe in the first place.”
“And now we know why.”
James sighed, throwing his arms up in defeat.
“Hey, what was that?”
“What was what?”
“Under your arm. Show me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“James. Come on.”
“What?” he snapped, a hint of red across his cheeks.
“Show me. Come on, show me. Show me!”
“Fine! Geez.” He reluctantly lifted his arm.
Matthew moved in for a closer look. “It’s a hair!”
“I’ve pulled it out like four times now. Damn thing keeps coming back.”
“It’s weird.”
“I know.”
“Hairy James. Soon you’ll be growing a big pirate beard.”
“Don’t say that. It’s not funny.”
“It was just a joke.”
“I’m worried about it enough as is.”
“What? Why?”
“You don’t ever think about it?”
“Think about what?”
“That we’re the oldest, except for him.”
“So?”
“So, what happens when we grow up?”
Mathew snorted. “We can’t.”
“We keep getting bigger, don’t we?”
“Yeah, I guess so. But – ”
“You don’t ever wonder what happened to the other big kids?”
“Pirates got em. Everyone knows that.”
“Did you actually see the pirates get them? Or is that just what he told you?”
“What, are you saying he’s a liar?”
“I don’t know what he is. None of us do, really.”
“We shouldn’t talk about this stuff. I don’t like it.”
“Fine.”

They sat a while in silence. The moon was bright and full.
James stood up and walked around, suspiciously eyeing off the sky.
“What are you doing?” asked Mathew.
“Nothing.”
“Stop it James, you’re freaking me out. Stop it!”
He sat down with a huff. “Have you checked the chest yet?”
“What?”
“The chest we found. Have you looked inside?”
“Oh. No, I haven’t.” Matthew placed it in his lap and opened it.
“Well?”
“It’s empty.”
James shook his head. “I knew it.”
“Knew what?”
James was silent, his eyes wide with terror and locked on the sky above.
“James?”
“Get in the cave. Now.”
“Why? What – ”
“Matthew, run!”

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