A Message in a Bottle

It all began that one fateful day. We were down in Florida, my friends and I, on a band trip. It was late December, the thirtieth to be exact, and quite frankly we had all been enjoying the wonderful warm sunshine the Atlantic coast brings compared to the frosty blizzard they were having up north in Minnesota. The weather for this particular day was extremely wonderful; the sky glistened with a rich robin's egg blue, without any clouds what-so-ever to tarnish it, there wasn't any breeze, and the air was a warm seventy-six degrees. It definitely was one of those glorious days that a person remembers for all of their life.

We were at Cocoa Beach, enjoying all the bliss Florida gave. Natalie, a friend of mine who was a year older, and I were spanning last night's tide line looking for any stray shells or creatures that may have washed in. What we wanted to find were large, colorful shells with which you could hear the ocean waves breaking on a sandy beach, even back home; but what we really found was quite different indeed.

We were standing in the golden sand, our skin slowly turning from the pale olive hue it currently was, due to long periods without sun, to a golden tan, searching for the perfect orange shell when a large swell broke and came up to drown Natalie and my legs. The dark blue water may have looked like a warm Caribbean bubble bath, but even though it was the Atlantic, ocean water in December bites your nerves and makes you shiver. Just as I began to feel silly jumping up and down like a kangaroo trying to warm up, I hear Natalie's high voice call to me, Get over here quick and look at this!

I quickly walked over to her, my feet sinking in the moist sand, to look at what she had found. Lying there, wrapped with seaweed, was an old broken bottle. It was not like any bottle either of us had ever saw before; this bottle had a wide base, and about half way up began to taper into a very thin neck. This bottle also had a gleam, which definitely was not like any other gleam we had ever seen before. But, the most extraordinary thing about this bottle was what it contained. Inside, rolled up into a thin scroll, was a piece of old, golden sheep skin parchment. Covering this document was a black script reading:

A treasure map ye think ye see,
To dig up me diamonds and gold,
But gold is not always what king's may be,
And treasure is not always a thing to hold.

So grab your cutlass and a scalawag or two,
And take me map in hand;
The clear path is not always where one should go,
For some paths do not have a map to follow.

When you reach the edge of the map, mate,
There may be monsters to be found,
But remember that not and have a good time,
Be off, me hearties, yo ho!

Both of our brown eyes filled with wonder as we stared at this apparent pirate riddle. Slowly we turned the page over, to reveal a real, live treasure map. The map was of the coast line a little farther north than where we were, and showed a path written in thin red dashes, leading to a thick red x. We looked at each other, and instantly agreed to follow the riddle and find the gold.

We took off at a dead sprint down the beach, hoping to leave on our hunt unnoticed. There was a bay to the south of us, and leading up to it was a steep incline in which the soft beach sand gave way to coarse brown foliage. After we reached the deeper plant growth, Natalie stopped and pulled out the map, searching for our destined path. We're close, she said. In fact, there should be a path around here.

So we searched and fought our way throughout the plants for three hours, losing all sense of direction. Finally we stopped in desperation, and decided our search was futile. Our stomachs rumbled, loud enough for each other to hear. Natalie's forehead glistened, as I was sure mine did also.We both agreed that we should head back to the beach before they noticed we were missing, if they hadn't already. We decided to rest and gain our composure before we headed back.

When I sat on the ground I noticed that it was not as soft as thick underbrush should be. I put my hand on the ground, and noticed a grainy feeling; it was the pebbles of a path.

Uh... Natalie.. which way are we supposed to go after we find the path? I asked quietly.

Towards the tree with the heart shaped knob in the trunk, why?We found it!

We both jumped up, and danced around ecstatically. Once we were out of breath and our cheeks were rosy with exertion we headed out on our last leg of our journey.

Our path led to a high cliff overlooking the ocean. It was rocky and craggy all over and didn't seem very safe. There wasn't any sign of a treasure to be found.

What do we do now? I asked. Does it say anything about a secret hiding place?No, just something about a path that does not have a map.Well, I guess all there is to do then is to go back.

So we started to backtrack, when alas! Natalie stepped on a loose piece of ground, and slid into a hole leading into deep, hidden caves. I heard a thunk as she hit the ground.

Oh la vache! she yelled in French, Get down here!

I was a little hesitant at first, but eventually I followed her. We were in a deep underground bay, with a huge pirate ship floating on the surface. Its wood was a beautiful deep brown laden with gold and silver designs, and a mermaid statue on the bow.

Holy cow... I said, repeating Natalie's words in English.

There were intricately carved granite steps leading down to the surface of the bay, with the thick wooden boards of the plank resting against the steps. I carefully walked to the deck, and followed Natalie's voice to the sailor's quarters below deck, where there were sparkling piles of gold, silver, dazzling gems and beautiful diamonds. I realized, though that the riddle was right; treasure is not always found on the beaten path; for though we had found gold and jewels, we had learned to persevere and stick together to the end.