Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pirates by Maura Z, age 14

Wispy gusts of snow veiled the street outside of the warm café window. Carter and I sat there with steaming mugs of cocoa in our hands, as his mother rambled on about how far back their faith goes. Carter's family went to church every Sunday, literally (if the world exploded, they'd still be kneeling in the pews) and his mother always raved about how her great aunt was a nun, or that her brother was off in the peace core. But the incessant flow of Mrs. Petry's voice stopped abruptly, and she awkwardly stumbled over that one shame in her ancestry. "Well, you see…" She sucked in her breath and held it as while before continuing," That's the end of our long line of commitment to the church I guess, your Great Great Grandfather; was a pirate"

Carter, who at the time had been aimlessly twirling his finger in the fluffy whipped cream, snapped his head up at that. Now you can imagine how any 2nd grader would feel about this chunk of news, nothing became more important to him. I watched as a spark of interest exploded in his sea green eyes, and something told me he might take this too far. I never saw anyone spit out as many questions at once as Carter did: Who was he? Where was he from? Do I look like him? Do we still have his treasure? The list went on and on. Mrs. Petry avoided the questions as best as she could weary of herself for even thinking of telling Carter of all people. But Carter never stopped asking questions for the rest of that Friday afternoon. I had no idea that on Saturday, the old Carter would walk the plank.

I woke the nest morning in the pale winter sunlight, and dressed in bundles as I got ready to walk the dog. Carter and I took our dogs on long walks every Saturday morning, even though Mr. and Mrs. Petry didn't really approve of a mutt like mine, but tradition is tradition. So I stumbled across the sick iced sidewalks as quickly and carefully as I could to Carter's crisp, white colonial home. Henry panted excitedly as I rapped on the large red door, both of us excited for a good day. The door creaked open reluctantly as Carters little sister appeared, eyeing me doubtfully. "Hey Riley, is Carter home? We always take the dogs on a walk on-" But she interrupted me. "I guess I can get him..., but remember, I warned you" With that she had flown up the stairs to her brothers room. Before I knew Carter was on his way downstairs, ready for a walk, but…"Carter" I exclaimed surprised,"What's on your hand?" I gestured to the twisted metal duct taped to his wrist. "It's the Caribbean Commander, the best hook for fighting in all the seven seas" he said with pride. "But it's just a fork with its prongs twisted""I think I would know," Carter let out a hardy laugh," You landlubbers think you know it all" I soon learned through all the confusion that there was an immediate change in my friend, and it wasn't easy to deal with. As much as I tried to make sense of it all, I couldn't, and the only thing that was clear was that in his mind, he'd always been a sailor with a hook that loves to steal treasure. The whole day he talked about a big storm that had blown in, while he fought on the waters, like he was the bravest pirate there ever was; but that was only the beginning. On Sunday, after his mom took him to the chapel and back, it seemed that something had grown on Carter's shoulder. It was like a mass of paper and tape strapped to himself. "Okay Carter, I think you're taking this a bit far, I mean seriously, what is that?" I admitted desperately, pointing at his shoulder. "What do you think it is?" he scoffed," It's my parrot of course; every good pirate had a parrot! And stop staring at me like I'm an alien, you act like you've never seen me like this in your life!""That's because I haven't Carter!" I blurted," You've never been like this in your life- you are not a pirate!" But of course this didn't affect his spirit much, he was a second grader who truly believed that right now, he is a pirate, and there was no changing his mind. I dropped the whole thing in the end, but it was hard to ignore his swarthy language, that "parrot" on his shoulder or the hook he swung wildly about. Boys, what did I expect? "Mom, what's his name? Please I promise I won't ask again!" Carter pleaded his mother as we sat in the warmth of the kitchen. He was dying to head over to the library and look up as much as he could with the librarians help. Mrs. Petry clanged the dishes together as she stuffed them in the cabinet. Wearily looking down on Carter's face, she pushed the hair out of her eyes, and sighed," Joseph Arthur Jones, and his 'friends' called him Black Soul Joe" she seemed to murmur that part under her breath," so go do whatever you want to about this, but that's the last time I'm bringing it up!". As she huffed out of the cozy kitchen, Carter was already bolting up the sidewalk towards the large brick library. I jumped on my bike and pedaled toward home in frozen waves of wind wondering what else Carter will find out about his ancestors. It was kind of interesting, all this talk about ancestry, if you think about it, you could be connected to anyone. For all I know I could be related to Queen Elizabeth or anyone else of famous history! The day dragged on with no word from Carter, and it was nearly nightfall when I heard our door bell echo through the house; ringing over and over again. Of course he was out on the porch, and his puffs of air smoked up in the bitter cool breeze. There was no hiding that mischievous gleam in his bright eyes. "But Carter-" I exclaimed in surprise," Where's all stuff? I mean the clothes and the hook… and where'd your bird go?" "Pirates don't interest me, they never really did," he simply stated," but guess what! I never really was part pirate in the first place, I'm all Viking!" We talked for a couple of minutes, and he excitedly told me all about his Great Great Great Grandpa who was now apparently Viking. He also explained that he had to go tell his mom (can't imagine how excited she was!) and I watched him dash across the snowy yards towards home. I suppose I couldn't expect anything more, from a boy with that kind of imagination.