Flash Fiction – The Map

Bottle Message In A Bottle Sos Background

The prompt is:

An elderly woman is gardening when she discovers what appears to be a treasure map buried in her back yard. It seems to lead to a spot on the outskirts of town. What does she find where X marks the spot?

Grace loved getting out in the early morning to potter around her garden, her escape from the pain of age, the hurt of isolation and the stabbing of rejection she felt from her own children. It had been several weeks since any of them had called to see if she was ok.

In her garden she was in charge, weeds suffered her wrath, nonthriving plants received her encouragement and the ones in bloom and adding to the colour in her life she showered with praise.

Today she was in the far corner of her garden, a place she didn’t get to so often as it was a bit of a walk and now days she tried to limit the distances she walked anywhere.

There an old hydrangea growing there and it was in need of a good prune. It had always been there, filling the back corner with its beautiful blue flowers during its flowering season. She placed her padded kneeler in position and lowered herself down to start. She’d only cut back a few branches when she noticed something sticking out of the ground.

It was the top of a wine bottle. She was puzzled as she didn’t immediately know what a wine bottle would be in her garden as she didn’t drink and neither had her late husband nor her own parents who had lived in the place before her.

Digging around she dragged it out of the ground. It appeared to be an old Sherry bottle, the amber glass was dirty and marked from being in the ground for so long. The cork was only half way in with some rough binding holding it in place and with a bit of a struggle she pulled it out and peered inside.

There was something in the bottle and so being curious as to what it was she gathered herself up and headed inside where she knew she had just the thing to extract what was inside.

Carefully she pulled out what seemed to be a piece of paper. Goodness she thought a note of some kind.

To her surprise it was a map. Across the top was a note in a child’s handwriting. “Harvey bet you can’t find where I have hidden our treasure.”

It was signed, Elsie.

Underneath was a crudely drawn map of the yard. Grace recognised one area as the old silky oak was still there.

On the back was written a date. April 8, 1912.

Grace had never heard of any Elsie’s or Harvey’s in her family.

Not to be deterred and still with a sense of adventure in her bones she gathered the map and headed out into the yard once more. Getting her bearings and a small shovel, she stepped out towards where the map was pointing her.

She could feel a sensation within her of being on the verge of something fascinating. Grace had always been a keen historian and her own family she had researched thoroughly. But these names were new to her.

She stopped at the spot where she thought the map directed her. It was beneath the huge silky oak and the X was on the western side of it. She doubted that whatever Elsie had buried so long ago would be there today. But she decided to dig around anyway.

Lacking the strength, she once had, she decided to dig what she could more out of curiosity than a belief in actually discovering anything.

A little way below the surface she did touch on something that was not dirt. Again she needed her kneeling mat and scrapped away at was a small box. It wasn’t long before she had it out and in her hands.

Wiping away the dirt and mud, she noticed it was small ornate box, the timber had been carved and on one side was small metal clasp that was so corroded it refused to move.

So gathering herself once more she took the box inside to see if she could open it. Being the resourceful woman she was she soon had plied the clasp back and looked inside.

There was a note again in Elsie’s crude handwriting wishing Harvey well on his upcoming trip to America. She ended by saying how jealous she was he was getting to sail on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.


Written in response to: https://writerishramblings.com/2017/02/12/flash-fiction-the map

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12 Responses to Flash Fiction – The Map

  1. Aww, that’s so sad. You had me from beginning to end. She sounds like a character you could build on in other pieces or part of a larger piece. Well written.

  2. Lorraine says:

    You were right — a truly Kleenex worthy tale. Curiouser and Curiouser as Elsie and Harvey aren’t in the family history so . . . (Harvey missing is understandable, but Elsie?)

  3. Lyn says:

    He’s done it again! A complete surprise ending 🙂 I concur with the others…this could go on further.

  4. Deb says:

    Oh no. So it has a sad ending for Harvey. I love how this pulled me in.

  5. Had me hooked Michael. Certainly didn’t expect the ending.

  6. wordwitch88 says:

    Excellent story – just enough of the “usual routine day to day” set with the right tone and feeling, but the mystery … and the childlike curiosity to know, …. well done. And oh, as the others have said – what a twist indeed! Further echoing the other comments …. leaves one wondering, who were these two kids …. how did this “treasure” come to be buried here – was it ever found? and after the event … what then? and, of course, in relation to ….. so yes, well done Michael – from a simple “nonchalant” plot, you’ve walked us, carefully and slowly into a mystery just most intriguing, leaving us both satisfied and equally curious. 😀

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