Geese are not my favorite birds. They are big and mean and noisy. And this one was asking for trouble. He was staring at me and hissing.
I raised my stick and edged closer. “Hand over the gold,” I said. “Hand it over now, or I’ll make you walk the plank!” Then I ran right at him.
Honk-honk! He waddled off, flapping his wings. I fell in the grass laughing.
“Micah!” Liz shouted at me. “Mom said not to chase the geese.”
I sat up and looked back at our building. I found our apartment window—the one on the ground floor with the yellow curtains. Mom was not looking out.
I sighed. “I was just being a pirate.” I stood up and threw my stick into the pond.
Before, when we lived in Michigan, we could chase things. But here in the city it’s different. We have a pond behind our building, but we can’t wade or fish in it. We have trees, but we can’t climb them. We can’t even put up a tire swing. Dad says the neighbors might not like that.
Liz was on her knees beneath a tree, all hunched down. I wandered over.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
She held up her toy shovel. “Digging for treasure. Want to help?”
Liz is two years older than me. She really knows how to come up with ideas. Good ones. I ran to our sandbox to get my shovel.
“Do you think pirates really buried treasure here?” I asked.
“I think there’s a good chance,” said Liz. “We’re closer to the ocean here than we were in Michigan.”
Finding treasure would make everything all right. That would make up for having to leave our house in the country. That would make up for moving here even though we have to be quieter indoors and can’t chase things.
I started digging.
My shovel hit something hard. “I found something!” I said. “I think it’s a treasure chest!”
“Be careful when you clear away the dirt,” said Liz. “Old wood like that is all soft and squishy. You don’t want to poke a hole in it.”
Crack! The handle broke off my shovel.
Liz crawled over and peered into the hole I had started. “Micah,” she said, “that’s a tree root.”
“Oh.” I tossed the broken halves of my shovel down.
I looked over Liz’s head, and something caught my eye. An old lady with white hair and a brown jacket was walking from the apartments down to the pond. “Look at that lady,” I said.
Liz took a long look over her shoulder. “I think she’s a pirate in disguise,” she said. “Let’s spy on her. Behind the tree—quick!”
We crouched down in the tree’s shadow. The lady did not look our way at all. She stopped right at the edge of the pond and stood with her arms crossed.
“She knows where the treasure is,” Liz whispered. “She’s trying to think of a way to get it without anyone seeing.”
“But we’ll see!” I said.
Liz put her finger to her lips.
The lady walked slowly along the bank. “She’s making a map in her head,” said Liz. “See how she’s looking at everything? She’s going to go back inside and draw it. Then she’s going to mark the treasure spot with a big red X . . .” Liz’s voice trailed off.
The lady took something white out of her pocket. She dabbed at her eyes with it. Then she put it back. She tilted her head up to the sky and closed her eyes.
“What’s she doing now?” I asked Liz.
Liz was quiet for a minute. “Thinking. Or maybe praying,” said Liz.
“She’s not a pirate, is she?”
Liz shook her head. “I don’t think so.” She watched for another moment. “But let’s go say hi.”