When I was a kid, I loved making treasure maps.
We had been taught in school how to reproduce maps from the atlas using tracing paper and a soft pencil. This was a long and somewhat tedious process because, once the trace had been made, it had to be transferred onto art paper. This was done first in pencil and then in blue using a pen and ink. The lettering had to be done in perfect copy book script, the page bordered in red ink and the whole thing carefully shaded with coloured pencils. Using the pens was a messy business and one blot ruined the entire piece of work, meaning that one had to start over.
Also, one was not permitted to use any creative license when naming the places on the map. Brisbane had to be marked as Brisbane not Blood-Sucking Leechville.
When I drew my treasure maps, I used my best coloured pencils and sometimes one of those newfangled BIC ballpoint pens and I always had creative place names. The kitchen was Dorothy’s Dungeon of Dastardly Deeds. The garage, in which many small lizards lived, was marked as the Pit of Foul and Ferocious Pythons. Far more interesting, in my humble opinion.
The purpose of my treasure maps was not so much to conceal some item, but rather to send my brother off on a wild goose chase and thereby get him out of my hair for a while. My parents had this mad idea that we should want to play together. Where they got that idea from, I have no idea. We rarely wanted to play together. He liked to annoy me, and I liked to annoy him, but we did not like playing together.
So I made treasure maps, lots of treasure maps…and, in a treasure map, as you know, X marks the spot where the treasure can be found.
Well, it does in most treasure maps but, in my maps, not always. I found that it was much more fun to hide the item and draw the map so that when my brother arrived at the X, I would be lying in wait, ready to leap out and scare the socks off him. Of course, this practice usually resulted in my being sent to my room to think about what a mean, nasty big sister I was, while my brother sat at the kitchen table enjoying a calming snack of milk and cookies.
I didn’t really care. My bedroom, aka Hepzibah’s House of Brain Melting Horrors, was where my books and my real treasures were. My collection of tiny bottles, my miniature china tea set given to me by Nanna, my gold bangle (real gold, not just yellow metal), my shoebox full of cards and letters and my special set of colouring pencils in a wooden box, sent all the way from England by my great aunt…all my most precious possessions were hidden in secret places in my room.
And yes, I had made treasure maps for each of those secret locations, just in case I forgot where I had ‘buried’ my treasures. I had attached them to the back of my bookcase, the side that faced the wall, so that any snooping, pesky little brother wouldn’t find them.
Nobody was going to find my treasure…and in those maps X really did mark the spot.