Milo and Lorenzo had always wanted to be alchemists. The idea of changing things from one form to another fascinated them both. Which is why they were disappointed to hear that it was not considered a valid career choice.
“Boys,” their mother said. “You can be anything you want to be, but alchemy isn’t real. Chemistry is real. Do you want to be chemists?”
“Do chemists change lead into gold?” Milo asked.
“No,” their mother said. “But they make potato chips taste like pizza.”
“Do chemists make an elixir of immortality?” Lorenzo asked.
“No,” their mother said. “But they make anti-aging creams.”
“Do chemists make panaceas that can cure all diseases?” Milo asked
“Of course not,” their mother said. “But they’ve developed vaccines and antibiotics.”
“Alchemy is clearly better,” Lorenzo said.
“I don’t know,” Milo said. “Pizza flavored potato chips sound pretty good right now.”
“Be strong, Milo,” Lorenzo said. “Remember the plan.”
“Fine, fine. But maybe we could study chemistry long enough to learn how to make the potato chips?” Milo asked.
“That’ll take forever. I’m sure they save it for the end,” Lorenzo said.
“You’re probably right,” Milo said.
“So what is your plan?” their mother asked.
“We’re going to hunt all over the world for ancient texts written by the alchemist masters from long ago,” Lorenzo said.
“How will you pay for you travels?” their mother asked.
“We’ll put on magic shows,” Milo said.
“You don’t know how to do any magic,” their mother said.
“We got some books from the library,” Lorenzo said. “I’m sure it’s not that hard to learn.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy to learn magic tricks as the boys thought. Their show was quite entertaining by the time they left. This was not because it was amazing or mystifying, rather it was a comedy of errors from beginning to end.
Fortunately, they only ever had to perform it once. They were booked to perform on a ship to pay for their passage. The ship was shipwrecked on the second day of the cruise and somehow Milo and Lorenzo ended up in a lifeboat adrift at sea. The other passengers were recovered alive and well. Milo and Lorenzo were missing.
When their boat began to drift away from the others, Milo and Lorenzo had tried to paddle it back into place. However, it was caught in some strange current and they couldn’t manage to turn it around.
It propelled them away faster and faster. During all the chaos, no one noticed them waving and yelling. Moments later, a bank of fog swallowed them. They sat in the fog for a day and a half. It was hard to tell sometimes if they were moving at all.
“Shouldn’t there be phones or a GPS or something?” Milo asked.
“If there are, I can’t find them,” Lorenzo said.
“Maybe someone stole them,” Milo said.
They ended up on an island. It was very small. It had a few orange trees next to a little pond. The pond was next to a gentle hill. After eating oranges and drinking pond water, Lorenzo walked around the hill. “Do you think it’s a burial mound?” he asked.
“Could be,” Milo said.
“I don’t want to dig up someone’s grave,” Lorenzo said. “That seems disrespectful. Maybe we can just see if something is poking out somewhere.”
They both walked around the hill a few more times. Milo finally noticed the edge of a clay jar. It had been coated in wax. After digging it up, they carefully chipped around the edge and peeled the wax off the top.
“Milo,” Lorenzo said. “There are papers inside.”
“Can you read them?” Milo asked.
“Luckily I know pig latin, so I can read them. I’ll translate them for you,” Lorenzo said. He began to read: “To create gold, begin with twelve buckets of moon dust…”
Milo was dancing around. “I can’t believe we found it!” he said. “This is great! Wait. Did you just say moon dust?”
“Yes, see here, ‘oonmay ustday’, that’s moon dust,” Lorenzo said.
Milo looked over his shoulder. “So, do they mean dust from the moon? I don’t think the ancients perfected space travel. Although, if they did, we definitely should do that too.”
“Maybe they mean dust that was sifted out in the light of a full moon or something like that. Let me read further and see.” Lorenzo mumbled to himself as he read. “Nope, doesn’t say. Let’s check this other paper.”
Milo waited for a minute, then asked, “So, what does it say?”
“It’s about creating diamonds,” Lorenzo said.
“Does it need buckets of moon dust too?” Milo asked.
“No, it needs buckets of phoenix tears,” Lorenzo said. He put the papers down with a sigh.
“Why the sad face?” Milo asked. “That one is at least doable. I know some pretty sad stories. I’m sure they’d make anybody cry.”
“Milo,” Lorenzo said. “We don’t know bird languages. They wouldn’t understand your stories.”
“Maybe they do know our language. Or pig latin. We won’t know until we try,” Milo said. “And we can try your idea of sifting the dust in the light of the moon too. We finally have somewhere to start. Let’s go home.”
“But we’re stuck here,” Lorenzo said.
“It’s been a while. Maybe the current has changed. Let’s get in the boat and see,” Milo said.
Sure enough, they got in the boat and didn’t even need to paddle. The current pulled them back into the bank of fog. Two days later, they were on the other side of the fog, being picked up by a rescue boat.
They went home, ready to be the first and greatest modern alchemists. How well did that work out? Well, have you met any alchemists lately?