"To the stars, with regards, I write. The sea has called you home."
10 years and one day. Those were the terms of being the captain of the Dutchman. 10 years on sea, and then, at the close of each decade, one day, from dawn to sunset, the captain could walk the earth.
When Will had departed from her, that fateful night on the beach, he had known what would await him when the first 10 years were over. He had known it in his heart, and when he saw that small figure standing besides the light of his life, a smile had spread on his lips.
10 years had gone by and here he was, finally returning home.
He could feel it in his heart, wherever it might lie. Whenever Elizabeth trembled, whenever she stumbled, whenever she was happy, whenever their son – their son – had accomplished something extraordinary or whenever he had brought her grief, he could feel it. His heart didn’t beat in his breast, but it beat nonetheless and he could feel it.
Elizabeth guarded his heart and he would feel everything that happened to her, and in turn, also their son.
And so, it was only natural, that when Elizabeth died, he felt nothing at all.
Of all the things, Elizabeth had counted on, dying from a disease was not one of them.
From a bloodthirsty pirate maybe, or one lusting for revenge. Maybe even robbery or a man who wanted her pleasures, as Fao Singh had once wanted. A little, bright part of her, a part that hadn’t been corrupted by the evil she had experienced, had entertained the idea of dying of old age. Of one night going to sleep as every other, and just never waking up. She thought that she would like that, with Will by her side.
Eternal sleep sounded like a peaceful way to leave this turbulent world, and by all accounts, this was what Elizabeth had deserved. But the world is an unjust place who only gives kindness to those who can afford it, and to the gentle ones it gives sorrow and pain.
That is the terms of the world, and so a happy ending was reserved only to those who could pay in gold.
Elizabeth was not one of them, and though her heart was more precious than all the gold, any rich man could produce, the world was not done with bringing her grief.
When a disease spread throughout the lands, throughout their small town, fear stroke in her heart, and she never let her boy – their boy – out of her sight.
Oh, if only she had been on the seas where no disease could touch her. If only Will was here to protect them from something more evil, more treacherous than even Davy Jones himself.
Seemingly out of nowhere people dropped like flies, and Elizabeth didn’t know what to do. She had grown up a governor’s daughter, sweet and kind to everyone, and then she had been a pirate, just and brave, but she was never a doctor. She had been king of pirates and now she couldn’t even protect her own son.
So she held him close, sang sweet songs to him, sang crude songs to him, as to remind him that he was of noble blood and the sea alike.
Elizabeth had been shaped by the gentleness of her father’s smile and the cruelness of a stormy tide. She was a pirate king and queen alike, and though she had no sword, her son succumbing to a devilish illness was something, she would give her life to thwart.
10 years and a day, were the terms of her husband’s life. A sickness was killing her whole village and there were still 7 years before, she would be able to watch a green glint on the horizon that would signal Will Turner’s coming.
Henry Turner turned 15 summers the year his mother left him to fend for himself in this world. He was 15 when he bore her back to her beloved sea. She had done everything she could to keep herself and him alive, but one person, man or woman, can only do so much, when fate and the world is out to get them.
He had taken it upon himself to protect his mother, when she one day fainted in his arms with a fever so high, he was almost scorched by just touching her skin.
His mother was an angel on earth, this is what his father had said to him the one day they had spent together since his birth. One day, he had known his father, and a million and more had he known his mother. So when his father sat with him on a cliff and spoke to him about how he had to take care of his mother, Henry could only nod.
“I’ll always protect her against all evil, this I swear to you, father,” he had said, words wise beyond his years, and his father had laughed when he had added with a defeated sigh, “but I do not think she would ever let me.”
“No,” his father had answered with a sober smile, “no, I don’t think that she would. Your mother is brave beyond comparison, and fierce in ways that cannot be described when she has something to protect.”
His father had smiled down upon him and pulled him tight, “although, this just makes a better reason for you to take care of her.”
He had vowed to protect his mother against all evil, but an illness was not evil; it was like death. It takes and it takes, it takes all the kind, all the gentle, all the sweet, all the cruel, all the brute, all the liars, all the thieves.
When the sickness took another victim, the townsmen and the priests said that there was nothing left to do but pray to God, pray for forgiveness in the next life, and make the last time for the victim as pleasurable as possible. If they have to die, let them die while feeling the best they possibly could.
“Stay,” he told his mother whenever she made a move to rise from her bed. She never listened; she had always loved him too much for his own good, this he could see with clarity as she pushed her body to the limits, cooking for him, consoling him, with a fever as warm as the sun. She would not lie still and heal, and so he supported her everywhere she went.
The townsmen admired her and pitied her. The lone mother who now desperately tried to continue giving her son the best life possible, while she was quickly withering.
“Stay,” his mother told him whenever he went out to do her duties. He never listened; he loved his mother and he needed her to stay with him, just a little while longer. Sleep had always ridden him of his childhood sicknesses, and it would do the same to his mother. He knew it to be true and so he worked, almost from dawn to eve.
The sickness worked quickly and so within the tenth day of her sickness, she barely could sit up straight and eat. Drinking water was an almost impossible feat for her, and she slept through most of the hours of the day.
“You have to eat, mother,” he urgently told her as he pushed the spoon closer to her mouth that was firmly shut.
She shook her head with as much strength as she could muster. “No, no, my boy. We don’t have much food and you need all we have. Do not waste it on me.”
“Mother, no.” He could feel a wetness in his eyes and he cursed himself for showing weakness when his mother was being so, so strong. “You have to eat to stay with me, I cannot do this alone.”
She smiled sadly at him and finally accepted the little soup he could prepare. For the first time in days, the food stayed down and as she fell asleep, he felt himself hoping again for a miracle. A miracle like when his father’s chest was pierced by a sword, but still he lived on.
His mother was true, his mother was kind, and if anyone deserved to live forever, it should be her.
This is what he told God, as he prayed for her recovery. If there is any justice in this world, then let me keep her. Let me protect her as I have failed to do.
And maybe someone out there listened, because when he woke in the morning, in the crack of dawn, his mother didn’t look as ashen as she had the night before, and he almost cried of relief.
He brought her water and broth and fed her the whole day, telling lighthearted stories, told her of how he saw a ship with black sails on the horizon the other day – it only passed by, but it could’ve been The Black Pearl. His mother only smiled at his enthusiasm and scolded him slightly by saying that not all pirates were as true and good as his father, or had the same kind of twisted sense of moral as Jack Sparrow – a friend of his mother’s that he had never seen but had heard so much about. Both from his mother and the sailors down at the harbour.
“I would like to meet him someday,” he said after a minute of silence.
“Jack Sparrow,” he answered, looking out the window. Eyes fixated on sea. “And father, of course. One day, I would like to meet all those you tell me such exciting stories about. Even Barbossa, a dirty scoundrel he may be.”
His mother laughed lighthearted at him and shook her head but she didn’t say anything to change his mind.
“Tell me of father,” he asked of her as the sun began to set. “Tell me of the man you knew, before any pirates came to your father’s port.”
She looked away from him and out the window, her eyes fixating on the horizon as though she imagined the green light that signaled his return.
“He was sweet, innocent,” she said with a voice that sounded like it was lost in the past, “and he was everything, I had ever wanted, I think. He was as brave as he was kind, and everything he did, he did for family, for me, or for justice. Men like Jack Sparrow value many things, like gold or freedom, but for Will, the true value in life was love, to love and be loved.”
She looked at him again, her eyes warm in a way they only were, when she spoke of his father. “You are so like him, when he was but a boy. So brave, so true, so loving. Never change, my boy.”
He nodded and gave his promise. She fell asleep with a smile on her lips and he fell asleep, his heart’s hope blazing like a flame.
“This world is a cruel, cruel place,” his mother whispered to him a day later, “and it only holds so much light.”
He held her hand tighter and gave it a chaste kiss.
“You were my light, my sweet boy,” she whispered urgently, almost as though she was not sure she would finish, “you have always been the most precious thing to me. I was blessed by God the day I first saw you.”
“Mother,” he whispered but she cut him off with a shake of her head and a smile.
“Listen to me, Henry.” She tightened her grip on his hand. “You are not a little boy any longer, but the world is a dangerous place and it will do what it can to rid you of your kindness. Do not let it win.”
He shook his head and closed his eyes. Tears were flowing down his cheeks freely now and he held onto his mother like she was what saved him from drowning. No, no, no, no.
“I love you so much, Henry,” her voice was thick and sounded like she was on the verge of tears like he was, “I love you more than any words could ever describe, you must know this.”
He hushed her worries away, “I know, mother. How could I not? You have worked every day of my life to make it better, and mother, I could not have asked for a better one.”
She smiled, a light smile that he had not seen since the outbreak of the sickness. “I am so proud of you, Henry. So proud. You have brought me happiness everyday, from your first breath, and you will bring me happiness until my last.”
“No,” his voice shook and tears slid down his cheek, “no, no, no.”
His arms slid around her frail body and held her close to him in an attempt to keep him as close to him as possible. And maybe, just maybe, this would mean she would not leave him.
“Will you give my love to your father?” she asked with a faraway voice.
He nodded even though he wasn’t sure she registered him, “yes, yes, of course I will. He will know that no one has ever loved one person as you loved him.”
“You’re too good for this world, my boy. Too good.”
When she closed her eyes and breathed her last breath, he felt like he was dying as well. His heart felt like it was shattering and his sight was clouded with tears.
As he held his mother corpse, he screamed out his pain, at God, at the father that wasn’t there to console his mother, to the world that tore away his mother because she was that of angels and the earth is a dirty place that did not deserve her grazing it.
The world's thieves and liars were composed of much more than just pirates. The biggest sinner of them all would be Death. Lurking, awaiting. Hiding in the shadows as night fall and it jumps to strike. Cruel, new world.
Mostly he screamed at nothing. Let the whole world know that today it has lost an angel.
“Please, mother,” he whispered, “please, wake up. Please, please, please.”
“Mother!”, he screamed as he got no answer.
In the town, several houses were awoken by the sound of screams so heartbreaking that some had to be forcefully held back from running to enveloping the grieving boy. There lives the pirate king, the elders say to the distressed younglings, there lives the pirate prince. Do not go there lest you want their wrath to rain down on you.
In the morning, the screaming could be heard again. This time from the beach, and a few of the townsmen covered their ears as to not hear the tragic sound. That is how they had always survived, that is how they survived the new plague; shut their ears and pray for a better tomorrow.
“Come back, you coward,” Henry Turner screamed at the sea, at his father who would arrive in 4 years, “give her life again. Save her, if you ever loved her, save her!”
The sea offered no answer, no consolation, but the calm sound as it brushed up on the shore. The young man fell to his knees, the body of his mother in his arms, reuniting her with the sea she had left behind.
Elizabeth Swann was never meant to be cut off from the sea that held her heart, the ocean from where she derived her strength.
Elizabeth Swann had always been as warm as the sun, lighting up the worlds of all who encountered her, as beautiful and ruthless as the starry night, as the darkness that brought the night.
Elizabeth Swann was always meant to live among waves, and the sea calls her home.