Will saw her first with sea water on his tongue, half-drowned and
gasping. He thinks it miraculous.
They grew up and her heavy perfumes carry themselves before her and
seat themselves in his memory. He is forever short of breath around
her and he can't label it anything but love.
He is an apprentice, still. She is a governor's daughter.
And though they are impossible, he forges his hopes in quavery thick
air and with every finished blade he exhales and his throat catches
at the light on the steel. He learns swordplay to see this light
more, to be breathless and weightless and to carve out and define
the wishes he'd forged.
Will is resentful of his place.
His father was a merchant sailor and, though not rich, they'd been
passing well. That is, until a letter arrived with a gold medallion,
with pages that stank of dread and regret and resignation. It spoke
vaguely of a betrayal, and begged them to be wary of pirates who
seek the family of his father's name. It came at a time when his
mother was already unwell.
And by and by Will came to Port Royal. Their streets were perhaps
more breezy and warm than those of England but they both carried a
dusty reek: aged piss, food rot, and dried sweat what came by honest
work and dishonest both.
Will moves around these streets with some sense of purpose. He was
lucky to become an apprentice, and he should be grateful.
He briefly thinks this as he slams his axe down into the table, when
neither the new Commodore nor Governor Swann himself did anything to
help save Elizabeth. And thinks it also as he later frees a
But only to save Elizabeth, Will rationalizes, and mentally plugs
his nose. They commandeer a ship that Will recognizes as a fine one,
having waited for his father as a young boy for too long on the
docks to be completely unknowledgeable.
And they move out to sea.
Will doesn't understand it. The air from the sea was cool and
distant to him, completely different from the muffling closeness of
his forge. Yet still, something in the speed of the ship and the
spray from the wind whips the breath away from him just as fast. And
the light sparkles on the sea.
And oddly, the heavy miasma surrounding the pirate captain loosened
once they'd reached open water. But Will still breathed lightly.
Jack flowed like molten metal, but overheated and trickling every
which way through his fingers. They burnt.
In the sun, Jack glowed, burnished. The sea air was whipping past
them and carrying words away, those that'd been spoken and those
that hadn't yet. Everything was chilled and distant and moving too
Will clumsily lunged for Jack's mouth. Breathed him in.
Because here Jack was the only thing that smells of home. Will
doesn't register that he's breathless.