And Then The Hurricane

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Perhaps it was the image of his wife that kept Jacques from going completely insane.

A pretty woman, she was, with her long, dark hair that tumbled down her back when it wasn't in twisting braids. Those chilling, cold gray eyes that always had a sense of mystery behind the very pupils. With her curvaceous body that deeply contrasted the slight bulge of fat of her youth, she was that of a prize to young Jacques, acquiring her hand in marriage when he was but seventeen.

He was no catch. Although his looks were far from unpleasant, Jacques life screamed mundane, his eyes were brown, with thick brown waves in his hair, and skin tanned from long days of work to help support his parents, brothers, and sisters.
But once he saw Anne, his heart quickened and palms moistened, much like the love sonnets he had studied as a boy in school. Jacques fantasized of buying her fine things: chocolates, jewelry, pretty dresses. She was the kind of rare beauty you saw in a common girl, with the attitude like you didn't deserve the time of day. It only made her a more desirable. Seemingly unattainable.

Seemingly.

Saying Anne easily came to wed Jacques was an understatement. Just like her looks, she gave no one, especially men, the time of day. There was a rumor that her parents were looking for any possible suitors, one who was willing to keep up with her spitfire, arrogant ways. So far, no one was up for the task.

Except for Jacques. Like those aged, sappy love sonnets, he pleaded for their daughter's hand in marriage. His determination shined in her parent's eyes, their prayers for a healthy, young, patient man had finally came. Anne never gave in smoothly or swiftly. She was like a wild horse, taking time and practice, but once she was tamed, her devotion was fantastic.

They married as soon as possible, the following month he slipped a cheap, silver ring onto her slender finger. The wedding was cheap and simple, both families smiling, cooing, "oh! What beautiful, beautiful children they will have! A happy life they will share!" No one really meant it, although is was the sensible, proper way to put it.

"What is wrong with me?" Anne not only asked, but demanded of herself. As the months flew by, it was evident she was unable to bear a child. Her beautiful, distant eyes would moisten with tears, suddenly becoming helpless and alone. Frequent doctor trips, trying everything from herbs to creams to prayers, suddenly became costly for the two. When Jacques' job of tending to the more rich, more elite of society's farm didn't pay for the rising bills and loans, there was only one solution.

The sea. As a boy, Jacques always had a fascination with the large body of water, floating in sync in some areas, sloppily chopping as if in war in others. As the demand for finery grew more and more as the Queen set the standard for outrageous fashions. The pay was fair for a year off at sea, Jacques hoping to send any wages he earned back to Anne, to settle the debt. The goodbye shared between man and wife was awkwardly affectionate, with a brief embrace and peck of the lips.

As the ship sailed off, they stared intently into eachothers eyes, their heads swarming with dread, infatuation, and hope. By the time five years were up, two would be gone.

The days became long and hard for Jacques, waking up at dawn and managing the ship. His stomach could not hold the constant wakes and his stomach relieved itself frequently. Despite the rude awakening, he adjusted rather well, despite the fact of being forced into it or not. He wrote his wife almost religiously, his heart worn with worry. Was she okay? Was she fed well, clothed decently, had a man tried and take advantage of her? The distance only made his heart swell bigger and bigger for her. Soon, he felt himself aching for her touch. Only she had the power to make him weak in every way, a power he could not correctly duplicate himself.

As his desire for her beauty, her wit, her humor was about to succumb him, his plans were crumbled with one sentence:

"Sail ho!" A man with a particularly high voice squealed, waving his chubby arms about. "Sail ho, pirates!"

The crew was set into a panic, running and shouting about, contemplating whether or not to stay and fight or to jump into the never ending ocean.

The small battle was well fought, and Jacques was taken prisoner by the gruff pirates. He struggled with both strength and reason, begging not to be taken. Not here, not now, not when he had a wife back at home.

"Ah, me blaggard mate, we all got on of those, eh?" One of those wretched, sea dogs winked, letting out a victorious yelp before boarding the trade ship for the valuable items.

The years passed and Jacques memories of Anne became lonely. She was a story, a memory. Or, perhaps, she never existed. What did exist, anyways? As the days passed, the life of a dity, cheating pirate was the only thing that was familiar. Everday seemed like an order, or a celebration, or both.

"Man that gun, ye cowardly swabs!"

"Hand me the rum, smartly! Aye, that ship went down like-a beauty."

Five years passed since Jacques has began his life on sea. Soon, a navy ship has seized the pirate crew and threatened to hang each and every one of them. Jacques begged forgiveness, that he was merely a prisoner, and they seemed to take mercy on the poor fellow. As he was being escorted onto safety, Captian Edward of the pirate ship made a slick cutting-neck motion with his two fingers, grumbling, "dead men tell no tales."

It took half a month to arrive back to his hometown. Despite the growth of facial hair and muscle, family and friends recognized him, sobbing and hugging him dearly.

"We all thought you were gone, with that tragic news of the ship sinking..." His mother whispered, blowing her nose delicately into a hankerchief.

They spoke for five minutes before the question creeped into Jacques mouth, "what about Anne? What has happened to my wife?"

His mother's face flushed and she patted his muscular shoulder, "maybe you should return to her." That was the only piece of information she offered.

Jacques spent extra time preparing himself, shaving his chin and dabbed on cologne, his palms sweating and heart quickening adjacent to his behavior as a lad. His nervous demeanor made his way to the house they shared together before knocking on the door.

The now twenty four year old Anne answered quickly. She developed smile lines and her once neat, braided hair was in wild curls around her face. She looked tired, desperately tired. Her eyes were no longer confident, but aged and warm. She hardly looked like she did as a teenager...now she was more beautiful, lovely.

"Jacques?" Her French accent came on thickly under her breathe, unblinking. "Is that you?"

He smiled, tears flooding his eyes, "yes, my love..." He paused, leaning to give her the longing kiss, to try and heal the pain of five years.

"Momma?" A little, feminine voice inquired from behind. "Momma, who is this?" It was but a girl, young, with dark red hair, cold gray eyes, olive skin.

"Who is this?" Jacques asked, his voice shaky, stepping away.

Anne took a breath, her body quivering. "This...is my daughter. Alice." Suddenly, she threw herself at her husband's feet, "forgive me, I thought you were dead, oh God, what have I done?"

Jacques felt his whole being go numb, looking at the child that was not his, desperately wanting to undo his voyage at sea. "Who? Who's child is this?" He bellowed.

"Forgive me, my love..."

He took off running, pushing past confused people, his brown hair pushed in the forced wind, finally collapsing weakly at the only place he knew any more: the sea.

Maybe it was a fit of rage. Maybe it was madness. Maybe it was the realization that all these years, his wife had been one thing: a image. All these things became silent in his head as he silently slipped into his one, true love: the sea.





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