A Sparrow's Daughter By Anlei


Nearly twenty years ago, I came into this world just outside a small port in Spain by way of two midwives in the backroom of a bustling tavern. Wailing loudly, I was placed into the weary arms of my mother, a woman named Anamaria. I was told later that she had cried along with me and said, "Hello there Annabelle, I'm your mama." Annabelle (or Annie as she called me) Sparrow. Sparrow was the only last name she ever gave me. It was a name she hadn't even taken herself.

She was a hard woman, a pirate from a small Caribbean isle known as Jamaica. I never knew much about her past only that once she realized she was to have a child that she relocated to Spain. She told me once that her father was from there and when she was very young he used to take her sailing along the Spanish Coast. A love for the sea has always been in her blood. And I suppose that is why I have always loved it.

Since the moment of my birth it had always been just my mother and I. I never knew my father and she rarely spoke of him, if at all. After she had healed and felt strong enough we moved into a small house just off the coast with a woman named Frida, a cousin of my mothers'. There I had my first swimming lessons. Early in the morning before my mother had to leave for work she would wake me. We would eat small; it was never wise to eat a large breakfast before going swimming. Then before Frida would awaken (she'd have a fit if she knew we were swimming in our undergarments) we'd slip out the back, down a small pathway, and to the silvery waves crashing down upon the empty beach. It seemed that I had been swimming as long as I had been walking. It was one of my first memories, the ones that I can remember...but I jump ahead of myself.

Afterwards, we'd lie down and soak up the sun, letting the rays rejuvenate our limbs. Then we'd quietly go back to the house. By then Frida would awaken and prepare a proper breakfast for us while complaining about the water dripping on her wood floors. My mother would roll her eyes and usher me into our room. After we dressed, she would tie my hair back in a braid. I'd look at her in the mirror seeing her face and mine in the reflection.

"You look so much like him..." She'd say some times. "Who, mama?" I'd ask.

"No one, now go downstairs and eat."

I did as I was told. Then she'd go off to work, coat and hat in tow, dressed like a man. My mother was never a lady and she never tried to be one. She never tried to make me into one either. It was Frida that put me in dresses and taught me proper manners.

"I won't have you disgracing yourself like your mother does." She'd say.

One morning, just after I celebrated my seventh birthday, I awoke to an empty room and angry voices from below. Quietly, I slipped out of bed and made my way down the stairs. I hid behind the door to the kitchen and when I peeked inside I say my mother and Frida enaged in a fierce argument. The way they fought reminded me of two hissing snakes rearing to strike one another. Apparently, my mother had chosen to go back to the Caribbean and I was to go with her. My mother could only belong to the sea. She felt that she was away from it for too long.

"You'll make her out to be just like you! She won't respect anyone or anything! A ship is no place for a young girl to grow up, it isn't proper!" I remember Frida yelling, her pudgy face swelling in anger.

She reminded me of a bright red tomato. My mother folded her darkened brown arms over her chest and glared. It was a look my mother had never shown before.

"She's my kid and she goes where I go! What need does she have to be a proper lady?" My mother spat, the words "proper lady" seemed to sting her tongue.

The look on Frida's face was a mixture of horror and fury. Ever the proper woman, who understood her place in society all too well, could barely stomach the way my mother lived her life. It was bad enough that I was born out of wedlock. The fact that my mother usually made her living on a ship surrounded by society's less than honorable men made her want to vomit.

"How do you expect her to live in civilized society? She'll be ridiculed by every one she comes across! She'll never marry and end up shamed! How can you condemn her to that?" She retorted angrily.

"I don't give a rat's ass about civilized society! My daughter doesn't need to be locked up behind a petticoat and lace for the rest of her life like you! If she's to be condemned to anything, it's to live life the way she wants to!"

"It's revolting the way you allow that child to run around as if she were a boy! Who would want such a wild child as a daughter-in-law?"

"Is marriage all that matters to you? Would you have her spend her life preparing just to become some lowly house wife?"

"It is an honor to be a wife! An honor you'll never have, I see!"

"Neither will you, it seems! You'll spend the rest of your days bitter and alone! My daughter won't!"

I never saw Frida's expression at that moment (but I had imagined it looked like a firecracker waiting to explode) because my mother began storming towards the door. I jumped and ran as fast as my legs could carry me back to our room, pretending as if I'd heard nothing. Though, I'm sure she knew. She smiled and kissed my forehead as if nothing was wrong. She told me to get dressed while she packed our things. I did as I was told and soon after we were out the door and walking up the road to town. My mother held steady to my hand and never looked back. I took one more look at the small, white house that had been the only home I had ever known. Then turning around I came face to port and what seemed then to be one of the biggest ships I had ever seen bobbing in the distance.

My mother had been working hard so that she and I could sail to Port Royale then to Tortuga where she planned on buying a ship and finding the right crew to man it. After boarding we settled into a tiny room with just enough space for a bed and wash basin. We then went out to the deck and said our goodbye's to Spain. I looked up to my mother. She was smiling, her face tilted in the sun with her eyes closed, enjoying the breeze. I watched as she took a deep breath full of salt air and come to peace. On the ocean was where she truly belonged.

I stood on the deck with her until the shore faded entirely from view. I felt something tug at my young heart then. I had the distinct feeling that I would never see Spain again. I suppose it held no real value other than it was the place that held so many memories for me...memories that would all too soon fade until they were nothing but remnants of feelings and emotions.

"Come on, Annie Sparrow. Time for lunch." My mother's voice interrupted my thoughts as she took my hand and led me back to the cabin.

The ride over to Port Royale seemed to take ages. I spent much of my time roaming the ship whenever I got the chance. I would pester the cook, the sailors, and the nearly every member of the crew until they grew weary of me. I was reprimanded later for my actions by my mother (who they threatened to throw overboard if she didn't control me). I could hardly help myself. I had never been on such a large ship before. I was fascinated the moment I stepped foot upon the creaking wood. She taught me everything about ships then.

"Soon Annie, I'm gonna have a ship of my own. I'll be captain and I'll take you all over the world. And you can run around in breeches instead of those dresses Frida made you wear. We'll have nothing to worry about, Annie. Just us and the open sea."

She confessed this to me one evening while brushing my hair. She sounded so wistful and impassioned that I hung onto her every word. I had grown to love the sea so much that a life on it seemed ideal. And for a while this had become my life.

Once we arrived in Port Royale we had to take another ship to Tortuga. Very few ships in those times would travel to that port and it was easily understood why. Rumored to be the town of thieves, killers, whores, and pirates, civilized folk never journeyed there. Yet it was there that we found ourselves there looking for a ship. I noticed a change in my mother then. She seemed more relaxed among these people. I noticed her joking around and laughing even swearing like a man around them. She could have never done so in our home in Spain.

One man she met, a fellow by the name of Gibbs treated her to a drink. I remember being taken into the tavern bustling with brawls and drunken commotion and shrinking back against my mother. I had never seen people carry on the way these people did. She kept me close for even though my mother loved Tortuga, she held little trust for the people in it. The pistol tucked away in her sash attested to that.

We sat in a small table in the back while Mr. Gibbs provided himself and my mother with a pint. She sat me on her knee while they spoke.

"I thought I'd never see you again, what with that goodbye and all..."

"Aye...I thought myself gone for good. But I can never stay away from the open sea. It's my one true home."

"Best place for a pirate to get a ship is here in Tortuga. And a crew fit for our types."

"Which is why I'm here."

"How long will you be?"

"A few days at most. Tortuga is no place for Annabelle right now."

"Annabelle, eh?"

"Aye, Annie for short."

Gibbs took a look at me and I shrunk back against my mother. Then he gave me a small smile.

"I'll be damned if you aren't the spittin' image of your mama!"

I noticed then they both got a bit quiet. I could feel the tension rise. Mr. Gibbs looked hard at my mother.

"She be the reason you left the Pearl then?" He asked and I could feel my mother go rigid against my back. My interest peaked then.

"Aye...she is. The Pearl is no place for her."

"But I gather your ship will be."

My mother let out a deep breath before taking a swig of rum.

"It will be as long as she is with me." Her tone was hard. She was getting angry. She never had much patience for those who questioned her. Silence prevailed over conversation again. How strange that it seemed to be louder than any noise in the room.

"That's not the real reason you left, is it?" He asked pushing a subject my mother had tried to forget ever since I was born.

"What are you saying?"

"Do you think me blind, lass? I can see him looking at me through her eyes!"

My mother tightened her grip on me. I tilted my head to look at her and saw her features harden into a deep scowl.

"Annie is my child. Make no mistake in that! My decision to leave the Pearl was my own. We've been fine without him for all this time-!"

"Because he doesn't know! How can you keep this from him Maria?"

"Are we talking about the same man? Do you honestly think Jack Sparrow, Captain of the Black Pearl, Mr. "I'm so drunk and all I love is whores and the Pearl", could be a father to anyone? I won't have my Annie go through that!"

Captain Jack Sparrow? That was his name? Was this pirate really my father?

"You got no right to keep him from his own daughter!"

"I got every right! He's fine not knowing anyhow! Besides...one night shouldn't change the way everything is!"

"It already has, whether you want it to or not!"

My mother lifted me off her lap then and set me on my feet next to her. Standing up she finished the last of her rum then replaced her hat and coat on before taking my hand.

"It's good to see you, Mr. Gibbs. But I'll be taking my leave of you now. Annie is tired and needs her rest." Her voice was colder than her words. And I was anything but tired. I wanted to know more, I wanted to know about my father. She didn't wait for him to say anything more and with my hand in hers quickly walked to the inn. I looked over my shoulder and saw Mr. Gibbs watching us go. He looked crestfallen as we walked out the door. That was the last time we saw him in Tortuga.

The next day my mother took me to scour all the docks in Tortuga for the perfect ship. Finding the one she wanted after hours of searching she bought it, The Hydra. It took longer to find the right crew but after nearly a week we were back on the ocean again. And I waved goodbye to Tortuga while my mother manned the ship.

The passing of six years came quickly. It seemed as if night and day flew by like hours. I had grown to be less of a proper woman and into more of the pirate as time went on. I never wore dresses or tied my hair back in a bonnet. I ran around barefoot learning card games with the crew and picking up a few swear words along with it. I was as improper as they came but I fit right in. My mother was right. The ocean was the only place for me, away from frills and lace. I'd never be happy any other way.

We saw so many places and learned so many things. We had traveled up the Atlantic and back doing what pirates do best. Of course, I was to stay on the ship with the cook while they raided for loot. Every time I would beg to go and of course my mother denied me each time.

"Why can't I go? I'm as brave as they are!" I'd cry. "I know you are, Annie Sparrow, but not until you're older." She'd say every time.

In the end I remained but when she returned she'd always bring me back something to make me smile. One evening she returned with a pistol promising that in a few years she'd teach me how to use it along with a sword. I'd be as fierce as they come. But that lesson never came.

One night during my thirteenth year of life I was awakened from my sleep by the sound of a cannon firing. The entire ship rocked and I was thrown from my bed. Jumping to my feet I ran to the deck to see what was happening. The entire crew was awake and running frantically about. I saw swords drawn and guns cocked and a battle raging before me. The naval fleet had finally caught up with us.

I was afraid. It looked as if the crew was outnumbered and the ship was falling to pieces. I began scanning for my mother but in all the commotion I could hardly see her. I screamed as another cannon fired and pummeled the ship. More sailors poured onto the Hydra and took down more of the crew members. Scrambling to my feel I ran through the battle, calling for my mother. I reached the middle of the deck when I saw her at the helm. She was dueling a naval sailor. I began to make my way to her when I saw the sailor's sword pierce her body. I stopped dead in my tracks as blood spilled from her wound. Time seemed to freeze at that moment to sear that image into my mind. He withdrew and she fell to the deck floor.

I cried out to her, wanting to run to her but before I could move something hard had collided with my head and all went dark as I fell to the floor. Blood spilled from my wound onto the darkened wood and it seemed so did my memories...

I had lost them...

The only thing after the attack that I recall was waking later, my head screaming with pain, in what appeared to be an infirmary. My vision was blurred and I heard muffled voices around me. I could feel the itchy sheets around me but I couldn't move. It was like my body had forgotten how to work. I felt two gentle hands moving me into a sitting position and forcing something foul down my throat. I coughed and sputtered, trying to force it back out. My throat felt too dry to swallow anything.

"Now, now young miss. Don't fight it. You'll feel better, I promise." A gentle voice promised. I had tried to speak but I felt myself slipping back into sleep.

The next day was easier. I was fully awake and able to move but my head throbbed with every move I made. I was confined mostly to my bed anyway. A young nurse would visit me often to make sure that I was comfortable or feeling well. Later on, she was accompanied by a well dressed man. He said his name was James Norrington, a commodore. He sat on my bed and asked me how I was. I would answer his questions not understanding why he wanted to speak with me.

When he entered, he had two other officers with him. They seemed unsure of what to do with me. I was a pirate after all, even if I was a child. He gave a short smile, not the kind that spread across his entire face, but a controlled smile, a polite one.

"Tell me, do you remember your name child?"

"I'm...I'm...Annie...Annabelle...I think..."

I frowned then. Just what was my name?

"And your parents, who are they?"

Images flashed through my mind of a dark skinned woman dressed as a man, images of swimming, and visions of the sea before it all went blank. I felt that this woman in my mind was my mother yet I couldn't remember her name.

"I don't know...I can't remember."

He gave me a cursory glance before speaking.

"What about your home, Annabelle, do you remember where that is?" He asked.

I noticed that he spoke in a very proper, authoritative tone. He was a man that gave orders but didn't receive them. I remember the sound of his voice reminding me of a woman...a pudgy, stone faced woman who used to scold me. But what was her name? How did I know her? Again, it eluded me.

"I can't remember..."

"What do you remember before now, Annabelle?"

It sounded so strange for him to call me that. Annie sounded more natural but why? I tried to think back.

A boat, swimming on the shores of Spain, a white house, the same dark skinned woman, a ship leaving port, a dirty street, a kindly old sailor...a battle, screaming for my mother...so much blood...mama...

"I can't remember anything, where is my mama? Why hasn't she come for me?" I asked, feeling afraid. What if the woman in my head was my mother? That meant she was dead. But no...my mother couldn't have been dead. That meant I was alone...

By their silence the cold realization had settled in. My mother was dead. And I was alone. I remember my heart racing, wanting to panic but never doing so. I felt that if I panicked I would make it all too true. I didn't want it to be true.

Commodore Norrington stood up from my bed and quietly addressed the officers. I watched as they talked softly amongst themselves.

"It would seem, sir, that she has no memory. She must know nothing about her life with the pirate ship."

"All is well then, she has no memory of a less than reputable heritage."

"What shall we do with her, sir? Will she be hung with the others?"

"For God's sake, she's just a child!"

"A child with pirate blood!"

Norrington turned while the other two officers argued to look back at me. I wondered what they were speaking of. I noticed something shift in his face as he took in the tears in my eyes before turning back to the others. He released a deep sigh before saying, "I will take her. She can work off her debt in my household as a maid."

"Sir! You can't be serious!" cried one of the officers

"I am, Captain Merrick." He replied calmly

"Are you sure about this Commodore?" asked the second officer

"Yes, tell the nurse to ready her things." The officer nodded and did as he was told.

"But she is a pirate sir!"

"She is but a child, one that can be reformed to behave properly in polite society."

The discussion was closed and Norrington turned to me, his features softening significantly. But just as quickly as it did, the stern aloof expression replaced the fleeting look of concern.

"You will be leaving today." He said. "Where am I going?" I asked, afraid. "I am taking you to my home. There you will be a maid in my house." He spoke so plainly, as if telling the weather. I remember shaking in my bed. I did not know this man. And I was being forced to live with him.

"I don't want to be a maid! I want my mama!" With a sigh he lowered his eyes then turned to stare out the window. He seemed to be gathering his thoughts before he spoke to me. "Child, unless you can tell us who your mother is she may very well be dead and that leaves you an orphan. Now you will either accompany me to my house, where I promise you will have food and a warm bed to sleep in or you will wander the streets, alone and hungry. Surely, you do not want this fate." He said in a mater of fact tone of voice that irritated me. I could feel the hot tears stinging my eyes. No...my mother wasn't dead...she couldn't be...why hadn't she come to get me?

I swallowed my tears. He was right even if they words hurt. I was alone. There was no one claiming me. I knew then that I had no where else to go. And the idea of going hungry on the streets was less than appealing to a young, thirteen year old girl. I resigned myself then to my fate. I slowly nodded my head in agreement. The nurse shooed the officers away and I was dressed and readied to leave. She smiled kindly at me.

"The Commodore is a fine man, you'll see. You'll be well cared for." She assured me though I hardly believed her then. Never the less I was taken to his house where I was to spend years of my life, living in a strange place with a head full of botchy images but nothing connecting them. It wasn't until I had turned twenty that things began to fall back into place.

AN: Constructive criticism is always welcome! Please let me know what you think.