Horizons

by Thalia Weaver

He was not a religious man, though he had met religious pirates--there was a pirate by the name of Coffin John who had a list of sins he'd been absolved for that was longer than Jack was tall. Perhaps that made it easier when crewmates went down in a mess of blood. He didn't know. There wasn't any cross or crucifix on his ship--nor any decent burial at all. Jack sometimes wondered whether the men he picked up at Tortuga knew there wouldn't be any grave--none but the sea.

He'd seen cemeteries, plots, neat little headstones. He wouldn't have one, he knew that. He didn't think of it often, except for when he held a dead man's body in his arms. After the splash of the body, heaved into the sea, subsided, Jack would sit and drink…because rum was easier to think about than blood, though it flowed as easily.

"Where d'ye think they go?" he'd asked Anamaria once, in the tombed silence after the eulogic splash was over and the funerary drinking had begun.

She'd been drunk too, and waved her hand vaguely towards the sky. "I imagine they're watchin' us," she said, softly, into the void that always followed deaths. "Somewhere."

He stared into the waves. "Neither of us have got any headstones," he said, and leaned against the side of the Pearl, and closed his eyes. He could feel the ship moving beneath him.

She knew better than to answer him, not when he was in a mood like this. They sat in silence for a time that seemed like it might have been endless, if it hadn't ended.

He climbed the crow's nest and let the wind do what it would with his hair, watching the sky and the sea. They offered no counsel. He could smell the brine, though, and the fast iron burning of an approaching storm, and the sea-soaked canvas sails flapping beneath him. And he thought: my grave is the place I stop, where I can't chase horizons anymore…

And he jumped down, and began a drinking song.