There was something strange about the cove as we sailed around the point of the cove. I couldn’t see anything unusual, but the feeling was almost overwhelming. The sun was bright, blinking off the caps of the waves. I lowered the sails on the boat. Dropped anchor in the center of the cove, unwilling to risk the danger of putting my ship in the shallow waters. Instead, I dropped the lifeboat and rowed to the beach.
It was on that beach where I found a beached ship in ruined condition. It looked as if it had beached years ago. There wasn’t much left of it other than a shell. I walked toward it, not noticing the trembling in my hands. Something was wrong, so very wrong. I walked past the wreck of the ship and to the back of the white sand beach.
There I found the remains of a campfire. There wasn’t much left around it. Only the telltale signs of a sleeping area that hadn’t seen usage for quite some time. I walked the length of the beach, not sure what I was looking for, until I found it curled in the darkest slash of a cave. Tucked into the back of the cave, under a thin layer of pure white sand, lay the weather washed bones. I never found out who those bones once were. Because, I never looked for a single piece of information about the person. Not even once I found everything they had left behind in that beautiful place.
I did, bury the bones, and take the items left behind out to my ship. My first mate was a man of honor and respect. I, wasn’t. I thought of those simple things as booty. Nothing more than a treasure tucked into a chest for the future. That was my mistake. I thought the person who had lost their life on that stretch of white sand was nothing. Not even a footnote to history. If I had known how wrong I was, I would have done so many things different.
The first being I would have left those precious items to further bleach in the sun on that sand. But now, so many years later, I find myself almost glad that I didn’t return them until it was all over. I have learned much over the last few years. Those lessons are the ones that lead me racing back to that sandy shore ahead of a storm. The national weather service was claiming would be the worst in over a hundred years.
I made it to the cove only moments before the sky ripped open and poured out its anger over the world. Even in the cove, the waves lashed at my ship, trying to capsize it. Trimming the sails to avoid as much damage as possible, I then went below deck to stay safe. I stored the items I had found the first time safe in a vault back in port. I was there to search for more treasure. For something had been whispering in the darkness to me. I had left something behind, something I very much needed to find.
So as the storm blew itself out, and the sunset beneath the horizon, I stepped once again onto the deck of my ship. From the bow, I could see the once white sand beach now covered in broken branches and clumps of seaweed. Even the sand had taken on a dingy coloring. Grabbing my pack from the corner of my cabin, I once again lowered the lifeboat and rowed myself to the beach. Pulled the little boat up onto the sand so the waves wouldn’t pull it out to sea. I headed to the back of the cove where I had found everything for the first time. The area remained undisturbed. I crossed over and sat myself against the wall of rock. The plan had been setting up camp myself for at least a couple of nights. I wanted the time to look around better and see what I felt I had missed.
I laid out my bedroll. Tucked myself between what looked like an old fire ring and the wall to keep myself as secure as I could. There were enough twigs and branches that it made building the fire easy. Tired from fighting to outrun the storm, I cooked a quick meal and let the fire burn low as I settled into bed for the night. My plan was to search at first light. The idea that I missed something was so strong it had pulled me from my bed. Back onto a ship I swore I would not captain again.
I drifted off to an uneasy sleep with a quickness I hadn’t expected. Only to awaken with the moon still high in the sky by a sound I couldn’t identify. When I wake it’s all at once, but when in a place that is not my bed, I do my best to be smart. In that moment, I laid still, noting sounds, smells, and anything else that touched my senses. There was only one problem. No natural sounds other than the sound and scent of the ocean, the touch of a summer breeze on my exposed skin.
I stayed where I was for a few long breaths before deciding to get up and look around. Something had woken me. Not knowing was going to keep me that way. So, with a long-suffering sigh, I climbed out of my bedroll and grabbed the flashlight from the top of my bag. It seemed my search was going to start a few hours early. I walked along the line of the wall, seeing nothing out of place. Though walking back to where I had camped, I noticed something off. There seemed to be someone sitting next to the remains of my fire. I stayed quiet as I approached.
Only a few steps away, the figure lifted their head, turned and looked at me. I waited for the fear to fill me. It didn’t. Instead, I felt a sadness that knocked me to my knees. “Who are you?” I asked, moving forward and rekindling the fire.
The woman smiled, yet there was pain within it. Pain and sorrow seemed to keep her voice to a whisper. “My name was Anne. I sailed the seas a long time ago,” she said.
At the sound of her whispered voice, my head spun. Images of tall ships on the high seas, of pirates and drunkards, of ports of call with gas lanterns flashed. When the images cleared, I knelt in the sand with my head in hands. I looked up to find she hadn’t moved. The firelight illuminated her beautiful face showing the sorrow painted in every line. “So why are you here?” I asked, moving to the far side of the fire. Sitting on the sand, I kept close enough to the fire to feel its warmth. I didn’t want to ask if she was who I thought she might be. Something told me I didn’t want to know.
“You. You brought me back here. When you came the last time and took my things, you woke up the creature that has held me captive for so long,” she said.
I tried to apologize, but she held up a hand to silence me. I closed my mouth and let her speak.
She stared out at the water of the cove. “I want so bad to leave this place. Though I know he will never let me – at least that’s what I have always thought – until you removed my coin from the cove. That day, I felt his hold on me disappear. I am free now. I can leave.” She looked at me with pleading eyes. “Tell me you don’t have those items on your ship. That they are instead safe tucked away on dry land somewhere?” he asked, hope filled her voice.
I felt a smile touch my lips. “They are. I have them at my manor house. Why?” I asked.
She stood, and I saw the leather pants she wore were out of another time. The more she spoke, and the more I learned, the more I became convinced she was who I thought she was. She was the long lost Anne Bonny. When she spoke again, her words confirmed it. “Will you take me home? To Spanish Town, Jamaica,” she said.
I nodded. “I will take you home. I am sure Calico Jack is waiting for you.” Standing, I offered her my hand.
She rose and slipped her hand into mine. “Keep the coin. Don’t let it touch sea water,” she said, as we moved to my lifeboat and out to my ship.
She never spoke again on the sail. When I pulled into port, I was alone. Though as I made to set sail once again. I would have sworn I saw a couple dressed in pirate garb standing alone on the end of the dock. Her final words to me echoed through my mind. “Don’t let it touch sea water.”