|justprompts: The Day Before the Day, by Dido
||[Dec. 9th, 2008|06:15 pm]
Captain Jack Sparrow
Jack observed holidays as it suited him; Christmas for the presents, Valentine's if he remembered, Halloween for the costuming. They were too transient, inconsequential, changing in emphasis, tradition, importance. Another thing he didn't notice.
It started for him, like it started for many, in 1919, with an official proclamation that gave pause, both mental and literal. That year he paused, head bowed, eyes closed, and breathed.
It was too soon, then, even for the hundred years of his life before. And after a pause, and a sigh, he carried on.
Soldiers carry on.
The next year didn't change much, nor the year after. But slowly a ritual formed, an odd quirk added to Jack Sparrow's invisible headdress of tradition. The free little plastic-paper flowers bandied about so often as time progressed, carefully collected from streets, trash bins, changing room, bathroom floors as people looked at the increasingly young-seeming man strangely.
Clever fingers that once mended hempen ropes and torn sailcloth carefully wove thin, stubborn bits of wire together. Eyes, tired and old on these days, but sharp and quick as ever for their work, lover, the horizon, focused intent and unwavering.
The wreaths took days, and by the time they were finished, so many had already forgotten for another year.
But it was easier to crouch in the cold, bitter wind at the bow, working, than to attend the ceremonies. Too many years and he could no longer wear what he wished, had a new uniform, and another wreath to weave, and then they were aging too and it never seemed to work.
Each flower had a face; wire-twisted centers represented names, hastily wrapped tissue paper was hair and eyes and laughs. These were people he couldn't share with James, even for the moments they deemed safe in a transient life; they'd already been snuffed and doused, and without their warmth the stories tasted bitter when retold.
Jack adored James on these days, because if anyone understood, it was that man. He knew to be silent, to speak, wasn't a raucous young protester Jack would otherwise support, wasn't an angry old soldier claiming Jack would never comprehend. And when Jack released his wreaths, sent them on watery, half-sunken journeys through seas and rivers and ports full of little boats, he was simply there.
He started as a presence, comfort as they had, then a hand on Jack's shoulder, then finally, blissfully, after many, many years, arms around him, supporting the smaller man, taking support from the older man, as they watched red and green fade away. And finally, mourning, Jack could let tears fall.
Others would forget, time would pass, old soldiers would mourn alone, proud in their uniform and ceremony, taking solace in tradition and drink. And Jack and James, eternally young, old fighters, having seen too many battles and wars from too many sides, would wait and feel and never quite say goodbye.
Soldier, Veteran Jack Sparrow would never let that happen.