She ran, sobbing and blind with fear, out of the large cave containing the massive pirate ship. The pink coral that had seemed decorative and inviting at first now tripped her and cut open the soles of her feet.
“Nicole!” she could hear that pirate calling after her sadly as he struggled to turn his ship around more quickly.
“Leave me alone!” she shrieked, tears still streaming down her face. She kept running on the rough rocks under the knee-deep water, hoping that the ship would run aground before it caught her. When she glanced over her shoulder, though, she was dismayed to see that the pirate had abandoned ship also and was running after her, gaining ground quickly.
She knew she couldn’t outrun him, and a wild panic swept over her. She stopped and started running back toward him, still crying uncontrollably. They reached each other, and she plowed straight into him, knocking him off his feet and landing on the solid platform of dead coral beneath them. She heard a crack as his head hit a sharp rock, but he wasn’t unconscious. He grabbed her arm roughly, pulling her down beside him so she couldn’t run again.
“Why did you run?” he asked weakly as blood seeped into the salty water around his head. “I love you, Nicole!” he cried, confused and in pain. He made the effort to sit up, and was anguished to see that there was blood trickling out of countless wounds all over her body. Her feet were swollen and the skin had been scraped raw, with splinters and long cuts all over. Her slender legs were bruised and bloody, mostly from one infected-looking scratch spiraling all the way around her right leg, whose ankle was bent at an awkward angle. Her small dress was in tatters, revealing a huge bruise covering her entire right side, dark brown and purpling. There were hundreds of scrapes all over her delicate arms, which were quite pale. And her head… he was afraid to look. Her bottom lip was split and slightly swollen from where he’d tried to kiss her, and there was dirt smudged all over her cheeks, but there weren’t any other blemishes on her face. More troubling was the area directly above her ear, which had exploded into a nightmare from where it hit the coral beside him, when he’d pulled her down next to him. It was bleeding heavily, matting the hair near it.
There was a faint sound. He frantically leaned his bleeding ear to her motionless mouth.
“You… wretched pirate,” he could hear her breathe. He drew back to see her lips twist into a faint smile, and then she stopped breathing altogether.
“Nicole,” he moaned, lifting her head to his chest, her limp body curving upward. “Nicole…” He kissed her tenderly, tears running down his young, weathered face. He pulled her body into his lap, kissing the top of her bloodied head endlessly, his tears falling unhindered into her hair and washing everything away, washing it all away…