Second Chances


7/9/20233 min read

In the whirlwind of the past few years, between tending to Gramps and running the Nomad, I'd been nursing a private project. I had been conducting research into a woman named Elara Hadley. A woman with a contagious smile, who carried the strength of a mother of three and a newly minted grandmother. She nurtured life on her farm after her husband's demise from liver disease eight years ago.

Elara was not just any woman. She was the woman who once captured and held Ravager's heart in a vice grip of love, a love so potent it made him contemplate leaving his life of piracy. But the world of pirates isn't one to relinquish its own, not without a price. And so he had to let her go, all those years ago.

"Ravager," I began, my voice steady, "we're headed to see Elara."

Ravager's weathered face blanched, and he sputtered, "No, Moe! We can't, we... we just can't!" His voice was choked, as if the mere mention of her name brought back a tidal wave of memories.

"Ravager, listen--" I tried to interrupt.

"No, you listen, Moe!" he cut me off. "I can't do this! I... It will bring back everything, all the memories, the regrets! I'm not the man I used to be, Moe. She wouldn't even recognize me. And... and she has her own life now. I can't just barge in and disrupt everything."

With each fear he spilled, I offered reassurance. "Memories, Ravager, are what make us. They shape us. You have changed, yes. But so has she. Time does that to everyone. And as for her life, you're not barging in, you're just paying a visit."

The moment I told him I'd already been in touch with Elara, a year ago no less, his reaction was explosive. "What? Moe, what the hell do you think you're doing?!" He was livid.

Before he could say another word, I cut in. "I told her everything, Ravager. Where we are, what you've been doing, how you've been taking care of Gramps."

He stared at me for a second, mouth agape, anger etched on his face. But then, it melted away, replaced by a new emotion, one I hadn't seen in his eyes for a long time - excitement. "She... she knows I'm coming?" He stumbled over his words, hands flitting nervously over his grizzled beard. "Is she... is she looking forward to seeing me? Should I... should I shave my beard, Moe? Does she like a beard? Maybe she likes clean shaven. Or a mustache. I used to have a mustache. What do you think? Come on man, answer me!"

I couldn't help but chuckle at his sudden torrent of questions. "Calm down, Ravager. Breathe," I advised, struggling to keep a straight face. "I think you look just fine as you are. It's not about the beard or the mustache. It's about you, the man underneath it all."

"But what if she doesn't like what she sees?" His question was whispered, laced with a vulnerability I'd rarely seen.

"I think you're underestimating Elara, and yourself," I reassured him. "She already knows about your past, about everything that happened. And she still agreed to see you. That should tell you something."

Ravager nodded slowly, his anxiety ebbing away. "Right, you're right, Moe," he said, taking a deep breath. "It's's been a long time."

"And you've changed, Ravager," I responded, clapping him on the shoulder. "You've grown, you've matured. Hell, you've spent the last few years taking care of Gramps, making a difference in his life. You're not the same man you used to be. You're better."

A smile tugged at the corners of his lips as he nodded. "Alright," he finally said. "Alright, let's do this."

We laughed and joked about how he'd impress Elara. Ravager was visibly excited, like a schoolboy eager to see his crush. As I watched him rush off to get ready, I heard a yell of pure joy echoing through the Nomad.

As we descended onto Elara's farm, we saw her standing in the doorway, backlit by the setting sun, waiting. As a new chapter began, I couldn't help but feel optimistic. After years of hardship, Ravager was about to get a second chance at love.