Admiral Horatio Nelson wounded after the Battle of the Nile. Painted by Guy Head, circa 1800.
While Horatio Nelson was known for being victorious in battle, his successes often came at a personal price. He lost his right arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and sight in his right eye after actions off the coast of Corsica. During his most famous victory, the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, he was mortally wounded by a French sharpshooter.
Vanessa is the love of Maxx’s life. Their friendship predated both of their abilities to walk, and he always knew. The way her hair curled at the tips as a middle-schooler; the way her face broke out in a mix of pitiful blush and acne as a teen; the way his arms felt around her as they swayed slightly drunk on the old hard wood floor of his father’s diner, all of it was part of his paradise. The day he asked her to marry him, he knew she’d say yes, but his stomach gnawed anxiously. The “yes” was an angel choir, that didn’t stop singing for years. Then Frank Toonie happened. The very pinning of Maxx’s existence crashed around him like shattered glass and burning metal. She left with their baby still unborn, without as much as a goodbye. Often he would find himself wandering the town aimlessly. More often than not, he would find himself back in the clearing where they had their first picnic, and where he had asked her to be his wife. He hoped to make more sense of everything that had happened. How could she just leave him like this? Didn’t she know how much he loved her? The frustration built until he found himself calling out into the nothing. “If you had just listened, none of this would have happened,” he hissed “Damn it.” The regret washed over him like a thousand waves. He knew this hadn’t been her fault; she was helpless to stop it. Suddenly, he heard pounding footsteps thrashing the leaves, and coming straight toward him. He turned and in an instant she was in his arms again, breathless and shaking. He pushed her away slightly, completely astonished at this sight. His Vanessa was here. “Maxx, oh god Maxx. I’ve been waiting so long; I thought you’d never show up.” “Vanessa, how…how are you? How is this possible?” She looked at him fearfully, tears cresting in her ethereal eyes. “I don’t have much time; they’re tired of letting me come back. They said this was the last time, and if you didn’t come then I would have to settle for just looking down on you.” “I love you, Vanessa. Please remember that. I always will.” “I know, babe, forever.” “Forever.” She embraced Maxx again, and expectedly she felt herself rising. Fear and knowing crossed her face, as she held him just tighter. What worlds she would trade to stay here, but this was not the plan. Maxx refused to let her budge, his eyes closed, and tears streaking down his cheeks. When he opened his eyes, his arms were suddenly empty and his mind was clear but for one word. “Forever”, spoken in the hushed and fading voice of his dead wife.