The Carrow house was once home to a lively young couple who were madly in love. They had eyes for none but each other. It was said that you could hear the laughter of them a mile away. Every once in a while, the husband would carve something beautiful to give to his wife. Often, they would go out for dinner and end up dancing the night away and sleeping all through the next day. The euphoria of young love surrounded them from their teens well into their twenties. It would have lasted longer, perhaps their whole lives, but it seemed to Marie and Jacob that fate had other plans for them.

Jacob worked the on the docks, loading and unloading shipment crates. He came home one day with a mix of conflicting emotions painted across his face. "Jacob, dear! What's wrong?" Marie asked, seeing at once that there was something off about his demeanor.

"My supervisor wants me to go on a sailing mission to another country, far, far away from here. I leave in two days' time," he told her solemnly.

Less than half the sailors who left their port ever returned. Marie began to cry. "Is... is there anything you can do?" she asked through her sobs.

He shook his head. "I can't quit my job, we need the money. And I'll be fired if I turn down his offer," Jacob told her sadly. They held one another, each crying on the other's shoulder. Time seemed to be both slower and faster than it normally was. The sun went down, the moon came up, and then the moon hid, once again surrendering its position to the sun. They were both asleep on the couch at this point, still holding one another tightly before they were ripped apart, possibly forever.

Marie and Jacob both passed the next day in a dazed sort of stupor, neither willing to believe what was happening the next day. They made the most of that night, going out to eat and dancing together until midnight. Each of them fell asleep almost immediately.

The fateful morning arrived with a vengeance. Not because of the weather, but because both were totally miserable when it arrived. Jacob took his bags and Marie walked him to the port. She grabbed his shoulders just before he boarded the ship and looked him in the eye. "Jacob, you have to come back. You have to. Do you promise?"

"Yes. I'll come back," he answered.

"NO! YOU HAVE TO PROMISE!" she shouted, frantic and only half-sane.

"Marie," he said quietly, calmly. "Listen to me. I promise to come back alive. But you have to keep it together. Don't waste away just because I'm gone. Don't mourn me before I've died. Make some new friends. Go out to dinner with them. Have fun and still be happy without me. Please?"

"Okay, Jacob," she replied, taking deep breaths.

They hugged once more and as they did, one of them was crying. It wasn't Marie this time, but Jacob, for he had made a promise he knew couldn't keep and asked the love of his life to agree to something she couldn't do. Just before he got on the ship, Jacob pressed something into her hand. It was a small necklace with a handmade wooden token that had read "J+M" surrounded in a heart.

"I was waiting until our anniversary to give it to you," he told her. "But I think now is a better time.

Marie slipped it on, whispering, "It's so beautiful." The necklace fit her perfectly. A final, long kiss goodbye, and then Jacob boarded the ship and watched as his world slipped away slowly. Marie stood there, waving to him until the ship disappeared over the horizon and was gone.

Marie didn't talk to anyone unless it was absolutely necessary, certainly not fulfilling Jacob's last wishes for her. She just existed, going through the motions. Surviving, but not really living. A year passed this way. One day, she got home to find a very fancy looking letter waiting for her. Marie opened it up and as she read it, her eyes clouded with tears and began to weep silently, heaving with sobs that made no sound.

Dear Ms. Marie Carrow,

We regret to inform you that the ship upon which your husband, Jacob Carrow, was believed to have been on was lost in a storm. He is thought to be dead, and since there is no body, we will not be able to hold a proper funeral for him. You will be provided enough money to live on for one month, and will then be expected to once again support yourself financially.

From the Dock Supervisors Committee

The next day, Marie sat on the widow's walk over her house and stared at the ships docking, slowly tracing the edges of her necklace in an obsessive manner. Each time, she expected to see her husband come off the ship with a smile. Each time, she was disappointed. She would only ever leave her perch to go to the kitchen and bring up some food. One of her neighbors noticed and started bringing her groceries.

Marie waited for Jacob's return for decades, never once losing hope or even thinking about the possibility that Jacob was just... gone. The love of her life had to still be out there somewhere. The idea of the spark that was her husband being gone from this world, leaving nothing but a pale corpse, was too much to bear.

Marie was almost 80 years old when a feeling flooded her. It wasn't grief, exactly—she'd had time to cope with her sadness. Time was all she'd had, her one constant companion, during the 60 years of waiting for him to come back. No, this was a feeling that was lighter than grief, as if a burden had been lifted from her shoulders. It was the feeling of acceptance. Acceptance that Jacob was gone, stolen from her by the vast expanse of emotionless ocean. Acceptance that she was truly alone in the world now. Acceptance that he had broken his final promise.

Marie stood at the edge of her widow's walk and looked down. The wind blew her white hair wildly. She closed her eyes for just a moment to imagine the life she and Jacob might've had now. Both would be retired from their jobs. Marie, sitting in the carved rocking chair he'd made for her at the age of 17, when he proposed. She would be reading a book, perhaps, or knitting a blanket. Jacob would be stoking the fireplace, maybe, or cooking dinner that night. Marie and Jacob would've had children who'd be grown at this point, and sitting with her and Jacob, who'd be grandparents by this point. Their grandchildren would be toddlers, playing and having fun with toys that Marie and Jacob would've made together for them. A happy family scene in the house below her.

She allowed herself to savor that imagined reality for a moment, then opened her eyes to greet the bitter one she was in. Over the edge of the widow's walk was a hard sidewalk made of wood. It would be deadly to fall on from this height. Marie closed her eyes and readied herself for the jump.

If she had opened her eyes, she'd have seen a small, makeshift, beat-up boat arriving at shore. She'd have a seen a skinny, old, malnourished man coming off of the boat with a cane that looked elegant and hand-carved. She'd have seen him look up at the house she stood atop. She'd have a man who had stayed alive when he had no will to live, when it would've been easier just to die, because of a promise he'd made so many years ago.

But Marie didn't see any of that. Instead, her eyes were still closed as she took a deep breath, released her grip on the railing of the widow's walk, and jumped. As she fell to her death, she ripped off her necklace and held it up to the wind as a final tribute to their love. Time slowed down as the man watched her fall. He tried to run to her, and maybe when he was 20 he'd have made it. But like her, he was much older now, and too slow to reach her in time.

Marie laughed as she fell, knowing that soon, she'd finally be free of the emptiness that had haunted her for so many years. Just before she hit the ground, she heard a voice, so familiar to her. "No! Marie!" Jacob called. She opened her eyes to see him trying and failing to reach her.

"Jacob!" she said, youthful hope filling her once more as she saw her husband had kept his promise after all. "I'm so sorry. Jacob, I love y—"


The gravedigger was not a very happy or well-liked man. After all, he was tasked with burying the bodies of people who had loved and been loved. He had seen it all: murder, heart attacks, and suicides. But never had he seen such deep pain and sorrow in the eyes of the person who had lost someone. The man, Jacob Carrow was his name, held his wife's body as if it was the last few sips of water that he needed to survive being torn away from him.

The gravedigger could see clearly that the woman's neck had broken cleanly upon hitting the ground. Her corpse was smiling sadly, as if she knew fate had hated her from the start and had come to terms with that just before dying.

"No coffin?" he asked.

Jacob shook his head. "She would've wanted to feel the earth all around her."

The gravedigger nodded solemnly, understanding the need to care about what the dead person "would have wanted" despite them being gone. He took the body from Jacob's hands and was about to put it in the earth when Jacob said, "Wait!"

He paused as Jacob took a necklace from around his neck and slipped it over the head of the woman he'd loved. Then the gravedigger put her body in the earth and buried it once and for all.