As Survivors We Sail
The next few days, Rose went around the 3rd class decks of the ship and helped fellow survivors, yet kept to herself and didn't speak much. She didn't quite know how much time had gone by since the morning of the 15th of April. There were no clocks or watches for steerage passengers. Then again, rats can't tell the time.
Rose heard many stories from people, about their bravery and their experiences as the ship sank, but Rose hadn't told anyone what she had seen and gone through. When people asked her, she simply told them she couldn't remember.
But there was one thing that everyone was talking about. Did the ship break as she sank or did she go down in one piece?
"I heard a huge explosion when we were sitting on the lifeboat, and I saw the ship blow up and go down in flames."
"No, no, it didn't explode! I saw the stern tear away from the forward section of the ship and then that fell back and sank."
"That didn't happen at all. The ship's lights went out and it started rising up really quickly and when it was straight up it just rushed down into the sea."
"Nah, I'm sure I saw its lights go out and then it rolled over and fell onto its side and then went down."
"I saw the middle of the ship split and the bow rose out of the water and the stern rose up and they crushed one another."
"The bow never rose out of the water! The power went out and the Titanic broke right in the middle and sank."
"It broke between the 3rd and 4th chimney, not the middle!"
"It didn't even break. It kept rising to about 50 degrees and then slipped under."
Rose couldn't bear to listen to the stories. Rose was on the ship's stern when it broke, so she didn't know exactly how or where it broke, but she knew it never burst into flames or rolled onto its side. She did grip on for her life when it fell from its high angled position and levelled out again. That much she knew. The screams that went up when the stern broke off and began to plummet downwards was like the roar you hear at a baseball game when you get a home run, only it wasn't fun and games.
"What did you see ma dear lass?" An Irishman questioned Rose.
Rose turned away from her view of the sea and sat on the edge of her usual bench to look at the man.
"I honestly can't remember." She told the man politely.
Just then, an old woman stood from the circle of survivors and slowly walked over to Rose. All the faces followed the woman as she hobbled along the wooden deck. Her hair was a mess of white strands that blew around her in the wind of the sailing Carpathia. Her clothes were almost rags and her jewels looked ancient. Her face was aged and withered, with lines of experience and time that decorated the grey skin. But there was an ora of wisdom to her, no matter how she looked. She took Rose by the hand and squeezed it gently. Rose looked at her, fascinated by the curious lady. The woman looked up into Rose's eyes and analysed them. Rose's deep blue eyes showed no nerves, but they were hiding something, and the white haired lady could sense it. She stepped back, still holding Rose's hand and smiled softly, the folds on her face increased in number.
"You don't need to hide anything from us, deary." She reassured the teenager warmly.
Rose smiled and replied, "I don't want to hide it, but I have to…"
The womans grip tightened. "I know sweetheart, I know. We've all seen too much for anyone on this earth to carry with them, but sometimes it helps to share what you're feeling."
"You're so kind, but I don't know you all that well. I wouldn't want to lumber you with what I know and how I feel"
"Us lot hardly know each other either, but we all have something in common now. Something has happened that now makes us one and will keep us united til the end of our days. We're survivors!"
Rose nodded, a tear slowly trickled down her face. The lady wiped it away and took a hair that was hanging over Rose's face, placing it behind her ear. She came off the bench that had been her safe place for several days and joined the other passengers on the hard wooden floor. More people gathered round when they saw the silent young red head sitting down with the white haired mystic woman, hand in hand they comforted one another.
Rose smiled and waved at the people around her. They waved back and smiled cheerily. Everyone really was friendly and welcoming, despite the tragedy they had all endured. A little boy raised his hand, as if he were in school awaiting permission to speak.
"You needn't raise your hand. I'm just like you." Rose said, and as she did, everyone turned their focus to her flowing pink and purple dress, all the layers of fabric hiding under Cal's black overcoat. She had completely forgotten about the fact she was wearing one of her dresses. The last of her dresses. "Well, telling you about the sinking is one thing, but explaining to you about how I am wearing this is something else completely!" Rose laughed. Everyone came in closer as she said this, suddenly overcome with intrigue and curiosity. Rose sighed, giving into their desperate stares for a good story.
"Well, if you must know, I should be up there." She pointed to the snobs and posh morons strolling around on the 1st class promenade. Everyone gasped.
"Then what ya doin' down 'ere ya dozy mare?" A Scottish woman asked with astonishment on her face.
"Well, I was being forced to marry an arrogant man who I really did not love, or even like. My mother just wanted me to marry him because he was rich and she was losing her wealth. My father had a serious gambling problem, and all our money was going out the window by paying his debts off after he passed away, so my mother arranged my own marriage. We had come through to England to buy my dress for the wedding, but I couldn't find one I liked, so we decided to head back to America on the Titanic."
Everyone's heads lowered at the sound of the name that had changed all their lives forever.
"But my life changed on that ship, in more ways than one. Not only did I, and all of us, see the most harrowing scenes our eyes could ever witness, but I met a man that changed the way I saw the world and made me feel brand new. This man had a gift. He was an incredible talented artist travelling 3rd class, but he could see people on the inside, not just outwardly. I didn't care that he was sleeping down in the lower class decks of the ship, I loved this man! In just a matter of days I truly learned the real meaning of love and how it felt to feel it for someone."
"What was his name mam?" A little girl with curly brown hair asked, grinning widely. In her hand she held a little toy pig with a wind up tail, that through out the Carpathia's journey had played soothing lullabies.
"His name was . . ." Before Rose could speak one of the ship's officer's walked over to her, his shadow looming over her like a storm cloud. His face was stiff and serious. It was the man that had ridiculed Margaret for helping Rose when she had just got onto the ship. The man that referred to her as "a rat."
"We'll be getting into New York later on tonight. You'll need to get your things together before you depart, we don't want any litter on our decks."
"What belongings? We've lost everything! All the things I own are at the bottom of the Atlantic with the fishes." A frumpy little Irishwoman told him sternly.
"Well, I don't mind. As long as you're all off the ship when we dock I don't care." He began to walk off. "And everything to you can't be a lot. A toothbrush at the most I'm presuming." He smirked horridly and off he went.
Rose stood up angrily, her fists clenched. Several kids tugged at her dress to make her sit down again. They sensed her frustration with the pompous man, but there was no swaying Rose when she felt like this.
"Well, I hope that you still own your testicles, because if you don't start treating us like human beings, then I'll make sure they're with the fishes! And I'm not one to make empty threats…"
Everyone giggled as they watched the officer turn red and storm off in an even fouler mood. He went back up to the crew quarters, not looking back once.
"Where did you learn to speak like that my dear girl?" The frumpy woman asked, giggling still.
"When you've spent your whole life being told not to speak unless spoken to, and with all the frustration of being 1st class building up inside you, it really does take its toll, and sometimes it just . . . pops out!" Rose shrugged her shoulders and laughed.
She didn't feel alone… Not anymore… It was true… They were all survivors, and if they could escape the wreck of a sinking Titan, then they could battle through the dirty looks and ridicule until they got off at New York.
"What's that?" A little boy looking over the side of the ship asked, pointing into the distance ahead of the ship. Rose walked over and knelt down to his height, half shutting her eyes, trying to focus on the objects in the distance.
"Is it ice?" A man asked frantically, lifting his suitcase nervously.
"No, it's not ice. It's buildings…" She turned to face the people behind her. "It's New York!"
Everyone gasped silently and ran over to the edge, leaning out into the strong gusts of wind, and stared at the little grey objects that were towering in the distance, all different heights and shapes and sizes. The sky was growing darker, the sun disappearing beneath the sea at the end of the horizon, with clouds shrinking into colours of orange, purple and yellow. But in the colours of triumph and hope that hovered in the sky and shone brightly onto the ship, there were dark rain clouds that drifted menacingly among the sunset.
No one dared to cheer. No one could. No matter how happy they were to see land, they couldn't help but think of how fortunate they were and how unfortunate others were. The thought of almost dying would be on everyone's mind, and moments of joy would be hard to come across for a while to come, but Rose had one thought on her mind that would help her get by.
"We lived. For whatever reason, we lived, and better times were to come. It would take time to heal, but the wounds would here had someone, whether it was family, a friend, or a fellow survivor, be it a stranger or not. For the rest of this voyage and the rest of our lives we will always be comforted by the thought that we will move forward, and as survivors we sail."
The brown haired girl skipped over to Rose and looked up at her. "What was his name?" she asked happily.
"Jack… Jack Dawson." It was the first time Rose had said his name out loud since…
"Did he make it?" The little girl asked, seeing the look in Rose's eyes. It must have been a 3rd class thing to sense what people were feeling with one look.
Rose shook her head, tears building up in her eyes. The little girl rushed forward comfortingly and wrapped her arms around Rose's waist. Rose warily lifted her arms, and after a second cuddled the little girl too.
"As survivors we sail," She whispered softly to the little girl. "As survivors we sail."