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The summer breeze wisps my hair into the air. I feel the warm sunlight on my face. I can feel the branch swaying under my feet. I can see for miles in every direction, through the leaves. I hear my mother calling me from the house. She’s ringing the dinner bell. I take a hold of a small limb on the tall oak. I shift my weight to my right foot. Before I can get my other foot on the branch below I hear a crack. I feel branches grabbing at my hair and skirts. The ground is moving towards me at an alarming rate. I feel a scream rip from my lips. I feel all the air knocked out of my lungs when I hit the ground. There’s a burning pain by my right eye. My father’s cold hands are brushing my hair from my face.
I snap out of my old memory. I am boarding The Titanic.
“Mary are you alright? We are about to leave for New York, on the world’s finest unsinkable ship!” my husband Edward says with a laugh on his lips. His cold hand is brushing the stray hair away from my face behind my ear. I spot my father and mother when Edward and I reach the deck. I set my luggage down and wave to them. I feel Edward pull me close and I stare at his face. His dark brown hair falls in light curls around his dancing green eyes. His lips wear a smile as large as the one he had on our wedding day. The news of this trip was a surprise. Right after we cut the cake, my father and Edward’s father pulled us away from the reception. Edward had a twinkle in his eye that matched the fathers. He knew what they were going to tell us. They told us we would be boarding the most luxurious and largest cruise ship. I could hardly believe that my father would be happy to send me to New York so soon. Though, I’m happy he has given Edward the chance to start his own business in retail.
The ship’s horn signals that the ship is leaving. When I can no longer spot my mother and father’s faces from the crowd Edward starts to lead me to our rooms. A man takes our luggage from us and has a quiet word with Edward. We ride down an elevator to the second class rooms. When we exit the elevator we enter into a large open room. We walk by an open door and inside here is a deep woolen carpet as soft as the one at home and a tall beamed ceiling. Writing desks sit along the walls of the room were women sit enjoying talk of gossip, I assume by the way they laugh quietly between themselves. The rooms smell nothing of the deck, the smell is cleaner and is like fresh wood that’s newly polished.
“Mary we have room 14, I’m gonna acquaint myself with some other passengers,” Edward says edging away towards the smoking room where a group of men sat talking through their cigarettes. The room was just as plush as the one the women were in. The main difference was the leather-covered seats on which the men sat. I start toward a group of women and take a seat in a plush green sitting chair. I pull out the embroidery I am working on.
This is how most of the days wore. We chatted and went on late night strolls some nights. On the fifth night of her maiden voyage, we were walking along the halls of the ship in companionable silence. As we ride the elevator to the deck of The Titanic I notice Edward has his pocket watch on him, it’s open and it reads 11:40. We feel the ship lurch as if we had hit something. The door tings and we step into the slight breeze of the arctic air. We see an iceberg on the left side of the ship near the bow. We try to get a better look at the iceberg too, but the lifeboats block most views. It is still outstandingly beautiful. It looks like a small island of ice floating away from us. I feel my knees give out under me, my body sways from more than the ships rocking. I feel a slight wind and I feel something cold and hard hit my head.
I wake with a start in my bed. I know I am awake because I’m sitting up, but I can’t see a thing. There’s a dull pain by my right eye. I hear shuffling outside the room. I’m trying to remember where I last was but all I can bring up is that I was outside. I hear my mother weeping, she never cries like this. There’s an unfamiliar voice telling her something, I can’t hear what it’s saying. I hear the door squeak open on its hinges. I must be my room it’s the only door that manages a piercing sound like that in our house.
“Ah, so you’ve woken up. You best lie back down while I tell your parents,” the voice from outside says. He has a gruff voice, one that sounds well educated and sure of himself.
“Mary, oh my Mary. I thought you would never wake!” my mother exclaims as she walks in the room and wraps her arms lightly around my shoulders. I wince. She removes her arms quickly and starts to unwrap something from around my head.
“Now don’t do that so quickly she may not be completely healed yet. I’m not sure what we will see when you unwrap it. She had a very nasty cut by her right eye. If her head had been even a little bit more to the right the stick would have taken her eye,” says the man who, I can now see is a doctor while my mother finishes unwinding the bandage. “Ah, well let’s see. Yes, yes it’s healed quite nicely now. A bit of makeup and no one will be the wiser. Though, your lucky that you are still alive. Most girls your age would have died falling from that tree as you did.”
“Mary!” Edward shouts at me, I’m lying on the deck of the Titanic. I see a small cluster of men in uniform standing around me. They aren’t looking at me, though. There women and children boarding lifeboats all around the deck.
“What is going on? My head hurts so much,” I ask Edward who’s sitting beside me, wearing a worried frown. “The last this I remember is seeing the iceberg come close to the ship.”
“Mary you fainted while staring out at the iceberg. You hit your head when you fell. You weren’t responding to me and I wasn’t sure if I should move you…” Edwards starts to explain.
I cut him off, “Why are people boarding the lifeboats?”
“The Captain of the ship told people to start boarding them. It’s probably just a safety precaution. The ship can’t sink, but it’s taken damage. The iceberg damaged us from under the water,” Edward says.
I look closer at my surroundings. There’s chaos. Women and children stand in lines or bunches around lifeboats trying to ensure they get a spot. Some women are seen darting out of the groups to disappear below ship. There are a few sailors armed with weapons looking warily at the crowd as if they expected some kind of trouble. I recognize that there’s a small bit of order to the chaos around us. Most people are just waiting to get on a lifeboat. I take Edwards hand when I stand up.
“I think we should wait. There is plenty of boats, so we should be able to wait until people calm down,” I say.
We went to our room and gathered a few of our more treasured belongings taking care not to try and carry too many items. When we reach the deck I watch as lifeboat number 7 goes down without it being filled.
“You’re right, there must be plenty of lifeboats if they can send them not filled. Let’s enjoy some time aboard the ship before we get pushed in the crowd,” Edward says in a light joking tone.
We spend some time watching the crowd run about listening to families say goodbye to each other. The men in uniform are speaking between each other. A shocked look fills his face at what he’s been told. I start to shift my weight nervously something doesn’t feel right. The crowd should have calmed down, but it seems panic has taken hold once again as people rush and shove to get on the ship. Some of the men and women are hugging as if when they let go they won’t be able to hold each other again. I start to sway dangerously on my feet.
“Edward, how many boats are left?” I ask my voice shaking with my realization.
“I’m not sure,” Edward pauses as if looking and his face fills with horror, “None of the wooden lifeboats are left.”
I feel the air knocked out of my lungs. They are loading the collapsible and the crowds on deck are thinning, the people walking away from the lifeboats have a look in their eye that says they know what’s going to happen.
“What time is it?” I ask.
“It’s 2:05,” Edward says as we watch the last collapsible is lowered to the water.
We both stare at the collapsible that is barely outside our reach. I feel him hugging me closely. I have no clue when he pulled me in, but I still feel a shiver run down my spine. I feel the ships tilt under my feet.
“Edward let’s swim for it,” I whisper half hoping he will say no. The other half hoping he will say yes. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. I don’t want to face the fact, I can’t say it even in my thoughts now. A thousand of us must still be on the liner.
“One last chance right?” He gave a small laugh that held no humor, “I will go where you go. If you think we can make it to one of those boats it’s better then waiting for this ship to finish sinking.”
We held hands as we stepped to the railing. All other people had left the side. The boats were far now but we have to try. I feel the wind hit my face as I look over the edge of the ship. It’s a far drop but not nearly as far as it should have been. I feel Edward beside me, his hand slips from mine as I take the final step over the railing. I feel air pull my skirts up, but too soon my lungs are stripped of air as I hit the icy water.
The water is so cold I can’t make my arms work. I feel Edward enter the water next to me. Neither of us thought of how cold it would be in the water. We reach for each other. Neither of us has air in our lungs anymore. It takes every bit of strength I have left to reach my hand out to him. I feel him grasp my hand. It’s cold, I can’t feel the warmth his hands always had. My lungs burn when I give in to the wanting of breath. I’m too weak to react to the pain. I feel him holding me close. I start to feel something slipping from me. Edward is no longer holding me tightly. I can’t see anything, I can’t feel anything.
I hear a voice whisper, “You’ve cheated me long enough. Follow me this time.”
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