BETWEEN TWO HEARTS
April 15, 1912
Siobhan moved up the deck as fast as she could, but sometimes her legs couldn’t carry her as fast as she wanted to go. The slope of the deck was getting to be steeper by the minute. She managed to clear the two decks that she needed to clear in order to get to the stern.
She felt the ship groan underneath her as she followed the crowd to the top of the forty-five degree slant. It didn’t seem like the ship was going to stop moving up to a vertical angle, and the slant was getting too steep to continue the climb. She made her way over to the bars that lined the edge of the deck and used the traction allowed by the assistance of them to assist in her climb.
She could only make it so far before she was forced to stop and grab hold of the bars on the side in order to keep her as close to the ship as she could get. All of the passengers around her who didn’t have a firm hold on something attached to the ship began to slide down the almost vertical deck.
She didn’t notice the groaning beneath her until she felt the ship fall back.
She fell against the deck, wrenching her right arm behind her when she hit. A sharp pain ran through her shoulder as she cried out, but she let go just as easily. She hit the deck while grimacing. "Ugh!" she managed to choke out as she landed on the deck. She didn’t waste much time and, even though her head was spinning, she managed to hurry to the back of the stern.
Cries came up from the people who were left on board, thinking that they had been saved and that their prayers had been answered. What they didn’t realize was the fact that the lull would only last for a couple of minutes.
Siobhan grabbed onto the railing at the end of the stern just before the incline started to rise again. Shouts from those souls that managed to remain on the ship began to resound throughout the air as the stern began to swing up again.
"Oh, God!" She tried to grab the bars with her arms, but felt a sharp sensation race through her right shoulder. Instinctively she let go and held on with her left arm.
It’s not going to stop…it’s not attached to anything.
She managed to painfully swing herself up to the point where she was straddling the bar. The incline got steeper and steeper by the second and, just as it was about fully vertical, she managed to pull herself into a kneeling position on the opposite side of the bars.
In no time flat, the stern of the ship was completely vertical. It was extremely surreal, noting the fact that only a week or so ago the ship was known to be unsinkable. Now, in its final minute or two, over half of her passengers were either in the water or about to join the group already in the freezing cold ocean.
The hundreds of voices around her began to cry out as the ship stood still. The air was thick with anticipation of the final plunge, though the severed half of the ship seemed to have a mind of its own.
Siobhan gripped the bar with her left hand and held her breath. She had no clue where anyone was--her uncle, Moody, Murdoch, Owen, Catriona…Harold…for all she knew, the people who she had come to know during the voyage could all be dead. Of course, all except for her love, who managed to escape on a lifeboat…according to his best friend.
The descent into the murky black water began slowly and drew many a cry from the terror-stricken passengers. Her heart began to beat faster as she realized that they were now facing the inevitable. The grip on the bars holding her up tightened as she realized that she would be hitting the water sometime within the next few minutes.
"Don’ worry, miss," a man’s voice said from right next to her. She turned and saw a man wearing what appeared to be a baker’s uniform. "Jus’ keep paddlin’ for the top." She nodded and didn’t say anything.
When she was only a few feet from the water, she stood up and prepared to get off of the ship and onto a piece of floating debris--or, if she was lucky enough, to a boat. "Hold your breath!" she heard the baker shout. The water came up too quickly…but after it came over her feet, she panicked. She couldn’t get away from the ship--her foot got caught on the bar, dragging her down with the wreckage.
Her mind began to race as she went down with the ship. I must get my foot out.
She reached down and tugged at her boot. She felt that one of the buckles was holding it down and managed to get it loose, her foot coming out right away. Her lifebelt began to do its job as she began to move towards the surface.
"And there she is, Siv. Titanic. She is almost ready to set sail."
Andrews held out his hand and helped his niece out of the car. Siobhan took his hand and got down onto the ground. It was apparent that her relative was extremely excited that his baby was just about completed.
"She’s beautiful, Uncle…" She trailed off in awe as she gazed at the gargantuan hull that would soon hold many, many lives.
"Yes…we’ve spared no expense, my dear. All the finest wood carvings, all the finest china…we have even kept the Third Class passengers in mind; the Third Class areas are equivalent to the First Class areas on board the other ships."
She took in everything that was before her. "You must be proud, Uncle. She is quite a sight."
"Yes, she is. I am very proud of her. So very proud."
Siobhan was snapped back to reality when her head hit something quite hard…almost like a wooden board. She quickly realized what was going on and put her hands up, allowing herself to feel the way around the obstacle and above the water.
Her head shot up above the surface and she was hit with cries of pain. The people around her were flailing their arms about while trying to get to any sort of flotation device.
"Please, help us!"
She grabbed onto the chair which she had hit her head on. She was barely able to feel the piercing cold of the seawater that night--thanks to the brandy that her uncle had given her--but she knew, almost instinctively, that she needed to pull herself up out of the water. Who knew what sort of damage was already done?
She did not know where her uncle had gone. She had no idea where Lowe was floating in the endless void that had become the sea around those in the water. All she could do now was wait…wait for the help that would hopefully come…but a part of her began to doubt what she yearned to hope was the truth.
The voices slowly began to grow quiet. All of Siobhan’s sense of time had become disoriented. Was it anywhere near the morning? Was it anytime near daylight? She had felt the brandy that was in her system wear off a while back. Oh, how she wanted the numbing feeling in her body again. She did not like feeling pain throughout her body due to the bitter cold.
She slowly turned her head to the right and saw a lifeboat floating about fifty feet from her. At her first glance she thought it was the lifeboat that had been sent back to save them. She took a second glance. This boat was sitting rather low in the water. It also wasn’t too packed…but were any of the lifeboats really filled to capacity? Maybe she would be able to get on this one.
She silently slid into the water. Her body was so stiff and numb that she slid in with ease--aside from cringing due to the pain, thanks to her new surroundings--but her entrance was followed by a slapping of the water from her flotation device. The noise didn’t faze her too much; her mind was only on one thing--getting to the boat.
She got up near the boat but couldn’t find the strength to draw the passengers’ attention to her. Her heart sank as thoughts of death came flowing through her mind. She slapped the water out of frustration; the sudden burst of energy coming out of nowhere. Her legs began to paddle and her arms continued to move out of an effort to keep the blood flowing through her limbs.
Suddenly, like an answered prayer, she saw a face looking down at her from the boat. It was Owen. Owen, she thought to herself, struggling to call out his name. She saw him turn back and argue with the other passengers on board, but only a few moments later she saw them form a human rope to get her on board. She was going to be okay.
She was snapped out of her reminiscent state of mind as she felt someone poking her in the ribs. "Are you all right?" Owen brushed a piece of fallen hair out of the way.
"Yeah," she said as she smiled at him. "Just out of curiosity…" She trailed off, not wanting to say what she feared.
A smile came across his face. "She’s right over there," he said softly as he nodded his head towards the dazed woman sitting on the other side of the boat. She could see that just beyond her friend Catriona, the very first rays of the new day were beginning to peek over the horizon.
Siobhan knew that in a couple of hours she would feel the sun shining upon her numb body once again. Oh, how she yearned for that feeling.
Owen put his hand on her shoulder. "It’ll be all right," he said. "Once we get on the rescue ship, I’m certain that you’ll be reunited with that man of yours." A grin came across her face.
"Aye…I sure do hope so. And hopefully once we get to America, I’ll have someone meet me there."
"Anyone come to mind?"
"No. We’ll have to see."
He would have continued the conversation, but there was a cry from the other end of the boat. "There’s a boat! With people!" She turned and saw that indeed it was true. Other people began to realize that they were saved.
People began to wave their arms in the air in an attempt to gain the attention of the person who was manning the boat. They seemed to have had success, as the more alert passengers saw the approach of the boat move so it was coming towards them.
"Let’s get those who need it ready to transfer," Owen said, trying to rouse those who weren’t doing as well as the others. "Come on!" Siobhan took the hint and began to move as best as she could around to the other passengers, trying to see who needed into a dryer boat most. As she came upon those people, she tried to move them up towards the front.
The lifeboat came alongside the half-sunken collapsible with just enough room for the people on board. Lowe had to move a couple of the passengers already on Boat 14 around in order to give them enough boarding room and, stepping over into the other boat--while hitting a shallow puddle of water at the same time--he began to take some of the passengers from the collapsible into his.
"Step lightly," he said almost absentmindedly. After all, he had kept saying that a lot earlier that morning. He took the great majority of the passengers and quickly helped them in. They took seats in Boat 14, relieved to be out of the water that was in their boat all night.
Lowe had just about gotten all of the passengers in when he heard a familiar voice. "Go ahead, Owen," the female said. He snapped out of the passive state of mind that he had fallen into. He reached for the male who was coming towards him and brought him over. He could almost feel his heart stop as he saw who was behind him.
She was leaned over, feeling the pulse on one of the three bodies that were left behind. He would have known that red hair anywhere. That red hair that always had the faint smell of juniper…that belonged to the Irish maiden that had won his heart in less than a week.
She stopped moving and slowly stood up, turning around and meeting eyes with him. Indeed, it was her.
His heart almost stopped from joy. She was alive…Siobhan Andrews, the keeper of his heart, had survived the night.