Written by Bloody Mary
"Right, then. She can go," said the man in the spotless navy slacks and pristine white shirt as he pushed me forward like a rag doll. I suppose that it was to symbolize my place in this world. Where I have been since birth, and where I shall always stay.
I was ushered up a long gangplank to the port side of the Titanic. Another man in the same uniform as the last checked my ticket, giving me a look over, then said, "Welcome to Titanic."
Quite frankly, it was a miracle that I was even here on the ship of dreams. I know for a fact that at this moment it is my dream, the Titanic, or any ship that can get me out of England.
I walked down a labyrinth of corridors, glancing at the gates, which were so securely locked, cutting me off from the first and second class worlds, keeping me contained, like some dangerous animal, to my third class lifestyle. Many tongues hung in the air like thick molasses, all of them contradicting each other. I kept my rapid pace, making my way down towards my cabin. Finally, after taking a wrong turn and going down into a boiler room, I made it to Cabin 16. I carefully placed my trunk on the bed farthest to the right and rummaged through it until I found my journal. I never go anywhere without it.
April 10, 1912
I have found my way to my cabin aboard the Titanic. Everything here is so different. The rooms, the people, even the halls! The things here are much nicer than the scum at the workhouse, yet I still feel like the world is spinning around me, as if I am falling behind. Things are about to change, because I am now on my way to America!
I gathered up my journal and made my way to the deck. It was windy, yet the bright sun shone down upon my brown curls, my green dress flowing out behind me. I positioned myself at the railing and watched the general commotion below me. People were running about and third class people were waiting in line to be inspected for lice while first class ladies and gentlemen stepped out of their fancy cars and boarded the ship in their graceful manner.
"Beautiful, ain’t it?" a thick Cockney accent asked from behind me.
"Yes. It’s lovely," I replied back to the mystery person.
"Rebecca Peak," she said, extending her arm.
"Elizabeth Night," I said, shaking her hand.
"Ah…feel that breeze!" She threw her head back and laughed, letting the wind catch it and carry it away. I did the same, letting the wind pull on my long curls.
"So, wot’s your story?" she asked.
"My-my story? What are you talking about?" I asked, utterly confused.
"How’d you end up ‘ere’s, more like it," she said again.
"That," I said, turning to look at her, "is an extremely long story."
"We’ve got lots of time, ‘aven’t we, love?" she asked, laughing once again. I chuckled; it was the first time anyone had called me love. It felt strange, like I actually had someone who would care for me.
"Well, let’s see…when I was born, my father left my mother and I to go make his fortune. Three years later, we got word that he had been killed at sea. My mother was petrified. Eventually she went mad, and shipped me off to live with my aunt and uncle in Oxford. They ended up dying when I was eleven, so I went to go live in the workhouse." Rebecca gasped. "They’re horrid places. Tons of smoke and machinery. If you’re not careful, your head can come clean off your shoulders," I said, remembering what a seventeen-year-old had told me when I was younger.
"That’s sounds ‘orrible! No family! No friends! ‘Ow did you survive?" she asked with a horrified look on her face--the same look I always got when I was telling my story.
"I had friends…I had one. Her name was Lucy," I said quietly. Suddenly, my mind flooded with memories of her. I turned away, trying not to cry.
"Wot’s ‘appened to ‘er?" Rebecca asked, putting her hand on my shoulder.
"She got sick when we were sixteen--the gasses in the workhouse. She lived two months in agonizing pain before she died late one night…" I trailed off, trying not to think of the bad times. Rebecca started to pat my back, pulling me back to reality.
"There, there, love. Not to worry. You’re out of there now. Nothing’s gonna get you here. I tell you something, though. Your story’s a right lot sadder than mine." Her words were cut off by the sound of the ship’s foghorn, signifying our departure. Everyone in the harbor below us started to wave and yell, and most people on the deck waved back to their loved ones.
"That’s me oldest brother, that is," Rebecca said, pointing to a blond boy standing on the roof of a car. I had no one to wave to, no one to love.
The Titanic pulled out of the harbor and sailed towards the open ocean. The wind picked up and gave the whole deck full of people a humble feeling.
"Ow!" I cried as I felt something heavy hit my arm. "What was that?"
"It’s my lucky day, ain’t it?!" Rebecca leaned down to pick up a beautifully beaded purse.
"Is that what hit me?" I asked, looking at it, then rubbing my sore arm.
"Don’t know, but I think I’ll have a look inside." She started to open the purse, but I snatched it out of her hands.
"No! You can’t just go through people’s things!" I remembered at the workhouse they would inspect your bedding and trunk to see if you had stolen anything that week. Nothing was private. At one point, they even searched my journal. I felt as though they had looked into my mind, and now they could control it.
"All right. Don’t blow your top off. I was only going to take a peek," she said, flinging her hands up.
"We should return it. That’s what we ought to do, not rummage through it!" I said, looking around for a person who looked like she had just lost her purse.
"You ain’t gonna find ‘em down here. It probably belongs to one of them," she said, pointing to the first class deck.
"Oh…right. Then you can do it," I said, shoving it in her direction.
"Oh, no! I ain’t taking that! You were the one who wanted to return it," she said, shaking her head. "This is your job now." She walked away, not even looking back for a second time.
All the crew was distracted, making last minute preparations and what not. I figure it’s now or never, right? My feet started to move towards the gate, as if my mind was unconsciously doing so. I reached out for the handle, swung the gate forward, and quickly slid through.
I took one step, two steps, three steps, and then I heard a loud scream. Oh, no! They’ve caught me! I thought.
"Where did they throw it? I’ll kill them!" screamed a young girl; she looked about my age with bright blonde hair neatly brushed up off her face. She suddenly stopped and looked at me. My green dress was simple compared to her elegantly beaded blue gown. I looked down at the purse and it seemed to match.
"My purse!" she cried. "Oh, you found it! I can’t believe that you haven’t gone through it!" She seized the purse out of my hands and started to look through it, confirming that I had indeed not stolen any of her valuables. And besides, how could she think such a thing! Why would she say such a thing, for that matter, and in front of the girl who brought it to her?
"Hey! What are you doing up here?" a crew member’s voice boomed from behind me, strong and loud.
"It’s all right. She’s my servant," said the blonde girl.
"Pardon me?" I asked, offended. I knew I was poor, but someone’s servant I was not! The crewman resumed his task, leaving me alone with this insolent girl.
"Joanna Lovett," she said, not even bothering to extend her hand for me to shake it.
"Elizabeth Night," I said.
"How old are you, Elizabeth?" she asked, sitting down on a deck chair. I did the same.
"Eighteen, ma’am," I said, feeling like I actually was her servant.
"One year older then me! Although I suppose that you’re one year dumber than me." I clenched my fists, trying to hold back a rebuttal. "I think we could get along quite nicely!" she said.
I pointed to myself in disbelief. "But I’m…I’m not in your class."
"Oh, good heavens! You think I could forget that? You make me laugh, Lizzie!" I hate it when people call me Lizzie.
I gave a weak smile in reply, not knowing how to respond to her.
"Lizzie, tell me something. Do you know what a lost soul is?" she asked.
"No, ma’am. Is it a ghost?"
"Wrong, Lizzie. Wrong, wrong, wrong. You steerage citizens really are as stupid as they say!" I stood up, a blazing look in my eyes. Joanna stared at me as if I was an animal escaping its cage, not knowing whether to run away or act dead.
"I’m not stupid!" I exclaimed.
"No, of course not, but I must warn you. If you have another outburst such as that I will have to have a crew member put you back where you belong." I sat back down, not wanting to be carried away by a crewman.
"Good. Now, where was I?" she questioned.
"Lost souls, ma’am."
"Lizzie, I consider you a lost soul, but never fear. I can help!" I was resistant to saying anything. Why should she want to help me? What was I to her? Before I could even open my mouth, she said, "Oh, I’m so glad you accept!"
"But--but I didn’t…I…" I couldn’t find words. She was obviously not going to go back on the matter. Joanna started rattling off to herself, making a list of things she needed to do before making me seem the least bit respectable to the public eye.
"You look marvelous, absolutely marvelous, and it’s all because of me! Look at the wonderful work I’ve done. Though I must say there is really no hope for your mangy hair." Joanna pushed me in front of the mirror. I was in one of her old gowns that she acquired in Paris last year. It was a beautiful lilac color, with a train in the back; the beadwork was so intricate I felt as though I should not move for fear of them popping off. My hair was neatly swept off my neck and piled into an equally intricate hairdo. I had to admit I did look pretty, but I wouldn’t say marvelous.
"Good gracious! Stand up straight!" Joanna slapped my back. I squeezed my eyes shut, pain seeping through my body. Joanna had the hardest slaps. I had already gotten five today. Joanna scurried into her first class suite powder room to apply more blush. I swiftly retreated into the drawing room. I sat down at the writing desk and began to write in my journal.
April 10, 1912
I feel as though I have been abducted. This first class world is so different from the third. I feel as if the world I used to know has been ripped out from under my feet. I am scared, and yet oddly excited to be experiencing the first class ways. Why Joanna has chosen me to be her victim I cannot say, but I thank God for this experience.
I looked around the sitting room. Earlier that day, Joanna had taught me to drink tea and dance. She emerged from the powder room moments later, ready to go. She claimed we were already three minutes late and came up with some twisted way to blame it on me. She said if we did not get there soon it would be considered vulgar. We walked through hall after hall, taking many turns. I could not keep track. Finally, we made it to the grand staircase. It was beautiful; the oak gleamed in the light, and the dome above gave it the finishing touch. The clock in the wall read 6:10.
"Are we terribly late?" I asked.
"Not terribly late, but we are late enough." Joanna led the way into the dining room, which was beautiful as well! Everything about the first class spaces seemed perfect, except for me. I felt out of place and ostracized. We were escorted to our table, where a group of people sat chatting and sipping brandy or wine.
"Ah…the queen has decided to come!" said a man at the table.
"Oh, hush! I was just helping new friend Elizabeth dress," she said, gesturing towards me. Everyone’s gazes fell upon me. I smiled and quickly took my seat. A waiter came by and poured Joanna and I glasses of wine. I took a deep drink, then remembering that first class girls don’t drink so heavily, I put the glass down. Joanna gave me a sharp look.
"Caviar, Miss?" asked a waiter. I shuffled through my mind, trying to decipher what caviar meant. I decided that it was best if I just accept it.
"Not too much, please. I wouldn’t want to waste." Joanna gave me another sharp look. I guess wasting food didn’t occur to first class women. The waiter made his way around the table serving everyone a pile of caviar. I looked down at my own plate, where a pile of black, beadlike things sat.
"What exactly is this?" I whispered to Joanna.
"Fish eggs," Joanna replied calmly.
"Fish eggs! That’s revolting!" I put my fork back down on my blue and white plate.
"It’s not revolting. It’s high society," she said, putting her fork into her mouth. We continued to eat and drink. Every person at the table was asking questions, wanting to know more and more about me.
"What is your full name?" said a lady in a red silk gown.
"Elizabeth May Night," I said.
"And the May comes from where?" asked a man in the corner.
"It was my mother’s name."
"Are you of the Yorkshire Nights?" asked a stout man.
"I…I…um…" I looked to Joanna for help.
"No, she’s of the Jersey Nights. New money," Joanna said. Everyone around the table laughed.
"And have you an escort this evening?" asked a small lady who could only be the stout man’s wife.
"Actually, I…" I began to say.
"She is with me, for the time being," a man said from somewhere behind me. He sounded close to my age.
"Ah…Mr. Lovett. I must say I am pleased you decided to join us," said the stout man.
"Mr. Damon, surely by now you know my ways?" Mr. Lovett asked, taking his seat next to mine. His deep brown eyes looked around the table.
"Good evening, Miss Night," he said, pushing a stray hair out of his face.
"Will, I thought Mother told you to get your hair cut!" Joanna cried. Mother? I thought. That is strange.
"Mother told me, Joanna, but I chose not to listen." He smiled, and Joanna laughed.
"You’re…" I shushed myself, realizing that William and Joanna were brother and sister.
"Brandy, sir?" the waiter asked.
"Yes," William said. "Miss Night, sorry to keep you waiting, but there was a poker game I felt obliged to finish."
I could instantly tell his personality--haughty, rude, arrogant, etc.
"How was your afternoon tea?" he asked, pulling me from my thoughts.
"Pleasant, sir," I said coolly.
"Lovely." He was obviously not paying the slightest bit of attention to my answer.
I leaned over towards Joanna and asked, "How old is he?"
"Nineteen, Miss Night," he said. My cheeks instantly began to burn red.
"A first class lady knows how to whisper so the whole table doesn’t hear," Joanna reminded me. Her breath tingled down my spine.
Dinner finished pleasantly…enough. The men adjourned to the smoking room for cigars and more brandy--all the men except for Mr. Lovett.
"Would you join me on the promenade?" William asked, holding his hand out to me. I swallowed and took his hand, letting him guide me out of my seat. I took his arm, and we walked out of the dining room.
We were quiet for a few minutes. The breeze had died down, but it was still there; the night was cool and the water calm.
"Mr. Lovett," I finally said. He turned to me. "Why did you tell the others that you were my escort?" The question had been fighting all night to escape my lips.
"You looked like you needed help," he said.
"Needed help? What made you think that?" I asked indignantly.
"Did you have a better answer?" he asked, a cunning grin spreading across his handsome face.
"I…I could have come up with something," I said, looking away from his intimidating face.
"As I figured you would, but I thought it best to save you from mumbling." We walked further down and stopped to look at the setting sun. I sighed and thought of Lucy and the workhouse. Life was so simple back in third class. Now, with all the new rules and regulations, I felt more alone than I ever have, even when I had no friends and family. The sun got lower and lower in the sky, and soon we made our way back to Joanna’s stateroom.
"It was lovely meeting you," William said, taking my gloved hand and kissing it, sending sparks up my arm. No! That is not supposed to happen! I don’t care for him whatsoever! I thought. All I could do was give a weak nod of my head and retreat into the room. Joanna was sitting on her bed, reading a copy of Persuasion. She had given me a key earlier that day so I could get in when I pleased. Joanna called in her maid to help me undress, and I got back into my simple green gown.
"Here. Take one of my old coats," she said, walking into her closet and pulling out a pale pink coat. I slipped it over my dress and buttoned it up so people could not see my hideously simple gown. I said good-bye to Joanna and ran out of the room. I raced towards the deck, taking a few wrong turns, and glided through the gate. I retreated farther and farther into my third class world, feeling a wave of welcome pass over me. I soon found my cabin and opened the door. There was nobody there, nor was there a sign that anyone had ever been there except me. I grabbed my journal out of the coat’s pocket and began to write.
April 10, 1912
I have just met the most disagreeable, arrogant, stupid, insolent man! His name is William Lovett, and it just so happens that he is Joanna’s brother, making it harder to break free from her without notice. Yet he makes me feel as though life in first class may not be so bad. I tremble at the thought of anyone finding out my true class, and I tremble at the thought of William Lovett ever kissing me again.
I tucked my journal away and changed into my nightgown. I lay down in bed and fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning, I awoke before the sun had risen.
"You need to get here early so I can make you beautiful again," I remembered Joanna saying. I felt like Cinderella, but instead of being my fairy godmother, Joanna was more of an evil stepmother. I got out of bed and got back into my green dress. I donned Joanna’s coat and shoved my journal back into the pocket. I ambled through the halls of the of the third class quarters.
When I came to the gate, there was a crewmember sleeping in a chair. I slowly approached, hoping I would not wake him. My hand slid to the handle and pushed the gate open.
"What…hey! What do you think you’re doing?" he asked, waking with a start. He rubbed his eyes and frantically jumped to his feet.
"I was…I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to take a look around the third class deck," I announced, standing up a little straighter and pushing my chin in the air, trying my best to mimic Joanna.
"Right…" he said, not knowing whether to believe me; before he had time to think it over, I glided past him. I ran down the first class halls, not knowing which turns to take. I soon realized that I was hopelessly lost. It all seemed so easy last night…well, easy enough. Now it was much harder. I turned down a small hall, leading to a dead end. I retraced my steps, turned down a different passage, and wandered further down in my first class maze. I looked behind me and in front of me. Everything appeared the same! The white doors with the clean cut gold numbers, with the same confounding carpet on all the floors. My head began to feel dizzy, and I grew weak. I put my hand to my temple and rubbed it.
"Miss Night?" A hand was on my shoulder.
"Yes?" I asked, turning around to face William.
"Are you all right?"
"Yes, I’m fine," I said, taking a step back, letting his hand fall off my shoulder.
"You look pale. Are you sure you’re not feeling faint?" he asked, taking a step closer. Our faces were just inches apart.
"I…um…I…well…yes!" I said, stepping back again. "I’m fine! There is no need to pester me!"
"I don’t think I’m pestering you," he said in his stupid, annoying, schoolboy way.
"Really? Well, I think you were!" I said, stamping my foot.
"What are you doing up so early?" he asked.
"I was going to see--wait! What are you doing up so early?" I asked, involuntarily taking a step forward. For the second time this morning, our faces were only inches apart.
"I couldn’t sleep, and I suppose that is your dull excuse as well?"
"Yes! And it’s not an excuse. It’s the truth. I don’t sleep very well when I have things on my mind." His face moved in closer to mine. I could feel his warm breath on my cheeks.
"What sort of things?" he asked, just over a whisper.
I looked away from his gaze. "Just things!" Suddenly, a door opened behind us, making us spring away from each other.
"Lizzie? Is that you?" Joanna’s head popped out of the door.
"Um…yes. Yes, it is," I said, looking away from Will and towards Joanna.
"Well, what are you doing just standing about? You know there is much work to be done. Oh, William! I did not know that was you." She looked at William and then at me, a suspicious look in her eyes. "Was I disturbing something?" Joanna took a step back into the room.
"No. I was just about to come in," I said, stepping past William and into Joanna’s doorway. "It was divine speaking with you, Mr. Lovett." I turned sharply and went into the room; I tore out my journal with rage and wrote three words.
I hate Will.
Joanna came in and looked me over.
"Dear God! Did you wear that yesterday?" Joanna screeched. I looked up to the ceiling and mouthed, Help!
Joanna gave me funny looks all throughout breakfast, especially when Will was questioning me. Something was on her mind, and I knew I would not escape the day without questioning.
"Is there something you would like to share with me?" she asked after breakfast.
"No. I don’t recall anything." I took my gloves off and set them on the back of the couch. Joanna’s maid swiftly came in and picked them up for me.
"Really? You and my brother looked awfully close this morning, and you were oddly cool to him at breakfast. Would you care to explain that?" she asked with a childish smirk sweeping across her face.
"That." I laughed nervously. "That was nothing! No, no--you see, he was showing me the pattern."
"The pattern?" she asked flatly.
"Yes, the pattern," I replied.
"What pattern?" she asked. Aggravation slipped into her voice. Clearly, she did not believe my story.
"The carpet pattern," I said.
"Why on earth were you looking at the carpet?"
"Well, the pattern is just so beautiful; I was trying to take it all in." I turned away from her questioning stare.
"I don’t believe you, but at the moment we have more important things to do." She led the way into the sitting room and took a seat in the high-backed chair.
"Sit," she commanded.
"Oh, no. I’m fine. Thanks." She gave me a venomous look. I quickly obeyed and waited for further instruction. She soon started to talk about how a lady should act towards a man, and my mind began to wander. Thoughts of Will popped into my head, then of the morning’s happenings. I quickly got lost in the thought of his fathomless brown eyes.
By the time lunch came around, I had only comprehended a handful of Joanna’s words. William met us at her suite and walked with us to the dining room.
"Brother," Joanna said, "do you really find the carpet pattern that lovely?"
Will looked baffled; I managed to catch his eye and nod my head frantically, telling him to go along with my horrible excuse.
"Why--yes, I do," he said, looking at me instead of Joanna. I felt myself falling into his eyes. Thank you, I mouthed. He nodded and looked back at Joanna.
"How strange! I’ve seen better, though. Remember the hotel in Paris? Oh, that was divine!" she rattled on.
"Yes, that was exquisite," he said. I thought about Paris, what it would be like. What did the clothes look like, the parties, the places, the people…
"Miss Night, how do you like Paris?" asked Will.
"I honestly could not--it is lovely this time of year," I said, thinking it best to pretend I had been there. Joanna nodded, signifying a job well done.
"What is your favorite part of Paris?" he asked. Now, I had no inkling of what to say! I had never been out of England! How was I supposed to name a place in France?
"All of it," I said, before realizing the words had even come out of my mouth.
"All of it? You must be quite the traveler! But surely you must have one spot in particular that you enjoy over the rest."
"No, all of it is just so breathtaking! The…general…greenery," I said, topping it off with a nervous smile. We made it to the Café Parisian, where we would be dining, and took our seats.
"What will you be having today, sir?" asked a waiter as soon as we were settled in.
"The salmon, please," Will said, handing his menu to the waiter.
"The lamb, I think," Joanna said, and smiled sweetly.
"I…" I could barely understand the menu, much less say the things on it! "I suppose I’ll have the escargot." I was surprised I could even get that out.
"Right away," said the waiter, hurrying away to the kitchen. We sat in silence, sipping our drinks.
"Oh, Will! That is you!" said a high, squeaky voice from behind Will.
"Ah…Miss Bennett. How lovely it is to see you," Will said, standing up, taking the young lady’s hand, and kissing it lightly. The girl giggled and blushed, her red pin curls bouncing up and down.
"Mr. Lovett! How you make me laugh." I recalled the feeling I got when Will kissed my hand. A wave of green envy flooded over me. No! I thought. No, no, no! I despise Will. I hated every second of that kiss to the hand! He means nothing to me! Nothing whatsoever!
"Excuse me," I said, standing up. I grabbed my purse and ran to the powder room. I closed the door and locked it before pulling my journal out of my bag.
April 11, 1912
I don’t know what is going on! I can’t be jealous over Will! That simply can’t be possible. But this Miss Bennett character--who is she? And what does she want with Will--no, what does she want with Mr. Lovett?
I frantically turned the page. These things that I was writing--they weren’t true.
I think I love him.
No, that wasn’t true either! I threw my journal to the ground and screamed.
"What is going on?" I asked myself, putting my head in my hands. There came a soft knock on the door.
"Lizzie? Lizzie, are you in there?" Joanna’s voice sounded through the door. "Is everything all right?"
"Yes. I’m fine," I said, scrambling to pick up my journal and stuff it back into my bag.
"Miss Bennett would like to meet you, but you ran out so quickly she didn’t get the chance."
"I’m coming. Don’t worry." I pinched my cheeks to regain some color, adjusted my red-beaded gown. I unlocked the door, and walked out.
"Are you feeling well?" She held my face in her hands, making my cheeks look pudgy.
"I’m fine," I struggled to say in-between her hands. We walked back together and took our seats. Will gave my one of his annoying, stupid, repulsive…wonderful, adorable, caring looks. Stop that! I scolded myself.
"Miss Night, may I introduce you to Miss Caroline Bennett?" Joanna asked, gesturing towards the redhead.
"Charmed, I’m sure," she said, eyeing me.
"Um…yes?" It sounded more like a question than a statement.
"New money," Joanna labeled me.
"No wonder I haven’t heard of you!" Caroline laughed in a hyena-like way. Our food soon arrived on large silver platters.
"Your escargot, Madame," said the waiter, a placing a plate in front of me. I gave the round things on my plate a questioning look.
"Surely a woman who loves every part of Paris would enjoy snails," Will said, looking at me.
Snails! I wailed inside my head. I ordered snails!
"Of course! What would make you think I don’t?" I asked defensively. I picked up a snail, pulled it from the shell, and popped it into my mouth. It tasted absolutely disgusting! It was slimy and wet in my mouth, and felt like glue running down the back of my throat. All I could do was grin at everyone’s quizzical gaze. When I felt like no one was watching I picked up my glass and drained it, trying to rid myself of the horrible taste.
After lunch had finished, we all went out on the promenade. Instantly, Miss Bennett attached herself to Will’s arm. I dug my fingernails into my palms. Joanna walked next to me, talking of pointless things. I zoned out. It was as though I was on a different planet and every move I made was scrutinized. I only snapped back when I heard Joanna say Will’s name.
"Will and Miss Bennett do look glorious together, do they not?" she asked, sighing as if true love was standing right in front of her.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Will and Miss Bennett. Don’t you think they make a lovely couple?" Joanna asked in a dreamy tone.
"A…a couple?" I stammered. My breathing got a little faster. Is Will--is Will courting this girl? I thought. I shook my head in disbelief. He couldn’t! He just couldn’t!
"Yes, a couple!" Joanna squealed. I felt dazed, as though I was going in slow motion and everything around me was moving too fast.
"I’m going back to the room," I said, breaking free from Joanna. I ran and ran until I got to the room, not caring who saw me. I was dizzy when I collapsed on the bed.
"This can’t be happening! I don’t even love him!" Still, the feelings inside of me told me otherwise. I wrenched out my journal and frantically wrote.
April 11, 1912
I don’t know what is going on, or how to control it. My mind tells me to lock my heart away from Will, to not fall for his kind. But my heart tells me to love him. My body feels torn in two! Should I listen to my heart or should my mind prevail? Oh, Lucy, where are you when men come into my life? I feel like an outcast in the ways of men. All the first class young ladies know how to behave, and how to act towards them, but me, I am lost. My heart is winning the battle, but I fear I will lose it. Oh, God! Why must this happen to me?
I sat and thought for some time. Then I turned the page. I knew that my heart had just won.
I love him.
The dinner horn blew a few hours later. Joanna stopped her lesson on how to read menus and quickly picked out something to wear.
"This one! Oh, I forgot about this." Joanna pulled out a beautiful, pale blue gown. The beading was all throughout the hem and the bodice, and it flowed down gracefully to the ground.
"You’ll look lovely in it," I said, and truly meant it. The blue silk shone in the light and the black beads formed the most beautiful of patterns.
"Not me. Good heavens, no! It is for you to wear," she said, holding it out to me.
"I couldn’t. It’s far too…" There were no words to describe it.
"I insist! Besides, I wouldn’t be caught dead in last season’s evening wear." I took the dress from her hands and stood in front of the mirror. I got undressed and slipped into it. Joanna’s maid tied my corset and buttoned the dress.
"Now for your hair," Joanna said, picking up one of my curls and twirling it around her finger. She called for her maid to come in. She did my hair in such a way that it was neatly swept off my face, only leaving a few short curls in the front.
"You look like a princess!" Joanna exclaimed. Her dress was far superior to mine, but I thought I was the most beautiful girl in the entire world. My smile lit up my face, and the room around me.
"Any man would be lucky to have you on his arm," Joanna said.
"I suppose." I thought of Will. Then I thought of Miss Caroline Bennett. How jealous she would be! I would have to win Will over!
There was a knock at the door. Will’s voice came through. "You ladies ready?"
"Learn to be patient, Will!" Joanna said, opening the door.
"Hello, sister!" he said, his bright smile illuminating his perfect face. I stepped out from behind the door. "Miss Night, you look…amazing," he said breathlessly. I smiled weakly, feeling myself blush. He took my hand and kissed it. This time, my hand was bare. His lips were soft and smooth. I swallowed hard, trying to remain calm.
"Shall we go?" Joanna asked. She walked through the door and took Will’s arm. I stepped out of the room and closed the door. "Where is Miss Bennett?" Joanna asked.
"Why?" I asked.
"She needs an escort, silly! Tonight is the Captain’s Ball!" Joanna giggled like a child.
"You forgot to mention that," I said.
"Maybe it was when you were daydreaming, Lizzie," she said, hitting my arm…again. "Oh, the Captain’s Ball will be wonderful!" she said.
"What is it?" I asked, knowing it was a foolish query.
"After we all dine, the stewards take away the tables and chairs, and we have a ball!" Joanna said, clapping her hands together.
"Calm down, Joanna. It is only a ball," Will said.
"I know, but you and Miss Bennett--think, Will. This could be the night." Joanna’s voice echoed through my head like a ghost. I felt tears in my eyes, but I blinked them back. I was not going to cry. I was not going to admit defeat, not when the game hadn’t even started!
"Miss Night," Will said, waving his muscular hand in front of my face. "Do you often stare off?" He laughed to himself.
"No." I had to make it seem as though nothing had changed. I still had to act like I loathed him. I tried to pay attention to the conversation, yet I felt distant. We took a different turn than usual and ended up in a long corridor.
"I’ll get her," Joanna said. I could only assume her meant Miss Bennett. Joanna went up to a door and knocked. A quirky redhead answered, laughing like a hyena.
"Oh, of course I’ll help you!" Joanna said to Caroline. "Will, Lizzie, I’ll be just a minute." Then she was gone inside the room. Will and I were left alone.
"Mr. Lovett," I said, but he cut me off.
"Call me Will," he said.
"Will," I struggled to get out. "I want to thank you for going with the carpet pattern conversation," I said.
"You looked like you needed help," he said. "And I love to help."
"I did not need help…well, maybe I needed a little, but next time, I won’t get it from you!" I said.
Will laughed at me. "I see," he managed to get out through his laughter.
"What is so funny?" I asked indignantly.
"Nothing. It is nothing," he said.
"Well, then, Mr. Lovett--" I was cut off again, but this time not by Will.
"Oh, William! How delightful it is to see you again!" Caroline bounded up to us, her emerald gown matching pleasantly with her hair.
"Ah…Miss Bennett," he said, bowing. She laughed and took his arm, not even acknowledging me. They walked ahead, leaving me in their wake. Will turned to look back at me. I’m sorry, he mouthed. We arrived at the dining saloon and Joanna and Caroline ran ahead of us, wanting to say hello to Mr. Astor--the richest man on the ship.
Red hair, blue eyes, a few inches taller--that’s the girl he wants. Not me. I’m not that girl, I thought. Suddenly, the dress I was wearing didn’t seem as beautiful. We could never be together anyway. He’s first class and I’m third. The minute we step off this boat, we’ll never see each other again. We moved through the chairs and tables until we reached ours.
"Miss Night," Will said, pulling out my chair, "I hope you’ll save at least one dance for me."
"I shall try," I said passively, but on the inside I was jumping for joy. He pushed me back in and waited for the others to join us. Once our group was together, dinner began, Caroline on the other side of Will. She was always watching him, making sure that whenever he turned to me she could stop him. Then the ball began. The musicians who had been playing in the background at dinner now took their places just to the right side of the dance floor.
"Wedding Dance," the main violinist said, and they began to play.
"Have fun!" Joanna called to me; she was leaving with Mr. Astor for a dance. His wife, Madeleine, was dancing with Mr. Guggenheim. Caroline, like a magnet, took Will’s hand and they walked on the floor together. I sat down, waiting for that one dance with Will, even though I had to pretend that I hated it. I waited, but Will was always carried off again by Caroline. I thought it was funny how she wanted complete control.
"Miss Night?" asked Mr. Andrews, the ship’s designer.
"Why, yes, Mr. Andrews?" I asked, nodding. I was glad to see him. We talked together at dinner and I found him to be quite pleasant.
"Would you like to dance?" he asked, holding out his hand.
"Of course." I took it and he led me to the dance floor. Mr. Andrews was a splendid dancer. We talked about the ship and how it was made. He told me about the namesake and how much he loved the ship. When the dance was over, Mr. Andrews led me back to my seat and bowed.
"Thank you for the enlightening conversation, Miss Night," he said. Then he was off in the sea of people. He had other guests to entertain. Song after song crept by. Still no sign of Will. I was about to slip away when Will came to me.
"Eliza," he said, sending chills up my spine. In my eighteen years of life, no one had ever called me Eliza. It was different, yet it felt so soothing to hear it come out of Will’s mouth. "Sorry to keep you waiting."
"Not to worry," I said, smiling; I no longer cared about keeping my hatred towards him. I was going to act like I always wanted to around him.
"Would you do me the honor of being my partner for this dance?" he asked. He extended his hand to me.
"With pleasure," I said, taking it. He led me to the dance floor and the song began, a moderate tempo, not too fast, not too slow.
"Ready?" he asked, smiling.
"When am I not ready?" I asked, laughing. He took my waist. I felt like I was going to melt in his arms. "Will, I should warn you. I don’t know this dance," I said.
"I know," he said.
"Then why did you ask me for this dance?" I asked.
"You looked like you needed help." He pulled me closer. "Just follow me." He started to move. I followed, never falling out of step, not wanting to miss a beat.
"May I ask you a question?" I asked, looking up from my feet.
"Anything," he said, looking into my eyes.
"What is your relationship with Miss Bennett?" I knew it was personal, and he probably wouldn’t answer it, but I had to ask.
"She…" He sighed. "It is a bit complicated."
"How so?" I probed him for information.
"Joanna and Caroline have been good friends since birth. They have concocted some sort of theory that they should be sisters-in-law, and I am the one stuck in the middle of it. At first, I didn’t catch on, but then I figured that Miss Bennett didn’t just pop up on this ship. This must have been part of their plan. In the beginning, I don’t think she liked me that much, but now, with every growing minute, I think she likes me more and more." He finished his speech with a sigh. Yes! He doesn’t love her! I thought. Then, somewhere in the back of my mind, I heard, That still doesn’t mean he likes you. "And what about you? You must have suitors banging down your door," he said. I laughed.
"No," I said. "It’s not like that. It’s not like that at all."
"Then what is it like?" He stopped dancing. We were in the middle of the floor. He leaned in closer; his breathing was slow and steady.
"I don’t think you’d understand," I said. I wanted to tell him, tell him everything.
"Teach me to." He put his hand on my cheek, rubbing his thumb up and down, warming my face. He moved closer, and just as our lips were about to touch, he took my hand and pulled me out of the room.
"Will!" I laughed. "Will, stop! Where are we going?" He led me out on deck. No one else was out there, and the music was still wafting out of the dining saloon. He took my hands in his. "Will, what are you doing?" I asked. I instantly got lost in his eyes, and just as our lips were about to meet, for the second attempt of the evening, I heard a scream.
"Will!" Caroline raced forward and pushed me to the ground. "Will, you are so lucky I stopped you!" She was out of breath.
"Lucky?" Will asked, kneeling down beside me. "How is that lucky?"
"Do you not know--well, of course you wouldn’t." Caroline glared down at us.
"Know what?" he asked, looking from me to her.
"She’s third class," Caroline said.
"What? What does she mean by third class?" Will asked me. His eyes were tearing a hole in mine. I wanted to look anywhere but his face. Tears were burning in my eyes, and soon they flowed down my cheeks. "Is that the truth?" he asked me.
"I…it wasn’t supposed to happen. You…you weren’t supposed to…I’m so sorry," I said, wiping the tears off with the back of my hand.
"But Joanna would never…she would never socialize with a third class girl," he said, backing away from me, as if I carried some foul disease.
"In regular circumstances, but in this case, by obligation, she was forced to. Don’t you see? It was a bet! I bet her that she couldn’t save one lost soul, and by that I meant some vermin third class girl, and she bet me that I couldn’t get you to fall for me. And, naturally, you have fallen for me." She laughed. This time, it was more like a cackle, something only an extremely wicked person knows how to do. A smile of pure evil spread across her face. I looked at her in despair. "Why don’t you just go back where you belong?" she asked me.
"But I thought--I thought you loved…" He shook his head, clearly not wanting to believe the facts.
"You thought she loved you?" Caroline asked in disbelief. "You thought that thing could be capable of emotion?"
I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood up and ran, not wanting to ever stop. That’s why! That’s why she helped me. I was just a tool!
"Eliza! Come back!" Will called after me. I ran past person after person, pushing people aside. I tore off my shoes and threw them to the ground; tears trickled down my cheeks as I ran. I never wanted to go back; I never wanted to see Will again. I ripped the beaded clip out of my hair, letting it fall. I reached the gate to the third class deck and wrenched it open. I heard footsteps behind me, and I was halfway down the staircase when Will spoke. "Where are you going?" Will asked breathlessly.
"Back where I belong."
I didn’t sleep well that night; the thought of Will’s face haunted me. He looked like a child, helpless and lost. When I went up on deck that day, I saw him pacing, waiting for me to appear, as if wanting proof that I was actually third class. He looked at me intensely; I turned my head away, not wanting to face him. I looked so simple. My simple gown and shoes, my hair untidy and not up.
My heart feels like it has been torn from my chest and broken in two. I want to scream and I want to cry. There are no more tears. I want Will to understand. I need Will to understand that I meant him no harm or embarrassment. But I know now that we can never be together again.
My journal was now the only thing that I could trust. I didn’t eat that day. I sat out on the deck with my legs tucked into my chest, Joanna’s warm, old coat wrapped closely around me like loving arms.
I had nightmares and horrible dreams. I could not sleep. Not like that. It was four, maybe five in the morning when I got out of bed and put on Joanna’s coat.
April 13, 1912
I do not know how much longer I have to live like this. I have lost track of time and days. I just want to be in America and put this all behind me.
I slowly made my way out on the deck. The morning air was cool and harsh. The lights were still on, illuminating the rows of benches. I lay down on one and looked up at the stars. They were like a different world, vast and endless. Maybe the stars had lives. Maybe they fell in love just like we humans. I heard the gate open and close, but I thought nothing of it.
"Eliza," Will said.
"Mr. Lovett," I said, quickly standing and curtsying.
"Eliza, stop," he said.
"As you wish," I said, getting back to my feet.
"I came here to--I came here because…" He couldn’t seem to get the words out.
"If someone catches you down here, your social status will never recover. How will Miss Bennett like you then?" I asked.
"I don’t care what Caroline thinks, or what Joanna thinks! I don’t care about what anyone thinks." He stepped closer to me.
"Are you sure?" I asked, stepping closer to him.
"Yes! All I care about…is you." He leaned in and our lips met. For the first time, I didn’t feel segregated by class. I felt like I could fly or jump to the moon if someone asked me to. For this moment in time, the world could stop spinning, for all I cared! Nothing existed in my mind except me and Will, and what was best was that we were kissing! He put his hand on my face.
"Does that change things?" he asked.
"More than you can imagine." I laughed. For the first time in a very long time, I actually laughed. I put my head on his chest and listened to the steady beat of his heart. I held onto him, never wanting to let go. "Stay here with me," I said.
"No. I can’t," he said, true regret in his voice. "I would, believe me, but they would notice I’m gone and come straight here to look."
"Then when the ship docks, I’m getting off with you," I said, determination in my voice. "We’ll travel America, just the two of us…together." We both laughed.
"I will follow you to the ends of the earth if you wish to go there," he said.
"As will I." I put my arms around his neck and hugged him. "Look," I said, pointing to the sky. "A shooting star."
"Make a wish," Will said. I closed my eyes and made my wish.
"What did you wish for?" I asked him.
"If I tell you, then it will never come true." He laughed; his smile was as bright as the stars. The sun slowly began to sneak into the sky, spreading light across the deck. People would be waking up soon; we both knew our time was limited.
"What about you? You should be getting back," I said.
"I know, but we’ll think of something. I’ll see you sometime throughout the course of the day," he said. Lights slowly began to turn on in the first class windows. I nodded, not wanting to see him go. "I’ll come to see you. I promise." He kissed my forehead and walked to the gate. He opened it and looked down at me.
"Go. I’ll be fine," I said. He drifted through the gate and disappeared. The smile that was on my face could not be wiped off. Will was in love with me. What more could I ask for? Rebecca came out a little later, rubbing her eyes and yawning.
"Hey, you! Long time no see!" she said, noticing me.
"You’ll never believe what happened," I said.
"Try me." Her Cockney accent was warm and welcoming. I told her my story the best I could, trying to get all the details right. I described Will, Joanna, and Caroline. She was a good listener, and it was refreshing. Once I finished, she spoke.
"’E was ‘ere, on this very deck?" she asked, astonished. "I’m sorry I missed someone as beautiful as ‘im!" she said, sighing. She sat silent for a few seconds and then she began to laugh.
"What’s so funny?" I asked.
"To think all this never would ‘ave ‘appened if I didn’t make you take the purse back!"
"I suppose you’re right, and for that I must thank you." I hugged her. Rebecca and I ate our breakfast together. Then we went back out on deck to wait for Will. Soon the children came out with their assortment of toys and began to pass the day away. We watched them laugh and scurry across the deck, yelling to one another. Rebecca and I joined a game or two, just to squander time. I noticed an Irish boy about our age who kept looking over at Rebecca. "I think he likes you," I said, nudging Rebecca. Rebecca’s hand automatically went to her hair.
"Really? You think so?" she asked, sounding hopeful. I nodded and we both giggled like little schoolgirls exchanging secrets.
"Go talk to him!" I said, pushing her forward.
"Elizabeth! No. I can’t," she said through laughter.
"No need. He’s coming to you!" I said, pointing at the approaching boy. "Quick! Act normal!" We both sat down and crossed our legs, doing our best to impersonate first class women.
"Hello," he said holding his big hand out to Rebecca. "I’m Neil."
"Um…I’m…" She couldn’t seem to find words. I nudged her in the ribs, bringing her out of her fantasy. "Oh, right. I’m Rebecca." She looked like she was about to faint.
"I’m Elizabeth," I said, trying to save her.
"Hi," he said, ripping his eyes away from Rebecca. "Mind if I join you?" he asked.
"No…not at all," Rebecca said, scooting into me. "Oh, sorry." She was dazed. Neil sat down, and the three of us sat in awkward silence.
"So, Neil," I said, trying to make conversation, "what are you going to do once you’re in America?"
"I’m going to work on the railroads. My brother and father are out there already, and I’m going to join them," he said.
"Fascinatin’." Rebecca sighed. Her eyes were wide. She was hopeless. I decided to take a turn about the deck, giving Neil and Rebecca time to talk privately and get to know each other. I walked close to the gate, waiting…hoping for Will to suddenly appear. I sat on the stairs and took out my journal.
April 13, 1912
This day could not get any better! It seems as though the world is finally happy! Oh, but how my heart longs for Will to return. When will he return to me? But Rebecca! How she makes me laugh. Neil seems to be a wonderful person, and the way I see things, we all deserve a chance at love, no matter what class we’re in.
I looked over at Rebecca and Neil, and all I could do was laugh. She looked as though she would fall into him at any time, and he looked quite the same way. The ability to talk had come back to her, and she was laughing and smiling at a joke that Neil had told. I looked at the gate. He wasn’t there. In time, Elizabeth. All in due time. I sat and waited. Soon the lunch horn blew and we scurried inside. Neil sat with us, telling us stories of Ireland and of his family, and in turn we told our stories.
After lunch, we went back out on deck. Neil joined some of his mates in a card game, leaving Rebecca and I to talk and fantasize. I kept my eyes on the gate. Finally, I saw him. My heart leapt from my chest.
"Rebecca! He’s here!" I said. We got up and approached the gate.
"That’s ‘im? ‘E’s a handsome one, ain’t ‘e!" she said, straightening her dress. "I ‘ave never met anyone in first class before," she said.
"Don’t worry; he’s not like the rest." I walked up the stairs to him. The gate separated us. He looked out of breath.
"Sorry it took me so long," he panted. "I had to escape Joanna and Caroline."
"That’s fine, just as long as you’re here," I said, smiling. We stared at each other for what seemed like centuries before Rebecca cleared her throat loudly. "Oh, right. Will, this is my friend, Rebecca," I said, gesturing to her.
"Pleased to meet you," she said, holding out her hand. Will took it without hesitation, not like most first class men. They would have spat or shrugged her hand off.
"Will! Will, where are you?" Caroline was approaching. He shook his head, as if to say, Why me?
"I have to go. I’ll come back tonight. Wait for me," he said, holding my hand.
"As long as I must," I replied. He started walking away; I let my hand stay in his as long as possible. He looked back at me once more before turning the corner.
"Wot a gentleman!" Rebecca said, her hands on her hips.
"Yes…he is," I said, watching him until I could no longer see him. Rebecca and I sat down and began to talk again. Neil came out shortly, and all was going well.
I sat on the deck, waiting for Will to come. It was late and everyone had already gone to bed. I stared up at the stars just like this morning.
"Surprise!" Will called, making me jump.
"What did you do that for?" I cried, pushing my hand to my heart, trying to calm it down. "You gave me a fright!"
"Believe me, that was not the intention," he said. He held out a single rose. "For you," he said shyly.
"Thank you," I said, taking it and breathing in its sweet smell. I knew I was going to cry again if I did not say something. "How was your day?" I quickly asked.
"A day of running from Joanna and Caroline can be quite tiring," he said, sitting down. His fine evening wear was far superior to my simple gown. I sat down next to him and put my head on his shoulder. "You must be freezing." He took off his coat and draped it over my shoulders. I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up to Will stroking my hair.
"What time is it?" I asked him, rubbing my eyes.
"It’s about three," he said.
"You should have woken me! You must be exhausted!" I said.
"I’m fine, Eliza," he said.
"This is insane!" I said.
"What do you mean?"
"That we--two completely different people--would end up together!" It was all so unbelievable to me.
"I must have done something right," he said.
"Or something terribly wrong." I chuckled. I began to feel drowsy again. "I think it’s time to retire." I got up and we walked to the door. "Mr. Lovett, a pleasure as always," I said dramatically.
"I agree, Miss Night, a pleasure." He was so close to me that I could see every eyelash. I leaned in and just as our lips were about to touch, he quickly ran away, laughing.
"Very funny, Will!" I called after him. He ran back to me and gave me a small kiss on the cheek.
"Night," he said. I trudged back to my cabin and crawled into bed. Will’s coat was still draped across my shoulders.
April 14, 1912
There are no words to describe this feeling. I’m still trying to convince myself that all this is not just some amazing dream; yet Will’s coat is still here…so it must be real.
I awoke later than usual. Then again, I went to bed later than usual. I got dressed and went to find Rebecca. She was sitting with Neil; they were just finishing up breakfast. I grabbed a slice of toast and smothered it with jam.
"Look who decided to get up," she said as I sat down.
"I have a good excuse," I said, yawning.
"Oh, really, and wot would that be?" Her Cockney accent was cheery in the early morning.
"I was out until three with Will."
"Oh…that is a good one." She sighed.
"If you don’t mind me asking, who’s Will?" Neil asked.
"It’s a really complicated story," I said, taking a bite out of my toast.
"It ain’t that complicated. ‘Ere. I’ll tell you." Rebecca turned to Neil and began my story. He looked more interested in Rebecca than in my story. I was left to my own thoughts.
The horn blew for dinner and everyone rushed off the deck and down into the dining room. Neil, Rebecca, and I took our seats and talked about the usual things while we ate a hearty meal of potato soup. We were still in the dining hall well after dinner was finished, and it wasn’t until 9:30 that Neil left to catch the air on deck.
"Wot were ‘er dresses like?" Rebecca asked.
"Joanna’s?" She nodded. "Well, they were breathtaking, to be honest." I described her closet and all its contents, and when I told her that Joanna would probably wear each outfit only once, she about died. Her reaction was priceless. Her eyes got as wide as the plates and her cheeks were drained of all color.
"That’s a downright shame!" she cried, pounding a fist on the table. "I’d get good wear and tear out of ‘em before they was even a year old!" I laughed at her improper grammar. Joanna would have killed her.
"Would you like to see one?" I asked her, remembering the blue dress I wore on the night of the Captain’s Ball.
"’Course I would." She hopped up and let me lead the way to my cabin. We raced through the halls, acting like young girls, screaming and laughing until we crashed through my door. I rushed to the small closet and pulled out the dress. "My Lord! That ‘as got to be the most beautiful dress I’ve ever seen! Quick! Try it on! I want to see exactly how you looked that night."
It took about an hour and a half to actually get the dress on. First, we tied the corset wrong and had to untie it and then retie it, and all throughout that we were having fits of laughter. Then, Rebecca did the buttons wrong and we had to redo those--all forty-seven of them. Finally, I had it on.
"Well, that is harder than it looks." She stared enviously at the dress. "Teach me how to act like a first class lady," she said. I began with teaching her how to walk, eat, and dance. She ate my words up.
"Would you like to try it on?" I asked.
"Yeah--I mean--yes, please," she said, using her most snotty voice. She started to undo the buttons when there was this terrible crunching noise, and then the ship began to shake and rumble. Rebecca and I looked at each other. It stopped as quickly as it had come.
"What do you think that was?" I asked. I glanced at the clock; the time read 11:40.
"I ‘ave no clue." She looked scared. I grabbed Joanna’s coat, tossed it to her, and wrapped Will’s coat around me.
"Come on. Let’s go find out," I said. We made our way to the deck, hearing little snippets of others’ conversations.
"I heard it was a berg."
"That’s not what I heard."
"No, Anna told me it was an iceberg."
We emerged on the deck to find chunks of ice scattered across the deck. Young boys were playing football with it or throwing little balls of it at each other.
"Rebecca! Elizabeth! I’m so glad I found you." Neil came running towards us. "It was an iceberg. I saw her hit."
"Hit?! What do you mean, hit?" Rebecca asked frantically.
"She swiped the berg on her starboard side," he said. There was fear in his eyes, but his voice was trying to remain calm.
"The ship can’t sink! She’s unsinkable!" cried Rebecca.
"Of course. Elizabeth, might I have a word with you?" He pulled me over to the railing.
"Neil, is there something wrong?" I asked.
"She’s going to sink."
"What?" I asked, stunned.
"The Titanic is going to sink. She’s sinking now. Look, I helped build her, and she can only stay afloat with her first four compartments breeched, but not five. And water is getting into boiler room six." I looked down at his legs. His pants were dripping wet with water. So, it was true. The Titanic was going to sink.
"We should tell Rebecca," I said, turning to get her.
"No! You mustn’t tell Rebecca. She told me today that her biggest fear was that the Titanic would sink. Promise me that you will not tell her." His eyes had a pleading look in them.
"Fine. I will say nothing…until it is absolutely necessary," I said.
"And Elizabeth, there is one more thing…" He took a long pause. "There are not enough lifeboats."
"How do you know this?" I asked.
"Some things just travel around."
"How many are there?" I questioned.
"Enough to save half, maybe a little over that," he said. I staggered back. Only half, I thought. Half these people are going to die. "You need to find one as quickly as possible," he said.
"I have a plan. Don’t worry." I turned to go to Rebecca, but then turned back to Neil. "Thank you."
"Hurry!" he said, and ran off. I headed towards Rebecca, trying my best to stay calm. "Button your coat all the way so no one can see your dress," I said. She looked confused, but did as I told her. "I’m going to give you a tour of the first class decks."
"But I…I don’t think…" I grabbed her hand, headed towards the gate, and glided through. People were already starting to gather on the deck. Where was Will? I glanced at the people’s faces, trying to find him.
"Eliza! Eliza, where are you?!" I heard Will call. I couldn’t find him, but I heard his voice.
"Will! Will, I’m over here!" I called, hoping that he would follow my voice. I dashed through the crowd, pushing people aside, closely followed by a fearful Rebecca. I felt someone grab my arm and pull me to the side.
"Eliza, thank God you’re up here," Will said. Crewmembers were already starting to uncover the lifeboats. Rebecca visibly tensed.
"Don’t worry, Rebecca. Everything is going to be all right," I said. "I just need to talk to Will for a moment. You stay here and look around." I pulled Will to the side.
"Thank God you’re fine," he said, putting his hands on my arms.
"I suppose you’ve heard," I said. He nodded gravely.
"Women and children, please!" the crewmember called. "I need all the women and children!" I turned from Will and pushed Rebecca towards the boat.
"Everything is fine," I said, trying to keep a cheery voice. "It’s just a simple precaution." I handed her to the crewmember and he gently placed her in the boat. I walked back to Will. "I got Rebecca in," I said. He looked alarmed to see me again.
"Why didn’t you get in?" he asked. I just stared at him. "Eliza, you were supposed to get in, too!"
"No," I said quietly. He looked at me with his big brown eyes.
"Get in the boat, Eliza," he said. His grip on me was tight as he was trying to walk me to the boat.
"No! Not without you!" I struggled to get free. I felt tears burning in my eyes.
"Eliza, please. Get in the boat." I could tell he was starting to get frightened that I would continue to resist.
"No!" I screamed. "I will not live and watch you die!" The torrents of tears continued with a vengeance.
"I’m not going to die. I have to catch my own boat," he said soothingly. I watched the other ladies around me; some of them were clinging to their husbands and sobbing hopelessly, others were forcibly being handed into the boats. "Eliza…please." He looked as if he was about to cry, yet I knew he wouldn’t. He was strong. He could live. "Just get in the boat."
"Will…" I hugged him tightly. "I don’t want to leave you here." Will wiped away my tears.
"Don’t cry. There is no need to cry." He was guiding my feet towards the boat. "Everything will be all right. We’ll be together soon."
"How can you be sure?" I asked.
"The stars are watching over us," he said.
"What?" I asked, confused.
"Do you want to know what I wished for that night?" he asked. I nodded my head like a small child. Distress rockets were firing over our heads. "I wished that we could be together for the rest of our lives, and that no harm would come to us," he said, lifting my chin up so I could look him in the eyes.
"But…" I said.
"Eliza, please. I need you to get in the boat." His voice was stressed. I nodded again and took the last steps forward to the boat. I turned back around and flung my arms around Will’s neck and kissed him. I never, not in a million years, wanted to leave him. "I’ll be fine," he said, giving me a reassuring smile. He quickly slipped something into my pocket; I took no notice of it. "I’ll look for boat seven in New York." He kissed me one last time and handed me to the crewmember. I looked at Will, for what we both knew was the last time. Then we were lowered into the black sea. And then all there was to do was wait…just wait.
It wasn’t until I was on the Carpathia, our rescue ship, that I finally read the note that Will had given me. A tiny slip of paper. Where he got it, I couldn’t be sure, but on it were three words.
I love you.
I cried. I cried for hours. I got out my journal, which I had managed to stuff into my pocket.
April 15, 1912
He’s gone. I know that. I knew that when he sat me down in the lifeboat. Yet I know there is a logical reason as to why God has ripped him from me. You see, my dear journal, he told me his wish. That is why it didn’t come true. He told me…