DID IT HAPPEN TO US?
Written by Stephanie
Based on some situations originated by James Cameron.
I woke up days, maybe even weeks, later. At least, that's what the doctors told me. They told me I had come to them as pale as the bed linen itself, with my hair matted in my face and my clothes soaking wet. They said I had been wandering the streets and some kind stranger had brought me here, seeing the poor condition I was in. They said it was a miracle that I had even stayed alive. But to tell you the truth, I didn’t remember any of that. I didn’t remember coming to this hospital or even what happened before that.
I couldn’t remember anything. Not then, at least. I couldn’t remember my childhood or my parents or even where I grew up. I didn’t remember who my best friend was or how sweet my first crush had been or even my first kiss. Oh, who was I kidding? I couldn’t even remember who I was. I got so frustrated with myself, because I wanted to remember all those things. I just wanted to go back to my normal life, wherever that might be.
Every day, after lunch, the nurses took me out to the little courtyard next to the hospital. It really was a charming little place, with beautiful flowers in full bloom for spring and little birds chirping all around you, happy that the sun was finally starting to peek through the winter clouds. The nurses showed me cards with different pictures on them. They always asked me what came to mind when I saw the picture, and I always told them I didn’t know. I really didn’t. But sometimes, on a rare occasion, the nurse would show me a card or would be talking to me, and I'd just blurt something out that I didn't even think I knew. That just happened to me one day.
"Dear girl," Nurse Bennett said, in her sweet, mothering little voice. "You know what these are." She held up some of the picture cards. I simply nodded, tired of looking at those ridiculous pictures every day. "Well, we're going to look at a few today again. Shall we start?" After getting no reply from me, the nurse nodded and held up a card. I looked at it closely. It was a picture of an older man smoking a pipe next to the fire. I shook my head in frustration. I just didn't see any point to doing this over and over again.
"Why do I have to look at these ridiculous pictures? They're obviously not helping me to remember anything."
The nurse looked at me patiently, and calmly answered. "Because you never know, young one. You never know what the picture will say to you."
I looked at her, completely confused. "Say to you? What do you mean by that?"
"What do you see in this picture?"
I looked at it more closely, as if I was trying to really remember something that I could link it to. I shook my head in frustration and threw my hands over my eyes. I suddenly became very upset. "I don't know! All I see is an old man smoking a pipe near the fireplace. I'm sick and tired of doing this! It's getting me nowhere! I'm sick of not knowing who I am and where I came from. I'm sick of not being able to remember. I just want to go back to wherever I came from before all this started!" I could feel hot tears in the corners of my eyes, and then, surprisingly enough, a pair of warm, gentle arms wrapping around me.
"Shh, darling. I know it's hard. And it's going to be hard. But you're going to just have to be patient. It will come. Okay, sweetpea? You're just going to have to--"
I suddenly stopped my hysterics and almost pushed the poor nurse away. "Please don't call me sweetpea! I hate that ridiculous pet name! Cal always called me sweetpea, and I detested it to the utmost degree."
The nurse looked at me, very surprised. "Cal? Who's Cal?"
I looked in the opposite direction, as I was very frustrated with her at the present moment. "Cal? He was my fiancé before…before…wait a minute! How did I know that?" I put my hand to my forehead in astonishment, turning around to face the nurse. "Nurse, I think I'm starting to remember!"
The nurse was happy to finally see me smile. "You are improving much, dear! Can you tell me anything else about this Cal? You say he was your fiancé."
I looked down at my left hand. There was an unusually large diamond ring there that I had never even noticed before. I sat, dumbfounded, as I held my hand in my lap. "Yes." I said it with such uncertainty that the nurse began to look worried. "Yes, he was…I think. Oh, gosh. I'm not so certain anymore. All I know is that…I…I don't know." My shoulders slumped, and I hung my head as I twisted the diamond ring around my finger.
The nurse's smile slowly faded away, and she gently patted me on the back. "It's okay, dear. I think you've had enough for today. Let's get you tucked back into bed."
The next couple of days were hard. All of the nurses and doctors were in deep search for the mysterious fiancé, Cal. Even I was unsure of who Cal was. All that I knew was that he might have been my fiancé, and yet I could feel deep inside me an almost hatred against him. It was all too confusing for me. I felt like I had been thrown a rope to pull me back over to the other side, but I had lost grip on the rope and started right back where I came from. I became very indignant with the world, and my health started to show a change in my attitude. I started to get very sick again, and I wasn't allowed to go outside or see anyone besides the doctor.
It was well into the month of May when the doctor had had the last straw at guessing what was wrong with me and why I was getting so sick. So he sent me to another doctor, who looked me over inside and out. That was the day we all found out why I was so sick. That was the day that I found out I was pregnant. But who was the father? Everyone was in a furor about the whole situation. Everyone was searching frantically for the only connection I had offered them. Cal.
It was late in the day of the twenty-eighth of May when Nurse Bennett came to me in a flurry of movement. Behind her trailed three or four other doctors and nurses, each with expectant expressions on their faces.
"Dear girl! I think we may have found your Cal!"
I looked at her, surprised and extremely confused. "What?"
"Look at this right here." She hastily shoved an edition of the New York Times into my lap. I scanned the page.
"What is it?"
She pointed to the article in the center of the front page. "Read this!"
I looked the article over and read part of it aloud. "Caledon Hockley, of Hockley Steel, and Ruth DeWitt Bukater mourned with family members and friends today as they attended the memorial service for Rose DeWitt Bukater, daughter of Ruth DeWitt Bukater. Caledon and Rose had been engaged, planning to marry this month in Rose's hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The couple, as well as Rose's mother, had gone on a tour of Europe in spring of this year and were sailing back on the ill-fated RMS Titanic. After searching for over a month in the hope that Rose had survived the sinking, Caledon announced just last week that the odds were too great and that she was most likely lost. Rose's mother, Ruth, commented on the loss of her daughter, saying 'We were planning on having a wedding on this day. Now, we're having a funeral.'" I looked up at the people in my room. They all had expectant faces. I looked back down at the paper, looking at the picture above the article for the first time. There was a picture of what looked to be me standing next to what I assumed to be Caledon Hockley. I looked at the picture extremely closely, until I could make out the ring on her finger--it was just like the one I had on...obnoxiously huge. Under the picture, it read, Rose DeWitt Bukater--born June 21, 1894, died April 15, 1912. I shook my head in disbelief and yet delight. I had finally found out where I came from. "I can't believe this. Do you suppose…"
The nurses looked at me and nodded excitedly. Nurse Bennett came up to me and patted me on the back. "Well, Rose DeWitt Bukater, we finally know the final chapter to your story. And don't you worry about a thing, dear. I've just wired this Caledon Hockley, and he should be here soon…very soon!" I smiled and lay back in bed, but for some reason my smile faded. The words he should be here soon…very soon echoed in my head, and for some odd reason I felt almost afraid, nervous.
It was the first of June when they came and when it all started. Nurse Bennett was the first, of course, to come rushing into the room with the news.
"Rose! Rose! They're here!" I turned around to face her, as I had been staring out the window next to my bed.
"What?" I asked, somewhat confused.
Nurse Bennett looked impatient with me. "They're here!"
She threw her arms up in the air. "Who? Why, your fiancé and your mother!"
I was about to speak, but Nurse Bennett left the room. I could vaguely hear a conversation between two or three people. I knew one of the voices was the doctor, but the other two voices sounded vaguely familiar. They were in hushed tones outside my door, but I could still hear them.
"You remember what I told you about Rose's condition, don't you, Mr. Hockley?" I could hear the doctor ask. "She's lost all memory of what happened before the day she woke up in this hospital on May eighth. She's slowly regaining her memory. Actually, the first thing she remembered was you. One of our nurses had been talking to her and made the mistake of calling her sweetpea. From what I understand, Rose snapped back at the nurse and started rattling off right out of the blue about how she hated when you called her that. But she doesn't know you…both of you. You're total strangers to her. If she were to walk past you on the street, she would never make the connection as to who you are. You'll probably find that she'll act a little strange around you these first couple of days. It just takes time to adjust. So, this part of the problem is left up to you. You'll have to help her with her memory during the next couple of weeks, and I assure you that within a couple of months or so, it will all just click and she'll remember everything, just like that."
"Well, that's…great. Yes, that's very good news...you know, for her to get her memory back," I could hear the familiar male voice almost chuckle.
"Oh," the doctor said in an even more hushed voice. "There's something that I still have yet to tell you that is of the utmost importance. You see…well, I may as well just say it. Rose is pregnant. She's a little over a month along. Since we found out, we've all been frantically searching for you. We're assuming that you're the father."
I could hear a nervous laugh escape the man's lips as he stuttered on his next sentence. "Well…I…ugh…I don't know what to say. Such a surprise." His last few words came out as almost a shriek.
The doctor chuckled, and I could hear him slap him on the back. "They always are, aren't they? She's in her room if you'd like to see her. You can check her out of the hospital at any time to take her home. She's fully recovered in that nature."
The man sounded almost queasy to me. "Yes, thank you. I'd like to bring her home right now, actually."
"Very well. Just sign this release form. Thank you, Mr. Hockley. It's been quite an experience, taking care of your fiancée this past month and a half."
"Oh, I'm sure."
"Take care, Mr. Hockley, Mrs. DeWitt Bukater."
I had my back turned towards the door, but I could feel two sets of eyes staring at me. I didn't know what to do.
"Rose?" I heard a woman's voice this time. I turned around to face my visitors. What I saw before me was an older woman, perhaps in her mid to late forties, and a younger man who looked like he was about thirty. "Rose, is that really you?" The woman said it again.
I looked them over, making eye contact with both of them and trying to smile. "I don't know…is it?"
"Oh God, Rose! My poor, sweet Rose!" the woman cried as she practically ran up to me. She reached out for a hug, but I found myself backing away. I noticed a hurt look reflected in her eyes as she slowly brought her hands back down to her side.
"Who are you?" Now I saw an angered pain rip throughout her body. She slowly backed away from me and sat down on the bed.
"My own daughter doesn't even know who I am." The woman who I assumed was my mother started crying into her hands.
"Ruth, the doctor told us this would probably happen. You just have to have patience." He turned towards me and stepped forward. "Rose, this is your mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater. My name is Caledon Hockley, Cal for short. I'm your fiancé. We're going to take you home now, Rose, back to Philadelphia where you live with your mother. Your mother has asked me to stay with you until…well, until we can straighten things out. Is that okay with you?" Cal asked calmly.
I looked them over and nodded slowly. Cal smiled and put his arm around me, making me a little nervous, as we walked out of the little hospital that had been home to me for over a month. As we walked down the hallway, I noticed Nurse Bennett and some of the others who had taken care of me. I gave each one of them a hug, said my good-byes, and I never saw them again.
We rode home in a first class, top-of-the-line railcar. It was quite a shock to find out just how wealthy Cal was. I had never known that I had come from such a well-to-do family. All the way back to Philadelphia, Cal and Mother showed me what seemed like hundreds of family photos and places that I had supposedly been to. I didn't really remember the photos, with the exception of one or two sticking out in my mind. It seemed like everyone was always asking me if I remembered this or remembered that. But for the most part, I didn't.
For the first two months of being back home, it was pure hell. I felt like I was walking on eggshells around everyone. I had adapted to what I was told my life had been like before. Some of it made sense, but for the most part, it was like living a whole new life. I had to relearn everything. But I think I started to remember more of my past each day.
It wasn't until the night of August thirtieth that I started to doubt the people who had taken care of me for the past three months.
June 7, 1912
Jack Dawson slowly bent down to pick up his suitcase, which held nearly everything he owned. He had survived the sinking, and after frantically searching for Rose on the Carpathia, he had found out that she had perished along with the other fifteen hundred poor souls lost. His heart broken and his dreams shattered, he felt like he had no reason to live any longer. He knew that Rose was his soulmate, and now she was gone…forever.
He had moved into an apartment in New York after living on the streets for about a month with no money and little food. Now, he was moving. He had decided that New York held too many bad memories for him and that he ought to go home, back to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. So that was what he was doing now, packing up his few precious things and heading out for the horizon once more.
He looked down at some of the dishes he had sitting on the kitchen counter and sighed to himself. Maybe I ought to just wrap those up in some newspaper so they won't break, he thought. I'll go ask Mrs. Evans.
Jack walked out into the hallway and knocked on his neighbor's door. It creaked open to reveal a little old lady who was probably the sweetest thing on earth. "Hello, Jack! I heard you're moving out today. Such a shame to lose such a gentleman such as yourself."
Jack smiled at her compliment. "Ah, you flatter me, Mrs. Evans. Actually, I was wondering if you had any newspapers that I could use to wrap up my dishes so they won't break."
"Of course, dear. Of course! Hold on just a minute." She turned, and Jack could hear her scrambling through some papers. "Here you are, my boy." Jack smiled at her and thanked her. "Any time, Jack. You take care of yourself."
Jack walked into his apartment and started wrapping his few dishes in the newspaper. He was so engrossed in thinking about finally going back home that he didn't even see the headline on the paper he was wrapping a glass with. It read: Rose DeWitt Bukater Found Alive!
August 30, 1912
I remember waking up in the middle of the night, my stomach a little hungry from not eating dinner. I was just about five months into my pregnancy, my stomach much bigger than before. I slipped on my slippers and my robe and decided that I would just go down to the kitchen to scrounge up something to eat.
I walked down the hallway, sighing to myself at the miserable August heat hanging in the air. It was unbearably humid still, and it was beginning to get on my nerves. I was just about to go down the staircase when I saw a streak of light coming from under a doorway in the hall. I started to walk past it, assuming that Mother or Cal hadn't been able to sleep, but I heard two voices coming from inside. Not even realizing what I was doing, I crept over to the door and laid my ear against it. I could hear them crystal clear. It was Mother and Cal discussing something.
"Ruth, this is getting out of hand. We can't just keep lying to her. She's going to find out sooner or later. The doctor said so himself."
"But, Mr. Hockley, do you want her to go back to the way she was? Remember that, Mr. Hockley? Remember that wild and free spirit she used to have before? Well, she doesn't now, and that's all because of the way we've shown her what her life is like and what is expected of her. She'll turn out different this time. She's like a little child. All you have to do is tell her something and she'll believe you. She doesn't know any better."
"And that's what we've been doing for the past three months, and that's what we'll continue to do. The only problem is the wedding has been rescheduled for October first."
"What's wrong with that?"
"I'm extremely nervous."
"Oh, Caledon! That's only normal."
"No, it's not just pre-wedding jitters. It's about the baby."
"What about the baby?" I could then hear a silence that lasted for nearly a minute, and that worried me. I was more than curious to hear what they were going to say. Finally, Cal spoke.
"Because, Ruth, Rose is due in the middle of January, and when she has that baby, it won't look at all like me!"
"W-what are you talking about?"
"That's not my baby. The old Rose never let me even get near her. There's only one other man who can be responsible for…it."
"I can't believe this. Who's the father, then?"
"Think about it, Ruth…real long and hard." His voice was starting to rise. "Who was she with five months ago around the middle of the month?" I could then hear Mother gasp slightly.
"Oh, my God."
"Yes…we both know who the father is. It was that damned gutter rat, and you know it! I'll bet you anything that when this baby is born it will have blonde hair and blue eyes!"
I couldn't take anymore. I ran all the way to my room, trying not to burst into tears. When I got there, I quickly and quietly shut my door, ran to my bed, and buried my face in my pillow, letting my hot tears flow freely. Anything I had been told could possibly be a lie. I could no longer trust these people.
August 30, 1912
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Jack went into the kitchen of his modest apartment. He was especially depressed these days. Everything seemed to be going wrong in his life. He felt like a wreck, and that was exactly what his apartment looked like. Clothes were hanging over the sides of chairs and cabinets were left open, their contents strewn across the countertops. Vain attempts at artwork were left crumpled on the floor, as well as newspapers and other trash. Jack stepped on top of one of the newspapers and felt the paper stick to the sole of his shoe. He looked down to see that he had previously stepped in something sticky.
"Damn it." He sighed and pulled the paper off of his shoe. He was about to throw it away when something caught his eye. He read the headline reading: Rose DeWitt Bukater Found Alive! "Jesus." His voice was barely audible. He looked up at the date. He read it aloud. "June 7, 1912. That was the day I left New York. This must be the paper Mrs. Evans had given me." He scanned the article. He suddenly jumped and started throwing everything he could into his bag. "She's in Philadelphia. I've gotta get her!"
And with that and a little note on the door to his landlord, Jack left Wisconsin for the second time.
August 31, 1912
The next day was probably the worst day of my life. I had to face the two people who I now hated the most.
The battle all started after breakfast, when Mother left to call on her friend Margaret Wilmington. It left just Cal and I all alone in the house, with the exception of a couple of servants who were not busy running errands.
I was trying to distract myself by reading a book from the library that I had discovered in the house. It was actually a rather interesting book by a man named Freud. I was so engrossed in the reading that I didn't even realize the book had been torn out of my hands until I heard it hit the wall with a thump. I looked up suddenly, only to find Cal's menacing figure towering over me.
"I wish to see you in the study immediately." I swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat, quickly got up from the chair I had been sitting in, and followed Cal into the study. He closed the door with a thud, and that's when I knew that I was in for it. He walked behind his desk and glared at me.
"Sit down!" I did so like a trained little puppy, and watched as Cal sat, too, casually leaned back into the chair, and put his hand over his eyes. He waited a moment before speaking, trying to gather his thoughts. He finally spoke, and I was surprised to hear that his voice was calm. "Forgive me, Rose. I was up very late last night talking things over with your mother, and I'm afraid I'm a little moody today. It wasn't one of my best nights for sleep."
"I can imagine."
His head flew up towards me, his eyes piercing into me. "What was that?"
I couldn't believe that had just slipped out of my mouth! I tried laughing it off coolly, but it came out as an obviously vain attempt. "Oh, nothing. I was just saying that I can imagine what those kind of nights are like. You probably just have too much on your mind," I lied to him, and watched his face relax and fall into place. I noticed his mouth curve into a small smile as he continued on.
"Anyway, sweetpea, we're about to be married in about one month, as you know, and--" I think he could tell that I was in my own little world, not even paying attention to him. "Sweetpea? You seem to be deep in thought about something. Is there something you'd like to tell me?"
That's when it seemed like the light bulb turned on over my head. I don't know why or how, but I felt somewhat different, not quite as lost. "Oh, I was just thinking about the baby, that's all. What do you think we should name it when it comes?"
"Why all of a sudden?"
"I think that we should discuss these things. I want to name the baby after his father if he's a boy. I think Jack would suit him very well, don't you?" I watched as Cal turned pale.
"J-Jack? Don't be ridiculous. We both know that I'm the baby's father."
"You're the father? Oh, Cal, stop fooling yourself! We both know that Jack Dawson is the father. There is no way that you could be the father of this baby, because this baby was conceived on the night of April fourteenth on the RMS Titanic. So, no, on the contrary, Cal, is there something you'd like to tell me, or shall I tell you what you told my mother last night?" Cal stood up suddenly, and came around to the chair I was sitting in.
"Wait! You little sneak! You were listening in on us? You--" He stopped suddenly, his angry features almost relaxing. He turned his head away from me slightly. When he spoke, it was in a whisper. "How did you know about that?"
"Know about what?"
"About Titanic, and Jack, and…and…" I thought about what he had just said, and then it hit me. All those things happened before I was in the hospital, which meant only one thing--my memory was coming back! I was suddenly extremely happy. "I can remember!" I looked around the room. "I remember this room. This used to be my father's study. I remember how he used to sit over here in his leather chair and smoke his pipe next to the fire every night at exactly seven o‘clock. I can remember--"
Cal interrupted me before I could go any further. His voice was strong and stern. "Yes, Rose, you can remember. But can you remember the fact that this baby's father is dead? Can you remember that, Rose? What are you going to do, Rose--run away? Now that you have your memory back and you obviously know what's been said, what are you going to do? Just leave and throw all of this baby's hopes of survival down the drain?"
"No, Cal. By staying with you I would throw all of this baby's hopes of survival down the drain. You're not his father, and I'll be damned if you will ever be. Good-bye, Cal." There--I had said it. I walked out of the room, and once in the hallway, ran all the way to my room to gather my few belongings and some money. After hastily throwing my things into my suitcase, I reached under the rug and pulled out one of the wooden floorboards from my floor. Still there and covered in dust was the little box that my father had given me before he died. It was supposed to be money for my eighteenth birthday, but since he knew that he would not live to see me use it, he had put in a hefty sum. There must have been at least ten thousand dollars stashed away in here. I quickly put it in my pocket, replaced the board, and covered it up with the rug.
I needed to get out of here fast. Heck, I needed to get out of this state. I just wanted to be as far away from these people as humanly possible, and that's when it hit me.
I ran as fast as I could back down the stairs, this time taking the servant's stairway to avoid a confrontation with Cal, and I ran. All the way to the Philadelphia train station.
August 31, 1912
Philadelphia Train Station
Jack looked around the train station. So this is Philadelphia. This is where Rose is, he thought to himself. Jack looked around and suddenly remembered that he didn't know exactly where Rose lived. I'll just go ask the ticket booth if they have a residential listing.
Jack stepped right into the line and fiddled with his bag while he waited. What will it be like to see Rose again? he thought. God, it seemed like he was seeing her everywhere. Even the woman in front of him had hair exactly like Rose's. God, I've missed her. But I'll see her soon…soon.
He watched impatiently as the line slowly moved up. His head perked up at the sound of his name, and he looked around…there was nobody there. Then he heard it again, and this time he leaned in closer to the girl in front of him. He could just barely make out what she was saying. She was whispering something about going to California and…and a man named Jack. Curious, he kept listening, his eyes growing wider with every word.
August 31, 1912
Philadelphia Train Station
I looked around the crowded station, keeping a close eye out for Cal or whoever might be looking for me. I had stepped into the line to the ticket booth to purchase a ticket for the next train to leave for Santa Monica, California.
"Well, Jack, I'm finally going to Santa Monica. Go see the roller coaster and drink cheap beer and…and ride a horse right in the surf…just like a man. Oh, God, Jack! Why'd you have to leave me? Why? We should be able to do all this together, just like we said we would." I looked down at my round belly and rubbed it gently. It was now my only connection to him. "You'll never even be able to see your own son or daughter. You would have been a wonderful father, Jack, just if…if…" I suddenly stopped. I hadn't realized it, but I had been thinking out loud. I felt my face flush with color as I looked at the couple standing in front of me. They didn't seem to have noticed, as they were too busy paying for their tickets. I wanted to turn around, but I felt the courage slip away from me, and I decided against it.
Finally, it was my turn. I stepped up to the window and leaned on the counter. "Hello. When's the next train to Santa Monica, California?" I watched as the man behind the counter looked through his many timetables strewn across his desk.
"Let's see now. It leaves in thirty minutes and will arrive in Los Angeles, California, sometime tomorrow evening. Tickets are nineteen dollars each."
I put down a twenty dollar bill on the counter. "Fine. I'll take a one-way ticket, please." The man nodded and was just about to take my money when the man standing behind me came up to the window and nudged me aside.
"Wait," the stranger said as he threw down another twenty dollar bill. "Make that two." I was just about to tell him how rude he was and how he had no right to do such a thing when I finally looked up at him. My mouth fell open and I suddenly felt faint. I could feel my heart beating a million miles an hour as I stared into the all too familiar ocean blue eyes that I had fallen in love with just five months ago.
I could barely stand, let alone speak, and when I did, it came out as merely a whisper. "Jack? Is that really you?" I could see the tears in his eyes as he looked down at me with nothing but love pouring out of his soul.
He simply nodded his head and pulled me close to him. I could feel the soft cotton of his shirt on my cheek and the warmth of his breath tickling my ear as my tears flowed freely down my face. "Yes, it's me, Rose, now and forever."