Just attempting to have a normal conversation put her in a slightly brighter mood. A familiar face was a comfort that she hadn’t thought she could afford after watching so many mourn the losses of anyone dear to them. Lydia had been lucky enough to make it out with a heart nearly whole. But the uncertainty that she was met concerning those that she had not physically seen with her own eyes weighed heavily on her heart.
The face before her looked about as tired and worn down as she was sure her own was. If it had been any other time, Lydia would have been nearly embarrassed at her lack of properness. But she could not bring herself to attempt to feel or be anything that she currently was not. Maybe after she had taken a long, relaxing bath and was wrapped in silks could she feel truly herself again.
She gave a nod as she heard the description. It had matched the faint memories of a much happier time. Perhaps she had helped her dress for bed one evening or for dinner with any of her other friends aboard. “Amie, isn’t it?” She asked with a small smile.
Amie did not even deny the surprise that filled her when the woman spoke her name. She would have thought it was something she would not remember, having seen and heard so much onboard the ship. So many faces, so many voices, so many names. But she did and Amie almost felt a little thankful for it. It would have been feeling rather awkward if she remembered the woman’s name and she did not remember hers. One of them would most certainly have felt embarrassed about the situation if that would have happened.
She could not help but to see the similarities between them at that moment. Eyes tired, brow knit, hair tangled and clothes damp. Fear in their hearts and eyes, an unknown future before them. Or, maybe not for the woman before her. She had obviously been going somewhere and not just to return to England on the same ship. She had somewhere to go when they reached New York, not like Amie. She had nothing there and she knew that very well.
She raised her eyes and nodded to confirm the woman had guessed her name correctly.
"Amie it is, yes. And you must be Miss Lydia Fairclough if I am not mistaken?"
David smiled, finally making the connection, “yes, I can recall now. A pleasure to meet you Ms. Daubney” He was happy that she took him up on his offer – he certainly felt like a fish out of water: everything was so different, and while his unexpected extended visit had so far been pleasant, it was nice to bump into someone who was familiar, even if in passing. He was about to ask her how she had faired getting off the doomed ship, but thought better of it. “David Cooper,” he introduced instead.
“It’s a beautiful night. Quite fascinating, I find, that no matter where one is in the world, when you look up, the stars are all the same. A long time ago, many would use the stars to predict what would happen: omens and auspicious days, you could say. They were, and still are, a phenomena. Able to see, but not to hold.” He was rambling again, and David was sure that the lady beside him wasn’t too terribly interested in them. Deciding to change the topic, he asked, “So, are you in New York to stay or to visit? I understand, from the concierge, that there are many things to do around this city.”
She nodded towards him, showing with a smile that she felt the same. While she did not like being reminded of the Titanic and the terrible ending it had had, it was nice having someone to talk to who had experienced the same horrible things as she.
His words of the stars caused her to look up and her eyes recognised the stars her father had once taught her to navigate after. It felt so long now since they had been laying on their backs, looking up into the dark sky and counted the stars together until she had fallen asleep.
Those were the days before she had started to grow up, before she left her childhood behind for the life of adulthood. Whatever that now meant. She had never been sure of that.
Turning her head to look at the elder man, David, Mr Cooper, she listened as he spoke. Somehow, he reminded her slightly of her father. Not that they looked alike in any way. It was more of the way they spoke and the way they acted. In that way, she saw her father in him and it was slightly comforting.
"I agree. The nights here are almost as beautiful as those home in England. The stars comforts us all that way. Maybe their position change a little, but not more than you can still find them up there." She smiled to herself at the thought, wondering slightly if her mother and father looked up at those stars now, wondering where their daughter was. She had yet not sent them any message of her survival and she knew they would scan every newspaper for her name until they heard from her.
His next question forced her to think long and carefully, for she did not know her own answer to it. Was she there to stay or was she to head home as soon as she had the money for it? Was she to build a new life here like so many before her and give up the thought of England? Or was she to return home to the comforts of home until the day she married and settled somewhere else? She had no idea.
"I was meant to sail back with the Titanic and I was never to stay here long. But as it seems, I will have to stay here for some time more." She decided not to mention the fact that it was for working in the money, and only smiled at him as she continued. "How about yourself, Mr Cooper?"
Sipping her tea slowly, Magdalen had many things to say. Many things that began clawing at her, to get out of her head. But her mouth stayed shut and her throat tightened and she clammed up. There was nothing else but fear and worry and sadness in her, it made her feel tired and hopeless and sick. Sick to her stomach. She felt like she was about to retch out whatever was inside her belly. She hadn’t even eaten anything at all, so there was no telling if there really was something in there. Magdalen leaned towards the warmth that came from her cup.
Magdalen found herself nodding a little after Amie had replied, which she almost didn’t hear as her mind still raced after those many thoughts. The young girl couldn’t help but laugh dryly at the next sentence. Then immediately, she felt bad and she could feel the blood rising to her cheeks. Amie hadn’t meant it as a joke but Magdalen took it as one and she didn’t want to take it as a joke. “I - I’m so - sorry,” She said, shaking her head in disappointment at herself. “For - for la - laughing. I di - didn’t me - mean to.”
Anyone else would probably have been offended and angered by the girl laughing at them, but Amie was not. She guessed it was either her gentle nature having kicked in again, or the fact that she was still so cold inside that she did not care.
Anyway, she was neither offended nor angry. Instead she leaned back in her chair and took another sip from her cup, studying the hot drink as it spun around for a moment or two.
"It is perfectly all right", she said slowly, her eyes rising. "I am not easily offended." A small smile hinted in the corner of her mouth and she hid it by taking another sip from her tea. She was not completely comfortable with smiling. It felt as a betrayal towards those who had lost their lives. To smile and be happy when they were on the bottom of the ocean.
The stars twinkled above, like small diamonds on dark fabric. Cheerful and comforting they were, always had been to her when she had been feeling distressed. And now she was, more than ever.
For as she lowered her eyes, seeing the sun rising above the horizon, the New York harbour came into view. The harbour of the city she had wanted to reach on the Titanic, with hope filling her, with a smile on her face and sparkling eyes.
Now, this was not the deal. The Titanic was gone. Her hope was gone, and with that her happiness and spark. She felt, in that moment, in that part of time, that she had nothing left. Everything had gone down with the ship. Even her heart.
For she had not heard anything of Nicolas. She had not seen him since the night of the sinking nor heard anything of him having survived. It unsettled her greatly, knowing that he had awakened her hope with his presence, only to have it snuffed out all so suddenly. Was she to survive losing him again?
She knew she had to survive it, to accept that life did not mean for them to be together, but she could not. Not now when she stood on the deck of the Carpathia, her eyes finding the Statue Of Liberty lit up by the morning sun.
Her hands gripped the cold railing, chilling her into the bone and making her shiver violently. Not only by the cold, but also because of the shock of all the realisation.
Hearing movements and voices behind her, she straightened up and gripped the railing even tighter, her knuckles whitening by the force. She wanted to be strong and firm and not show herself weak in front of other people, but it was hard. She had been defeated by the sea, by a sinking ship, by her own life. And now she had no idea of what to do with herself.
“Miss? Miss?” The sound of a voice behind her caused her to look up, her eyes dull and without any real light. The steward recognised the look very well, and did not question it even the slightest. He knew what the people who had come from the Titanic had gone through.
“Yes?” Amie sighed, not wanting to talk to anyone at that moment. She just wanted to walk down the landing, never to return to the ship again.
“I just need your name, please. We are trying to keep track of which that survived and not.” The man pointed to the papers he held and Amie raised her eyebrows at this. She had forgotten of the registration and did not want to be reminded of it now. For Nicolas was probably not on that list.
“Amie Daubney”, she said, her voice showing her irritation, something which surprised the steward slightly as he scribbled the name down.
“Also, I have to ask. Do you have anyone you know onboard which you wish to know the fate of?” It was a standard thing to ask, but he soon realised it was the wrong thing to ask this woman. For her eyes turned dark and she shot him a glare.
“No”, she snapped, before turning her back and heading down the landing, fighting the urge to scream out in agony. She did not want to show how the events had defeated her last drop of strength.
He knew there wasn’t much else to say. Telling her it would all be all right could be a promise that could go wrong. What if one of the people she cared about and feared for had died during the sinking? He’d feel terrible for telling her it would have been all right otherwise.
Instead he just held her against his chest, letting her sob if she wanted to, running his hand over her back in a slow pace. A silent sigh was lifted from his lips once she spoke again, looking up at the sky. He knew very well where she was at. He hadn’t yet seen Samantha nor Lydia and it drove him insane. Staying busy was what kept him from going nuts.
"I hope that they have. If the Lord is kind they will have. "
Though many lives had been lost of which they already knew about. They might find the Lord cruel because of this, but that he already kept so many people alive was a kind act on it’s own. He could’ve let everyone die could he not? But who was he to question God, or anyone.
The moment she looked up at him, he let go of her, letting his arm slide from her shoulder to return the smile she gave him, nodding at her question. “Yes. Yes of course. I could do with something warm myself.” he replied, getting up from the bench to hold out his hand towards her.
She was kind of happy that he did not tell her everything would be fine. Everyone had tried to do that for hours now, hours she had hated and despised. She did not want to hear those words and know it was a lie. Cause it was. A big lie people told to try and calm themselves and others, even though they knew it would never be true. At least not when they spoke it.
"The Lord have funny ways of being kind", she murmured bitterly, knowing very well she should not let her anger, sadness and bitterness go out over Richard. He was just there to help and he did so out of kindness. She was not going to blame him for anything.
As he rose, she straightened herself up and took his offered hand. He had been warming her by sitting so close and now she was freezing again, so tea would be good now. It would probably also give her something else to think of. If so just for a moment.
Looking up at Richard, she took a deep breath before speaking.
"I believe it is best if you lead the way."
The room seemed to be clearing up. It allowed the air to move more freely through the room. Lydia took a slow breath in as her eyes continued to move throughout the room. There was not much in particular striking about much anymore. The details of nearly everything around her appeared blurred. It did not seem as though these minuscule details that once delighted her even held any form of merit any longer. What good did the decor of a room hold if that room could easily be brought down below the surface of the ocean with any slight problem? But worrying herself with such things was hardly her intention in seating herself in the dining room that lonesome afternoon.
She had never been a person able to handle solitude for very long. Soon the comfort of being alone with her own thoughts begun to haunt her every time. Peaceful quiet became horrible lonely all too quickly. It would not be long before she knew she would find herself there again.
Lydia had hardly noticed herself continuing to move her hands up and down her arms. But it was brought to her attention whenever a woman addressed her. Her eyes flickered to the woman’s face and recognition quickly passed over her face. She was definitely sure that she had seen this woman and many times if she could so easily know that they had crossed paths many times. “Thank you for the offer, but no thank you,” she responded as she gave a slight smile. She took another moment to really observe the woman. “We have met before… Or seen each other at least more than once, haven’t we?”
Amie realised quickly who the woman was as she spoke. She recognised the voice, even though it this time was much more tired than it had been before. The last time she remembered hearing that voice, it had been much more cheerful and happy. Not like this, not this beaten down.
As the woman declined her offer, she nodded slowly and took another sip from her cup. She was all of a sudden quite tongue-tied, having a hard time getting out what she wanted to say.
It was as if remembering happier days made her memories of the horrible night get even darker and made her unable to voice all the things she wanted to say.
When the woman spoke again, Amie looked up, almost a little surprised. She had not thought she would recognise her as well, for if she remembered it correctly, she had been a first class woman, and that kind of women usually did not remember the faces of those who had once served them or taken care of them.
"Yes, I believe we must have met. I worked as a stewardess onboard the Titanic, so the chance is not small."
David woke with a start, taking in a few moments to register where he was: New York City with people walking about at night, not on a life boat in the middle of an ocean with the frosty air nipping at his face. Realizing what he had dropped, he was about to reach down and pick up his glasses, but a woman had kindly already done so. “Thank you, I must have nodded off,” he smiled as he took them and adjusted them to their usual place. Now that he could see things with more detail, David recognized the lady from somewhere recent, most likely from the ship. He’d seen her in passing a number of times in the hallways and on the Carpathia too. If memory served him correctly, she was one of the stewardesses on the ill-fated Titanic.
“Forgive me if I’m being intrusive, but you look familiar. I don’t want bring up any bad memories. You were on the Carpathia and Titanic, yes” he inquired. David hoped his question wasn’t too bold, but perhaps she might have recognized him too. “Please sit, if you are not in a rush to go anywhere,” he offered, moving over to one side to make room for her.
As he started to speak, she realised that she probably had seen him before. On the Titanic, during those short days she had worked onboard.
Nodding slowly, she showed him he was right.
"Indeed, that is true. I was a stewardess onboard and I believe I must have seen you too." She sat down upon the offered place, realising she had nothing better to do. He was nice enough and she was somewhat longing for a decent conversation. She had not really had any since she had arrived in New York and she longed after familiar faces.
All the people she had known had either gone of to their new lives in America or gone down with the ship. Where Nicolas was, was still unclear and she had given up searching for him by now. How many days had it not been since she saw him last? If he had survived, he had most certainly gone off somewhere without a thought of her.
Realising she had gone off into her own thoughts, she looked up and met the man’s gaze. Now, she was certain she had seen him before. However, she was sure they had never really spoken much before this day.
"I suppose I should introduce myself. I’m Amie, Amie Daubney."
The monotonous ticking of the clock indicated the monotonous minutes that passed by in Henry’s monotonous room in his monotonous job— tick, tock, tick, tock, tick. The same dull, repetitious tone filled the room outside his, but this time because of typewriters and pull-out cashiers and a door that never remained open—tick, tock, tick, tock, tick—and because of employees that didn’t get paid as much as he did yet worked harder than he who was sitting with his feet atop the table and a cigarette between his lips—tick, tock, tick, tock, tick. The tapping of his feet, the drumming of his fingers, the clicking of his tongue; all of them went tick, tock, tick, tock, tick.
Henry watched as the second hand finally hit the number twelve. Clockwork stated that the minute hand would closely follow, as he knew for himself because he had watched it so many times, after having done nothing of importance in the last two minutes, in the last two hours, in the last two years—tick, tock, tick, tock, tick. His feet were hard against the floor, and his hands tight around his the handles of his suitcase. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick; he was waiting for his life to pass by, just like that, like clockwork, in a matter of minutes. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. But before he could proceed to the door, where the doorknob waited to be turned at this time of the night, every night, someone else enters his room with a look on his face that did not go like his usual clockwork. Tick, tock—tick.
It was not even the employee’s shoulders that carried the weight of the world, but the bags under his eyes that showed fatigue and weakness; Henry’s on the other, echoed of a hollow void. The employee went on about a woman, but Henry had no reason to listen. There have been other people through that door, others who have begged and cried and pleaded for money, for help, for salvation from the goddamned holy Henry St. Clair who had more money than he could spare. Each time, he said no; this time would be no different. He was already deaf to the words, and merely looked through, instead of at, the employee. He had half a mind to sidestep the tired man altogether, until he heard the word Titanic.
The simplicity of the word, how its letters fit so perfectly to create a sound that meant so much death and terror and brought a woman he did not love into his home until the day to them part, caused Henry to pay attention to the weary soul that stood before him. He was as heartless as heartless could be, yet the memory of the nights he spent out for the very same woman who chastised him made him grow soft, even just for a moment, one that he would regret. With a murderous stare, he beckoned the employee before him to allow the woman enter his room. A heavy sigh slipped between his lips as the man left, and Henry took his seat again with much hesitance. The night was only going to get longer.
Amie was sure she was not supposed to be there. She knew it as soon as she stepped through the doors and let her eyes travel the room. It was too fancy, too big and too richly decorated. She was like a fish out of water.
She knew she was dressed like any other lady in the room, maybe just a little less fancy, but she knew still she was not one of them. She was not a lady. She had never been and she would probably never become one. She was not one of those people a rich lord would marry, she knew that for sure.
Still she kept her head held high and walked with long, confident steps towards the men seated behind desks. She had to look like she belonged to at least have a chance to get what she wanted. What she needed. She was ashamed of having to beg the bank for a loan, but she had no other choice. She had to find a place to stay until she felt well enough to return home. Until she dared to cross the Atlantic again. And that would probably take a lot of time. She could feel that in her bones. In her heart.
The men behind the desks looked just as tired as she had felt for days since the sinking. Their eyes hollow and filled with nothing but boredom.
The man who called her over to his desk, listened in silence as she explained her situation, her voice firm and strong. She was not going to cry and plead. She was going to do this with her dignity intact, no matter the outcome.
As the man told her to wait, heading into another room, she took a deep, calming breath. She was to meet the manager, the man who was supposed to decide whether or not she was to get the money she needed.
She was not prepared for a yes, obviously not. Just the fact that she was doing this to be able to pay for somewhere to stay, said a lot. She had nothing except for a little clothes and the room where she was staying. But nothing was temporary. She had to find herself somewhere new.
The door opening made her look up and she straightened her back, watching as the man stepped outside and nodded towards her.
Following him through the door, she let her eyes travel the new place, her face showing no emotion except determination. She did not want this top notch man to think she was going to fall on her knees crying and begging. That was not her. She had never been like that.
Sitting down in the appointed chair, she turned her eyes towards the man behind the desk. He was much younger than she would have thought him to be, but she showed no surprise. Instead she firmly met his gaze.
"I suppose you already know why I am here, Mr…" She paused for a moment to look at the name sign. "St. Clair." She thought it was better to have it over with.
The lights were bright; spectacular and yet a bit unsettling. He wasn’t used to city life, or more specifically, American cities - there were a number of people still about; at home, when he did go out, there were only a few wanderers. Checking his pocket watch, he read the hands; it read nearly ten o’clock. Readjusting his scarf, he let out a sigh. David didn’t feel like heading back to the hotel just yet, but he certainly needed to sit down and give his legs a break.
Finding himself an empty bench along the sidewalk, David sat down, wincing slightly. I’m getting old, he thought to himself as he adjusted himself to a more comfortable position. He removed his glasses, and pinched his nose. Drowsiness set upon him suddenly. He crossed his arms, determined not to fall asleep and tried to focus his attention on the passerby’s.
The last thing he remembered was an elderly lady walking a small fluffy white dog of some sort. He was walking up a flight of stairs; the floor gave a violent jerk and the ship let out an agonizing groan. The lights flickered before turning on. Continuing up to the deck, he witnessed a large iceberg go by, scraping the side of the ship. A rush of panic. People running and screaming. The dark waters below, its’ graves ready to be filled. The ship lurched again.
David’s head jolted up, while he felt his glasses slip from his hand.
New York, this city of dreams and light. New York, the city she was supposed to get used to now instead of returning back home with the Titanic.
Amie sighed deeply and pushed her hands further down into her pockets. She had been lucky enough to find somewhere to stay that did not cost too much, and she had applied for a job she hoped to get. It would at least give her a chance to start a new life here. A life where she could forget all the horror of the sinking and the fact that she seemed to have lost Nicolas for good.
Biting her lip, she turned her eyes to the sky, hoping to see the stars. The light of the houses was all that lit up the night sky and she could not help but to feel slightly sad about this. New York was so different from the quiet streets of her home town. There she could at least see the stars and have them as her company.
Hearing a sudden clinking noise, she turned her eyes back to the street and found the surprised, and probably slightly scared, face of an elder man. The origin of the sound had been a pair of glasses, falling to the ground.
Stooping down, she picked them up and held them out to him after examining them closely.
"I think you are in luck, sir. They seem to be in one piece." She flickered him a quick smile.
Magdalen’s thoughts were not where they were supposed to be. Her ever so energetic shining brown eyes were distant and empty, her face showed no emotion and there was a big lump in her throat that stopped her from talking. Not that she had anything else to say at the moment about the matter, anyways. For a long time, she followed Amie through the hallways of a new ship that she slightly recognized yet she had no idea much about it. The girl looked back behind them as the noises from above the deck were slowly becoming more and more inaudible. It took a few shoves and light pushes for Magdalen to recover and turn back to the front. She decided to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.
She sat where she was gestured to and reached for the warm cup of tea. It had been a long time since Magdalen had tea - perhaps three or four days? She couldn’t exactly remember anymore. “T - thank yo - you.” She whispered, attempting to give the woman a smile. Her lips wouldn’t cooperate whatsoever. She didn’t feel the ache in the side of her cheeks whenever she did smile. It was all too strange and terrifying - how she couldn’t smile when she badly needed to. It felt as though her lips were glued together. “I - I’m sc - scared,” She finally said after taking broken long sips of her drink, staring and examining the colour of the table. “A - are y - you?” Magdalen wanted to be alone with her thoughts, to figure things out for herself but she certainly didn’t want to be alone with being scared. Blinking, she pressed her lips against the cup and stared.
Amie looked up as the girl spoke, her mind racing with thoughts. Having someone else confessing their fear to her was strange. No one had barely done that during the day, nor had they asked her if she was.
It made her think quite a bit. Was she scared? Or just worried? No, she was more like both.
There was so many fears her thoughts voiced every moment, every second that made her want to lay down somewhere and never wake again. She hated it with all her heart and she knew it would never stop until she found all her friends again. Or learned of their fates.
She turned her eyes back to Magdalen and sipped her tea, ignoring that the hot liquid burning her tongue. How was she actually going to explain all her mixed emotions?
"Yes", she murmured softly, biting her lip. "I am scared out of my wits." She met the younger girl’s gaze and took a deep breath. "I believe we are all scared after what we have just experienced and the water all around us does not really help." She knew she was mostly talking for herself, but guessed many must be just as scared as she when it came to the water. It had taken everything from them and could easily do it again.
Alicia Vikander for FLAUNT Magazine, Nov 2013
Alicia Vikander for FLAUNT Magazine, Nov 2013