Titanic: Diary of a Girl
April 1, 1912Preface:
What could you do when it was over? What use was running, screaming, and hiding when it was over? What did looks and classes matter? What did wealth and fame matter when it was over? What did anything but surviving matter when it really and truly came to an end?
April 1, 1912
Today when Father came home, he had a huge smile on his face.
Anthony immediately begged to know why. Constance and I flocked him, supporting him with the occasional “Father, please?” and “Why? Tell us!” the background. He just smiled and said: “I’ll tell you after dinner.” His eyes twinkled.
“Father!” I whined. “No one in this family ever tells me anything!”
“Stop bothering Father,” Dorothy lectured, something she never got bored of doing. “He’s tired after a long day.” I gave her a glare, then shot Father with the best, big-eyed, trembling lipped, pitiful stare I could manage.
Douglas choked on his food. I shot him a scathing glance, though it probably turned out looking like I was choking. Ignoring his laughs, I turned my stare towards Mother, hoping she would budge Father in some way.
“Your sister’s right,” Mother agreed, though her eyes said otherwise as they smiled kindly at me.
Anthony and I exchanged looks and sighed – we knew better than to argue. Constance folded her arms and pouted. Dorothy smiled and continued setting the table.
I slunk over gloomily to Father and hung his coat up. He smiled at me and ruffled me hair. Ugh!
As we were finishing up our dinner, Father wiped his mouth, satisfied, and began to talk. “It appears,” he stated, his voice grave, but his eyes sparkling with playfulness. “That we will have to move.”
What? Leave? What about my friends? What about –
“We can’t leave! I have –” Stella began, and the whole family broke into chaos.
“I don’t want to –”
“ – really necessary, John?”
“But – ”
Father held out his hand, and we all quieted down reluctantly.
“The reason why,” he continued. “Is because a good friend of mine managed to make for us an incredible opportunity!” He drew in a breath. “We have tickets to go on the Titanic!”
What? The Titanic? The amazing, unsinkable, giant Titanic? It couldn’t be! Things like this don’t happen to us!
“I-but-we-is the really happening?” Anthony babbled?
Fredrick fell out of his chair and George grabbed me into a sort of happy dance, twirling me around as I laughed, happy tears streaming down my cheeks.
Mother started sobbing into Father’s arms. Stella seemed to be far away in her own world, and Dorothy stood up and squealed (for the first time ever) and hugged Father. Douglas sat down, glued to the chair, his mouth gaping like a fish. Constance squealed.
Thomas, unaware and uncaring, sucked his thumb. It was the best night of my life.
America. America. America. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine. The beautiful country of riches, prosperity, and good fortune.
I needed to pick out my best clothes for the trip! I decided on bringing my two dresses, my light blue church dress, and my brown everyday dress. Both were a little dirty, but I think they smelled considerably good; after all, they had only been washed a few months ago.
I tossed and turned all night, thinking about the Titanic.
April 4, 1912
The whole day, we fantasized about the Titanic. In fact, no one had stopped talking about the trip for days now.
“I wonder what it will be like, Elizabeth!” Constance chattered. “Do you think it will be big? How big? Do you think the food there will be good? What will we have? Oh, Elizabeth! Maybe we’ll have our own beds! We wouldn’t have to share! And maybe…” she was talking so quickly it was hard for me to understand, so I merely nodded at all the right places, but I was caught in my own fantasies about the terrific ship.
“Hope they have better needles than we do have here,” muttered Dorothy. “I simply cannot sew properly with these!”
Bedtime came too quickly, and as I tossed and turned, I realized I was desperately thirsty. Even though I was sure it was very late, I crept to Stella’s bed, taking care not to wake Dorothy, who slept on Stella’s right.
“Stella?” I poked her in the side. “Stella, wake up!”
“What, Elizabeth…” she groaned.
“I need a drink of water…” I whined.
“Go get one,” she muttered.
“But… I’m scared…” I whispered. She groaned and got out of bed. “Fine,” she surrendered.
As we started to creep down the stairs to get some water, we heard Father and Mother’s hushed tones.
“John, are you sure?”
“I’m…sorry Annie. I thought… We just…don’t have enough money for second class…”
Even though we’re…not rich…I thought we could make it work…”
Silence. Then a few sniffles.
Stella suddenly left. I don’t know why, but I’m not sure I want to. I saw her silent tears slide down her cheeks.
After a few minutes, I too tip-toed carefully back up the few stairs Stella and I had gone down. As I entered our room, I heard Stella’s forced snores mixed with Constance’s and Dorothy’s.
“Stella?” I whispered. “Stella?” No answer. I wish I knew what Mother and Father were talking about. I hated being kept in the dark, but I would find out soon enough.