Titanic: Diary of a Girl
April 11, 1912April 11, 1912
This morning, sat up immediately, forgetting that I was on the top bunk, and hit my head. While rubbing the sore spot, I changed into my beautiful blue Easter dress. It went down to my knees. I thought it was prettier than all the pretty ladies’ dresses combined.
It seemed early in the morning: dawn hadn’t even broken yet. I walked along the hallways, marveling at the beauty of everything. Then I spotted a small window. I rushed to look at it, but all I saw was black. Then I realized: we were under the ocean! I recalled us going down stairs after stairs. Wow! Mother would never believe this! Would there be fish swimming around in the morning? Or maybe a giant sea turtle? Or a penguin! I’ve always loved penguins!
I laughed in delight.
I wanted to go upstairs and share this news with the pretty ladies! I found the main staircase and rushed up to it. I needed to go up the stairs to see the pretty ladies! As I ran up the first few steps, a boot appeared and tripped me. I tripped and fell, bruising my knee. Oh well, he didn’t do it on purpose.
I stood up again, ready to go upstairs. A man emerged from the shadows. He was fat, balding, and smoking a pipe. “Excuse me,” I asked politely, like I had been taught to do.
He raised an eyebrow. He tried to say “Excuse me” back at me! Maybe I had made a new friend! I smiled brightly at him. Then he started laughing in harsh tones. His mouth twisted into a cruel smirk. Then he made hand gestures I didn’t understand. I kindly repeated them for him. He roared in laughter.
Then he started speaking in a foreign language, his face coming closer and closer to mine. I coughed and tried to wave the smoke from the pipe away.
He then suddenly clamped his fingers on my ear and pulled. Oh! Oh oh oh! My ear was on fire! It’s spreading! I couldn’t think, shocked by the pain.
He then dragged me into the hallway, deposited me there, and slapped me on the face. Hard.
My face felt numb.
Really numb. I couldn’t feel a thing.
It felt like my right cheek was floating away, drifting… There was a silent buzzing in my ears that soothed me.
I went back into the room and saw that Mother was already up. She was trying to organize all our clothes and belongings.
“Oh, good,” she said. “You came back early, Elizabeth. Darling, could you help me fold these dresses and – ”
She saw my face.
“Dear Lord!” she screamed. “Heavens, Elizabeth, what did you do?” Confused, I touched my cheek, only to realize it was swollen at least twice the size of my left one. I probably looked like a deranged chipmunk.
I proceeded to tell her about my adventures and the mean man.
“Oh,” was all Mother said. “Well, hurry up,” she said in a strained cheery voice. “These clothes aren’t going to fold themselves, you know.”
I was confused? Why was Mother pretending like that didn’t matter?
“You should tell her, you know,” Stella commented from the bed.
“Stella,” Mother shot her a warning glare.
Tell me what?
“No, really,” she argued. “If I was her, I’d want to know, even if I’d turn into a bitter harpy all trip long. I’d want to know where we stand in this world.”
Mother broke. “This!” she yelled. “Is not where we stand! We are not the lowest class of people in this world! We do not stand here, in third class! This is….temporary! Once we get to America, we will have a much better life.” What? We were…third class? No one ever told me that! But the rooms were so comfortable, the food so good, to think that people had it better, well, it was a bit too much!
Stella snorted, as I stood, shocked. No one dared to contradict Mother. “Don’t feed Elizabeth lies, Mama,” she pleaded. “You’re not protecting her. You’re crippling her. For life.”
Mother shook her head, tears streaming down her face, and went back to folding.
Breakfast and lunch were all great, but I wasn’t hungry anymore. Mother and Father watched me sadly, and Anthony kept on staring at my blank eyes.
I was focused on the pretty ladies. I wanted to be like them so badly… To be wanted, respected, and loved. To have many things…
My eyes stung.
We stopped at Queenstown, and more people came on.
I sat on my bed for the rest of the day, wishing and hoping.
Dinner was great.