April 15, 1912
April 15, 1912
Mother woke us up.
“Hurry!” she screeched. “Hurry, get up everyone!”
I opened my eyes. What was wrong? Mother’s kind, gentle face was red, and there were tears running down her cheeks. She looked so…scared.
I jumped out of bed, then realized my feet were getting wet. What had happened? Thomas was crying, and everybody was confused.
“Put a coat on and get out. Don’t change. No time!” she shrieked.
I was scared. Mother threw a coat on me, then pushed me out. The whole hall was flooding with water! There were so many people, I could barely get out! Where was my family?
What was wrong?
I saw a dirty woman screaming to the man guarding the stairs in a language I didn’t understand.
I saw gates, locked gates. Those weren’t here before!
What was wrong? We should be able to get out and run far away from whatever had happened.
“It’s sinking!” I heard a person scream.
Stella, Dorothy, and Constance came running out. Mother and Thomas followed.
Where were the boys? How could the ship be sinking? It was unsinkable! Wasn’t it? So many questions were going around in my head.
Suddenly, I realized I was alone. Where was my family? They just came out of the room? I tried to find them, but the crowd suffocated me. I tripped over something and fell. Someone stepped on my leg. I screamed, and the pain flared sickeningly. After many attempts, I got up and examined my ankle. It was bleeding and was twisted at an odd angle. I limped through the crowd. I had to find my family!
I ran into Fredrick, and he hugged me tight. “Elizabeth!”
“The ship’s sinking! We have to get out. Now!!! I have to find the others. Stay here!”
And he was gone, in a flash, like lightning.
It took me a few seconds to process what he just said. Sinking? The Titanic? Impossible! Right? I tried to find my family, seeking for reassurance.
The water swirled around my ankles, it was ice-cold, dulling the pain, but freezing my feet. My teeth were chattering so hard, I couldn’t stop. I wished for some warm slippers.
“First and second class first!” a booming voice shouted. “You all wait. First and second class go first. Don’t worry!”
People were sobbing everywhere, and rattling the gates. Someone punched the guard in the face. The guard shot him. The water slowly turned deep red. I felt panic. The man guarding the door was crazy, trying to lock us in here!
I spotted Mother, and hobbled over to her.
“Why…What…” I stuttered.
It was all too much. I started crying. Why wouldn’t the gates open?
The water was up to my knees.
“Have you seen your brothers and sisters?” Mother asked, her voice shaking and panicked.
Crying was no use. We would never be like Father promised. Ever. This was the end. With the water slowly rising, Mother and I cried and cried. I cried for my family, who I would never see again. I cried for our new life that Father had promised that would never happen. I cried for the other people on this ship who were doomed. But mostly, I cried for myself. I cried because I was scared and innocent. I cried because it was impossible for the Titanic to sink. I cried because it wasn’t fair!
I was freezing. How could the water possibly be this cold? My good foot was turning blue. My lips were violet. Suddenly, the gates opened! A voice said, “Get out, get out!” I tried to run out, not caring what happened. “Elizabeth,” Mother gasped. “Whatever happens, you must get on a life boat.” She was suddenly separated from me. She was gone.
All of us ran up the stairs, and through the corridors. We ran through rooms. We ran for our lives.
I never felt so exhausted. I was in the middle of the great “race”. Every step I took, more blood gushed out of my leg and it felt more and more painful. My hands couldn’t stop shaking and twitching.
Miraculously, I got on the top deck. Perfect timing – a lifeboat was being lowered. My eyes searched the deck. There were a few more lifeboats! It was hard to get to them, with so many people pushing, shoving, and screaming.
“Woman and children first!” I heard a deep voice boom. I then heard music, beautiful music playing. There was a group of people in a corner playing instruments. They looked so…peaceful.
My leg gave away, and I fell. I cried, and people stepped on my leg, hurting so bad I could barely move. I had to get up. I tried to crawl, but in the short amount of minutes that I had been down, all the lifeboats were gone.
My last hope was also gone. It was over.
People slowly shuffled around, some crying, some doing their favorite activities for one last time.
We were all sentenced to die.
As I looked toward the pitch-black sky, I saw fireworks lighting up the sky. They were so beautiful.
Crying wouldn’t do any good, but I cried anyway.
Anthony walked slowly to me, his face a hard, bitter mask. It scared me. “Hi Elizabeth.” He said in a flat, emotionless tone. “Just wanted to say that…I love you.”
Why would Anthony say something like that? He wasn’t the mushy type. I was confused, then frightened. His voice was so lifeless.
Suddenly, he saw my leg. Anger flashed over his face. “Who did that?” he demanded. I cowered away from him.
“I…fell.” I whispered. His eyes flickered back to life. He reached out to touch my leg, and then pulled his arm back, as I shrunk away. “I can’t do this, I can do this…” he muttered back and forth. I was glad that his face was alive again, yet still confused.
He took a deep breath. “I’m a coward…”
“Anthony, what are you talking about?” I asked.
He hugged me and said, “It’s going to happen sooner or later. I’d rather it happen sooner. I know you probably think I’m being a big coward, and I probably am, no, I know I am. I really do love you, it’s just…”
What was he talking about?
He gripped the rail. “Are you coming, Beth?”
“Don’t call me that,” I replied automatically, a well-oiled machine. He didn’t deserve to call me by my nickname.
He smiled sadly, his eyes filled with some intense emotion I didn’t understand…then flung himself over.
Shock crossed my mind. I couldn’t think. No. It couldn’t be. Not Anthony. Not my best friend. My brother. He always faced things head on, was never afraid to take a challenge. Anthony…… Gone?
I was frozen in place. When I could finally move, I walked slowly to the rail and looked over. I could see nothing. No Anthony. He was gone.
Why was the ship still sinking, some people just coming up still screaming, music still playing, everything the same? Almost nothing had changed, and yet everything had changed. I felt so much older, wearier. It wasn’t fair. Anthony.
I couldn’t even cry. I stood there for minutes, or hours. I wouldn’t know.
Anger kicked in.
“Coward!” I shouted at the sea. “You just want to escape what will happen. Why did you…why did you leave me? Everything’s going to be all right, you’ll see! Someone’s going to come for us! We’re going to survive! You big fat coward!”
I couldn’t even lie to myself convincingly.
Tears trickled down my face. Why? It wasn’t fair. Why me? Why our family? Why did we even go on the Titanic? I wanted to find who did this, and push him into the sea, not Anthony.
Where was my family? I hated Father then. I knew that hatred was unjust, but I still hated him. He lied. We would never go to America. Ever.
There was no sense in crying, but I already knew that. I tried to make myself feel better. We went up the stairs. We could look at the beautiful china. I felt a bit better.
I went to the first class dining room and marveled at the china. I went back on deck. The musicians were still playing. I admired their calmness in the face of Death himself. I wished everyone would just calm down like them.
I limped on the deck.
Douglas saw me, and came running. “Elizabeth! Have you seen the others? Where are they? What happened to your leg?”
It was too much. I started crying again. “Anthony … he … jumped…gone…” I wailed.
I tried to calm myself. “Anthony j-jumped over.”
The expression on his face was painful to look at. “He jumped over?”
I nodded, and started crying again.
I would find him. He wasn’t…gone. He was probably down there, laughing as I cried. So why was I crying?
“You’re lying,” Douglas said simply.
He didn’t believe me? Even more tears streamed down my face. “No! NO! Please, Douglas, don’t leave me! Don’t…” I blubbered.
Douglas hugged me. “I’m sorry, I was being stupid. I really am sorry.” he whispered.
I blubbered into his chest. Suddenly, Douglas remembered my leg. “What happened?” he asked, his voice shaking.
The ship tilted dangerously as I explained it all to him. He was truly sobbing now. “I’m such an awful brother! And you were alone, and you got trampled…” My throat was too dry for me to talk, so I simply hugged him tightly.
Suddenly, the ship was tilting so much, I had to grab on to a rail. The ship was tilting even more. I held onto the rail, scrambling to the stern where everybody was going. I saw some people in life boats, looking at us in shock. Someone jumped just like Anthony. People on deck started screaming for help. Douglas’s eyes were wild as I saw his grip on the rail next to me slowly loosening…
Nothing happened in slow motion. One moment Douglas was there, and the next he was gone. As I whipped my head around, I saw a final glance of his flailing body until I heard a sickening crash.
I was blind with tears. I had lost my family, I was alone! Douglas! My heart rang out in pain. I gripped the rails with all I had, though it was hard since my hand got numb a long time ago.
The ship was almost vertical now. More people lost their grip and slid down, objects smashed their way to the ocean, and there was blood everywhere. For a second I thought I saw Stella falling, and I closed my eyes not wanting to see more, though the images were firmly imprinted inside my head. Anthony, dead. Douglas, dead. Stella, dead. Mother, Father, George – all dead! Polly, my doll, dead! But Polly wasn’t even on this boat! My mind was conjuring up sickening images of everyone I knew, dying. I sobbed wildly, my already dry throat burning. I threw up over the rail. My leg was so painful it felt like it was on fire. Everybody screaming, falling. I squeezed my eyes even tighter, praying I could make it. Please, please, please. More and more people jumped into the sea.
I stayed that way for longer than eternity, waiting for the end. The world was torturing us, keeping us alive, but just barely. When would death finally come? I shivered violently, then coughed.
I was losing my grip. I was being pulled down, down… Gravity was taking its toll. I was going to fall! I tried to hold on. Every part of my body was extremely numb right now. This is the end, it’s over. I thought.
And then it was over. Just as I was about to let go, there was an ear-splitting crack! I can’t possibly describe to you how loud it was. The tilting stopped.
I opened my eyes. The boat had broken in two! We were all on the stern, and it was actually floating! We were going to survive after all!
Slowly, I realized that the stern had started to sink too! No! It went down slowly, but it seemed like a second until we were in pitch-black, ice-cold, water. I could barely swim!
Cold salt-water seeped hurriedly into my leg, making me scream in pain. Without thinking, I thrashed my leg, hoping to get the salt out. My leg felt indescribably painful.
People started screaming and pleading for help. Why didn’t the people in the lifeboats help us?
“Help! Come help me!”I screamed desperately, my throat raw and burning.
The water was freezing. I kicked and struggled, gasped and gurgled, waiting for rescue.
I waited for what seemed like days, but no one came.
I felt myself slipping away. It was too cold, too much. I tried to cling to life. I was slipping, slipping into the black darkness that waited. It was so hard to keep trying. Why didn’t I just give up? I hummed a lullaby Mother used to sing to get me to sleep. I kept on coughing and shivering. My head went under a couple of times. It was getting harder to open my eyes.
There was a life boat nearby. “Help! Help me, please” I whispered in a scratchy voice that wasn’t mine.
Some people in the life boat were crying. They shook their heads and rowed away.
Why wouldn’t they help me?
I didn’t have any more strength. I couldn’t fight anymore. I didn’t want to fight anymore. It was over. I was slowly sinking.
Despite the fact that I was going to die, I smiled. This would all be over soon. The cold, the fear, the not knowing what happened. Peace flooded through me, as I imagined seeing my family in heaven. Yes, what was I so afraid of? They would all be there, every single one, even baby Thomas! This was the beginning of my end.
My legs slowly stopped kicking. My arms stopped flailing. I coughed very hard. My throat hurt. Let death come, Lord, I prayed. And let it come fast.
As if in answer to my silent prayer, I felt myself being pulled toward unconsciousness. Yes, God was good.
Water went up my nose. I smiled, the cries for help ringing in my ears.
Elizabeth Ada Sage
10 years old