It started off as a perfect day. I had met Nathan Donahue on April 10th, when the R.M.S. Titanic set sail. He was a wealthy Englishman of first-class, I a lowly girl from Virginia in third. Yet somehow, our two worlds collided, and in a time period of not even a week, he had taken my heart.
“When this ship docks, we’ll go our separate ways, won’t we?” I asked the question that had been on my mind all day. He said nothing at first.
“No, this won’t be the end of us, Nicole. I swear it.” I saw a sparkle in his blue eyes and I knew he meant it, but somehow I did not believe it.
“But what about…” He silenced me with a kiss.
“You talk too much.” He said under his breath, and then kissed me again. As I was kissing him, I blushed. We were on the first-class deck, where tons of people could see us. I wasn’t one for public display of affection.
“Nate.” I whispered against his lips. He reluctantly pulled away, looking at my shy face. He nodded, understanding my discomfort.
“Come with me.” He said.
He grabbed my hand and started running. We weaved through the crowded deck and raced through the halls. We stopped at a first-class room. His room. His hand fumbled with the key and the door clicked and unlocked. He opened it, pulling me into the room and shutting the door behind us.
The third-class rooms were nothing compared to the beauty of first-class, but none of that mattered. All that mattered was the beautiful man in front of me.
He started kissing me. A hungry, passionate kiss that made my head spin and my body crave more. I found myself fumbling with his shirt. “Nicki,” He said, pulling away, “Do you really want this?” I nodded my head. He thought for a moment and then nodded, carrying me over to the bed.
The severity of the situation hit me as I laid on my side while Nathan was stroking my bare skin. “We weren’t careful, were we?” I said, turning around and facing him. Something changed in his face and his expression went from a heart-melting smile to a serious frown.
“No.” Tears threatened to spill, but he began to soothe me immediately. “Hey. We don’t know if anything happened yet. It’ll be alright.”
“And if I’m with child?” I asked. He smiled.
“Then all the more perfect reason to marry you.” My jaw dropped, and the tears spilled down my face. But instead of tears of sorrow, they were tears of joy.
“Marry me?” I repeated, to make sure that I was not dreaming.
“Well, if you’ll accept me.” He said. I started laughing and crying, nodding my head.
“Do you even have to ask? Of course!” I said, smiling widely. I laid my head on his chest and he put his arms around me. “How on Earth did I become so fortunate to find someone like you?” I said, sleepily.
“God gave us a miracle.” He responded, kissing my head.
“Mrs. Donahue does have a lovely ring to it.” I said, drifting farther and farther away from the world and into unconsciousness.
“It really does. Now rest up, fiancé. The first thing we’re doing when we dock is getting you a ring.” Was the last thing I heard before my perfect world came crashing down.
“Nicole!” Nathan shook me. I sat up in the bed. Sometime during my sleep, Nate had put my clothes back on me.
“What?” I asked, sleepily. He said nothing. He just grabbed my arm and pulled me to the window.
What I saw amazed me. We were passing a gigantic iceberg, almost as big as the R.M.S. Titanic itself. I thought at first that it was just a sight, until the deathly shaking started. I started panicking. “God, no! It can’t be! The ship is unsinkable!”
“They also thought that Achilles was unkillable, but look at what happened to him!”
“We have to get off of this ship.” I said. I ran to where the emergency lifejackets were. I donned one on myself and threw one to Nathan, but he didn’t catch it. In fact, he didn’t even notice me throwing it to him, because he was busy writing something.
I was shocked. I knew he loved writing. In fact, he was going to New York to become a published author. But this? In our situation?
“Nate, how could you be writing at a time like this?”
“Shhh!” He hissed at me. I waited helplessly for minutes until he finished what he was writing. Then he sealed it in an envelope and scrawled something on it and tucked it away into his coat. “Let’s go.” He said, donning his lifejacket.
We got into the hallway and started running to the lifeboats until I stopped in my tracks. “My mother. Little Beatrice. I can’t let them drown.”
“There’s no time…”
“Beatrice is only six!” I cut him off, “She has a long life ahead of her. I am not going to let her go to a watery grave!” I yelled, the first time I had become truly mad at him. “I’m going to warn them. I’ll meet you back up here, I promise.” I started running to the third class part of the ship, but I didn’t get two steps before a hand stopped me. I swear, if he tries to stop me… but his next words surprised me.
“I’m going with you.” I smiled and then we took off, but then he stopped us. “If we do this, we might not be able to make it off this ship. Who’s to say they will, even if we do warn them?” I almost stated sobbing at the thought of my mother screaming as the cold water engulfed her. Or my sister, laying still and lifeless in the water as it sinks farther and farther into the depths.
“What shall we do?” Nathan was already taking action. He got a hold of a steward and started pulling money out of his pocket as he spoke.
“Their names are Gracen and Beatrice Asher. Get them to the lifeboats, whatever the cost.” The steward nodded. It was obvious to him that he would never be able to use the money, though he still strived to save people’s lives in his last hour. And for that, I praised him.
We ran back to the first-class deck and the scene was painfully normal. Nobody was worried. Everyone still thought that the ship was unsinkable, though some people were boarding lifeboats. We ran to one that was not yet full, but the crewman stopped us. “Women and Children only.” He said in a painfully-hard-to-understand Irish accent.
“No, you have to let him on. For God’s sakes, he’s the father of my child!” I said, rubbing my stomach for emphasis. The man looked at me doubtfully. As if I could know this early in the cycle! Yet still… we weren’t careful.
“Women and children only.” He repeated with more emphasis. I turned around to look at my fiancé.
“Go. I’ll catch a later lifeboat.”
“What if you don’t?” I asked, tears streaking my face.
“I will.” He said. And just by the look in his eyes, I knew he would. He pulled me in for one last desperate kiss. “Go now.” He said under his breath.
I got onto the lifeboat, which was now full. As the crewman lowered us down, I looked back up at Nathan, memorizing his features. He dark brown hair, his sparkling blue eyes. The way his eyes crinkled every time he laughed, and the brave face he was putting on for me now as we were being separated. “I love you.” I whispered.
“He did a brave thing, letting you go.” A woman with a French accent said from next to me.
The light of the full moon allowed me to read my watch. It had been an hour since I boarded the lifeboat, and the R.M.S. Titanic was still in perfect view. I looked at it for the first time and gasped.
Water was filling it and the ship was almost completely sunken. I watched helplessly as the unsinkable ship split in two. The White Star Line was sinking—and sinking fast. “God, Almighty.” I whispered. I could se silhouettes jumping from the ship. How many children were still trapped there? How many elderly women would have to spend their last moments in the chill of the Atlantic Ocean? But most important: Where’s Nathan?
I watched as the last of the ship went down. There was shrill screaming from everyone left onboard. The screaming mad me cry, along with a few others in the boat. “Unsinkable.” The same woman with the French accent that had spoken to me earlier muttered. “And they didn’t even think to take precautions and put more lifeboats in.”
“At least you got off! Be grateful!” An Englishwoman yelled at her.
“My husband went down with that ship! How am I to be grateful if I lost everything I love back there? Life is not worth living.” She responded. And then she started to stand, I assumed to jump off and drown herself. But I held her down.
“Your husband would want you to go on living.” I said. She sniffled and nodded.
“Thank you.” But she was right. What was life without love?
After hours of traveling, we were finally picked up by the S.S. Carpathia. And as my time on the ship went on, so did my worry. “Excuse me, have you seen anybody on this boat that goes by the name of Nathan Donahue?” I asked what seemed to be the millionth person. The woman shook her head no.
“Nicole, perhaps he didn’t make it.” Said Adele, the French woman from the lifeboat who had become my close friend.
“He promised.” I whispered. I shoved my hands into the pockets of my coat and found myself feeling something… paper-like. I slowly took it out of my pocket. It had been there all this time, and I had missed it.
I recognized it immediately. The letter that Nate had written before the ship went down… but why could he not say what he had to out loud? “A letter from your Nathan?” Adele asked. On the envelope was printed in his neat manuscript: To My Love.
“Indeed it is.” I said, tearing open the envelope.
By the time you open this letter, you will be safe from the site of the sinking. I am sad to say that the goodbyes we said on the ship were indeed our last goodbyes.
It pains me to lie to you, more than anything in the world, but I could not tell you my intentions for it would change your mind about getting off of the ship.
Even if I do manage to get a spot on a lifeboat, which is highly unlikely, I have chosen to go down with the ship.
I know you can never forgive me for leaving a hole in your heart, but I could never live with myself if I took the spot of what should be a lady’s.
I want you to know that I do not fear death, and my last thoughts will be of your beautiful face. I also want you to know that it is my dying wish that you do not try to take your life. Yes, we will meet again someday, but not someday soon. You have a full life ahead of you.
I want you to get married and start a family. Though it pains me to even think of you with another man, I am happy that at least I was in your life once, and I hope that you will never forget me.
Lastly, I just want you to know how much I love you. Those words, I love you, do not even begin to describe how I feel toward you. You are the best thing that ever happened to me, and I cannot stress enough how much I mean that. And if I could undo one thing in my life, it would be hurting you. Now I can only hope that you feel the same way about me and keep me in your memories.
Farewell, my beautiful flower.
The words were smudged with water, yet I could still read them perfectly. I read the letter once, twice, three times over, and even pinched myself, hoping that this was all a horrible nightmare and that I would awake safely on the unsunken ship in Nathan’s arms. But I had no such luck.
My knees gave out and I crumpled to the ground, sobbing more than I ever had in my life. “What did the letter say?” Adele asked worriedly.
“Read it.” I said through choked sobs, thrusting it into her hands. She gasped when she finished it.
“Oh, Nicki,” She said, embracing me. “What are you going to do?” I put on a brave face.
“Exactly what he wants me to do. I will continue living, though I will only be a shadow of myself.”
“You’re broken, and yet you only knew the man for four days. You truly were in love, weren’t you?”
“I still am.” I said, my sobs reduced to light sniffles. “Now let us see if I can find my mother and sister.”
At least I still had my family. I found my mother and sister when we docked in New York. Though it took forever, with all of the reporters and the mass crowds of people. As my family and I walked away, I took in the scene in front of me. Reporters were interviewing first-class passengers. People were running around like mad, I assume looking for loved ones that were on the ship. I saw people embracing each other, most likely survivors and their loved ones, and I also saw people breaking down crying. My heart hurt. Though I had a brave face on, on the inside I was in a worse state than the people throwing tantrums in the middle of the crowded streets. At least my sobbing will be done in private.
The reporters mostly cared about first-class passengers. The rest were too lowly for their time, so it was a surprise when one tapped me on the shoulder, bombarding me with questions. “Leave us.” My mother said, pulling me away.
“Mother, it’s alright.” I said, and then turned around to the reporter.
“What was that question again?” I asked.
“Did you lose any valuable possessions on the ship? Perhaps a family heirloom?” I shook my head.
“No, nothing made of gold or silver. But I did lose something—my heart.” The reporter became interested and motioned for me to keep going. I replayed my experience to her on the R.M.S. Titanic. How Nate and I first met, our first kiss, down to our final goodbye. And afterword, I showed her the letter. “Yes, my physical being survived the sinking of the Titanic, but my soul went down with the ship.” The reporter then left us, moving on to the next survivor.
“Let us go.” We got tickets on the R.M.S. Titanic for one reason: we needed to get to New York so we could open our new sewing shop, where we would start a family business while my Father worked at a deli. We never dreamed that our simple passage to the States would end up in a horrible tragedy.
That’s it. I said as the harbor went out of sight. Nathan is dead. My one true love that I thought I was going to marry…gone. Oh, how many time I fantasized what our children would look like. And now he’s gone to a watery grave. Who know if his body will be recovered? He deserves a proper burial, yet God refuses to give him even that. The world is a cruel place.
Four Months Later…
“Nicole, that boy ruined you!” My mother said, holding my hair, as I leaned over the toilet seat, revisiting my breakfast. “You realize no man will marry you now!”
“I don’t want to marry!” I yelled back, “Don’t you get that I can’t be with anybody else?”
“And raise a child? On your own?” I looked at my enlarged stomach. In just five months, I would be going into labor.
“Yes.” I responded.
“Good God, girl! You should have gotten an abortion!”
“How dare you! Need I remind you that you were not yet married to Father when you became pregnant with me?”
“You’re father didn’t leave me!”
“He couldn’t help that he was not fortunate enough to get on a lifeboat! At least his memories will live through little Nathan when he’s born.” I said, rubbing my swollen stomach.
“You’re a crazy girl.” My mother murmured as she walked out of the room. You would think that after almost dying, our family would be closer than ever. But since I found out that I was pregnant, we had been fighting more and more.
Despite being very scared, I was extremely happy to be bearing a child. If I couldn’t see the real Nate anymore, at least I could raise the little boy that will look just like him. And when he’s in bed, waiting to fall asleep, I could tell him the brave tale of his father who chose to face death so he wouldn’t be taking a lady’s place on a lifeboat.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. I opened it and almost fainted in surprise. “Nicki. It’s you. It’s really you.” He said in amazement.
“I’m dreaming.” I said to myself.
“No, you’re not. It’s me, Nathan. Please tell me you remember me.”
“N-no. I-it c-c-c-can’t be. N-Nathan has been d-d-dead for four m-months.” I said shakily.
“How is this possible?” I said, tears of joy staining my face.
“When the ship was going down, my life flashed before my eyes. I knew I was dying. And…and I saw God, Nicole. And he told me not to give up on you. So I jumped before the ship went down, and managed to stay alive until a lifeboat rescued me. We missed the Carpathia, but another ship picked us up.”
“How did you find me?” I asked, motioning him inside. He’s really here. I’m not dreaming. He’s living, breathing, talking…my heart has been brought back to life.
He fished a newsletter out of his pocket and pointed to an article. “Read.” He said. In the article was a picture of me, my hair a wild mess, my eyes bloodshot from crying. Under the picture was a label, Nicole Emily Asher, Third-Class Passenger. It gave a brief summary of my love story on the R.M.S. Titanic, and then they had written down in exact detail what the letter had said, with a quote of my interview with the reporter, “My soul went down with the ship.” Finally it ended with my current situation including where my workplace was, which must have been how Nathan found me.
“You’re really alive.” I said, silently sobbing. Thousands of emotions filled me. I wanted to hug him, I wanted to kiss him, I wanted to hold him and make sure that he never left me again. But instead, I slapped him.
“What was that for?” He said, rubbing his shoulder from where my hand had hit it.
“That…that’s f-for l-l-leaving me, you j-jerk!” I yelled at him, but I was so busy laughing and crying, I knew he couldn’t take me seriously.
And then, for the first time since the sinking, he kissed me. It was short lived and gentile, but still a heart-melting, head-pounding kiss. This really is real. He’s alive. “You spent four months looking for me?” I said when we broke apart.
“Well, I will admit, I did take a tiny detour.” He said with a wide smile. He got down on one knee and revealed from his coat pocket a beautiful diamond. I started crying tears of joy.
“Yes,” I said, “A thousand times yes!” He slipped the ring on my finger and then pulled me in for a long, slow, lingering kiss.
“And we already have a family.” He said, looking at my stomach for the first time, “What are you naming her?”
“His name is going to be Nathan. Just like his father.”
“And how do you know it will be a boy?” I smiled.
“What if it’s a girl?” He teased.
“It’s a boy.”
“But what if?” He said, curiously. I thought for a moment.
“I’m still naming her after you.”
“And what might that name be?” My smile grew larger.
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