|Molly half-carried, half-assisted the girl into the
room, Rose's sopping dress leaving a dark wet trail across the carpet. Rose collapsed into
nearest chair while Molly quickly closed the patio door against the invading elements."My God, Rose, it really is you! I've been
sleeping so poorly, I thought I had finally snapped! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, child, how
can you be alive?"
Rose glanced up. Molly's face was set with such a bewildered expression that it gave her
Just as quickly, Molly came to her
senses and she reached out her hand to pull the girl back up.
"I don't know where my wits
are! Come on, darlin, let's get you out of those soaking wet clothes and then you then can
tell me everything."
"Hush now. Let's just go into
Molly supported Rose with an arm
around her waist. In contrast to the warmth of the room, Rose was like ice.
"Rose, Rose, Rose; I'll be
surprised if you don't catch your death of cold! You're trembling."
A flicker of pain crossed Rose's
eyes; a brief flinch that Molly failed to notice.
"I'll be all right."
The Waldorf-Astoria was
world-renowned for pampering its guests and Molly needed all of the room's ample supply of
thick towels to finally get Rose dry. Her wet clothes and shoes lying in a heap at the
bottom of the tub, Rose donned a lush purple robe embroidered with a gaudy "W"
over her heart. Her hair, drying for the first time in two days, hung in a tangled mess.
Rose grabbed a hairbrush off the
counter and returned to the bedroom. She gazed uncertainly around the room and moved to
sit on one of the beds. Perched on the edge, she closed her eyes for a few seconds and
then shuffled back onto the bed to sit cross-legged, facing her friend. Molly had seated
herself in one of the overstuffed chairs, still trying to recover from the shock of seeing
Rose alive. Molly wanted, needed, to hear everything, but her practical side came to the
"What can I get you, darlin?
Somethin hot? Have you eaten? You look starved."
"Hot tea would be wonderful,
Molly rang for service and ordered
a large pot from the porter. Rose finally looked composed enough to talk.
"Tell me everything Rose,
starting from when you disappeared back into Titanic as your mother and I called to
you from the lifeboat."
that seems like
a lifetime ago. I can't believe it was only
I really don't know how many days have
passed since then."
Rose proceeded to relate all that
had transpired on Titanic, beginning with the moment she went back to look for Jack
Dawson. Her tale was interrupted by the arrival of the hot tea, and she drank with relish,
letting the soothing heat of the fluid spread throughout her body.
Molly interjected only a few
questions, choosing to allow Rose to tell the story at her own pace. When she came to the
details about their time in the water, Rose struggled.
"Jack had me swim, and we
finally found a board and I climbed on but it couldn't hold us both. And he stayed with me
but it was so cold and the screaming and the cries for help were all around us but Jack
reassured me and he was so calm he made me feel that everything would be all right but I
couldnt think and I was numb all over and the stars were oh so close and it got so
quiet and there was a song in my head..."
Molly could feel her own heart
ache in empathy at the anguish in the words. Rose's eyes were wide with the remembered
"When the lifeboat came I
said, 'Jack, there's a boat', but he didn't answer and I shook him and he wouldn't move
and we were going to be rescued but he was so cold
.." Rose couldn't go on. She stared ahead with unseeing eyes.
And Margaret Brown, always so
proud of her own inner strength and not one to reveal her soft side, felt her heart
breaking as she watched the poor girl and, for the first time in many a day, she began to
Outside the rain had abated, its
sound replaced by that of the wind gently passing through the still bare trees. After a
few minutes, Rose continued.
"I hid from everyone and
everything on Carpathia. I didn't intend to stay away forever but the longer I did,
the more right it seemed. After we docked I waited on deck until I saw you all depart in
the carriages. It was easy enough to find your destination from one of the White Star
officials; they bent over backwards to be helpful. At the bottom of the ramp when the
steward asked my name I told him, 'Rose Dawson.'
"Of course he wouldn't find
that name, but as he searched his passenger list he was distracted so I slipped into the
crowd. I saw him look for me briefly but there was so much commotion that he gave up
I suppose the White Star people are still wondering who Rose Dawson is.
"I knew where the
Waldorf-Astoria was; I'd been to New York several times with Mother. I walked upriver
along the piers, until the crowd first thinned and then all but disappeared. As each
street passed the nightmare seemed farther and farther behind me, and at the 34th
Street dockyard I pulled an empty crate over myself and rested, though not for long."
Rose picked up the hairbrush and
absent-mindedly stroked her hair as she spoke.
"In the first light the next
I came east across the city. The rain was intense; the
streets were flooded and very crowded. I stopped at the Red Cross shelter and, though they
tried to get me to stay, I accepted only their offer of a biscuit and some coffee. For
some time I stood across from the hotel carriage entrance, not knowing what I was going to
do. Then I saw you and Mother and Cal come out and when they got into a carriage and
headed back the way I'd come, towards Pennsylvania Station, I knew they were going to take
a train back home. So I just drifted around the city, watching people living and breathing
and going on about their day as though Titanic had never happened, and I so much
envied them! I wished I could be like them and live like them because, to them, Titanic
was just something that the paperboys yelled about, something that had happened to
'someone else'. They didn't have to try to forget
"I saw newspapers from the
past few days lying in the alleyways and their headlines said, 'All Hope Lost', and I
thought, 'That's about us, about all those men and women. That's about Jack'
"In the end, I believed you
were the only person who would understand, who I could trust, so I waited across the
garden until I saw that you were alone."
Rose took a few deep breaths. She
was obviously relieved to have gotten the story out, jumbled as it was. She stopped
stroking her hair and looked doubtfully at the brush, as though unsure how it had gotten
into her hand. Placing it on the bed stand, she picked up her cup and took another sip of
Molly shifted in her chair
uneasily and decided to broach what she felt might be a sensitive subject.
"Rose, darlin, we really
oughta send word to your Mom." She had decided to leave Cal out of the equation for
the time being.
Rose put her tea down, drew her
legs up and hugged her knees to her chest. Her face was buried in her robe, lost somewhere
beneath the cascade of her hair. The only movement was the gentle rocking of her body as
she breathed. Molly waited, the silence complete but for the quiet ticking of a clock.
Rose had known since she had
decided to confide in Molly that it would eventually come to this.
"No," she said gently,
but with a tone of finality that precluded any further discussion. She raised her head.
"Molly, when I saw Cal and
Mother get into that carriage together I realized that everything I hated about my life
was right there in front of me and when the doors closed on them, well, that part of my
life was closed as well.
"Mother could never
understand what Jack meant to me because her own need to be a member of 'society' blinded
her to the needs of my life." The word 'society' left Rose's lips laced with
seventeen years of frustration and overbearing control.
"She thought I didn't
understand love; thought I couldn't possibly love Jack as much as I did because it
wouldn't fit into her plans.
"Her whole lifestyle was
squeezing the breath of life out of me, until I was like a swimmer caught too deep,
pulling for the surface desperate for air. Then Jack came along and everything changed. In
a few short days he lifted me up and filled my heart like I never could have
"It was everything to me, yet
Mother couldn't have cared less about my feelings."
Rose hid her eyes from Molly,
ashamed of what she had to say next.
"When Jack saved me from
do you remember?
.I was actually planning to jump. It was the lowest
point of my life; it just seemed that there was nothing to live for and suddenly he
appeared, and his voice called to me and beckoned me back."
Rose's head slumped back and she
closed her eyes. Small pools of wetness formed in the corners of her eyes and began
flowing down her cheeks. Molly realized that, as it had been with the other women, the
pain could be dammed for only so long and finally would seek a way out. She crossed the
room to sit beside Rose and embraced her about the shoulders. The tears, set free, flowed
After a while, Rose cleared her
nose, wiped her eyes with the back of her sleeve, and was able to continue.
"On that board I could feel
my spirit leaving my body but something called me back. I could hear Jack saying, 'Not
here, not on this night', and I was filled with our spirit, his and mine, and it was as if
I was to be reborn to begin to live the life we should have had together.
faltered, and Molly understood that the word pressed down on the girl like a cruel joke.
Rose gently wiped her eyes once
" I was in limbo from the
time the lifeboat rescued me until the moment that carriage took Mother and Cal out of my
Rose sighed heavily, then got up
and went into the bath. Opening a drawer, she removed an ornately embossed black box and
brought back it into the bedroom.
Molly saw what she had in her hand
and immediately understood what she intended.
"Rose, dear, no."
Rose seated herself on the writing
desk chair. She opened the box and laid the contents out on the desk.
"Yes, Molly... yes.
"It's time for Rose DeWitt
Bukater to die."