|Rose lay on the bed and wrapped herself in the
silence of the room. All too quickly, solitude brought to her images that were too
powerful, too crystal, too recent.Her heart ached and yet she could feel it was guarded in a way, as though
her mind had encased it in iron. She was afraid of letting everything surface
she couldn't stand the pain.
She missed Jack with a fierceness
that she had never known. She would give up every good thing that her life might bring
just to be back with him again. Every sunrise, every laugh, every possession, every
Rose held her head in her hands.
She could feel her hands trembling, could feel her heart sinking again as more thoughts
flooded back to her. Her breathing became painful, each inhale like a tearing stab through
But she couldn't let the pain out.
She got up and began pacing at the
foot of the bed.
Before Rose realized it, several
hours had passed and she began to worry. It was silly, she knew, but she felt so dependent
on Molly's secrecy and aid that she couldn't help but think what she would do if Molly
never returned, or if she brought her mother or Cal back with her.
I've spent too much time in
this room, Rose thought, and she tried to compose herself while watching the afternoon
shadows chase across the courtyard and up the faces of the buildings opposite.
She heard someone at the threshold
and panic again filled her despite her attempts at calm. Then a few knocks followed and
Molly's voice carried through the door.
"Darlin, are ya decent?"
Molly entered with a man who Rose
assumed to be Wallace Hammond. He was tall, with dark features, and appeared to be in his
late thirties, though his actual age was hard for her to determine. He had obviously spent
a good deal of time outside and the elements had etched their names on his face. Rugged,
mustached, his narrow brown eyes seemed to take in the whole room at a glance. Though his
suit was a tailor fit he wore it like a man still uncomfortable sporting a tie. He
followed Molly, hat in hand.
Rose found herself edgy once
again, this time unsure what Molly might have told Hammond about her.
"Rose, I'd like ya to meet my
friend and advisor, Wallace Hammond."
As Wallace stepped forward Rose
gave Molly a pleading look.
"Wallace, please meet Rose
Rose thanked Molly with her eyes
even as they shook hands. Mr. Hammond clasped her hand with strength as he greeted her; no
Philadelphia high society limp grip for him. His beginnings show as well, thought
Rose. As Mr. Hammond looked her over she could detect a spark behind the dark eyes. His
attention lingered a bit too long on her hair, and Rose could feel a question attached to
"My pleasure, I'm sure, Miss
"Pleased to meet you, Mr.
"Molly tells me you lost
everything in the world when the ship went down. I'm awfully sorry."
"Thank you. Molly has been a
real God-send for me."
They stood in awkward silence for
a moment and then Molly spoke up.
"Hammy and I have arranged
for dinner to be sent to the room. I told him neither of us is up to much company
Rose smiled inwardly at Molly's
affectionate nickname for Mr. Hammond.
Hammond explained he had some
matters to attend to elsewhere in the city, and he promised to return in an hour or so.
This was fine with Rose, as she needed to talk to Molly alone.
Rose had hung up and put away the
items that Molly had bought for her so the two were able to move to the patio and talk. As
the sun disappeared behind the buildings to the west the air quickly chilled. Rose wore
with a light blanket draped over her head and shoulders,
ostensibly to ward off the chill, but it served as well to keep out any prying eyes. They
sat for a bit before Molly spoke.
"Have ya sorted out what
you'll do now?"
"I'm not sure of anything.
All day I've been trying to come to grips with my life."
"I've been worried about ya.
You seem to be holding a lot inside."
"Molly, while I sat on the
deck of Carpathia, I wished over and over that I had stayed in the water with Jack.
I wished I had died with him.
"Everything was so wrong. On Titanic,
I saw sides to Mother and Cal that shocked me. And I thought, 'That must be me too; I'm
like that', but I'm not, Molly, I'm not
Rose clasped her hands in front of
her, trying to capture her thoughts before she continued.
"As I sat there the weight of
my whole life crashed down on me and I really didn't want to go on. I was even angry at
Jack! My thoughts were crazy; I wanted to scream, 'How could you die and leave me alone?'
"As we neared the lights of
New York, I thought of the promise I'd made to Jack, out there. I didn't feel strong
enough to keep it, you know? But if I didn't find the strength to do so then what did Jack
die for? He knew life was precious."
Rose lowered her head and drew her
coat tight around herself as she continued in a soft voice.
" Suddenly, I was so very
ashamed about wishing I was dead. I felt so weak, I cried. I thought, 'Maybe I am just a
spoiled rich girl'
"When we passed the Statue in
the harbor, I, I
"Molly, I have to go
I have to.
"It's what I promised."
Rose paused and looked sideways at
Molly from deep within the shadows of the blanket.
"I'll start a new life, like
Jack and I would have, and I'll start it here and now and never look back."
Molly took her time in replying.
"You've picked a hard row to
hoe, darlin, but I figured as much. How you gonna live?"
"To tell you the truth, I'm
not sure, but I'll survive. And it will be MY life."
Rose reached deep into her coat
pocket and closed her hand around what lay at the bottom.
"Molly, I need your help with
something. Something more, I should say."
Rose glanced around the courtyard
and, satisfied there were no onlookers, removed the object from the coat.
"My God! Where the hell did
you get that?" Molly exclaimed.
Rose looked around in nervous
alarm at the volume of Molly's voice. Molly realized her error and motioned her
understanding, first finger to her lips.
"Sorry, Rose. It's just that
you're a barrel-full of surprises."
Rose proceeded to relate the full
story of the 'Heart of the Ocean' and how it came to be in her possession after Titanic
went down. She handed it to Molly for a better look.
"Ha!" Molly laughed.
"Ain't that a hot one! If the ocean were a few feet shallower Cal'd be out there
tomorrow in his bathing trunks!
"What are ya planning to do
with it, darlin?"
"It means a lot to me now but
I can't be walking around the city with it in my pocket. I'd like you to help me find a
safe place to keep it."
Molly was still ogling the jewel.
She had developed a fine eye for precious stones and owned quite a few rare pieces
herself. It was funny to Rose that Molly held in her hand a piece worth almost as much the
building in which they sat, but to Rose it had no value save as a remembrance of what had
happened on Titanic.
"I'll have Hammy take out a
cash-box in your name at my bank. I'll tell him you have a few trinkets that need
safekeepin and I'll have him leave the key on Monday, after the banks open."
The last fingers of the sun had
climbed their way over the tops of the west-facing buildings and the sky was just
beginning to blush. Molly shivered slightly and suggested they return inside. She handed
the 'Heart' to Rose after one last look and Rose, replacing it in the depths of her coat
pocket, went into the bath to hang up the coat. Just as she did someone knocked at the
"Wallace! He's back
early," Molly said, and Rose heard her throw the latch and pull open the door.
exclaimed, much too loudly for the confines of the room.
you startled me!"
Helen Candee, Rose thought.
She's still here at the hotel? Rose didn't count her as a friend but Helen would
certainly recognize her.
"Sorry, darlin, I was just
happy to see ya is all." Molly was warning Rose as best as she could.
Rose's eyes darted around the
room, but there was no place to hide, save the totally inadequate blind of the tub. She
was trapped, so she held still and listened to the conversation in the entranceway.
"Mrs. Brown, I saw a rat in
my bathroom! A rat! Here at the Waldorf! Can you imagine? It scared me to death!"
"Now, Helen, cool it a bit.
Just call the manager and he'll take care of it."
"The manager told me it'll be
fine; they'll be right down. He said something about demolition down the street driving
the rats to scatter."
"Well, there ya go, then.
Don't get nutty on me."
"Molly, I can't go in there
again. Never! Can I use your bath?"
"Helen, wait! Don't go in
Rose had to think fast. She put
her hand to the wall and began to scratch her fingernails against the wood.
"What's that?" Helen
shrieked in alarm.
Molly took the cue.
"That's what I'm trying to
tell ya. Rats! I've got em too."
"Oh dear God, I have to get
out of here! I need to get out of here!"
"Try another room at the
other end of the hall, why don't ya?"
"Oh God, oh God, oh God, I
need to leave here, I need to get away from here
Helen seemed to be frozen in place
so Rose started scratching anew, this time with great energy.
Helen had heard more than enough.
As her scream faded down the
corridor Molly closed the outer door and stuck her head into the bath.
"That was close," Rose
said, sitting on the edge of the tub.
"Rose, ya got a bit of the
actress in ya, I think."
I guess I do at that, Rose
thought, and she smiled.
"For nothin! You're the one
that scared the begeezus out of her!"
Wallace Hamilton returned soon
after the excitement with Helen Candee, and the three of them settled down to dinner. Two
very eager bellboys brought in a makeshift dining table and chairs and set them up in a
freshly cleared space near the patio windows.
The courtyard was softly
illuminated by indirect lighting, the tops of the tree branches in darkness. Lights in the
city buildings flickered on and off as they dined.
Rose ate sparingly, picking at her
The conversation was light, with
Wallace assigned the task of bringing Molly up to date on her stateside affairs. Molly had
earlier told Rose how she had come to know Mr. Hammond. He had been a private investigator
('dick' was the actual term she used) under the employ of Molly's husband. The two men had
had a falling out just before Molly and J.J. had separated and Wallace had come to work
for Molly. Molly didn't know the details of the disagreement but said, 'Any enemy of
J.J.'s is a friend of mine'. She didn't go into any personal details of their
relationship, other than to say that he now spent most of his time handling Molly's
traveling and business arrangements though he still maintained a few other clients.
Before Wallace had returned to the
room Molly and Rose had settled on a simple story to paint over Rose's real past. So when
the inevitable questions arose Rose told half-truths of her father's passing years before,
of traveling with her mother for many months abroad, her luck in surviving in the freezing
water, and her loss of her mother and all her worldly possessions. She told nothing of Cal
She was forced to tell one
bold-faced lie. She said that she and her mother had been able to board Titanic at
the last minute when another booked couple failed to show at Southampton.
"I wondered why no one named
'Dawson' appeared on the passenger manifest," Wallace remarked.
He didn't probe too intently but
he showed obvious interest in the story. Rose could feel sympathy in his gaze, but also
"Where is home, Rose?"
"Baltimore." They had
planned this as well. Rose had visited Baltimore enough times to give passable answers to
questions about the city. She expected some now but Wallace didn't pursue the topic.
"What will you do now?"
he asked instead.
"I'm going to try to make a
go of it here in New York. I really couldn't face the memories back home."
"Won't your family and
friends miss you?"
"I have no remaining family,
and my mother was always very intent on keeping me from having any close friends."
"Hammy, I feel a certain
responsibility towards Rose," Molly interjected. "I spent some time with her
mother on the ship. I'll be headin' back to Colorado tomorrow so there's a few things I
want you to do for me.
"First, rent a cash-box at my
bank in Rose's name. Pay for a year's rental in advance."
Wallace looked at Rose's bare
fingers and neck but said nothing.
"Second, withdraw $500 from
my account and bring it back to this hotel. Leave it and the box key at the desk for
" Rose exclaimed, but Molly shushed her.
"No argument, darlin. I owe
it to your mother. Finally, Wallace, while I'm travelin, should Rose need anything,
anything at all, you do your best to help her."
Molly turned to Rose.
"Hammy will give you the
telephone exchange for his office. Call anytime."
"I'm at your service,
Rose was genuinely touched.
"Molly, how will I ever repay
"What are friends for,
The rest of the evening passed
quietly, and Rose found herself often losing the thread of the conversation as her eyes
drifted to the lights of New York and her mind flew into the next day, and the next. The
thought of it all was a bit overwhelming. Her attention was brought back to the table by a
tap on her arm.
"Rose, darlin, did you hear
what I said?"
"Sorry, Molly, my mind was
"I've convinced those
blowhards at White Star to pay for this room until the end of next week and I informed the
manager that you'll be stayin' on after I leave tomorrow. That'll give ya enough time to
find a place of your own."
Rose really didn't know what to
say. Wallace coughed politely.
"I must take my leave of you
two ladies. Molly, I will contact you in Denver and I'll surely see you before your next
trip abroad. Rest assured everything will be taken care of here."
Wallace stood up and turned to
Rose, bowing formally.
"Rose Dawson, I will leave
the key to the box, the money and my telephone exchange with the desk captain on Monday
afternoon. Please call if I can be of further assistance. I hope to see you again.
"It has been a genuine
With a quick spin, Wallace was on
his was out the door, pausing only to give Molly a short wave as he exited into the
hallway. Molly followed him to close the door, then turned to Rose.
"Wallace is a good man to
have on your side in a pinch."
"I think you're right."
"Well, it's time for these
tired bones to hit the hay. I'll be leavin' on a train at first light so I likely won't
see you in the mornin. I wouldn't leave ya if I didn't think you were gonna be okay.
You're strong, Rose, I know that, but don't be afraid to call Wallace if you need
something. I'm not around these parts much but I'll try to catch up with ya the next time
I'm in New York."
"Molly, without you, I
dont know what I would have done. Thank you so much
Rose swept her arm in an attempt
to draw out the words but she couldn't go on. Her eyes started to moisten.
She walked to Molly and they
hugged. She could see the echoing emotion in her friend's eyes.
They silently prepared for bed
and, once ready, Rose shut the light.
"Goodnight to ya, Rose."
Rose heard Molly sigh as the bed
settled under her.
"Darlin, it's been a hell of
Jack turned to her and his eyes
were sparkling, they were smiling at her and with her and she was swept inside them, into
the bottomless blue, and suddenly they were flying and the ship was soaring faster,
faster, racing through the air. The wind blew cool against her, against the flushed heat
of her being and the horizon was ablaze and a star pierced the deepening blue, star light,
star bright, first star I see tonight and it flashed brilliant across the sky and plunged
hot into the sea. And they were dancing and spinning and she was laughing and there was
music, music everywhere and it stopped, she stopped, and Jack turned to look at her and it
was as though the world ..had.. gone.. slow, and he was holding her hand
his hand to her face, softly
and it all went fast again,
faster, too fast, blurring real not real. They were running and people were screaming and
over it all a horrible grating grinding scraping and she tried to cover her ears but it
wouldn't stop and she ran, they ran, up and up, back to the beginning and her lips moved
Jack! Jack!, she was yelling without voice and he didn't answer and far away she heard
someone calling to her but who are you? where are you? And it was suddenly cold, so cold,
too cold and the string of stars winked out, the world collapsed in darkness, and her
heart went frozen, her mind in ice and all that was left in the pitch black were the
cries, oh the cries, stop them please, please, Jack