Chapter Nine

While Rose was out fruitlessly searching for work in the late afternoon a sudden spring storm surprised the city. Though only six blocks from home at the time she got drenched racing back through the rain. At first she had leapt the puddles along the way, but by the time she had reached her block she was cold and soaked and tired. A budding lake had formed in front of her building and Rose resignedly walked straight through it, trudging up the steps to her building.

Shaking off as much water as she could in the entranceway, she removed her coat and then she stripped off the remainder of her wet clothes as soon as she entered her flat.

Rose looked at herself in the mirror over the wash basin.

I've seen this picture before, she thought.

She toweled herself off, put on some warm, dry clothes, and decided to settle down to read a book she had purchased earlier, between interviews; one she had bought to console herself for having endured so many rejections.

Normally she would have been reading the newspaper on a daily basis but Rose found she couldn't bear to see the many articles still dealing with the aftermath of the disaster. Just a glimpse of the word 'Titanic' in a headline was enough to cause her heart to clench.

Easier just to ignore the rest of the world for a while, she decided. None of that seems to matter anyway.

Rose clicked on her reading light. The rolling storm clouds had brought an early night to the city.

After just a few pages of reading Rose found her mind wandering.

I can't believe I've been rejected so many times for a job I used to consider menial. Am I going about this the wrong way? Am I doing something wrong? Am I really this pathetic?

She turned off her lamp and lay in the dark, listening to the gentle patter of the rain on the roof. The street traffic had all but vanished in the wake of the storm, and the only sound that carried to her bed was the forlorn whistle of the El as it wound its way through the gathering night.

Jack, I wish you were here to hold me tonight. The sound of the rain is so romantic, but it makes the loneliness worse.

I can picture you lying here beside me, holding me, touching me, breathing the same air, my life to your life. I hear us laughing, and your voice would come to me from the dark and we would talk of the future, our future. You would whisper my name, and it would be as though I had never heard it spoken before, as though no one had ever been close enough to say it so perfectly. And we would celebrate everything about our lives, our being together, what would be, and we would be in love and live forever.

The way you spoke, the sound of your voice…I remember all your words. You said, 'Where to, miss?', and I thought, 'Nowhere but here, ever.' Each word etched in my heart, I hear them over and over and over.

Where to, miss. Where to?

Every word.

I miss you terribly, Jack.

What am I doing in this city, without family, without friends, without you? Why am I here? It's as though my promise to you is being tested right from the start.

I've never lived by myself, never really been on my own, even for a week. People live through loss, they live through hard times, they cope alone. How do they survive? How did you carry on after your whole family was taken from you?

On Titanic I never really thought about how difficult that must have been for you. I think now I know some of what you must have felt. It's hard for one person, you know? It's hard to be strong enough.

This city is like a tiger waiting in the shadows, ready to pounce. You have to be prepared. I'm afraid sometimes, yet I try to tell myself I'm not.

I'm not used to that; maybe I'll never be used to that. Maybe I should pack my things tomorrow and go back to Philadelphia, admit I'm not ready for this. I don't have to marry Cal. I don't ever have to see him again.

I don't think I could even look at him now without turning away in contempt.

Maybe Mother needs me. She and I could start over, forget Cal and his money. I don't know….Mother has too much misbegotten pride and there's a part of her that is too closed to reality for her to be able to live the way I have to now. It seems somehow wrong to think this way…she's my mother. But she truly feels superior to everyone else, and that part of her I despise.

But if father was still alive, I think I would go back.

Father, I remember how hard you tried not to show your illness, how you tried to wear a brave face for me, always. You did your best to take care of Mother and me no matter how tough the going. Mother always says I inherited my stubborn streak from you. She means it in the most negative way; it's her way of slapping us both down. I don't care. I always think your endurance is the best gift you ever gave me.

I remember the letter you wrote to me, the one your sister delivered to me after you died. I still have it….back in Philadelphia. I used to read it every night after Mother went to sleep. I always cried when I read it, frustrated that I couldn't understand what you were trying to tell me. Crying that you weren't there to read it to me.

I was too young then. You wrote about having lived a life you could be proud of and how you could only wish the same for me. I understand what you meant, especially now, and I'm trying, daddy, I'm really trying. I think Jack would have brought out the very best in me. I would have shined with him.

You would have liked him, daddy.

I want to make you proud of me.

But I'm so tired now. Maybe strength isn't enough. Maybe I just don't fit into this life.

Where to, miss?

It hurts to remember. My eyes were filled with the stars; I couldn't see anything else.

Where to?

What if I went back home now? Could I still keep my promise to you, Jack? You are too much in my heart and Cal would sense that, Mother would sense that. Every time they looked into my eyes they'd see you reflecting back.

Jack, we just didn't have enough time…..I don't know the little things I want to know about you. Did you have a dog as a boy? What was your mother's name? I didn't even find out your favorite color.

But when we touched I felt that I knew everything about you, and you about me. In all the times that Cal touched me I never once felt anything like that.

I get goose bumps thinking about it. I can feel your touch if I close my eyes, your skin on my skin. Sometimes I think if I just go to sleep I'll wake up and you'll be alive and everything will be put back together again. That you'll be with me.

But when I do awake, I'm alone.


Damn. Do you wish we'd never met? Could you have made your life really count without me? Would I have made mine full without ever meeting you?

My life before Titanic was so narrow, so black and white, and suddenly you entered and it became a rainbow of colors and endless possibilities. For the first time in my life I was truly excited thinking about my future and you made life seem worth living again.

Then everything fell so terribly apart.

I'm getting off with you. With you. This is crazy. I know.

Where to, miss?

God, if you're listening to my thoughts, please… I don't understand. How could you just reach down and take everything away from me, from us?


Jack, you said winning your ticket was the best thing that had ever happened to you. I believe you….it was for me as well. But I don't know how to live without you. To live with the knowledge that I found you and then lost you.

How can I live my promise when my heart is so empty?

You talked to me of going on to a full life, with a family and all, and I don't see how I will ever get from here to there. That seems like another world, a dream world. So very far away.

I see you. And?

I see you.

Where to, miss?

Maybe you were wrong to think I could ever live a normal life now.

Normal. What does that mean? As if anything could ever be normal about my life ever again.

All those people, all that suffering, people I knew, I talked to, living, breathing souls, with families and lives to live. Good people, righteous people, people who didn't deserve to suffer, people who brought the light of life to others, people like you, Jack.…Oh God…you jump, I jump….out there in the water

……holding your hand…so cold…so still…Oh, God ……………


Rose wept. As the world turned under a blanket of clouds, as the darkness yielded to a new day, her tears flowed.

My God, what's the point of trying? Is life so cruel as to take away everything I've always wanted in a single night? I'm just a girl; I don't stand a chance against powers like that.

Aren't we here to find our true love? If you find love and lose it, then what? What do I live for?

Jack, if I had died instead of you, how would you have gone on? You had so many experiences, so much independence; maybe it wouldn't have been so hard. I've been so sheltered. I never had to stand on my own two feet…not until that night.

Not until now.

Why? Why? Why do this? I know I promised but I….I'm sorry. I've pushed the whole world to arm's length and I really don't want it any closer than that. If you get too close to life it only brings pain. Push it away.

But life can't be lived that way.

Mother is so good at keeping the world at bay. Her own pain drove her to be that way, but has it done her any good? She became bitter; she hates anyone that has a passion for living. What a waste!

I have to tell her that putting up walls doesn't work. You might as well be dead.

She needs to know.

I should sneak back home, confess everything. Get her to leave with me without telling anyone of our plans. We could move west, move to California, and maybe after a while we would both be okay.

It would be easier than this; I would help her and she would help me. Jack, maybe Mother could change. Things would be all right again.


No…I'm forgetting already what Mother has become. You could see that right away. You could see how Mother and Cal were poisoning me. And you helped me to see it more clearly for myself.

No, I can't go back. Nothing there will change, and I would have to leave and start over again anyway. Maybe not right away but soon enough.

I don't think I ever would have let them break me, Jack. You were wrong about that. It was taking me a long time to see the truth but my eyes were opening. I had already started on the path away from that life. Maybe you saw that as well and just wanted to push me, prod me.

I wish I were stronger. I feel like I'm trying so hard but still not getting anywhere. It's painful to fail.

I miss you, Jack.

I miss you.

Jack, was your place in this world to save me? When I needed someone most, there you were. What is my purpose in living? Why were you there to save me, only to die yourself?

I need to believe there was a reason.

What is my life to become?

Maybe I'm doing okay. You would tell me that, I know you would. Father, I know you would, too. I just have to believe in you both. My destiny is out there, if I can just open the right doors, be the right person.

Jack, please be with me.

I don't want to go it alone.

I'm so tired…..



She was afraid of falling, afraid of dying, dangling off the stern of Titanic with her flailing legs trying to find a purchase, her life in Jack's hands.

Panic screaming within her heart, she was crying out to him, desperate for his grip to hold, for him to lift her to back to life.

Jack looked down at her, the starlit sky sparkling above him.

His eyes bore down at her and the light within them shone like a beacon.

"I've got you, I won't let go.

"I won't let go, Rose. You've just got to pull yourself up.

"I'll never let go."


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