|The bullet rolled down the slanted
desktop in monotonous, tortuous repetition, each time snatched from mid-air by the swift
hand of Spicer Lovejoy before it could fall to the deck. Again. Again.
Lovejoy seemed to finally tire of his game and, loading the bullet
into his revolver, he glanced across the small room to Jack Dawson, who stood manacled to
a pipe against the far bulkhead.
"You know, I do believe this ship may sink,"
He uncoiled from his chair and strode over to the boy who had
created so much trouble. Lovejoy still had a private investigator's instincts, and he had
known Dawson would be bad news from the moment he caught sight of him.
"I've been asked to give you this small token of our
appreciation." Lovejoy enunciated each word with polished perfection, like an Oxford
graduate. And then he drove his fist hard into Dawson's midsection. "Compliments of
Mr. Caledon Hockley."
Jack doubled over, breathless from the pain. Lovejoy spun and
left the room, and after Jack had recovered from the blow he set to trying to free
himself. He rattled his handcuffs against the L-shaped pipe, and then traveled the length
of the metal from deck to ceiling, trying to find a flaw, a seam that could be exploited.
'Fifteen thousand Irishmen built this ship,' Tommy Ryan had said, the pride obvious in his
voice. He had had every right to boast: the pipe was solid perfection.
"Can anybody hear me? Is anybody out there?" Jack
yelled at the top of his lungs. His voice raced down the empty corridors and echoed back
wrapped in cold metal.
It's no use, he thought. There's no one left down here.
To his horror, water started to flow into the room, rising
swiftly. He pulled hard on his left hand, trying to will his wrist narrow enough to slip
through the metal shackle. Screaming with frustration, he yanked again and again, until
the back of his hand reddened like raw meat.
The water continued its relentless rise, and Jack was forced
to scale a nearby desk to keep out of the cold stream. He banged and rattled and yelled
and pushed and pulled
and finally he had to admit defeat. He rubbed the inflamed
skin of his hand and slumped against the hull, eyes closed. The ship groaned in pain
The voice startled Jack, and he opened his eyes, expecting to
find a blessed rescuer. Instead, he reared back, flat against the outside bulkhead,
stunned. His mind wouldnt believe the message that his eyes were sending. Speech was
impossible. He just stared across the room, directly into madness.
Am I already dead? he wondered, his mind detached, oddly
fascinated by the thought.
It was his father.
Jack Dawson had always prided himself as one who didn't put
much stock in stories of ghosts or angels or such. But here he was, face-to-face
what? He forced his tongue to stir, almost having to shove the word from his
"Yes, Jack. And I am neither a ghost nor an angel
am more of a
His father looked strapping, able, full of life, just as he
had the day of
the fire. Memories that had been long barricaded in a corner of Jack's
mind came roaring out
. powerful, shocking, ramming into his consciousness like a
. and he found himself floundering against their force.
oh, God, I tried
smoke was so bad
.I'm so sorry, dad
.I failed you all
" His voice trailed off.
His father's look spoke volumes of kindness.
Don't you be worrying about
that. When one's time is up, there is nothing can be done to stop it. It was just our
time, was all."
"Mom? James?" Jack asked. He didn't fully believe
that it was his father before him, but he desperately wanted - no, needed - absolution. To
know that his mother and brother forgave him for living.
Jack stared at the apparition, thoughts of his own dire
straits consumed by the fire of his shame and his loss. It took all his strength to deal
with the image before him - a grim reminder of his most abject failure, his lowest low.
"Why now? Why, after all this time, do you come to me
now?" he asked quietly.
"Because there is something you need to know. Fate can
be bent if the will is strong enough, but once that force is spent, all returns to where
it was and where it would be."
"I don't understand."
"Titanic is doomed, I think you know that. No one should
be coming down here
this section will very soon be under water."
"I'm going to die here?" Jack asked. He realized as
the words left his lips that he had already resigned himself to the truth within them.
we all love you, we all have missed you. But
we knew we had to wait until your course was fully run. There is time for us all."
The eyes were warm and generous, as they had always been
whenever Jack had sat on his dad's knee and gazed up at him, wishing with all his might
that the world he saw within them would funnel down into his own small body and make him
into a Man just like his father.
"Jack, please listen," his father continued.
"You can throw a pebble into the ocean and hear the splash, see the waves, but the
sea goes on as before. You aren't meant to leave this room this night, son. But sometimes
a great force will well up in the smallest of us and rail against fate, make ripples in
the ocean of time
remember, though, that Fate is the tiller of the universe, and a
pebble is only a pebble."
"Dad!" Jack cried out, as his father's image
dissolved into nothingness. He was too stunned to move.
Had he really seen his father? It had all taken place in the
span of a few heartbeats
too fast to be real. What did it mean? Why would his father
come to tell him all of this if he was just going to die in this room? What did he
Just as the thought skipped across his mind, he heard a faint
cry from far down the passageway.
Rose! What is she doing down here?
"Rose! I'm in here!" he yelled, the adrenaline
coursing through his body as his life halted its headlong rush and miraculously returned
to his control. She had come back to save him, to be with him, and the phantom of his
father was left far behind as they raced to their future.
"Swim, Rose! I need you to swim!"
The water cut like infinite razors, shocking beyond belief.
They swam amidst the wreckage of Titanic, searching for a float of any kind.
Jack spotted a small board and they made their way to it.
"Get on," he told her. "Come on, Rose."
Rose climbed onto the board, pulling herself up with a
supreme effort. Once she was balanced, Jack tried to hoist himself onto it alongside of
her, but his weight pulled the board up out of the water and almost tipped it over
completely. Rose cried out, but the board settled back down under her.
Jack could hear the water lapping against the sides of the
board, an incongruously peaceful sound amid the storm of cries from the forsaken.
The water was so cold. So cold.
He knew right then that he wasn't going to be able to get out
of the freezing sea, and that the boats wouldn't chance returning, fearful of being
capsized by swimmers frantic to live. The mastery of his own life slipped through his
fingers once again.
Suddenly, his father's visage came back to him
everything became clear.
In the span between ticks on a clock, Jack came to understand
all of this: that Rose was the pebble; that her coming back to save him in the
master-at-arms' office had not been meant to happen, that she was supposed to have gotten
warm and safe into a lifeboat, that she was supposed to have lived ever
after, that she
truly loved him as he had only dared hope she might - so powerful a love that it had
temporarily rippled his Fate and allowed her to find him and rescue him, that he was
beside her now only due to her strength
And he was suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude for the chance
to spend a precious few final moments with her---an incredible gift he wasn't meant to
His father had appeared to him to prepare him, and to allow
him to fully understand and appreciate the gift. He wasn't meant to be out here in the
frigid black ocean. Rose's love had made it so, but despite the warped path of time they
now traveled she would still be all right
the ending would be as it was to have been.
Jack's heart swelled with thanks once again
and something greater still.
He had a final chance to be with her, to hear her voice, to
reassure her, to pass his strength onto her.
To gaze into her eyes one final time.
He could not tell her the true depths of his feelings; he
longed to do so, but it would be too cruel to her
He understood the truth. He was already supposed to be dead.
Another second clicked off the clock on the black morning of
April 15, 1912. As he clung to the edge of the wood, Jack nodded almost imperceptibly: a
resigned understanding, a brief assent to the inevitable, an acquiescence to Fate.
"It'll be all right now," he said to her, his final
duty to protect the small piece of flotsam that would be her savior.
He turned celebrate the final gift of his life. Rose, barely
visible, the starlight gleaming off her eyes, off the frost in her hair
Rose. Their breath streamed and mixed in the frigid air, a warm touch on the skin. He held
her hand once more and spun her tomorrows out of a promise
Then he said his silent farewell to his love