For those of you who aren't really into fanfiction, here's some pretty from Kimmel. I didn't add too much, just a little sparkly text and a touch of green to his eyes. The photo didn't do those jade lasers justice, so I had to work my magic.
Here's the finale. :) Hope you enjoy it, if not, feel free to imagine your own ending. Hey, that's how I started writing... I was so traumatized by Leo's death in Titanic that I wrote out a whole new sappy ending to the movie. :P 1000 OceansPart V
The cries evanesce, slow as a largo. I stare at the women around me, my adorned hand clutched in Alice’s tiny, icy one. Their faces are those of statues, and no tears fall from their blank eyes. I shiver, and turn toward the only man in the boat.
“Officer Lowe?” My voice is hoarse. He startles, and looks at me, recognition falling over his face like a mist. He knows me for my curiosity. Clayton and I had been given a tour of the Titanic’s bridge on our second morning aboard.
“Yes, Mrs. Aiken?”
“Please – can’t we go back? There are still people in the water. We can’t let them – please, we must go back.”
“Not yet.” In the dim starlight, I see the self-loathing on his face. “We could be swamped. We have to wait, Mrs. Aiken. I’m so sorry.” I nod, numb, as my hand closes over my trembling mouth. Clayton is somewhere in the frozen sea and he is cold and so lightly clad, and he doesn’t like dark water. I clench my fingers against my skirt, lowering my head and letting the rimy tears fall. His promise couldn’t survive this night, not in this fiendish cold.
Alice is mute beside me, her dark violet eyes wide and motionless. Only the white mist of her breath moves, the tiny cloud hovering before her bluish mouth. I take off my shawl, frost crackling through the folds, and wrap it around her. She finally moves, shifting on the plank at my side and huddling closer.
Soul by soul the shrieks fade into oblivion, until only an occasional plea shatters the silence. I hear the creak of lifting oars, and raise my head. Four other boats are approaching us like phantoms. Their passengers sit like porcelain dolls, staring ahead with lifeless eyes.
The officers shout words that seem to rail against the wicked night. Finally, they decide to tie the five boats together, empty ours of passengers, and venture back to the fresh graveyard of waxen flesh, sodden clothes and ornate debris. They would seek out those strong enough – or fortunate enough – to have survived the murderous waters.
Alice and I stumble over the edge of one lifeboat and sit on the tough planks. My shawl trails behind me, and when I pull it toward me, the fringe is drenched and beaded with pearls of frost.
Soon, Officer Lowe and six others depart into the night, hunting any movement, to preserve the faintest breath of life. My mittened hand rests against my belly, and prayers rush up to my lips like snowflakes in a blizzard. I don’t dare to speak the words aloud, but they echo through me like a restless lullaby. I wish that Clayton could be here to sing us to sleep.
I close my eyes to the silent chaos around me, and he is everywhere. He is asking me to dance and giggling at my perplexity. He is pointing out Pegasus in the starry sky. He is on his knees with an outstretched hand, his lips seeking unforgettable words. He is singing merry songs on a snowy sleigh ride with friends, his mittened hand squeezing mine under the blanket. He is staring at me through a misty veil as he makes promises to me. He is carrying me over the threshold of pristine home and resting me on our white-frilled new bed. He is dreaming the morning after, sunlight kissing his forehead. He is pushing me against a wall and teasing me with three tiny kisses. He is trying to steady his trembling lips when he tells me of his grandmother’s death. He is distant as the moon and stalking away from me. He is repenting, and letting me become his balm. He is unknowingly trailing his fingers against the fragile life I shelter, yet dreaming of a day when he would know he was a father. He is watching me float onto the dark sea and fading into the noble crowd.
I open my eyes, and the dream evanesces. I want to examine these memories like jewels, but nothing will be remembered but the sound of his voice. I let the illusive ribbon of song wrap around me like his arms, and close my eyes again. I must dream this all away.
I don’t know how long I imagine his voice in song, but the delicate melody spins like the tiny dancer in my music box until I hear voices rising, buoyed by hope. I lift my eyes and find a mourning sun peeking over the edge of the sea, its feeble light falling onto immense chunks of ice. They float on the water, flashing in hues of peppermint and pink and gold. One is slashed by a russet streak, the Titanic’s blood. Beyond the icebergs is the rescue ship Carpathia, and every puff of steam on her sober path whispers salvation.
The liner approaches slowly, finally stilling beside the bevy of lifeboats scattered on the sea. Dozens are rescued before it is our boat’s turn. Children are hoisted up in gunny sacks and rope ladders are hung over the ship’s edge. After Alice is aboard, I climb one with closed eyes, clutching at the rough cord. If I look, I will fall.
Once aboard, a grave steward takes my name. I ask him if another Aiken is listed, and he shakes his head.
“No, Ma’am. Not yet. But there are still many others in the boats.” His voice has the patient tenor of one who has answered the same question many times. I nod, and accept the blanket a stewardess hands me. With a cup of coffee to warm my hands, I wander to the railing, trying to see into the boats and find my Clayton.
A tiny hand tugs on mine. Alice. She is with a kind-faced stewardess who watches me with consoling eyes. I kneel before Alice and give her a hug. “You should have breakfast. Why don’t you follow the nice lady?”
“Aren’t you going to come too?” Blinking, I shake my head at her.
“I want to find my husband.” The stewardess raises her eyes to mine, and speaks quietly.
“What is his name?”
“Aiken. Clayton Aiken. He has red hair and skin like cream, but with little freckles. He’s tall and he looks like one of Michelangelo’s statues, and you can see how green his eyes are even though he wears glasses. He’s more beautiful than anybody has a right to be.” Beseechingly, I look at the other woman.
“I haven’t seen him. But you know they’re still bringing people up from the boats. Please come and have something to eat. I’ll try and find him for you.” Wordlessly, I nod, and follow her into the dining saloon. There is only bread and jam, but it is more than enough. I eat a slice, with other survivors at my side. The sick hush stifles me, and the light bread crumbles to ashes in my mouth.
After the repast, Alice is taken to a room for a change of clothes and a nap. I am offered a passenger’s bed, but I decline. Instead I wander back to the ship’s railing and watch the last of the rescued board the Carpathia. I can almost see the pale floating bodies amongst the flotsam of deck chairs and fragmented wood. I watch the rescue until the last survivor is blanketed and comforted, before walking across the deck to the haggard steward on duty.
I wait behind the other women who’d shared this idea, my hands clasped to keep them from trembling. Clayton was so brave and he shouldn’t be disappointed in me. Yet I cannot stop my heart from beating like a bird’s as I await my turn. One by one the women turn away with ashen faces, until I step forward, terror flowing through me like ice water.
I cannot ask about Clayton first. “Waterford, Matthew.” The steward scans the list, and speaks an apology. Poor Alice.
“Colton, Graham.” He shakes his head. I shudder, but open my mouth again.
“Aiken, Clayton.” My voice is barely a whisper. “He’s my husband.” I speak the last words beseechingly, as if they can alter fate.
The steward shakes his head again. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Aiken.” Mutely, I nod, my crumpled hand covering my mouth. He regards me with some alarm, and beckons to the woman beside him. “Eleanor…”
“Come with me, Mrs. Aiken.” Her voice is soft as cotton. Eleanor’s hand closes on my arm. “It’s going to be all right.” I can do nothing but follow, my footsteps docile against the floor.
I am given a room and a nightgown, and urged to sleep. The door finally closes behind Eleanor, her last words burning me. “There will be two services held later today. The first will be a prayer of thanksgiving for those saved, and the other,” Her voice chokes, and deepens. “The other will be a service to honour those who were lost. You are welcome to attend.”
Lost. Clayton lost. He is lost. I crumple to the floor and drown my face in the bed’s brocade coverings. “Clayton.” My voice rises in a plea. “Clayton.” My voice falls in despair.
My sobs are soundless, parched. But the torrent of unshed tears swallows me like an ocean.
When I awaken from the dark mercy of sleep, I am still curled on the floor in my bedraggled clothes.
I walk through the quiet ship, my steps silent as a ghost’s on the carpet. The railing calls to me. There will soon be a service for those who were lost, but I must say my farewell alone.
“I – I know you’re somewhere. Somewhere close.” I pull my shawl tighter, and finger his handkerchief. “You were everything to me. You are everything.” My voice is hoarse. “I know you promised. But you couldn’t control this. No, not even you.” I bite my lip, and taste copper roses. “I know you’re somewhere warm and dry like North Carolina. Maybe you’re drinking sweet tea and you’re just waiting for me. Maybe you’re smiling now, thinking of this baby.” Warm tears fall like stars into the waiting sea.
My hand strays to my belly. I remember the day we’d spoken in the language of dreams, and his fancy of having a daughter named for a blossom and a son who would be proud to share his name. “If it’s a girl I’ll call her Rosamond.” I stare out at the sea. “And if it’s a boy I’ll name him-.” My voice wavered like a melancholy wind. “I’ll name him” The word catches in my throat, and will not leave my lips. I swallow, falling to my knees, and pray for my voice. “I’ll name him-”
“Clayton.” The rasping voice breaks the silence. I still, wondering if I had only imagined it. But I hear swift footsteps, and a hand closes on my shoulder. Arms enfold me and I am swept to my feet and whirled around to face an angel. I let out a cry, Clayton crushing me against his chest and kissing my hair. He is feverish and trembling and pale as ivory, but he is real as the wind.
“I’m here, Kelly.” I raise streaming eyes to his face and press against his chest. “Don’t cry, little Juno, don’t cry.” He tries to soothe me with tiny kisses.
“I thought you were – I thought-” He clutches me ever tighter. “And your name, oh God, your name wasn’t there-”
“I fell into the water before the ship really sank even though I tried to hold on. I swam as far out as I could and held onto a chair. There were people screaming but I was too far away to help.” He bites down on his lip at the memory. “I don’t know how long I was in the water. Some men in a collapsible pulled me out but I think I lost consciousness after. I woke up in the hospital here. They didn’t know who I was until I woke up.” His agonized eyes meet mine. “Then I came to find you.” I touch his frigid hands, and lift them to my lips.
“Thank God.” I murmur the prayer, my eyes fixed on Clayton’s face. I don’t dare to look away; he might evanesce.
“Graham – he wasn’t as lucky as you.”
“I’m so sorry.” His voice broke. “So sorry.” He places a hand on my cheek. “Are you all right?” Clayton looks at me in worry.
“I am now.” I entwine my hand in his. “Let’s go somewhere warm.” He leans his face over mine. I tilt up my eyes, and see the tears trembling like raindrops against his gold lashes.
When he kisses me, I stand on tiptoe. His hands clasp around my waist like a love knot, and we touch each other like treasure.
Days later, Clayton, and I stand by the rail as we watch New York’s uneven horizon approach. Behind us, little Alice is quietly playing dolls with another little girl. She has no family, save her distant cousins in Texas. Until we can contact them, she will be in our care. If they cannot be found, we will take her as our own.
Clayton’s hands are folded as he stares into the sun. I touch his shoulder, and he turns.
“What are you thinking of?” His jade eyes are heavy with sleep. Though he is now well in body, he is still plagued by nightmares of cold water and screams.
“You. Me. The three of us.” He closes his eyes and caresses my belly. “So many hundreds gone, Kelly. It could have so easily been me, but for the Lord’s providence.” I shiver at his words, though I have often thought the same.
“We… we have to live now, Kelly. We were saved for a reason. We can’t let anything or anybody get in the way of doing what we want. I have to tell my father that I’m leaving his school.” He stares at the Statue of Liberty’s noble profile. “I have to find success on my own. I was never meant to work under his wing.”
“I trust you. You’ll do what is right.” He winds an arm around me, twinkles of a smile glimmering in his warm eyes. “And I’ll be here.”
Clayton presses a kiss against my hand, and clasps it in his as we sail towards home.
~*~Mini History Lesson aka Footnotes!
I LOVE reading footnotes in history books, not the reference ones, but the ones with slightly off topic snippets of information. Remember how I told you guys that I'd used some dialogue spoken on the real Titanic in this story? Well, here it is.
1. Kelly: “Not on your life, Graham. Clayton and I started together, and if need be, we’ll finish together.”
An unknown young wife, who was asked to get into a lifeboat : “Not on your life. We started together, and if need be, we’ll finish together.”
2. Clay: “It’s all right, little Juno.” His cheery voice fluttered, like a butterfly. “You go, and I’ll stay awhile.”
Daniel Marvin, aged 18, to his pregnant wife of three weeks: ""It's all right, little girl. You go, and I'll stay a while." As the boat was being lowered he blew her a kiss.
I guess this story is my little tribute to the real broken love stories of the Titanic.
Officer Lowe - who, incidentally, is my favourite of the officers - really was the first and only one to take his lifeboat back to the wreckage to find survivors. They were afraid of being swamped by all the people in the water, and horrible as it sounds, they had to wait for things to get quiet before going back.
I hope everyone has enjoyed this story, whether they posted or not. Thanks for indulging me in this one.
And kisses to VoxVixen
simply because she's a darling to encourage me in this bloglet. *hugs*
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