Tuesday, November 21, 2006

That's a No-No!

I have little to say for myself.

But I made a montage that sums it up. :) It felt good.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The view from the handbasket

I’m listening to O Holy Night.

And I’m thudding.

It is entirely inappropriate to thud over Christmas carols, even if our magic prrring-er is the one singing them. I know that.

Yet here I am. My whole body tenses in anticipation of some of those “night”s and “fall”s and “hope”s, and I can only exhale after. I’m as helpless as one of Pavlov’s dogs... or is that one of Aiken’s b****es?

The rapturous expressions on his face when he sings this live don’t help, either. I know the sweet guy’s just singing glories to his God. But the theatre of expressions (TM Michael Ondaatje) he reveals don’t inspire pure thoughts. Quite the opposite, in fact. When Clay communicates with the divine, I revel in the handbasket.

Fall on my knees... yes, Clay. Right away. To do what?

Yeah. I’m going to hell.

And so are a lot of my fellow fans, if it’s wrong to get breathless listening to Christmas music. At least the handbasket has Youtube. Enjoy!

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Different pages from the same story

First things first - new layout! I was getting thoroughly tired of my blog being a "sparkle-fest", as my sister called it. So I went hunting for a new one, and this struck my fancy. Let's see how long I can keep it without wanting to swat those cute little ladybirds.

Second. I'm on a Mac, and all those cute little formatting buttons in the blog posting window never worked for me in Safari. I literally never knew they were there until I tried blogging from Firefox. How sad is that? Anyways, now I can format colours, add block quotes, and post pictures to my heart's content without worrying my pretty little head over the intricacies of HTML coding. This is very, very good.

Now, I'm going to do my song by song review of A Thousand Different Ways. I've been wanting to review this CD ever since one-thirty a.m. on Tuesday, September 19, 2006. That was after I found, downloaded, and listened to ATDW for the first time on my iPod. As some of you may recall, the prospect of a 'covers album' upset me so much that I actually stopped listening to concert Clay mp3s.

I've since come down off that ledge. At some point I remembered that I would love anything Clay sang. I still wish this was an album of original material. But I'm thankful for ATDW, and I appreciate the love and work that made this such a beautiful album. What follows is not so much a review as my reactions to the various songs. I don't particularly care about artistic merit, I care what thoughts and feelings the songs and Clay's voice evoked in me.

Right Here Waiting

This song doesn't appeal to me. There's something nasal about Clay's voice, and parts of the arrangement sound too country for my liking. Still, I adore the way he sings 'But in the end if I'm with you, I'll take the chance..." In my delusional world, that's a super secret message to the fans, telling us that he'll take the chance of a covers album if we stand by him. Hee.

Lonely No More

On a more positive note, I adore this song, although it, too, has a country vibe. There are so many delicious phrases here. Another dream, another day. Give me everything, everything tonight. Take me in, take me home. Clay is listed as a songwriter on this piece - along with three other people. Baby steps, baby steps. It's a good first effort, and along with Broken Wings, it's the only song on ATDW that I can listen to in any mood.

Without You

When I heard that Clay was going to sing Without You on this album, I freaked out in a wonderful way. Then I found out that it was Harry Nilsson's Without You, not U2's With or Without You. Heh. I was disappointed until I hied myself to Promosquad to listen to the track. I fell instantly in love with the tragic story the song told, and the angsty way Clay sang it. I had imagined a video treatment with him walking through the rain reliving memories as he walked to his girlfriend's house. All we got was an awkwardly lip-synched video of Clay singing the song in a studio of sorts, but he looked gorgeous and sang pretty. I think it's a sort of badge of honour that Clay can't lip synch convincingly. And I'm positive that his lips have other talents. :P

Every Time You Go Away

I had never heard this song prior to this album. I had heard quite a few fans groaning when they saw this on the track list. But I couldn't help liking it. Clay sings brightly and the instrumental mix gives the song a perpetually moving, breezy feeling. I wouldn't deem this a lyrical masterpiece, but I enjoy it tremendously.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

I imagined a video for this one, too. Clay is dancing cheek to cheek with a petite brunette *coughs*, trying to convince her to take him back. She remembers vignettes - random things like Clay painting her toenails, feeding him macaroni and cheese when he's sick, and counting lightning bugs together. He sings her through the memories, and at the end, she realizes she can't help but forgive him for whatever he's done.

Right, the song. *blushes* I haven't heard Elton John's version (yes, I am that musically sheltered.) I'm glad they toned down the instrumentation on this one. The Spanish guitar gives the song an intimate feel, like the last slow dance at a night club. I really love this. It just has so much scope for imagination (TM Anne of Green Gables.)

When I See You Smile

I didn't have any strong reaction to this song the first twenty or so times I heard it. Oh, I liked it fine. I didn't skip it and it usually gave me a vague sense of contentment. My hopeless romantic half was ecstatic that he dedicated it to Kristy. It just wasn't a song I loved - until I listened to it again tonight. I don't know whether it's the shipping possibilities with Kristy, the message of hope, or the joy in his voice. Maybe it's all three. But this song just makes me feel good, even as my dreams for him of critical acceptance or even grudging respect seem to slip further and further away.

A Thousand Days

It's grown on me. I probably listened to it less than a dozen times after the JBT, but the rough recorded version leaked through Youtube this summer was manna to my clack-starved soul. I still giggle at the spinning balls line, and the bloom has worn off the version on ATDW. But I love watching him sing this live - because he transforms this ballad into a passionate rock performance. Only Clay Aiken could do it.

Everything I Do (I Do It For You)

I already liked Bryan Adams' version of this song. Clay's is so radically different that I love it in a completely different way. It's dreamier and gentler, and the instrumentation and background vocals give it a decidedly Celtic vibe. Some notes are so powerful that they make me gasp even when I'm expecting them. Again, only Clay does this to me.

Because You Loved Me

In contrast, I cordially detested this song by Celine Dion and was mortified to find it would be on ATDW. Clay sure enjoys making me eat crow. This is an upbeat, drum-driven tune, not a plodding ballad. The words become so meaningful when I think of what Clay and his fandom went through this year. It's a mutual love song, one that he could sing to us, but we could sing back. I know that his voice helped heal me and many hurt people in the Clay Nation.

So yes, I love this one too. Just becoss.

I Want To Know What Love Is

From the Promosquad snippets, this had been one of my most anticipated songs. In the part I heard, Clay's voice was incredibly rich and resonant. It remains so in the entire song, but somehow, it doesn't add up for me. Regardless, S
uzie McNeil is wonderful with Clay. I usually skip this one (unless my Mom's around, because she loves it ;) ). I suspect it's not that the song is bad, but that others are much better for me.

These Open Arms

If you're an enthusiastic Clay fan, you probably read The Kite Runner when Clay assigned it to us a few months ago. I didn't appreciate this song until I read TKR and started connecting its lyrics to the book. Now, I enjoy the lyrics, but something in the melody feels askew to me. It could be the chords or the key - it feels minor and dissonant to me. I feel that its sound would be a better fit on Measure of a Man.

Here You Come Again

I admit my initial reaction to seeing a Dolly Parton song on ATDW's track list was a childish one. Clay said in Learning to Sing. "I didn't want to be Dolly Parton. I wanted to be cool." Enough said. But then I heard HYCA, and it's one of my top five tracks on the album. Relaxed, charming, self-deprecating- this song is much like the Aiken himself, but with the faintest hint of R&B flavour. And those low notes make me quiver... here I gooooooo indeed.

Everything I Have

I'm a hopeless romantic, I'll admit it. This song is so very pretty - the melody is tender and cradling as a lullaby. I enjoy the non-romantic interpretation - that of a father singing to a baby girl. It puts the feelings of one of my character's for his one year old daughter into song.

Naturally, it also makes me think of daddy Clay singing lullabies to his little ones someday. *sigh* This song is runner up in the competition for my favourite... at the moment.

Broken Wings

This is my favourite song on the physical album ATDW. Clay describes it as ethereal, and I concur. Morgan Grace's voice blends divinely with his, even though the contrast between them is stark as yin and yang. The poem read throughout the song is a beautiful fit. I can't imagine Broken Wings without it.

I love this song so much that I made it my ringtune. It starts at Clay's big "Taaaaake these broken wings..." right after the bridge. The only trouble is, I never want to pick up...

If You Don't Know Me By Now

There's something about this that reminds me of the Clay we fell in love with on American Idol. There's something in his enunciation and the theme that feels familiar as one of his old AI performances. So I enjoy this, and I'd rather have it on the album than RHW, but it's not an enormous favourite.

Lover All Alone

Very little hasn't been said about this song. His voice consumes me completely. I love the slow dance of his vocal with the cello. At one moment, they become one so fluidly that I don't realize it until after they unite. The lyrics are simple and graceful as the music. I am amazed that the man who claimed he was more of a Christmas tree (!) than a songwriter wrote such an exquisite piece. This is, hands down, my favourite Clay Aiken song. Thank God for David Foster's mentorship.

Somehow, I don't quite regret this not being on the album. Clay has been ripped to pieces over ATDW. I couldn't stand this intensely beautiful, personal art to be mocked and derided. I'm almost glad that most people who hear it will be intense Clay fans, because we understand. I want to hug this song and hide it from the insensitive jerks who don't get Clay.

I think I covered it all. For my first "real" blog in a while, I wanted to post something substantial. :P If you're still awake, I salute you.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fin plus footnotes

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.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

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 Oceans
Part 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.”

“Thank you.”

Clayton presses a kiss against my hand, and clasps it in his as we sail towards home.

the end


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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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Under spinning stars... (snerk)

This is the second to last part. After I post the end, I'll give you a minor history lesson. I took some of Kelly and Clayton's dialogue from actual things that were said during the sinking - I'll identify those quotes and their speakers.

I wrote this scene based on my extensive research of what really happened that night. There is still some ambiguity, so I chose to write the version of events that made the most sense to me. Not to go all pompous on you, but I have read a LOT on the historical Titanic, so I think this is fairly accurate.

Anyways, enjoy. I hope that somebody recognizes Alice from another of my fanfiction universes.

1000 Oceans
Part IV

I want him already.

But I am alone now, and his vow is my only anchor. If I look back at the sloping ship, I can imagine him wandering through the milling crowds, perhaps searching for Graham. The delicate skin of his ears might be incarnadine from the air’s arctic bite, but the rest of him would be frozen ivory. Perhaps he is venturing into the warmth inside, to await the inescapable...

The thought thrusts rimy needles through my heart. He will not fade so quietly. Not my Clayton. I know he is stronger than my morbid fancies paint him. So I close my eyes and remember the debonair boy who’d entered my life during a dance and sung me moonstruck under a low sky.

“Miss Clarkson? Forgive me for bothering you, but you’re really a splendid singer. I’m Aiken, I mean, Clayton Aiken.” Bemused, I smiled at the cinnamon haired stranger who stood before me with his hands in his pockets and his spirit in his eyes.

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Aiken. Please call me Kelly. You needn’t be so formal. What brings you to Austin?”

“I’m here visiting my mother’s family, Miss Kelly. They suggested that I attend the soiree.” I smiled again, bewitched by the twinkling lime orbs behind the thick spectacles. Freckles starred his skin like uncounted angel kisses. I wondered how long it would take to count them all, and hot blood flooded my cheeks at the wicked thought.

“This is a quiet town. I hope you’re enjoying yourself.”

“I am. You sang my favourite song, and I’ve met with some old friends. But I’d like to dance, and the only girl I’d want to dance with is by her lonesome.” I looked around for the fortunate maiden, until I felt his large hand enfolding mine.

“Oh.” He chuckled until he glowed, as if kindled from within. Strains of ‘Let me call you sweetheart’ floated from the quartet in the corner.

“Miss Kelly, may I have this dance?”

“You may.” Primly, I let him guide me to the outskirts of the dance floor. I felt the warm pressure of his hand against my back and against my shoulder. We spun in slow circles, time becoming eternity under his gentle gaze. I looked up, breaking the tender spell.

“Where are you from?” Fancy told me that he’d floated down from the sky, but I kept those thoughts secret. He smiled down at me, daring to push a stray curl from my forehead.

“I live in Raleigh.”

“I’ve heard it’s beautiful. I’d love to live there.” Crimson flooded my skin again at my solecism. How bold he must think me.

But he only pulled me ever closer, and enchanted me with his dreamy jade eyes. “Maybe someday you will.”

I cannot move my fingers. I bite one hard, petrified at the dull tingle that follows. I slide my gloves off, and blow on my white fingers to thaw them. I look around at the other women in the boat. Their faces are like waxen apple blossoms; pale, dead, staring at nothing. I shiver, stabs of sensation transpiercing my revived fingers.

I hear a sob in my catatonic milieu, and realize it is not my own. I finally come out of the trance, and turn to the elfin little girl with tears freezing on her brilliant cheeks.

“Oh honey, don’t cry.” My voice is a whisper in the dark. She wipes the tears away with her immaculate woolen sleeve. “Take this.” And I hand her Clayton’s handkerchief. She blots her eyes and cheeks speechlessly.

“Are you all right?” She hiccups, and looks up at me. Her eyes are glimmering, wet violets.

“Yes. But my daddy’s still on the ship. I miss him.”

“Where’s your mother?”

“In Heaven with my baby brother Jon.” My heart twists for her.

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay. Daddy told me they’re angels.” I smile.

“Your Daddy sounds smart.”

“He is.” She studies me by moonlight, and I feel weighed by some invisible spiritual scale. “Are you an angel?”

I shake my head soberly, trying not to smile. “What gave you that idea?”

“You’re very nice. And you’re pretty, even if you don’t have sparkly wings. My daddy said that angels can be angels even in big black boots,” she lowers her voice to a whisper. “Or in purple drawers.” I cannot help but laugh, but the sound is so much like sobbing that I stop.

“I’m not an angel. My name is Kelly Aiken and I’m coming home from my honeymoon.”

“Oh. I’m Alicia Waterford. But I like being called Alice.” She wrinkles her pert nose.

“Like little Alice in Wonderland?” She nods.

“It’s my favourite story.”

“Mine too.” We share a tentative smile. “Alice, how old are you?”

“I’ll be eight in thirteen days.”

“You’re almost grown up. Do you live in New York?”

“I live in Atlanta. I reckon you’re from Texas.”

“How did you know?”

“My cousin lives there and he talks just like you.” Alice looks over to the tilted Titanic, disbelief and wonder creeping into her little face. “What do you think my daddy is doing right now?”

“I bet that he and my husband Clayton are sitting in the lounge playing cards and telling jokes and eating butter tarts.” She made saucer eyes at me, a smile blooming onto her rosy, chilled cheeks.

“Maybe they’ll have lots of adventures together and when the big boat comes they’ll tell us lots of stories.” I bury Alice’s thinly gloved fingers with my scarf’s thick, velvety violet folds.

“You don’t want to catch cold.”

So we while away the agonizing minutes. I am thankful for her chatter, though nothing can distract me from the knowledge that he is still aboard and still hopelessly, heartbreakingly brave.

Soon, she tires, and pleads for a nap, entreating me to awaken her if I see her father. “He wears a top hat and he has a little beard.” I promise her, determined to let her have one last happy dream. I let Alice sleep with her head in my lap, though I am careful to keep her warm.

I turned anguished eyes to the spectacle behind me. The Titanic’s bow plunges quietly, but as she sinks faster, the sound of collision within makes her roar like a dying giant. The golden lights flicker, and disappear.

I cannot tear my eyes away from the spectacle of the black silhouette against the night. Sharp cracks rend the air like shattering ice. Soon she is torn in two, the mangled stern slapping against the sea with a sickening rise of water. Then, she rises, with the swooping motion of an angry hand. Suspended above the sea, she points to the star strewn sky for an agonizing minute. I stare, my hands clasped in mute prayer.

The Titanic sinks with scarcely a ripple, contrite over being such a disappointment. The waves are soon placid again, eerily so.

But the air echoes with frayed screams. Tiny Alice awakens with a start, her violet eyes hazy and tearful.

I murmur an incredulous prayer to the dispassionate heavens, and fix my eyes on Clayton’s favourite star.

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