Titanic: 100 Years of Mystery

As my tribute to the people who survived and died on the Titanic 100 years ago, I wrote a diary about someone who was there on that fateful day. This is my entry to the diary competition, the first one I have entered. Sorry if this sounds more like a story than a diary, but I hope you enjoy it all the same!

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1. Titanic

15th April 1912 (Evening):

Dear Diary,

I wish I’d died.

I wish I’d died before I could audibly hear their petrified, pleading screams that were emitted from the cursed humans that were abandoned on board – left to die. They were dragged down with the ship into the icy, callous depths while only 705 survivors could watch, powerless, as friends, relatives and fellow victims drowned on that pitiless night in 1912. Ironically, that was my 12th birthday, one I will never forget, but not for the reasons I desired.

The day had started normally, without any indication that that day would be my spirit’s end. I could tell you the song that was playing in the ballroom on the 14th April that evening. I could remember what dish I had for dinner. But it is beyond my power to reveal what happened and the secrets that cling to the Titanic like glue. Mostly everyone was relaxing in the ballroom, either dancing or dining feeling merry. Crew then unexpectedly appeared, assuring us everything was under control, yet we had to proceed towards the upper deck with our life jackets. Confusion arose; some even refused to depart their gilded tables, continuing to dine. Or they did, before the captain got involved. Everyone had heard the severe, shattering groan that erupted from the Titanic’s berth, as it collided with that life-threatening iceberg. However, they believed the danger to have passed. How wrong they were.

Children cried despondently, ignored by fretful parents. Instantaneously a women and child protocol was enforced and soon the deck was clear but for men yearning their wives and children, who had boarded the lifeboats. You see there was only enough for half the passengers, so only a few men who were deemed important enough to embark, boarded, but were seen as cowards for the remainder of their days.

My brother and I were about to board when it happened. We were first class, so we were permitted to settle inside the first available lifeboats, but I couldn’t dare when I saw parents clawing through the bars. Third class people were not significant; some first class even considered them scum. But not all of us were snobs. Realization dawned that if I didn’t assist human beings, I was as bad as the devil, not fit for living and would regret my selfish actions for the rest of my life. With a gesture to Robert, my brother and I tore ourselves from the crowd by shoving a great deal. It took five minutes to release the poor citizens from their confined prison, but together we succeeded. The door smashed open, followed by hundreds of families. Some smiled in gratitude, but others in haste just managed a swift nod in our direction.

Suddenly a tune began. With wonder we turned and saw our father tuning his violin ready to play.

When we had been feasting inside the dining room, our father was the band leader and was a professional musician. One look at his face showed us what was necessary for us to do. Our gallant act had inspired him, so with his instrument he desired to strike courage into the hearts of our companions on this cursed voyage, wishing to help in the only way he could. The glance he gave my brother and I showed us he wanted to go down with the ship. My father would never get on the life boat; he was willing to die for it.

15th April 1912 (Hell’s Night)

Dear Diary,

When the lights went out at 2:18am so did my longing to live.

No more boats were left, yet we were children. The continuous creaking which erupted from the Titanic made my decision. I leapt into the darkness, Robert clutching my hand. Not from fright, but to be certain that I didn’t panic when swimming alone, only to be accompanied by corpses blue with cold who had already died from hypothermia, as they had failed in reaching the life boats in time. Most of us lost our faith in saviours and any hope that continued to kindle was snuffed out when we plunged into the glacial waters that writhed forbiddingly below. As Robert had foretold, panic ensured me an easy death. Torrents of water encircled me, my brain had screamed for air while I attempted to resist the pull of water in vain. Bubbles escaped my mouth threatening it to open without permission or my life would end.

As soon as I finally breached the line between water and air, firm hands reached for me, grasping my drenched clothes to pull me aboard. The cold was unbearable. My teeth chattered so violently I believed I would soon lose them, shakes rocketed through my body and all I was aware of was someone calling for a blanket and it being wrapped around my quivering body. Before I fainted I ensured Robert was safely aboard, and with that confirmed, I allowed the darkness to swallow me.

When I awoke, with hesitant eyes I searched what remained of the Titanic, wondering whether it was still afloat. By now the bow was completely flooded, my father’s tune continuing to play. Nothing escaped my innocent eyes (which would not be for much longer) as I had finally visualised cold hearted murder, theft and complete cruelty. Lamps lit with candles that swung off life boats seemed more prominent than usual, as did the foam created by limp bodies submerged by the cruel waves, who had luckily fallen off the Titanic dead before the hit the water to suffer the cold. Never before had I seen death on such a horrific or enormous scale.

I can hardly imagine the amounts of sweat and blistering heat that radiates off the workers down below inside the engine room, singing not just their hope, but any optimism that they will survive this calamity. Constantly shoving coal onto a roaring, crackling, spitting fire, determined to keep the fire going in order to keep the boat afloat, despite the ghastly circumstances. Smoke tendrils making sure that blackened ash forever coats their lungs and wheezy breaths, splutters, persistent coughs and heavy pants are sickening souvenirs.

Memories of a tranquil life flash before my eyes – before this horror and destruction destroyed my anticipation of a fresh start in America. So I make my decision. With Robert securing my feet to the wooden deck, I stood up. Without warning I burst into song, my voice harmonizing with my father’s mournful melody. It tells of love and loss, tragedy and success, but hope is the forefront of my mind. Mourners gaze at me with admiration, sympathy and pity. It is clear my song dedicated to my father has moved them from within, heart and soul included. When at last it dies and the final note echoes around the misty terrain the battle is finally over – my father’s life with it. The musician’s audacity that bestowed victims with courage has drowned among with hundreds of others.

Fate had not been gracious.

1,517 souls were snatched that night in Death’s merciless grasp– my father one of them. Even the moon seemed to mourn with me. My eyes tear up and all I can muster is a forlorn wave as my father is torn into the Atlantic, forever to rest along with the ship. I cannot describe what I felt that night of hell, except that I have never been able to come to terms with what I have lost and the price I had paid for a few nights of comfort and luxury onboard.

 

It had exceeded expectations but not in the way expected. The impossible had just occurred.

The unsinkable Titanic had been sunk.

 

15th April 1920

Dear Diary,

I’m haunted by these events even now, eight years later.

Whoever has discovered my diary, reliving the tale of what historical boat sunk in the Atlantic Ocean on the 15th April 1912, you will be no doubt relieved to know that my brother and I survived the catastrophe. After being rescued by the boat Carpathia we arrived in America three days later. Robert tried to persuade me to sell my story to the press, as many survivors around us were doing the same and receiving plenty of money for their troubles. But I refused. I decided to keep my story for my family, so when they discover my story they will be proud of their family relative Charlotte Reynolds, who at the age of twelve survived the largest tragedy in English history.

 

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