I am Ana’s doll. Left seated on this nook set, I have been waiting for her for hours. She said she’ll be out for a while to dine with her mother and some family colleagues. I could not join them for she said she has to be a lady tonight. She laughed at her reasoning then she kissed me farewell. I watched her leave in a dress different from all her usual dining outfits. She was wearing a new pair of stockings and heeled shoes, and her hair was poised into a lady’s coiffure. She was wearing a thin make-up as mother told her to do so, and she carried a small purse for the talc she may use to rebuff her looks later.
I knew she would take long but I did not expect her to be this long. My eyes are starting to become heavy. I remember four days ago, I stood inside a doll store on one of the commercial streets of Southampton. Past the glass display window, I watched as different sets of prospective customers came. Alighting from brown and black Cadillacs, they would enter our store optimistic for a good find. Most of them mothers with daughters looking like their smaller versions, dressed in flowing silk dresses paired with mob cap hats.
Some of them are lucky enough to leave with a box of Stacy, Flora, or Claudia while others settle for glances and decide to check another store for comparison. Ana and her mother looked more regal than any other customers who entered the store. As they walked past me, I overheard their conversation about a trip to America with Major Archibald Butt at noon. Ana’s mother said Major Butt, whom she had met in a restaurant some two days ago, is an important man in America and he had invited the two of them in a trip aboard a newly built state of the art steam ship. An invitation from such a man cannot be refused. ” I heard Ana’s mother said.
Looking at Ana who stood before me, her eyes sparkled with excitement of traveling on a very-much-talked-about ship. Trying to read her thoughts I presumed she had been in many other voyages through the years. When her father died during the Spanish-American war of 1989, Ana, just a few months old and her mother, a beautiful Northerner from a well-to-do merchant family, traveled to Europe selling various merchandise to the rich families in the different parts of the continent.
They never settled and both land travels and sea voyages became a normal part of their lifestyle. But the voyage Major Butt offered her mother sounded special as according to the spreading news, the ship they will be boarding is the biggest ever made and many rich European families will be there. Boarding it will also make them a part of history as they will be passengers in the ship’s maiden voyage. Ana contemplated on this as her mother grabbed my hand and went to the counter. Then there was darkness.
At noon the same day, after Ana and her mother had packed everything they would need for a free trip to the Americas, they rented a black Cadillac and headed for the port. The port was thick with so many people, some just there to be part of history and others are relatives of passengers. When we alighted from the car, Ana and I looked past the thick line of people and saw the new empress of the sea, the grandiose ship far bigger than the Olympic. The SS Titanic, afloat by the docks, belittled other vessels surrounding it with its enormous proportions. There was nothing like it and people envied us for our fortune.
As we boarded, Major Butt met up with us in one of the two private promenades connected to our suite. We were to have lunch along with other prominent persons like Colonel Washington Roebling, Colonel John Jacob Astor and two more ladies I could not remember. It was the best luncheon in the trip of a lifetime and everyone in the group was talking about the structure of the Titanic and how it can accommodate more than 2000 people. Two thousand people and many elites, women in layered gowns and fine jewelry; wearing elaborate feathered hats even at night.
Men wore tuxedos with flaps on the stomach and carried walking sticks though they can walk straight. In their pockets are gold time pieces some bejeweled. Ana and I were prohibited on the lower decks, thus we have no inkling of the lives of people from the other class. We were the elite; the first class and the Titanic seem to have been made especially for us. Over dessert the ladies discussed the expensive chinaware, the authentic crystal glassware, the high quality fabric of the table linens, and beautiful crystal chandeliers.
The men were concerned about the casino, amazed by the built-in hospital, and the lush palm garden. Ana and I sat quiet, contemplating on all of it. According to the captain, E. J Smith, who walked us to the promenade earlier, the ship is the epitome of comfort and stability in voyages, as was very obvious in the facilities. There are 20 lifeboats that can accommodate 40-60 persons for emergency, to which he emphasized to have a low probability, since the Titanic was skillfully designed to survive all known causes of ship accidents.
He added that all the heavy steel plates are held together by millions of rivets and the vessel is fully equipped with water-tight steel compartments that will prevent entry of water in case of a collision. “Thus-” he concluded, “-all passengers may sleep well at night. ” This is our fourth night on the ship and this is so far the most uncomfortable. I feel very cold as if the Atlantic winds are blowing inside the room and the lights all around are flickering. The usual music playing in the background is gone, replaced by weird sounds, shrilling screams, and rushing footsteps.
The room sways and the crystal chandeliers above the nook set sways with it. I looked at the door of our suite and was surprised to see water seeping through the gap between the threshold and the door. I heard a blasting sound from outside. The lights went out. The room moved rapidly to one side carrying everything with it. I shut my eyes. I heard my porcelain face shatter as I was thrown off the chair and hit the wall. As the shards fall on the flooded floor, I saw my body and the beautiful red silk doll dress Ana put on me earlier floating and being carried away.
Chandelier shards are everywhere. I saw the custom made ruby ring on my right ring finger shining in the dark, carried away with my body. Then I heard the sound of cracking wood and bending steels all over, and the screaming outside become louder and louder. The unsinkable Titanic is sinking. The heavy steel compartments did not work. Ana, I guess won’t be back anytime soon. I have to shut my eyes now for salt water makes it itch and it’s too cold. I envy those wavers at Southampton, for tomorrow they will still see light.