With Titanic, the only source of light gliding swiftly across the Atlantic, the moon and millions of stars were radiant and glimmering upon us in the inky, dark sky. It was such a divine sight.
As we walked to the railings, I felt a sudden drop in temperature, and, it made me cough. Alec noticed and moved closer, but he stopped as if asking for my permission. I smiled at him and tilted my head as an invitation to his question.
He chuckled and wrapped his arm around mine. Our bodies shared the warmth against the cool breeze.
When I heard the door closed behind us, he leaned back and asked, ‘Are you cold?’
‘If it’s not obvious,’ I sassed, rolling my eyes. I felt his eyes on me as I did that because he laughed.
Alec said, still chuckling, ‘You don’t do anything other than roll your eyes, huh, Sierra?’
I couldn’t control it, and I rolled my eyes again! I shrugged and felt his weight on me. I looked up and realized how close we truly were. Another wind blew, and we both shivered. We laughed in unison at our reaction.
He sighed. ‘Once we arrive in New York, I will miss all of this.’
‘Whatever do you mean, Alec?’ I said quietly.
I felt him chuckling. ‘This,’ and then he pulls me closer. ‘The peacefulness, the simplicity...’ he took a deep breath. ‘New York is a bustling city, Sierra.’
I nodded, ‘I see,’ I looked up at him and asked, ‘So, just like London?’
His laugh vibrated. ‘Yes, except, it’s more unfriendly and drier.’
His sentiment made me question if that really was true. I will find out eventually. We were speechless for a while, and through the silence, we could hear the running engine of the Titanic and the splashes of water beneath us. But I decided to break the stillness with my prying question.
‘This might be personal. Er, do you miss your family?’
I pulled slightly away to look up at him, his face quite sombre. He glanced down at me, and before he said anything, he shifted his eyes to the endless vast of the ocean, glinting in the moonlight.
‘Of course, I do. That’s the reason why I took this job in the first place.’ He smiled to the horizon, but it did not reach his eyes. ‘To go home.’
Curious, I assumed he lived in England as well for his accent was not American.
Once again, he saw through me. I’m beginning to wonder if the way I express my facial features are transparent, or he is extremely observant.
He chuckled and explained, ‘I grew up in Brighton with my parents and older sister. But we moved to New York when my father passed a few years ago.’
That time, I noticed his eyes reflected with water, and he sniffed before he smiled down at me. He clenched his jaws and sighed. With him, bearing his soul to me made me think of how he must have been hurting all these years. It was sudden of me to bury my face on his chest, but I did it anyway. It was my way of comforting him.
I sighed. ‘I’m so sorry to hear that.’
I felt the vibration of his laughter and how his heartbeat was pounding fast. ‘It’s alright. But, after that incident, I guess my way of coping was travelling to other places because when we arrive in America, it will be the first time I’d see my mother again after the years I went away.’
Slightly pulling away, I looked up at his eyes. ‘What about your sister?’
He pulled me closer in his arms, and I felt him chuckled. ’My sister is actually here too, but as a passenger, and an annoying one.’
I nodded and hummed in amusement. ‘It must be nice to have a sibling.’ I thought out loud.
He snickered and said, ‘It wasn’t always fun.’
I smirked at his remark, and when the wind blew, I shivered.
‘Do you still feel chilly?’ he asked.
‘Honestly, yes.’ I giggled.
He moved to hug me from behind, warming me up with his embrace. It was forward, but I held onto his arms around me, and he rested his chin on my head. We looked at the stars shining down upon us and watched the steam formed as we breathed out.
In the stillness, he could probably apprehend my heart beating loudly, for I could hear his.
He then broke the silence.
‘Well, when Victoire and I were younger, we used to fight a lot,’ he twirled me around to face him and showed his scalp. ‘See that?’ He parted his wavy hair, and I saw a tiny scar.
I laughed, touching his hair. ‘What happened?!’
‘The memory was fuzzy because she hit me with a cane.’ he laughed too.
I could imagine little Alec crying his eyes out to his mum.
He stood there proudly as if he got it from winning a war. ‘Yeah, I survived my sister’s childhood wrath.’
‘But as we come of age, we became close. I tell her everything.’
I smiled, remembering Henri for our relationship was like theirs except the hitting each other part. Realizing we were face to face, I felt my heart pounding louder in my chest to be this close to a stranger that was so familiar; I did not bother.
I noticed his cheeks were brushed lightly in pink as he leaned in. He whispered, ‘What about you?’
I licked my lips and breathed through my nose. I shared, ‘I’m an only child, but the blonde guy you saw earlier, Henri, he is my father’s adopted son. Well, not technically adopted, he was just raised by my parents before they had me.’
As if waiting for more, Alec still was leaning in. ‘Wait, is that all of it?’
We laughed, but it did not last. ‘My mother passed after she gave birth to me, leaving me with Henri and father.’ I sighed, controlling my tears, making my throat ached. ‘And just this January, my father…’ I choked and sniffed, unable to continue.
Alec embraced me as if he knew what I was going to say. ‘The thought of your father was the reason why you became silent earlier on our way to the lift.’ He held onto me, tighter, caressing my hair. ‘I understand, but you don’t have to act strong all the time.’ He whispered in my ear. ‘It’s okay.’
I hugged him back, and I let my tears fall; the tears that I held for too long since you passed, father. This heavy feeling bottled up, I let it out, out onto the ocean, into the cool night breeze. Why couldn’t I open this up to Henri, but it was easy, with Alec?
Alec’s clothes were now mixed with his sweat and my tears, but he did not seem to mind, he let me cry. He stroked my arms and held me tighter.
For some reason, I felt safe in his arms.
So, yes, father, last night was the best experience I had so far in this trip. I feel lucky that I had met such a dear friend like Alec.
Your affectionate daughter,
After the Steerage party, Alec escorted me to my room. He told me that he would be busy today for his shift is doubled. His co-worker got food poisoning, but we conspired that it was not the whole truth. We both thought that it was unprofessional, as well. We laughed at our conclusion, and then he kissed the back of my hand, bidding me good night.
My cheeks are hurt for smiling too much.