The Letters of Sierra Charmonte

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18/04 (1)

CARPATHIA,

18th of April 1912.

Dearest father,

I could tell that we are near New York since the crew had informed us that we would be arriving by nine at Pier 54. Somewhere in my cavity, my heart is beating, but I could not feel it pumping. I am frozen and numbed. My body moves, and yet I am lifeless.

Now is just the time I could summon the courage and strength to pour it all out. I do not want to remember it all, but this is the best way I know I could cope, or else I would lose my mind. I have no idea why, but I do not think I could confide about this to anyone at all. The only one I want to talk to is Alec.

The night when I felt like the end was closing in; I rushed out of my room and tried to figure what was happening. The floor was still vibrating as I saw some passengers poked their heads from their doorways and wandered around, confused. I headed out, and the chill breeze whipped through my layers. It was peculiarly frosty, and the incredible odour was metallic, but it was not coming from the ship. I shivered not just because it was cold, but when I saw chunks of ice on the fore and decks and looked to my right, I saw a massive iceberg — towering to the stars — scraping the starboard side of the Titanic. My eyes widened at the unbelieving view, and I tried hard to breathe normally, but it just became heavier with each passing second. I could still hear the panicked shouting of the crew below when I ran back inside.

A few moments later, it seemed back to normal, too normal, that it started to frighten me. The passengers were still confused but went back to what they were doing. But when the ship shuddered then everything went still; the quietness was deafening. The engines had stopped. People around me had started complaining, and somewhere in the assembling crowd, a steward announced:

‘There is nothing to be concerned about, please go back to your rooms immediately, and we will take care of this.’

Some of the stewards then started to give hot cocoa to passengers. I could see that they were trying to soothe the aggravating, unfortunate event that was happening. The passengers listened and did what they were told. But with snide remarks of how the crew were giving them inconvenience. Under their breaths, they foul-mouthed the stewards, and I gave all those people who complained glares. Just because they have money, they think they have the right to treat people that way.

I huffed at them. How can those people live like that? No compassion and understanding. It just made my blood boil. Those stewards were just doing their jobs and trying to keep the place calm and gorgeous! And all these people only care for is their convenience. With what was happening, I dreaded that not most of the workers would survive.

I clutched my hands to my ears when suddenly a loud and shrill screeching resounds from the steam funnels. Perhaps, the splitting sound woke up the people who were asleep, for I saw more doors opened. I felt that we were in motion again.

Deep inside me, I knew that it had been long since I have pleaded to God, but I still prayed to Him, hoping that everything would be all right, that all of us will arrive in New York safe and sound. But I believed it fell amongst the unheard ones.

I went back to my room and grabbed valuables, money, pictures, trinkets of home, everything that held close to my heart, and put them in my satchel — slinging it to my side. Then after some time, the engines had stopped again. This time I rushed out of my room. And some of the passengers had started asking what is happening!?

And then shouts and complaints were thrown on different sides. I tried to descend on the Grand Staircase and squeezed my way to ask questions at the purser’s office. I saw stewards started giving off lifebelts and advising passengers to put warm clothing on. I became puzzled, but perhaps, I was still in denial like so many others who were so sure that the ship would hold on, for it was unsinkable. Even if not heard, I thanked God when I saw Henri, startled as I was. He hugged me as soon as he saw me approaching, and I told him about what I saw.

‘I was on my way to the restaurant when I have seen it too. Everyone at the party acted as if it was nothing. They continued, celebrated even merrier, and said that it was an amusing tale to tell when we arrive in New York. But like some of the uneasy guests, I had a hunch that something was amiss. I was heading to your suite when the engines stopped the second time; I dashed here to ask questions so when I see you, I would know what we must do,’ he explained. He then grabbed my arms and reassured me, ‘But everything will be fine. She is built strong, right?’ he chuckled, rubbing my arms. But I could see the doubt in his warm blue-green eyes and hear the nervous tone in his laugh.

With no luck of getting enlightened about the situation we were in, Henri and I headed to look for Ms Abram and Jane. They could still be in the Café, possibly oblivious of what just happened, and I hoped that they did not leave or if they did, we would find them soon.

When we saw Mr Andrews walking with no direction, troubled, and an expression painted across his face that I could not explain. I felt my heart dropped, and my insides tied into a knot. I did not want to believe that there was a possibility that — that —

I could not even say it.

Henri spoke to him. ‘Mr Andrews?’ and touched him by the shoulders.

He looked up, startled. ‘Henri!’ then observed us, his eyebrows met. ‘Why are you two not wearing lifebelts? You should put them on now.’

He headed towards my room, and we followed him.

‘Mr Andrews!’ I called out, I did not mean to strike panic, but surely it was in my voice. ‘What happened? There are blocks and shards of ice on the fore. Is everything all right?’

He observed the surroundings as he walked faster. The people from the first and second classes were talking all at once. Some were already in their lifebelts, while the others refused to do so. I had to half-run just to level my pace with Mr Andrews while Henri was trailing beside me. I noticed his shoes were squeaking, and the colour of the hems of his trousers was darker. When he glanced at me, I saw the look of anger and regret even though he was trying to conceal it. His eyes were unfocused as if his mind was clouded with dark thoughts.

When I was right next to him, he lowered his voice so that Henri and I were the only ones who could hear what he was going to say. ‘The iceberg ripped a hole in five of the watertight compartments.’

Henri gasped, ’what?!’ audibly beside me. His voice was infuriated, and I knew he did not mean to sound that way when he said with a snarl, ’But Thomas! As I recall, you stated Titanic can still float even if four is flooded?!’

My knees wobbled at the realization as Mr Andrews opened the door of my suite. ‘Are we—?’ my breath got caught in my throat as I dreaded the coming word out of my mouth. I did not dare say it, but we were all thinking about it.

Henri supported my weight as I started to crumble.

Mr Andrews pulled out lifebelts from the top of the wardrobe and gave each to me and Henri. He nodded and shrugged heavily. ‘I’m afraid my calculations were incorrect, Henri.’ He was helping me put the lifebelts on as he continued. His voice was clear, and yet he had trouble saying it. ‘The mailroom and squash courts are rapidly rushing in with water. The bulkhead will be filled, soon. In about the next hour, or two at most, she will go— under.’

Even though half of me knew it was bound to happen, the news still paralyzed me. I lost my balance and grabbed Henri’s arm. As he caught me, I felt lightheaded. I could feel my heart pounding hard in my chest and nothing but void at the same time. Mr Andrews saw how weak I became despite the heavy meal we just ate, and then I came to realize, ’Alec!’ I gasped with all I could muster.

Mr Andrews pulled my hand before I could scurry away and instructed, not as chastise but with concern, ’You must head to the boat deck and get into the lifeboats at once! Do not wait.’

I looked straight to his frightened eyes, and as powerful as I could, I promised. ‘We will! I’ll see you there, Mr Andrews, thank you!’

He let go of my hand and pulled me to an embrace. ‘Godspeed, my child.’

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