There was no longer a source of glamorous light in any sight. It was so dark that my eyes adjusted, and I watched the stars twinkled upon us. I curled, hugged myself tightly, and quietly cried, uncertain of what was going to happen next. I hoped — I desperately hoped — that Alec and Henri made into one of the lifeboats.
The once peaceful atmosphere filling in the air with music was now replaced with the screams that hauntingly carried over throughout the ocean even though we were far from where the great Titanic met her doom. I covered my ears tight as tears rolled and froze on my face.
The officer came to his senses and ordered the stewards of my suggestion. Through chattering teeth, I mustered a smile. He nodded at me, and so, lifeboat no.4 transferred some of its passengers to ours and other boats that were not full. Lifeboat no. 14 followed suit. Out of twenty, only two went back.
We drifted into the unknown sea. I fell asleep, and the loud boom and bright rocket on the horizon woke me up. The sun has risen, and from squinted eyes, I could see our rescuer steamship.
When the last boat was drawn in, the morning rays of the sun enlightened our surroundings. I have forgotten how beautiful and how short life is. Out of over two thousand passengers and crews in the Titanic, only a few of us were saved. I was not even sure if I was thankful for being able to breathe, not knowing if the most important people in my life were still alive.
I reunited and crashed into a sorrowful hug with Jane and Ms Abram.
Ms Abram wept as she cradled me in her arms. She kept muttering how thankful she is of God for still having me. Jane wrapped her arms around the two of us, and we all stayed like that for a while.
We then searched as the crew of Carpathia helped us relocate if Henri and Alec survived. One of the stewards led us to the ward, and there, I breathe in so much relieve, I burst out crying.
Lying on a bed, Henri gave me a worn-out smile and opened his arms. I embraced him as tight as I could. He was so cold. When I broke free from the embrace, he coughed and chuckled. His voice was hoarse and shaky that I instantly became worried.
He tapped my hand, and through a weak grin, he mused me by saying, ‘I have told you we will see each other soon, haven’t I?’
My tears fell. ‘You have never broken a promise,’ I smiled, filled with so much ease.
‘I forgot to mention how lovely your performance was,’ he smiled.
When he said it, it was only last night, but it felt like forever ago.
He then showed despair. ‘I lost Alec after the ship sank. I do not know if he made it out. I am so sorry, my dear.’
Behind me, Jane touched my arm, and I hugged her, unable to breathe normally. I pulled away and gave Henri a kiss on his frosty cheek. ‘Shh, you must rest,’ I said and caressed his hair to place.
He nodded and closed his eyes.
I stood up and told Jane and Ms Abram to make sure he was going to be okay. I was going to request for more blankets and to make the room warmer for Henri. They both nodded. But the sound of Henri’s shallow breathing made me rush to his side. His lips were turning blue as he stared into the ceiling and kept muttering my name.
I held his cold hands, kissing them. ‘I’m here, I’m still here,’ I said, trying to control my quavering voice.
Jane or Ms Abram went out for a medic, for I heard the door opened and closed.
Henri beamed and faced me, his blue-green eyes on mine. ‘Always remember, my dear,’ he smiled again, gently touching my cheek. I grabbed his hand that was on my cheek, and tears fell from his eyes as he closed them, ‘I love you.’
He drew his last breath, and his smile was still etched upon his face.
I was in disbelief. ‘Henri?’ and shook his hands.
A medic dashed to check Henri’s vitals. She then gave him chest compressions, muttering: stay with me, don’t let go just yet.
Jane wrapped her arms around me as I sobbed.
The medic then stood up and faced us. She looked down and shook her head as she apologized. A steward muttered that he was sorry and gave us a moment.
Tears rolled down my cheeks at the realization. I screamed and threw my arms to hug his lifeless body. I wailed in so much agony that Jane and Ms Abram started to mourn behind me. I cursed in my breath, not minding if Ms Abram was to scold me. I could not breathe properly.
I lost the man who loved me my whole life, who watched me grow up, the man who made time even if he had a busy, tight timetable. Henri always found a way to be with me. I will never be able to see him alleviating a heavy situation. Or make me laugh through a tough predicament anymore. I had never thought that was the last time I would be able to hear his voice.
I moaned and became still as I watched one of the medics cover Henri’s handsome face with the blanket. I stared into the nothingness of that bright white room and walked to where I could be alone. I opened and flipped through the pages of my sketchpad until I saw the drawing I made of Henri before he left for Paris. It was noticeable that he was wearied, but he still managed to pose and smile for me. I gripped it closer to my chest as the tears silently trickled down my cheeks. A folded piece of paper fell on my lap.
It was an envelope with ‘To Sierra, from Henri’ written on the surface. It is the last letter I have received from him, and I do not think I have the power to read it yet. If I open it now, it only means that he is really gone.
I am yearning for his touch, his voice, and his laugh. But I have to understand that he is never coming back. My love for Henri was something beyond I could explain. I know and hope that he is now with his family and with you and mother.
Because my love for him will never ever fade.