elliem

Canada

Apparently, I'm 17
Come to my feed for free hugs :)
Somebody run through castle ruins at midnight with me

Acting
Dancing
Singing
Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff
Petrichor
Soft girl/Dark academia mix
Virgo
ENFJ

WtW pixie

She/her

Message to Readers

Please let me know what I can improve on! Thank you.

Sink

September 22, 2020

  The ship sunk after four days. I loved her after one.
    
    Ice water, tangy with salt, rushes down the corridors. Yellow light flickers in the lamps dotting the hall.
    They said this ship would survive anything. Because they lied, I'll survive in its place.
    I pull up my skirts and wade through the rising seawater as fast as my shoes, laden with water and heavy, allow.
    “Ai!” I scream, shivering.

    I first saw Ai at dinner. Mother insisted I wear my silk dress and court shoes. To irk her, I went in my newest Poiret original.
    Bodies cluttered the chamber. Mother nudged me whenever a man passed. I didn't care.
    Our table fit twenty; Mother reserved it for us and the Paquins.
    When I noticed Ai, my irritation melted. The chandeliers, drops of starlight, illuminated her features: the slope of her nose; the black sheen to her hair; her bright smile.
    I averted my gaze. A man had his arm looped in hers. I hoped he was a brother or friend, not a suitor. I didn’t understand why I wondered such things.
    Her laugh cut through the chamber, despite the din of clinking knives.
     She wore a tunic over a long skirt, an outfit that, though fashionable, could hardly be evening wear.
    “Staring is rude, Dorothy,” Mother scolded, and fussed with my intertwining necklaces.
    “I know.” I continued to gawk.
    “We have tea with Mary Pickford in Manhattan,” Mother prattled. “Us three can catch up. You should congratulate her on her success. I always told her she should become an actress.”
    I couldn’t listen. Across the room, the woman caught my gaze. She stared for a moment, eyes swirling with curiosity.
    She was beautiful.

    
“Ai!” I shriek. Water numbs my calves. Creaks and groans burden the floor; it won’t support me for long.

    Her name was Ai, but most people called her Ruth.
    She was from Hong Kong. She wanted to escape the pressure society placed on her.
    We shared secrets. She didn’t know what she'd do once the Titanic arrived; the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented her from entering America. She hoped we wouldn’t separate. I looked down at my two necklaces, always tangled, and gave her one.
    “If we do,” I said, “we can look down at these and know the other is out there.”
    I liked Ai. As a friend, I told myself. That’s all we were. Friends.
    Until we became more.

    
The current pulls me down the hall. With a sickening groan, the floor tips on a slant. The momentum throws me under. Seawater swallows my scream.
    Something lifts from my chest, floating above me.
    A thin, gold chain. Beating with my heart. Beating with hers.
   
    We sat on my bed, and she cried in my arms. I wiped her tears. Her eyes were beautiful, even now. Especially now.
    “He said I can't see you anymore.” She choked on her words.
    “What?”
    “Dot, I...” She paused before speaking again. “I’ve connected with you like nobody else. I don’t know what it means, but I thought you should know. Please don’t hate me.”
    I realized suddenly the cruelty of the word “ribcage”; it truly was a cage, one which imprisoned my feelings. I gripped her hands. “Ai, what do you mean?”
    She kissed me. In only a moment, she taught me what it meant to love--to know I'd cross any ocean, board any ship, drown a thousand times just to see her smile.
    “Ruth...”
    Her eyes widened. She stood from the bed. “Dorothy, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have--“
    I didn’t wait for her to finish. I cupped her face in my hands and kissed her.
    I had never felt so conflicted.

    
I stumble out of the water, taking a ragged breath. My eyelashes freeze.
    I'll find her, even if it kills me.
    My limbs stiffen as the cold catches up. It’s just one more hall, I tell myself. Two more rooms. Three more steps.
    I’m pushing her door open, screaming her name, eyes flying around her cabin.
    She’s there, bubbles rising from her nose. The churning waves distort her face.
    I call her name, clutch her shoulders, collapse in the water, and pull her out with aching arms. Her skin is as soft as it is frigid. I lay Ai on her bed. I press my fingers against her throat and release a tight breath at her faint pulse.
    My hands find the frozen folds of her tunic and shake her.
    “Ai!” Tears stream from my eyes. My voice breaks. “Ai, wake up! Don't leave me!”
    I lay my head against her chest, sobbing in frustration, ignoring the rising water. I press my face deeper, wishing she could embrace me, and—
    A rattling cough shakes her body. She spits out water.
    “Dot, what’s happening?”
    I hug her tightly, crying into her chest. “I thought you would die.”
    I ignore the water lapping at my ankles.
    “We need to get out,” she exclaims, and pulls away from the water. I nod, unable to verbalize everything I want to say, and slip into the water. It reaches my waist now; we'll have to swim soon.
    I offer my hand and help her into the water. She gasps at its force. I lead her into the hallway, our fingers intertwined like two gold necklaces. We fight the current together. The water carries with it broken chairs, pillows, wine bottles.
    “Here. She points to an inconspicuous door in the wall. “A stairwell the workers use. We could climb to the top deck.”
    She pushes open the door and yanks me after her. The water submerges the first few stairs.
    We strain against our tiring muscles, but we escape the water.
    Her pulse is stronger now; I feel it through her palm, warming in my grasp. It breathes hope into me.
    I know we’ll escape this. If fingers remain locked with mine and her pulse beats a stern rhythm in my fingertips, we'll be safe. Because we'll do anything to make it possible.
Word count: 1000 words. :)

Thank you for considering my piece. Good luck to everyone who entered!

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3 Comments
  • madeline3.14159

    Re: thanks :)


    4 months ago
  • Century Friend

    This is AMAZING. The memories in italics really add to the story. I felt almost as though I was watching it on a screen — the constant shift between the chaos of the present and the slow calmness of the past. And just the way you convey emotion is incredible. So many amazing lines I could quote but I don't want this comment to be too long. Seriously, keep up the good work! Good luck in the competition!


    4 months ago
  • Gryffin

    This is beautiful. You're clearly very talented. Good luck in the competition!


    4 months ago