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Message to Readers

First, I would like kind critical review. What can I improve on? Are there any grammatical errors? Any plot holes? Obviously it's meant to have a cliff hanger, because it's only the beginning of an adventure, but are there real plot holes within what I've given?
Second, I'd love to have positive feedback. What did you enjoy? What captivated you? How did you imagine the characters? What am I doing right?


June 12, 2021

  The days morphed together and the sun beamed brighter and hotter in the sky. Each day felt the same. The agony was real and the suffering was more than any person could ever know. The world was under fire. A great depression was on them once more, but this time, it spread across all lands, making the rich uncomfortable, and most of the poor wound up dead. Man learned that they must depend on others for their needs, and that if they didn’t, all would perish, no matter the status. Often, if one walked alongside the sidewalks, children sat freezing against brick walls, mothers calmed their young as they refused milk, and fathers wandered the streets, begging for work. There seemed no hope for people across the globe. The worst of it had not even come and already half the population in some countries had vanished.
Ireland suffered greatly, so much so, that the graveyards had filled, and those who perished would have to be tossed into the sea. There were rarely any families left, and those who had a greater chance of survival were those who were not married, and who did not have anyone else to care for but themselves.
  One of the few families that remained, lived in a small cabin by the sea. They owned a small farm, whose animal population was shrinking due to the desperation of the starving bunch. The father’s name was Shea Sherman. He was a hardworking man who went into town every morning at dawn, and would wait at the workplace, hoping and praying that someone would give him a position. Anything would do. Even if he had to work cleaning toilets, he would take it. The mother’s name was Tiffany Sherman, and she was ever so good to her husband and children. In the mornings she would fetch milk from the cow and make oatmeal from the oats they grew on their property. Most meals she would make consisted of cabbage, carrots, and oats. Nothing more, it seemed. Mr. and Mrs. Sherman had five daughters: Emma, Sara, Rebekah, Abigail, and Hannah. They were dear girls who did their best in times like the present, to get along and help their mother with anything she needed. But in the few times they had freedom to do what they liked, they would go to the beach and swim.
  Salt blew in the wind and caught onto Emma’s red curls. She made sure her suit was on right, before wading into the waters. The sea was cold, for it was October. But nothing would stop this pleasurable moment, when all others were stained by pain and sorrow.
  “What are you doing?” Sara called out from the cabin door, when she saw her sister come up from underneath the water. Emma turned around and wiped the water from her eyes. 
  “I am going for a swim,” she said.
  “Aren’t you cold?”
  “Dinner is almost done,” Sara announced.
  “What are we having?”
  “Cabbage soup.”
  Emma sank underneath the water. She wanted to cry, or scream, or anything she could do to get the feelings out. Every night was cabbage soup. Of course, she was thankful because anything that would keep them alive was welcome, but she was so tired of the way things were. Often she wished that things would go back to the way they once were. Life couldn’t be this way forever, it just couldn’t.
  After drying off and changing into the outfit she always wore, Emma climbed down the latter of her loft and came and sat in the small dining room, consisting of a round wooden table, seven chairs made of firm twigs, a little stove and oven nearby, and all the Shermans sitting together preparing to eat their food.
  Mrs. Sherman poured the soup for everyone. The room was silent. Emma took a sip and almost gagged. She looked at her mother and said, “It’s cold.”
  Emma’s mother gave a worrisome glance at Mr. Sherman who didn’t take another bite. Mrs. Sherman burst into tears, saying, “The stove broke. I can’t fix it and now we will have to have cold food the rest of the winter. I’m sorry, Shea.”
  Mr. Sherman sighed and patted his wife, “It’s okay, dear. We will get through this. Some families didn’t have anything. We are blessed with a roof over our heads and a field of food for harvest.” The family remained silent. Nothing that was said could change the darkened cloud that hung in their minds: the stove didn’t work. That meant cold food, yes, but it also meant no warmth for the house. The stove was the only thing that kept heat flowing, since there was no fireplace. Unfortunately, money would not provide a new stove which meant they could die of the cold in the coming months.
“What’s going to happen, Father?” Little Hannah asked, a quiver and shiver within her voice. Mr. Sherman looked at Mrs. Sherman and then turned back to his daughter, “We are going to be just fine, honey. No need to worry.”
  “We are going to freeze to death,” Abigail said. “I don’t want to freeze to death.”
  “If we have to, we will go find shelter elsewhere.”
  “But there is no elsewhere,” Rebekah said. Everyone knew this was true. They had it best out of the rest of the poor people in Ireland. They had a cabin, while others just had the alleyways and old storage rooms in the town.
  “We will figure something out,” Mr. Sherman said. “Please eat and do not worry.” 
To their greatest fear, the girls soon discovered that there was much worry to be had. Emma awoke one night to the sound of her parents arguing below the loft. They were trying to be silent in their disagreement, but all could hear.
  “I won’t have them go to my sister’s in Scotland!” Mrs. Sherman said. “She is not good with children anymore and you know as well as I do that the depression is getting worse over there!”
  “But where else will they go? Who else will take five girls and care for them better than a relative? I am not so sure about a perfect stranger.”
  “Shea, everybody understands what we are going through. I believe someone who has it just fine will take our children out of understanding.”
  “We can’t provide for them, honey. Your sister lives in a fine mansion in Scotland. We must do what is necessary. Why couldn’t she take care of our girls for, let’s say--a year.”
  Emma glanced at Sara, who looked scared. She whispered, “Things are going to change.” Sara sighed and said, “I don’t know if I can take any more.” Emma opened her arms out to her sister and they embraced tightly.
  Dawn came, and Mr. Sherman, to the children’s surprise, had not left to go find work. The Sherman parents called down their daughters from the loft, and spoke to them in a melancholy manner.
“Girls, I am so sorry,” Mr. Sherman said. “But you are going to stay with your Aunt Flannery for some time.”
  “In Scotland?” Abigail asked. Mr. Sherman nodded and embraced his daughter who began to cry. “I don’t want to leave!”
  “We know, sweetie,” Mrs. Sherman said. “We are so sorry. It’s to protect you all. You must trust us. However, there’s more.” Confusion spread upon their faces.
  “Emma, honey,” Mr. Sherman said. “Since you are seventeen, the oldest, we have decided to send you elsewhere.”
  “What?” Emma said, tears filling her eyes. “You mean I don’t get to go with them?”
  “It is too much of a burden to send five girls to your Aunt Flannery’s,” Mr. Sherman said. “So we are going to send you to Sweden.”
  “Sweden?” Emma said, fighting the tears, since she had not recovered from the previous sentence her father had spoken. “Who do I know that is in Sweden?”
  “Nobody, dear,” Mrs. Sherman said. “Not yet you don’t.”
  “Then why am I going?”
  “We researched families that are well and willing to take older children,” Mr. Sherman said. “We found a family called Bloom. They have agreed to take you in for as long as it takes until this depression is over with.”
  “But who will look after them if not I?”
  “Aunt Flannery.”
  “But who else?” She cried bitterly with scarcely any control. There was a silence that did not cease for some time. All that was heard was the sad cries of the young girls at the thought of being separated from one another. They were very close, even in times like this, and separation was far worse than any hunger or pain they had experienced.
  “When do we leave?” Sara asked.
  “You four will leave for Scotland tomorrow morning,” Mrs. Sherman said, wiping her eyes. “Emma, you will leave at the week’s end.”
  Emma crumbled to the ground, surrounded and embraced by her four sisters. They wept together and their parents let them, for this pain was of great amount, and there was not much to make it cease.
  That night Emma sat on the roof, letting the breeze sweep her curls into the air and dazzle her gown in every which way. The world was dark, but the stars sprinkled in the sky above lit the darkness like a million fireflies. Sometimes, Emma would think to herself that each star was a soul that had passed in the depression. Though they were gone, their love still shone and inspired while down below reflected a world of chaos and uncertainty. They provided hope in the midst of hopelessness. Perhaps the stars might light the way, for tomorrow morning Emma knew her sisters would be shipped off to Scotland, and that she would be left alone with the thought that it would be a while before she saw them again.
  The train was prepared, and no tears were held in at the sight of Sara, Rebekah, Abigail, and Hannah all wearing their best coats, and carrying their suitcases like burdens.
  “Goodbye, my dears,” Mrs. Sherman said, giving them each a kiss and a hug. “Be good, Hannah. Girls, be nice to your sisters.”
  “Yes, Mother,” they sighed, drops of water running down their rosy cheeks. Mr. Sherman kissed each girl and told them to not forget to say their prayers at night, because God always listened and would always be there beside them, even in the darkest of nights. Soon it was Emma’s turn to say her goodbyes.
 “Sara, take care of the dears, for I cannot be there for them,” Emma said with great sincerity. “Rebekah, continue in your joyous ways, for you give each of us such hope. Abigail, continue being the sweet dear you are, for you kindness is greatly needed in these times. And Hannah, do be good for being good will make this journey not indeed as bad as it can be.”
Each girl agreed to be very good and to treat each other well, and before Emma knew it, the train was a speck in the distance. From the train, the girls would take a ship across to Scotland, and there Aunt Flannery would be there to pick them up and take them to her mansion.
  “Don’t fret, dear,” Mrs. Sherman said, giving a kiss to Emma’s cheek. “Your sisters will be just fine.”
  The week went on like a bumpy road. Worry and fear crept into Emma’s pure mind and she began to stress over who the Bloom family was and whether they would treat her well. She packed her things in her suitcase with a heavy heart, and cleaned the loft so bugs and rodents might not come while Mr. and Mrs. Sherman tended the house.
  The morning of her departure, Emma prepped her rosy cheeks and tied her hair up into an updo, hoping to be presentable for the Blooms, whenever she should meet them. Down the ladder of the loft she climbed, her outfit nice and clean, and her socks pulled up as they should. She thought she might take one last look at the sea--her sea, as she always called it.
  The sun had come out, casting a ray of warmth upon the land. The ocean whispered goodbye and farewell with every roll of the tide. Emma stepped up to the sand and looked out over the horizon. It was colored in pastel pinks, ice blues, and golden yellows. She said a pleading prayer before heading back to the cabin where Mr. and Mrs. Sherman waited to take her to the docks, as she should soon sail off to Gothenburg, Sweden.
  They took a buggy to the docks on the Irish coastline, and parked it near the ship. Emma took note that it was named Stella. “Such a lovely name,” Emma said to herself.
  In silence they made their way to the ramp, connected to the great white ship, glorious in appearance and breathtaking within. When they arrived at where Emma must be left to herself, again, tears were shed.
  “You are so brave and willing to do this,” Mrs. Sherman said. “That is the woman I’ve always known you to be, Emma.”
 “I never wanted to be apart from you, ever,” Emma said.
  “I know it’s scary, dear. But you will do just fine.” Mrs. Sherman gave a sigh and Emma turned her eyes to her father. That is the moment her heart broke, for her father was crying. It was something Emma had never seen before.
  “Oh, Father,” Emma cried and embraced him.
  “You’re all I have left, Emma. Your mother and I don’t know how we can survive without our girls.”
  “You will survive because we are gone, for you will have something to continue living for.” She finally understood. “And we will survive because we will be provided for in ways that you couldn’t.”
 “We always wanted to provide.”
  “You’ve provided more than we could ever ask for. You’ve provided an abundance of love and I am forever grateful.”
The three Shermans embraced strongly. They never desired to let go, but the horn blew and the steam puffed. It was time to go.
  “Goodbye, my love. Never forget how much we truly care for you,” Mrs. Sherman said. Emma walked up the ramp and looked back once more to see her parents waving down below. She blew them a kiss and disappeared inside.
If Emma had been able to see what happened next, she would have been broken with grief, for her parents began to sob aloud as they embraced each other. It was the hardest thing they had ever done and as parents, they felt like failures.   From the start, all they ever wanted was the best for their children, and now they could barely provide the food. As parents, they felt as if they had let their children down. The pain in their hearts was the worst pain a parent could feel. But Emma did not know this. She thought her parents were perfectly respectable and trusted their decision, no matter how hard it was.
  Inside the Stella the lights were very dim, the carpet red, and the walls a calm cream. It reminded her of a fancy hotel, it’s previous glory dimmed by circumstance. She approached a booth, where her ticket would be checked. The line was lengthy, but in time, Emma strode down the stairs to the third class department of the ship, where room 207 was. She would be sharing it with other women for only one night, and the next day, she would reach Sweden.
  Room 207 was a small room, with two sets of bunk beds, four mattresses in total. Suitcases piled up on two of them, and that left two beds left for Emma to choose. There wasn’t much of a difference, since they were both the bottom bunk.
  Emma set her suitcase on a bed and unloaded her clothes, hanging them up in a small closet nearby. There was a restroom between her room and another, and the women in the room next door were quite loud. Suddenly there was an abundance of giggling that grew noisier as two young women came into the room. One of the women had blonde hair and another was brunette. It appeared they were wearing their best clothes, had a speck of color on their cheeks and wore liner along their lids. They seemed shocked to see Emma, for it was written all over their faces.
  “What on earth are you doing here?” The brunette asked.
  “Brona, don’t be harsh! She’s only a girl!” The blonde said. “Hello there, what is your name?”
“My name is Emma Sherman.” 
  “Where to?” The blonde asked.
  “Sweden. A family is going to care for me.”
  “How old are you?”
  “You look much younger,” Brona said, unfeeling. “Freya, don’t you agree?”
  “I think she looks quite good for her age, if you ask me,” Freya said and sat on her bed. “How are things for you, dear?”
  Emma sighed, “They’re not too good. If they were, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
  “You poor thing.”
  “How come you’re all alone?” Brona asked, softening a bit.
  “I have four sisters. They’re off to Scotland. Well, I’m sure they’ve arrived by now.”
  “Who’s caring for them?”
  “My aunt.”
There was a sudden silence, as if a sudden weight fell in the young women’s minds. Freya sighed and glanced at Brona. She said, “You know, Emma. A year ago we both had a family.”
  “Did you?”
  “Yeah. My last name is Boyle and Brona’s is Lynch. We aren’t sisters, if you could tell. But we met after being sent away, like you. We became good friends. The point is, you won’t be alone forever.”
  Emma gave a faint smile. Brona glanced around the room and said, “Forgive my surprise of finding you here. You see, we purchased this room for just the two of us.”
  “They told me room 207. I had no choice,” Emma said.
  “And there’s no problem with that,” Freya said, glancing at Brona. “Would you like to get some water and ice with us?”
  “Ice?” Emma said, a faint gasp slipping out. Freya and Brona looked at each other, concerned. Brona asked, “When was the last time you’ve had ice?”
  “I don’t remember.”
  “Come on, we will show you to the dining hall,” Freya smiled, holding out her hand. Emma took it and followed them.
In the dining hall, it was a cold room with many tables. There were hardly any people inside, and not many waiters around. They sat down at a table and a man came up to them.
  “What can I get you ladies?” The waiter asked.
  “Three ice waters,” Freya said. 
 “Could I have something to eat?” Emma asked, for she felt her stomach cry out in hunger.
  “Oh, dear,” Brona said.
  “You don’t want to eat, lest you want to throw up.”
  “Does the ship sway?”
  “By the look of you, I’d say third class?” The waiter asked.
  “Yes, sir,” Emma replied.
  “The boat doesn’t sway first and second. Only third. This is the third class dining hall. Do you realize no one is here?”
Emma nodded.
  “I’d stick to ice water if I were you,” the waiter said, then walked off. Emma tried not to think about how hungry she was. She assumed she would eat on the boat, so she did not grab any oatmeal before she left the cabin.
  “I’m sorry it’s like this. It’s only for one night,” Freya said, trying to encourage the starving girl.
  “I will be just fine,” Emma said, though secretly she knew nothing about being fine. All she had known for the past three years was her home being taken away, their move to the countryside, and everything they loved and hoped for, crumbling to pieces. She hoped in her mind that life in Sweden would be half as better as it was in Ireland, though she knew nothing could be absolutely splendid without the warmth of her sisters surrounding her and telling her it was going to be okay.
  That night, when Freya and Brona were fast asleep, Emma laid wide awake in her bed. She cried silently, hoping neither of the young women would wake up. At that moment, she felt desperately alone.
  Suddenly there was a jolt in the ship. It was shocking, considering this was different than a normal sway. Screaming was heard above deck. This awoke Freya and Brona.
  “What is that racket?” Brona asked.
  “It’s upon us,” Freya mumbled.
  “What?” Emma asked, eyes wide.
  “This depression. Do you know why it happened in the first place?”
  “No...fear. Fear of what was coming.”
“How do you know this?” Brona asked, nervous. “You’ve never mentioned anything until now about it.”
  “That’s because I didn’t think it was true.”
  Water began rushing from underneath their door. Emma screamed and backed up. This couldn’t be another Titanic, could it?
  “What is it?” Brona asked, shaking Freya like a snowglobe. Her friend seemed paralyzed. Emma stared at them with wide eyes. What could it be, she wondered?
  “The ship. It must be cracked in half,” Freya said, a tear rolling down her cheek. She was petrified with fear.
  “Are you insane?”
  “No. Because it’s happened. What everyone feared...the world has split in half.”
  “Freya? What can you mean?”
  “The Earth. It’s split in space...and we’re simply in the middle of it.”
  Their hearts pumped as water began to flood the room. 


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  • June 12, 2021 - 12:16am (Now Viewing)

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1 Comment
  • Rose Beta

    The last sentence hit me hard. I love this!

    3 months ago