Into the Sunset
Sarah Wilkes, has been asked to be maid of honor at her cousin Rose's wedding. She joins Rose, her fiancé Cal and her Aunt Ruth on the Titanic. This story is intertwined with the movie, as best as it can be anyway : )
Disclaimer: This is just a story! I have researched as much as I could to make this as accurate as possible. I will be using characters from the movie that I do not stake any claim to at all. I do intend to use a character that was a real person but I mean no harm by it. HE (I'm trying my best not to spoil it!) is only a fictional character with some nonfiction things slid in every once and awhile. I realize that he was married and has a family and I mean no offense to his relatives or anyone else that shares a connection with him. In my mind I see him as the actor who played him in the movie.
April 8, 1912- Noon
By Sarah Wilkes
How can one sum up their life with just words? It's a very daunting task, if you think about it, after all life is made up of more than just words, but feelings, senses, sights and….
I nibbled absentmindly on the end of the pen. Glancing at the paper in front of me I read the words I had just written and quickly grabbed it and crumbled it up. Throwing it off to the side I decided that after the 50th sheet of paper, maybe I just wasn't meant to write my memoirs just yet. I was only 17 after all.
"What was he thinking…" I muttered under my breath. Old men with money and huge empty houses write memoirs, not young girls who barely stepped out from under the watchful eye of their guardians.
What I was doing was writing a summer assignment that Mr. Radcliff had given us; To remember our life up until this point. He said it would be easy for me; an orphan raised by her grandmother, an heiress to vast fortune, one who had traveled the seas at least a dozen times, had visits with nobility and royalty. Yet as I started to look back on all of what he had mentioned, I didn't find anything too worthy to put on paper.
I got up from the desk and walked over to the window of my hotel room. The city streets below me were bustling with people all with more meaningful lives than mine, or so it seemed to me. Southampton wasn't exactly the center of the world but at noon on a Tuesday it seemed to be. I was halfway through my 4th day of being here and all ready I had fallen in love with the town.
I was American, born at least. Actually that's not true either, I was born in Russia, to American parents. My mother, Corynn, died a week after I was born, then my father passed on when I was only five. My brother George and I were sent to live with my Grandmother, Hailey Montgomery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Not long after my fifth birthday, however, she sent George and I off to England to attend school where she had, Winingham Academy. She swore by education, but we knew we were loved, even if we couldn't understand why she insisted having us clear across an ocean.
Yet as I got older I began to see why. Other girls my age were too preoccupied with looks, men and society in general. Money was all they cared to discuss and I found myself becoming quite attenuated with the life my Grandmother had chosen for me. I grew to love England, especially London. Grandmother had us home as often as we liked, maybe more than that, every summer, Easter, Christmas…the list went on and on.
Four years ago George finished school in London and began college at Yale. He wants to become a doctor. And although I am happy for him, not having him near on trips like the one I was about to take, made it hard. I loved the sea though, which was probably why I had fallen so quickly enthralled with this port town. Just walking outside put me at peace; the people all bustling around with things to do and places to go, the smells and the air, it was clean, pure even, good for the soul and spirit.
A knock on the door brought me away from my thoughts and my gaze through the window.
The door opened and Hannah, my maid appeared. She was a lovely girl, not much older than I, with brown hair and blue eyes. Normally she was part of my grandmother's staff in Philadelphia, but she had been sent here to meet me and then travel back with me.
"Sorry miss but I had to get away from the ruckus."
She shut the door behind her and let out a long sigh. "Your Aunt Ruth is furious because Rose has…well come to think of it I'm not sure what the poor girl did, but whatever it was it has made your Aunt's skin match the color of her hair."
"Society folk. Actin' like they're so much better than everyone else, but in the end we end up facing the same problems…"
"…only I think everyone else can handle them a lot better."
She smiled at me. "Right you are, miss." her cheerful voice complimented her English accent and it made me laugh. From what I knew, Hannah had been born here in England, but had immigrated to the United States when she turned 18 to find work. My grandmother had hired her on the spot, her reasoning being that English had wonderful work ethic and it would be nice to have a good dose of it in her home.
She continued to complain as she made her way over to the open suitcases I had on the bed.
"…how could anyone be in such a foul mood when there's so much excitement? After all we're sailing on the Titanic tomorrow. A floating palace! Did you ever find your pink gloves?"
"Yes, they're in the small trunk." I loved how she would jump from one topic to the next it kept me on my toes.
"Yes well…oh did I tell you. I was down in the lobby today and met some of the ships crew. Very nice young men, they were…and handsome. Dear Richard Sheffield should be countin his lucky stars I love him, because let me tell you if I didn't, they would be a world of trouble…" she said referring to my Grandmother's chauffer back in Pennsylvania. She picked up a dress and held it out. It was periwinkle and yellow, with a high empire waist, however it came with a hat that was the most god awful ugliest thing I had ever seen.
"This would be nice to wear tomorrow, but…" she replied as if reading my mind. "…we'll need to find a different hat. There's a shop down the street that had some nice ones."
I sat down on the bed and looked at the dress. It was pretty and the thought of a new hat sounded nice. "I'll have to ask Aunt Ruth."
"You're a big girl, you can come and go as you please, and you have spending money."
"I don't know Hannah."
"Come on, it'll be fun. I know you've wanted to go out for a while now, but you've kept to the hotel."
She was right I had. I turned towards the window and thought of how nice it would be to be able to walk the streets like a normal person. Perhaps a little while couldn't hurt. I turned back to Hannah.
"Fetch my shawl then."
She beamed and practically ran to the closet. When she emerged a moment later she was wearing her own black cloak and carrying my shawl and handbag. She handed them both to me and I checked myself in the mirror and combed the snarls out of my hair before we practically snuck out of my room and into the hallway. Quickly we made our way down the stairs and to the lobby.
The concierge greeted us and then bid us a goodbye before we walked out onto the busy street. I breathed in the air deeply and could practically smell the ocean. I held the scent for as long as I could. I felt as if it was cleansing me. Hannah smiled at me and then took my arm and led me down the street.
There were people everywhere, the sidewalks were crowded with children, mothers, fathers, elderly, and I didn't feel inferior. Some smiled at me and a few even bid me a good afternoon. Before I knew it we were entering a small shop on the edge of a block. It was small yet crammed with hats and hats and hats. I was in awe.
"Hello ma dears, looking for anything special today?" a women, most likely middle aged with graying red hair came out from behind the desk. She had a kind face and Hannah returned the gesture, she explained what we were looking for while I crept away and began to look around the store. I made my way over to a shelf filled with odd looking hats that had bird nests and ribbons when I saw a young man looking at me.
He had brown hair and dark eyes and a face that reminded me a little of mischievous little boy. I looked back at him not quite sure what else to do and then he smiled at me. I found myself blushing and turned back to the hats. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him begin to approach me when another man came up behind him.
"All right, I think I've found it…"
The man, looked put out but turned to face his friend. "Right, let's go."
He turned to look at me one more time before he was led off into the maze of hats. I put my hand to my cheek and could feel that it was warm from embarrassment. I smiled though when I thought of how his smile alone had done all of that.
"Okay Miss I think I've found it." Hannah had come up next to me and held up a beautiful hat with a wide brim. It was the same color as the dress and even had little yellow flowers in the corners. "What do you think?"
"Its gorgeous, do you think it will fit?"
"Only one way to find out." she said and set the hat on my head. It fit perfectly. We went up front to buy the hat and although I was hoping to see the young man again I didn't. We left the store and walked slowly back to the hotel. When we got there, we went up to my room and shut the door. Hannah took the hat out of the box and quickly went to hide the box so my Aunt wouldn't notice. However not a moment after she left Aunt Ruth barged into my room.
"Where were you?"
I wished I could have sunk back into the woodwork. "I…"
"Yes out with it!"
I gulped. My aunt hated me. It was well known, although even I admitted she had good cause. My Grandmother, her mother, had completely disinherited her, for reasons I didn't know, in favor of me. I think a lot of it had to do with Aunt Ruth's husband, he wasn't the nicest man and stepped all over everyone when he was alive. Aunt Ruth began to do that to her family and that's when my Grandmother drew the line.
However she completely welcomed my cousin Rose with open arms. Especially after Rose became engaged to Caledon Hockley, or Cal. He's one the most sought after bachelors in the northeastern United States and Rose got him. The wedding plans had been in full force for almost a year and now in just three short weeks Rose would be married to him. That's why I was traveling home this time. I was going to be Rose's maid of honor.
It was kind of Cal to think of me when he and Aunt Ruth and Rose embarked on sixth month tour of Europe. He told my Grandmother to book me passage on the Titanic with them so I wouldn't have to travel alone.
Yet I would have given anything to be alone at that moment.
"Are you going to answer?" she snapped at me.
"Hannah took me out to buy a new hat, I was only gone a few moments."
"A new hat?"
I nodded and pointed to the dresser where Hannah set it. "It's for tomorrow."
She looked at the hat and then at me and started to laugh. It was the kind of laugh that made that made you hair stand up on end. "Oh dear Sarah, I will relish the day when my mother realizes what a mistake she made with you. Thinking you can just come and go whenever you please will not sit well with her and its only a matter of time before other things come to light, you're too much like your mother." she gave me another disgusted look and walked out the door.
I jumped as she slammed the door and felt like bursting into tears but held myself back.
She's not worth it.
I picked up my new hat and slid my fingers across the smooth fabric. It made me think of the young man in the store. He was the first man that had ever looked at me.
Probably because he had no idea who I was.
Back in America, my last name has too much power. A grown man could hear 'Wilkes' and suddenly burst into tears. My father's father, preferred it that way.
No man or boy had ever dared lay eyes on Jared Wilkes' granddaughter. He was an old man yet still held tight to the hold he had on most of the United States. I was thankful I had been put under the guardianship of my maternal grandmother rather than him. Neither George and I saw him much but when we did he made no bones about the fact of what he expected of us. For George, a successful career and pristine reputation for being hard nosed and never laxed. For me, marry rich. That was it.
I wanted more though, I only hoped I would be able to find it, for very few of my contemporaries had and I just couldn't end up like them. I just couldn't.
Chapter title inspired by 'It had to be you' by Ella Fitzgerald.