He didn't know how it happened. One minute, he was desperately begging Rose to get into the lifeboat, and in the next, some desperate soul had ran into him accidentally, throwing him off of the Titanic. He had not been able to catch his balance, and he heard Rose cry out and frantically reach out, pulling him onto the lifeboat. They were both sitting next to each other in the jam-packed lifeboat in disbelief, not hearing the angry calls from Cal.
We're safe, he thought, and closed his eyes, letting out a huge sigh he seemed to have been holding all day. The lifeboat jerked downward, and Jack put an arm around Rose. He felt her shivering in his arms. They both tried to ignore the angry looks from the women in the lifeboat, until one asked Jack the question that was burning in all their minds.
"How did you get on here? You certainly didn't pay them anything. It's women and children only. Who did you shove off to get a space? What makes you more special than our husbands?" Her cold eyes eyed Jack, and gave Rose a reproving look.
"Well, ma'am, I most certainly did not shove anyone off this boat. It would be more accurate to say I was shoved onto it."
"Don't you dare insinuate that he did something wrong to be on this boat. This man next to me has a bigger heart than anyone on this boat, I'll bet," Rose interjected.
"Rose…" Jack said softly.
"No! I feel terrible for not speaking up when you were arrested, and it's all anyone seems to think: that you're not as good as other people. Well it's not true."
"Thank you," he said softly. They sat in silence watching the glorious boat, the ship of dreams, descend into the depths of the ocean. Small black dots (people, Jack tried not to think) were jumping off the boat, making white splashes at the surface. He couldn't imagine how just three hours ago, he and Rose were in her warm, dry stateroom, and he was drawing her. A smokestack detached, and fell into the water. People were fighting over the last lifeboat. Meanwhile, they were floating steadily away from the ship. But not far enough away to lose sight of what was happening. With a horrible empty feeling that Jack had felt neither before nor after the sinking, he watched as the boat rose into the air, vertical. He held Rose closer. Suddenly he heard a huge crack.
"Oh!" Rose cried out. The ship was plummeting downwards. He heard hundreds of people screaming, and Rose hid her face in Jack's chest. The boat smacked down onto the water, crushing the people who had already jumped off.
"We're alright, Rose, we're safe," he muttered, trying to comfort her, but he knew the words weren't working. His eyes widened as huge as coins as he saw the unsinkable ship rise up once again, for the final time. He closed his eyes as tight as they could, trying to shut out the sight, and block out the noise and make it all go away, but it never would.
He just tried to count the positives in this situation. One: I met Rose. That's the best thing that's ever happened to me. Two: she's safe. We're both safe. For now.
The screams only intensified the fear he felt. And guilt. Though he should be happy to be here, he knew that every person on this boat was feeling the horrible, hot, all-encompassing guilt for leaving the people they loved aboard. Fabrizzio, Jack thought, and tears sprung to his eyes. His very best friend.
Rose was shaking uncontrollably, and Jack closed his eyes once again, resting his head in her hair, not watching as the boat that would change them forever slid into the icy waters.
With an atmosphere so heavy it could be cut with a knife, everyone in the lifeboat sat and waited. Waited for what? They did not know. The screams died away, and then there was silence. The silence was worse than the screaming, Jack realized. He wanted the screaming back. It meant people were alive.
The officer that was in charge of their lifeboat was a good man, Jack could see. More like a boy, he thought. He must be younger than me. He could see how this sight was killing him. It's killing us all… He'll go back, Jack realized. He wants to go back and rescue the people. Good. It only took a moment before they had found another lifeboat to attach with. The people in Jack's lifeboat had to move into the other one, so that the other lifeboat could go back.
"C'mon, Rose," he tried to encourage her. "We've got to get up." She nodded and, clutching him for support, got up onto her shaking legs. They stepped gingerly onto the new boat, and were crushed into a small space in the corner.
Jack watched, once again in silence, as the now empty lifeboat was taken toward the sight of the sinking. They're too late, Jack knew. They should have gone earlier… they're too late.
He couldn't feel anything. But not like those people. Jack was numb from shock; he would feel the pain later. Those people would never feel anything again.