A few weeks had passed. Mrs. Nutton was a good boss who, after Rose had proved that she worked hard, paid well. She and Jack had both found work, he spending his time doing odd labor jobs for people around the city. Between the two, it wasn't much, but it was enough. And on May 12th, they were finally getting married.
The ceremony was not much. They had made arrangements with the pastor at the local chapel and were headed there at four o'clock that day. Rose was wearing a new dress, but it was as functional as the old one she had bought and she would likely be wearing it again the next day. To others, it would seem nothing special, but to them it was the most important day of their lives.
Rose had realized that she would likely be going through the same vows at about this same time, had she not traveled on the Titanic. But the meaning would be different. She would be stuffed into a large frilly dress and surrounded by people who she knew did not really care about her. The talk afterwards would be divided between the men and the women. The men would talk of money and work, and the women would gossip. Even worse, she would spend an awkward and embarrassing wedding night with a man who slightly revolted her. Rose could never stand having Cal's hands on her. But whenever Jack would touch her, she felt heat come up to her cheeks and she wanted him to touch her more. When they would kiss, she felt electricity in her veins and she seemed to come alive. She had no qualms.
They both promised their eternal love to each other, each word ringing true. This was what Rose had been hoping for. This was the person she was supposed to be with. I'd rather be his whore than your wife, she had told Cal on that fateful night. And yet here she was, becoming Jack's wife. She looked at him, smiling kindly at her and looking, as he always did, radiant and loving every breath he took into his lungs, and she knew that he was who she had survived for. When he told her that, had she remained with Cal, she would die inside, Rose had brushed it off. But now she knew. Had she survived on the Titanic and remained with Cal, she would have died more each day.
Jack had given her her life back.
Eighty-Four Years Later
Rose was making a pot in the garden room she now shared with her granddaughter, and the news was playing in the kitchen. She wasn't paying attention, but a few words broke through her thoughts and she looked towards the monitor.
At first she felt her heart stop beating. "Turn that up, dear," she told her granddaughter, who obliged.
Their drawing. Her drawing- or the first one, anyway- was displayed on the screen. "Found at the sight of the sinking..." she heard the bright, blond man with very white teeth speaking, but she couldn't say exactly what he was saying. She felt herself reaching for the phone.
After some negociating, she found herself on the phone with the right man. "Can you tell us who the woman in the picture is, Rose?"
"Oh, yes. The woman in the picture is me."
She was flown out to the sight of the sinking almost immediately and brought to a stateroom. Being returned there felt less painful than she had imagined. She imagined she would feel pulled downwards, toward the bodies of the dead passengers she had shared the most influential days of her life with. Instead she felt as though her memory was sharpened, and she could remember every detail. The smells. The first time she saw Jack. The cold, heavy feeling of the necklace closing around her throat.
Everyone wanted to hear her story, and she told it honestly, from start to finish. She had never had a more attentive audience.
"Jack died fourteen years ago. Old age, I suppose. He was eighty-nine. We had six children together, and now we have seventeen grandchildren. Amazing, isn't it? He came onto the Titanic with nothing. I left with just him. And now our family cannot fit into one house, there's too many of us! I thank him each day for saving my life. I've never told anyone exactly what happened. Those days on the Titanic are precious to me; they are the most precious memories I have, and I cannot bear to speak of them every day. My time on the Titanic turned my life around for the better, and since then, I've had the happiest life I can imagine. Funny how something so terrible can give me something so wonderful.."
She felt her breath catch in her throat as she remembered seeing the cold, blue-tinted bodies floating in the water. She could once again her the bone-chilling screams of the people plunging to their deaths, and she shivered. "I think I'll go to bed now," she said.
Excusing herself, she changed back into her nightgown and climbed between the sheets. It had taken some time to get used to sleeping alone again, but she had managed. Now, though, she felt even lonelier than she had right after Jack's death. She could feel the water undulating beneath her feet, pushing the boat up and down, and she knew what she had to do.
Slowly but surely, she made it out of her stateroom and out onto the deck. The chill of the night did not bother her, and the wind swirled her white hair. The weight of the Heart of the Ocean was something solid in her hands, and yet the memories she had recounted hours earlier seemed far more substantial. Making it to the end of the boat, she closed her eyes, remembering that this was the part of the boat where she had first met Jack. "Oh!" she said, and dropped the diamond into the sea, watching it swirl down into water. Dark as ink, the diamond disappeared. She never saw it again.
That night she dreamed of the Titanic. It was not the first time, but it was the last. "I've missed you," she said, entering the area where the grand staircase was, and walking into Jack's waiting arms. "But I've had a good life."