Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in the U.S. state of Iowa and is the county seat of Linn County. Rose Dawson-Calvert and her husband Samuel had settled in the city eight months before when Samuel had suggested the move so he could be closer to his family business which he ran with his father Stan. Rose and Samuel had married in the Spring of 1920 and their son Peter was born in 1923 with Andrew following in 1926.
Rose Dawson-Calvert was thirty five years of age as of February, not old by any means but she no longer felt like a young woman. Her days were spent mostly with her two boys, something she did enjoy but rarely did she indulge in something alone or a particular activity she enjoyed such as painting or dancing. Passing through the town centre on a foggy December evening, centred in the middle of town was a large brass band playing traditional songs such as Away In A Manger.It was late afternoon and young couples stood watching the band, hand in hand and obviously so in love. Rose stopped for a second to watch them, it was a sore reminder of what her life once was but nothing with her husband. The boys became restless pulling her in the direction of their house. She set off back to the house, her mind still obviously preoccupied elsewhere. She caught sight of herself in shop windows as she passed, their christmas decor breathtakingly lovely as she saw the glitter in each store.
A large sign with the words 'Dawson's Gallery' caught her attention as she passed a shop window which she could have swore wasn't present the previous day. Stopping in her tracks, she poked her head inside the door and smelt the fresh paint. Andrew let go of his mothers hand and wandered inside the building whereas Peter simply stalked beside his mother obviously not interested in this place. The name 'Dawson' set chills up Rose but because the name of the gallery was the surname of her lost love, it felt as though she was meant to stumble across the place. As thought it meant something. The gallery was teaming with patrons all willing to purchase pieces of art from the artist and Rose had to admit whoever he was, he was good. Several landscapes caught her attention, just inside the shop. Peter let go of her hand to follow his brother and Rose narrowed her eyes a little to see the name of the artist which was scrawled in the bottom left corner and then she entered the store.
Jack Dawson beamed as he watched the patrons scan his gallery for new additions to their painting collections. Almost twenty years it had taken Jack to open his gallery and now he was here, he had never felt happier and all of the years of hard work seemed to have paid off. His talent was something he was born with, not something which he had studied as he had never had the money to attend a college or university but he had helped out other young artists develop their skills and was happy to do so for free. He didnt have any children of his own so with his own time, he spent helping out others.
Two blonde children caught his attention as they roamed the gallery, they didn't look any older than seven and were obviously brothers. He smiled at them, pointing to pictures. Then a woman caught his attention, a tall lady wearing a long brown coat, her red hair braided causally to the side. He felt as though he had been in her presence before and there was something about her which he just couldn't put his fingers on. Pushing his hair back out of his face, he started towards her but then his breathe became caught in his throat. His eyes widened, and he was unsure if he was actually seeing true visions. His heart beat faster and slowly he reached out his arm through the crowds of people to touch the woman he believed to be Rose Dewitt Bukater.
She turned quickly, coming face to face with Jack Dawson, someone she never thought she would see again. She believed him dead, she had mourned him for all of these years, she had loved him for so long and now here he was - alive.
With no words, her arms were around his neck and he ran his fingers through her hair and closed his eyes taking in her scent, he tightened his grip on her just to make sure she was actually real.
''Oh Lord…'' She couldn't quite think of what to say. She didnt want to say anything, what could she say? Jack pulled away, still holding her hands in his and not taking his eyes away from her face. It was Rose alright, she was a little older but nonetheless she still looked the same.
''Rose, what are you doing here? I thought you…''
Rose opened her mouth to speak but nothing came out. She could only smile and try anything to calm her racing heart.
''I live here Jack. I live here with my husband and two boys.''
The fact that eighteen years had stood between this moment and their last moment seemed to have disappeared and dissolved away. Andrew and Peter made their way back to their mother, glancing upwards at the strange man holding hands with their mother. Rose crouched down to her sons level and buttoned the top button on her youngest sons coat. Peter was the eldest at six, he had fair skin but his fathers brown eyes and blonde hair whereas Andrew at three had his mothers green eyes.
''Jack, these are my boys Andrew and Peter…''
Jack glanced down to the handsome young boys and smiled to them. They weren't unlike Rose but he guessed they were more like their father in looks.
''Hello, young men.''
''Hello.'' Peter mumbled. Jack smiled once again.
''And your husband is not here?''
Rose shook her head. ''Samuel works most days.'' She said simply.
She took a few moments to simply stare at Jack, she reached out to take his hand again not realising the boys were watching them.
''Where have you been Jack? All of these years?''
Jack sighed, he felt his stomach drop and closed his eyes. ''Where were you that night Rose? I looked for you and I…''
''Jack no.'' Rose shook her head. She indicated to the children who glanced to Jack with large curious eyes. ''Jack will you meet me later on? I have to take the children home for tea. My husband will be home around six.''
Jack let go of Rose's hand hesitantly. ''Sure, I'll meet you. Where?''
''Say here at the gallery? At six?'' She suggested.
He nodded a small yes in agreement and she smiled. She took both of her sons by the hand and lead them back outside into the chilly December night.
Christmas candles lit up the windows of the shops and houses in the town. The gas lamps were lit hours ago and cast a glow over the town centre. The band which was playing earlier stood still softly playing Christmas songs just as a few wisps of snow began to gently fall down. It was like something out of a fairytale. Rose felt as though she had no feeling in her hands and she shoved them into her pocket. Making excuses to leave the house after dark seemed harder than she thought and she hated lying to her husband, but she knew as soon as she set eyes on Jack she would have to see him again.
A small light from inside the gallery could be seen and Rose gently knocked on the door. Turning back to the centre a small choir gathered around the brass band and a small smile appeared on her face. She could feel her nerves and thrust her shaky hand into her pocket. The door creaked open and Jack appeared, he smiled before curling his finger inviting her into the gallery. Glancing around behind her, he locked the door before turning back around. There was a slight silence between them and Rose allowed her eyes to travel around the artwork which she had witnessed earlier on that day. Jack pulled a bottle of wine from behind the counter and grabbed two glasses. He was unsure if she even consumed alcohol, if she would question where he had got it from during the times of bootlegging but she didnt seem to care.
''Care for a glass?'' He smiled to her causing her stomach to twist in knots, something she hadn't felt for years, since the last time they had met. What she didn't understand was that she was a married woman, and also a mother twice over.
''Thank you.'' Rose took the glass. Her hand grazing Jack's for the slightest second. She took a small sip before turning to gaze at a few of the drawings. ''I can't remember you doing landscapes.''
''Oh I didn't backthen. I returned to France after the war and just fell in love with the country again.'' Jack came closer to Rose to examine his own work.
Several portraits of Santa Monica pier and the beach caught Rose's eyes and she felt her breathe become caught in her throat as she saw the place they had spoken so fondly about aboard Titanic. Deep down she believed they would have visited such places together if they had both found each other on the Carpathia. She had thought so much over the years of what had happened if they had not parted that dreadful night, her life had been based on what ifs. Memories Rose hadn't thought of in years came rushing back to her and she placed her wine on the counter, her breathing ragged. Jack noticed her struggle to breathe and he watched her closely guessing memories had overcome her too much.
''I have some paintings which I did in Greece.'' Jack indicated to some small canvas's across the other side of the room. Rose followed him and allowed herself to become lost in the art.
''You really did this Jack?''
''I visited the ruins after the war.'' He sighed. ''I wanted to travel after fighting for so long. I realised that life was priceless.''
Shakily, Rose reached out to the painting and felt the bumps in the canvas. She could almost feel herself falling into the painting, as though she herself was present when it was drawn. 'Did you draw all of these from life?''
'Of course. I saw everything with my own eyes, I visited all of the countries and witnessed the beauty.'' Jack turned to Rose witnessing her own beauty right in front of his eyes. He hesitated his next words but felt as though they had to be spoken. ''In my mind you were there too Rose…I thought you were dead until this day.''
Their eyes interlocked for a few moments and her heart raced. 'I found the strength to swim to a lifeboat.'' She began taking a sip of the wine. ''I was pushed under the water many times and as I swam through the people I noticed they became quieter and much more lifeless.'' Rose closed her eyes for a split second, her mind already picturing the 1,500 people who lay lifeless in the freezing ocean.
''I know. I was there too. I found some debris, something to cling onto until the lifeboat came back.'' Jack sighed remembering how numb his entire body was. But the worst thing was Rose was in a lifeboat too, she had been aboard Carpathia when he was. ''Your name wasn't on the list Rose. I searched endlessly for a Rose Dewitt Bukater.''
She smiled for a second. ''I wasn't Rose Dewitt Bukater. My married name is Rose Dawson-Calvert, before marriage…I was Rose Dawson.''
Jack eyes widened and he felt his breathing stop. ''You…you took my name?''
Rose nodded. ''I became someone else right after we first kissed Jack and especially after you made love to me. Rose Dewitt Bukater died with the Titanic in 1912. It was the reason I was never found, especially when I became an actress.''
''Oh Rose. I cant believe you took my name.''
''It was a necessity for many reasons.'' She said seriously. ''It was also how I felt close to you…just picturing myself being your wife.''
Jack couldn't think of words to say. He leant against the counter and silence overcame them once again. The choir outside could be heard singing 'O Holy Night' and he felt goose bumps over his body. ''Where have you been all these years Rose?''
Rose felt tears in her eyes, the way Jack spoke the words made her long for him so badly than she had done in years. ''I was an actress in Santa Monica for some time until the war broke out. I volunteered as a nurse in France and that's where I met Samuel, my husband. He was young and handsome and took a great interest in me and I couldn't help fall in love with him.'' She spoke through tears shining in her eyes.
Jack nodded. ''So um, how long have you been married?''
''We married in 1920 and the children followed in 1923 and 1926.'' Rose glanced at Jack who remained silent. ''How about you, no children?''
''No. I never dated or married, I just travelled. I spent all of my time mourning for you.'' He himself held back tears. ''But you…'' He came closer to her and she felt her heart pound. ''I am so happy you found somebody to love, but all of these years…I did nothing but love you.''
A single tear rolled down her face. She had no idea how much of an effect she had on him even after all these years. He must be in his late thirties now, maybe even forty but she could still see that 20 year old boy she fell in love with. Rose's hand linked with Jack's and their faces were just an inch apart. She could remember the power he had over her, the power which made her feel weak and like they were the only two people in the world. Samuel had never even touched her in the way Jack did, not in the ten years they had been together. Suddenly, she forgot everything in her life and there was only one thing which mattered - Jack. Their lips met just once and she felt her world disappear and she was that seventeen year old girl again. Her boys images came to her mind, then her husband. She pushed Jack away with some force and covered her face with her hands. ''Oh God, I'm so sorry. I never should have…''
Jack touched her shoulder and she turned to find herself in his arms. ''Don't worry about it Rose.''
She pulled away from him again. ''No Jack. I'm a married woman and our love is in the past.'' She told him and he kissed her forehead gently. ''But I don't want you to ever leave my life again.' She whispered.
''I'm not planning to leave your life again Rose. Can we just be great friends?'' She nodded slowly and remained in his arms, just happy to feel him against her for the first time in a long time.