Okay so this is my first piece of writing in a very long time. I used to post on this site under a different name but completely out of the blue, about six years ago, it totally dried up and I found myself unable to write a word in what I can only assume has been a monumental case of writers block. It's been incredibly frustrating and I can't quite believe it's been so long but I've had this idea in my head for quite a while and wanted to at least start the ball rolling before the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. You would not believe how long it's taken me to write this and the standard of the writing is not quite as high as I would have liked but here goes ...
April 10th 1912
'There she is! Look! I can see her!'
The young man awoke with a start having been lulled off to sleep by the gentle rhythmic sway of the carriage. He shook his head to rid it of sleep and lifted his eyes to gaze along with everybody else out of the window where just visible over the roof of the dockyard buildings were four enormous funnels, three of which were producing small wisps of smoke.
'Isn't she just magnificent!' his younger sister exclaimed in excitement, clambouring over her brother to press her face up against the window of the railway carriage.
'Wow,' she breathed as she gazed up at the four transcendent funnels which as yet were the only visible part of the ocean liner.
The train was slowing ready to spew out a long line of passengers, all of whom had travelled to the port to view the spectacle on hand or for the lucky few, to actually board the gigantic vessel bound for America. The carriage rattled past a series of dank looking buildings which blocked the sunlight throwing the train and its passengers into the shadows but as they approached the station it veered slightly to the left revealing the hull of an immense ship. Six pairs of eyes stared incredulously out the window as the entire vessel came into view. 900 feet long and 175 in height, weighing over 52,000 tonnes. A triumph of British engineering by any measure.
Liam let out a low whistle earning himself a reproachful glance from his mother.
'It's massive!' his sister, Michelle, gasped. Her mough was agape.
'It is that,' Liam breathed. He stared at the ship in astonishment as the train came to a stand still, bowled over by the sheer size of the thing. 'How does it stay afloat?' he wondered aloud though nobody seemed to have an answer.
'Southampton Terminus!' a uniformed conductor bellowed from the front of the carriage. 'All passengers for Southampton Terminus!' Liam tore his eyes away from the magnificent spectacle and got to his feet. His father slid the compartment door open and together, they joined the throng of people waiting to disembark.
Young Michelle was practically jumping up and down in her excitement. At just sixteen years of age she was the youngest member of the party. Her face was fresh and youthful, her skin glowing in the morning sunlight which was pouring in through the windows of the carriage, bathing them all in its golden warmth. She had been blessed with beautiful, shiny black hair which, much to her mothers chagrin, she would not allow to grow any longer than shoulder length. It was pinned up elegantly at the back, held in place with a silver clasp which had been gifted to her by her grandmother. Her dark hair stood out in stark contrast with her ivory coloured dress which flowed over her bodies natural curves beautifully. The corset top had taken some getting used to. Never having worn one before her sixteenth birthday, Michelle had found it difficult to adjust to the uncomfortable and sometimes painful tightness but as her mother had said, it was something every woman had to get used to. Michelle had cursed the garment and longed for her loose fitting dresses she had worn as a child but secretly enjoyed the way the corset pulled in her waist and accentuated her small breasts.
Her two brothers, Liam and Paul were very similiar to look at and equally as striking. at twenty-one and twenty-five, both were regarded as fully grown men though at times one would have been forgiven for mistaking them as children. They often behaved as such, particularly the younger of the two. Both tall and dark they were the object of secret lust amongst many young women back in their home city of Manchester. Liam was more muscly than Paul who was also slightly smaller in height though both gave off an aura of natural self-confidence which had many members of the opposite sex swooning.
Paul had left his fiancee back home with the promise of many deluxe gifts from America on his return though Liam was somewhat of a disappointment for his parents in that department. He had so far refused every hand offered to him and many had been. The Connors were one of the wealthiest families in England and without a doubt the wealthiest in Manchester. It was every parents dream to marry their daughters into such a family although so far, Liam had shown no interest in finding himself a wife.
Barry and Helen were the last two members of the family, parents to Michelle and the boys. It was them who had paid for the five of them and the maid to travel first class to America and back owing to the need to visit Helen's sister who had relocated several years back and had fallen ill some weeks ago. She had insisted Helen and the clan stay put but with no sign of her illness easing, the Connors had decided the best course of action would be to join her and ensure she was being provided the care she deserved. Helen was a very elegant lady with short, blonde curls that had been pinned perfectly in place that morning by the maid though were hidden somewhat by the rather grandiose hat she wore on her head. Her cream silk dress adorned with ruffles and plenty of lace swept the ground as she walked and nipped in her waist similiarly to Michelles, showing off her enviable figure. She walked arm in arm with her husband who was dressed in his best black tuxedo complete with matching black bow tie and shoes that had been shined to perfection. His hair was white as snow which he put down to the result of raising three children and his blue eyes had a sparkle to them which when he smiled, gave his face a look of great kindness.
The young maid brought up the rear. A twenty-something year old with long brown, wavy hair which was tied back in a plait, dressed in a housemaids usual attire of black dress with white pinafore. She came from a working class family in the outskirts of the city and had worked her way up through the ranks to earn herself the position she had acquired some months ago as housemaid to the Connor family. A position envied by many a young girl in lower class Manchester. As she walked, she stared up at the grand ship and thanked her lucky stars that she had come to work for the Connors when she did otherwise she may have missed out on this chance of a lifetime. Her mother had been bursting with pride when she told her she was going to be sailing on the maiden voyage of the Titanic and had wasted no time informing neighbours and other family members of her daughters windfall.
'Michelle! Stop pushing,' Paul scolded his young sister as she tried to elbow her way through the crowd of people descending on the harbour. He gripped her shoulder firmly as they walked knowing that if she was seperated from the group it may take a while to locate her amongst the masses.
Michelle huffed at her brother but fell into step by his side, feeling her mothers eyes burning in the back of her skull.
'Wow!' she breathed again as they reached the docks and the ship came into full view for the first time.
'The largest passenger steam ship in the world,' came her fathers voice from behind. 'The Titanic,' he smiled somewhat proudly as though he himself had been involved in the building of the vessel. 'Isn't she a beauty?'
'Not bad I suppose,' said Liam who was gazing at the letters on the ships body.
'RMS Titanic,' Paul read, following Liams line of vision. 'What does RMS mean?'
'Royal Mail Ship,' Barry answered. 'It means that this ship is contracted to transport international post. A privilege that is only issued to ships operated by the largest and most important lines.' He let out a chuckle, 'White Star Line is certainly one of those.'
'And here's me thinking it stood for really massive seaboat,' Liam muttered under his breath, earning himself a nudge in the ribs from his elder brother.
The port was a hive of activity. 'Chaos' was the word that sprang to Liams mind. There were people in every direction lugging suitcases towards the ships bridge, people saying their farewells to loved ones, children ran back and forth on the dock giggling excitedly. There were passengers hanging about waiting to board, ships officers and members of the ships company, porters, officials, staff from the port itself and people with notebooks and large cameras who Liam could only assume were reporters.
A uniformed porter had materialised seemingly from nowhere and now stood watching Barry expectantly.
'Yes, yes,' Barry said. 'All passengers.' He pointed out each member of his family to the man and gestured towards their cases, each bearing a red and white sticker with the words 'White Star Line'.
'Very good, sir,' the porter said, 'May I see your tickets, please?' Barry handed them over and watched as the man scrutinized them for a few moments. 'First class,' he said. 'You board from the forward entrance.'
He gestured towards a gangway which Liam had not previously noticed. It seemed to be a lot quieter than the others.
'Thankyou,' said Barry. He took the tickets back and stored them safely in the inside pocket of his jacket.
The porter was already loading the suitcases onto a trolley when Barry turned back to him. He wheeled them towards the foot of the main gangway where a ships officer was waiting, expertly dodging groups of chatting people and overly excited children to get there. The porter removed their luggage from the trolley and made his way back to the Connors, standing by Barry expectantly. Barry nodded his thanks and handed him a few coins. The porter touched his cap in acknowledgment and turned away in search of more customers.
At that moment, a babble of noise broke out behind them and Liam turned to see another train had arrived bringing second and third class passengers from Waterloo.
'Shall we go?' Asked Helen pointedly, her mouth twisted in a grimace. Liam had to refrain from rolling his eyes. His mother was such a snob at times, looking down her nose at less fortunate souls, thinking them inferior because they had none of her class. Liam however, was intrigued by such people. Sometimes he found himself yearning to be like them, to have none of these silly airs and graces and social requirements his mother seemed to thrive on. To be free to wear whatever he wanted, to do whatever he wanted and to marry whomever he wanted.
He watched as a young family disembarked from the train. A pretty young woman laughing at her husband, bouncing on his shoulders a young child who shrieked in delight and grabbed fistfuls of his fathers hair. Behind them an elderly couple followed in their footsteps, clasping hands and smiling affectionately at the infant and behind them, a young woman carrying a single suitcase. The most striking young woman Liam had ever seen with hair as black as pitch tumbling loose over her shoulders, her sun-tanned skin shone a radiant and healthy glow and her facial features more discernible than that of any woman Liam had ever met. She was dressed in a simple skirt and blouse though both looked as though they had seen better days. She walked alone, staring up at the ship in awe. As Liam watched, she lowered her eyes to a rectangular piece of paper clutched in her hand and then back up at the ship, her mouth slightly open as though bewildered that in a few hours time she would actually be sailing upon it.
'Liam! Are you coming or not?' Paul shouted over his shoulder. Trailing behind his parents and sister, he was already seven or eight paces ahead of where Liam stood and in danger, Liam could see, of being swallowed by the crowd if he himself didn't get a move on. He stole one last glance at the girl with the dark hair just as her eyes fell from the bow of the ship and landed directly onto his. He felt a jolt in his stomach, an unfamiliar feeling he couldn't quite place. His mouth had suddenly gotten very dry. As he watched, the corners of her mouth rose up into a small smile and a pinkness tinged her cheeks. He lowered his own eyes quickly, embarassed at being caught staring and took off through the crowd, after his brother.