Author's Note: I gotta admit, not some of my best writing. I'm planning on making this into a story, full chapters and all. Take this as a overly long summary, I guess. I'd like to thank The Time Traveler's Wife just 'cause I felt like saying that... Am I forgetting something? Oh, yes, my best bud Romione4Life, for writing amazing stories and always critiquing my amazing work, even if I sent the email at eleven on a school night. Thanks, Mefiercia, for pulling through a sleepless night as I blabbered about my ideas - or was it the other way around?
Bring Him Home
By Lady Elena Dawson
Disclaimer: I do not own Titanic (1997).
The draft had come in that week. If he had known it was coming, strangling the tears out of his wife, then he would've spent his final moments with her doing everything he had ever promised her. But that time had passed, and the whistle of a train pierced the steamy air as the day grew shorter with each shaky breath the couple took.
It was impossible to think he might never go home, never see her again. No one believed America would get involved with the war. No American thought he would hear the words "trenches" and "going over the top" uttered in his nation. Some argued that it was Europe's battle, not theirs. Yet, they got involved anyway, and the young men were sent to die one by one.
Her pretty lips were pursed and her round eyes full of held-back tears as she handed him the small valise, enough only to hold his necessities for survival. Prized possessions did not matter for a man going to war; who was to say he would be able cherish them once he was gone? For a second, he held her cold, clammy hand in his, the golden band on her left ring finger glistening through the mist.
But she pulled away. "Listen to me," she croaked. Her voice was strained. "You come back home whenever this goddamn war is over, all right?" She let out a pent-up sob and wiped her nose with the back of her hand to hide it. When she saw she was crying wet tears, she swore under her breath.
He wanted to cup her mourning head in his hand, but had to resist the urge to; she already had to give him up. He didn't want to make it more difficult on her than it already was. He loved her too much to see her like this—and worsening the issue would only make his heart beat slower than it had been the moment he received the draft that would strip him of his family.
When she was done hiding her face in shame, she met her blue eyes with his—and he noticed the ring of green surrounding her beautiful irises. "Can you promise me one thing?"
He swallowed hard, his mouth suddenly dry. "Anything."
She sniffled and clasped her hands behind her back, but not before he caught the sight of her wedding ring again. The same as the one he was wearing on his own left hand. "Promise me you're a survivor."
The train let out an earsplitting whistle, long enough for her to release another pent-up sob without his knowledge. But he couldn't make her that promise; the casualties were too high, death too common. "I'll be back for you one day, Rose," he whispered, wanting to rub his rough thumb on her jawline, her head hanging down. "When I come back, you'll be waiting for me."
With that, he pulled her into a final embrace before climbing aboard the train; he couldn't leave her with regret. Her auburn hair, soft as velvet, had met the skin of his cheek, and he had breathed in her scent. As he looked out the window after setting down his luggage and took the scene in, of men waving good-bye to their families, there she was, mournfully in the crowd. Her grief-stricken, pleading eyes poring into his in prayer. He watched her became a speck in the distance before raising his hand and sending her a salute.
There was nothing left to say.
The night was full of bright lights, sweet candied apples, and the delectable scent of buttered popcorn. He had almost not gone to the pier that evening, but if he had known she would be there, he would have left his shabby apartment without a second to spare.
There was something about the rides dotting the Pacific that made it his favorite place to draw in all of Santa Monica. Everyone's faces were cheery, everyone was laughing, and, most of all, everyone was having fun. And when he saw other people being happy, he could summon up the courage to be happy—even though he was working two jobs with little time in between, and the wages struggled to pay his rent.
He sighed and looked around the merry scene as he set up his stool and easel. He rarely did paintings, but the night sky was clear and full of stars, which was unusual due to all the lights of the pier. The wannabe artists flocked this area of the amusements, so he knew he wasn't the best. But it was her—and the way her face was drowned in thought—that made him lose his concentration, and the brush he had in his hand slipped, leaving an unattractive, unprofessional streak.
Heart pounding, he set his brush aside and studied her expression. She had an uneaten slab of cotton candy in her left hand while the other touched her face in deep contemplation. Her eyes, a stunning bluish green, scanned every piece of artwork on display. The blood raced in his ears, pounding and pounding, until those eyes met his, and everything stopped.
She blinked in response to his stare, though his face was flushed a pale white instead of a dark blush. He could see the Adam's apple on her throat bob in a nervous swallow, and he knew he had to break the unbearable ice sooner than later. Smiling, he waved her over—and she looked behind her in response.
He held back his laughter; she was adorable in his eyes. When she turned back around, she pointed a well-manicured finger at her, her plucked eyebrows rising. He nodded his head convincingly, waving her over again. This time, she followed through with his commands and came to sit at the edge of the other stool available for portraits.
"Hello," he said courageously. He couldn't help but ignore the awkwardness in her poise.
She attempted to smile, but it was genuinely edgy; what does this man want with her? "H-hello," she stuttered, blushing furiously. The embarrassment, however, wasn't overwhelming yet.
"I, uh, couldn't help but notice your studious expression," he continued, making light with the conversation.
She shrugged. "I like art," she stated simply.
"Oh. Well, I do to." His eyes fell on her impeccable mouth, her teeth pulling in her bottom lip.
"Do you mind if I see it?"
When her eyes glimpsed the painting, her breath was taken away. It was astounding; all the colors were blended into coordinated, stunning hues. He chuckled when he saw her mouth gape open in shock. "This is amazing!" she exclaimed, leaning over to get a closer look—while also getting closer to him.
"Thank you," he laughed, licking his lips. But what caught him off guard was the saddened look that became pasted over her features that were once so curious. Her index finger reached over and outlined the copy of a star, shining brightly on the canvas.
She gulped and moved her eyes to the sandy shore. "My father used to tell me stories about the stars," she whispered, though she had never told someone her story before. "That is, before he passed away…"
He could do nothing but apologize. Her head slowly reclaimed its previous position where she faced him. No one had ever sounded so sympathetic. When their eyes met again, his body tingled, and he gave her his hand. "Jack Dawson."
She took it with a dry throat. "Rose DeWitt Bukater."
He laughed. "That's quite a mouthful." A smile threatened to spread across her glowing face. "You're going to have to write that one down for me."
Then there it was: A laugh, crisp and feminine, her head thrown back by the impact. At that moment on, Jack's heart was taken away—and he would have it no other way.
They were married the next year. After that day in the amusement park, they were inseperable. He learned that Rose came from a wealthy background that was shattered from debt, but she just wanted to be an actress near the sea, so she could watch the sunset go down on the waves. She learned that Jack was a traveling artist who grew up in Wisconsin, only to decide that he wanted the more exciting life and bolted on out of there.
However, as happy as they were, there were complications in their marriage. For a certain Rose Dawson, that was children, which were lacking in her household. On the days that her husband worked, she was alone, and the silence would mock her until she wanted to scream.
There were two children destined to be the Dawsons', but neither went as planned: One was miscarried a few weeks in, and the other was still-born. Sometimes, Rose would still visit her supposed-to-be daughter's grave, a tiny baby she named Hope because she wasn't ready to give up. Not when she had been so close the second time.
Of course it wasn't easy thinking about children after the scare she got on her first pregnancy. She remembered the stomachaches that turned into jabbing pains in the middle of the night, and the sickness that supposedly ended a week before. She laid her feverish forehead on the edge of the toilet, too afraid to see what was making its way down her leg, wet and dripping with failure. She didn't move until Jack's hands held her shoulders, and she was able to make out two words: "Something's…wrong…"
Blood. Warm and sticky. And the pain; it stabbed her in the gut. She couldn't move, she couldn't breathe, and she couldn't think. The last thing she remembered was the doctor and the feeling of drowsiness before falling into a dreamless sleep.
And of course she remembered waking up; feeling Jack's hand in hers, his calloused fingers wipe away the tears that welled in her eyes as she shook the drowsiness from her head. Those tears stained her face for weeks. She couldn't stop crying, and she couldn't stop beating down on herself.
Gone. Her baby was dead.
When the second time came around, she still felt that daunting sensation that something just wasn't right. She had a moment of hope the day she had her second child, hoping that it was all right—only to be dead again. From that point on, most of her family dreams were shattered. But she didn't give up; no, she would tell herself that no matter what, her efforts will not be fruitless. And a tiny creature of her own would be born strong and healthy one day.
The day he went to the army was the day she felt her uplifting hopes be crushed for good. For if he never came back, then her dreams could never be made. He meant everything to her—a past, a present, and a future. As the train parted the station, she fell to the ground—despite the stares—and began to pray.
The voyage across the Atlantic took days.
And though the men enjoyed themselves in the smoking room, Jack spent his time on the deck wondering what Rose was doing. Was she out with her friends, trying to forget his whereabouts? Was she doing the dishes or some other chore? He knew that Rose loved to garden, and that she would never let her flowers and brush wither away; he just hoped that she wouldn't let his memory slip out either.
"Hey, Jack!" a fellow soldier by the name of Andrew called. "Wanna join us in a game of shuffleboard?"
Jack smiled forcefully and shook his head. "Maybe later, Andy," he replied, wishing for him and his friends to go away so he could fret over Rose again.
"Suit yourself!" he cried back. "But one day during this goddamn war, we'll play a game of shuffleboard with the Jerries. And you'll be sorry once you've lost!" The three men snickered and ran away, and that's when Jack realized their age—eighteen. He'd had seven more years to live than they did; seven more years to fall in love, get married, and settle down.
But these boys didn't have that; maybe a girl back home, but they wouldn't understand the full impact of giving someone your word until death do them part. They wouldn't understand what it was like to wake up next to a woman every day, wipe away her tears when she cried, and say "I love you" when the time was right. They didn't know anything.
Prickling from dread, he bolted out of his seat and skittishly walked to the writing room. He could no longer wait, so he decided to start a letter to Rose now.
As for Rose, she wasn't doing anything that Jack hoped she was doing. The train back to Santa Monica had just arrived that morning, and she limply and coldly walked to their home. Once she had set aside her bag, slamming it on the floor, she shakily went up to their bedroom.
The first thing she did was nothing like what Jack thought at all. She opened the closet, pulled out one of his shirts, and began to cry.
Whenever he felt like he was slipping out of reality, he thought of her. Yet, even her face he could not trust, for soon he began to forget the delicate features of her face. And for what was he forcing himself to push his love aside? For a brutal war being fought, with neither side winning nor losing, he was forgetting. His heart was tied with the casualties as he died a little bit each gloomy, passing day and he used all his energy to survive for her. So he could go home and hold her again; so he could comfort her when she cried and catch her smile when she laughed.
And so it was at moments like these when the world was just a place and the war just a petty fight that Jack would pull out her photo. Even in the trenches with the sounds of guns going off echoing in his ears-and he was afraid, he couldn't deny that as the possibility of leaving her alone haunted him-he could have one moment with her. One moment of peace. A moment of hope.
After that fluttering, adrenaline-filled instant passed, the war would start up again. And he would realize that she was just a dream, a memory of his life back home in America where she was waiting, becoming a mere shadow in his head.
What would this battle be like if she did not exist? Would the world stop and think over what it had done by not producing such a lovely creature? To him she was all he was worth living for. If she didn't exist, would he encourage dying in battle, next to his companions? Just that morning Andrew had been killed from a mustard gas attack; and now, they were going over the top.
A soldier named Gregory ran through the stench of fear in the air, seeing that Jack was not readying himself for the battle. "Jack!" he yelled when he reached his side. "We have no time to—"
But he didn't have the heart to continue with is rant. Jack was looking intently, hand shaking, at the photograph that held the image of his darling wife back home. Though they had sent letters back and forth for months, she stopped responding. And his heart would slow down whenever the mail came in and she never answered, for maybe she was forgetting him. Just like how he was grasping on to her image: to her scent, to her laugh, to her smile. But it was all in vain in this brutal war. If he couldn't see her, then who was to say she wasn't just a figment of his imagination?
"We need to go, sergeant." Gregory interrupted the moment by putting his hand firmly on Jack's shoulder. "Before the Jerries get wind we're going to attack."
Like everyone in the trenches, he didn't want to go over the top. He wanted to go home, and he didn't want to see Andrew or anyone's mangled corpse on the barren field of debris. They all had so much hope, so much inspiration, which was just thrown away by a wandering bullet to the chest.
The only thing Jack remembered from running in that disgusting field was the cringing blow to the leg. Collapsing, he thought he was a goner—but a few minutes later, someone came back and pulled him away from the battle pursing on the other side. Whoever that person was dragged him back to the trenches and called for medical attention. That was all he remembered before passing out cold, his final thoughts on Rose and the first day they met.
He was too unfit to fight. So they sent him home, and nothing could describe the relief he felt when the ship docked into New York Harbor.
Wobbling off the gangplank, he maneuvered his crutches through groups of impatiently waiting families or woman. He witnessed a man possibly a couple years younger than him reunite with his girl, picking her up and whirling her around like there was no tomorrow. Which was what each soldier had thought every moment he was in the cold, uncaring trenches.
Word was given to Rose that he would be coming home soon, but he had arrived a couple weeks before expected. He had convinced the doctors and nurses to send him to America now, his explanation being that he couldn't leave her alone anymore. Not when they had so many plans, so many dreams. Not when she was sad and lonely in the home they've been creating for the past five years.
With each crippled step his determination became stronger, and every second that passed his mind was dreaming of Rose, how he'll be back with her soon. They'll restart their life together and set off in the horizon. They'll live a life where the human spirit blows in the wind, taking them wherever it wanted them to take.
The train ride passed, and so did the car ride home. When their house came into view, he couldn't help but try and hold back his tears, for there she was on the porch, reading a book. Unaware that he had arrived home safe and sound, her hand on her seemingly rounder belly.
Tugging his bag out of the car, he set it down and stared, eyes teary and smile pasted on his face, at her. She hadn't looked up yet; he knew she liked to wait until she was at the end of a page. He studied her clean fingers hold the edge of the next sheet, and then her eyes met his.
Suddenly, nothing else mattered. Not the months apart, not the time lost. All that mattered was that they were reunited again, and nothing could change that now, not even a goddamn war.
She bolted out of her seat as Jack hobbled over to meet her, finally throwing away his crutches on the well-kept grass so he could hold her in his arms, never letting her go. "Jack," she sobbed into his shirt, her nails digging into his back. Her knees were close to giving out from under her as her fingers dug into his shirt, almost pulling him down. "You're home!" She repeated that phrase over and over again: "You're home, you're home, you're home…"
He kissed the top of her head, too afraid to pull apart from their embrace and realize that this was just some dream. "I'm here, Rose," he whispered soothingly, pulling her closer. "Just like I promised."
See, not some of my best work. But I think it's a start... What do ya think? Too depressing? Too intense? Or maybe, uh, not so intense? Leave it all in a review!