This story takes place as Rose is getting off the Carpathia in New York, what happened to her post Titanic.
Finally reaching New York, I look up at the great statue of liberty. The rain beats down on my face, but I don't look away, this is a sight I want to remember. I put my hand in my pocket, instinctively, after feeling a bulge inside of it. The heart of the ocean lays cupped in my hand, a parting gift from my old life. It'll serve not as a memory of Cal, who purchased for me, but of my lost lover, Jack Dawson. Jack will not only live in my heart, but inside the diamond, which I wore as he sketched me in the nude. My mind flashes images of that night. Flying, drawing, the car. Though it was only a few nights ago, it seems a million years have passed between that night and now. "Can I take your name please, love?" A seaman asks me.
I hadn't realized he's standing next to me. He shields me from the rain with him umbrella. I look up to him, "Dawson," I say, "Rose Dawson."
He scribbles my name onto the sheet and we begin exiting the boat. I promised Jack that I'd never let go, and I don't intend to.
The rain falls down on me hard, as I stare off into the distance, hoping some how, some way, this had all been a terrible dream. I exit the Carpathia with the third class, utterly terrified that Cal or Mother will catch a glimpse of me. I made my decision before the ship sank- that life was not for me. Fancy clothes, parties, caviar, I hate it all. I would've thrown myself off of the back of that ship, probably should've too, it might have saved Jack in the end. But I can't dwell on that now, I'm strong, just like Jack said. I owe it to him to brave this world alone.
I step onto American soil once again, greeted by a million reporters, photographers and miscellaneous families; hoping to find their loved ones. Many heads are hung low, but many more are held high. "What lifeboat were you saved on?" a young female reporter asks, eager for a story.
"I was pulled from the water," I say.
"The water?" the reporter says in disbelief, "How many went back?"
"One," I say, "Just one."
I step away from her, trying to make my way out of the crowd, not wanting to answer any more questions. It's sickening how they exploit everyone's loss. They should leave us alone. I don't intend on giving a statement, so don't try and force me to.
As I walk down the busy streets of New York City, I turn the diamond in my hand, still inside the pocket. Should I sell it? No. I don't want any of Cal's money. It feels inherently wrong to do something like that. Besides, gaining that amount of money would put me on the map. He'd find me, I know he would.
After walking a few more miles in the rain, I happen upon a small diner. This is obviously not a great part of town, but who I am to judge these people. We are one in the same. At least these people have a purpose, have a life. I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere. I feel like I'm back, laying on the door, floundering, dying in the ocean, helpless. Someone had been there to rescue me that time, I'm not so lucky now. I step inside and approach the counter, "Are you hiring?" I ask the man.
"Waitresses?" he asks, swirling his rag on the countertop, cleaning it.
"Well," he says, "You any good?"
"I've never waitressed before," I say, "But I suppose I could be."
"You suppose so, huh?" he says, studying me.
"Okay," he finally says, "We'll try you out..."
He trails off looking for my name, "Rose," I say, "Rose Dew- Dawson," I catch myself.
"Alright," he says, "You can start this afternoon."
I nod, as he takes me into the back room to help me get situated. "You'll have to be trained," he says.
I learn the ropes for the next few hours before they put me on to waitress by myself. It looks like incredibly hard work. So much memory is involved, I don't know how they'll do it. Lucky enough I took ballet as a child, I'm going to have to use it in the balancing act the call serving. "Where you from?" another waitress named Emma asks.
"Philadelphia," I say, instinctively.
"Never been," she says, "It's nice."
"Hardly," I say, "I assure you."
"What brings you to New York then?" she asks, "Looking for work?"
"Yes," I say, "I guess you could say that."
I make the decision to hide my past, especially the Titanic part of it, from all whom I meet for the time being. I need to learn how to live like a real person. Though I'm limited by money, I feel freer than ever. My bonds have been severed, and I don't owe anybody a single thing. Except maybe to Jack, for setting me free. It'll take me a few months, taking into account rent for an apartment, but I'll make my way out of New York, to California perhaps. Maybe visit Jack's pier, feel what he felt. California, wow. I did say I always wanted to be a motion picture actress.
"Where are you staying?" Emma asks, as we finish up our shift.
"I don't know," I say, "I didn't really think about that."
It's true, I am completely ill prepared. I don't know if I'm just naive, or if the sinking set me back a couple of steps. Either way, I've got to pull myself together and start weighing my options. "Rent's expensive here," she says.
She pauses a few seconds, "I have an apartment close by if you'd like to stay with me for the night. If you have nowhere else to go."
"Really?" I ask.
"Sure," she says, "It'll give us more time to get to know each other."
Already, the lower class is beginning to prove itself. Later that evening, after our shift, she takes me up a few blocks, towards her apartment. She walks fast and looks down. I pass several people on the street, begging for scraps of food. I swallow hard and look away. My only regret about all this, is that I hope I don't starve. I would too, I'm too proud to crawl back to Cal, I never will. I'd rather be homeless, dying on the street than let him own me again.
I hold my head up high. The deeper we get into the city, the more it reeks. It's clear that people are less than cleanly here. We approach a four story building that looks decent, run down, but decent at least. "Third floor," Emma says, as we enter the building. A man tips his hat to Emma by the staircase. He nods to me, but I'm not sure what the protocol is for that sort of thing. I tip my head in the same manner, and begin to climb the stairs.
We finally reach her floor, and stop by a brown, tall door, marked 304. She brandishes a key and turns it in the lock. She pushes the door open. She has a small studio, one room apartment, but an apartment nonetheless. It's more than I can say of myself. She has a small bed, a desk with a broken leg, held up by a book, a stove, and a couch. A dingy curtain hangs over her window. "I can take your coat," she says suddenly.
"I'll hang onto it," I say, not wanting her to find the diamond, or see my grand dress underneath.
I wonder what I'll do about that. If I really want to blend in, I can't wear this dreadful ruined thing. We passed a shop a block ago that looks like it'll have adequate clothes. In the mean time, I'll have to ask to borrow something of hers. That's assuming she has one to spare. You never know.
"You're in luck," she says, "I saved up enough to buy a proper supper tonight. I was thinking of getting a chicken. With all the fixings!"
"Great!" I say, trying to muster up some feeling to respond to her excitement.
I am not going to say I'm overjoyed for chicken. It's not like it's anything important anyway. The food would be hard to get used to at first. "There's a market down the street, I'll have to go pick one up."
"I'll go with you," I say, wanting to look for a new dress.
As we walk down to the market, I check Cal's coat pockets again. A few coins rattle around in the pocket of one of them. I draw my hand out, holding four quarters and a dime. That would hardly suffice for one of the dress I wore on Titanic. I drift back to that little shop as Emma searches for supper. I walk in, the bell sounds and the clerk comes around to the front. "Looking for something specific, dear?" she asks.
"A dress," I say, "An all-purpose dress."
She leads me towards something hearty, but not incredibly thick. This will definitely stand up to wear and tear. "How much?" I ask, holding it up to me.
"Two dollars," she says.
I hang my head and say, "Forget it then."
"How much do you have?" she asks.
"A dollar and ten cents," I say.
She looks at me, cocks her head to the side and says, "That'll do, child."
I look up into her eyes, not knowing what to say. It's clear the look is enough for her. She folds the dress up and I put it over my arm. Now I have an equalizer.
I hurry back to the market, hoping to catch Emma while she's still here. It takes me a few minutes, but I finally find her. "Did you find what you were looking for?" she asks.
I smile and unfurl my new dress. "How did you afford that?" she asks, touching it.
"The last of my money," I say, "I needed one badly."
She nods and says, "Well I found the chicken and the fixings. What do you say we head home?"
I nod and follow behind her the whole way again. I'm surely not used to all the people around. Not to mention the manner in which they act around me. Emma sets the chicken to cook and sits on the couch beside me. "So what's your story?" I ask.
"Ah, not much of one," she says, "Born and raised here, New York. My father died a few years ago, I'm just trying to keep myself afloat here."
"I'm sorry," I say.
She nods and continues, "It was real hard at first, I'm not gonna lie, but I've been working at the diner a few years now. It's not so bad."
"How do you afford this place on your own?" I ask.
"I never said it was impossible but it sure isn't easy. I work a lot mostly. Hugo's not a bad boss."
I make a mental note to remember his name. He told me himself earlier today, but with so many things to remember, I've forgotten. "I'm excited to start work on my own tomorrow. And start looking for a place of my own," I say.
"I'm hoping to catch a train to the west," I add, smiling, "I want to start new in California."
"Wow!" she exclaims, "You do have big dreams, I'll give you that."
"I made a promise to someone special I'd go there. Seems to me like a good place to start. I'm looking forward to the warmth," I say.
She laughs and says, "That'd sure be nice. It gets cold around here."
"That's why I want to get a place quickly," I say.
She opens her mouth, pauses and changes her mind, "You need a steady income for that."
"True," I say, "Hugo pays weekly."
"What'll you do until then?" she asks, a worry-line forming in her forehead.
I shake my head, not really knowing where I'm going to end up.
"You can stay here a while with me if you want," she says, "Until you leave even."
"I'll pay rent," I say, "If I stay here, I'm not going to be a freeloader."
"You wouldn't be," she says smiling, "I'm glad to have a friend, it's much too quiet around here."
"Tell me more about you," she says.
"What's your story?" she asks, "I mean, I know your from Philadelphia, but that's it."
"Have you ever had to run away from something?" I ask, "Because your world was suffocating you?"
"Never had that luxury," she says, "to just get up and leave."
In that moment I realize, maybe the world is all about money. If I don't acquire the means to follow my dreams, I never will. I feel as though I was an animal, in a cage, set free, but thrown back into a slightly bigger one. I'm still trapped. Things are going to change in my life, really soon, and I hardly am prepared for what they're about to be.