So many things have changed since the day I arrived on that dock, my whole world sunk around me into nothing. Ironically, so did Titanic. It's been two years to the night of the sinking and I can hardly believe it. I finger the train ticket in my hand and lean back against my pillow. I can't stop looking at it, I can't contain myself. I tuck it back underneath my pillow, afraid I'll misplace it or lose it. I roll over and glance at Emma. She sits atop her bed, reading a newspaper, but clearly watching me more than reading.
"You're really leaving me, huh?" Emma says, smiling, but with sad eyes.
She flips to the next page of the newspaper and looks down. I can tell she's not really reading. I sit up in the bed to face her, "You could come with me," I say, "I know you could!"
"What's in California for me?" she says, flatly.
"I can't answer that," I say, pausing to consider my own plans, "Only that it'll be an adventure."
"Have you ever had dreams?" I ask.
"Well, sure," she starts, "I always wanted to be a dancer."
"Why didn't you try?" I ask.
"As a dancer," she says in a patronizing tone, "You need a lot of training."
She pauses a second and adds, "Training costs money."
"You could've saved up," I say, "Like I did."
"I couldn't have ever been a dancer, Rose," she says, sighing, "I wasn't raised like you were, to follow my dreams."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I ask.
"Look, Rose, I know where you come from," she says, "I know you come from money."
My heart sinks, I thought I've kept that well away, hidden, so nobody knew. "That doesn't mean I could follow my dreams," I say quietly.
"Money can get you anything," she says, "I'm sure of it."
"Happiness, comfort, food," she says, adding, "Love."
"Money has nothing to do with love," I say, "I can assure you that."
"You wouldn't marry for money?" she asks.
"No," I say, wrinkling my nose, thinking of Cal, adding, "I most definitely would not."
"Would you marry at all?" she asks, not trying to further press my buttons, but to make conversation.
"I would," I say, knowing I would've positively married Jack sometime after docking in New York.
It's strange to think of what could've been. We could've moved back to his home state of Wisconsin. We could've raised our children there, built a little house up on Lake Wissota. Our children would have most definitely gone ice-fishing. Even the girls.
The rest of that night I daydream about a life I'll never have. I lay in my bed, trying to fall asleep, clutching desperately to my train ticket to the one place I need to get to, Santa Monica.
The next day, I awoke early to board my train. Emma came along to say goodbye to me. She helped me carry my bags, though I only had two and one was small. Things have definitely been sparse in my new life. I have nothing I can't absolutely live without. Well, except maybe Emma. I close my eyes, not wanting to say goodbye.
"That's it then," Emma says, resting a hand on my shoulder.
"I guess it is," I say, smiling at her.
"You'll be okay, won't you?" she says, worry-lines forming in the center of her forehead.
"I'm a survivor," I say, "And so are you."
"Write to me, okay?" she says, eyes beginning to glisten.
"Of course," I say, "The first chance I get."
"Promise you won't forget me," she says.
"I couldn't," I say, "I owe almost all of my recent good fortunes to you."
We step forward and embrace each other. The train whistle blows, it's time for me to board. As I step up into the car, I can't help but have a flashback to two years before, walking the gangplank up to Titanic. Then I had been chained, imprisoned, a butterfly with cut wings. Now, I'm a free woman, heading out for the horizon, flying true and free, just like my love would've wanted.
A long while later, days later in fact, I arrived at my first major stop, Denver, Colorado. At the Denver Union Station, I wait for my next train. I glance around the station, admiring its beauty. I heard it was newly renovated. I momentarily enjoy my trip back around first class architecture. But the fresh paint only reminded me more of the Titanic, and those who I left behind.
Though I wanted to many times, I never searched for Cal or Mother. It would've been easy enough for me to go spy on them at first, given the Titanic investigations. I read a long while ago that Cal had gotten subpoenaed. I never saw anything of my mother though. I wouldn't, of course, she's too proud to let those people see she has no money left. I can't help but wonder if she really is a seamstress now. I can only assume she's not living in New York. Nobody had heard of her in Emma's section of the city. She's either moved along elsewhere or is a servant. I hardly can imagine her treating a servant well, never-mind actually being a servant. Maybe her strong will can help her make her way. Then again, it'll probably cause her downfall.
As I board my next train I vow to think happy thoughts, mostly of what I'll do in the future. I reach into my small bag and pull out a brand new brown leather-bound sketchbook. I run my fingers across it, which causes me to shudder. It's so alike his.
I plan to go to Jack's pier in Santa Monica, do some portraits there. Though I don't have skill like his, I've become very good at cubist drawings if I do say so myself. I always practiced back at the diner, with my pencil, on the back of the receipts. Nobody ever noticed. Maybe I'd make enough money to live fairly, it's worth a try. Maybe someone will appreciate my work there.
Going to California gives me even broader horizons than New York. I could be a waitress again, not that I'd really want to. At least I have experience at it now. Most importantly of all, I could be a motion picture actress. I've always wanted to be in films, maybe direct them. The men wouldn't let me direct or produce, I'm sure. But I could convince them. With official women's rights or not, they'd hear my voice. Or they'd regret it.
My first year in New York I took part in the hike to Albany, a women's suffrage hike. I walked 170 miles all in the name of equality. I was even in the paper, much to my dismay. My face was distant, but I could tell it was me. I just hope that Cal or Mother wasn't reading closely that day. Cal would've been at least, but then, he did have a nasty habit of being non-observant. I read his marriage announcement in the Times last week. It's a shame I picked that day to get one. Even seeing his name sends knives of pain and nerves into my stomach. I clutch the arm on my seat at the thought. I look around, embarrassed, but my car is empty. I sigh heavily and throw my head back. Soon I'll be in California, a wealth of opportunities, just a few miles away.