Grateful Forever // by Emma R. (July 2016)

Elizabeth Porter sat quietly in her statehouse, staring at the ceiling. It was 1912, and she was aboard the RMS Titanic, a newly built ship that was sailing from Southampton, England, to New York in America. Elizabeth was thinking, in her usual reserved way, about the expenses and wonder of the amazing, beautiful ship that was now sailing swiftly through the Atlantic Ocean. What a lot of money it must have cost to build this spectacularly radiant sailing vessel, she thought. Then the charming, sixteen-year-old girl's thoughts suddenly changed. She remembered earlier that day, when she was in her stateroom, and a steward appeared in her doorway.

"Oh! my gracious goodness!" exclaimed Elizabeth, twirling around at the sound of her door opening so abruptly.

"Sorry to frighten you, Miss Porter," said the young man standing in the doorway. Elizabeth was paying no attention. She looked at him, for he was quite handsome and about her age, for such a long time, with such a look in her stunning blue eyes that finally the steward said, "Is everything not quite alright, Miss Porter?"

She instantly snapped out of her lovely daydream, and said, twirling her lengthy black hair in her fingers nervously, "Oh, no, everything is fine. What were you going to ask me, Mr. Willmington?"

He blushed a bit. "Well, you see, Miss Porter-"

"Oh, please do call me Elizabeth, or Lizzy, or something of the sort," she interrupted.

"Fine, then call me Peter." He continued, "As I was saying, M- Elizabeth, the first-class ladies and gentlemen are having a party tonight, and I was wondering if you would mind me asking you if...if..."

Elizabeth was confused. "I am coming, and I do have my clothes picked out. I don't think I'll need any assistance in being escorted, but, of course, I shall be going alone, since Father has been feeling a bit seasick."

Peter looked down and cleared his throat. "No, Elizabeth," he said, looking up again. "I was going to ask you if you would mind having a dance or two with me. Tonight. Quite possibly?" He asked eagerly.

Elizabeth was shocked. She had never been asked by anyone to dance before. "Well, I am quite a terrible dancer, and I don't suppose-"

Peter was laughing. "Elizabeth, what a coincidence. I am quite a bad dancer as well. Get your clothes on, Miss Porter, and the party starts in an hour." With that, he closed the door, and Elizabeth was left by herself.

"Goodness! Dancing-with someone!" She smiled happily, hopping about the statehouse making everything as perfect as it could be. And soon, she was off to the elegant party that would change her life-forever.

Now she sat back in the statehouse, mulling over the events of the evening. She had danced with him, he had politely served her table, and they had gone on a short stroll along the deck during his break. Elizabeth truly felt she had fallen in love.

Suddenly, she felt a jerk, and was nearly thrown off the canopied bed. She clung to the bedpost, and helped herself up. She immediately worried about her father across the hall, who always got queasy on voyages. She rushed out of her room and into his. Elizabeth was relieved to find him writing a letter to her mother, six brothers, and three sisters at his desk.

"Hello, Liza," he said, without looking up.

"Daddy, how are you feeling?"

He stood up. "Quite alright, quite alright. Your mother says hello to you," he said, slipping the letter into an envelope.

"Daddy, did you feel a jerk about five minutes ago?"

He set the letter on the desk and sat down to address the envelope. "I did, Liza, I did," he said.

Elizabeth was standing by the door. She heard murmuring and footsteps outside the door. "Back in five minutes, Daddy," she said, and rushed out the door. People were standing everywhere. "Excuse me, sir, but would you happen to know what is going on?" She asked politely.

"This man 'ere says we 'it an iceberg. Came swellin' out o' nowhere. All I know, miss," he said, and walked away.

Elizabeth felt frantic. No, I must stay calm, she chided herself. She bravely stepped into her father's stateroom. "Daddy, the Titanic hit an iceberg. It's alright, though. Let's stay calm. Pack your things, Daddy, for we must leave soon, if we are really sinking."

Elizabeth pushed her way back across the hall. The floor of the ship did seem a bit crooked. She hurried to pack her belongings in her suitcase, then climbed back up the ever steepening floor of the ship to her father's stateroom. He was ready, and so they started for the Grand Staircase. "Go ahead, Daddy," Elizabeth ordered. "I'll meet you in a moment."

She searched the upper levels of the ship. She was trying to find Peter. Finally, she located the young man. "Peter," Elizabeth started to say, but he reached for her. "Lizzy, please, go," he said. His face was pale and she knew he was worrying.

"Come on, Peter, we've not a moment to lose. Please come with me,"

Peter grew solemn. "Lizzy, dear, I've got to stay with the crew. I can't just leave them. We have to do this together. Go," he commanded.

Elizabeth would not move. "I will stay here if this is my fate," she said.

Peter was still urgent. "Elizabeth Porter, if you do not go yourself, I will drag you up and put you in a lifeboat."

Elizabeth, however, was extremely stubborn. "Either I stay or you come," she demanded.

Finally she just pulled him with her the whole way. It was both a heard and unheard struggle. She met her father on the top deck. "The last women and children, board now!" came a voice. She solemnly took her father's bag and the letter for her mother. "I'll mail it," she promised.

Elizabeth struggled with Peter the whole way. "Please, sir, do let this sixteen year old gentleman aboard with me! He has, well, younger siblings at home in America he must take care of by himself, and, well, can he come aboard with me?"

The man looked suspiciously at Peter, who had now struggled so hard he let Elizabeth drag him. "Sure, miss, the lad can come along," he said.

She breathed a sigh of relief. She had actually thought up an excuse to get Peter aboard with her. Elizabeth pushed Peter into the boat, and the man yelled, "Hoist her down!" And the lifeboat was under way. Tears streaming down her cheeks, Elizabeth cried, "I love you Daddy!" as the boat touched the water. The people in the boat pushed the oars far away from the Titanic.

Only minutes later, the whole Titanic sunk into the water. Elizabeth sobbed until she fell asleep, with Peter holding her. He knew as well as she did that this was really their fate, and he was immediately grateful to her--forever.