We all have fears. They might be called quirky, unexplainable, irrational, or even unsubstantiated, but nonetheless, they are real and true fears. Two of my main ones are spiders (seriously, who isn’t afraid of spiders?) and water. Water as in oceans, lakes, rivers, any body of water that I can’t see the bottom makes my heart race and I freeze up, literally can’t move.
Therefore, when the movie about the sinking of the Titanic came out, I didn’t watch it. Not for years and years. I knew it would give me nightmares. Eventually, I watched it, and as a person who has always wondered, what happened next? I began to play around with the idea of a story about someone who survived the tragic ordeal. Here it is, years later, I finally wrote that story.
News of the sinking of the Titanic had shocked the world in 1912. Early reports claimed there were no survivors, while other reports claimed there were no casualties. It wasn’t until the Carpathia, the ship that rushed to the site of the sinking and rescued survivors, arrived in New York that the truth was known. A little over 30% of the people aboard the state-of-the-art luxury liner survived, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The Gilded Age of the United States had been an era of economic growth and capitalism that had inspired people from around the world to dream of migrating to America. The Titanic had been carrying a large number of those dreamers.
In my story, the heroine is Bridget McGowen, a barmaid from Ireland, who follows her father’s wish of her going to America:
In Da’s last breaths, he’d told her to lift a board beneath his bed and take out the metal box hidden there. She had, and she’d cried because she’d known the significance of the money in that box. It was for her trip to America. The pennies, nickels and dimes he’d pinched, saved and hidden away for her to have this opportunity.
I’m here, Da, in Southampton, and will soon set sail for America. I’ll make your dream come true.
My hero, is Karl Wingard, an upper-class banker from New York, whose brother, sister-in-law and niece had been aboard the Titanic:
His eyes were so kind. He was so caring. “It seems silly, but that was the scariest part,” Bridgette said.
“Climbing aboard the Carpathia. We had to climb a rope ladder, the adults. The children were lifted up in mailbags. I was so afraid when I put Elsie in that bag. I don’t remember climbing up the ladder. I just knew I had to be at the top, to be there when they lifted her out of that bag.”
“And you were, weren’t you?”
His smile warmed her heart, made her smile. “Yes, I was.”
He gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Once again, thank you. If not for you, I wouldn’t have my niece.”
Bridget and Karl not only have to work through the tragic accident that changed their lives forever, they’re separated by the massive divide of social classes that make them see the world very differently, and like me and my fear of water, they both have embedded fears they need to overcome to arrive at their happily ever after.
I enjoyed the research and the journey of how Bridget and Karl find a way to work everything out between them, but, just so you know, I’m still afraid of water. And spiders.