April 7th, 1912, Southampton
Joseph watched anxiously as the doctor felt Martha’s pulse.
“Your wife is with child.”
“What?” Joseph asked in alarm.
“Her condition is very delicate. I advise rest for the next few months.”
“We are leaving for America. Our ship departs in three days.”
“She shouldn’t travel in this state.”
Joseph wiped the sweat off his brow. He had a lot on his mind. His failing business, his debts, and now, a baby on the way. Their inability to relocate to America, the land of dreams, frustrated him. This was supposed to be their fresh start. The unplanned baby had ruined everything.
Later at dinner, Joseph refused to join Martha and their son John in saying grace. He left with a scowl as his wife watched on tearfully.
Today was the day they were supposed to have wound up everything. And yet, he was still here. God must have a twisted sense of humour.
Joseph set off to the harbour. He wanted to catch a glimpse of the ship before it sailed. A reminder of what could have been but wasn’t.
The docks were very crowded. People thronged to catch a glimpse of this opulent marvel. The unsinkable ship they called it. When his eyes fell on the towering behemoth, he gasped. It was the biggest most-extravagant thing he had ever seen.
A carriage stopped in front of him, and a lady alighted. Her face was half-covered by a hat. She took out her parasol and glanced at the ship unimpressed.
“Rose…!” someone called behind her.
Her callous attitude irked him. What would he not give to be on this ship?
There were people onboard already, on different decks, waving. Joseph watched them with unveiled jealousy. As he turned, he collided with a young man, carrying a sack over his shoulder. He tipped his hat and apologized.
“Come on, Jack! We’ll be late.”
The man’s friend called, and he rushed away.
Joseph felt his pockets to make sure he wasn’t a pickpocket. He found his tickets intact on him. A thought struck him.
“What if I board the ship now?”
“No, I cannot leave Martha and my children. I am a better person than that.”
He crumpled his tickets and threw them into the sea. The ship departed, its smoke merging with the clouds and becoming a distant blip on the horizon.
Joseph saw people gathered about, discussing worriedly.
“Did you hear?”
“The Titanic hit an iceberg and sunk.”
Jack, that young boy with golden hair. Did he survive? Lady Rose. Had she been rescued? All those families aboard-did they make it? This could have been them!
His new baby had saved them. Was this serendipity?
He felt overwhelmed and guilty. He had to apologize to Martha.
When he returned home, he found her holding hands with John, saying grace. He linked his fingers through her’s and smiled fondly.
Sometimes, a blessing comes disguised as a curse.
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