Thursday, June 21, 2012

Deathly Compromise excerpt: Flashback

April 14th, 1912

Cold air hit my face roughly, cutting through my skin and weighing down the fire developing in my throat. I walked along the slanted floor, against the crowd rushing and pushing through. My petticoat grazed the floor, picking up chips of ice; its blue velvet absorbing it instantly. A gun shot rang out and panic consumed the already desperate souls beside me. But I continued walking. 

In the distance, I saw her leaning against a rail, a grand petticoat dress adorning her body, a matching floral fascinator on her head with curling tendrils cascading down half of her face. Next to her, a man played a violin in sad earnest. She saw me and immediately began to smile. “My dearest sister,” she said as she spread her arms out for an embrace. I obliged her, softly kissing each cheek. “Beautiful night, isn’t it?”

“I can see the stars perfectly out here,” I gazed, oblivious to those around me. “Much more bright than in the city.” I felt a shake beneath my feet, losing my pin point on the constellations. A little girl running fell down at my feet, her small hands touching the toe of my boot. She didn’t cry but her fingertips were blue and shaking wildly. I knelt down to steady her. Her head perked up but her eyes were blank and hopeless. I could have easily taken her, the desire in my stomach longing for her soul, but the emptiness in her face put a furrow in my brow. “Where is your mother, child?”

“She fell,” was all she could whisper. Her head slightly turned to gaze over the railing, giving her past away. Her eyes were as blue as the sea in the afternoon sun, but the flecks of gray smoked over them in the moonless night. They were rimmed with tears that she was aching not to fall. I stood her up, her hand steady on my arm. I felt Kay’s eyes glaring through my back. 

“You should be on a lifeboat, child. Do you know where to go?” 

She shook her head, her loose curls draped loosely from ribbons that had been holding them in place only moments before.“Dee, don’t. Let her be. She will find her way eventually,” Kay advised. I rolled my eyes, choosing to ignore her. 

“I will guide you. Just put your hand on my skirts here and I will take you there. Can you do that?”

She nodded quickly and walked around behind me, grabbing a tight grip on my skirt. “For the love of Fate, Dee…”

“Will you just shut your mouth for one goddamn minute?!” I retort. 

The floor creaked and cracked, and there was a shattering noise across the way that filled the atmosphere with pressure. The ship had cracked under the water’s edge, and the ship teetered even more upward. Kay and I seemed to adjust to the tilt immediately; our bodies knew nothing of imbalance. The young girl however, lost her grip on my skirt and began to slide on the wooden, splintered floor. I grabbed her arm reflexively and her eyes widened at the shock. The tears broke the surface, flooding the gray in her irises. “Dee!” I heard Kay’s echoing call. I squeezed my eyes, pushing away the nag, and looked back at her. “This is not why you’re here. You can’t save them.” 

The girl’s grip loosened as the tilt became more pronounced. The violin player had long since fallen to the water, many others falling in slow motion; snowflakes of long clothing and appendages. “Everything will be alright, child. You won’t feel a thing. I promise.” Her face quaked in fright, no response. “Just close your eyes, and when you wake up, it will all be a dream. Alright?!” I yelled out so that she could hear me. She nodded. I closed my eyes and pulled the tether of her life into my arms and chest. She let go of my arm, her body cold and empty, her body falling in the watery constellations of the Atlantic Ocean.