The air was crisp with the smell of sea salt. Crowds of hundreds gathered along the street to watch the Titanic take off of on her maiden voyage. The crowds of people looked puny in comparison to the ship itself. People of all social standing cheered as they watched loved ones board the behemoth of ship.
Lydia took Jackson’s hand for support as she climbed out of the automobile. Once she was back on the ground she dropped his hand in favor of readjusting her hat and looking out at the ship with indifference.
“I don’t understand what the big fuss is for,” Lydia said, her voice dripping with disdain.”It’s just a boat.”
They say it was the ship of dreams, and maybe it was, but for Lydia, each step toward the looming vessel felt an awful lot like a funeral march.
Regardless, she kept her head held high as she board. Lydia was raised as a high class lady and she damn well planned on acting like one - even if it went against every fiber of her being.
“Just a boat,” her fiancé, Jackson Whittemore of the steel tycoon Whittemores, scoffed. “This is not just any old boat, woman. This is the Titanic , the finest vessel ever built. It is crafted out of the best steel money can buy, and I should know - most of the steel used was bought from my family’s company. It is said that God himself could not sink this ship.”
Lydia made her way up the gangway, not bothering to wait for Jackson to lead the way. “Whatever you say, dear.”
She could hear Jackson and her mother gossiping about the wonders of the ship in the background. To Lydia, it was just another ship.
When they reached their stateroom, she listened as her mother, Natalie Martin, and Jackson fawned over the room. Lydia could see the appeal of the room, beautifully decorated with deep maghonys, brilliant golds, and rich reds, but after countless beautifully crafted stateroom after stateroom in various hotels and ships, they all started to blur together. The quite expansive and luxurious room felt small and restricting. Lydia felt as though she was suffocating. Only in the first class could someone tire of the lavish lifestyle like this. Lydia could feel herself becoming physically ill from the room and all its restrictions.
“Darling, you are looking a bit green,” Natalie said, not bothering to look up from the silk sheet she was examining and just a morsel of concern in her voice. She was much more interested in the luxuries in their suite than her own daughter’s state of health. “You ought to go get some fresh air. Perhaps you should take a stroll along the promenade?”
“Yes mother,” Lydia replied emotionless, much like an automaton.
“Make sure you're back in time to get ready for dinner tonight,” Natalie called out.
“Yes mother,” Lydia repeated in the same monotone voice as before.
And with that Lydia put on shawl before slipping out of the room, off to explore the ship on her own. At least then she wouldn’t be forced to keep a polite conversation with her mother, her fiance, and any other socialites that may soon be invited into the suite. Instead she was granted with some precious moments to herself.
Lydia strolled along the promenade, lost in her own thoughts. It was only when she was struck by something, or rather someone, was she brought back to reality.
Upon first glance, Lydia had though she had walked into a teenage boy from a much lower class, but upon further inspect she realized that the stranger was a girl about her age in trousers and blouse with her hair cropped at her chin. Although she was right about the stranger being from a lower class, judging by the filthy and ill-fitting clothes.
“This deck is for first class only,” Lydia informed the stranger.
The girl let out a rueful laugh. “Of course. Wouldn’t want us lowly peasants ruining the view, now would we, Princess?”
Lydia scoffed. “I’m hardly a princess.”
“Could have fooled me,” the girl muttered under her breath, just loud enough for Lydia to hear.
“Excuse me?” Lydia asked, offended by the rude girl.
The girl stood up straighter and looked Lydia in the eye. “You claim to not be a princess, and yet you have all these luxuries here for your enjoyment and comfort while the rest of us are forced to share a bathtub with our whole class for the duration of the trip.”
Lydia shifted uncomfortably in place. She wasn’t sure what to say to that.
The girl took Lydia’s silence as confirmation for what she already thought. Lydia was privileged. She was essentially princess living in the luxury while the girl was just common folk. They were from two different worlds that would never see eye to eye.
It was time for the two girls go back to their own worlds and forget about their encounter.
The girl turned on her heels without another order to Lydia. She made her way off slowly but there was a confidence in her walk. Lydia felt a strange stirring inside her, like butterflies in her stomach, as she watched the girl leave.
There was just something about the girl that intrigued her. “Wait,” Lydia called after her.
The girl spun around, a questioning look on her face.
“What is your name?” Lydia asked, unconsciously taking a step closer to the girl.
“Cora,” the girl said, taking a step back. It was as though they were dancing with one another.
“Cora?” Lydia repeated, taking another step closer.
The girl smirked as she stepped back. “Yes. Cora.”
And with that she turned to leave, but before she actually left, Cora looked over her shoulder back at Lydia and called out, “If we run into each other again, I’ll give you my full name, Princess.”
Lydia watched as Cora left, completely stunned that someone of a lower class had the audacity to speak to her like that. But Lydia wasn’t actually mad - she felt confused. There was something about Cora that made her feel things that Lydia never felt before. She hoped that they would see each other again soon.
Afterwards, she slowly made her way back to her room to rest until dinner, still entranced by the girl.
Lydia found herself daydreaming about that strange girl from earlier. There was just something about her that left Lydia fascinated. Cora was mysterious and aloof but yet still so familiar, as though Lydia had always known her.
Maybe they had been friends in a past life.
Maybe they had lived in a far off land, free of controlling fiancé and overbearing mothers.
Maybe they were happy.
Maybe they had been lovers. The mere thought of that brought a blush to Lydia’s cheeks. She wasn’t as opposed to the idea as she thought she would have been. She could easily see herself falling in love with Cora.
Lydia dreamed about living with Cora in a small but comfortable house and raising a family together. The mere thought of it brought a smile to her face. Her daydream was much more pleasant than her actual life.
It wasn’t until she glanced at the clock did Lydia snap out of her daydream. She wasn’t in some small town raising a family with some stranger that she just met. She was engaged to Jackson Whittemore, a member of the wealthiest families in America, and her family could greatly use the money after her father gambled away their own family fortune, leaving them with nothing but their good name. Lydia could not afford to be off daydreaming about a life she could never have. She needed to accept the fact that she would be dependant on Jackson, for her family’s sake.
Lydia called out for her servants to come help her dress for dinner. Once her corset was pulled tight and her dress was on, Lydia made her way out to the sitting room to wait for Jackson to escort her to dinner.
After a few minutes, Jackson came out of his room. He looked Lydia up and down, scrutinizing her outfit. “You’re wearing that dress for dinner?”
Lydia crossed her arms over her chest indignantly. He had made her change her dress twice before they had originally boarded the Titanic because first because it was bad luck to wear black to a ship’s launch, especially on its maiden voyage, and second because he didn’t think that green was a good color for Lydia’s complexion. She may be forced to marry Jackson for the sake of her family but that did not mean that she actually liked him. “What is that supposed to mean? What’s wrong with my dress this time?”
Jackson’s look of disgust quickly morphed into one of shock. He wasn’t expecting Lydia to talk back to him. He quickly recovered, bringing a more neutral expression to his face. “Nothing, dear. You look lovely.”
With that, the two made their way done to the first class dining room, walking on metaphoric eggshells around one another.