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Through The Eyes Of The Littlest Stowaway
This story is about a nine year old girl who stows away on the titanic.
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Virtual Reality (Short Stories) Based on a true story. [1,154 words]
Through The Eyes Of The Littlest Stowaway
Through the Eyes of the Littlest Stowaway
Darkness enveloped her and surrounded her. The sound of footsteps and voices had awakened her from a sound sleep. She popped up, wondering where she was at first, and then she remembered and settled back down. She felt around for the half eaten homemade bread with the canteen of water that she had taken with her.
This wasn’t the first time that nine-year-old Annie O’Hara had run away from home, but it was the first time she had stowed away on a ship, especially one as large and beautiful as the Titanic. Annie had left the tiny apartment she shared with her aunt and walked the three blocks to the Southampton docks where the ship was berthed. Her fifteen-year-old brother, Sean, had gone to New York to accept a job offer. A whole year had gone by with no word, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. Annie promised that she would stay with her maiden aunt and when the time was right, he would send for them both, but she knew that would never work, and besides, she missed him terribly.
Not wanting to return home, she climbed on board, looking for somewhere she could hide when she saw a lifeboat. No one had noticed and no one had been paying attention to a nine year old playing around the boats. And so she slipped in and had remained hidden in the darkness that surrounded her undisturbed for the three days.
She was about to peek out from under the tarp that covered the boat, when she heard voices. Two voices loud and clear, they seemed to be right next to her.
“You’ve got to slow this ship down, Captain. You are placing everyone in danger and putting lives at risk, including your own. We are venturing into frozen waters and you will have to contend with icebergs. This ship was not designed nor intended to see how quickly you could put in at New York Harbor.”
“Please, Thomas,” the other voice said. He seemed to be pleading. ‘This ship is unsinkable. If an accident should occur, the watertight doors will close. There is no chance that water can or will flood this ship. I do not intend to slow this ship down, Mr. Andrews and that’s my final word on the matter.”
“But you don’t understand Captain. I’m not so sure that all is safe. Should a disaster occur, there would never be enough lifeboats for every single passenger aboard this ship. We can’t take that chance!”
The voices were moving away now, but Annie had no idea what it had all meant. She tried to think about it, but the darkness and the gentle rocking of the ship made her sleepy again.
A sudden jolt had woken her this time. This time the voices were louder. Annie could hear screams and a sudden rush of footsteps. This time she pushed the tarp back and saw some of the men kicking something around the deck. Why, it looked like big chunks of ice.
Then she heard another voice, a male voice, pleading with the passengers to put on their life jackets. They would be getting the lifeboats ready soon and wanted women and children only on deck.
Not wanting to be discovered, Annie waited until a sizeable crowd had grown. She climbed out quickly, hoping that no one would notice. She made her way through throngs of people to the first lifeboat she saw.
“Come, little miss,” one of the officers called out to her. He was waving his arm, motioning her to come closer. “There is still room enough for a pretty little girl like you.”
He smiled as he reached out for Annie and placed her on the lifeboat. He looked over the crowd and decided that the half filled boat.
“All right,” he called out. “Lower away.” Annie watched as the officer used his arms to direct exactly which way the boat was going. She heard a little splash as the boat connected with the freezing water. She could feel the boat pulling away now and watched until it was safely out of harms way.
She remained on that lifeboat in the middle of the freezing water and watched the unsinkable Titanic slowly break apart and slip to the bottom of the Atlantic where it still lies to this day.
Sean O’Hara had gone to Pier 54 not knowing what to expect. He had received two telegrams. One that he had received was vague and had made little sense to him.
“SISTER ANNIE ON WAY TO NEW YORK HARBOR. STOP. CARPATHIA ARRIVAL CUNARD PIER 54. STOP. FATHER TIMOTHY DONNELLY.”
Sean knew that Annie was a wild child who ran away from the children’s home often. Aunt Mary or Sister Superior, as the other nuns referred to her, was too devoted to her chores and prayers and constantly lost track of the little devil, but one of the other sisters had followed her and confirmed what the first telegram said.
“ANNIE HAS RUN AWAY AGAIN. STOP. WE HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE THAT SHE HAD GONE IN SEARCH OF YOU. STOP. WILL KEEP YOU INFORMED. STOP. AUNT MARY”
So to Pier 54 he came, watching and waiting for the Carpathia to put in, then wire Aunt Mary with the news. Father Timothy was a good soul, their Sunday school teacher who had been appointed Chaplin for the steamer, Carpathia. He had recognized Annie and sent the telegram to Sean as soon as he confirmed who she was. He had gotten the entire story out of her and promised to keep her secret, knowing full well she had been wrong.
Just then, Sean caught sight of a liner in the distance. He had hoped that it was the Carpathia and when it slid into the pier, anxiously awaited the mass exodus from the ship. He didn’t have to wait long.
“Sean, Sean,” Annie called. She smiled, ran into his arms and hugged him tightly.
“Annie, girl, you had us all worried. This was a great stunt you pulled this time, it was.” He pushed her away and looked into her eyes, pushing her long hair out of it. “I should send you back right now, you silly goose. Do you know how much trouble you could have gotten into?”
Annie looked into his eyes, a little puzzled at first, but realized that he had been smiling. Then she started to cry.
“My little love,” he whispered, taking her into his arms. “You will stay here with me in America now. No turning back.” Sean smiled and bent down to dry her tears.
“Come, let me show you what I call home. It’s a small flat that I share with another boy right now, but it will get better.”
Sean took her hand and smiled at her. “Come let’s go. Our future awaits.”
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© 2005 Susan Friedman
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