April 16, 1912
I have no idea where to begin. I suspect I’m in shock. The Titanic sank, but I expected that. What I didn’t expect was for it to sink an hour early, or for several ships to come to our rescue, or for the loss of life to be a fraction of what it had originally been. These and a lot of other questions continually circulate through my mind as I realize that they may never be answered to my satisfaction.
Tom and I ended up on the Olympic. The Titanic’s sister ship wasn’t carrying the maximum number of passengers, fortunately, but once Titanic passengers were taken aboard, conditions quickly became crowded. I insisted that the passengers take priority over me for cabin space, especially beds, but both the Olympic’s doctors and Dr. O’Loughlin insisted that Tom and I accept a cabin because of my injury. Speaking of which, I still have a mild headache, but I’m much improved from yesterday.
From almost the moment we boarded, Tom, Ismay, and the senior officers from the Titanic have been working to piece together the events of the night in an effort to determine what happened. What caused the damage? What was the extent of the damage? That’s where he is right now, Tom, I mean. Of course, I wanted to join them, but everyone insisted that I rest. It’s likely for the best; they’re asking questions I probably already know the answers to.
A knock at the door interrupted Brynne’s writing. She turned in her seat to face the door. “Come in.”
The stewardess entered with a loaded food cart. “I’ve come with your lunch, Mrs. Andrews,” she said, carefully guiding the cart into the room.
Brynne closed her journal, rose from her seat at the table, and walked over to the bed. As she deposited the notebook on the bed, she asked, “Have you, by any chance, run into Mr. Andrews today?”
“I did, ma’am,” the stewardess replied. She began to prepare the small table for lunch, carefully positioning drinking glasses and plates on the table. She neglected to lay out a table cloth, which didn’t surprise Brynne. With everything that had happened, and with all the extra bodies onboard, she could think of other, more useful ways to use clean linen.
The stewardess continued. “He’s planning to take lunch with you here in the stateroom.”
Brynne reclaimed her seat. Before she was even settled at the table, the stateroom door opened, and Andrews entered. “I was hoping I was on time,” he said with a grin.
“It looks like you’re right on time,” Brynne said.
Andrews leaned down and kissed Brynne before taking his seat across from her. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Much, much better, thank you,” Brynne replied. “I really do think you’re making too big of a fuss over me.”
“Brynne, you suffered a serious injury,” Andrews said. “You need to rest.”
“But I feel fine now,” Brynne insisted, and she did. At the same time, she knew that Tom was right. She was at the mercy of 1912 medicine. She’d only undergone physical examinations from Dr. O’Loughlin and the Olympic’s physician. Without the benefit of a CAT scan, she couldn’t know how serious the damage had actually been.
Resigned, she plucked her napkin from the table and spread it across her lap. “How has your morning been?” she asked.
“We’re still comparing notes, trying to figure out where everything started to go wrong,” Andrews said.
“Have you made any progress?”
“Some,” Andrews said. “We’re trying to determine whether the ship actually did break in two. There have been numerous reports and observations that she did.” He sighed. If they found evidence that the Titanic had broken in half, Brynne knew Tom would take it a black mark against his design and possibly even his skill as a designer.
Even in the 21st century, experts who’d studied the Titanic for years disagreed on what exactly had caused the break-up. Before the discovery of the wreck, there was a healthy debate about whether the ship had even broken up at all. One reason for the lasting debate was the fact that none of the people onboard who were in a position to authoritatively explain what happened that night survived. The other reason was that the ship was 2 ½ miles below the surface of the Atlantic. Despite the fact that the important authorities survived, the ship was still at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, and without examining the ship, no one would ever have all the answers.