1. August 5, 1913

August 5, 1913

Belfast

Harland and Wolff

2:29 p.m.

I hate showing weakness in front of all the men here at the firm, but I can only do what my body will let me. I knew being pregnant would take a toll on my body, but I didn’t know it would happen this early along.

Being able to see her work come to life before her eyes was one of the things Brynne loved about being a ship designer. Everyday, she could look out her office window and see the ship inch closer to completion. It became even more evident on days like today, when she was able to actually board the Britannic and see some of the results of her work first-hand. Many days, she was simply too busy to go out to the ship. Today was different. Today, she’d been able to accompany Tom as he made an inspection of the ship to check progress.

Brynne peered over the side of the ship from her vantage point on the Promenade deck. It was just a quick peek, and it shouldn’t have affected her negatively. But it did. A few nanoseconds after she looked down over the side of the Britannic, the world began to spin. Nausea followed, washing over her. She felt she was being rocked by rough waves, even though she knew it was impossible, as the ship was still in dry dock. She tried to take a step away from the railing, but her knees buckled and darkness closed in around her.

Tom, standing beside Brynne, had turned just in time to see the beginning of her fall. Only his quick reflexes prevented her from hitting the deck. He caught her in his arms.

“Brynne!” He carefully lowered her to the ground. “Brynne?” Her face was pale, and she was unconscious, but she was mildly responsive.

Brynne woke up staring at a ceiling. She turned her head slightly to get a better look at her surroundings. She was in Tom’s office, lying on his sofa.

“Tom?” she said.

Tom walked over to the sofa and sat alongside Brynne. “Here I am,” he said softly. He reached out and gently brushed a strand of hair away from her face. “How do you feel?”

“Like an idiot,” Brynne said. “I don’t know what happened. One minute I was looking over the side of the ship, the next I was completely dizzy.”

There was a soft knock on the door. “Come in,” Tom called out. The office door opened, and a receptionist stepped inside.

“Dr. Callahan here to see you, sir,” the young man announced. He stepped to the side to allow the doctor entry into the room.

Tom, Brynne,” the doctor greeted.

Tom looked at the receptionist. “Thank you, James,” he said, dismissing the young man. James left, closing the door behind him.

Tom turned his attention to the Callahan. “Doctor, thank you for coming on such short notice.”

“It’s no trouble,” Callahan said. “No trouble at all. What seems to be the problem here?” He walked over to the sofa. Andrews rose so that Callahan could examine her.

“She fainted this morning while we were onboard the Britannic,” Tom said. Callahan took Tom’s place beside Brynne on the sofa. He began to take her vitals.

“I started feeling dizzy all of a sudden,” Brynne said.

Callahan was silent as he continued taking her vitals. “Your pulse is a little weak.” He felt her face with his hands to see if her body temperature was elevated. “Have you had any other symptoms today? Nausea? Headaches?”

“I remember feeling nauseous right before I passed out,” Brynne said, “but I felt fine before then, which is why I don’t understand it. I’ve never had vertigo before. I don’t understand why I reacted this way.”

“Pregnancy can affect a woman’s body in many unexpected ways,” Callahan offered. “This is one of them. It’s also been very warm today, which probably didn’t help.”

“Is it all right to take her home, Doctor?” Tom asked.

“Oh, yes, by all means. Get her home and into bed. Make sure she gets plenty of rest for the remainder of today and all of tomorrow. Plenty of fluids and bed rest. You must learn to be easier on yourself and your body, Brynne. You must remember your delicate condition.”

Callahan rose from the sofa, and Tom took a few steps toward him. “So, she’s all right?” Tom asked. “The baby, too?”

“As far as I can tell, everything is still progressing nicely. She just needs more rest.”

Tom nodded, relieved. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“I’ll drop by the house later on tonight to check on you again, Brynne,” Callahan said.

“Thank you, Doctor,” Brynne said, echoing her husband.

Callahan left the office, leaving Tom to rejoin Brynne on the sofa. “Brynne, you know that I’ve never wanted to be one of those husbands who order their wives around, but I must put my foot down about this – you can’t go back onboard the Britannic before the baby is born. In fact, it would probably be a good idea if you stayed away from the outside areas of the yard all together. It’s too dangerous.”

Brynne wanted to argue … but she knew he was right. “I know,” she said, nodding. The reality was that it was still early in her pregnancy, and she didn’t know what other changes were in store for her. If unpredictable fainting spells were going to be a continued possibility, along with who knows what else, the last place she needed to be was somewhere potentially dangerous, like a ship still under heavy construction.

But Tom wasn’t finished, yet. “I also think we should take Dr. Callahan’s advice about getting more rest,” he said. “Maybe you shouldn’t spend so much time here at the firm.” Brynne looked up at him with questioning eyes. “Not that you should stop working, but maybe you should cut down on the number of hours you spend here. Perhaps work here at the office for half a day, then maybe work at home for the rest.”

“I suppose that wouldn’t be so bad,” Brynne said. “I have been tiring more easily lately.” She managed a small smile. It was easy for her to forget that she was carrying a child sometimes. In a few more months, though, it was going to become much more difficult to overlook.

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