Arthur gripped Nanny’s hand as the salty spray formed a crust around his nose. He peered through the railings into the deep and shivered. His baby sister, Alice, and their parents were in the cabin, wrecked with sickness since they’d set sail. The liner was like a small floating town. Some folk even slept on the floor in the ship’s belly. Arthur wouldn’t like that at all. He enjoyed being tucked in, safe and sound.

Arthur squinted at the outline forming ahead of him.

‘Look, Nanny Bella, Ireland.’ It had been many sleeps since they’d left America.

She lead Arthur away as the ship rocked with a violent force that shoved them onto the steel floor. Arthur cried out in pain as the rough metal tore at knees, but his cries were drowned out by the screams of other passengers. His grip on Nanny’s hand loosened as the floor tilted and he slid into the icy water. Arthur rose once, then again until his heavy clothes anchored him under the waves and into the oblivion.

***

A solitary, salty tear slipped down Arthur’s cheek. He wiped it away with the palm of his hand wrinkled with passage of time and marked with liver spots. He took a deep quivering breath and concentrated on the horizon ahead as the nurse tucked a blanket around his knees, muttering about ‘catching his death in the cold’. Rising from its watery grave like a large stallion rearing up on hind legs, the Lusitania appeared. Arthur’s breathing slowed as he searched the foamy waters, like he had done those many years ago. There! Three figures on deck, waving. Alice, his mother and father. Reunited at last.  His empty heart, now full and content, shuddered and stopped as the boat slipped under for the last time.

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