Fictional love story on the HMS Lusitania. Inspired by lines from "This Too Shall Pass"
| William Sutherland, an elderly nursing home resident, enjoyed a visit from his daughter and grandchildren on his hundredth birthday.
"Happy birthday, Grandpa!" said the grandkids upon entering his room.
William opened his eyes to see the grandkids at his bedside. "Thanks!"
"Happy birthday, Dad! We brought you some cake," said his daughter. After Mom fed everyone a slice of cake, the youngest grandchild said, "Can you tell us a story, Grandpa?"
"Of course," he answered. "I have lots of stories."
"Let's hear one from your life," said his daughter.
"Alright, here goes..." said William.
The year was 1915, and I had left New York on the RMS Lusitania to go to school in England. My parents were wealthy and were sending me to a prestigious university to study medicine and become a doctor. My mother drove me to the dock with my one suitcase, hugged me and kissed me goodbye. I boarded the ship and settled into my cabin.
Early that evening, I enjoyed a glass of wine on the stern, admiring the dazzling sunset. I spotted a girl with a notebook, sitting near the railing. She seemed intent on finishing her drawing. As I approached her, she looked up at me with stunning green eyes and fiery red hair.
"Hello, I'm William Sutherland," I said and extended my hand.
"Margaret Ellis," she replied. "Pleased to meet you. "
"I see you're an artist," I began, glancing at her project. It depicted an eighteenth century man-of-war. "I love old sailing ships like that," I said. "They're so gorgeous."
"I love them too," said Margaret. "They're my favorite thing to draw."
"You're pretty good," I said. "I've tried to draw them, but mine don't turn out as well as yours."
Margaret smiled softly. Her eyes met with mine. She is ravishing, I thought to myself.
"Would you like to see some more of my drawings?" she asked.
"I would love to," I answered.
She showed me a drawing of a hummingbird. "I love hummingbirds, too," she said.
"They are pretty," I said. "It's almost time for dinner. Would you like to join me?"
"I would like that," she replied. She stood and packed up her drawing supplies.
I extended my hand once more. She took it, and we strolled towards the dining room. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, I began the conversation with, "So, why are you on a ship bound for England?"
"I am going there to visit family," she answered. "What about you?"
"I am going to school in England to become a doctor." Our food arrived, and I began to cut into the gigantic piece of chicken on my plate.
"You'll make good money as a doctor," said Margaret. "If I could date a man of any profession, I would date a doctor." She took a sip from her glass. "I would like to marry one and have a big family."
"I would like to have a big family, too," I said.
She took another sip of wine. "You know, you're pretty easy on the eyes," she said to me.
I chuckled. "I was thinking the same thing about you."
After dinner, I walked her to her cabin. "Goodnight, William," she said. She looked up at me and blinked a few times.
"Goodnight, Margaret," I said before kissing her on the cheek. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed me back. I picked her up and carried her into her cabin, gently setting her on the bed. I turned off the lights. I backed out of the room, closed the door and headed to my own cabin down the hall.
The next afternoon, May 7th, I met up with her again. It was around two o'clock, and I saw her sitting on a staircase with a book.
"Oh, hello, William," she said, looking up at me. "I enjoyed our time together last night."
"So did I -"
We heard a huge "BAM!" A few minutes later, a crew member told us," We've been hit by a German U - boat! Everyone go up to the main deck with the life rafts! We will load as many as possible -"
Suddenly we heard another explosion, and the ship began to list heavily. "I have to help! Go up to the main deck and get yourself into a lifeboat. I will meet you there," I told Margaret. She tried to hug me.
"There's no time for that!" I said. She nodded, and rushed up the stairs.
Tears formed in the grandfather's eyes. "That was the last chance we got to hug, and I sent her away," said William.
"You can't let it drag you down, Grandpa," said William's granddaughter. "You were trying to help people. You were a hero." William wiped his eye.
"What happened after that, Grandpa? We want to hear the rest of the story," said the grandson.
"Alright..." said William.
I frantically ran around, informing people of the emergency. After making rounds through the hallways, I ran up the stairs to the lifeboats. The crew had a hard time using them because the ship was listing so badly. They were only able to use a small fraction of the available boats. I happened to be near the last boat to be released. I looked around for Margaret, but couldn't find her. I approached a crew member.
"Have you seen a young lady with red hair and green eyes?" I asked.
"I think I saw her get into life raft #13," he answered. "I heard that lifeboat overturned and fell apart. You must get into this raft if you want any chance of surviving this," he told me.
"I have to find the young lady!"
"She drowned, and you will too if you don't go now!" He guided me into the boat and lowered it. I got so upset I lost awareness of my surroundings. All I could think was, she's gone!
Soon the HMS Juno found us and brought us to shore. That night, I had a dream about Margaret. She quoted a verse from the Book of Psalms 30:5, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
"Why did I have to lose you so suddenly? We had just met..." I said.
"I don't know that, but I do know you will join me up here many years from now. We will be together in Heaven, and it won't matter that we weren't able to be together on Earth."
I awoke the next morning with a feeling of peace. I looked out the window to see a rainbow and a hummingbird. I knew it was from her, letting me know that she was safe and everything would be okay.
"Wow, Grandpa! That was a fascinating story!" said William's grandson.
"I wanted to make sure you heard it while I could still tell it," said William.
"Grandpa's tired, kids. Let's give him some time to rest," said William's daughter. "Bye, Dad. Love you." She kissed him on the forehead.
"Love you too," said William.
After his family left, William fell into a deep sleep. He saw that he was in a dark tunnel, with a bright light at the end of it. He rapidly ascended through the tunnel. Upon arriving at the end, he found Margaret waiting, as she had been for the decades that only felt like a few minutes in Heaven. They embraced and kissed. William pulled Margaret into a dip, and they took the pose of the sailor kissing the nurse. They enjoyed each other's company for all eternity.
“Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” - Rabindranath Tagore
Historical Facts obtained from
End quote obtained from