Under the Starlight

The snow fell silent and soft outside my window in Boston all afternoon. The fir trees on the lawn collected the flakes to add freshness to their already lush scent. As I sat in my bay window observing the scenery, I thought about how I would begin my mother’s story. I had heard it all my life growing up, but now to write her story was different. My friend had heard it and asked if he could submit it in his magazine. Even though mother was gone, I wanted her story to be exactly how she had always told it. As her son, it had a tremendous impact on my life.

I moved to my stationary desk and sat down with a piece of paper.

Then I began to write.

Dear Mr. Haskell,

As you requested, this is the story of my mother, Mrs. Elaine Hayes’ encounter on the Titanic.

It was a warm pleasant spring day when 11 year old Elaine Porter set foot on the Titanic accompanied by her Mother, Mrs. Diane Porter, and Grandfather, Mr. Nicholas Reed. The scent of fresh sea salt filled the air and gave an atmosphere of adventure to the bland port of England. A light breeze swept back Elaine’s thick blonde curls as she stood beside her mother on the ships main deck.

After they weighed anchor, Elaine watched the shore of Southampton England shrink into the distance and she felt a sense of keen pleasure. She looked at her Grandfather and hugged his arm.

Elaine had been on many ships before; her father traveled many times during the year attending to business affairs and liked to send for his family whenever he had the chance. Now they were bound for America.

On the morning of April 14, Elaine and her mother were taking a stroll along one of the decks. “Elaine there is something I have to tell you.” Her mother spoke softly to her.

“Your father has taken a permanent job in Massachusetts. He has found a beautiful little house in Boston, and he wants us to come live with him. Would you like to live in America dear?”

“Yes, if grandfather were to be with us.” Elaine replied decidedly.

“Well Elaine, your Grandfather has his job and that requires travelling. He can’t settle down anywhere just yet, but he will visit with us often.”

“But mother, I want him to be with me.” Elaine started.

“I love Grandpa just as much as you do Elaine, but we can’t be selfish and keep Grandpa in a place he doesn’t want to be.”

“Did you ask him where he wants to be?” Tears brimmed in her eyes while she pleaded.

“No Elaine, but we all know Grandpa loves being out at sea. You wouldn’t want to take him away from a place he loves would you?”

“But he loves to be with me!” Elaine let the tears fall and hugged her mother’s waist. Dianne looked at her daughter and hugged her tight.

Later that night after dinner, Elaine sat in her room looking out her window. It was a clear lovely night outside. A black sky, lighted by glowing stars, reflected in the wispy water. The cold air breathed in through Elaine’s window, making her shiver. Her little mind wondered away to thoughts of America and her life-to-be. But suddenly remembering her mothers wish, Elaine closed the window, tiptoed to her bed, curled up under her blankets, and fell asleep.

But it would not be a beautiful night for long.

Three hours later found Elaine shocked, confused, and very much afraid. She was being rushed onto the main deck with her little doll clutched tightly in her arm. Women were screaming, men had panic in their eyes, and children were crying. Elaine was holding her grandfathers hand climbing stairs to get to the deck.

Nicholas turned and looked at his granddaughter.

“Elaine there is something wrong with the boat. We have to put you on a smaller boat and meet you in America. Your mother will be with you. Do you understand Elaine?” Elaine nervously nodded her head.

On deck men were lowering boats of women and children into the water. Elaine could hear her heart beating loudly and she wanted to cry. She looked at her mother. Diane was crying and climbing into a boat. She had said goodbye to her father and now reached for Elaine to climb in with her.

“Grandpa, where do you like to be best of all?” Elaine suddenly turned to asked him through the chaos.

Nicholas Reed looked at Elaine with tears in his eyes.

“Elaine,” he began slowly, “I like to be with Jesus and you and your parents.” He smiled at her.

“Yes, but where do you like to be Grandpa?”  Elaine was frightened, she wanted her grandfather to pick her up and hold her and never let her go.

“Grandpa why aren’t you coming with me, you have to come with me!” She shouted before he could answer her last question. Elaine was crying now, but all of a sudden, as he was answering her, everything and everyone in the background became a blur. And then it was only Elaine and her grandfather under the starlight. Everything was silent except for her grandfather’s steady, sweet voice.

“Elaine.” Nicholas bent down on his knee, and looked in her eyes. “Elaine it doesn’t matter where I am as long as I have Jesus with me. Whatever His plan is for my life I know it will work together for good, because Jesus knows what’s best for my life. When Jesus died on the cross for us, He was giving up his life to save us. He made a sacrifice so that we can live. That is what I am doing for you. All the men on this ship want to sacrifice so that you and all the other women and children can get to America safely.

“I love you Elaine, but Jesus loves you even more. He knows the plan He has for your life, I do not. So put your trust in the One who knows your every step, He will never fail you.”

Elaine looked at her Grandfather and smiled warmly at him.

“I trust Him Grandfather.”

Nicholas picked Elaine up in his arms, kissed her on the cheek, put a life-jacket on her, and then put her in the boat with her mother. Elaine sat on her mothers lap and cried on her shoulder. They were lowered down and Elaine could feel the boat drifting away. She could hear the cries and yelling fading in the distance. Elaine eventually fell asleep and woke up in America.

Elaine was reunited with her father and lived in Boston with her family, leading a normal life. But she never forgot what her Grandfather had taught her that night somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean on the sinking Titanic. That Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and that her grandfather had followed His example by putting women and children first.  He was able to do this because Gods plan is perfect and he trusted Him.

The End


Nicholas Jr. Hayes



Written By Lisa C. Hallahan



2 thoughts on “Under the Starlight

  1. Wow Lisa, very good. I really enjoyed it. I plan on sharing it with my girls. Keep up the good work and I look forward to more of your short stories.

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