‘Abandon the ship and do it quick!’ I heard the Captain cry as a crack of lightning sliced the sky above us. Before I knew what had happened I felt myself jump from the bed on which I lay and ran for my door. Chaos was all around me as I emerged onto the deck panting and grasping for breath, running for my life was never my strong point. David, a young sailor I had met one evening at dinner grabbed my arm and pushed me in the direction of the nearest life boat but he did not follow. Every sound I heard as I ran across the wooden planks was deafening; the screams of women and children, the rumbles of the thunder above but loudest of all, the creaking of the ship as all the seams tore apart. Far into the distance I could see helpless passengers – now survivors –on life boats waiting to be saved whilst being thrown backwards and forewords by the ever-changing current of the horrific ocean, witnessing the tragedy unfold in front of them.
Groaning now erupted from the ships funnel; my heart raced as I frantically ran to save my life. Hands trembling I made it to the only life boat left on the ship’s deck and scrambled aboard. It was then that I truly looked at what was in front of me; the terror that the ocean had caused and the panic on the faces of its captives. Just as I was about to turn away and shield myself from the nightmare, I caught a glimpse of David. Knowing I would never see him again I took one long last look at his chiselled smirking face. Lingering words filled the atmosphere around me and the urge to shout at the top of my lungs came suddenly. Moving from this ship was my only chance of survival but these unspoken words between us made it harder to leave – that was the moment the lifeboat jerked downwards. Nexus, an American ship rescued the lifeboats a few hours later but it was too late for those who never made it off the ship, they had been pulled down as it sunk.
Over the next few years, I often thought of that night and most importantly David – he was my missed opportunity, the man who saved my life. Perhaps if I had only shouted over, he would have been allowed on the life boat, he would have been alive today. Quiet often surrounded me as I thought of him but the butterflies in my stomach kept me warm. Recently, I heard that some life boats pulled survivors from the ocean. So I spent the remaining days trying to find him but there was no luck. Truth was that he died that night. Ultimately the feelings I had for him were just too great to let him go. Victory for me was the only way to cope; I needed to find him, I needed him to be alive.
With a fright I awoke from my sleep. X-rays of brains covered the white walls around me. Yellow light beamed from the ceiling into my face. Zigzagged then turned off, it was then a voice echoed through the room ‘It’s okay, I’m David your Doctor; you’re in hospital, your boat sunk but you were asleep when it happened’.