On April 14th 1912 one of the most luxurious passenger cruise ships ever built struck an iceburg. Many people lost their lives that night. Even more people's lives ended with the sinking of that ship. But there was one who's life really began with that ship's sinking...
I rolled over at the sound of the bells signalling morning. The flat I had grown up in with my parents and grandmother was strangely silent and it took me a few minutes to remember that they had not returned from their trip yet. It would be at least another day before the ship arrived with them.
This did not absolve me from my morning job. A boy my age got very few choice jobs. A paperboy being one of the best in town unless you were apprenticed. Unlike the old days where you were stuck being a dockworker or apprentice, these modern days you could be a paperboy shouting your wares on the corners of the city. Which for someone slight of frame such as me was the best possible job. Gutting fish like some of the other boys on the block just did not appeal to me.
I got up from my parents bed and made sure to pull the covers back into place. It was a far better bed than my old rope frame one. I took off my nightclothes and put them aside to wash when I got home from work later. Putting on the standard brown rough spun cloth breaches and the grey shirt of a paper boy was not pleasant but I had done it for the last 3 years everyday. The 2 pennies I received for each paper sold made a tidy sum at the end of each week. The brown rough spun blazer with its annoying buttons went on next and the much hated bowtie.
I had heard of some boys eventually getting hired by the newspaper itself who would later on apprentice under a writer. It was a good living I suppose but I wanted so much more.
The two bundles by the newsstand were waiting for me as usual while I came to Papa Nugent's stand. It was a chilly morning with dew residue still on the ground. Also as usual Mrs. Nugent had a small cup of hot soup broth waiting for me to warm up on. Today she had a long face though which was strange in and of itself. It was my first warning of the news in the paper. Today's date is clearly printed on the Yorkshire Herald. April 15 1912. The headline and the story which I cry out to pedestrians I sat to read.
Unsinkable ship sunk. All hands presumed lost at sea.
I quickly read the highlights of the story the majestic crown of the seas the Titanic had reportedly sunk. It was not yet known who if any survived. The news told more of the radio messages that had been relayed to other ships. The offical position of White Star Lines New York office and so forth.
This was really tragic news. I tried not to think too much about it as I had a job to do. Thinking and more could come later. There was two other Criers one for Gazette and one for Times that also came to cry their wares to customers.
I managed to sell off my papers in record time that morning as the other two boys were not as energetic about the job as me. Of course they were also quite a bit bigger than I. So many came to the smaller boy, me first. Papa Nugent had of course recorded how fast I sold the papers and so forth along with the pennies he received for the actual papers. The paper I cried with would, as usual, come home with me.
I mechanically said my pleasantries and made my escape to home. I do not really remember the walk back at all. As soon as the door was locked I stripped out of the hated clothes as I had done for the past month since my family had gone. I made my way to the bathtub where, again thanks to modern technology, I could draw a hot bath from the pipes. Gran used to tell stories of how she had to heat the water over the stove in the old days.
Gran, I thought as I sank into the water, I miss her and my parents. I remembered the day they left. It was pure luck they said that they got the cruise on the Olympic to the old country. They had gone to visit relatives there. I had even got a chance to look around First class and the Grandstaircases on her before the ship had to set sail. I couldn't get to see her engines or turbines but seeing the staircases was great. As my parents and Gran had only second class tickets that was the most we were allowed to see.
I admit I was, and still am, a ship nut. My room at the time was full of drawings and cut out pictures of every ship on the seas with a steam engine. The RMS Lusitania, RMS Mauretania, RMS Queen Mary and many others. My favorites were the White star trio. The RMS Olympic at 882 feet and some 45 thousand tons. The RMS Titanic, the newest, at 46 thousand tons and the yet unnamed third vessel. At the time it is assumed she will be named the RMS Gigantic and be over 900 feet in length at 50 thousand tons.
I had a whole section of my wall with drawings of these ships, most artist renderings, even a few precious photos of Olympic. But Titanic was to be the best of the trio with even better first class furnishings than Olympic. It was, till that day, my hope to work aboard her as a crewman. However now that seemed entirely unlikely. I was crushed by this realization.
I knew it was a dream that would never happen. For I hid a secret. I was really a girl named Emily. My parents had made a mistake at my birth and called me a boy named Edward. I had tried to tell them this once years ago. Papa had spanked me till my bum was so sore I could not sit down for days. My precious doll was found and he made me watch as he burnt it. I hated him for that. My revenge is what I had been doing everyday for the pass Month while they were gone.
I exited the bath and let it drain. I patted myself dry with the big towel and set that to dry on the rack as well. Next I powdered myself all over even into that place where I had my thing on. You see I wanted so badly to correct my birth accident I had, as soon as they set sail, gone home and put on my leather device. The device, I hoped would put my genitals back into my body while they were gone and give me the correct girl appearance. I had removed the hated testicles with a burning red knife. It hurt alot those first few days. But it was nothing to the relief I felt to be finally free of them. After the worst of the pain had gone away I had carefully gathered everything up and using some leather bits put everything into the correct shape, or as correct as I could to the pictures I had purchased of a normal womans vagina. It was my hope that after a month it would be healed and I would be free to be Emily.
The second part of my plan was somewhat easier. I wore one of the corsets I had found. The corset when worn helped to define my breasts better. A few times a day I would pull the skin up further and further so my breasts would settle. I would only take the corset off for a bath, which I did daily. Otherwise even working I wore one. After a month of doing so I was actually getting a respectable bust. I had also lost some weight around the middle and had to switch to smaller corsets twice.
I had been sneaking some of Dad's hair gel to give my hair a more male shape since it was growing long even though he didn't notice. But for the last month everyday I had been using Grans curling iron on the stove to give my hair a nice ringlet appearance. In the mirror for the first time in my life I could really see myself. Not that boy thing. But me Emily the girl. I was happy. I sat to pee and made sure to wash myself below with the washrag of Lye soap I kept for that purpose. Getting an infection now would kill my dream of being me. Though I had sneaked a small bottle of the new antibiotics out anyways and had been taking one of them per day since I removed my defects.
I went to my room where I had moved out all the hated clothes into a trunk at the start of the month and pulled out my girls underclothes. Being some of Grans old ones from way back, she never threw out anything, they were pantaloon type panties and not the newer and much shorter panties. Which was okay since my dresses were all handme downs as well, again courtesy of gran. I had one or two of the new style knee length dresses that fit me nicely after I had done some sewing on them. They were not the newest fashions in store windows like Macys but rather last years. A girlfriend who knew me only as Emily had gotten them for me as a secret present where she worked part time with her mother sewing them in a factory. These where actually resized from larger dresses that had mistakes. I had gotten pretty good, if I do say so myself, with mom and grans new Singer treadle machine. Buying the thread for it wasn't always easy and I had once got caught and had to give Gran the thread as a present instead. I had also added some lace to the hem and collar of the dress, which it didn't have originally, but I though was cute. I had styled the Lace to a peter pan collar on the dress.
I decided to wear that dress today. It had a zipper and it took me a minute of awkward gyrations to get it zipped up in a corset. The leftover material I had worked into a tie-able bow at the back. This also served the purpose of taking in the waist to match my new correct waist and showing off my hips. In the mirror I put on my few bits of makeup, which didn't take all that long since it was just an eye pencil nub and eye powder. I also checked my face for any of the dreaded hairs, none were present and hopefully never would.
I went into Ma and Pa's room and debated if I wanted to use any of ma's lipstick. It was a risk to even use it since it would be noticeable. After this morning's shock though I decided to treat myself and put it on. In my parents full mirror I admired myself. I was all Emily with no sign of that fake Edward at all. I was happy!
I walked to the entrance to the mainroom which also had the kitchen in our little modern flat. I prepared myself and put myself in my little world. In this world It was morning and I was to help Mama as her daughter with Gran as always sitting in her rocker knitting away. Papa would be smoking on his stinky pipe reading the newspaper.
I carefully put the paper I had gotten into its place on the table for Papa to read when he got in. I put on my apron and started to run the water to wash the dishes from last nights supper, which in my world was this mornings pots and pans from making breakfast. I chatted out loud in my girliest voice as describing the dress that me and the other girls were making for my imaginary date with Thomas the bakers son. Yes I had a massive crush on the guy he was so cute! In my world Papa interupted saying I was much to young to date boys yet. I was about to reply to that comment when I heard a knock on our flat door.
I was caught and I knew it. If I had not been talking aloud in my voice I could have pretended nobody was here. My hands were full of soap suds so having little choice but to face the music I wiped them on the dish rag and went to open the door. In the eyehole I saw a strangely dressed man in a full captains suit with his cap under his sleeve. This was more than a little unusual and I wondered if the White star company had finally sent someone to haul me away for taking that soft towel of the Olympic. The same towel now drying in the bathroom.
I slowly opened the door, which in hindsight wasn't the best thing to do but I was not thinking all that well that morning. Little did I know how much worse it would get.
To be continue...
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