nearer my god to thee

The whole situation had suddenly changed from a joyful celebration of the New Year to death knocking at the door. I was in the lounge, sharing my first kiss with a boy I had met a few days earlier. Without warning, we were jostled from our position by what seemed to be a collision. The lights began to flicker on and off, and commotion began. People went from stunned wonder to absolute chaos.

“We are in a state of emergency. Everyone please remain calm. We shall begin an evacuation of the ship. Women and children first please. Once I again I repeat, remain calm.”

At the sound of the announcement, body’s began bounding out of the room, people were yelling, and my boyfriend had left my side; I was forgotten in seconds. My first thought is to find my mother, but fortunately she manages to find me first. I was scared.

“Let’s go get your brother and sister.” My mother’s soothing voice assures me, as if the situation occurring at the moment is not actually happening. I nod, tears rushing down my face. She grabs my hand and smoothly, yet firmly guides me away from the confusion. We walk against the rushing crowd and head for the staircase. We sink lower and lower into the boat, my mom humming an old Christian Hymn, “Nearer My God To Thee.” I hum along, my spirits lifting and my heart at ease. My mother will take care of it. She always does. All of a sudden, she stops and cranes her head towards a cracking sound. Suddenly her movements become urgent and she pushes me towards the doorway.

“Quickly run!” She suddenly yells. Stunned at the sudden outburst, it takes me several seconds before it resisters to me that the need for my escape is necessary. A window in the dining room breaks, and gallons of freezing water come rushing in. I run with all my might, forgetting my mother for a moment. In those seconds I turn around in time to see the grand piano fall off the stage and slide to block off the entrance of the corridor.

I scream. I shout. I cry. But my mother no longer answers.

I bustle into the cabin, feet sopping wet. The sound of the slowly rising, yet steadfast flood pothers my ears and I quickly slam the door shut. I sink to the floor and cover my ears. I don’t want to hear it. I can’t hear it. That sound had carried away my mother.

She had only been a short distance behind me, but was far enough to be lost forever.

My mind panics. I need to grab our things. Dress them up warmly. The frosty air will bite them if I do not dress them properly.

“Snacks.” I whisper, diverting from the terrible possibilities clouding my mind. Sean was a hungry boy and would complain the entire trip to shore. It could take hours…days even. First I needed to get them out of the room and up the stairs…

Tears spring to my eyes as a realization sinks into me. The exit has been blocked. All the terrible thoughts come rushing back.

“What am I going to do?” I think to myself.

What can I possibly do?

I am busy lamenting to the current situation when I catch sight of my two lovely siblings, playing hide and seek innocently in the kitchen. For a minute I simply gaze at their luminescence, their brilliant light, their playful eyes.

“One, two, four, five…three…” Sean counts incorrectly as Shelly quickly scrambles to find a hiding place. She hides in the first place she stumbles upon: the cabinets under the sink of the washroom. She doesn’t even bother to turn off the lights or shut the door. Sean quickly rises from his counting position to find his twin sister. His short stocky legs scurry as swiftly as they can in search of his sister, his best friend. I only continue to watch as he checks the cupboards and immediately discovers Shelly who squeals in delight. He pulls both of her hands and helps her exit her poor choice of hiding place. They giggle in harmony, a soft bubbly melody of happy laughter.

I need to pull it together. For them. For me.

If they are going to go, they must go in peace.

Shelly catches my gaze and strides towards me, her arms open for a hug. I pick her up and place her on the the top bunk, Sean soon following. I quickly reach for their thick coats and beckon them to put them on.

“Where are we going?” Shelly laughs.

“To play?” Sean asks.

I nod cheerfully and hand them each a lollipop. Shelly seems dissatisfied with her flavour and pulls Sean’s from his mouth, popping it directly into her own. Sean is shocked at first, but then simply takes the other lollipop from my other hand and pats his younger sister’s head.

“Because you’re my sister.” He tells her. I smile sweetly and commend him for his manliness. He beams. I hear creaking sounds beyond the door. Time is running out. My anxiety grows and I catch Sean staring directly into my eyes. I look away quickly. I cannot bear to look him in the eye. As if sensing the situation, Sean tells Shelly to lie down and sleep.

“When are we going to play?” Shelly asks while fiddling with Sean’s hands.

“Soon. We have to see someone first.” I fib. The lies come out so easily. I almost convince myself that they are true. “We have to nap first.”

“When you wake up you’ll be there.” I whisper.

“Will mommy be there?” Sean asks.


Satisfied with my answer, they snuggle up against each other, preparing for slumber.

I sing the hymn my mother once hummed for me.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

I am already feeling the cold slice into my skin.

Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

“Cold!” Shelly squeaks, trying to wrestle her hand out of my own.

“Sorry.” I whisper faintly. “Please let me hold your hand.”

Shelly’s noises cease.

There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
All that Thou sendest me, in mercy giv’n;
Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

The water is now above my chest. I can no longer feel my legs. With only their little hands to provide me with warmth, I continue.

Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

With Shelly snoring softly, sleepily Sean whispers, “Who are we going to see?”

“Him.” I whisper gently. Brushing the sides of Sean’s face, I continue into the last verse of the hymn.

There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
Age after age to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

Sean is now completely asleep, his small breaths exhaling onto my frozen hands. Such warmth. Such life.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

I sing the last line of the piece, before allowing myself to fall into a long, deep sleep.

I sorta got my inspiration from the Titanic movie 😉

*Ms. Hunnisett I’ just like to say that I did hand this in at 7:00, but every time I went back to read it over I kept finding mistakes. I hope that won’t affect my mark for timeliness.*

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One thought on “Sleep

  1. Dear Timi,
    This. Was. Unbelievably. Incredible. I’m still in awe of your skill in writing. You didn’t describe the setting at the beginning, but as I continued to read it, I felt as if I knew the setting which you were describing, even without direct mention of it. I also love how you were able to connect the theme of this beautiful piece to the theme of some of the Holocaust texts which we read in class. This was particularly one of my favorite parts of this piece, mainly because I did not notice this at all when I started reading. I am extremely thankful for that, as it’s an amazing feeling, where you realize something connects to another thing, which you did not think originally connected (I’m so sorry for being confusing). Your detailed descriptions, as well as character emotions, led me on a sort of trail, whereby the middle of the story, I was speculating that this story was inspired from the Titanic.

    I love the content of your story, specifically what I felt as irony. At the beginning of the story is the part where she (or possibly he) is sharing his/her kiss with a boy who this person had met a few days earlier. The boy is quick to ditch this person as soon as the problem arises (which is the part where the ship crashes, I believe). This person is quickly forgotten. After that point, the narrator also seems to forget their own mother, only for a few moments, but long enough for her mother to be lost forever. In this way, I felt that the narrator was involved in moments where they were forgotten, and then they were involved in a situation where they forgot about their own mother, which I felt to be ironic, as the narrator mentioned how they were forgotten in seconds. The narrator does not make the same mistake with the children, although I had suspicions that the narrator would leave the children.

    A strong theme that I resonated with, which I felt in this piece, was the preservation of innocence. The narrator never directly tells the children that they are dying, and even sings them to sleep (beautiful poetry, by the way). By doing so, the narrator is keeping them blind to the fact that they are about to drown, a situation in which the children may become overwhelmed by feelings of despair. Eventually, even the narrator finds their own peace, and even though they die, I still feel a sort of peace to my hurt, instead of dealing with a heart in turmoil, something I felt I would receive originally.

    This piece was truly amazing, truly worthy of all praise. I completely died over the realism I felt as I was reading this, through your descriptive words, as well as through getting absorbed into the story. I cannot wait to see another creative that you add to this collection, Timi! If there is any space for improvement which I could offer (if I dare to say so to such an amazing piece) would be to add a slight bit of characterization to some of the characters (such as the children or the mother, perhaps through flashbacks), as I feel that doing so would communicate with your audience on a more emotional level. Other than that, I honestly cannot think of another place for improvement to offer. You have all the gratitude which I can offer, for writing a piece that is as beautiful as this.
    Thank you for giving me this lasting feeling of piece. There’s nothing more I would have wanted at this moment.
    Yours truly,

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