“Titanic Built for Two” by Sarah Sorenson

I am building an imaginary Titanic and yes, I am using zero research. I am imagining everything. This is how I self-help myself. You already know me. And this project is my recovery from you. Oh, my love. This is for you. I’m serious, zero research. You are the methodical one. I am the spontaneous flutter of just being present. Besides, the truth isn’t the point. I know, you just shuddered at that. But, this is about feelings. Yes, I saw you frown just now with discomfort. I can promise you one thing only from here on out: this will be uncomfortable. I would hold your hand, but I am learning boundaries.

Remember how in the movie Leo and Kate were super in love and he held her up by the front of the boat in the pointy corner and she spread out her arms and looked like an angel hood ornament? Yup. And then the whole thing just sank and failed and all of their love was irrelevant? I feel like all love is a ship, a big dazzling miracle—buoyant and filled with life, floating under the sunshine—and it’s supposed to carry you to the other side. It’s supposed to ride you out gloriously until death. But sometimes you hit some glacial ice or some other terrible thing happens like pirates or cannonballs. Then, there you are and the fucker is going down and you can only bail out so much water with your stupid little tin bucket. You are stuck flailing and worrying, but you know the ship is a goner and you just hope like hell that you both manage spots in those rescue boats that will drag you across the ocean in opposite directions and to separate continents where you will live in miserable, unhappy safety until you acclimate and live in complacent, deadening routine.

I love you. Keep reading.

The crew band has to keep playing music while they drown. Or was that the Edmund Fitzgerald? Maybe that is just every shipwreck. If I was the band, I would have said, “Fuck you. I am devoting this time to shitting my pants and crying.” Who would the crew band be in this metaphor? Maybe just all of the songs that we both loved that are now ruined forever? And they play on a loop so that they torment us while we are forced to recognize the futility of our situation? Ah, okay. So then, the band is not playing to comfort us, the band is playing to add chaos and pain. Those bow-tied bastards. Probably some jerk with a tuba just going blug-blug, blug-blug while a half-drunk saxophonist makes some long-winded soft, jazz solo. Wait, I think I just said these were songs that we liked and no one would like that. Moving on.

I’m building the ship figures—that’s you and me. I’m using some sort of child’s crafting putty that I found in the dollar section of the craft store. Yours has lots of long, pretty hair that keeps breaking off and I keep gluing it back on with Elmer’s. I have to admit, she doesn’t really look much like you. To be fair, my lady figure didn’t turn out any better and it is bizarrely large shouldered and hot neon pink. I tried to make them clasp hands and they won’t do that either. In short, if anyone were to find these, they would look as generic and childish as if any elementary school student fashioned them. You and me, the orange and pink putty ladies. I gave yours small feet, but those fell off too.

Our Titanic is made of card stock paper. I am still drawing on porthole windows with sad, screaming faces of agony behind them. In the bottom are scraps of paper reading all of the things I wish I could say to you but just really can’t and shouldn’t and won’t because I am determined to leave your life so that we don’t hurt each other anymore.

Are you really there? Are you really reading this because these are the things that I wrote and you just shouldn’t even know, except that I still want you to know. I wrote:

You brought me to all of my extremes

Your voice and its criticisms haunts me

I still believe that you are the most beautiful woman who has ever lived

I love you forever

When you held me I felt loved

I wanted to be with you for all time and eternity too if that’s real

You have been my world

I know we both did our best and we failed

Why didn’t you choose kindness?

I am dropping our figures into the boat, these distorted little weirdoes that don’t look like us are riding a paper ship bound for a river that will drown all my efforts.

I am putting it all together in my imaginary Titanic. My heart is pounding now because this is going into a real river where real people might see it and where, if I am as unlucky as I feel, even you might see it. And I’m going to set it down in all of its metaphorical glory and let it go the way that I am supposed let go of you. I’m going to place it out there in its meticulous efforts, let it fail, and walk away.

I can’t keep it because it’s a journey, not a possession. I can’t keep it because it’s already gone.

Remember Leo painting Kate topless and it was supposed to be all sexy and stuff? Remember how it was a big whoopty deal? Well, it wasn’t. Because there was more sex in just the way you could look at me, more fire in the heat of your whisper in my ear. I’m just saying. But I guess that’s done happening now so I should probably stop mentioning it, especially to people other than you. Sometimes I have mentioned it. I’m just saying.

But fuck it, because here we go to the river with some fake clay figures in a little paper boat. Here we go with a few shreds of paper and a few busted words to tell the universe about the volumes and volumes of words that I flounder through and rearrange all in an effort to say that I love you more completely than anything singly or cumulatively in the entirety of time or space and yet you and I will not work because we somehow can’t. The shockingly bright fucking fireworks of all of my deepest happiness and the razor that same light of my previous happiness now fires into brain is the source of some medical research worthy migraines.

Here is your lady figure in orange. Here is my lady figure in pink. They will not hold hands. Here is a boat made of paper and filled with shreds I’ve coated in words. It’s a real imaginary Titanic replica diorama thingy and I did zero research because I already know what terror and pain and joy feel like and because this is my self-help help-myself project and I can’t do it wrong. I can only do it.

So I place our little love boat in the water and it is gliding so sweetly. And I am turning fast and walking because I know the ending. I know, I know, I know. I know the ending and it doesn’t get easier by watching. It is not my possession, but it was our miracle. And miracles fail too.

Sarah Sorensen has most recently been published in Whiskey Island, In Stereo, Dirty Chai, Cactus Heart, Embodied Effigies, Your Impossible Voice, Gone Lawn, and Monkeybicycle. She holds an M.A. in English from Central Michigan University.

Image: Fredson Titanic Model Ship by Breakwater Bay

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