> The Things You Can Read: Titanic Research: Historical Fiction

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Friday, May 3, 2013

Titanic Research: Historical Fiction

Titanic Research Project 2013

For the second year we have used the Titanic as the topic for our research project.  Each year three options are available to my advance students:
Option 1: Traditional research paper
Option 2: PowerPoint and three paragraph paper to accompany the PowerPoint
Option 3: Short story.  

The short story option is always popular.  This option requires students to take their research and use it to create a short piece of historical fiction, which incorporates their facts about the Titanic seamlessly into the storyline.  Here is one of the stories created this year: 

Unsinkable: Seamus' Story

"GET BACK HERE, YA THIEVING BOY!!!!" My father yells, slurring his words. "I AIN'T FINISHED WITH YER DISHONEST HIDE!!!!!"

But it's too late---I'm already running as fast as I can; down to the docks of Belfast, Ireland. I need to clear my head. I need to get out of here. Away from me Da scares the living daylights outta me, he does. With his love of the bottle and the beatings he gives at least twice a day, he's more of a crook than a father.

Maybe if I had a Ma, things would be easier. But she ran away as far as she could as soon as Da threw his first punch. I suppose I should be angry with her, or even envy her, but I'm not. I'd have done the same.

Anyway, where am I? Oh, right. I'm running to the docks, clutching my aching jaw as I start to taste blood. Da socked me really hard, but this isn't nearly as bad as usual. Finally, I reach my destination. I collapse against a barrel, running my free hand through my sweaty blonde hair. I let out a sigh, shutting my bright green eyes. They match me Ma's.

"Aye, what's a healthy lad like you lollygagging around for?" A gruff, deep voice demands. I feel a foot jab into my chest roughly. I open my eyes, a bit annoyed. It's Mr. McCreery, the town know-it-all. (He's actually a shop owner, but this is my story, mind you.)

I blink at him. "Mr. McCreery, I'm not in the best shape right now." I say, wincing for effect. I wasn't pulling yer leg earlier; I really am hurt. Bad. But a little milking never hurt anyone, eh?”

"As if I'll believe a street rat like you." The man scoffs.

"Please, sir, I-"

"Shouldn't you be working? Yer 22, ain't ya?"

I sigh. "Yes, sir, but I-"

"Can't find a man to hire a lazy young lad like yerself?" He chuckles, which makes me blood positively boil.

"I ain't lazy, yer high-and-mightiness." I say, sitting up straight. It hurts like mad.

"I don't appreciate the tone in yer voice, boy."

Boy. I hate it when people call me boy. Reminds me of my Da, it does. Me eyes flash with anger. "I'm a grown man just as you are, Mr. McCreery." I say. "I'm not a boy."

"If yer such a man then, get up and get a job."

My lip twitches. "I already have one!" I exclaim. Oh, I've really done it now.

"Do you now?" He chortles, as though he doesn't believe me. He's got that right. "And what job would that be?"

"I'm a steward on...on the Titanic!" I shout before I realize what I've said. What in God's name have I done!? The Titanic!?

"The Titanic?" Mr. McCreery questions, amused. "Are you mad, boy?"

Stop it with the boy.

"No, I'm not." Cut it out!

"You? On a ship like that?" He laughs in disbelief. “I wasn’t born yesterday.”

“I do work on the Titanic, sir.” NO I DON’T!!!

“Prove it, then. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be here waitin’ to see yer skinny legs climbing up on that vessel. Understood?” Mr. McCreery knees down in front of me, and the smell coming off him is almost as powerful as me Da’s.

“Understood, sir. While I’ve got ya down here, ever heard of a bath?” I grin cheekily.

His beady, gray eyes widen. “Say that again and see what happens, ya nasty son-of-a---“

“Don’t go talking about me Ma like that!” I exclaim in a fury. “She’s twice as good as you in anything, so I’d shut my filthy mouth if I were you!”

“That’s no way to talk to a man.”

“I’m a man me self.” I spit, attempting to stand.

“Are you?” He laughs.

“You watch.” I growl. “This time tomorrow, I’ll be on that ship, like you said. Waving goodbye to your ugly—"

Suddenly, the little bell hanging in Mr. McCreery’s shop doorway jingles as a customer enters. He turns to leave, but not before shooting me a glare. I roll my eyes. He goes into his shop, leaving me alone again.

For the rest of the day, and into the night, I sit there and think,

A steward on the Titanic. What’ve I done?


The bright light from the sun startles me as I slowly open my eyes. I let out a groan. Did I really spend the night on the dock? Smart move, that was. I hear a sudden yell from the distance and the mumbles of a bunch of people. My head aches as I stand, walking toward the commotion. I see at least 3,000 people all standing around a gigantic ship---the Titanic. They’re all muttering excitedly and gawking at the great vessel. My eyes even widen a bit. It’s HUGE!

“ALL ASHORE THAT’S GOIN’ ASHORE!!!” A man standing on the ship yells to the massive crowd. A few hundred of them all clump together and pull out slips of paper from their pockets. Tickets. How could I have forgotten? I have to find a way to sneak on this ship without being noticed. I can spot Mr. McCreery in the crowd, looking more excited than ever.

I see a port hole open on the side of the ship, and no one seems to be standing near. Quietly, I sneak over without being noticed. I glance around suspiciously before heaving myself up and into the room the port hole looks out of.

The room is fancy—much fancier than any room I’ve ever seen in my life. I look at all the pictures hanging on the walls.

“…they don’t call me the Millionaires’ Captain for nothing.” I suddenly hear a deep, gruff voice chuckle from the corridor. My eyes widen and I freeze for a few moments before springing into action. Quickly, I slide silently over to the bookshelf in the corner, my boots not making a single sound on the plush carpet. The voice fades out as it’s owner moves away. I let out a sigh of relief and sneak down the corridor the opposite way.

I stand before a giant wardrobe full of steward uniforms. Thankfully, I’m the only one in the room at the moment. I grab a uniform and pull the brick-red blazer over the top of my dirty, denim cover-alls and white shirt. Then I pull the matching brick-red pants over the bottom part of my cover-alls. There’s a mirror in the corner, so I use that to make sure I look presentable. Can’t have a sloppy-looking steward, can we now


“STEWARDS!” I hear a voice yell over the intercom. I jump. Should I go? And risk getting thrown onto a bumboat? I decide against it. From my current hiding place in the 1st Class kitchen, I glance out the porthole at the glittering ocean. Truly beautiful, she is. Like a giant, royal blue blanket.


Southampton? Already? Hm. Being on such a luxurious ship has really taken away my sense of time, it has. I pick off a piece of the grand cake sitting on the counter and swallow it, delighted with the flavor. They don’t have anything this good in Belfast. Suddenly, the ship stops. I look out the porthole again and see that we’re at the dock in Southampton.


“Look, Papa, isn’t this lovely?” A beautiful young lady exclaims, grabbing onto her father’s arm.

“It’s beautiful, Poppet.” The man replies, sounding distracted.

The girl’s warm brown eyes are huge with eagerness and excitement.

My heart speeds up suddenly. She’s…gorgeous. It’s enchanting. I brush off my uniform and walk up to her, attempting to hide my trembling hands.

“Good day, Miss.” I say politely “I have the pleasure of being your steward on this fine ship.”

She blushes. “Hello, sir.”

“Your name, ma’am?” I ask gently.

“Gabrielle.” She murmurs, her brown eyes locking with my green ones. “And yours?”

“Seamus.” I grin. Gabrielle giggles.

“Your jaw is crooked.” She notes.

“Hmm? Oh, yes, I take my job very seriously.” I lie a bit, hoping to impress her. Her golden hair spills around her pretty, heart-shaped face.

“And what sort of dangerous activities would you be doing as a steward,” Gabrielle questions, “that would cause you to hurt your jaw?”

“Oh, you know, terrible things.” I say, with a cheeky grin. “Once fought off a shark, I did. With me own bare hands.”

Gabrielle’s eyes widen hopefully, but then suddenly turn critical, as if she knows I’m lying. “Did you, now?” She asks, almost coldly.

I nod, looking as sincere as I possibly can. “Do you honestly think I’d lie to such a beautiful lass like yerself?” I should feel guilty for lying to her, for playing her like a harp, but I’ve done it so many times, I don’t feel a thing.

Gabrielle blushes. “Lots of men do.” She says evenly. “To win my affections.”

A slight pang of guilt hits me in the gut, but I ignore it. “Well, I’d never do such a thing.”

She smiles gently, “I knew there was something different about you.”

Yep. That I’m a stowaway.


“And this would be your room.”

As Gabrielle’s tour of the 1st Class (which I learned in my 8 days of solitude on the ship) comes to an end, I hand her the key to her suite. She unlocks the door and leaves it open as she steps inside, leaving me alone in the hallway.

“Um…I’ll just be leaving now.” I say, sticking my hands in my pockets.

“Oh, Seamus!” Gabrielle says, coming to the doorway. She presses a quick kiss to my cheek. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“O-of course.” I blush deeply. Do all stewards get kissed by their female passengers?

She giggles and slinks back into her suite. Like a cat, she is. “See you then.” And with that, she shuts the door.


I think…I think I like her.

“Good morning, Miss.” I say with a grin as I greet Gabrielle, who’s just arrived at the breakfast bar. “I presume you slept well?”

“I slept beautifully, Seamus.” She sighs dreamily. “This ship is incredible, you know.” Gabrielle remarks. “It really defies a lot of previously-set theories and beliefs.”

I nod, despite the fact that I’ve almost no idea what she’s saying. I’m street-smart, not book-smart. “Can I get you anything to eat or drink, ma’am?”

“Um…a biscuit with jam would be fine, thank you. And orange juice, please.” She murmurs, playing with a tassel on her sleeve. Orange juice!? One carton of that is probably more expensive than I am! She really is wealthy.

“Coming right up.” I say, trying my best to hide my astonishment. I go off in search of a tray of biscuits with jam and the precious orange juice. Boy, won’t Mr. McCreery be surprised when I tell him I’ve tasted something he hasn’t?

“This ship is unsinkable!” A hear a woman say to her friend. “Absolutely impossible to sink! God Himself couldn’t do it!”

Her friend nods. “And how lucky we are to be on such a fine, floating city!”

I chuckle to myself. They think they’re lucky? I’d love to see them live a day in my shoes.

Finally, I find a tray with biscuits stacked in a high pyramid with little jam dishes on the side. There’s a pitcher of orange juice near it.

This ship really does have everything.

“Seamus?” Gabrielle questions as I lead her down an incredibly long corridor toward the swimming pool. She has a white, puffy bathrobe on over her bathing suit.

“Hmm?” I reply.

“Where are you from?” She asks curiously.

I look at her, my eyebrows raised in surprise. “Do you honestly want to know?”

“Yes, I do.” Gabrielle sounds intrigued. “Why shouldn’t I?”

“Well, it’s just a bit strange.” I say slowly. “No one’s ever really taken an interest in me before.”


“I’m just a steward, Miss.” I’ve had to remind her of this multiple times. She’s not supposed to care this much about me. I’m her servant. Actually, I’m a stowaway.

“Oh, I know. But you’re very interesting.” Gabrielle insists. “So, please, where are you from?”

“Belfast, Ireland.” I sigh, memories of my awful hometown flooding to mind.

“What’s wrong? Don’t you like it there?” She asks softly, noticing my expression.

“Not at all. That’s why I’m here, in part.” I explain. “The other part, is to serve you.” I say, hoping to win her over with some charm, and hoping to change the subject.

It doesn’t work. “When did you decide you wanted to be a steward? Or is it a family business?”

I sigh again, and unintentionally snap at her, “May I ask why you’re so curious about my life?”

Gabrielle is quiet. “I’m sorry…”

Immediately, I feel guilty. “I’m sorry, Miss.” I apologize.

“It’s ok.” She smiles, bouncing back to her usual, perky self. Astounding, she is.

“Well, here’s the pool.” I say, walking her into the giant dome of a room. There’s a heated pool and everything. It’s beautiful.

Just like her.


“G’night, Miss.” I bid Gabrielle a goodbye, and she kisses my cheek again. I blush.

“Good night, Seamus. Thank you for everything.” She says, smiling a bit. I grin back.

“It’s no problem, Miss. S’my duty.” I give a small nod.

Gabrielle giggles. “You’re so strange sometimes.” She murmurs, before shutting the door.

I wonder if I was supposed to hear that. Maybe I wasn’t. But it doesn’t matter to me---she’s the strange one, in my opinion. Beautiful, but strange. Bit like a…piece of art, she is.

I start to hum to myself as I head back to my hiding place in the kitchen. The chefs leave around 9, and according to the clock on the wall, it’s a bit past 10. Doing great today, I am.

As I pass the Captain’s room, I hear him muttering quietly to another man. I press myself to the closed door and try to listen in, picking up bits of conversation.

“…she is unsinkable, I tell you.”

“Sir, the iceberg has been spotted a few miles out.”

“Why is this something you’re bothering me about? Go talk to the men in the control room.”

“But, sir, we-“

“I don’t wish to hear another thing out of either of your mouths. Out of my room immediately.”

I hear the other man sigh heavily. It’s the same sigh I give when Da gets angry at me. As if I know something’s going to happen.

But nothing’s going to happen.

This floating city, this magnificent vessel, by the name of Titanic is unsinkable.

Written by S.P.

Let us know what you think of "Unsinkable: Seamus' Story."  We will pass on your comments to the author!

NOTE:  Students read all three of Gordon Korman's books in his Titanic series in class.

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