Darts of arctic air puncture my skin through layers of underclothes, dress, coat, and wool blanket. Ari huddles against my bosom, his small arms wrapped tightly around my waist. Like my fellow passengers, I try to limit my movements so as not to rock the boat further. The waves around us all seem to defeat our purpose.
Children in ours and other boats cry, “Where is papa? Where is papa?” At age two and six months, Ari rarely strings more than two words together. He cries pitifully, kitten-like.
Wrenching metallic bursts of noise cover the distance between lifeboat and ship; the mournful sound defies human language. Ari screams. Far ahead, the bow disappears beneath the surface. The stern stands on end. My body trembles. I clutch Ari, press his head into my shoulder and bury my face in his warm body.
The stern founders slowly as if it were being sucked down into quicksand and not water. Through the fog a geyser of water, salt spray and dense mist rises from the roiling sea at the spot where the bow disappeared. I cannot peel my eyes from this spot. Was my beloved John dragged beneath the waves in the stern of the ship? Or was he stricken instantly when hitting the icy water? Or trapped within the towering, upright bow?