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Mimi's Millions

You can take it with you

By Bonnie Joy SludikoffPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 7 min read
2
Mimi's Millions
Photo by Marius Cern on Unsplash

Mimi Harrington's loving gaze never wavered as she held her most precious friend close.

"I will never love another as I have loved you, my darling," she cooed.

A flickering green and blue light washed over her face as the sun hit her bracelet. "Oh Penelope," she said, running her fingers along the rare stones of her favorite piece of jewelry.

"Ma'am," her lady's maid beckoned. "Your tea is ready."

Mimi cleared her throat. "Did you not hear me having a conversation, Tessie?"

"I'm sorry Miss. It's just I didn't see anyone else here with you," Tessie said, confused.

"Funny," Mimi boasted. "Neither do I."

She shoved past the young woman and made her way into the grand ballroom where a tiny table was set up with tea and pastries fit for a large group.

"I thought I asked for pink icing," Mimi said.

"I'm so sorry, Miss. They said there weren't none on the ship. Believe me, I asked," Tessie said, bowing her head.

"I see," Mimi said with unexpected empathy. "Well, I appreciate your effort."

"Oh, you do Miss?"

"Well, of course, dear girl. It sounds like you worked quite hard to arrange this tea, is that right?"

Tessie did a light curtsy. "I did, miss. I asked them to prepare it exactly to your specifications"

"And I see there is some lovely white icing on these scones," Mimi said, raising a pastry to her face for closer inspection.

"Indeed, miss."

"It's really a shame," Mimi said innocently. "What a shock that on the first day of travel, the largest ship in the world has not a single strawberry, raspberry, or cherry. Because how easy would it be to stir one tiny berry with a bit of icing to carry out a simple task."

Tessie was speechless for a moment. She realized, as usual, there was no good answer and she was best served by standing quietly in mildly-humiliated silence.

Mimi took a bite of the vanilla-iced scone. Then another. She chewed as if she had not eaten in days, even though she'd enjoyed an elaborate brunch just 90 minutes earlier.

Tessie had not eaten since the night before. She took comfort in the idea of the stale bun she'd stashed in her extra apron, worried that she'd be fed less regularly once on the luxury ocean liner.

"I'm sorry for your displeasure, miss," Tessie said humbly.

"I know, dear," Mimi said. "I understand you have not been trained to think critically, but I do ask that you continue to grow. In New York, you know, I shall have access to a much higher level of servant, I expect. And if I am to keep you on, I shall like to know that I am receiving more than another mouth to feed."

Tessie bowed her head again, partially to show her humility, but mostly to avoid staring at the feast. She hoped she would be allowed to clear the plates after her mistress finished.

"Boy," Mimi called, and a young busboy appeared. "Take this away. I am about to burst."

The boy nodded and proceeded to remove every last morsel of deliciousness from the table.

"Well," Mimi asked a dazed Tessie. "What is next on my agenda?"

"A walk on the deck, miss," Tessie said. "With Miss Laskey and her puppy."

"Oh that's right," Mimi said. "Boy, come back here! Wrap up some of those treats to go."

Tessie was charged with holding the treats, which would be offered to Miss Laskey's dog, Cornelius.

Tessie exchanged a glance of commiseration with Matilda, the lady's maid in charge of Cornelius. There was a whole other maid tasked with serving every whim for Mimi's friend, Cleo Laskey.

Cleo and Mimi walked along the deck of the Titanic, occasionally mumbling something about how they thought the trip would be more luxurious.

When the heiresses had grown bored of one another, they snapped at their maids to escort them back to their staterooms for a brief rest and an outfit change.

In her room, Mimi set her favorite bracelet, Penelope, down on the nightstand.

Tessie helped Mimi into her frilly afternoon dress and tried to hide the fact that the clasps barely closed. Nobody wanted to be the one to tell their mistress that she had put on a few pounds over the holidays. Servants at Mimi's estate had been beaten for much less.

After a few days onboard, it seemed to Tessie that unlike her stressful days at the estate, her time on the Titanic would be uneventful. It was, in fact, not nearly as bad as usual.

However, she worried about whether she would be thrown on the street once arriving in New York.

Meanwhile, she tried to enjoy herself and bask in the moment. After all, there was so much food on the Titanic, it was difficult for Mimi to justify withholding meals.

One evening, Tessie even got a small sliver of steak. When the ship hit the iceberg, Tessie was relieved to have some sustenance to keep her going. In spite of Mimi's constant insistance that she lacked critical thinking skills, the young lady's maid came through in spades.

At the first bump, Tessie quickly packed a small satchel with Mimi's most valuable belongings. Her photos, earrings, necklaces, and of course her treasured bracelet, Penelope.

Mimi, as usual, was impossible to satisfy.

"What?" she scoffed. "Am I just to leave all of my clothing behind and arrive in New York naked?"

"It is quite cold," Tessie suggested. "Perhaps, if we put on some extra layers of clothes, miss?" But Mimi had noticed that her dresses were not closing and did not want to wear anything unflattering that might put a damper on her arrival to New York City.

As for Tessie, she was only allowed to pull items from her own limited wardrobe. With the one sweater she owned thrown over her faded dress, Tessie carried the satchel with Mimi's jewelry and precious items.

Mimi dragged a heavy suitcase filled with another portion of her belongings.

Tessie offered to carry the rest, but Mimi complained to the girl that she was simply not fast enough and the only way to get things done right these days was to do everything yourself.

On the upper deck, panic had only just started to set in, giving Mimi and Tessie a clear route to the lifeboats. They made it to the very first one, which had only boarded a few women and children.

A man reached out a hand for Mimi, but then stopped, seeing her gigantic hard suitcase.

"I'm sorry miss," he said. "Space will be tight as it is."

Mimi looked around at the deck where only a handful of passengers were ready to board.

"Well, that's just silly," Mimi said. "I'm sure there's plenty of room and it's not as if anyone is waiting for these spots!"

"Ma'am," the man repeated. "I cannot let you on this lifeboat with all of these belongings."

He reached out a hand to Tessie, who mouthed a quick "I'm so sorry," and settled into a seat, already shivering from the cold wind.

"Oh no," Mimi said, trying to grab her servant back. "You can't take her. She comes with me. Am I to carry all of these things alone? Besides, I believe first priority on these boats is for women from first class. She shouldn't actually be here at all."

Tessie tried to reach for the boat, expecting someone to pull her back on board the ship.

"No, please," she pleaded.

The man assisting passengers looked to Mimi and then back at the girl with a sort of gentle comradery.

He shrugged. "I think we'll make an exception for this young lady, if you don't mind."

Mimi grumbled under her breath about how she would report the terrible service on the Titanic as soon as she was back on land.

"Please Miss Mimi," Tessie said. "I think things might get quite bad out here. Might be best to leave that big suitcase."

But Mimi shook her head as if Tessie had just said the most idiotic thing in the world. She backed away and dragged her suitcase off in search of a more generous lifeboat that would make room for her shoes and dresses.

With her jaw wide open, Tessie watched her mistress walk away. She was afraid of the journey she'd have to take in the lifeboat, but perhaps even more pressing, she realized she would certainly be penniless and unemployed once the small boat arrived at the shore.

"Ma'am," a woman said, "Can you shift your satchel over just a bit so I can scoot in here?"

Tessie realized she'd been clutching Mimi's satchel the whole time.

She had all of Mimi's jewelry and her family photos. She also had a small pouch that she'd later learn held important documents like the deed to a home Mimi had inherited.

Tessie looked around the lifeboat nervously; all of a sudden she was convinced that she'd be accused of theft at any moment. After all, that was usually the case when she was discovered sneaking bread or taking a moment to rest between hours of mopping floors and scrubbing windows.

Would they throw her out into the sea?

As the lifeboat was lowered, Tessie finally relaxed, perhaps, for the first time since her mother's death six years prior.

When Mimi did not make it to the shore, Tessie graciously brought her precious family photos to the rest of the family in New York, who were just as dismissive and ungrateful as might be expected.

With nothing weighing her down, other than about a pound of precious gemstones, Tessie set off on a new unsinkable life.

Unlike the fated ocean liner that had brought her to her new city, Tessie finally felt like she could float safely through life.

And float, she did. She named her first daughter Penelope, after Mimi's precious gemstone bracelet. The one that bought Tessie the supplies that helped her open her first store.

Tessie's Trinkets.

She had learned quite a bit from her late mistress. Trinkets were indeed special and helped to provide nice things for her three little girls. But the most precious things in life were, of course, people.

On her eldest daughter Penelope's birthday each year, she made her own pink icing for the cake, and offered the first slices to the lady's maids who graciously helped her raise her daughters while she tended to her business empire.

By Caroline Selfors on Unsplash

Fan Fiction
2

About the Creator

Bonnie Joy Sludikoff

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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