Queen of Dreams
When the band played, “Dancing Cheek to Cheek,” Lily felt like
jumping up and shouting, “Fred Astaire Lives.”
She controlled the impulse because her friends might think she was
crazy. Which she almost had been the last few months since losing
Jack. The Queen Mary ship was an ideal place for the annual yacht
club ball. The men were handsome in Tuxedos and women glittered in
sequin gowns. Last year she and Jack had been out there on the
polished floor waltzing with the other couples but now she was no
longer a couple.
The women across the table were talking about the beautiful birds
maple panels in their cabin. “It has always been my dream to spend a
night on this ship,” one of them said, “and now it has come true.”
Richard, Jack's friend sitting next to Lily said, “Last year Jack
told me he crossed on the Queen Mary when she was a troop ship.”
Lily smiled and nodded. “Yes, she was painted gray to blend with
the ocean and sky. She was so swift and elusive she became known as
the Gray Ghost.”
“And now she’s a hotel stuck in cement,” Richard commented. “I
how Winston Churchill would feel about that?"
"I think he would be pleased,” Lily said, “He once commented
the Queen Mary was built to link the old world with the new.”
“I heard Hitler offered a large reward for any one who could sink
her,” another friend
added pouring champagne in their glasses.
“Thank God no one did” Lily said. “I even crossed over here on
her as a war bride. I remember these beautiful art deco panels and
etched glass but I was wearing old rags. I
was saving my only decent dress to wear when Jack and I were together
again.” She wondered what had happened to that little violet colored
“Here’s to Jack,” they raised their glasses in a toast.
When the band started playing “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and
everyone at her table got up to dance, she could bear it no longer.
That was the song they danced to the night they fell in love, back
in London during the war. She found her way up to the deck and
walked forward past life size pictures of Clark Gable and Carol
Lombard. She wondered why she had let her friends talk her into
coming to the ball. It was too painfully soon. She blinked back
tears and the glittery city lights of Long Beach blinked back at
She stopped by a rail and stood listening to the romantic notes,
closed her eyes, and softly sang the lyrics. “Our hearts were young
and gay. No matter how they change her. I’ll remember her that way.”
She opened her eyes and looked toward the bow of the ship. A
were dancing in the light of the moon in and out of shadows. The
young man wore a uniform and she could hear the rustle of the girl’s
lavender gown. The dancers looked very young and familiar.
She heard laughter behind her, turned and saw a young couple
“Good evening,” the young man said. “Great ship isn’t it?”
“The greatest,” she agreed.
“We have been looking for ghosts down by the pool,” the girl said
The young man put his arm around the girl. “We heard the ship is
haunted and we thought seeing a ghost would make a good story about
“You should go up and dance with them.” Lily pointed to the
moonlight forward deck.
“Dance with whom?” The girl looked out at the moonlit deck. “I
don’t see anyone.”
“Maybe she saw the ghosts,” her groom said.
“Maybe I did,” Lily felt a gentle breeze touch her cheek.