When Stars Killed

Leave a comment

October 3, 2016 by The Citron Review

by Corrina Carter


After the Titanic sustained her fatal injury but before she entered her stern-to-the-sky death throes, crew members flashed a Morse lamp at a passing ship. The night gleamed with the brittle radiance of spring in the North Atlantic. The sea wrinkled and spread, wrinkled and spread, as quietly motive as blown milk. (At least that’s how I imagine the scene based on eyewitness accounts. An acceptable liberty, I hope.) In such lucid conditions, rescue was possible, maybe probable. But the mystery vessel, later identified as the SS Californian, ignored the distress signal, dooming over 1,500 men, women, and children. Their screams must have roused the slumberous water, if only for an instant.

Historian Tim Maltin blames the stars. They didn’t just shine. They trembled. Quaked in their berths until the world turned into a wavering, wimpling place. According to Lawrence Beesley, a British schoolteacher who survived the disaster, the heavens “seemed to be alive and to talk.” In other words, natural light outshimmered, then effaced the Titanic’s luminous SOS. The implications are harrowing. If the fate of hundreds can hinge on an atmospheric phenomenon…Is there any order to the universe? Any shape to fill or solid to touch when seeking purchase in the dark? Yet, when I reflect on the unseen cry for help, I don’t want to contest the facts, to beat them like a soft metal until they conform to the world I wish to occupy. Instead, I’m awestruck. Undone by wonder.

The firmament talked to Lawrence Beesley. He never revealed what it said. Perhaps it told him, as it told the first human and will tell the last, that his existence wasn’t sacred or precious or even valuable. Perhaps it boasted of its longevity, of eons spent watching the slow boil of the earth in development. But, if my own close calls, those adrenaline-enhanced moments in which I counted the delicate veins in a leaf or tracked the graceful flight of a songbird, are representative, I give most weight to this possibility: Aboard Lifeboat 14, feverish with cold and crazed by the hush that followed the mass drowning, Beesley received a message from a constellation awash in heat billions of miles away. Look at me. Look at me and ask yourself how you can forsake my beauty. The schoolteacher listened. In the morning, when dawn arrived in a pink blaze, ruddling the sails of the Carpathia, he was still alive.


Corrina Carter is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. Her work has most recently appeared in Alligator Juniper, Permafrost Magazine, The Fourth River, and The Kenyon Review Online.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

🍋10th Anniversary

Fall 2019 IssueSeptember 23rd, 2019
67 days to go.

🍋 Instagram

We love inventive flash fiction at The Citron Review. Today's highlight is "Knitting." https://citronreview.com/2019/06/21/knitting/ Carla Scarano D'Antonio obtained her Degree of Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. She self-published a poetry pamphlet, A Winding Road, and is working on a PhD on Margaret Atwood at University of Reading. She also contributes as a reviewer for The Blue Nib, London Grip, Write Out Loud, South and The /temz/ Review. #amreading #thecitronreview #summerissue #knittingstories #flashfiction
Our Creative Nonfiction Editor and playwright, Nathan Robert Elliott will have an actors' reading of his new play in Montréal at the Bibliothèque publique de Westmount Public Library on July 27 at 1:30pm.
We have some happy news to share! The Citron Review contributor Amye Archer has joined our Creative Nonfiction editorial team. Let's welcome her! Amye Archer - Author of Fat Girl, Skinny: A Memoir, and is the co-editor of If I Don't Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings. (Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2019). She holds an MFA from Wilkes University. Amye's work has been published in Scary Mommy, Longreads, Feminine Collective, Brevity, Marie Claire, and more. Amye is mom to twin daughters and wife to Tim. She lives in Northeast Pennsylvania. Follow her at @amyearcher https://citronreview.com/2019/03/20/one-week/ #briefliterature #cheerstotenyears #amreading #TheCitronReview #creativenonfiction
We're pleased to highlight creative nonfiction from Julie Watson. "Odds Are" is now available in our Summer Issue. https://citronreview.com/2019/06/21/odds-are/ #amreading #flashcnf #summerissue #cheersto10years
Anita Goveas, @raspberrybakewell, has fiction featured in our Summer Issue. https://citronreview.com/2019/06/21/coverings/ #amreading #flashfiction #summerissue #cheersto10years
New Flash Fiction from Mary Grimm, who has published a novel, Left to Themselves and a collection of stories, Stealing Time (which are both on Random House). She teaches fiction writing at Case Western Reserve University. https://citronreview.com/…/…/21/the-dream-of-her-long-dying/ #TheCitronReview #SummerIssue #Summer2019 #flashfiction #cheersto10years

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new issues by email.

%d bloggers like this: