She read the last page of the novel, and with a sigh, she closed the book. Jillian closed her eyes and imagined that she was the heroine, and it was she who was brought home to the manner. It was her father who ran to the carriage and hugged with her with so much love.
In her mind’s eye, Jillian turned to her hero, Lord Tennyson, and tilted her head up, knowing how her long eyelashes were displayed, and quietly said, “Thank you, again. I’m so grateful to you.”
Lord Tennyson, a close confidante of King Henry VIII, grabbed her gloved hand and brushed his lips across the kid leather.
He stood up to his full height and addressed her father. “I need to return to court this afternoon, but I would like to ask your permission to call on your daughter tomorrow evening.”
Jillian felt her heart lurch. During this time period, fathers could be touchy about their daughters and the company they kept. She willed the fatherly man to look at her briefly. She imagined their eyes meeting and the silent message that passed between them.
The older man was not a poor farmer, but neither was he part of the gentry. His humble reply, “It would be an honor to have you in our home, sir,” was accompanied by a slight bow.
The ruggedly handsome man turned his attention back to Jillian. “I shall see you on the morrow,” and then he returned to the carriage. She heard him call to the driver, “Back to Windsor.”
The scene of England in the 1500s faded, and Jillian had to face the cold facts of 2020. The most pressing fact was that she’d just read the last historical novel in her bag. And then Jillian remembered that the low balance in her bank account kept her from ordering any more books online. And due to the pandemic, she couldn’t rush to the used bookstore she used to frequent every Saturday morning. There were two reasons for that; the lack of funds and the fact that the bookstore closed back in March, and it was unlikely it would open anytime soon, if at all.
With a deep sigh, Jillian left her bedroom and went into the kitchen. She looked in the cupboard for and idea for lunch and found only soup. She had a desire for anything but the things she had in the house.
When will this thing end? It’s been over six months, people are still dying, and I need to get back to work. My unemployment ran out two weeks ago, and all of my calls to my company have gone unanswered. The answering machine must be full because the last time I called, the phone just rang and rang.
That’s because I’m not there to answer it.
After she poured the can of soup into a bowl, she placed it in the microwave and pressed the ‘add thirty seconds’ button twice. The turntable whirred into life, but she turned away.
Who wants to watch that? It’s almost as bad as the movie selection on Netflix. I’ve watched all the good movies, and even some of the B’s, but I want something new.
Hearing the familiar chime of the microwave, she resigned herself to eating soup. It wasn’t even her favorite type. No, the soup de jour was Split Pea and Ham. Ugh. She’d been eating a lot of that because she’d continued to push it back when she started eating soup. It was her fervent hope that she’d be able to go shopping before she had to eat the cans in the back. But now, she only had Split Pea and Ham. Trying to look on the bright side, she set a place for herself at the table. She took out her prettiest placemats and cloth napkins. She placed a wine glass to the right of the setting and pretended she would be pouring a generous helping of King Henry’s Meade.
She used a bright red oven mitt to reach into the microwave and pull out the steaming bowl. As she walked it over to the table, her glasses fogged up from the hot vapor. Jillian put down the soup and wondered if she had time.
Of course, I have time. If I take too long, I’ll just pop it back in the microwave.
Rushing to her bedroom, she pulled the doors open. At the far left, there were three gowns. All of them were made from patterns she’d found online. Each was reported to be a copy of something Anne Boleyn wore.
She chose the green one. It was her favorite. The deep green brought out the flecks in her eyes, and the best jewelry in her Tudor collection went well with it. Jillian pulled the crinolines and corset from her drawers and began the process of dressing. It would’ve been better if she had someone to help pull strings on the back of the corset, but this would have to do.
Jillian peeked at the clock. It was over twenty minutes later, so obviously, the soup would need to go back into the microwave, but she consoled herself with the idea that she was late to the dining room, and the servants were perturbed that they needed to reheat her meal.
The sound of her swishing skirts took her back in time. She was suddenly at Windsor Castle in the court of King Henry. She took her place at the front table in the vast dining room. Jillian noticed that Lord Tennyson’s eyes never strayed from her, but even more interesting, she saw that she’d caught the eye of King Henry.
With a deepening color in her cheeks, she imagined smiling at His Highness. And then she felt the jealous heat coming from Queen Anne. Content with the knowledge that Queen Anne would soon find herself in the Tower, she continued to smile at the King.
The microwave drew her from the deep daydream, and as she pulled the bowl out, a great idea came to her.
Jillian retrieved a TV tray and placed her beautiful place setting on the surface. She brought the soup and some buttered bread to her plate. Ensuring that her dress was appropriately draped in front of her, she sat on her couch.
After turning on the TV, she took the remote to her Firestick and chose Netflix. The familiar tune of the music from ‘The Tudors’ filled her living room, and she prepared to watch the young King Henry ride his horse with the men of his court.
Imagining that she could see Lord Tennyson among the pack, she smiled a secret smile. She brought a spoonful of soup to her lips and wondered if this would be the night that she would capture Henry’s full attention.
Perhaps she’d get to see the King’s private chamber.