Jenna’s hands trembled as she terminated the phone call. Clasping it with both hands, she shoved her dated mobile to the back of her pine desk. She plonked herself down in her great black swivel chair, rotating it back and forth and tapping a steady rhythm with a pen on her lap.
She had just under three hours, before Casey arrived and she resolved to tell her everything. She would pour it all out, even her temporary hatred for her. Although she had known Casey for years, she was unsure how she would react. How would things play out? Would she be hurt? Angry? Or sympathetic? There was no denying that Jenna had had a lot to contend with the past six months. It had been growing gradually before then, but the last half year had been the most tortuous. And so the already studious pupil had thrown herself into her studies, even more so than usual as an attempt to escape the turmoil surrounding her. But not even this was an adequate escape or a way to seek approval from her father, if she was constantly criticised about her grades. And everything else, for that matter.
She had known a happier time once, though it felt so long ago, it seemed like someone else’s life. Carefree. Full of laughter. Her and her mum and her dad sitting around the dining room table, telling jokes and finding out about each other’s day whilst they sampled one of her mother’s creations. That was before her dad turned to television for a companion and before her mother…
She had gone.
Never to return.
And it had changed things. Jenna’s father had never been the same since, and neither had she. She knew it had hit him hard, but he was the adult. He shouldn’t be taking it out on her – it wasn’t her fault! Jenna just wanted her dad back. Together they could get through anything. If only he would communicate.
She checked her watch. It was rapidly approaching seven ‘o’ clock in the morning. That would give her adequate time to gain some headway into the history project. Or at least attempt to. She preferred studying early in the morning when thing were quiet but it would be difficult to concentrate today.
Shaking her head she smiled to herself. This was surely a week of firsts.
Planning to get the upper hand on Casey.
Leaving assignments until the last minute.
Standing up to her now oppressive father.
Should she tell him that Casey was coming around? She mulled it over, still twisting in her chair. No. The element of surprise might be better. She didn’t want to risk the chance of him leaving the house. No more escape. He had been fleeing mentally for far too long now. That time was now over.
Compartmentalising, she flicked through the bundle of papers that Casey had given her after the history class. There wasn’t much time to prepare a stellar presentation, but they were both great at history anyway. Jenna read a lot of history in her spare time – often she used to read the books out loud to her father. And Casey had an extraordinary memory, she admitted to herself. They might just pull this off yet!
Her eyes scrolled down a list of suggested topics, and her eyes lingering on the suggestions with stars drawn by them. World War One, World War Two, The Victorians, The Tudors and The Stuarts. The latter two piqued her interest the most. She had always been fascinated by that period of history, and loved watching period dramas and fiction books set in those times. If she had to decide, she would choose the Tudors, as she was the most confident with it.
All she had to do now was confirm it with Casey.
She phoned her again.
“Hi Casey. How does the Tudors suit you?”
“That’s fine with me.”
“We just have to narrow it down though. It’s far too broad.”
“I know what you mean. Anyone in particular we should focus on?”
“How about – ”
“Henry VIII?” Casey had a knack for pre-empting what Jenna was going to say. It was one of her best (though slightly annoying at times) quality. “I thought so too. I’m happy with that.” At least that was one thing sorted.
“Anything specific? We’ve only got ten minutes in total to present in.”
“His marriage to Catherine of Aragon?”
“We could maybe do two wives? That way we can look at one each, since we don’t have much time. What do you think?”
“That’s a good idea. So Catherine and Anne Boleyn?”
“We’re on the same wavelength. I’ll do Anne Boleyn and you can focus on his marriage to Catherine.”
Slightly hesitating, Casey replied. “I’ll try and do a little before we come over.”
Jenna’s heart skipped a beat. We? Who was we? Her heart rose in her mouth. She realised she already knew the answer to the question. But she needed confirmation just the same. Sure enough Casey knew what her friend was thinking. She now spoke very quickly.
“I’m really worried about you. Both of you. You haven’t been yourself in ages and my dad says your dad has stopped going to all of his favourite places. He’s concerned too.”
“So David’s coming?”
“Yes, I hope you don’t mind, but I can’t watch you continue like this.”
Jenna felt sick. “Okay Casey. I’ll see you both later.” She ended the call and stared into space. She dared not leave her room for fear of bumping into her dad and him realising that something was wrong. The chance lately was minimal, but there was still the possibility. Her eyes were far too expressive and she had to work too hard at lying. Even lying to an enemy had been difficult.
It was weird – one day had made all the difference. Casey had been a true friend and had shown her kindness and compassion, even though Jenna had treated her so badly. She was so perceptive and before could have talked to her about everything, just like she had been able to with her mother. Her dad would loathe the intervention – he was a very proud and private man and despised airing his problems in public. But there was no use in him burying his head in the sand. Each day he buried his head, buried their relationship further into the ground. It might help him to talk to an adult about his problems. He would thank her for it…eventually.
Trying hard to push the impending encounter out of her mind, she trawled the internet for relevant information, making bullet points as she went along. It wasn’t easy. Each time her mind wandered, she had to use sheer willpower to focus.
Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII. Lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon….
She glanced at her watch again. The time was flying faster than she would have liked. It was twenty to nine and twenty minutes until they arrived. Jenna wiped her moist palms on her grey faded jeans and waited.
And at one minute past nine, the doorbell rang.
MEANWHILE…JOIN IN THE DISCUSSION (comments section below)…
- Is Jenna doing the right thing surprising her father?
- How beneficial is it to talk about your problems with others?
- Is going through a hard time an excuse to treat others badly?
Missed some? Catch up here: