Author's note: I got the idea of a controlling mother from the movie Titanic. I also love the idea of historical... Show full author's note »
"Tonight is the big night"I looked into the mirror at Anne Shakespeare as the maids tightened my corset and helped me get into my dress. I looked at my brown hair and hazel eyes, trying not to flinch as the corset bit into my ribs, making it uncomfortable to breathe. Blasted thing.
“Tonight is the big night, miss,” said the young maid my own age named Bonnie. “Are you excited?”
If my mother had been in the room, she would have scolded Bonnie for asking a personal question like that, and then have made me do the same. But when Mrs. Shakespeare was not in the room, I answered any question they asked me.
“Not really,” I answered breathlessly as the other women pulled one more time on my corset, making my breasts bigger and my patience shorter.
“Why not, miss?” Bonnie looked astonished that I was not excited to go to a party where I was meeting the man my mother has chosen for me to marry.
“I want to marry the man I love, not one I have never met or seen! Where is the fun in that?” I asked.
“You should be a good proper young lady tonight, miss,” said Allona from behind me. “Your mother is trying very hard to make your life a good one. Take it with grace, and be happy about it.” She disappeared behind my back as she buttoned up the red silk of my dress.
I repressed a sigh, because I didn’t want Allona biting at me again. Allona was my nanny as a child, and she wanted me to live life to my full extent, especially since she never had the chance to be something above a first maid, the poor woman. However, she loved me like I was her own child, even if she didn’t always show it.
I knew I should be happy I was going to be married to Ralph Destine. He was wealthy and a gentleman, according to my mother. She told me she was arranging a marriage for me when I was seventeen because she wanted me to live a good and happy life. However, I was not as oblivious as she thought I was. I knew that we were in serious debt, and that we had no money to help pay off those debts. Ever since William died three years ago, Mother and I had been struggling, especially since my father was gone too, God rest their souls.
But I didn’t want to get married! I was only seventeen, and I wanted to travel the world. I wanted to marry the man I was meant to be with, not be arranged to someone else. Mother may have held on for a few more years if I went to India or France to try to get a job and then I could have sent her money. Maybe in those few years I could have learned to ride a horse like I always wanted, how to sail a ship, how to swim. I wanted to learn and see things, but when Allona and Bonnie pulled on my hair and wrapped part of the brown curls up and together, the tugging brought me back to reality quickly and painfully. I was a seventeen-year-old girl; my dreams and wishes did not matter to anyone. Except to Tim, of course.
I was able to back out of reality again with the idea of Tim for company. I grinned involuntarily thinking of him. When William was just starting to really write plays, he had seen Tim on the streets, with a pen in his hand, dipping it in a puddle of water. William was interested in why a boy would be doing that, so he talked with him, and discovered that he was an orphan child living of the street, who wished to learn how to write. William took pity on him, and took him in as his assistant. William taught him to read and write, and built him a little hovel under the bridge crossing the Thames so Tim would have somewhere to go.
William never brought Tim to the house, because Tim and I were too close to the same age, but when I went to see one of William’s plays, I couldn’t help but notice the boy on the side of the stage. He noticed me, too. We met, talked, and I immediately liked him because he listened to me, accepted my ideas, and even agreed with most of them. No man or boy has ever listened to me before. I started going with William to the playhouse much more after that first meeting. When Tim and I walked around the back stage area, some of the men would try to sweet-talk me, and Tim would jump to my defense immediately. I would talk myself out of their little word games, proving to Tim that I didn’t always need help. I was extremely pleased when he started looking at me with something akin to awe after he listened to me lash against the men.
I remembered one incident I wouldn’t have been able to get out of if Tim hadn’t been there: We were walking backstage, and one of the men was stumbling around drunk. We decided to help him find a bench to lie down on, but he some how found a way to fling me into the wall, lock his hands around my wrists and push his body against me. Tim jumped to my defense as if he had had expected it to happen. He pulled the man off me, punched him in the nose, and threw him on the ground. He came to me quickly, asking if I was fine, if I was hurt, if I needed help, and as soon as I promised three or four times I was fine, he put his hands on my shoulders and looked at me with a shocked expression on his face.
“Why didn’t you scream? You didn’t even look scared!” he asked, looking extremely surprised.
I shrugged and said, “I tried to hit him, but he was too strong. I didn’t scream because someone was already here who could help me, and I wasn’t scared because I knew you would help.” I blushed slightly as I confessed that, but he just looked at me warmly, and kissed me for the first time. I grinned again, remembering the sweet moment.