tilly with the others: part 24

It was eight o'clock in the evening when Tilly finished her shift. Rainia said she would be rush-time overflow (whatever that meant, exactly) for the next few weeks.

Tilly forced herself to go to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. The truth was, she felt tired enough to go to bed right away. Not just tired. Old. She sighed and filled the kettle. Normally she didn't feel old. She just felt like herself.

She tried to remember the last time she had eaten something while she waited for the kettle to boil. On the one hand, she was pretty sure the tomato soup and half a cheese sandwich was the last thing, and that had been at noon. So she should probably eat something, if only the other half of the sandwich. On the other hand, it was already late.

Tilly put a biscuit on the saucer out of habit, then glared at it and retrieved the half-sandwich from the fridge. She was not going to turn into one of those crazy old widows who lived on biscuits and pudding cups. She added a slice of pickle to the empty half of the sandwich plate to make it look more like a meal.

On a whim she brought out one of the old TV trays that some neighbours had given her and Marcus just before Owen was born. The trays had brass folding legs which supported the table top with plastic clips. Two of the trays had had their clips break, but two of them were still good. The trays were made of metal and painted with a cluster of orange and brown roses on a black background. Tilly had always thought they were hideous, but they did come in handy.

She made the tea, brought her dinner to the living room area, and found the remote control. The last time the TV had been on was when she first moved in — another thing she'd lost interest in since Marcus died.

All the shows had already started by time she got settled and started flipping through the channels. She clicked past the sitcoms and reality shows for a while before stumbling upon a documentary about the Crusades. Tilly settled back and took a bite of her sandwich, frowning at its fridge-chill. It tasted like something from a traveler's rest stop from the 1970s. She'd have to wait until it came up to room temperature so the bread and cheese had the right flavours again.

Most of the things the narrator was saying on TV were so generalised as to be completely inaccurate, but the people getting interviewed got a few good pieces of information over. Tilly liked seeing the period artwork, and even the re-enactments weren't half-bad.

The next show was on the Eighty Years' War, which Tilly had written about for her undergrad thesis. The narration started to annoy her after only five minutes, so she put it on mute and filled in her own details for the images. Her sandwich tasted better now.

The episode ended, and the next show didn't seem worth watching, so Tilly turned off the TV set. It occurred to her that she hadn't thought of the Others the whole time she had spent watching television. Perhaps she should start spending her evenings with the set on.

She mulled over the latest information as she put the dishes and the TV tray away. She didn't like the idea of putting herself in danger by spying on these "hostile" types. Besides, the building was busy and had all sorts of people living in it, coming and going at all times. If she was going to do some spying for the Others, she was going to have to figure out a good time to do it.

Tilly left the dishes in the sink and got ready for bed. There would be time to figure out the new directives tomorrow.