'Reader, I married him.'

‘Reader, I married him.’*
by,
Angharad.

“Okay, listeners, we have a sad story here…” Jane Bronte, hosted her usual radio show on a Sunday morning, playing pop classics that no one could remember, interspersed with audience participation.

She would also run a lonely hearts feature, picking from the van loads of mail and emails, one story to use. The bigger the tear- jerker, the more she liked it–as it suited her contralto voice, husky from too many fags and too much French wine.

Dear Jane,
I hope you can help me. I’m a widower of five years, my wife was killed in a hit and run accident, the perpetrator of which, has never been found. I have two young children, Samantha, who’s nine and Jason, who’s seven. It’s been a very long five years and we all miss their mummy, very much.

Recently, I was in a supermarket and a young woman crashed into my trolley, causing me to drop the eggs I was checking and to consequently slip on the mess. This was no hit and run, however, she stopped and helped me up and even took me for a coffee to apologise afterwards.

She was a very attractive thirty something, with long dark hair a good figure, and a sexy voice, which did something to me–it made me miss my wife, even more. Since she died, I haven’t looked at another woman.

“This isn’t the one I chose yesterday, what’s going on?” Jane, hissed at her producer, Mo.

He simply shrugged his shoulders and urged her to continue reading it, miming, ‘You can’t stop now.’

Jane narrowed her eyes at him then poked out her tongue. He simply laughed back through the glass partition, and signalled her to continue.

Ever since that day, I’ve been fixated by this woman. I can’t sleep for thinking about her. If I do sleep, I dream about her. I’ve talked to my kids about her and they urged me to find her–they need a mother as much as I need a wife.

Everyday, I’ve traipsed around that supermarket, hoping to meet her. I didn’t even get her name, but we chatted with such ease. She wore no engagement or wedding rings, so I hope she is single.

She told me she worked in the media, and I told her that I was a lawyer, although all this supermarket visiting is playing havoc with my job and throwing extra responsibility on my partners, although they seem to understand my difficulty.

I did see her fleetingly, as she got into her car but she had driven off before I could get across the car park. I’ve seen it there since, but not its driver. I know she has a dog of some sort, because there’s a blanket sometimes covering the back of the luggage area and there’s a dog-guard across the back seat.

I could have found her identity from the registration of her car, but that is illegal unless some sort of motoring offence has been committed, which it hasn’t.

I think I’m in love with this mystery woman, and I need to find her to speak with her and tell her how I feel. My secretary suggested I contact you, Jane, to see if your show could find my mystery woman.

Thank you,

Laurence.

Jane put on a long track from the Who, and went off to speak with Mo. “Just what are you doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Who switched the letter? I picked one about some woman who’d just come out of hospital.”

“Not me, luvvie.”

“Well somebody did, and I want you to find them and sack them.”

“Why? One lonely heart is as good as another, isn’t it?”

“That’s beside the point, it’s my show and I retain editorial control over the contents. Remember?”

“Yes, Jane luvvie, I remember.” Mo certainly did, he opposed it all the way, but she was the celeb and he was a back room boy. He looked at her, she was not a pretty woman, a little too angular and too tall, especially in the heels she always wore. But she had a nice smile and that sexy voice, which pulled in the listeners like no one’s business.

They finished the show and Jane, her editor and Mo met to discuss how it had gone and what changes they would make. The meeting lasted two hours, the same time as her daily show, but that wasn’t unusual.

“I want to stop the lonely hearts.”

“Jane, are you crazy? Our audience doubles on the Sunday show because of it.” Jeremy, the management editor, was aghast.

“I think it’s run it’s course, we need something else.”

“Like what?”

“Amputee of the week?” said Mo, tongue firmly lodged in cheek.

“Be serious, Maurice, this is vital stuff, it’s audience size that keeps us in our jobs.”

“Nah, size isn’t important, is it Jane?” Mo laughed as he looked at her. She glared back. He did love to wind her up.

They’d worked together for the last three years, she had come from nowhere to help in the production office on Dan Dalrymple’s show. He’d got her to read out the traffic news a couple of times and the audience went crazy for her. Six months later, Dan had moved to pastures new and Jane had a new show but she always read the traffic news herself.

“How about we get listeners talking about their pets?” suggested Jane.

“Can tell you’re an animal lover,” said Mo, “how’s Champion the Wonder Horse?”

“He’s not a horse, Mo, as you well know. He’s an Irish wolfhound.”

“Yeah, an’ the only bloody dog I know who’s measured in hands!”

“Children please, look I have to toddle, please put your thinking caps on because if we are going to drop lonely hearts, we need something even better to replace it.”

The meeting ended and Jane drove her estate car towards home, she avoided her usual supermarket and went to the next one, she needed more food for Lughaidh, her hound, who she called Lu for short.

“How come, I go in for one thing and end up spending sixty bloody quid?” she said to herself as she put her card back in her purse. Mind you, twelve quid was dog food, a mere week’s worth, and another twenty was wine and fags, she had to stop both one of these days, but not today–they kept her sane.

That evening, she was out with Lu, they jogged a three mile course each evening come rain or shine. Jane felt safe–most people would with a twelve stone hunting machine running alongside them–when they bumped into a jogger running the other way.

Both runners fell down, fortunately with neither of them being hurt, just winded. Lu, stood between them, protecting his mistress. When the man offered his hand to help her up, Lu grumbled loudly enough for the hand to be withdrawn. No one touched his mistress unless she touched them first.

Over the past couple of years, there’d been a few men who’d stayed for a while, but they moved on or were moved on. Lu tolerated them, because he could see his mistress did so as well. Only once had he intervened when a row got a bit out of hand and his seven foot body pinned the rather shorter human against a wall and when he growled, the man wet himself. If a dog could laugh, he’d have done so that night.

“I’m sorry,” said the other jogger, “I didn’t see you, my mind’s elsewhere.”

“I didn’t see you either, anyway no harm done.”

“Good lord, it’s you isn’t it?” The man couldn’t believe his luck.

“What is?” asked Jane mystified.

“My mystery woman, you are my mystery woman, the lady from the supermarket. It’s you isn’t it?” He offered his hand and Lu growled. He withdrew it quickly.

“I visit the odd supermarket, like everyone else. But I’m no mystery woman, perhaps a woman of mystery.”

“It is you, I’d recognise that voice anywhere. You knocked me over with a trolley, well I slipped on some eggs I dropped. It’s me, Laurence Rochester.”

“I think you are confusing me with someone else, Mr Rochester. Sorry, I have to go. Come Lu.” She began to trot away from him.

“Please, at least tell me your name?” he called after her.

“It rhymes with rain.” He looked round and she and her hound had disappeared into the gloom. However, he felt so much better, it had to be her and she did have a dog.

That night in her bath, Jane held a warm flannel over the bruise on her shoulder. “Bloody men,” she said and Lu sighed where he lay beside her bath. “I didn’t mean you, boy,” she said reaching over and patting his head, whereupon he licked the soapy water off her fingers.

She got out of the bath and after drying herself, tucked herself between her legs before pulling up her knickers. She looked at her self in the misted mirror, she’d do, the breast implants had a very natural look to them, better than the old silicone ones, all she needed now was a few weeks holiday, so she could attend to the little matter lower down. Maybe then, she’d be able to keep a partner instead of saying she was celibate, and this lawyer bloke, Laurence, wasn’t it? He wasn’t too bad looking, and he had two kids, so she wouldn’t have to feed Lu for a week–he loved children.

The End.

* The closing line of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.



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This story is 1670 words long.