WOULD LIKE TO MEET • by Sarah Hilary

At the outset, the abbreviations confused her. “An MBA! He must have some brains, at least.”

Only it turned out to be short for Married But Available, which gave her a good idea exactly where he kept his brains.

It was hard enough squinting at the small print; searching the little black cursives for a sign that here was The One. Mr Right. She sometimes wished she had the courage to sneer at personal ads in private, just as she sneered at them in public. But a girl gets desperate. Especially an LS BBW looking for a LTR: legally-separated big beautiful woman looking for a life-time relationship. Her life in eight letters. What an indictment.

“TDH,” she read, confident it meant Tall, Dark and Handsome.

The rest of the ad said, “Dreamy guy seeks down-to-earth gal.”

“Give me strength,” she sighed, picturing the piles of unwashed socks and unpaid bills; Dreamy Guy’s debris.

The newspaper was staining her fingers black. This was ridiculous, she thought crossly. She shouldn’t have to scavenge for a mate like this, trawling the pages of tomorrow’s chip-paper, grubbing in next week’s gerbil-bed. She was worth more than this.

NSA… What was NSA? She wanted to shunt an extra A after the N; she could stand to date someone from NASA. An astronaut, or a scientist. It wouldn’t even matter if he wasn’t Very Good Looking. Looks were overrated. Where was the abbreviation for Heroic Intellectual? Why did Well-Endowed only apply below the belt?

No Strings Attached, she realised. NSA. Great. Another one who was after sex without consequences.

TMOAS — the Moon on a Stick. That abbreviation applied to most of them.

Who was this? ‘Free Spirit’? Hadn’t she read somewhere that Free Spirit meant he’d sleep with your sister? Which made her afraid to think what ‘Open-minded’ might mean.

‘Honest’ was bound to mean Liar, just as ‘Huggable’ implied a grotesquerie of body hair. As for ‘Fun’ — she felt a migraine coming on.

Enough. She shut the paper, folded it in two and pitched it at the waste-paper basket.

“Just you and me, Nelson,” she told the parrot.

“You and me,” he agreed.

Sarah Hilary won the Fish Historical-Crime Contest with her story, “Fall River, August 1892”. Her story, “The Eyam Stones”, was runner-up in the Historical Contest. Both stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2008. Sarah’s stories have been published in The Beat, Neon, Every Day Fiction, Idlewheel and the Boston Literary Magazine. Her short story, “On the line”, was published in the Daunt 2006 anthology. The Subatomic 2007 anthology features her story, “LoveFM”. She won the Litopia Contest in 2007 with “The Chaperon”. Sarah lives in the Cotswolds with her husband and young daughter.

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Every Day Fiction

  • HAHA!
    As someone that “sometimes” trolls the personals this is pretty accurate.

    Good job

    • Thanks, Steven. They can be fun, can’t they?

  • Venetia

    I really liked that. I too have dabbled in the personals – a LONG time ago – heh heh. This was SO true. LOVED the bit about ‘knowing exactly where he kept his brains’.

    • Thanks, Venetia. I can’t believe you needed to trawl anywhere! Surely the men just fall at your feet, like ripe fruit? J did, after all.

  • Johnny A

    If you think THIS is bad, try trawling through the Indian matrimonial ads sometime!

    Great story, Sarah. Sly and funny. Well done.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Hey Sarah, LOL Isuppose is the best response or maybe LTIWM 🙂

    • LTIWM? Now is that like ROFLMAO? Thanks for dropping by, Oonah!

  • Your story takes me back to the old days, but I trolled bars then–not want ads–for mates. Today, I’m a FINK (Fixed Income No Kids). Well, technically, we’re empty-nesters.

    • Thanks, Walt. I think empty-nester sounds sweet. 🙂

  • Jasmine Pahl

    My favorite part was the parrot. It was such a fun suprise.

    • Thanks, Jasmine, I’m glad you liked Nelson. 🙂

  • John Allen


    Very funny. Loved the interpretation of ‘Free Spirit’. Nothing to do with alcoholism then?

    Nice writing, great ending.


  • Thanks, JA! I suspect Free Spirit might’ve run to a Babysham or three.

  • Alexander Burns

    That second paragraph really sucks you in and sets up the tone for the rest of the piece. Nice work.

  • gay degani

    Good way to start a Monday, smart, clever, insightful.

    • Thanks, Gay, your feedback is a good way to end a Monday (here in the UK). 🙂

  • Nice one, Sarah. Nothing wrong with a gal and a parrot!

    • Thanks, Tania! Yep, with Nelson on a shoulder, she’s got it made.

  • Funny one, Sarah. I’ve never really checked out the personal ads… Didn’t know what I was missing.

    • Thanks for reading, Kevin. Lucky man, never having needed the ads!

  • Avis Hickman-Gibb

    Oh Sarah – I LOVED this. very sly, funny and summed up the hazards of the single scene. Beautifully captured.

    • Thanks, Avis, I’m blushing at such effusive praise! Thanks for reading and letting me know you liked it so much.

  • LOL, Sarah!

  • Jim

    I’m jealous. I wish I had come up with the idea of playing around with the abbreviations in personal ads. But the parrot was the nice touch, particularly since parrots only repeat that which they have heard said a lot.

    • Thanks, Jim. I didn’t know there was a parrot in the scene until the very end, when he piped up with the repetition!

  • Raflesya

    I love your dry humour and the witty disillusionment conveyed by this story.

  • mark dalligan

    Great idea, well executed and rounded with humour.



  • Nice story, though the generation raised on online dating may find it baffling.

    • Thanks for reading, Peter. Interestingly, Jordan raised this same point and we thrashed it about a bit but decided that the heroine of the piece – her bafflement, her sense of being disenfranchised – all rested on it being newspaper ads.

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