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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