The Husband Auction
‘Hurry up and sit down,’ Jane said. Rebecca did just that, leaving a chair between them for their bags and the purchase they needed to make. Soon.
She dared to think of the alternative. Crumpling her frilly dress she asked Jane when the auction would begin. Jane waved her hand at the gaudy curtains, her equally obnoxious ring glistening under the chandelier.
‘Very soon, I imagine. Now, remember what I told you.’
‘Yes, Jane. Budget of 50,000. Average strength, average looks. But what am I supposed to say, what if he doesn’t like the ring?’
Jane scoffed. ‘It’ll like what it’s given and that’s that.’
She fiddled with her heavy purse, the notes from the bank weighed down on her lap just as the high ceiling threatened to crumble in on her.
‘Are you sure we can’t… I can’t delay it any longer?’ she asked. Her leg bouncing with the murmur of the auction house, startled by each new entry in front of them, while Jane didn’t even twitch.
‘To be frank, to be quite frank, if you tried to delay it any longer I fear your mother would pick.’
That thought was more horrid than the act of emptying her bank account. And, God, that was truly horrid.
With a drum roll and a swoop of chimes in her stomach, the curtains were drawn.
Lined up, tied together and all looking at their audience. Men, potential husbands, one tattoo obsessed, three with freckles, many with blue eyes and –
‘He’s in a suit, he must be good,’ Jane declared, pointing at the shortest and most confused of the lot.
Rebecca craned her neck over the seats. The suited man had bags under his eyes, his fingers were like twigs and his nose was just a bit redder than her hair. ‘I’m not so sure.’
Jane squinted. ‘Ah. They’ve put a monkey in a suit in hopes he’ll sell. Hm. Anyone catch your eye?’
‘No, I still can’t believe I’m doing this.’
‘What else can you do at this point?’ Jane said, legs crossed tightly. ‘Goodness, I told you, I did.’
Rebecca bit her lip. ‘Yes, Jane. Please, let’s not argue now.’
The older woman reached across and patted her shoulder, the touch of her ring was like a knife meeting paper. Though, even without touch, Rebecca always felt as if the damn thing was stabbing her.
The men were shepherded about, each putting on a show of smiles and good health. Rebecca gripped her dress so tightly she felt her nails dig through the fabric.
Jane wiggled her ring finger. ‘This is how it ends one way or another. At least pick one yourself.’
The suited man walked in a circle, eyes on the floor. He risked a shy wave then retreated into his unfamiliar costume after a chorus of ‘aws’.
Jane moved the bags off the chair. ‘Oh, go on then.’
‘Should I? I mean, he hasn’t said anything…’
‘It’s best when they’re quiet. You get to talk more.’
Rebecca put up her hand. She handed over the money. She put on her ring. The suited man sat down beside her, greeted Jan with a nod, and stared at the plain ring around his finger.
‘Very nice,’ Jane said, ‘Almost makes me want another.’
Kelsie is a British writer and poet. She has been published in Femsplain and Poets Unlimited. She is currently studying English and Creative Writing, and drinks a lot of green tea.