Written for Wednesday Write-in #71
There’s never an easy way to say, “Sorry, but it’s all over. Can we stay friends?” It needs to be done carefully, sensitively, with due respect for the jiltee’s feelings. It shouldn’t be a public spectacle. No need to subject him or her to public ridicule.
Jenny Pemberley needed to write her “Dear Michael” letter sooner rather than later.
She had considered sundry approaches. Not face-to-face; she couldn’t do that. She couldn’t bear to see his face crumple, tears welling up in his eyes as reality hit. She knew this was cowardly, but she also knew he would understand.
Texting could never be an option. She had read how people dumped each other like this. It was obscene, she thought – so impersonal, so, so, er, so digital. To hide behind an anonymous screen is degrading to both parties.
She settled on a hand-written message. She wrote carefully and with affection; she had, of course, read and reread most of Jane Austen’s work and seen all the full length feature films and the TV adaptations and consequently understood how to approach the task.
The first to read the postcard was old Mrs Evans at the local post office located in the village Spar; she didn’t usually share this sort of thing with the others but everyone except Daphne who was new to both the village and the shop knew Jenny and so she thought they might be interested. And it gave them all something juicy to chat about in their break.
Old Joe Holmes had been working in the sorting office in the town seven miles away most of his life. As Michael was a key defender in the local football team, a team that had a good chance of winning the trophy if the next match went well, Joe felt a need to discuss the postcard with his workmates, all of who followed Gristhead United’s fortunes with considerable interest, with a view to possibly delaying delivery of the card until after next Saturday. However, the conversation was overheard by Derek Brown, their supervisor (and, incidentally, chairman of the local allotment society) who came into the sorting room, glared at them and shook his head ever so slightly, and so the postcard went into the pigeon hole for immediate delivery.
Dusty Murphy is the postie delivering to the cluster of streets which includes Michael’s home. He isn’t a nosy fellow and would never steam open a sealed envelope, but he feels that postcards are fair game. They are “in the public domain”, as he will argue over a pint of mild and a game of dominoes down in “The Old Cock and Bull” on a Tuesday evening, the only time Marjory allows him out. And so his good friends Mrs Antrobus at 26 Carnation Avenue and Mrs Graham at number 34, four doors away, both got to read about how Jenny still loves Michael, but not in the way which Michael thinks and that they should part, long before Michael set eyes on the missive. As did that nice Mrs Alice Murgatroyd, friend of Michael’s mother, at number 42 but only because Dusty posted it through her letter box by mistake, and so Michael’s mum got to know and could prepare a diatribe directed at Jenny and Jenny’s parents and siblings to be delivered in order to harden Michael’s heart in advance of handing him the postcard.
Readers may be interested in knowing that Gristhead United did indeed clinch the championship that following Saturday; Michael played a blinder. It transpires that he hadn’t really seen himself and Jenny as an item and couldn’t quite understand why she had written all that stuff.