Red-haired woman staring into the camera - Picture from
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Mail Order Bride, Romance, Part 1

Ana left her hopeless life in Russia, hoping to exchange it for a more comfortable one in England, but then she’s handed a mop and bucket at arrival. Now what?

Ana rubbed her calloused hands. Soon they would heal. She would get cream and nurture them all day long.

She stared out the window of the plane. So many people in the world, all with different lives and ways of living. And here she was, embarking on a new adventure. This morning at the airport she had kissed her mother goodbye. She had characteristically shed a lot of tears but had wished her well in her new life. Ana knew she blamed herself for not giving her daughter a better chance at life where she grew up.

Her aunt had given her a small present to pass on to Raya, the cousin who had inspired this adventure. Raya had travelled to England a year earlier to marry an English gentleman. And, completely Raya style, she hadn’t married her intended but was now engaged to his brother. As soon as her divorce from her Russian husband was final, they would get married.

Her cousin had also inspired her to join the website and find a foreign husband. Anywhere life would be better than in Vsevolozhsk. She grinned when she remembered how her English companion had stumbled over the name. Especially when she considered the town where she would live now: Bray. She had practised the name many times, not wanting to forget it. And it sounded so damn cute.

Her partner’s name too: Luther. It sounded stately. She didn’t think they were soulmates but who really needed love in a marriage? In the past, there had been arranged marriages or unions out of convenience or for reasons of politics. More often than not, the couple would find a way to co-habit and co-operate and sometimes fall in love.

Ana’s wish was similar. She hoped for an easier life with more comfort. Raya had explained there were no worries about finances anymore. The stores were always stocked, and crime was low too. It sounded like a dream compared with her Russian life. She loved her country, but some things needed to change. Since Ana was still young, she had the chance to choose a different life. Well, she’d better take it.

Her heart beat loudly when the plane landed, and sped up when she had passed customs. Nervously, she looked at the people waiting. Finally, she recognised one face. She made her way over.

“Hi, I made it,” she uttered with a nervous smile.

“Good you’re here,” Luther said shortly and shook her hand. “Let’s go.”

Ana looked around. “Didn’t Raya come to greet me?”

“She couldn’t.”

He walked off. Ana struggled to keep up while they manoeuvred through the throng of people.

Ana swallowed away her disappointment. Of course, Ana understood Raya had a different life now with other responsibilities, but she had hoped her cousin would be there to support her.

Heathrow airport was similar to the Russian airport from where she had departed. The only significant difference was the lack of Cyrillic script on the signs. Ana was quite proficient in languages and had studied extra hard on the English language the past few months to prepare for her new life. Although the letters were still a challenge, she was confident she’d soon master it.

Luther drove them to Ana’s new home. His car alone was one of the most luxurious Ana had ever seen, let alone ride in. In Russia, some of the taxis were Mercedes, but regular folk like her could never afford one.

Luther was silent the entire way over. Ana thought this was weird, as car rides usually made for good conversation time, but she didn’t know what to talk about either, so she kept quiet.

Once at Luther’s estate, as she jokingly called it to herself, another disappointment came. Not the house, which seemed to be the size of a castle. Ana could hardly believe her luck this was where she would be living. Luther unloaded her suitcase from the trunk and left it next to the car.

“Get your stuff and follow me,” he commanded.

While his back was turned, Ana made a face at him. He was the gentleman here; he should have taken her luggage. But okay, his house his rules.

Ana picked up her belongings and followed the English man inside.

“Ah, good, Betsy, glad to see you. Ana’s here. Show her her room, give her a tour of the house and explain her the tasks she needs to take over from you. When you put her to work, please bring me my tea.”

“Yes, Sir,” Betsy replied and inclined her head. “This way, girl, you can drop off your bags.”

Ana blanched. What was this? She was here to become his wife, not to replace the hired help.

Luther disappeared down the long hallway before Ana could protest.

“I…I’m sorry, but I think there’s been a mistake. I came from Russia. I thought I would be….” Ana tried.

The old woman stopped and turned briskly. “You’re the girl from Russia, I know. Mr Townsend mentioned it. It’s so hard to find good servants these days. UK girls think too much of themselves and are unwilling to do hard work, or any work really. I do hope you’ve been taught better and can clean. Can you?”

“I can clean, yes, but….”

The old woman huffed.

“But what? You thought you’d come here, spread your legs and shag Mr Townsend all day long? No girl, that’s not the way of this world. You’ll have to work for your stay here. Tommyboy, our gardener, may be willing to shag you if you so desire. But Mr Townsend?” She shook her head. “Forget it.”

They went down another level, and halfway through the hallway, Betsy opened a door.

“This is your room. Just place your bags in there. You can unpack later. I need you in the laundry room right now. I bet you can iron and fold?”

Ana nodded.

“Good. Let’s go then.”

When Ana was alone in her room that night, she collapsed on the bed and broke down in tears. She had worked all day. After the laundry, it was time for dinner. Ana had eaten downstairs together with Betsy while Mr Townsend ate upstairs. Ana needed to clean and scrub the entire kitchen. And after that, she had to polish ‘mister’s’ shoes so they would be ready for the next day.

How could this have happened? She had talked to Luther over the internet, and maybe they hadn’t been in love; but there had been some connection. Had he really invited her over to his country, into his house, as a maid, only to iron his sheets and polish his shoes?

If she had known this, she would have stayed in Russia. She would have been close to her family, still helping her mother. And she wouldn’t be in this unfamiliar country now. A big house and car can be nice, but not if you’re the one who has to clean it. Ana felt as if she had been lured here under false pretences. Luther’s words had been sweet, but now his actions were anything but.

And now what? How could she ever get out of this situation? She would have to think hard. Maybe Raya knew a solution. She was always the more daring one who would come up with wild ideas. Just this once Ana tried one of her plans and sadly it backfired. Cleaning a rich man’s home while in another country. This was not the life she had chosen.


Wicked Wednesday