Writer’s Digest: A Different Match
This week’s prompt is all about retelling the stories of romantic pairings in classic literature. How would the main character’s life be altered if they didn’t end up with the intended hero/heroine? (Weekly prompts on Writer’s Digest can be found here if you’re looking for something fun to write about.)
Here’s what I came up with…
They were about halfway there. Halfway away from England, halfway to India, where cousin St. John and Jane would settle and help the people of India find God. Somehow St. John convinced her that the life of a minister’s wife was for her, and they married a month before they were to set off for Calcutta.
However, deep within Jane’s bones she knew that this love was vastly different to the one she’d shared with Mr. Rochester. Had it not been for that tragic wedding day, perhaps St. John would not have come into her life and Jane into his. Perhaps she’d be happily tucked away in Thornfield Hall, reading books, looking after the darling little girl Adèle and under the cordial care of Mrs. Fairfax.
“Mrs. Rivers, what can be on your mind?” St. John asked.
“England. Those we left behind,” she answered.
“Don’t think with too much fondness. It will only shadow over the work we must do for God’s sake,” St. John responded gravely, and with that, he swiftly walked down the deck, back to their quarters (perhaps to read his verses), leaving Jane to continue her gaze along the ocean and the ever-present, ever-fleeting horizon. Was she gazing in the right direction? England and Mr. Rochester had been her fantasy; St. John and India was her fate. She wanted to reminisce about what could have been until fate forced her first steps onto Indian soil.
With the receding sunlight slowly cooling the wind, Jane remembered the night when she and Mr. Rochester exchanged their declarations of love in ardent whispers. She had intended only to retreat a while from the confines of Thornfield, away from the daring and rueful Ms. Ingram, and the scent of Mr. Rochester’s cigar drew her to him. They watched a retreating moth, and spoke of painful things, and surrounded by the dense foliage and the smells of jasmine and honeysuckle, Jane had disdained the ocean that would separate her from her love. Now here she was, fulfilling prophecy in the end. Just like he would never have gone to Ireland, so she knew he would never venture to the farther shores of India.
Jane watched the horizon swirling in reds, oranges and yellows, and she could feel that string stretching out to its final and most precarious lengths. She knew that once the light transitioned to darkness, that little string they once tried to keep together would finally snap. She would feel it so acutely and painfully in her little frame (as he once called it), and she knew that, somewhere miles away from the horizon where she watched the sunlight now dying, he would feel that snap too. Just under his left ribs.
When Jane saw the first star appear in the night sky, she winced, gasped for air and grabbed her stomach. A tear rolled down her cheek. She knew somewhere deep within her, Mr. Rochester was looking at the night sky too. And perhaps, he was also crying.