my lovely henrietta
My high school boyfriend gives me a book called Lovely Henrietta.
In the book Henrietta transforms every man she meets.
We follow our blonde heroine. She is a star student, she is an airline hostess, she is wading into the water in a green bikini. We read as she rides on a bike’s handlebars, tries sushi, discusses her body with her mother.
In one gruesome chapter Henrietta is captured, kidnapped, held for ransom by some unknown villain. His two buffoonish lackeys are brutal. It describes these cartoonish men pinning her down, taking turns having their way with her. It says that she was so powerful, that she was so tender, that she was so lovely she transforms this act into love making. Causing the two men to fall deeply in love with her.
They fall so in love with their prisoner they do not even battle one another for her affections. They must immediately band together to improve her hostage conditions.
The hay in the barn has caused welts on her most sensitive areas and her fair skin is already pink standing at attention from the cold air. After all this, they only want to sing her lullabies and pet her hair as she falls asleep.
I go into the forest and start crying with my panties around my ankles. Looking back at my boyfriend, whimpering. Helping my boyfriend understand. I use my blowout and silk handkerchief, my blushed cheeks and tailored dress as visual cues saying This is your fantasy.
Maybe he needs some more hints.
Please oh please you have to let me go.
He’s taking a timid step toward me and I fall, as if pushed, to the floor of dead leaves.
Getting hysterical saying I have to get out of here my parents are expecting me they’ll come looking you’ll see.
Oh you have to let me go! I’m warning you don’t come any closer!
Why you’re good I know you’re good you must be a good man and let me go!
I was panting around the woods ready for anything. Squirming around trying to get my stocking to rip.
Looking up at him above me, no sound at all and my vision blurring from my quick descent. Then I’m able to laser focus again on his blank hands, his gait posture.
Registering on his face something is wrong. Looking at me like I’m crazy. Realizing from his face I must be crying.
Like this isn’t working for me. Maybe it’s just not working for me. Maybe it isn’t working for me because of the fear.
I’m not afraid at all.
This absence of fear causing my stomach to lurch. Like there would be no transformation for me. There would be no transformation for him either. He would stay how he was from the time he entered me and he would stay that way when he was out of me.
Starting to notice practical sensations again like the cold in my fingers, the pain in my side, to see my breath in the air. He’s looking straight through me now.
Hearing a stick breaking in the distance wondering if we’ll be discovered by some passerby in these sad woods off the highway. Some trucker coming down to take a leak.
Closing my eyes seeing the illustration on the front cover. All boobs and ascot. Like he’d just picked a book by its cover. Like he hasn’t read the book at all. Thinking how he’d always say about other girls, She’s shaped like you.
But really he still hasn’t learned we all just sort of share that shape. That’s all the likeness is. The most basic likeness of all.
Feeling the weight of him on top of me. Then I am surrounded by all familiar movements.
Dakotah is a writer and performer born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. You can find her between Glasgow and NYC.