prompt & reply – Lolita
by Parker Dupris
Now and then I mostly-lurk on an erotic writing forum where people put up prompts design to attract writing partners. One author caught my eye with her well-styled work. This prompt below was about a lost little waif, mostly minding her own business before getting swept up in circumstance. It was gritty, raw, and spoke of serious need. My reply to the prompt follows. Her writing is hers, mine is mine, and I thought I’d put it here because I enjoy the exercise of prompt-reply, and I enjoyed the way our writing styles seemed to resonate.
And certainly, wherever you live, all characters here are of a legal age to do whatever you think they are going to do. In this fictitious setting with made-up people.
Her prompt – “Lolita”
Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
She was there every morning without fail. Just outside the coffee shop, sitting unobtrusively at a shaded table at the side of the building, reading battered paperbacks and sipping coffee, elbow propped on the table, a clove cigarette dangling from the tip of her curved hand. It annoyed him at first, having to walk through her smoke.
He became used to it after some time, became part of his morning ritual, this porcelain doll with long dark hair and almond eyes always in withered lace thrift shop dresses, the cloud of spiced smoke framing her face in lazy tendrils. God, she was lovely. Pale and smooth of face, dark eyes roofed by black arched brows and puckered babymouth, cotton candy pink. She could have been twelve or twenty, the skin still tight enough to crease around her eyes.
Every morning. The smell of cloves, worn paper back, coffee. He wondered about her, who she was, why she was always here. Spring became summer became fall and she became a fixture, peripheral and distant beyond a half smile and quick perfunctory nod. He thought of her often in odd moments, looked forward to those fleeting seconds when their eyes met.
This morning was different than no other. He parked his car and passed through the haze of her smoke. No nod or smile today, her head ducked into her book, forehead puckered in worry, long fingers plucking nervously at chipped sequins that lined the neck of her black gabardine dress. Her hair was gathered into a chignon at the side of her neck, lips stained ruby red, looking for all the world like an old world movie star misplaced into present day in tattered thrift shop clothes. Her eyes met his briefly, slid away, scanned the intersection of the highway. She bent deep into her book, as if to hide her face.
He stood in a long line, swiped at his phone, made calls, bought his coffee. He stopped at a counter at the side of the room to add the obligatory sugar and cream, mind wandering over the things he was to do today. The clatter and bright conversation of the coffee shop abruptly dropped, attention drawn outside.
Several cops stood in a semi circle around the girl outside. She looked frantic, gesticulating wildly toward the inside of the store. He watched with some interest at the scene in front of him for a moment, sent another text. Jesus, he was late. He sipped his coffee, wiped his mouth, walked out the door.
Her face was panicked and frightened, her voice cresting and breaking, thick with tears. “That wasn’t me, I told you I’m here with my father– I– there he is, I told you he’s here, he’s– dad! Dad! Tell them I’m here with you, they think I–“
Him. They were looking at him.
He froze, clutching his coffee in one hand, his keys and phone in the other, mouth open, speechless.
“Sir, we’ve had a complaint that a minor has been squatting at the old mill on Harper Street, a young woman that fits the description of your daughter. Are you….” the officer squinted at the ID in his hands. “Are you Mr. Warren?”
“No!” Her voice was wild, shrill. “My mother remarried and I have her husband’s last name, but I live with my dad now, I—“
The officer peered at the ID, glanced at the hysterical girl in front of him, his gaze resting on the man rendered speechless at the impossible scene he’d just walked into.
“Sir, is this your daughter?”
Silence hung in the air. She watched him, breath locked in her throat, begging with her eyes. Please.
A silent moment.
Coffee steamed in the cup he held. The three radios squawked from the broad shoulders of the police officers, thick black polyester over kevlar body armor. Smokey mascara around the girl’s eyes.
He never remembered making the decision. There was no debate, no mental rehearsal, no review of past wonderings about her situation. No building himself up to do it. No dare.
Without a word he placed the coffee cup down on her table, and quicker than eyes could follow, his open hand caught her cheek.
The sound was shocking, and the force of the slap was much more “startle” than “knock a waif off her feet.” It was the slap for a daughter, from a father who had endured too much of a moment.
His voice was calm, quiet, in startling contrast to the gesture of a moment ago that might leave her cheek red. “Little one. I won’t tell you again. Show elders respect. Never disrespect police officers. They protect us,” he continued, as if instructing the simplest of students. “And they deserve more than the wining and gesticulations of a hysterical girl. And… you look like a whore. Is that what you are, today?”
A tone of care in his voice, gone as suddenly as it had shown just before he turned to the officers.
“I apologize for my daughter’s behavior. She was not raised to behave in this fashion.” And to her, one simple word as he walked away. Leaving the officers to look on.