And what if Lolita had a Pen? – Marika Engelhardt

And what if Lolita had a pen? What if she had brushed aside her pigtails, put down her lollipop, and felt its power in her hand. Oh, of course, she’d felt power in her hand before. It was thrust into her palm one day, the same way royalty is thrust upon you. It’s violence, cloaked in advantage. Confused? So was she. Was she a princess? Was she a whore? Which one of them holds more power, the one tied to the glittering throne or the one in the shadows who holds the secrets of the King throbbing in her hand? That’s a lot for a little girl to think about.

Lolita had heard of pens before, of course. In fact, she almost picked one up once, but a sword came swaggering up to her. “You’re so pretty,” said the sword, “put down that pen and come with me.” It perforated her with charm and promised to make all of her dreams come true. The reflection of the blade showered the light of a thousand stars on her. Glitter, glitter, everywhere. Little girls are like magpies: they can’t resist shiny things. Not a fair fight. Pen is looking pretty limp. Pen can’t compete. Goodbye for now, she said to the pen. I’m going with Humbert Humbert. “The sword is called HUMBERT HUMBERT?!?!” cried pen. Sound gross? You should see him naked, pen.

Fast forward to a thousand impalements. Was it good for you? Oh sword, if you have to ask. Was it good for you? The bee asked the flower. The bird asked the worm. The disease asked the host. Yes, of course it was, replied Lolita. What else could she say? Every thrust took away a word, until she was left with so little of them that she had to be quiet just to survive. Are we born with a certain number of words, a clock that winds down no matter what we do, she wondered? Of course she couldn’t ask the sword, questions weren’t his thing. He preferred quiet, it made her seem older. So, she grew pregnant with a cocoon of unused words, keeping them safe from his blade.

Meanwhile the sword surveyed his domain. It was underground, but nice enough. See he had drilled down as deep as he could, colonizing the inner core. That’s where the soil is nice and soft and has been taught to be polite. It was easy to plant your flag. “Do you like the landscape? Does it please you?” The plants kept asking. “Look, all the leaves bend towards you. The flowers here don’t even wait to bloom before the bee has its way. Life stops inside these borders.” A forever secret, the plants promised him. “What a beautiful kingdom you have! We love what you’ve done with the place,” the other swords said. It’s good to be King, sword thought. But like all good things, it came to an end. Forgive me for not going into specifics. Time went on and eventually all the parties involved, including the plants, died. Bang, whimper, bang, whimper, that’s the rhythm of the universe for you.

And what if Lolita has a pen now? What if she has done the impossible and come back from the other side? She’s at her desk and she’s writing. Boy, is she writing. She can’t stop. And as she writes, she’s surprised by the pen’s stamina. It thrusts in her hand with every word. She’s writing about the day she met sword, she’s writing about the kingdom and the plants and the cocoon. She’s writing about this King, this sword who is really just…a man. Little droplets are spilling all over the page. And still, the pen stays hard. This feeling is new. Because here’s the King’s dirty secret, his pen failed him, often. Lolita saw it. She was in those quiet rooms where he underperformed. Failing again and again. She cradled his wilted body. She told him over and over again that she loved him. She told him he was the best, even though he was the only one she had ever had, and this soothed him. She kept the secrets. Until now.

She’s writing all of this so quickly because she doesn’t know how long she has this pen for, or when she has to go back to the other side. Use me however you like, the pen keeps whispering in her ear. And it’s driving her wild. Unlike the sword, the pen always makes her come. And I know what you’re thinking, but HOW did she come back? Well, it turns out the cocoon of unused words growing inside her survived. It survived underground. It was nurtured by the plants, kept safe in their roots until finally sword was gone and it could grow. And it grew into big, beautiful ideas. And ideas can bring back the dead. It’s true. They brought Lolita back. And she’s holding the pen now.