I Was Ravished by a Man Wearing a Cape and No Shirt – Elaina G. Smith

The sex hurt the virgin bride because, again, the man’s cock was huge—how huge?—and a flush crawled up my neck into my face; all I could think was that I was so glad Catherine was asleep. I felt a combination of excitement coupled with disgust that I was excited because I knew sex wasn’t a thing you should think about when you’re not married and definitely not when you’re only 13.

When I told Catherine the next morning, in hushed tones, about the book she’d checked out—did she realize she’d checked out that type of book?—she smiled and giggled, opening the book to the sex scenes without embarrassment. I was the one who made certain they were returned to the library, hiding them from my mom until the trip there. If I knew anything at all, it was to keep my possession of such books away from the eyes of my mother.

***

Before I graduated high school, I asked my mom, “Would you rather see me drop out of college or have sex before marriage?”

She replied without hesitation. “Drop out of college. You can always go back to school. But you can’t go back from having sex.”

I thought about the girls I knew who’d had sex in high school. I wondered if they ever felt ruined. I had yet to ruin myself, so instead, I kept checking out romance novels from the library and experiencing ruination vicariously.

***

How does one facilitate a secret addiction to romance novels as a Christian teenager? A few ways:

  1. Do not speak of it. Not to friends (they’ll figure it out, though), to family, or even to your cat. Most definitely do not take these books to read at school. Girls with romance novels in their hands are lonely weirdos.
  2. Do not let your mother see what you’re reading (keep books hidden underneath your bedside table). Sometimes you can be daring and keep the books in plain sight, but make sure they’re upside down because the covers. Lord, the covers.6
  3. Do not put books on hold, because then the librarians will know what you’re reading and will judge you.
  4. Do not dawdle at the new romance novels section because SOMEONE MIGHT SEE YOU, FOR THE LOVE OF    GOD. In the general fiction section where the older romances are shelved, you can easily act like you totally want to check out that Hemingway novel.

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6 Romance novel covers are famously absurd. My favorite ever was a step-back–the illustration behind the cover page–where the hero is wearing a red cape but no shirt. (Never date a man who wears a cape but no shirt.) 

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Elaina G. Smith received her MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has been published in [PANK] and The Monarch Review. She was also the Managing Editor of the online literary magazine Revolution House. She currently lives on the Kansas side of Kansas City with her collection of cats.

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