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She called herself Princess Floating Feather. Her name was Denise. She claimed she was a Cherokee princess. She wanted desperately to be alternative, to be a free spirit. She was just a sweet white girl from the suburbs. For whatever reason that just wasn’t enough.

When she took up with Rudy her parents were concerned. “That boy’s no good,” her Mom warned. “He’ll get you in trouble.” “Mom,” she would sigh, “Rudy’s OK. I like him. He’s fun.” “He’s bad news, ” her Dad said. He had to say something, his wife was glaring at him from across the room. But he knew it was true.

Concerts became their thing. It was a fun summer. Freedom, music, booze, drugs, sex. Carefree, she told herself. It was exciting. She felt herself floating. She convinced herself she was in love.

Rudy moved in slowly. He started to exert pressure on her. She didn’t want to do some of the things he pushed her into. She was just a sweet white girl from the suburbs. When she resisted he pushed harder. Then the day came when he hit her. “I’m sorry. I love you. You know that,” he said. She was frightened but nodded her head yes and thought about how she would hide the bruises from her parents.

At the last concert Rudy was especially agitated. “There are some guys I want you to meet,” he said, “I want you to be nice to them.” She knew what that meant. She knew what she would be expected to do. She knew she had to escape, had to find a way out. “This will release me,” she said as she slid the needle into her vein. The rush swept over her. She felt herself floating. Like a feather. Just a sweet white girl from the suburbs. For whatever reason that just wasn’t enough.

Story by Steven Yancey

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