Hilda sits at the dining table with an expression she can't attempt to change without feeling immense pain. Stitches and staples mar her face and pull her lips upward, creating a crude "smile." The handiwork is grotesque yet oddly impeccable.
She’s wearing a yellow sundress that feels uncomfortable against her thoroughly washed skin. Her hair is loose and slightly damp, indicating that it was washed quite recently. Her hands are perfectly folded in her lap and, despite her best efforts to move them, they stay folded. There isn't a single muscle she can move.
Just as panic is starting to set in, a man holding two bowls of soup enters. He has a nervous smile on his innocent face, he’s dressed in sweats that are way too big for his fragile body, and his hands are slightly trembling.
“Good evening, sweetheart,” he greets timidly before wincing to himself. “No... no, we’re not at that point yet. I’ll just call you Hilda. Yes, that sounds good.”
He sets one bowl down in front of Hilda before taking his seat across from her. For an immeasurable amount of time, the man stares at her as she unwillingly stares back. His eyes are filled with love and admiration while hers appear to be staring into the void.
“Oh!” the man suddenly exclaims. “You must think I’m so rude. My name is Henry. Welcome to my home! I really hope you like it. I... I cleaned up because I wanted to impress you. I hope you're impressed."
He gives her a smile so sweet and genuine, it almost tamps down the disgust and confusion she feels. His innocence bleeds into every word he says and compliments his boyish features.
“I would like to thank you for joining me,” he says. “It really warms my heart that you would give up an evening for me. I’ve liked you for so long and… just... thank you. I apologize for not having anything to drink. The, uh, the pipes are fucked up... and... and I didn’t have time to buy anything from the store. I’ll make sure to get something tomorrow. Do you like soda? No, you like tea. How could I forget that!"
Hilda wants to scream, she wants to thrash around like a bat from hell and demand to be taken home, but she can’t fucking move. Henry drones on and on about his day, going into excruciating detail about every single inconsequential moment, and all the while, Hilda tries to move at least one part of her body. He's only a few spoonfuls away from finishing his dinner when she begins to wiggle her fingers.
“That was delicious,” Henry gushes. “Not to brag, but I think I did a pretty good job. Don't you thi-”
He cuts himself off, his expression turning dark as he stares at Hilda's moving fingers. Without a word, he rises from his seat and leaves the dining room. Hilda's lungs start to ache as her breathing grows more and more ragged. It seems like hours go by before she feels a needle pricking the back of her neck.
"I'm so happy you decided to join me for dinner tomorrow night," Henry whispers. "You have no idea how much that means to me. The fact that you... genuinely love spending time with me... makes me a happy man. It makes me so very happy, so... so... happy." He gets choked up. "I'm sorry, I've just... I've never felt this happy. You make me so happy, and I'm glad I make you happy. Let's smile forever, ok?"
A tear leaves a trail down Hilda's cheek as she loses consciousness.