My soft white legs brush against each other like kindling begging for a spark. It is July, hot late afternoon. Sunshine streams into me. My walk to the community garden leaves my delicate inner thighs impatient and pocked in lurid raspberry. The weight of my fat, ripe body glides effortlessly from left to right and back; perpetual motion quickening my pace and my breath. Only when I stop do I notice the rhythm of my steps echoing in my veins. I got lost in myself.
I unlock the tool shed and gather my watering can, twist ties and shears. My tomatoes, already getting heavy with fruit, will be eager to have some attention after a week of unrelenting heat.
My plants are beautiful, especially for a novice gardener. I am proud. I drink in the acrid smell of nightshade leaves and loosen the soil around the base with my hands to help the water better reach the roots.
Before I can settle more deeply into the zen of my work, I am interrupted by a double ping over my earbuds, momentarily deadening the steady thrum of an angry rockstar blasting my ears.
I wring the sweat and earth from my dewy fingers and flick open my app.
A dick pic.
It is a birdsong in the boughs. I gasp. Smile. Spotted. At last.
It is big, brown, beautiful and anonymous. Just like he’d promised when we chatted on the phone a night earlier. The photo is wanted. Necessary, even. Yet it remains curiously devoid of any context of the man I will soon fuck. This is not a man. - c’est ne pas un homme. This is just a member. A lovely looking member. It will, I hope, be the first new penis in my life since my ex fumbled his way into me over a decade earlier.
But of course there is a human attached to the other end of that glistening, hooded shaft. I try to decipher clues about him from the photo. My mind crackles with the smouldering anxiety of a thousand unanswerable questions: Is he the right choice for my first post-ex sex? Should I just wait for a stranger to scout me in a bar, someone willing to pierce through the armour of a fistful of whiskey and my always-present earbuds? That’s what my wizened female friends say to do. But that seems impossible and dangerous - like the only type of man to do that successfully must be a sort of predator. Who would get off on that sort of conquest? It would not be my choice. This needs to be my choice.
Should I care more about who he is, as a person? I pause on this, squinting up into the sun to catch a glimpse of a Northern flicker as it glides into the air. No, I really can’t cajole myself to care about that question. I just care about who I want him to be. What I want him to do to me. What this fuck will mean. Does he really understand? Can he feel the weight of the power I am bestowing to him? When he fucks me, it will mean that things are really over with my estranged husband. There will be no going back now. Never. This last breakup will be the real one. Different from the dozens of practice runs we took during a decade of fury and devotion.
And how will he feel? How will he move in me? Wait - will he want me? All of me? He knows I’m fat, right? Like, more than TV fat or chubby porn star fat. Some of my fat is lumpy and maybe in the wrong places. I weigh more than him. I’m sure of it. Maybe that’s what he likes. I hope it is. I want him to be enthusiastic. And men are not good at feigning this particular type of enthusiasm.
I remind myself that he will not have the same deep history of sexual self-harm as my ex. He will not wither and rage against the impossibility of my willingness for him. That would be impossible.
My heart gathers itself in my throat as a million possible moments of shame flash before my eyes. I breathe in as deeply as I can to dislodge the tension, hold my breath till I feel it shatter, snort it loudly slowly, out.
I don’t want it involved in this, my heart. It is not her business. My brain, either. Unless my neural network detects some grave primal threat or unexplainable fear, I am good to park my grey matter outside the bedroom door, thank you very much.
The northern flicker is back in the grass, rooting for a worm. See? Desire is just instinct, isn’t it. Don’t interrogate it away.
I slide open the screen again for a second look. I am able to notice, absorb, see now.
The photo itself is rather shitty. It is obscured by a large shadow and glaring white flash spot. Was this quickly rushed off, or the best of several takes?
I imagine his photo session. Obviously a bathroom - the harsh light seems to be bouncing off white tile in the background. Was he at home? The office? Maybe a restaurant? There are no fixtures or shower curtains. Maybe it is the office. I hope it is the office. I hope he was so eager to showcase himself to me that waiting for the commute home felt impossible. That he risked himself for me. That thoughts of me nagged at him as he filed his weekly expense reports. That would be hot.
My thighs beg again, stinging as the wetness of my pussy drips down onto the raw redness of chubrub.
This, I smile, will work just fine. When the body speaks I will listen. I will not question the wisdom encoded in my genes.
One day, not longer after a very long and dangerous relationship ended, my body rose from a sticky stormy dream. (My brain still lay dormant and fractured by PTSD and a rare neurological condition.) Without warning, I am thrust into my wilderness. It is unknown and feral. My body called to me: Wake up, Caroline. I am here for you. I’ve been waiting. Only I can build a home from your solitude, light the dark warren of your fat female sexuality, free you to explore desire after abuse with safety and confidence. Only I can make medicine of your sexual power. Trust.
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Caroline Many is a prairie nomad living in metro Vancouver. This is her first published piece of memoir.