Category Archives: Creative writing
A/N: Prompt: “Which is the most urgent demand we need as asexuals to be protected?” The Carnival of Aces submissions post can be found here. CW: discussion of compulsory sexuality and a bad divorce.
The summons froze Cassie in her seat. Ms! She didn’t say out loud. It’s Ms! The old, dead title from her old, dead life slipped like slime down her neck and spine and felt like it dripped into her shoes and left her feet cold, wet, sweaty. The old, hated name from her old, dead life made that old, hateful laugh of that wish-he-was-dead man resound in the back of her mind. When would the corpse of her past no longer be dragging along behind her? She had tried so many times, so many ways to cut the rope around her neck.
When she turned, Olga’s cornrows hung over the shoulder of the young man who’d called her. The relief of not having to correct anyone herself this time flooded her system, flushed out the ice clogging her veins. She trudged over to accept the intake paperwork. New specialist, same form.
She paused over the block asking for her marital status. She wavered between “single” and “divorced.” It felt wrong to be so defined by her past on a piece of paperwork. Ticking “single” was almost as bad. It felt like a lie, when she woke up to Peter’s smile and cuddles and stupidly tasty breakfast on the weekends, when she went mini-golfing with Minnie’s arms around her every other Friday. She swallowed, gave in, ticked the least-bad box.
Near the end of her visit, she sighed when that question came up. She knew testing for STDs was helpful for most people, but she hated where the question led. Every time. “No, I am not having sex.” Now, or ever again.
The psychiatrist frowned up at her over his glasses “It’s been quite some time since your divorce…?” The inquiry trailed off, more delicate than most about suggesting she needed to jump into bed with someone for her own health, or revenge, or proof of sexual freedom. “If you wish, I could give you a prescription?”
“It’s not…” She swallowed. Started again, going for something less defensive. “I’m asexual, it’s an orientation. There’s nothing wrong with my libido.” Hoped it was enough. Her sort were included in awareness training these days, weren’t they? They must be.
Oh no, not the pitying look. “I read in your file that the grounds for divorce were related-“
He stopped when she slammed both hands on his desk. Would she ever be free from that man? He could have gone for a no-fault divorce, but oh no, not mister ‘I put up with you so fulfill your conjugal duties.’ “Doctor Singh, would you tell a gay man to fuck women?” she asked, officially done with being polite.
He blanched. “Of course not, ma’am-“
“Then don’t tell me to fuck. Capiche?”
He apologised, asked her a few questions, and then he asked her for some resources, which was more than the last guy had done. She decided not to try for another specialist quite yet. Arguing with her insurance had been difficult enough to change to this one. Because it couldn’t be discrimination. There was no A in LGBT.
He shook her hand. “I’m so sorry,” he said again, “I can relate, even if not precisely. I’ll do some studying and be a little more prepared next time, hm? I’d never heard of it before.” He waved at himself, five feet of handsome Indian-American man, and at her tall, pale chubby self, while he talked.
She blinked in confusion, for a moment. Then, oh, right, racism. She felt very ashamed and very, very white, stuttered out a flustered and probably over-the-top thanks and sprinted out of the office. Had to hover awkwardly in the waiting room for her after-visit paperwork. Olga, with her pride-flag pin, handed it over with a wide smile and a wink. “I’ll talk to him and get him hooked up, alright? He’s a good egg.”
In the summary, her orientation read “Other*” with “Asexual” in the space for notes at the end of the section. Her eyes felt warm and her mouth as sweet as if she’d taken a big bite of red velvet cake. Her body floated out of the office, light and free, that man and her bad memories firmly in the past, where they belonged.
She started typing a new message to Minnie as she walked out of the hospital, into the Spring sunshine.
My cross purpose
Among the padding
To seek the opposite
For the days when less
We are guided to think
I discover, by selection
If a majority shouts pretend
To have larger breasts
I can’t forage for bargains
Choice is no longer spoilt
Instead you are precious
I, a treasure hunter. New
Role to play
Revealed in the practice
A body chafes, sweats, itches
Needs care in the fabric
That dresses her in their
I feel freshly apprenticed
Finished the introduction
This shopping trip only
Chapter two of much
Gender expression, even
Broken into body parts
Is scales, not binaries
I seek to buy inbetweens
Days curves displease
Flesh resists the binding
Form and comfort meet
In layers of cotton
I happen upon you
One department over
Advertised as sportswear
But I will buy you to sleep
You sit on your bed, stalling
Here, here is the line
You have swung, before
Across the full spectrum of womanhood
Found it wide and wild and good but
An end, trailing
Of the spectrum that is you
Do I cross to follow?
Butler and you were wrong
You were bound up in performance
Clothes according to the feeling of the day
Manners and fantasies and thoughts
Did you disregard the start
From inside, calling
Do I cross to follow?
I am woman, have been
Forever settled, yet unsettlingly
The moon she is not full
She is gibbous
After first quarter, growing
Do I cross to follow?
You sit on your bed, stalling
It’s so small in your hands
Will it even fit over your head
Wrestling hook by hook by hook
A minute later, familiar
A sports bra without foam triangles
Instead, one panel across the front
You sit on your bed, breathing
Let your belly blow up, balloon
And hold and let it smooth out
Deep. Your feet on the floor, rooted
Deep. To the bottom of your lungs
Down. The exhale streaming
You stand beside your bed, breathing
Today seemed like a good day
Home sick, the rain unceasing
If you were going to be miserable
You were already miserable today
It’s not a vest, not a corset
Familiar elastic cradles your ribs
I cross my arms
No soft round flesh presses down, oh
So odd, this space above your forearms
You mimic drawing a bow and arrow
Amazonians bubbling to the surface
Mind collecting new connections
For new sense memory, new
Excuses and disguises, the enabler
If you dare go outside at all
I cross the hallway to the bathroom
Far enough today, the sight
Amusing all of the sudden, pecs
When you have never worked out
The gym the slim woman’s domain
Clothes, chosen with ritual care
As you do for formal occasions
Jeans, a unisex T-shirt you hate
Normally, no good on a woman
This is as far as I cross
You do not look at your face today
But your shoulders are fascinating
Broader, bracketing a flat surface
Below the fat distribution’s a bit…
That’s work for another day
No constriction. Deep breath
I back down
In the bedroom you undress
Pyjamas and blankets pressing down
You burrow. It was fine. Surprisingly
Familiar. Surprisingly fine.
This is my contribution to August’s Carnival of Aces, about “deviant identities”, hosted by The Demi Deviant.
Queer In My Dress
I am queer in my purple dress
Pressed between postmodern sexuality
And the outdated marriage myth
I am, willfully not wanting sex,
Faultline in the fiction of virginity
I am queer in my blue dress
Am I lacking? people ask, perplexed
A woman divorced from intimacy,
Dating and the marriage myth?
Truth is, my desire is more complex
For company, beauty, sensuality
I am queer in my red dress
As the third wave wanes, I need to address
How asexuality clashes with
The outdated marriage myth
I want love with no regard for sex
A partner who sees I am not less
To be queer in my bridal dress
Let’s update the marriage myth
This started out exploring a deviant (queer) aspect of my asexuality and ended up trying to express how queer (weird, outlandish, new, upsetting, estranging) asexuality itself can be. Particularly an aspect I don’t often see explored: that asexuality upsets both traditional and modern ideas about sexuality, often at the same time.
In its simplest form, I think choosing to identify as (some shade of) asexual and daring to say “no, I do not feel sexual attraction like that” combines and subverts
a) the traditional ideal of lust or sex as a morally ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing
b) the modern ideal of everyone having a natural sexuality that is inherently human
c) the queer ideal of affirming your orientation through sexual acts
a) absence of lust is a neutral state of being rather than a purity or innocence that can be preserved or lost; sexual activity is optional at all times, rather than forbidden or required at any time.
b) our motivations and experiences are more complicated than (mutual) sexual attraction leading to consensual sexual activity, orgasms, falling in love and sexual-romantic relationships.
c) queerness can be complex and comprise a multifaceted orientation and gender identity that has very little, if anything, to do with sexual acts.
Even as I write this I am aware I am already simplifying by focusing on the above as flowing from an asexual identity above any other.
Yet still, here is my demisexual-panromantic-monoamorous* deviant little fantasy, to wish to find and legalise a longlasting partnership and celebrate that with my community, without having to submit to the strictures society still imposes on that institution.
Oh, and go full femme on the day.
Today, at least.
I might dream of wearing a three-piece steampunk period costume tomorrow. Who knows.
*Since both polyamory and the newly-coined nonamory** are common in the ace community and I came across the word ambiamory*** (someone who can go for either monogamous or polyamorous relationships), I figure we’d clean up the vocab and go for monoamory as the correct word for the majority option on that list/spectrum. Also, also, I think we need a word for the grey area (greyamory? demiamory? semiamory?) between disinterest in relationships (nonamory) and interest in relationships, whether one or multiple (alloamory?).
**Relative, it’s been around a few years, I didn’t know it until this year. I like the new terms cropping up in the a-spec community, especially the ones that are useful. Can you tell I like words? I really like good words.
Quoiro is quantum
Aro, romantic, neither
Edit: updated to reflect the accurate shorthand for quoiromantic.
With tomato cheeks, I ask
Leave the lettuce in the bag
Keep all cucumbers cool, now
Zucchini’s the desired base
Of our salad, if it’s okay
Warm tea, when cradled
Thaws my raw palms, while the fire
You stoke makes me flinch
A (late) part 2 for my contribution to November’s Carnival of Aces.
Diving into my blog statistics provided some food for thought about how to continue it in the new year.
I had such big plans when I started. I wanted to write all about what this shiny new orientation meant to me. I discovered I wrote best by keeping it personal and reflective. It petered out when I fell in love and it felt too tender, too intimate to write at all. A shared secret, rather than mine.
I found myself posting again when being both on the asexual spectrum and Christian caused friction, compounded by me fleshing out my romantic orientation and feeling that yeah, the queer label applied to me. I also found inspiration in wishing to read and write more on these topics, finding my thoughts weren’t very fleshed out beyond my personal life.
The most popular posts I have seem to be the one that fill in the blanks on what being demisexual means, in all its varied permutations. Proactive and constructive posts, rather than reactive and fearful ones. This lines up with a personal conviction I’ve felt, that I do not wish to be defined by others and that the strongest ideals are those that stand on their own.
I recently read a plea that we need utopias, rather than dystopias, in our speculative fiction. We are confronted daily by all that can go wrong. We are losing sight of how things may go right. We’re forgetting what to cherish, what to strive for independent of the teeth-clench-fight of preserving what we most love.
It jived with what I long to do, when I started and now. I want to write about what it means to be demisexual and love it (dare to be proud). So that’s one of my good intentions for 2019.
Some good articles, since I don’t remember exactly which I read before:
- Utopia for a Dystopian Age (NY Times)Utopia for a Dystopian Age (NY Times)
- Why We Need Utopian Fiction Now More Than Ever (Gizmodo)
- The Importance of Utopian Thinking (The Book of Life)
- Ursula K. LeGuin Explains How to Build A New Kind of Utopia (Electric Literature)
- Why and How We Long for Utopia (Psychology Today)