Shanna Germain

*

Naked Truths: A Narrative

My mother and my grandmother have binge-eating disorders, the kind where you stuff yourself full of pretzels and cheese and crackers and fish and cookies and anything else that happens to be in the fridge just to fill that thing that was inside them. And then they fed all those things to me just to fill that thing that was inside them.

I learned that food meant love. A crisp slice of bacon between two pieces of homemade bread. Love. The biggest slice of pecan pie with a side of ice cream. Love. Carrots cut in slices and dipped into blue cheese dressing. Love.

Love comes in many forms. In slices like an apple or a pumpkin pie. In layers like angel’s food cake and spinach casseroles. In pieces like hard candy and crushed cookies. It sometimes comes whole, like that fish with the eyeballs still in or a fresh loaf of bread, the crust buttered and golden.

I want to feel loved. In slices, in layers, in pieces, in whole.

*

I’ve been ashamed of my body my whole life. Look, there in the mirror: Big hips, big ass, small breasts. You’ve heard this story before. I won’t bore you with it again.

Just know this: If you squint your right eye shut and stand on your tiptoes and turn the lights to the lowest setting and line yourself up with the bed post, I look better.

No, really. I do. You’re just doing it wrong.ย  Try the other eye.

*

I’ve never been ashamed of my body in bed. Pink nipples so sensitive that a touch might knock me over. A kiss there would finish me. A waist that curves in, a perfect handle for big hands. Hold tight, don’t let me slip away. The way my back slides into a arching, covered bridge; cross me, find your way to the other side, take me with you to that other place. Bend me, yes my knees do go behind my ears, yes my wrists fit together inside the loop of your belt, yes my legs will wrap around your waist that tight.

Bend me, bend me. There is no breaking in this story. Unless you’re talking about hearts.

I was built to fuck and be fucked.

*

Over the years, lovers have liked various parts of my body. One loved my icy blue eyes. One, my pale hair. “You’re like an angel,” he’d say and he’d kiss me that way, like I was breakable, spun-glass, spun-sugar. Another loved that space between my shoulder blades, the one that spreads like wings. The long-term one loved my ass. “Girl, that ass of yours,” he’d say. Like a growl and a prayer.

This one loves my ass, too, in a different way. We have sex when I’m bent over things: the edge of the bed, the arm of his couch, the length of his coffee table. He holds the curves of my ass in the press of his palms, turns my cheeks red with his slaps.

Or maybe I’m only guessing that he loves my ass. He never says. Maybe he just doesn’t like to see my face.

*

Once, I was fat. On a trip home to visit my father, he took my round face in his hands and looked at me for a long time.

“You look just like your mother,” he said.

“Oh, great. Now you’re insulting me,” I said back. Sudden as a slap.

Later, I realized that he’d loved my mother once, her face, enough to marry her. I stuffed my mouth full of steak from the grill, skewered gristle and fat between my teeth, kept my throat busy so no words would come out.

*

My mother has had three heart attacks that I know of. My grandmother can’t move because of the weight on her hips.

I talk to my grandmother once a month. I haven’t heard from my mother in nearly twenty years.

My mother, who looks just like me only about a hundred pounds heavier, abandoned me when I was four. I used to think that if I set out her favorite foods that she, like Santa Claus, would come and visit. I didn’t know what her favorite foods were, so I tried different combinations each night.

She never came.

*

This is a fiction story. Did I mention that? I tell lies for a living. It’s what I do, it’s the place I hide behind, that secret curtain of distance that I wrap around myself when I’m scared, when I’m lonely, when I’m alone.

Now, tell me: do you like me less?

Now, tell me: do you believe me?

I brought my body and your favorite foods. Stay.

***

***

Shanna Germain writes about sex, death, food, lust, sluts, travel and whatever other dark, dirty and delicious things reside in her brain. Her work has appeared in lots of places, including Absinthe Literary Review, Best American Erotica, Hint Fiction, and Salon. Visit her at Year of the Word.

33 Responses to “Shanna Germain”

  1. This strikes me as hauntingly and mysteriously powerful, Shanna. (Rarely do I recall ever experiencing your writing as not powerful.) And before I finished the piece and the word “powerful” was there to describe it, this line:

    “I was built to fuck and be fucked.”

    struck me as one of the most powerful lines in recent memory.

    I don’t mean to overuse or use repetitively the word “powerful.” It’s just how it struck me.

    Thank you.

  2. Oh, wow, thanks so much, Emerald! I have to admit that I sat down with the intention to write a slightly analytical essay about body image and getting older (or something like that), and this is what came out instead. It’s always a pleasure when my writing surprises me, even if I find the process (and the result) incredibly scary!

    But then, I suppose that’s the purpose of this blog, isn’t it? To expose our dark, hidden sides to the light? And to maybe (hopefully) discover something about ourselves along the way.

    Thanks again!

    Best, s.

  3. Shanna,

    Thank you so much for this riveting, viscerally moving, wonderfully mind-fucking–and yes, powerful, too–start to F-Stop. It made me feel naked to read it, and reminded me how if truth can be stranger than fiction, fiction can be truer than truth.

    Now I’m all tingly about this and what the future will bring for F-Stop.

    Happy Cupid’s Day :-).

    Donna

  4. I find it interesting that you say that, Shanna, because when I sat down to write something for this site too, something came out that I similarly did not expectโ€”and I found it somewhat disconcerting/uncomfortable not only because I have experienced what I describe as such but also (perhaps even more so) because does not seem to have a “conclusion” or tidy wrap-up. As I looked at it, it occurred to me that that did seem to be perhaps what this blog was about…and that struck me somehow, because what I was talking about didn’t seem to be something I have felt apt to offer in very many other contexts.

    “if truth can be stranger than fiction, fiction can be truer than truth”

    What a lovely line, Donna.

  5. ah..you are killing me shanna…to bring the person you discribe in this piece together with the person i met last summer is so moving and touching..see…you left a foot print on my soul….because the imagination of this to be a real story…the imagination of that there is a little seed of truth behind it…

    i so can relate to what you wrote about..in many ways…..but..you know ..tears dry on their own…

  6. That was stunning, Shanna.

    Naked, sweet and fierce. Your writing is so brave and always so compassionate… it’s fascinating to read your self as your subject.

  7. Beautiful Shanna. Moving and poignant and sensual. That is so hard to do, laying bare one’s soul. But that’s the liar’s paradox.

    xx

  8. Chloe De Segonzac Says:

    ..almost fainted.

    Definitely taking a class with you!

  9. Thanks so much to all of you — you’re amazing, and I’m so appreciative to have such a supportive community of creative people around me!

    I’m always interested in those lines where fiction and reality blur, those small gray places where the two meld and become one. This seemed like the perfect place to explore.

    I do hope you’re all going to participate — it’s scary but incredibly freeing.

    And Chloe, please do! I’d love to have you!

    Best, s.

  10. Wow.

    I too was very moved by this. It is a emotional roller-coaster. The descriptions are so very vivid and rich.

    What a magnificent start to this blog; I’m looking forward to future installments.

    I must say, you set the bar pretty high, Shanna.

  11. Damn girl, you can write! I already knew that, this just proved it. Oh and to answer those questions, No and No. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. What a fantastic way to begin F-stop! And at the risk of sounding redundant, I’m risking it anyway by saying, holy wow! I love this piece, Shanna. It’s so raw and potent.

    Each layer we strip away only gets us closer to liberation. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  13. This is wonderful, Shanna. Stark, beautiful, breathtaking. I’m in awe once again. Bravo.

  14. What a courageous piece of writing this is, Shanna. I mean, in a sense all writing is an act of bravery. But there’s bravery, and there’s bravery. You’re amazing.

    hugs,
    Jeremy

  15. So very moving – just stunning. Congratulations on this new venture – thank you!

  16. Okay, now I’m totally blushing. Thank you, thank you… more than I can say. I always think I’m exposing myself through my writing, and then I write something like this and think, “Wow, I’ve been playing it safe all this time.”

    Your support and kind words mean the world — it’s this kind of community that helps us all shed those outer skins and get down to what matters most.

  17. Shed those skins, baby! We love you to the bone!

    I always feel clarified when I read your writing…as if I’ve walked through fire and come out atoned of my own lies…brought back to the bulb.

  18. Fucking amazing. Wow. That’s beautiful, S.

    I have to admit I had my reservations about this blog on the way here – naked women, that old tune – but look at this. You’ve made an amazing piece of art here. So finely crafted and gently shocking and sweetly devastating. Bravo. xxx

  19. Shanna this took my breath away and actually brought tears to my eyes.

    If it all was a lie then you write from that POV better than you know.

    wow.

  20. erobintica Says:

    Just getting here this morning after a night of amazing truth (I got my husband Susie Bright’s “I Dare You” game) and I was so curious to see how this was going to open up.

    Wow.

    that’s it – wow.

    You’ve set the bar very high Shanna. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’ve got my start for my piece, hope to get to it today (now that I have my other homework done).

  21. Hauntingly interesting

  22. The eye has it. And so does the elusiveness of “I” as well. Smart, moving writing, Shanna.

  23. This is all of these things, and provocative. Does it open more questions than it answers, like it does for me. Is it also disturbing? I still haven’t composed an adequate response, even in my own mind. Which is a good thing. Writing that stops you in your tracks and makes you question all your assumptions. xx

  24. I feel the same way, Isabel, but that’s a good thing! And it made me feel naked, too, which is the sign of magical prose.

    Don’t worry future contributors, my more predictable post next week will reassure you about what’s possible here, lol.

    But this is one hell of an opening night, isn’t it?

  25. Dear Girl Crush,

    Well. You already knew that. And I used to wish you’d write this, and then you did. I never saw you naked in the flesh; perhaps this is just as good, better? I always say I’m better on the page than in person. This is true. I’ve fantasized what your body might look like naked. Once, you made me blush. That line you used. “I’m a pain slut.” Girl Crush: you’ve been a generous friend, fantasy fodder, most certainly inspiration. I so hope you’re well. Everything is beautiful. Love you.

  26. Yes Donna. And in some ways I want to respond to every question it raises in my mind, but, one- that could go on forever, and two- it would limit the interpretation to my viewpoint, which is not what this is about. I guess that means we all may need to get involved on a deeper individual level on some future post addressing in depth some of the questions posed here, such as how and why do food and eating have such a profound impact on our sexuality? Or what is it about our body image that inhibits us, and how can we change that as writers of erotic fiction, I know first hand Shanna is stunningly beautiful, but I could find something stunningly beautiful in every writer here as well, it’s how we look at ourselves and others. That’s how I am (we are?) I (we) find beauty, sexiness, in everything. And next, how does our relationship with our parents, or extended family effect our sexuality? And then, why are we as Erotic fiction authors held to the fact/fiction line? And how does our fact inform our fiction or why should/shouldn’t it?

    Or none of the above, but something else entirely. xx

  27. Thanks again to everyone for your thoughtful, kind, and supportive comments on this post! Such a delight to watch the dialogue happen and to see the discussion topics that this invoked.

    More great stuff to come soon from other writers and artists! And don’t forget — if you want to participate, just let us know. We’d love to have you exposing yourselves ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Isabel,

    That list of questions is exactly why I love you! Let’s do it all right here, shall we?

  29. WOW Donna. Thank you!!! And in lieu of somewhere more intimate, I’ll meet you back here soon. xx

  30. Yes, stunning. And how true, that some of us were made to be fucked.
    I hid my young, beautiful body beneath layers of flannel topped with an old green kangaroo jacket (what they now call ‘hoodies’). Pity, really, ’cause the bod was a killer. One lover said, “You look so much better with your clothes off.’ Now the bod ain’t what it used to be but I don’t hide it under layers, at least not all the time, anymore. Body image and women – what a mess we’ve allowed to happen to us. I think it’s starting to change but not by much. And I think we, women, are as much to blame for the stereotypical ‘great looking body’ as men are. We’re so damn hard on ourselves. The thing that saves me from obesity is that I don’t eat when I’m depressed. See, a silver lining behind every dark cloud. Thank you for this post.

  31. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s always so startling, people’s self-images. I sit there just shaking my head. “Can she really not know how beautiful she is?”

    Yep, she really can, she and practically everybody else.

  32. Great story!!!

  33. ~smiles~

    It’s been said that, truth or lies, each word eventually adds another brushstroke to the portrait that emerges of our true self. And you, my dear, display ever so brilliantly.!
    Be it ponderance of individual strokes, or admiration of the entire canvas revealed over time. Emerging slowly, as radiant and sure as the rising sun.

    You write from the heart, dear friend, and this piece is no exception. Thank you for sharing, as always, and know your generosity is, and will always be, much appreciated.

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