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. 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.