DISPOSSESSED by Rachael Marie Walker

DISPOSSESSED by Rachael Marie Walker

I prop up my camera on a few pillows, adjust the lighting, try a few different angles. Set the ten-second timer. I take a few shots, decide on one that’s a direct-shot into my pussy, breasts visible in the distance, but far enough away that my inverted nipples are hidden. Looking at myself like this – in repose, the idea of pleasure – turns me on a little. I spread my legs and take a video. My thighs look so thin. When I upload it to the sexy slutty sapphics Discord server, I get water droplet emoji reactions, heart-eye emoji reactions, tongue out emoji reactions. Fifteen, twenty people react. It’s hard to focus at work when I just want to watch this video all day, says a woman who sends a picture of her breasts. Her nipples stand hard and prominent, the opposite of mine. I sweep a hand between my legs, rock my clit against the ridge of my thumb. I cum to the idea of being wanted. I think of Emma moments after. 

When I was fourteen, my dad bought me a laptop for Christmas. I started chatting online with strangers: under the fairy lights of my high-school bedroom, pictures of me and my marching band friends tacked to the wall, I started with the text boxes on omegle and chatroulette. a/s/l? and I’d respond with a lie, something that made me feel glamorous and exotic: 27/F/California, a place so beautiful and sunny I couldn’t imagine being as sad and lonely as I was in Virginia. I had just figured out masturbation, and narrated what I was doing to the men on the other side of the screen: maybe teenagers like me, maybe adult men looking for teenagers like me. I stopped before cumming. The pressure felt scary, intense. Like I didn’t deserve this, pleasure, like my body was only a conduit for the pleasure of others. 

I put another nude on Reddit’s r/ratemynudebody. I’m not lying about my age anymore: 27F. Pubic hair, leg hair, underarm hair. I bicycle everywhere and live in a studio apartment with a cat and books stacked on every square inch. I put in the bare minimum of effort into my office job. When I bring home women from the lesbian bar – when I used to bring home women from the lesbian bar, before Emma – I felt a surge of pleasure when they complimented my books, the volume of them, before going down on me in front of the window. I imagine most users of r/ratemynudebody are men. I haven’t dated a man since leaving Virginia, when I moved to the West coast to be, in no particular order, a writer and a lesbian. There’s an urge, persistent and mean, that wants to be attractive to men. It’s the same urge that dressed me in pencil skirts and four-inch heels the first year I worked an office job, this knowledge, however resentful, that the more beautiful, the more femme, I looked, the easier the world would be. 

 

I started webcamming with strangers on chatroulette and omegle the same year my mom married a man she’d known for five months. We didn’t know it then, but he was drilling holes in the drywall of my bedroom to watch me as I changed. 

We didn’t have internet at my mom’s house, so I’d wait until I got to my dad’s every other week. After Dad went to bed, early, working a job with an hour-and-a-half commute, I’d pull out my laptop, start cycling through blurry videos of anonymous penises. a/s/l? 27/F/California. 

Only once, a man said, 27? You look young for 27

You look really smart, he said. Too smart to be here. 

He still showed me his dick. I still put two fingers inside me. Behind me, Algebra II textbooks, a wall I painted purple, collage art from magazines taped to the wall.

I don’t really want to have sex with anyone except Emma, but I want people to want to have sex with me. Emma’s the sixth woman I’ve fucked since I moved out West, and before that, I dated a man for a long time. I can’t figure it out, now, dating as an adult. I was still in college when I met my former partner, a kind man who built me bookshelves and painted me bouquets of sunflowers. We broke up, of course, because we became different people. And I was a lesbian, and it became harder and harder to ignore. And, after a few flirtationships with women, after masturbating exclusively to the idea of women fucking me, after the opportunity presented itself to move out West, I had to do it. I told him only that I had to choose a different life. We broke up on the street behind our favorite restaurant. We cried in front of a church. Bicyclists whizzed past. I drove home in a haze, listening to nothing, pulled over to cry at the Potomac overlook. Georgetown glittered in the near distance, indifferent.

I posted nudes on Reddit then, too. He never knew about them. I felt so bad that I deleted them the night after, but not before I screenshotted all the compliments. 

 

In the summer between freshman and sophomore year of high school, I spent almost all of my time chatting online. I had figured out what men liked, and I started putting markers inside me. A hairbrush handle. A cucumber. I was a contortionist, a circus creature, a freakshow. I performed in front of men with white in their beards. Men who held their babies. Men in college dorms. Groups of boys at sleepovers. It was so easy to make them happy. I was so good at making them happy. I rode pillows. I spread my cunt wide on screen. I had never been fucked. 

 

Sex with Emma felt so good. I didn’t know sex could – should – feel like that, that I could feel so alive and so human. We pressed our foreheads together when we came, sweating, my skirt around my hips, so desperate to get each other naked we couldn’t be bothered with buttons and zippers. We had sex for hours. She ran her fingers over every part of me, and I counted her freckles, the lines beginning to form at the edges of her eyes. Her tattoos, mine. I held the memory of her body in my sheets.

We never spent the night together. She always drove home, even at three in the morning. She was married to a man before we got together. Moved to the West coast same as I did, chasing a future that was queer and unknown and hers. Maybe I am too much. I am not someone made to be subtle. Emma knows this, since the first day we met, that crisp autumn afternoon on a Sunday, when we went for a walk and ate too-large burritos in a restaurant with windows overlooking the water. I made a promise to myself, as I drove across the country, that I would stop being anything other than myself. I told Emma that I wanted to take up as much space as I could, that I wanted to see all the pleasure my body was capable of. 

I quoted that Mary Oliver poem: I want to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves. 

And for a month or two, I thought: here is someone who can love me. Here is someone to whom I have shown the stories of my stepfather, the loneliness of my girlhood, and seen, and stayed. 

The idea of being with a person who is all intent, all purpose, is sexy until the reality comes crashing in. We’ve been together-not-together for six months, now – too much reality. Grocery shopping and annoyances from work and traffic. 

 

I had a boyfriend as a teenager who played viola in the orchestra and wore his hair in a taught, tall bun at the crown of his head. He had long, thin fingers, perfect for playing string instruments and fingering me. We made out in the backseat of his Hyundai. We had sex as often as we could while our parents were out of the house. We talked very little. I still spent nights online with strangers. He never knew. Or, I never told him. 

I still flirted with women, feeling that soft pull of want. He never knew. Or, I never told him. 

I had a boyfriend in my late teens who kept every nude any woman sent him. He showed me them as if he were a prize hunter. As he swiped through these pictures of women and I sat next to him in stunned, panicked silence, I wondered who had pictures of my naked body.

Still, I posted pictures of myself on the internet. He never told me I was beautiful, or wantable, just simply that I was there, and fuckable, so I outsourced. I talked to women and men on dating apps. He was so angry at me when he found out that he slapped me across the face in the mall parking lot. It was our first anniversary. He said, you’d do this, after all the money I’ve spent on you? 

I came home crying from dates, unlocking the door of my dad’s house, hoping he was asleep. When he was still up, watching Law and Order, he paused the show, greeted me. He always asked if I was okay and never pushed when I lied. 

 

Emma and I used to go out to dinner once a week. The noodle shop by my apartment, or the bar down the street, or the tea shop near her. We’d hold hands over the tables. When we went on walks, leaning my head onto her shoulder, her fingers at the base of my skull locked into my hair, even in a city as queer, a neighborhood as queer, as we live in now, angry men yelled at us from the driver’s seats of their cars. Dykes. 

A few friends asked: how do two girls even do it? 

I thought, but didn’t say: can’t you imagine pleasure made double in a body like yours? 

 

I turned eighteen two weeks into starting college. I had a roommate who was often out with her ten-years-older boyfriend or driving home to visit her mom, left alone in our cold, sterile dorm room. When she left, I opened the windows, turned the blinds, undressed into slips and underwear. I started to get paid for camming, went by a name different than the one everyone else knew me by. In the twilit evenings, I finished homework and slid into thongs and skimpy bras, masturbated in my twin bed.

I stopped after I stopped being able to maintain a regular schedule. A reason as simple and boring as any other. 

I started hiking, rock climbing. My hands blistered. The blisters turned into calluses.


Rachael Marie Walker is a Seattle writer who learned to love words and music in the weeds of Virginia.

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