I was feeling a bit mermaid-ish coming out of the shower the other day… if I only had a tail to swim in. Or shells big enough to actually cover my breasts.
Indra liked the way the crisp autumn air stung her cheeks as she squatted close to the ground, her urine stream splashing a bit onto her shoes from the crunchy fallen oak leaves between her feet. This was a sensual time of year: everything smelled rich due to harvest or decay. The light was more golden, connections between people more heightened as friends and family came together after vacations apart. She stood up, buttoning her jeans, closed her eyes, and inhaled the earthy scent of burning branches for a moment before starting her walk back to the cluster of tents she and her friends had set up earlier that day. She could see the glow of their bonfire in the distance; she, too, felt radiant.
Coming closer to the tents, Indra stopped short when a movement caught her eye. Still hidden in the forest, her hand grazing the scratchy bark on the tree next to her, she squinted to see more clearly the silhouette of someone inside their tent; the campfire in front of the tent made the shadow visible from behind. Whose tent is that? she wondered as she intently stared, craning her neck to get a better look. Suddenly understanding what she was seeing, she flushed and took a step toward camp – then stepped back to look again. His hand was down his pants, methodically and slowly stroking. She stepped toward camp again… but then immediately came back for more. Now he had pulled his cock out; its shadow looked comically large in the firelight. She laughed a small, barely audible, nervous laugh, unable to look away as he licked his hand and rubbed it over the head of his cock, then all the way to the bottom of his shaft. Her cunt warmed, thickened, pulsed.
An unexpected shout of “INDRA!” from a friend jolted her and sent her heart racing, but she couldn’t avert her eyes, couldn’t move her feet. Maybe if she just stayed silent… she heard boots pounding leaves and panting breath coming into the woods; she stayed stock still but for a slight rubbing of her thighs. Catching her breath, Ellen jogged up to Indra, asking for toilet paper. A few seconds too late, Indra switched her glance over to Ellen, trying to find words that were sticky in her mouth, and snapping out of her reverie, patted her pockets for the desired item. “What were you staring at?” asked Ellen, whose eyes were adjusting to the darkness.
“I just – uh – nothing,” she replied, her vulva now aflame. Ellen looked into the camp and audibly gasped when she saw it. She grabbed Indra’s warm hand in hers and they looked on silently, blood thudding together. “It’s so hot,” Indra whispered. Ellen, a bit tipsy, leaned into Indra’s ear and whispered, “Can I touch you like that?” Indra, still looking at the tent, just swallowed hard and nodded, her nipples like cherry pits. Ellen unbuttoned Indra’s pants and lowered her zipper just a bit before sliding her slender hand into the slick folds of Indra’s vulva, rubbing her juices up and over her clit before moving two fingers inside of her. She looked behind her for a moment to get the rhythm of his stroke and tried to match it, curling and pressing her fingers inside of Indra.
Indra grabbed the branch above her with both hands, holding onto it like a log in a river with strong currents. She moaned aloud; Ellen moved her lips back to Indra’s ear to whisper, “Don’t make a sound.” She covered Indra’s mouth with one hand while continuing to fuck her with the other. She didn’t know if it was the voyeurism or potential exhibitionism – could anyone else see them? – that made her insides growl and roar, but either way, she came hard onto Ellen’s hand, her muscles clamping around Ellen’s fingers. Ellen gently pulled them out, licked them, and placed her hands on the sides of Indra’s face before lightly kissing her still-ajar, chapstick-covered lips. “Thanks!” she said quietly, grabbing the tissue out of Indra’s pocket, and bounding away into the woods, leaving Indra there to watch a small stream of ejaculate bubble out of the staff in her friend’s hand, both of them finally satisfied.
The first time I got a real haircut – more than a centimeter trim – was when I was thirteen years old. I had the barber cut off eighteen inches of hair and asked my mom’s permission to dye it bright blonde. I wanted to look drastically different as a way of physically separating these two phases of my life – childhood from adolescence. I didn’t want to be seen as a child anymore.
I’ve always used my hair to mark transitions in my life. When I entered high school, I dyed it vampire red with Manic Panic and really stuck out. When I broke up with my boyfriend at the end of high school – a boyfriend who’d begged me for two years not to cut my hair – I chopped it off and gave it to him in an envelope. Told him if he loved it so much, he could have it. When I finally started transitioning into a mental and emotional phase of confidence and self-worth in my mid-twenties, I dyed it hair-color red to match all the red clothes I couldn’t stop buying that replaced the black ones. I felt alive. Renewed. Bursting at the seams with erotic energy. Around thirty, I stopped dying it completely after seventeen years of having done so because I started deeply and unapologetically loving my natural self. When I leave Korea, I will once again cut it all off – repatriating is a scary and exciting and overwhelming prospect, and I want to go into it unencumbered – at least by long hair.
I’ve used my hair for titillation – nothing like pulling a hair band out and letting it tumble down into the middle of my back on a first date or changing the style for a particular play scene. I’ve had it cut intentionally short as an identity marker for other women to recognize me as a woman who’s attracted to women after being scoffed at for years walking into lesbian bars with my super long hair. I’ve used it for pleasure, asking partner after partner to sink their fingers in, grab tight, and pull. When someone snakes their fingers up the back of my head into my hair it sends tingles throughout my entire body and almost always makes me instantly wet. I’ve used it to help deal with a broken heart and transition… and I’ve used it to entice partners to cuddle up close to me just to press their faces into my long locks and inhale (the shampoo I use, introduced to me by an ex-girlfriend, smells amazing).
My hair is intertwined with my identity. Sometimes I get really fancy and spend twenty minutes putting it up or all day curling it; most days I’m lazy and throw it back in a loose bun. It reflects my mood, my energy, phases I’m going through in life. It’s a part of my emotional and sexual selves, and I’m very grateful for the choices I get to make regarding how I wish to change it.
Blood is such an excellent prompt for a piece of fiction, but I’m having the damnedest time thinking of one because all I can focus on is the blood gushing out of me at this moment. Thanks to hormonal birth control, I barely bled for the last twenty years. My periods were usually three days of light bleeding and no cramps – so my whole life I’ve had NO idea what women with heavy or painful periods went through. My periods were terrible when they first started, but it was so long ago I’d forgotten.
Until this year.
I’m experiencing heavy bleeding for the first time as an adult. I mean cups full of scarlet blood, much redder and thicker than I expected it to be, poured into my drain… which is unexpectedly satisfying. I’m experiencing strong cramps for the first time. Now that I have a copper IUD in, I’m experiencing menstruation-induced pain for the first time. And it’s a motherfucker. My lower back hurts in a way that I’ve heard women complain about but have never been able to imagine. So bad that I don’t want to go to the gym today, even though I know exercise will help.
I’m skittish about using my cup this month because my first IUD expelled last month during my period, so I’m using a pad for the first time since I was thirteen, which is a weird feeling (tampons are wildly expensive here – around $.50 a pop – and stores don’t sell the ones without applicators). It’s uncomfortable and I can actually feel the blood coming out of my body in spurts.
The strangest thing about all of this is that it actually feels good emotionally. Even though I’m experiencing pain, I also feel much more connected to my body, to the other women in my life, and to the natural world. I know that sounds so fucking cheesy, especially given that the reason I’m bleeding more is that I have a piece of metal in my uterus – but the feeling is genuine. I want to make art with my blood. I want to be fucked bent over in my shower, hands against the tiles – to have him come inside of me, to watch the pink fluid run down my leg in rivulets and mix in with the water on my shower floor while panting (Y’all know period sex is so good, right? My orgasms are much more intense right before or at the beginning of my cycle!). And I want to talk about menstruation. To men (gasp!).
Women are made to feel shame our whole lives for something we have zero control over – socialized to believe we are dirty or smelly or untouchable when in actuality, we are badass. Every month, we go to work or school while bleeding. We play sports and work out while bleeding. We go on dates and hang out with friends while bleeding. We take care of kids and partners while bleeding. We program and shop and dance and work outdoors and swim and study and read and run conferences and write and make art and make music and cook and take boxing classes and sleep and drive and argue and heal and play while actual blood – ounces of it – is coming out of our uteri. Some women have incredibly painful periods, and they still do all this shit.
Half the population bleeds for approximately 15-20% of their reproductive lives. That’s a lot of blood… but many of us never talk about it. And I think we should – or at least, we should feel like it’s okay to talk about without the people around us clamping their hands to their ears and exclaiming, “TMI!” Can you imagine people doing that if you started talking about what you ate for dinner or how long you slept last night?
I’ve had more than one male partner freak out because he suddenly saw a little bit of blood on his dick and he thought something was TERRIBLY WRONG when in fact, he had just knocked a little blood loose from my cervix at the beginning or end of a cycle. I have male friends who refuse to have sex with their partners while they’re bleeding because the mere sight of blood unnerves them… in person. Seeing pints of blood squirt out of various body parts in a Quentin Tarantino film is no problem, but if it’s on a tampon, it is gross and terrifying.
But period sex is awesome for a lot of women; if we can handle a cunt full of blood five to seven days a month (and spotting in between), men can probably give a go to having a little blood on their cock for five minutes. I say if the sight of blood bothers you, try a blindfold! Your partner is powerful at this time anyway (I mean… at least according to Pagan folks), so it seems like a good time to work on your submissive side. When your partner wants to talk about what’s going on with her body, listen. If you have a question, ask! Communication is aces. Period fucking: Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
Menstruation affects most aspects of our lives in some way – for me, it can impact mood, diet, activities, libido, and physical and emotional comfort. For women without access to educational or medical resources or menstrual products, it can be completely life-altering. One thing it does not do is impact the decisions I make at work or how I engage in other life responsibilities… but it does affect my life, and I expect to be able to acknowledge that.
I’m happy I bleed. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel incredibly horny (my period horn is super intense now that I’m off the hormones). Sometimes it makes me feel crummy and sore and frustrated and sensitive too, but I wouldn’t change it if I could.
For some, the letter B is a fun sexy letter: breasts, bottom, beads, bubble baths.
For me (for many of us, I’d wager), the letter B conjures up the dark side of sexy: blood, bruises, beatings. I’m a huge horror fan; I binge-watched Stranger Things last weekend before taking this, so I was feeling kind of raw and scratchy. In a good way, of course. I wanted to make the image grainy but don’t have that kind of filter in my photo editing software, so instead I just made it dark!
For all the other sinners, click the lips below:
I met up with a former student for lunch a couple weekends ago because she was in the middle of a relationship crisis and wanted to talk about it with someone who wouldn’t judge her. She’s been with her current boyfriend for two years and is very much in love with him, but she cheated on him with a guy at summer camp this summer (which I found hilarious, because I did exactly the same thing at exactly the same age and remember how gutting it was to try to navigate the situation). She says she’s still talking to the new guy all the time – that he arouses a kind of passion in her that her boyfriend doesn’t because they have shared goals and interests and she feels comfortable completely being herself around him. Welcome to NRE, I say. I tell her to try not to compare them, which she says is impossible.
I ask if she still wants to be with the boyfriend. Yes, absolutely, she says. He’s kind, giving, dependable. He’s a Good Man. I ask her if consensual non-monogamy is a potential choice for her. No, she says – she’s monogamous (…). I tell her, then, that she should probably cut off contact with the new guy. She says she doesn’t want to do that – he’s intoxicating (quite literally). And then she says this hilarious thing that I think all of us have thought but few of us actually say out loud:
“Jo,” she says. “The thing is – like, do I really have to do the right thing? What if I’m just okay with not being a good person? Is being a good person really all it’s cracked up to be? I’m not sure it is.”
Oh, sister. We’ve all been there. The NRE has blinded her to the fact that she’s already broken her boyfriend’s heart – he just doesn’t know it yet. We talk for a long time and go through every possible permutation of potential action that can be taken, and I finally tell her that it doesn’t matter what I say – she’s going to do what in the end feels right for her, even if she knows it isn’t. The heart wants what it wants. When I was her age, I wouldn’t have listened to anyone’s advice – I would follow my cunt, because that’s where my heart lives. I told her to be careful with the hearts of people she cares about and sent her a link to www.morethantwo.com *just* in case. On my way home, I thought: You couldn’t pay me to be that young again.
Wait, I say to him before we get off the phone. I want him to read me a bedtime story. He stoically tells me that it’s 10:00 am. Not where I am, I remind him. I tell him I’ll be restless without it. That I won’t be able to sleep. That I’ll be tossing and turning all night long when I could be dreaming of him. He grudgingly gives in, searching for a good piece of erotica on his computer while I turn off the lights, climb my stairs, and slink into bed, the bright light of my phone pressed to my ear.
How about a gangbang story? he asks. I smile; that’s exactly what I would have chosen. As he starts to read, his voice deep and reassuring in my ear, I close my eyes and imagine the scene unfolding before me, vivid images floating behind the dark half-moons of my eyelids. Hands and mouths everywhere, greedy, grasping, searching. Every glorious orifice being used to its full potential, undulations of bodies and pleasure. My right hand slides into my pajama bottoms, underneath my cotton panties as he continues to read; I find my labia already slick and slippery.
I’m not prepared for how fast I come. Before I can take any clothes off, before I can pull a breast out to graze one of my nipples with a wet finger, without tensing into it like normal, I suddenly come hard at the thought of several strangers using me, not ever knowing who they are, a dozen hands groping me at once. Fingers in my mouth, a fist around my hair, nails dug into my haunches, gripping me backward. I cry out, my body convulsing, and continue to moan; he stops reading.
“I wasn’t done,” he says. I am. I tell him to keep reading to me. I lay still in bed, my panties and thighs soaked, breathing deeply and evenly as I imagine him next to me, whispering the story into my ear in the dark.