An excerpt from Claiming

I thought I would share an excerpt from a story I’m working on that’s tentatively titled “Claiming” about the crush that got away, who just might be back again. It’s a butch/femme story, about two fat queer women, one bisexual, one queer identified, written from the butches point of view. I’ve been thinking a lot these days about writing butches and writing fat heroines, so I pulled out this story again. It feels tender to me, especially the beginning, which focuses on the experience of a butch having a crush on a femme, a crush that lingers years later. So I decided to share it with you. Well, the beginning, at least.

(As a heads up, this excerpt references kink, but does not include a scene.)

The first femme I ever fell for was Katie Ballard. Hell, she was the first femme I ever knew. She had huge blue eyes, blonde hair that fell to her shoulders, and one of the most tempting mouths I’d ever seen. Her voice was raw silk, all soft and gliding with a bit of roughness in her Mississippi drawl. She had so much gender it grabbed my breath. The kind of high femme who was always dressed to the nines regardless of the context.

One time, in my third year of college, she showed up for our American Studies class in a black leather corset, tight black pencil skirt, seamed stockings, and open-toed heels. I just about swallowed my tongue. I don’t think I heard a word the professor said that day. All I could do was focus on breathing as her thigh pressed into mine. The seats were tiny in that room, too small even for my mid-sized fatness, much less her gloriously large ass. I always came home with marks from the arms in my sides, but that day I didn’t even notice the chair hurting me. Katie had this habit of sticking her pen in her mouth that just undid me. With the warmth of her pressed into my side, my eyes couldn’t stop looking at her mouth, just aching for the moment when, deep in thought, she’d put the pen between her lips. 

Katie was the kind of submissive that was often mistaken for a dominant. She moved through the world so deeply in her own power that if you didn’t know her, you’d guess that she’d welcome worship only from a lucky select few. She knew she was a force of nature, and owned it.

I remember once we were at the drag ball, and she was in this amazing cobalt sequined dress, rocking the way high femme dyke and drag were sisters. This trio of drag queens started talking about her dress and how amazing it was, calling out compliments from several feet away—compliments all focused on her dress. She turned on her heel and met their gaze and told them that they must have misspoken. The dress wasn’t gorgeous, she was gorgeous in the dress. Then she took my arm and into the ball we went, to the sound of their appreciative noises. She demanded respect with this tremendous ferocity that floored me.

I met Katie when I was a freshman in college and was still clinging to the hope that because I was attracted to men I might not be queer. (I ignored the fact that most of the men I was attracted to were queer themselves.) It didn’t take very long for me to let go of straightness and come out as bisexual. When I told Katie I was queer, she gave me a secret smile and just said, “I know.”

“How did you know? How could you have known when I didn’t know?”

“Because of how you looked at me when we first met.”

I gulped. “How did I look at you?”

Her smile deepened as she tossed her hair and held my gaze. “Like you wanted to eat me up.”

I ducked my head, sure I was turning bright red. And changed the subject. She felt so far out of my league I couldn’t even consider making a move.

I never did make a move. By the time I felt ready, she had a girlfriend. I’d missed my shot.

I lost touch with her when she moved back South. When I think of her, it’s her voice that I sink into, the languorous drawl of it. I interviewed her for my thesis project on white queer women and race, and since I transcribed the interviews myself, I listened to her voice over and over as I wrote it, attending to her phrasing. It’s a different way to connect, to learn someone, and I soaked it up. Her voice stuck inside me, the first femme I ever knew, the first real live kinky person I met, the crush that I’d wished was in my league for so many years.

So when I saw the girl in Union Square Park who looked so much like her, I had to talk to her. Was it possible that Katie had moved to my city and I had just happened across her? I said her name, hoping. She looked up, and I wasn’t sure whether it was her. I said her name again, holding my breath waiting for her to respond.


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