creative non-fiction desire Essay Non-fiction

Ache

Desire isn't always easy. Cara Crampton on an unanswered ache that will always be with her.

by Cara Crampton

I fully realised that I was bisexual at 23. That’s late I know, late enough that I think my friends question its validity and late enough that I may be unable to prove it.

My attraction to women was always there. I don’t want to be a stereotype and say that society’s clamour for every girl to find a boy made me overlook it, but with a bass line roaring it’s sometimes hard to hear the melody. And I told myself that everyone’s a little bit bi, every girl wants a ‘lesbian experience’. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I realised I wanted my lesbian experience to last a lifetime.

Discovering it was like dusting off an antique mechanism, one that had always been there, sat in the corner of my room, waiting patiently for me to remember it. And once I did I couldn’t look away, because this mechanism had the potential to make such beautiful things. In the instruction manual I could see the quiver in her thighs; I read about her smile and the way her voice changed when she said my name. The ease of female company was all laid out; how she’d know the things that only girls know, would’ve grown up with the same insecurities, maybe wondered if she should quit her favourite sport because no one likes a muscled girl and she didn’t want to mess up the makeup she painstakingly applied for school. How she too would have walked home barefoot at some point, wild in the 5 AM light, juggling her ketchup-laden chips in one hand, heels in the other. How if we hadn’t ended up together we could have just been friends, how if I’d rejected her she wouldn’t have disappeared like so many men, annoyed and unsatisfied by the lack of a fuck.

“Discovering it was like dusting off an antique mechanism, one that had always been there, sat in the corner of my room, waiting patiently for me to remember it.”

I understand why my friends might be sceptical, why when I asked one of them about it he admitted that he thought my bisexuality was just a fun little quirk that I’d quite liked the idea of. I can understand because right when I started reading the instruction manual for this beautiful little mechanism another machine came along. And this one promised fast results. Where I’d been delicately tinkering with the ornate little cogs, this other machine had burst in – shiny and fresh from the pages of a magazine – claiming that he could give me the same results with none of the hassle. Because I found a girl to date, but then a boy found me.

And it’s odd being the one to pursue. So when I was pursuing her and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere, his offer was just so easy. Let me take you out, he told me, let me make you happy. So yes, I can understand my friends’ scepticism when I accepted a man having never acted upon that tug towards women.

And this is the part when you’re going to hate me. Because I’m the girl who has it all but secretly kind of wants to give it back. I’m the girl that might’ve found The One, and wonders what could’ve been.

He told me he’s never felt like this about anyone, not in his 26 years of life. And the disappointing thing? I feel the same way. I love him so much that I’m ready to make a home with him.

But it’s like being haunted. I smile at him and somewhere off behind me I hear her laugh. I cup his stubbled jaw between my palms and wonder what it would be like to caress smooth cheeks. He sinks between my legs and I wonder what she’d feel like there instead.

So now you hate me.

Because how many people get to have this happiness? Because maybe this is my version of the grass is always greener. Maybe this is like my straight friends telling me they’re glad that they went a little wild with one-night stands before getting into committed relationships. I’ve never had a one-night stand, but at 17 and in my first, ill-fated relationship I couldn’t understand what they meant at all.

But this is like an ache unanswered. This is like missing part of my identity. It’s like writing a list of jobs for yourself to do for the day and going to bed having not achieved any of them. It’s wasted potential. It’s never getting to hear her say my name like that.

And maybe one day he’ll break up with me, and it’ll hurt so badly that I’ll think this wound is fatal. But part of me, just part of me, will be relieved. Because from the corner of the room, a delicate little cog will turn.


Cara Crampton

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