Fiction by Laura Maylene Walter excerpted from our Spring 2016 issue.
The ranch needed photos. Clarissa’s virginity on its own was not enough; the men bidding would want to see how big her breasts were, if she was skinny or curvy, if she was blond or brunette or redheaded. Worse, according to Bitsy, the Kitty Cup Ranch madam, the men would want to see Clarissa’s face.
Don’t worry, Bitsy assured her over the phone. Take original photos and send them only to us, nowhere else. They won’t be searchable online that way.
But someone might still recognize me, Clarissa said.
Listen, honey, said Bitsy. If you’re going to do this, you need to do it right.
Clarissa relented and went lingerie shopping with her best friend, Anna. Inside the store, Anna held up a red latex corset and giggled.
Shh, Clarissa said. In her hands she clutched a feathered bustier. She couldn’t picture herself wearing any of this. She’d stayed up late the night before, studying the girls pictured on the Kitty Cup Ranch site and trying to strike the same poses: back arched, boobs out, throat stretched back and exposed. It was impossible.
Here, Anna said at last, and handed over a matching set of bra and panties. They were brown trimmed in ivory lace. In the dressing room, the bra thrust Clarissa’s breasts together, making them appear confident. The panties were cut way up to the hip but otherwise offered decent coverage, and the brown complemented Clarissa’s chestnut-colored hair.
Perfect, Anna said.
Clarissa paid in cash. Later, back in her bedroom, she put on the new lingerie and lay sprawled on the comforter. She arched and pouted and blushed while Anna circled her with the camera. Three of the photos turned out to Clarissa’s liking, and best of all, two didn’t show her face. She emailed the pictures to Bitsy.
When will it go up? Anna asked.
Clarissa had a deal for a one-time transaction with the Kitty Cup Ranch outside of Virginia City, Nevada, twenty-six hundred miles away from her home in Maryland. In recent months she and Bitsy, the ranch owners, and the ranch’s legal team had been drawing up the contract. If all went well, Clarissa would choose a man from among the highest bidders and complete the auction by mid-August, before she started college.
This would be Clarissa’s first time for so much. She had never flown on a plane. She had never stayed alone in a strange state. She had never used a fake name, which in this case would be Bianca Jordan. The ranch suggested keeping her first name—they said “Clarissa” was perfect—but on this she was firm. They spent weeks on the contract and finally settled on a sixty/ forty split of the auction price. The lawyers told Clarissa she was lucky to get more than half.
Already the ranch’s promotional gears were churning, everyone eager to market her virginity. Clarissa had been the one to set this in motion. Even as she lay on the comforter in her peach-colored room in her childhood home, she was doing it. She was changing her life.
Clarissa got up and adjusted the bathrobe she’d slipped on over the new underwear.
I’m nervous, she said.
Don’t be, Anna told her.
Anna had lost her virginity two years ago to her boyfriend. She said then as she did now that it was no big deal. That if she could go back and auction it off instead, she would.
I don’t see why not, Anna said. It’s just something people tell us is valuable when, really, you have nothing to show for it. It doesn’t matter how long you keep it and save it and worry over it. In the end, what’s done is done. What’s gone is gone.
To continue reading “The Virginity Auction,” purchase MQR 55:2 – FLINT AND BEYOND (Spring 2016) for $7, or consider taking out a one-year subscription for just $25.
Image: Moore, Henry. “Four Reclining Figures: Caves.” 1974. Lithograph. The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Rachel Farrell is the Blog & Social Media Editor for Michigan Quarterly Review. Her work has appeared in Jezebel, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Ninth Letter, Pank, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @rachelfarrell.
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