Solo Poly | Sophie Frances Kemp | Granta

Solo Poly

Sophie Frances Kemp

The compound was set on 300 acres of deciduous wood. There was a creek that babbled. A saltwater swimming pool they called Infinity. A greenhouse full of plants. Red clay tennis courts where you could volley, serve, volley, serve. A wrought iron table where we ate apple galettes. A beach where the flotsam and jetsam might kiss you. There were fish too. Calvados in a Styrofoam cup. There was no town nearby. No local market at which to shop. Instead, grounds, compound, Jacob’s porcelain ladder pointed to the sky. Instead, the tug of crisp cotton on your neck. A ladies’ mule, brown suede. Size 37.

To me this was all a beautiful occurrence. I had not been here for long, but I already viewed this place as my home. It was so peaceful. You could hear a songbird’s song, a bobolink, as if it were right next to your eardrum. Hello, beautiful. It seemed to say. And the eardrum went: badum. I could get used to this, I thought. I could be here for the rest of my life which, at age twenty-seven, stretched out before me. I was here because a yellow bus for education arrived while I was tilling the land, picking corn for my family.

Because I was a zaftig thing with a winsome gaze. Because of the transit of the planet Saturn and the great storm that followed. Because I was in the golden hour of my youth and this was my last chance to prove myself. Because I woke up one morning and my skin was less elastic. When you are a female this is what happens: if you are not selected to be a mate by age twenty-seven, you are asked to get on the bus. You say goodbye to mother and father and the stall boy Rickerts McClure who you regularly take a raping from when his mood strikes. They say Git, Hailey, git, git git, shoo, out of here, please go away forever! And so you listen, not even shedding one tear. And when you get off the bus what happens is you get to sit by the swimming pool. You receive a bedroom at the end of a long hallway and on the walls there is a sunflower motif.

There were other girls at the compound. Women who were just like me. Unmarried, yet with a curious glance. The eyes are milky and also soft. The lips in a perpetual state of shudder. Wizened by the end of their youth – like a fruit sitting out there to rot at the windowsill when it is a humid time. Their necks choked by the uniform of a crisp cotton blouse in a soft creamy white. Their hair pulled back by a stiff ribbon, a baby pink. These were some of their names: Blanka, Antitrust, Zofia, Lurcidlia, Motorollah, Boulder, Thespian, Wisdom, Mystery, Alexia, Bergamot, And In the River Did Life Grow, Trinity, Excelsior, Father.

We spent all of our days together, keenly waiting for our destiny to begin. We knew that we were here for a purpose. That on the compound it was not just us. That on the other side of this big house, were others, guests, and that eventually we would help them. We knew we were lucky to be in this position. It was not considered optimal to remain stag at age twenty-seven and the compound was the superior option. At the compound, you got a shot at a life of beauty. You got a shot at making a difference. You would be given a peony to hold. They would place the egg of one fish on a cracker and place it in your mouth. We knew it had something to do with the appeal of our sex. That our beauty could be of assistance.

We knew we were lucky because we had all heard whispers of what happened if the bus did not arrive. It was a horse, it was a buggy. It was a hand wearing a white glove. It was the pointing of a gun they called Assault Rifle at your left temple. It was the admittance to a tower which had cramped conditions and you made GameBoys for the venerable Božidarka IV.



We practiced all day long. We painted our toenails red. We said thank you when spoken to. We cut our bangs and braided our hair. We went into the kitchenette and focused on the ancient art of mixing drinks. We sat around on a divan and studied a periodical called LadieZdietbible Spring 2003, which provided instruction on how to be a perfect lady. Tuesday: lunch is a turkey burger w/ one slice of avo, dinner is a salmon filet and a green salad with a lemon vinaigrette. Workout: 10 mins of pilates, 100 sit ups. To the commissary we went for the purpose of clothing. A man called Charles D held watch and we would receive a beating if we used an improper tone of voice. Slut! he’d yell when we’d ask for a new pair of brown suede mules, size 37. You have an improper tone of voice! It is time to receive a beating.

We loved it. Charles D was very skilled with his beatings. It reminded me of Rickerts McClure. I thought of his intermittent rapings. I missed his availability. He was always waiting for me, standing by the stables, exhaling in the morning, when it was still cold enough to see his breath. It was terrifying but oh, I did miss him. One minute your hands are picking the family’s corn and the next your face is in the dirt and a bruise blooms black and blue on your thigh and you split open because you did not have the opportunity to get your tight little pussy nice and wet first. When Charles D began to pummel us because of our failure to properly ask for mules, I became quite aroused.

Motorollah especially found Charles D’s behavior to be laugh-out-loud hilarious as well as sexy. She was the one who first had the idea that a great preparation activity would be for us to do intercourse. I’d go into her bedroom, which featured a fern motif on the wall. She’d push my head down and tell me that this is what we’d do when we met the guests on the other side of the big house. It was time to get serious. It was time to be prepared. The action was similar to the movement needed to find an oyster’s pearl. Mother and father would often drop me at the cold salty creek and ask me to wade into the water wearing some galoshes to find an oyster’s pearl. I never received any riches from my searches, but I did learn to enjoy its flavor.

To eat an oyster you crack it open with your dagger and then you consume the meat in one gulp. I did this many times, the blade of my dagger slicing the white of my thumb. The gush of bright red blood would splatter on the water’s surface and then you’d see a mackerel’s eyeball gaze up from below, searching. In your ear you might hear the whisper of the Apostle Paul as he explains to you his suffering. I consumed Motorollah in this way. I am extremely turned on by the way you eat my tight little pussy as if it were an oyster from the cold salty creek, she’d say, I am going to ejaculate, which is something females can do. It is just in a different way. It is essentially piss, but it does not taste very disgusting. 



She was my main acquaintance at the compound. We had many conversations about what awaited us on the other side of the house, about the guests, who were shrouded in mystery. I believe on the other side of the house they are in need of our services because they have deformities. But not ones that are difficult to work with. Perhaps he has one arm small, one arm large. Or he is blind, requiring a glass eye. Motorollah was very smart. Before the bus picked her up her mother and father encouraged academic pursuits. She went to high school. She went to sleepaway camp. She knew about the Socratic Method, numbers which are divisible, the names of Cubist painters and a bard called Barry Bonds. She took me outside one night and pointed up to the sky and in her alto voice she told me that the streak of light we could see was a meteorite, a rock born in the cradle of blackness which we call outer space.

And how lovely this occurrence was. A pilot light bursting from the blanket of the whole of the deep big sky. I know of the pilot light because of the gas flame I used to cook meals for mother and father, who detested my soufflés. Motorollah knew of meteorites because she was academically inclined. Because she had been to high school. Because in high school you are given a telescope, a book, a teacher in a lavender smock speaking in a dulcet tone about the tail, the tail that bursts from the void. She would say, this married woman, this teacher, in a dulcet tone: AND THE EARTH WAS WITHOUT FORM, AND VOID; AND DARKNESS [WAS] UPON THE FACE OF THE DEEP.

I sighed and gingerly placed my head on Motorollah’s shoulder. Motorollah who was full of knowledge. Motorollah and her days of heaven. Motorollah who identified the song of a bird as belonging to the bobolink. Motorollah, Motorollah, Motorollah. She squeezed my hand when I did this, when I gingerly placed my head on her shoulder. We are going to find our true purpose soon, she said. Please take your head off of my shoulder.



We were to meet the guests at a dinner party. The invitation was conveyed by a parcel. The parcel spoke of a fashion show. There would be a fashion show first. Before the dinner. We’d model the latest styles. A crucial activity for helping the guests is showing off your bosom in some vestments. And yes, mine were great. Quite large, some might say heaving. I’d look fine in any of the outfits they procured for the occasion. Motorollah noticed me smiling as we walked to the atrium. There was a look on her face where it seemed as if this sight was terrible. I do not know why she had a sad expression, given that she was so perfect to me.

To get to the other side of the house: a portal, at the end of a long hallway. A portal, behind a cherry oak door.

It looked like a normal portal, one that all of us were familiar with, this being du jour during the current époque. It sparked in a way similar to lightning. It glowed purple and silent. Using our instincts from similar portals in the past we knew that we all had to hold hands. We had to be a daisy chain. I looked over at Motorollah to see if she wanted to hold my hand. Motorollah did not meet my gaze. I tried to picture her thoughts: NOW THE SERPENT WAS MORE SHREWD THAN ANY OF THE WILD ANIMALS IN GOD’S KINGDOM, MORE SO THAN THE GREAT OYSTER WHICH HAILEY SLICES OPEN WITH HER DAGGER IN THE SALTY CREEK. I believe these to be the thoughts of Motorollah. Therefore, the cold wet hand of Father. Father, who winked at me. I closed my eyes. Like the sucking of the oyster we were shoved inside the mouth of the portal.

On the other side, it was the backstage of a fine theater. A woman standing in a thong and a bright red brassiere. Hello, she said, Welcome to the backstage area. You will be in the fashion show tonight for the guests! The woman standing in a thong and a bright red brassiere pulled out a rack of clothing. Your vestments for the fashion show! The rack of vestments glittered and sparkled. I could not make out any specifics but I was certain that the guests, including those with deformities, would be pleased by our appearances.

We all undressed. The hideous Father tried to make conversation with me. Wednesday, am I right? According to LadieZdietbible Spring 2003, dinner is an English muffin w/ a slice of tomato. You will do one hour of your Yoga For Fitness Program. I did not care for this chatter so I did not respond. You would not catch me thinking of the LadieZdietbible Spring 2003 while getting ready for the fashion show. I was here to be a professional, to prove I was up for the task. I let the woman in the red brassiere and the thong dress me. Very good, she said, taking off my blouse, A nice heaving breast from the zaftig one they call Hailey. When I was dressed I was given a tall glass of pineapple juice. It was nice and it was tart and I drank it quickly.

In the distance, I heard music. It was laden with bass and split my brain in two, flooding it with possibilities. I imagined the guests I would help, perhaps with deformities, as expressed by Motorollah. This guest – perhaps a man age forty-nine – would take me out by the backyard swamp oak and feed me a hearty meal. Then he’d push me into the dirt like Rickerts McClure. I was happy to feel of use. I knew my twenty-seven years of life to be a failure in many regards. Mother and father hated my cooking. They were always abandoning me in salty creeks. The corn I picked after a long day of tilling the land was never harvested in an adroit manner. But now, I felt certain that my future would be bright, that I would do perfectly well.

I caught my appearance in a large standing mirror. The outfit they had dressed me in was a bright pink T-shirt cut off at the midriff that said, in crystal letters number 7 slut. And as for bottoms, a tightly fitted skirt with a belt featuring a silver chain that fastened with a lock and key. I felt extremely poised and ready to strut my stuff on the compound’s catwalk.

One by one we went down the runway. The lights were very bright. The music was loud. The cavernous room was paneled in wood and a red velvet. In an ancient era this would be where kings with fine rapiers would fight to the death for the fairest maiden, with an audience of one thousand. Yet today, as we walked out in single file, with the very bright lights cussing around in my eyeballs, perhaps there were a few dozen who looked upon us. I could not make out their faces.

But I did see the numbers they held up. I wondered if Motorollah was thinking to herself which one was divisible. The main thing I could think about was that the velvet and the wood and the lights were causing me to perspire like a hoss. I could see sweat beads roll off of me and I was concerned this made me look less viable. Additionally, they had dressed me in high heel strappy shoes and I feared I would fall and receive a lashing from Charles D, who was backstage, chomping down on a cigar. It would be an extreme crisis to receive a beating at this time. Somewhere in the crowd I saw the number seven.

Then the music stopped. Stay in place, ladies, said a masculine voice. It is me, the owner of the compound! I stayed in place. I was feeling starstruck because of the presence of celebrity. Good evening everyone, he continued, and welcome to Poly5ecure. Congratulations for taking the first big step in improving your marriage, which is finding a single girl who is happy to join your marriage. I’d like to now raise a toast to propagating the species as well as true love. Then the very bright lights were turned down and I was able to clearly make out the crowd for the first time. There was a long white table in the room with the velvet and the wood paneling. Seated at the long white table with candles and champagne were twelve married couples. I could tell they were married because they were holding hands and had the expression of true love.



Alan and Stacy were the ones holding the number seven sign, so I was instructed to walk off the stage and make polite conversation with them. If I were to guess, I’d say they were about ten years my senior. Alan had hair only on the sides of his head, in the shape of a horseshoe, and had a stomach which belonged to a pregnant woman. Stacy had yellow hair, which I could tell was not her natural color. She looked very exhausted and there was lipstick all over her face, including her brow bone. She had a glassy stare.

It is great to be in touch, said Alan, we are so glad we did this.

Stacy smiled and sniffed my hand.

You are very beautiful, she said. We found out about Poly5ecure on a web site. This was a very good web site with helpful tips. We already have many activities planned for us all to do. You are going to help us spice up married life big time, I can already tell.

Hold on Stacy, said Alan, I’m playing on my GameBoy.

I watched as Alan played with his GameBoy.

Sorry about that! I was playing a game on my GameBoy. Such a zaftig thing! Said Alan, winking at me. I will grab your heaving bosom now, to make sure I like the way it feels.

Alan grabbed my bosom with his hands then stuck his face between my breasts, making the noise of a motorboat, coasting across the seas. Awooogah! said Alan. She will do just fine, Stacy, I am very glad you found Girl 7 on that web site. Let’s take her to our room for some dessert wine. Girl 7 you can even hold my GameBoy! I was happy to hear they were pleased. Dessert wine was a delicious drink which I was looking forward to and getting to hold the GameBoy is considered a high honor. I wondered if Motorollah saw the part where Alan did the motorboat across my breasts. She was on the other side of the table with a facial expression which seemed evil and sour. Her couple that she now sat with were beautiful. They were the most beautiful couple in the whole room.

Where the guests stayed was very similar to where we lived, except the hallway was wider and inside of the bedroom there was a bed for two instead of one. There was also a small cot at the foot of the bed. On the desk, a framed photograph of a dog. I see you noticed our framed photograph of a dog, said Alan. That is our dog, who belongs to us. You will not be able to meet him because he is back at home with his dog walker, Susan R. She is married.

I mustered a convivial tone of voice and told Alan that this was a nice dog indeed. This is a nice dog indeed, I said. Dogs brought a lot of joy, especially to children. We did not have these on the farm where I tilled the land, but I did not disclose this fact. One thing we had practiced, me and the girls, was the art of mystery. This meant not revealing a lady’s past.

Alan poured me a glass of dessert wine and told me to take a seat on my cot. The flavor was very strong, and quite sweet. Everyone was silent, save for the sipping of the dessert wine. I decided to break the silence. The wine is extremely delicious, sweet but not disgusting, I said. Alan nodded, then whispered something in the ear of Stacy. He got up and took my glass of dessert wine and put it on the desk, next to the framed photograph of the dog. Girl 7, he said, you are hot as fuck. You have huge tits and soft features. I’m hard as a jack knife right now watching you sip that delicious dessert wine. I want you to eat my wife’s pussy.

I did not have time to tell Alan that he was welcome to call me Hailey and suggest that perhaps a few more pleasantries could occur before the lovemaking, perhaps a lesson to be learned about how the meteorite is a rock born in the cradle of blackness, because as soon as I opened my mouth Stacy was right there, pushing her pussy in my face.



Stacy and Alan were my new best friends. We shared many fun adventures together. Jello with whipped cream for breakfast, tennis on the red clay tennis courts. I had to do intercourse with the happy couple three times a day, which was a feat of strength, but I could tell I was doing what I was supposed to do. I was happier than ever. The results were clear. When I walked into the bathroom there were cuts all over my body. When you do intercourse, this is what happens. You receive cuts all over your body. This was the best option for girls at age twenty-seven if they could not find a husband. I was often complimented for my quick work. Feels fucking rad! Stacy would say, Ugh, so glad we went on that web site for couples in sexless marriages. Alan was equally content. My two bad motherfucking bitches, he’d say. Kiss each other while I touch my cock

I did not see the other girls much anymore. We’d all be at the dining table in the room with the wood paneling and red velvet, but we were advised not to speak to each other so we could focus on our couples instead. I’d see Motorollah from the corner of my eye, and the expression on her face was often sullen. I hoped everything was going well over there. One time we made eye contact and her gaze was like a bucket and inside the bucket was the planet of Neptune – a dolorous and lonely place that I knew to be cold. This was the moment where I decided we needed to be reunited. I needed to say something.

It was while swimming in the pool they called Infinity that I decided to be so bold. I had been doing such a good job that day, massaging tanning oil into Stacy’s back, allowing Alan to eat a piece of bluefin tuna off of each of my breasts. So fucking juicy and huge, he’d said of my breasts. I’m going to blast you with my cum now. We were making such a happy memory together. Presently, Stacy was lying out on a pool float which was in the shape of a koala and Alan was practicing his cannonballs, yelling Cannonball! each time he jumped in. I got out of the water and went to the bar and brought everyone a drink with pineapples and cream and a dark brown rum.

Delicious drink! said Alan This is going to make doing a cannonball even more awesome.

I concur, Stacy told Alan. Then she turned to me and said please let us know if you have any questions at this time.

This was my chance.

I was going to be so bold.

And shake things up.

I would like to ask a question, I said. Here is my question. I am wondering if I could play with my friend Motorollah sometime. She is one of the other girls here to help couples with their sexless marriages. One of her traits is that she is academically inclined. It may be nice for our love making if I sometimes may play with my friend. She could accompany me to the greenhouse and we could braid each other’s hair. She has a tight fucking pussy that Alan you may fuck with your cock.

Stacy and Alan looked at me.

And then I looked at them.

I had done something very wrong.

Alan walked over to me, smiled, then pushed me into the pool, holding my head under so I could not breathe. Everything became very dark and in my brain there was only a thin white band of light. When I regained consciousness, Alan slapped me in the face and then I was told to chop firewood with Charles D and think about what I had said.



When you are instructed to chop firewood you do not really chop firewood, you are chased by Charles D with an axe. You are made to run across the grounds. And how expansive they are. How quickly these grounds become your entire universe. How quickly you forget the vast pastures that you once tilled for your mother and father. How back then, so long ago, a rusty pail full of water so pure, so cold. How back then, the backdrop was mountains. So many of them. One million feet high and three hundred million wide. A flake of snow and it would land on your eyelid. When you imagined the future it was murky but always perfect.

But how quickly it all happened. The twist of the ankle. The trip. The fall. The dirt in the mouth. The blood in the soil. The shadow of Charles D. And his voice which says, You cannot disappoint your couple. And then you say, I am sorry for being so pathetic. And his response: Keep running.

I ducked into the woods. I needed to catch my breath. I wanted to do a good job for Stacy and Alan so I just needed to catch my breath. If I caught my breath I would be ready to be convivial and apologize for bringing up Motorollah when the focus was supposed to be on my couple and improvements in their marriage. If I caught my breath I could climb on top of Stacy and put my fingers inside of her vagina while Alan took her breast as if for milk.

The woods were extremely quiet, save for the rustle of leaves and the song of birds. And how the song delighted. I was a fan of birds. For example, the bobolink. I enjoyed seeing them from the treetops. I enjoyed the way they made wind from their wings. I decided to take a seat. I needed to rest my legs. The earth below me was rough. Pine needles quickly found their way into my panties. A colony of ants appeared and what they did was crawl all over the cuts on my legs I had sustained from my lovemaking. I looked up at the sky and the sky was blue mixed with white clouds called Cirrus. I thought of happiness. Motorollah with her hair done up in a chignon. Motorollah lying in the bathtub. A mole between her breasts. A freckle right in between her brows. Motorollah with her legs in the air. Motorollah shivering because of the eating of the oyster and by this I mean her cunt. Motorollah’s ass on my thigh and my hand on her ass. Motorollah skipping rope. Motorollah running through the fields, clutching her skirts. Motorollah holding an Assault Rifle, shooting it at a bobolink. And then: a screech. A sigh. A static noise that grew louder and louder.



There are no second chances when you disappoint your couple. The noise gets so loud that you experience blood from your ears. The noise gets so loud that you do not even register that it is Charles D behind you with a washcloth and he puts it over your face and the smell is strong, very strong, the smell is a similar smell to what would happen if you go to the creek and there are chemicals in the water. This was my last memory before I woke up. In my dreams it was quiet. It was the color of a pitted tangerine.

Twenty-seven is a beautiful age because you have the wisdom yet you are still young, this is a voice that I hear when I wake up. It is a white room with white walls. The hum of a machine that reads out facts about my figure. The pressure of my blood. The weight of my skin. A wise age because life has been lived, for you of course much of life occurred in the land that you once tilled. The voice. Coming into focus now, yes. A female form, similar to my own, but older. A mint green lab coat. A pair of safety spectacles that enlarge the eyeballs. Large teeth, spread apart. I remember the age twenty-seven, I was wise yet still young. But unlike you I was blessed because there was a husband and a babe and a house of wood and there was a life! I searched for some words but I could not find them. A husband and a babe and a life. I suppose I would not have this.

You cannot speak, said the woman, because there are no second chances and you have failed your couple.

The woman got up and retrieved a form and put it on my lap.

And when you fail your couple, you consent to us scrapping you for parts.

The woman pointed to a line on the form that read: If I fail my couple I may be scrapped for parts.

Because someone else out there, who perhaps has a deformity but is still young might have a chance at finding a purpose.

The woman pointed at another line on the form: Given that you are to be scrapped for parts, Poly5ecure is pleased to grant you one wish. Please think very carefully about your one wish.



For my one wish, a husband and a babe and a life. This is what every girl dreams of. The woman tells me this is a good wish. She gathered a husband and a babe and a life together for me with a quickness I had never experienced. In my life before I came to the compound things were slower. You did not say I would like a husband a babe and a life and they appeared. Instead, before: the tilled land moving through my outstretched palm. The cold of the water of the salty creek of the home of the oyster of the home of the mackerel of the girl named Hailey. And now, after: things had to move with a quickness because the thing is they were doing this while I was being scrapped for parts.

My husband and my babe and my life. It was all so perfect. This is what every girl dreams of. My husband and my babe and my life. We lived in a cabin on the slope of a mountain and it snowed and my husband smiled and held my hand when the woman, who hovered behind me, clipped locks of my hair and took a teaspoon and dug into my face, taking my right eyeball and gently pulling it from its socket. We lived in a cabin on the slope of a mountain and I made everyone an apple galette and my husband kissed my cheek when I fed him a slice and the woman in the lab coat who hovered behind me agreed that this was a delight and that she would be happy to give me something for the pain because harvesting the tibia of a twenty-seven year old female is no joke and it was so pleasant when she injected me with the something for the pain that I could feel myself almost melting.

A husband and a babe and a life. This is what every girl dreams of. The babe on my lap. The babe on the swing. My husband laying me out on the bed and making love to my form without violence. My husband taking me on a beach vacation. My husband telling me I look lovely in my dress. My husband telling me even without my right eyeball I have perfectly symmetrical features. My husband walking off the sound stage in the basement of the Poly5ecure compound. My babe crawling off the sound stage of the Poly5ecure compound. The woman in the lab coat taking the babe and putting it at her breast. My husband my husband my husband.

Why did he have to go?



In my final moments, the cool breeze from the window, a bowl of plain yogurt. This is what every girl dreams of. The woman informed me – babe still at her breast – that they would be taking out my heart, and that once this happened, it would be quiet forever. It was such a shame, she told me. It is so easy to be compliant. Then they placed the washcloth over my face. I think I saw, flying out of the void, a meteorite.


Image © Klaus Steifel

Sophie Frances Kemp

Sophie Frances Kemp was born in Schenectady, New York, in 1996. She currently lives in Brooklyn. Her forthcoming novel, Paradise Logic, will be published in 2025 with Simon & Schuster in the US and Scribner in the UK. Her essays and fiction have appeared in The Paris Review, New York Magazine, Pitchfork, the Baffler, and GQ. She has taught on the writing program at Columbia University, where she also received her MFA.

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