Fiction | Issue 1 (April 2023)

I’m in the Kitchen at My Brother’s Party

Sumitra Singam

When Leo comes in to get a drink…

“Found me,” I say ruefully.

He smiles, the left side of his mouth curving upwards, and the right puckering inwards. Like he’s congratulating and scolding me at once.

“Not into it?” he asks, indicating the music, chatter, swell and surge of bodies in the living room.

“You know I hate this kind of thing.”

“It’s your brother who loves it,” he says.

My brother’s house is made for cramming people into it. Large, poorly defined spaces. Minimal furniture. Lots of cushions.

Leo puts ice into a glass. It tinkles, high and loud, echoing in my head.

“I can’t even remember what we’re celebrating,” I say.

His hands are busy with bottles, a half-smile on his face. He knows I’m bullshitting.

He shifts closer, his black shirt moving fluidly with him, like a panther. I’m leaning against the kitchen bench, and he does the same, his body heat beckoning. The heel of his right hand grips the bench. Maybe he knows that he’s almost touching mine. The back of his hand is lush with wiry hairs, like an ecosystem. I take a deep breath.

“Why did you come?” he says, voice low, rumbling in his throat.

My body goes loose. I want to collapse into him, feel his wide chest cradling me. He has a birthmark just below his left nipple, pink and raised. I almost reach out to touch it.

Abruptly, I stand up straight, pushing myself off the kitchen bench. I want to be anywhere else. In the ocean, cocooned in water, head submerged so I can’t hear anything.

My brother comes in, going to his husband.

I can’t look away. I’m transfixed by the wet clasp of their kiss. How Leo fits his top lip between my brother’s. How Leo’s bottom lip slides upwards to meet the top one, as if he is kissing himself.

My brother pulls Leo into the swirl of people, and they merge into one beast, swelling and heaving with the music.

Sumitra writes in Naarm/Melbourne. She travelled through many spaces to get there and likes to write about it, pretending it’s fiction. She’ll be the one in the kitchen making chai (where’s your cardamom?). She works in mental health.

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