‘101’ by May-Lan Tan

The romance of the central relationship in this story is a welcome antidote to the one described in Cat Personand the story’s eroticism contrasts powerfully with the horrible dysfunction of that relationship. In May-Lan Tan’s story a bride and groom’s brother and sister are thrown together during family wedding celebrations. The bride’s sister narrates the story, addressing the groom’s brother, recalling his “silken hair wound into a ballerina knot” and re-living the wedding (“our eyes locked as the minister described them man and wife. When they kissed, we turned away”) as well as subsequent encounters. Any potential awkwardness after they have sex (“you kissed me with the apple green taste of the pool on your tongue”) is dispelled by her saying to him “I hope it’s not going to be like this” and him assuring her “it’s not”. Of course, this being a short story, the relationship is delicately doomed and its ending slays me every time I read it.

First published in Things to Make and Break, CB Editions 2014. New edition from Sceptre, 2018

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