© Clare London
Guy turned to me, still smiling, and asked me to fetch some more milk from the kitchen. His eyes danced with mischief. I sighed to myself.
My sister was behind me all the way, her peep-toes tagging against my trainers, her hissed commentary nagging at me. “What the hell is going on? Rob, are you listening to me? I don’t know what Auntie was thinking, saying something like that. I mean, you’re not in trouble again, are you? At work? At home? Whatever?”
I paused to reach in the cupboard for a milk jug and Melanie halted abruptly, just before her knees bumped against my legs.
“Look, you know what Auntie Queenie is like, she gets nuttier every birthday. Christ, she probably doesn’t even know what the word gay means, nowadays –”
“But it’s true,” I interrupted. I watched my hand open the fridge door and lift out the milk carton, as if someone else were doing it. The door sighed shut again: I sighed along with it. There was a certain relief, at last. “She was right. I am living with Guy. We are gay.”
There have been few times in my life when I’ve rendered my older sister speechless. There was some satisfaction that this was one of them.
“Will you fetch out some dessert spoons?” I said, amazed that my voice sounded so calm. “Auntie Queenie can’t manage her birthday cake with those daft little forks that Mum brought with her.”
“You’re gay,” Melanie said.
“You know where the spoons are,” I continued.
“Guy’s gay. You’re living together. Together? Not just flatmates. I can’t do this.”
“I don’t see that my sexuality affects your ability to open a drawer and pick out some cutlery,” I snapped.
“What about Mum?” she gasped.
“Well, yes, I could ask her to get them, but it seems a lot of fuss over –”
“Shut up, Rob. You know what I mean. What’s Mum going to say? What’s she going to do?”
“Do?” I glared at her. Yes, there was relief, but there was frustration, too. “Why the hell does she need to do something? We’re not living with her, are we?”