Sticky Air by Lachean

Photo by Ray Max for  Math Magazine, Issue Three

Photo by Ray Max for Math Magazine, Issue Three


I blink my eyes open

and look at the roof.

I turn my head slightly and I sense, if not see, her restful, sleepy breathing. The room is stifling and we’re side by side in the queen bed, the sheet strewn across and tangled in our legs. I edge mine out, flip them over the side, take the plastic water bottle from the bedside table. The label has long been shed and scratched away. A sheen of sweat covers my chest and holds my singlet there. I tug at the bottom, loosening it from my skin.

Melbourne’s summer is dense, like the air is heavy and you can feel your arms stroke through it as you walk. Mosquitoes hang in the air and are squished on the walls. I pad across the carpeted floor and don’t disturb her. I creak open the door and edge down the tiled hallway.

The kitchen provides some respite from the hot night. The light from outside shines at angles through the slim planes of the wooden blinds, illuminating the room just enough, but with a slightly blue moonlight-y hue.

The tap takes a few turns to chink into life, and water gushes out unevenly as I hold the bottle underneath the stream. When the flywire door from outside creaks I jump and suck back sticky air, letting the water bottle fall to its side in the sink, the water chugging out again.

The flywire door whips all the way back, but quietly. The door on the inside shutters open as the knob rattles loosely. Then he’s inside, easing the doors closed behind him, careful with the latches. Her brother looks up at me and smiles, back to the door. Whispers, Sorry if I scared you. I can only see half of him; light from outside casting shadows across his face leaving half totally dark.

Where’ve you been? I ask. I upright the water bottle, still half full, and hover it back under the faucet. Just around the corner, he says. Down the street. Barefooted, he rounds the kitchen counter and joins me at the sink. With one hand, he gently pushes my hip, bending me to the side and out of the way. He opens the cupboard below to take out a mug. It’s thick ceramic and chipped.

When he sips water from it he looks at me across the cup’s rim. He reaches across and grabs the bottom of my singlet. Bit long, he says. The singlet is loose and drops down to the top of my thighs. It was too hot to try and sleep in anything else.

He leans around me, facing me, to drop his mug back into the sink. He leaves a hand on my hip. He says Sorry, I smell like cigarettes and the carpeted floor of a pub, and I tell him that’s a good smell. When he leans in to kiss me his lips are soft and the cigarette-tinge makes them sweet, too. His tongue is on my bottom teeth, circling, pushing further into my mouth. He stops. You don’t have undies on he says.

I reach up and tug his t-shirt over his head. He lifts my hips and seats me on the bench, parts my knees. He steps forward and I can feel him through his jeans. He fiddles with the clasp, loosens his belt. I reach down and feel how hard he is. I run my fingers slowly from the base to his tip, pull him closer. He grabs the nape of my neck and pulls my mouth into his. He isn’t inside me and then he is and I breathe in sharply. His breath is in my ear, his hands at my back.

You feel good, he says. I put my hands in his hair and pull. He runs a hand down my chest, over my belly, and reaches down to start using his hand as well. He draws slow circles. I breathe faster. I’m coming.

I lean back on the bench and he drops his hands to my thighs. I reach up to his face, put my thumb in his mouth. He bites down softly and moans. He moves harder, looks at the roof. He’s still biting down on my thumb as looks at me and comes. He scrunches his eyes closed as he groans.

He leans his forehead against mine and we stay like that for a little. Both breathing heavily, sweat slick on his arms as I run my hands along and up to grasp his hands.

He hangs his head and grins. He puts his hand to the back of his neck then drops it, says I’ll see you in the morning? like a question. He backs out of the room leaving his jeans undone, and I head back down the tiled hallway, quietly, the air still heavy. Still sticky.

I lie back down. Look at the roof. Smile.



Lachean is an emerging fiction writer in Melbourne, Australia. She spent a year researching and writing about censorship in the Australian book industry. Now she's an editor and contributing writer to travel and art magazines and writes book reviews for local online magazines, focusing on new Australian fiction. Follow her on Instagram (@lacheanh)

MacKenzie Peck