In today’s New Voices, we’re pleased to share the third place finalist in our 2022 Flash Fiction Contest selected by Kim Chinquee, “My Sister Versus Tomatoes” by Kate Barss! To introduce the piece, Chinquee writes, “‘My Sister Versus Tomatoes’ is a refreshing tale about rituals, relationships, how one survives and belongs in the world. At times funny, its strong, interesting and fun tone makes it a winner!” Read this sharp flash in full at the link below.
My mother says relationships create their own identity. While not a complete assimilation, you are building something together—a dynamic defined by what it isn’t.
My sister will no longer eat tomatoes. As a kid, in the early mornings, she was always awake before the rest of us. We’d always find her in front of the TV, a bowl of chopped tomatoes in front of her, spooning them into her mouth, licking the spoon afterwards for the juice.
Her boyfriend does not like tomatoes. When we try to remind her of her old love, she tells us she is a different woman now. She has Down syndrome—this is not the most important thing, but it seems like something to mention. She has come to understand relationships as matching one another, a squishing together of identities. She gets very upset sometimes, tantrums at my mother, when reminded that she and her boyfriend do not have the same birthday. Hers is in July, his on Christmas Day.
My old therapist used to point out how much I tried to mirror my partners. When my ex started dating someone new, I felt I should be dating someone new too. My therapist said it was a way of making myself feel safe. Even now, years later, my girlfriend is preoccupied by body hair, shaves her armpits and legs, fearful of being thought of as a dirty lesbian. Her shame is so strong it somehow becomes my own. I buy a razor.
To continue reading “My Sister Versus Tomatoes” click here.