The First Flush




ŌFuck, Dolly, what the fuck?Õ


      Dino was angry. I guess he had a right to be, though I was surprised he was even awake. Earlier that night heÕd said he was too tired to go out, so IÕd gone with the girls Š fully comp, obviously. I was now stumbling up the stairs, still feeling a bit sick. But even in that state I was aware that recently IÕd been getting more and more drunk,  returning home later and later. Not that it usually mattered Š Dino would be asleep. In fact, sleep was one thing he did really well. It was almost impossible to wake him and he looked beautiful too Š no dribbling or snoring or rolling around. Mum would say he slept like a baby. The one time I looked after a baby Š CamilleÕs baby in fact Š it slept for about five minutes between bouts of screaming, so IÕm not sure the expressionÕs a good one. ItÕs irrelevant too, because when I got back Dino wasnÕt asleep. He was in front of the cracked mirror in the bathroom, shaving. Dino scowled at me. I would have preferred to wait but I really needed to pee so I pulled down my pants and sat on the toilet. Dino shook his head and continued shaving. I stared at his crown where the hair had started to thin. There was the tinkling of urine in the toilet bowl and the scraping sandpaper sound of follicles being removed from his chin.


      ŌWhatÕs the time?Õ I asked. In fact I already knew but I wanted to say something.


      ŌSix,Õ replied Dino.


      ŌSix,Õ I echoed sagely, like I was digesting it. Actually six was late, even by my recent standards. ŌIf itÕs only six, then why are you up?Õ I asked. That was a genuine question.


      Dino turned to look at me, anger giving way to resignation.


      ŌFuck, Dolly,Õ he sighed.


      ŌWhy do you keep saying that, and why are you up?Õ


      ŌIÕve got a shoot in Cape Town, remember? I have to be at Heathrow in an hour.Õ


      ŌI thought that was next week,Õ I lied.


      ŌDonÕt lie, Dolly.Õ


      I was going to lie some more, you know, to make it convincing. Put in a few details, like the show IÕd cancelled because I thought heÕd be home. ThatÕs what IÕd been doing in improv class, more or less. But then I just couldnÕt be bothered. I flushed the toilet instead. Usually things only seem significant when you look back at them Š itÕs hard to tell at the time. But flushing the toilet felt significant even while I was doing it.


      I watched Dino wash the stubble and soap off the inside of the basin. He was very clean, I had to give him that. Strange, though, that men  grow hair from their chins while at the same time losing it from their heads. And amazing, really, how much stubble can grow in 24hrs. Or maybe itÕs not that amazing. I guess at the end of the day thatÕs all we are, processes. Stuff goes in, gets changed into other kinds of stuff and then gets expelled. IÕm not just thinking of shit. ThereÕs hair and nails. And breath too. Or respiration, I should say. And babies, in CamilleÕs case, four months ago. And vomit, in my case, an hour before.


      I guess emotions are not processes. Right now IÕm not so sure that theyÕre anything at all. I mean, the emotions I used to feel for Dino, well, I just donÕt know that thereÕs anything left. When I first started seeing him they were so intense that I couldnÕt eat. Actually that was pretty useful. I survived on Actimel Š plain, I donÕt like strawberry. IÕd have at least two a day. I wonder if IÕll ever feel that way again. About a boy, I mean. I donÕt think itÕs possible. I was 17 and Dino was 32 and Italian and a photographer; I guess it never crossed my mind that things would not always be perfect. Once youÕve found that out I donÕt think you ever forget it again, not entirely.


      WeÕve been together for four years. Dino has taken some great photos of me. He got me my first campaign. I love working with him because I feel totally relaxed. I think I used to love him most during a shoot. HeÕs in total control and I can see how much everyone else admires him. I used to feel so proud to be his girlfriend. Wow that sounds cheesy, but itÕs true.


      DinoÕs also taken some great photos of me that no one else has seen. Not dirty ones, though weÕve done that too. IÕm thinking of the moody ones. ThereÕs one in black and white where IÕve just come out of the shower - my hairÕs up and IÕve got a towel wrapped around me. IÕm leaning against the window, smoking a cigarette and watching the rain on the window pane; you can see the shadows of the raindrops on my skin. ItÕs a beautiful photo. And thereÕs the one where weÕre both drunk and raiding the fridge in the middle of the night. I have Actimel dribbling down my chin and IÕm laughing at something gross Dino said. ThereÕs no flash, IÕm lit by the bluish light from the fridge. ThatÕs a good photo too. It tells a story, I guess.


      DinoÕs a great photographer, thereÕs no doubt. I just donÕt have fun with him anymore. WeÕre not interested in the same things. In fact, DinoÕs not interested in anything he doesnÕt already know. IÕm like:


      ŌDino, fashion is great and your photos are beautiful, but I mean, come on.Õ


      And heÕs like:


      ŌWhat the fuck, Dolly?Õ