If you missed the start, here’s part one and part two
As the autumn days grew shorter and colder Sophie saw Giovanni more and more. He would pop into the shop to see her unexpectedly and take her for lunch, weekends were always booked with fun new things to do and she was quite literally swept off her feet with it all. Unable to believe she could be so lucky as to have gained his interest and now his love.
As they walked the streets of London laughing and enjoying each other’s company he would hold her so close to him by his side she struggled to walk properly making it quite uncomfortable but she would never have breathed a word preferring to enjoy such a special moment in discomfort than ruin it.
They went to parties, real parties, with loud music, gate crashers and people vomiting the excess alcohol out of their systems in the garden. They had their first kiss at one of these parties and their embrace finished with them both looking happily into each other’s eyes sharing the joy of having found something special.
Giovanni invited her to lunch one weekend when his friend Barbara was there too on a visit to London from his home town. A loud, funny and friendly person who didn’t speak any English at all but could make herself understood with gestures and the help of Giovanni. They all sat down to eat spaghetti with a delicious spicy tomato sauce that Giovanni had been preparing and Sophie’s heart fell as she watched them both easily gather the long pasta on their forks twist against the side of the bowl and pop it into their mouths, talking, laughing and continuing a conversation as they ate. No spoon available she watched and copied but not getting anywhere fast. Giovanni spotted her discomfort and immediately thought it could be the pasta.
‘If you don’t like it, please leave it and I’ll get you some something else.’
‘No! It’s not that it’s delicious; I just can’t eat spaghetti like you do. I can’t twist it.’
‘I’ll get you a spoon.’ he smiled at her whilst carrying on his conversation with Barbara.
Sophie tried with the spoon but beaten by hunger she chopped the spaghetti up into bite size portions and scooped up the meal feeling like a child, worried that he would be put off by her lack of expertise and sophistication. She found it uncomfortable sitting at a table and not understanding the conversation, listening as they rattled on Italian but not picking anything up. It became obvious by the movement of their heads in her direction and the word ‘lei’ that they were talking about her. It sounded quite rude referring to her as ‘lei’ all the time as if she wasn’t there at all. She vowed there and then to herself that should this relationship go any further she would learn the language and no longer sit on the side lines feeling paranoid and the odd one out.
One Saturday night they went to China Town with Fabrizio and their third flat mate Stefano. They were leaving from the Regent’s Park flat the lads shared again and Sophie had turned up slightly early having been a bit too eager to be with her new mate. As she sat waiting in their front room she watched Fabrizio take a small packet out of his pocket and open it on the coffee table. A portion of brown powder was knocked carefully from the folded paper onto the cleaned surface and she watched curiously unable to take her eyes away as Fabrizio cut the powder with a razor blade and confidently separated the powder into four thin long lines laid out neatly one by one talking to her as he did. She watched as he took out a twenty pound note from his wallet and rolled it into a tight tube. ‘What’s this all about? She thought quietly to herself curious to see what was going to happen next.
Fabrizio lent towards the table and holding the paper makeshift tube from one nostril and blocking the other expertly with a finger he proceeded to sniff a line of the powder and sit back on his heels satisfied, waiting, a lazy smile on his face.
‘You want some?’ he raised his eyebrows at her, offering the rolled note as he spoke. At that very moment Stefano strolled in and made a beeline for the table.
‘I do!’ he laughed as he took his position at the coffee table and Sophie watched the same ritual played in front of her for the second time. She realised it was drugs and didn’t know what to do. She had smoked joints at college but had never had anything stronger; there’d never been any opportunity to even try anything stronger. Sophie felt uncomfortable and annoyed with herself for feeling so naïve and out of depth this was so far removed from her college days which had finished only a few months back. There she had been in her comfort zone and able to deal with situations as they rose quite easily. She reminded herself it was Fabrizio who she saw every day at work and he was fine.
‘What is it?’ she asked forcing her voice to not give away any nervousness she was feeling.
‘Heroin,’ came back Fabrizio’s easy reply.
‘HEROIN? That’s a bit hard core isn’t it?’ Sophie blurted out before she could stop herself.
Fabrizio laughed quietly, ‘Nooo, don’t worry. I wouldn’t kill you, you won’t get addicted, this is just a tiny line to make you feel better. It’s nothing to worry about. It’s not like injecting yourself. That’s worse. I don’t inject, I only sniff, it’s ok baby, I promise, trust me.’
At that point Giovanni walked back into the room and came over smiling. He casually took the note from Fabrizio and re-rolled it tightly, she watched the man she had fallen in love with kneel down and repeat the process expertly showing he had done this many times before. She knew he had no addiction problems as they’d spent so much time together recently so she guessed it must be ok. She reasoned with herself that it must take loads of heroin to get you to a point where you endangered your life, so just this once wouldn’t be any harm at all.
‘You don’t have to,’ Giovanni said as he passed her the rolled note.
Nervously, she took the note from Giovanni, smiling at him and trusting him completely it was a now or never moment and Giovanni meant too much to her to blow it all on a stupid line of powder. She knew she had fallen in love and she didn’t want to lose this relationship so she knelt at the table took a deep breath and listened to them all guide her through her first ever hit of heroin. She had watched them carefully and hoped she didn’t mess up her turn.
‘Don’t breath on it, you’ll blow it away.’ She was warned. ‘Make sure you sniff it all up in one long hit.’ More advice followed.
She placed the note in her nostril and sniffed sharply as she followed the length of the line to its end; she sat back and waited as she handed back the twenty pounds to Fabrizio. She could see him smiling at her,
‘It’s good stuff eh baby? See nothing to worry about’
She nodded in reply not knowing if it was ‘good’ stuff or otherwise but taking his word for it. She watched them all as they gathered their coats and made for the outside to start their journey to China town. She made no conversation as the black cab made its way to the other side of London just sat back feeling Giovanni’s arm around her as he chatted in Italian to his flat mates. So far she hadn’t felt anything major happen just a complete ‘Feel Good’ factor that descended on her making the world a wonderful place to be in. For just a moment she remembered what she had done and prayed she had taken the right decision before settling back into the overwhelming niceness that was enveloping her.
Stefano was saying something to her which dragged her back to reality for a moment.
‘You may be sick the first time. It affects your stomach but once you’ve vomited it’s all ok again.’
Sick. Must remember that.
The cab pulled up and they walked into their chosen Chinese restaurant being led to a table in the centre of the room. She felt her stomach squeezing involuntarily and the word sick jumped into her mind.
‘Excuse me, where’s the toilet please?’ she asked the waiter. Making her way in the direction he had indicated she hoped it would be free and that she would make it in time. The convulsions were becoming stronger and stronger and luckily someone came out of a toilet as she walked in. She made for the free cubicle and slammed the door shut behind her as her stomach violently emptied its contents in, over and around the pan. The heaving went on and on and Sophie felt miserable. She had made a mess of the toilet and didn’t have any means of clearing her mess up apart from the paper on offer which wasn’t much. She did the best job she could and left the cubicle checking in the mirror over the basin for any damage. Anxious to get out of there before anyone cottoned on she made her way back into the restaurant to the comfort of her new friends.
‘We’ve ordered a mixed menu for four people, is that ok with you or would you like something else?’
‘That’s fine.’ Sophie smiled as once again she felt a nice warm feeling descend upon her. Life was good again and she forgot about her recent mishap in the bathroom.