Aer the meal Nora went back to Dylan’s house to watch the Ryan Bailey movie. ey had a half-drunk bottle of wine that the restaurant let them take home. Her self-justiﬁcation regarding going to Dylan’s was that he was sweet and open and would reveal a lot about their life without having to pry too deep.
He lived in a small terraced house on Huxley Avenue that he had inherited from his mum. e house was made even smaller by the amount of dogs there. ere were ﬁve that Nora could see, though there may have been more lurking upstairs. Nora had always imagined she liked the smell of dog, but she suddenly realised there was a limit to this fondness.
Sitting down on the sofa she felt something hard beneath her – a plastic ring for the dogs to gnaw on. She put it on the carpet amid the other chew toys. e toy bone. e foam yellow ball with chunks bitten out of it. A half-massacred so toy.
A Chihuahua with cataracts tried to have sex with her right leg.
‘Stop that, Pedro,’ said Dylan, laughing, as he pulled the little creature away from her.
Another dog, a giant, meaty, chestnut-coloured Newfoundland, was sitting next to her on the sofa, licking Nora’s ear with a tongue the size of a slipper, meaning that Dylan had to sit on the ﬂoor.
‘Do you want the sofa?’ ‘No. I’m ﬁne on the ﬂoor.’
Nora didn’t push it. In fact, she was quite relieved. It made it easier to watch Last Chance Saloon without any further awkwardness. And the
Newfoundland stopped licking her ear and rested its head on her knee and Nora felt – well, not happy exactly, but not depressed either.
And yet, as she watched Ryan Bailey tell his on-screen love interest that ‘Life is for living, cupcake’ while simultaneously being informed by Dylan that he was thinking of letting another dog sleep in his bed (‘He cries all night. He wants his daddy’), Nora realised she wasn’t too enamoured with this life.
And also, Dylan deserved the other Nora. e one who had managed to fall in love with him. is was a new feeling – as if she was taking someone’s place.
Realising she had a high tolerance for alcohol in this life, she poured herself some more wine. It was a pretty ropey Zinfandel from California. She stared at the label on the back. ere was for some reason a mini co-autobiography of a woman and a man, Janine and Terence ornton, who owned the vineyard which had made the wine. She read the last sentence: When we were ﬁrst married we always dreamed of opening our own vineyard one day. And now we have made that dream a reality. Here at Dry Creek Valley, our life tastes as good as a glass of Zinfandel.
She stroked the large dog who’d been licking her and whispered a ‘goodbye’ into the Newfoundland’s wide, warm brow as she le Dylan and his dogs behind.