Chapter 1 Summary
The story begins in Edinburgh, Scotland on Friday, July 15, 1988. Dexter (Dex) Mayhem and Emma (Em) Morley are lying in bed talking about their plans for the future. They have just graduated from college and are discussing what to do next with their lives. Dex is interested in traveling while Em is more concerned with her long term plans. She wants to know what he’ll be doing at the age of forty, which he is unable to comprehend. He makes fun of her Yorkshire accent and her interest in the future.
Em observes Dex as he smokes a cigarette and notes that he is handsome, even though that word seems outdated to her. She wonders how he got to be so well built since she has never seen him exercise. She’s upset with herself for finding him so attractive. She tells him that she can picture him at forty, driving a sports car with his young, fourth wife. He is slightly offended at her vision of him. It becomes clear that they do not know each other very well. She tells him she knows his “type,” and implies that he’s a spoiled rich kid. Dex asks why she’s sleeping with him if she dislikes him so much.
Emma goes into the bathroom, and Dex takes the opportunity to look around her room. Her apartment is small and shabby; she has lots of artsy photos and seems to be making a statement with all of her art and books. He views her room as a manifesto of sorts. He imagines that she hates the world “bourgeois,” but he likes the word and the security it implies. He has spent a great deal of time with girls like Emma and finds them all the same. Dex’s vision of his future is not very clear. He hopes to be successful but mostly wants to have fun. Dex considers leaving when he finds a box of condoms and a half smoked joint.
While in the bathroom, Emma admits to herself that she has liked him since she first saw him four years ago, but she’s insecure about herself when she’s around him. She goes back to bed in her graduation cap and gown and asks him to cuddle. She suggests that they sleep and contemplates her own future, changing lives through art and writing beautifully. Emma also remembers her few sexual experiences which were not very exciting.
Dex again considers leaving but instead stares at Emma’s face and how pretty she is. He tells her that, since it’s now dawn, it is St. Swithin’s Day and that if rain falls on St. Swithin’s grave, it will rain for the next forty days. She asks what he’s doing later and he says nothing. They plan to do something together and then fall asleep.