Zarina / Gabrielle
‘I’M NERVOUS, I WANT TO PUT CLOTHES ON AND LOOK COOL, BUT IT’S TOO LATE FOR THAT.’
‘IS IT TIME? AM I ALLOWED TO BE THERE?’
Gabrielle and Zarina loudly-quietly WhatsApp each other before 1AM, when Gabrielle is due to Skype-call Liv Wynter for a 1 to 1 performance… that is actually 1 to 2 because Zarina will be conferenced in, hiding inside an iPhone next to the Macbook microphone.
‘OMG IT’S TIME-’
Gabrielle calls Zarina, and then calls Liv when she sees ‘Thu 01:00’ settle on the toolbar. Having been instructed not to ‘speak, interrupt, answer or ask questions’ in an email from the artist, she lies across her bed with her face in her hands, Minnie Mouse pyjama bottoms out of view of the webcam. Zarina has been rubbing aloe vera gel on her lib scab. The call lasts 3 minutes 54 seconds and it is </3 retold, reworked, recuperated. The performance is potent, vulnerable. It is your best-best mate calling you paralytic, sobbing, "he doesn't fucking love me,” your heart breaking for her over the phone. She needs you there but you don't need to say anything. And the performance is intimate but not in a strange, emotional, or even new way. It feels familiar. Zarina thinks this is spectacular, that it is a powerful assertion of point-blank vulnerability that makes Liv Wynter fearsome precisely because she's in control. Zarina holds the phone to her face with one hand, her other hand waits on her lip until the artist hangs up.
Zarina takes the performance audio only, hears an intense voice through WhatsApp espionage. Gabrielle, though, sees the hand-through-hair upset, the physicality of upset, the bedroom ceiling that frames upset. She realises that some conversations can only exist within these hours, when nighttime pretends a privacy. Sometimes we wait until 1AM to articulate the really shit things about our stories - sometimes there is a body next to ours to share those horrors with. Yet, Gabrielle concedes that even if she were allowed to interact with this body, she would not know whether to be grateful, comforting, or quiet, still. She is glad the decision is made for her, and is relieved when Liv Wynter hangs up.
The next day, when they tell friends of their late-night Skype rendezvous, everybody smiles. Strange delight to be so close and alone and comfortable with the art and its artist. But Zarina and Gabrielle yawn over the emotional labour, sleepy and bent over desks. Caps lock off now, they are left undone by an artist who has exercised love more than they have. These two are tired, overtaken by a girl who admits, gets angry, demands, needs, fucks, and feels. They loved it - they hope to one day be brave enough to write heartbreak instead of </3, wish they were better company though, and are secretly glad tonight they only had to be shoulders.