GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY.
Tessa Underbridge kneels by her radio and turns it on. White noise momentarily fills the room until she finds the station she wants and it settles into Mozart's Requiem.
"I want to have this at my funeral," Tessa declares softly, still kneeling as if at prayer. "And Wagner's Wedding March for my wedding." She puts her right hand on her bed and lifts herself from the floor.
Molly Mulligan standing by the window with its view of the university campus turns and says, “But you aren’t a catholic. I think you have to be catholic to have a requiem mass."
"Then I'll become one," Tessa states, sitting clumsily on her bed looking at Molly. "I’ve always been fascinated by that religion."
"So you have Mozart for your funeral and Wagner for your wedding; what do you play while making love?” Molly asks walking to Tessa's bed and sitting next to her.
"I shall treat that question with the silence it deserves," Tessa says a touch moodily. "Making love is not a phrase I like. One does not make love; either it exists or it doesn't. Now, having sexual intercourse is a different matter," Tessa says looking away from Molly and studying her hands in her lap. "But it is not a subject I
like to discuss."
"That leaves out ninety nine per cent of my interests," Molly says with a chuckle that causes a ripple of fat to move across her chin. "So let's talk about the other five per cent. How's Julian? Still breathing? "
"I know you don't like him, Molly, but he's not as bad as you and my mother make out. He's intelligent, witty and love's me," Tessa informs, lifting her eyes and looking at Molly briefly.
"Sure and he's also a male," Molly says sarcastically. She studies Tessa's face and wonders what goes on in that brain of hers. She lets her eyes move downwards to the breasts and wishes she could just for a minute or two have a feel. But she knows Tessa's not quite ready for that and so moves her eyes to the hands in Tessa's lap.
"You have boyfriends don't you? Aren't they males too?” Tessa asks, looking away from Molly and joining her hands together and studying them.
"Sure they are," Molly says," One hundred per cent. But I accept them for what they are..." She pauses and wonders what Tessa would say if she knew that she had girlfriends too. "Beside us females they're just not in the same league. Even Bertrand Russell said he could see no reason to believe in any innate superiority of the male, except his superior muscle. And that muscle is probably the one between his..." She pauses and smiles at Tessa who frowns.
"Yes, but D. H. Lawrence said that Russell was all disembodied mind," Tessa says, letting her joined hands form a prayer-like position.
"And Russell said that Lawrence's ideas couldn't be too soon forgotten. We could go on all day at this rate quoting other people's opinions. Men are men and that says it all," Molly declares watching Tessa's hands take on a praying mode. She shakes her head and lowers her eyes to Tessa's thighs that show just beneath the short brown skirt. She sighs quietly to herself and muses on them.
"Julian and I share many interests," Tessa informs, lifting her joined hands to her lips as if about to kiss them. "Music, art, literature, and to a certain extent our philosophies of life are similar." She taps her nose a couple of times with her hands then lower them to her lap again.
"So you both believe in living a life of debauchery?” Molly says sniggering.
"No we don't," Tessa replies firmly," I don't know where you get your ideas about Julian and me. We don't believe in that at all." She opens her hands and places them on either side of legs on the bed.
"Julian gives a different impression to me," Molly says. She lifts her eyes from the thighs and looks up at Tessa's face. "I’m sure given half a chance he'd be in bed with me."
"Given half a chance, Molly Mulligan, you'd let him," Tessa says angrily. "If," she adds quickly," he was that type. Which he isn't. Just because you, you, you..." She pauses and looks across at the window. "Now we are arguing. I didn't invite you here to argue with." She senses Molly's arm around her shoulder and feels warmed and relaxed. "Sorry. I do get worked up," Tessa says softly. Molly squeezes her shoulder a little more and wishes she would get worked up in a different way, but knows she won't, but wishes still.
"Mozart’s Requiem is a sure thing for one's funeral,” Molly says placidly, giving Tessa's cheek a small kiss. "And the Wagner's a great thing for the wedding, should one be foolish enough to want to marry," she adds less placidly. "But Puccini's the one for the love stakes I think." She watches as Tessa stands up and goes over to the window. Her arm now vacated. Her lips lonesome.
"I saw Tosca once with my mother," Tessa says in a far away voice. She looks down on the campus grass below and watches as two fellow students stop and kiss under a nearby tree.
"What was Tosca doing with your mother?” Molly asks, studying Tessa's figure from behind. She watches Tessa shake her head and then looks down at the legs again.
"Very funny, Molly Mulligan, I'm splitting my sides. The opera, I meant. Saw it with her a few years back, "Tessa says. The two students are still kissing under tree and Tessa watches intently.
"Don’t you like jazz?” Molly asks watching Tessa gazing intently out of the window. Tessa's head shakes slowly. Her arms fold across her breasts." I love jazz," Molly adds, "It does something to me."
"Sousa said jazz would endure as long as people heard it through their feet instead of their brains," Tessa informs distractedly still studying the two lowers below.
"I don't give a monkey's turd what Sousa says, I love jazz," Molly states. She moves off Tessa's bed, leaving her impression behind on the duvet, and goes and stands next to Tessa at the window. She puts her arm around Tessa's shoulder and smiles. "So that's what's been occupying you for these last five minutes," Molly says as she sees the two students kissing beneath the tree." Nothing like a bit of voyeurism to stimulate one's sex life."
Tessa brushes Molly's arm from her shoulder and says, “I was not watching them...I was looking at the cloud formation and wondering if it was going to rain later." She moves away from the window and goes to her bookcase and removes a large book. Molly watches from the window with one eye on Tessa and the other on the lovers below. "You and Julian seem to have a one track mind," Tessa says moodily, opening the book and studying the first page to fall open. "Sex, sex and more sex."
"Only if you're offering," Molly says in a whisper watching as the two students walk on arm in arm. "They’ve gone now."
"Who?” Tessa asks, not lifting her eyes from the book. "Romeo and Juliet down here," Molly says. "They’ve moved on."
"I’m not interested what others may or may not do," Tessa says. She closes the book and moves over to the window. "Intellect is what separates us from the animals. If we lose that we're no better than the common beasts."
"We are basically animals with intellect of a superior kind. We aren't a different species altogether. And don't knock the animal kingdom. They don't produce Hitlers and Stalins and death camps," Molly says seriously. She looks at the book Tessa holds.
"I know that," Tessa says waving the book in front of her like a weapon. "But mankind..."
"Humankind," Molly inserts," not mankind."
"All right, humankind, then. Humankind have produced great things like art, music, religion, literature, architecture and politics. What have the animals done in their time? "Tessa says waving the book menacingly in front of Molly.
"Tried to keep out of humankind's way where possible," Molly says. "Animals for the most part, only kill for food or to protect what is theirs. They don't kill for the bloody sake of killing." She sees Tessa's book wave in front of her and takes hold of Tessa's hand. "Nor do they wave books in front of their friend's faces."
Tessa lowers the book when Molly releases her hand. "Perhaps that is the price we have to pay for the honour of having intellects," Tessa says coldly.
"Then we'd be better off without it," Molly replies. Silence enters between them and Tessa returns to her bookcase with her book. Molly sighs and looks again out of the window.
Tessa goes over to her radio and kneels down beside it. "Some jazz I like," Tessa says softly as if her words were made from delicate lace. "My brother played me some years ago which I quite liked, but I can't remember who played now." She sits on her haunches as the next piece of music begins. "Wagner," she says.
"The Parsifal Prelude."
Molly goes and sits on Tessa's bed. "Yes, I saw it a little while ago," Molly says. "Went with a friend and saw it in London." Tessa gets up from the floor and sits on the bed next to Molly.
"I loved to see it," Tessa says dreamily.
"That’s what the bishop said to the actress," Molly says with a chuckle, which releases a ripple of fat to ride on her chin.
Tessa shakes her head, but smiles. "And did he see it?” Tessa asks.
"Who?” Molly says.
"The bishop," Tessa says," did he see it?”
"See what?” Molly asks innocently.
Tessa hits her arm playfully. "Whatever it was he wanted to see," Tessa says laughing and taking hold of Molly's arm.
"Parsifal? I don't know. Possibly," Molly says turning and smiling at Tessa. They listen to the music for a while in silence. Tessa has her head on Molly's soft cushion-like arm. Molly lays her chin on Tessa's head of hair and closes her eyes. Maybe one day, she muses, one day, perhaps. Tessa feels the warmth of Molly's arm and wishes Julian was there, but isn't so enjoys the warmth anyway. Molly wishes Tessa was more open, but isn't, but still wishes it so, and gives a
gentle, hardly to be felt, kiss on Tessa's hair and dreams her dream.