DON'T ASK WHY.
- Shouldn't ask why if I were you, says Tessa Underbridge as she pushes Julian's hands away from her leg. Some things are best not for men to know. Julian lays his hand on his hip and sighs. He watches as Tessa pulls down her skirt to her knees to hide what he'd already seen. Always doing things. Never content to just lay and talk, she moans. Julian looks at her face and wonders if her eyes are green or pale blue. Decides pale blue because green is too cat-like. Her nails are long and pointed and he wonders if her eyes aren't green after all. My mother said all men are after one thing. I thought you'd be different, at least some of the time, Tessa adds. She turns on her back and lays her head on her pink pillow. Julian stares down at her wishing this was not one of the times. One should be able to lay on one's bed without being molested by one's boyfriend. You're a human being, Julian, not an animal, she says looking pass Julian and at the pink lampshade hanging lopsided from the ceiling. Julian raises his eyebrows and wishes this was a time for being an animal, but seeing it isn't, he rests his head on his hand and stares at Tessa.
- I feel like a monk at times, Julian says out the side of his mouth. He goes to kiss Tessa's cheek, but she pushes away his lips with her palm.
- Behave, Tessa says and sighs. She looks at Julian for second or two and then returns her gaze to the lampshade. Does that lampshade look lopsided to you? she asks.
Julian looks up indifferently and stares with lifted brows.- Yes, Julian says. He turns round and quickly kisses Tessa ear.
- Leave off, she says. You never give up do you? she wipes her ear with her hand. Spit. Blooming spit on my ear, she complains. Very romantic, I'm sure.
Julian sits up and puts his arms round his knees wishing it was Tessa. - Think I'll join the Foreign Legion, Julian says over his knees. Tessa doesn't answer, but stares at the lampshade. Ride a camel at least, he adds.
Tessa closes her eyes. Sighs leave her lips. She opens her eyes and again stares at the lampshade. -I thought that lampshade was lopsided. I hate things lopsided, Tessa moans. She sits up beside Julian and shakes her head. Everything should be in its place, she adds moodily. A place for everything.
Julian nods. He smiles and looks over his knees at the far wall where a picture by Monet hangs. - Quite right, Julian says, everything in its place. He kisses his knees and lays his cheek against them.
Tessa rests her chin on her knees and stares at the Monet picture.
- Monet knew about colour didn't he, Tessa informs softly. She nudges Julian who appears to be nodding off to sleep. He could paint me any day, she adds speaking across her knees.
- Not now he can't, Julian says. He's dead.
- I know that, Tessa says moodily. I meant he could paint me had he been around today.
- He'd be extremely old if he was around now, Julian informs with a smirk.
Tessa lifts her eyes to the ceiling and shakes her head. - Funny ha ha ha I'm splitting my sides, Tessa says sourly. I'm wetting myself with laughter, she adds staring at the Monet across her knees.
Julian pulls a face. He wishes Monet were there perhaps he thinks he'd paint Tessa in the nude. Or was that Renoir? he muses to himself sitting up straight. - You'd make a good Renoir subject, Julian suggests. He painted women beautifully.
Tessa pokes out her tongue and closes her eyes. - All you ever think about is seeing me in the nude. Don't you ever think about anything else? she moans. Julian shakes his head in negation. Well you should. What are you going to do when you leave university?
- God knows, Julian says indifferently moving to the side of the bed and letting his legs dangle. Lecture about female anatomy? he suggests smiling at the other wall with a print by Degas. He feels Tessa hand smack his back and almost falls off the bed.
- Can't you be serious. I want us to be serious about each other. I want us one day to...Well you know, Tessa says.
Julian shrugs his shoulders. - Climb Mount Everest? Julian suggests. Tessa slaps his back again and his lunch almost meets his teeth. He swallows and sighs.
- Marriage, Tessa says quietly. We might marry one day.
Julian turns and stares at Tessa. She appears serious. Julian stands up and walks to the window. Outside it is raining. - Marry? Me? Julian whispers. Tessa nods. She smiles. A joke, thinks Julian perhaps, but no, she seems serious, he decides. When did you have in mind? he asks.
- When I think you're mature enough and you've finished at university, Tessa decides confidently. Julian closes his eyes and dreams of the Foreign Legion and riding camels. And until then, she adds, We are going to be less physical. Julian taps the window with his finger. Tessa looks at him and shakes her head. What are you doing now? she asks sitting up and staring at him.
- Bloody cats doing things out here, Julian lies. Tessa sits upright and sighs. Blooming animals always at it, he says tapping the window noisily.
- Quiet or my mother will know we're up here, Tessa says in a harsh whisper. Come away from the window. Come here, she says pointing to the bed. Julian wanders over to the bed obediently. Less physical some of the time, she whispers. And you shouldn't ask why. Julian lies on the bed and Tessa is glad he doesn't ask why. Maybe one day she'll tell him, she muses, one day.