So she goes, presses her hand against the door that is left cracked open, and finds Julia face down on her drawing table. Her arms are folded over her head, wrists limp. In front of the big table raised slightly at an angle, her feet hooked around the front legs of the chair, Julia looks smaller than she is.
Marianne considers pulling on one of Julia’s matted locks, but doesn’t. Instead, she snakes her fingers between them and gently touches her neck.
Julia moves. She turns toward Marianne, bringing her arms down to prop up her head, eyes tired, as if she had just woken from sleep. There is a small spot of black ink on Julia’s face, just to the right of her nose. Marianne licks her thumb and wipes. She says, “Do you want me to go to Germany?”
Julia is holding still for Marianne’s thumb. She says, “Yes. Of course I do.”
“No, I mean if I make the team, if they make an offer. Would you want me to go?” Marianne has only succeeded in thinning out the ink into a light gray circle. She looks at the meat of her thumb and notices that it’s on her now, too.
“What about school?” Julia’s voice is flat, disinterested, has been ever since the block. Marianne doesn’t understand this because what Julia does with pen and paper and the imaginary characters in the comic seem to follow a pattern, a certain formula: deep kissing, a short hand job, a longer blow job, and then someone will come on the face, or the mouth, or the chest, of one of the boys. To her, this is simple and to Julia she’s said so. But Julia looked at her, blue eyes wide with hurt or disbelief, and said, “But it’s not just fucking. They have a story!”
Marianne says, “I’m sure they have schools in Germany,” and then watches her, Julia’s face, for signs of something, for signs of anything.
Julia sits up, sliding her ass across the seat of the chair, toward its back. It had been an antique—her mother had told her, and then Julia Marianne—part of a lovely and expensive dining room set before Julia stripped the varnish and painted it in bold blues and yellows. But this was years ago, well before the five months that have past since Marianne first met her.
Julia scratches at her head, then wipes the spot of Marianne’s undried spit from her cheek. She says, “Well, don’t make any quick decisions. You’re not even there yet. You have no idea what it will be like.”
Marianne has her hands at her sides, thumbs tucked into the waistband of her track pants. “Will you come?”
“I can get a week off, sure.”
“That’s not what I mean. Will you move with me?”
Julia is scratching again, this time with both hands. “You mean, if you get an offer and then decide to go?”
Julia tilts her head back and rolls it left until they both hear a crack, then pushes her feet against the floor and moves the chair away from her drawing table. She says, “Come here.”
Marianne sits on the tops of Julia’s warm thighs. Julia wraps her arms around Marianne’s waist and pulls her as close as she can get. She says, “Let’s just get there first, to that point.”
But Marianne does not hear this, is not listening. She is busy working her teeth over the ridge of Julia’s ear and down toward its lobe, then moving her lips to the place on her neck right behind it. At this, her wet lips on warm skin, Marianne feels Julia shudder, but she’s holding her so that she can’t be pushed away, one arm wrapped around her neck and another up the front of Julia’s sweatshirt, her cold fingers lifting the light warmth of Julia’s breast, her ink-stained thumb moving over her nipple.
Julia is saying, “Okay, all right.”
But Marianne does not hear this. She is thinking, Let me do what I do best, better than anything else I know.