Qing’s place was an old wooden house with a couch mouldering on the verandah. It had four bedrooms, and Qing shared it with five other students. Qing’s was a tiny room in a three bedroom house she shared with four other students.
In the kitchen she skillfully ducked my attempt to put my arms around her, but took my hand and half-led, half pulled me down a short corridor to her door.
Once we were in her room and I’d shut the door behind us, she did a spin with her arms close to her body but her hands at shoulder height, palms upwards. “Well, home swee home. So welcome, hey.”
She’d said her room was tiny but it seemed even smaller than that: spare, sparse and Spartan. Her only furniture was a small double bed, a work desk and a chair made of three-ply and metal tubing. The books on her desk were about accounting and business management. The most frivolous volume was something called The Seven Habits of Successful Companies.
Some landlord, long ago, had painted the walls the colour of mushroom soup. It looked like there’d been an explosion in a paté factory. There were no pictures on her walls.
Qing saw me looking around. She shrugged. “It’s what I can afford. It’s ugly but it’s got a bed and a desk.”
“I’ll beautify it.” I meant the room would look better if she was naked. But it was a bit obscure: Qing frowned, not getting me. But I took the top buttons of her pyjama top and fumbled with them. I stopped for a second and looked questioningly into her eyes. She gave a tiny, dismissive nod, as if I shouldn’t have stopped or asked her. Buttons were being too hard and too slow, so I pulled her top up, away from the pyjama bottoms.
She put her arms up. I pulled the top free and dropped it on her chair.
Her breasts were small and perfect, nipples hard as bullets in the cold. I could warm them with my mouth. Or I could pinch her and make the cold irrelevant with my fingertips. Qing stood with her hip slung forward, watching me. It was my decision.