a short story by wallace m greensage
Charlotte’s father had not long left when Todd returned home - hungry, weary but satisfied with his morning’s work. He stripped, sank down onto his towel-protected kitchen chair and tucked into the healthy lunch that Charlotte had ready and waiting for him.
‘How was your morning, Darling?’ Charlotte asked and listened with genuine interest as he told her of the case that he had solved that morning. As always, she was supportive of her smart husband.
‘So that was a very satisfying morning,’ he remarked. ‘And the victim was stabbed fifteen times all over something as insignificant as a drunken argument about a girl in the club, who apparently wasn’t even interested in either of them anyway. What a waste. The victim should recover eventually but he’s mentally and physically scarred for life now and the culprit will be locked up for a long time. The other two men are being charged as accessories and perverting the course of justice. I doubt anything more will come of the marihuana possession. There wasn’t anything else in the flat and it was only a small amount. It wasn’t certain who it belonged to anyway.
‘What about the girl at the flat?’
‘Tanya, yes. She moved in with her boyfriend James Calderwood yesterday when a bed suddenly and conveniently became available at the flat. She had nothing to do with any of this. That’s the last we’ve seen of her in this case. I hope it’s the last we see of her ever. So what about you? How was your day?’
Charlotte told him. He grinned at the episode with Sven and roared with laughter when she told him about her father’s surprise return. Todd slipped on his shorts and Charlotte, frowning in puzzlement, heard him open the front door. He was back moments later.
‘It seems that we actually have quite a lot of privacy in that room at this time of day as the brightness outside reflects the light, making it almost impossible to see in. I wouldn’t recommend cleaning the windows nude, but you could probably have stood there in the middle of the room in all your glory and he couldn’t have been sure he had seen you.’
‘I was in all my glory, but even if I had known that amazing scientific fact, I definitely wouldn’t have tested the theory with my own father! Anyway, as I told you, he cupped his hands to the window, Todd!
‘True, but you said you were almost out of the room by then. Another missed opportunity, Angel?’
Charlotte pondered this. ‘Maybe,’ she answered, ‘but I don’t think that’s the way I want to announce it to my parents.’
‘So how would you like to announce it?’
‘Now there’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?’
Fraser Duffy drove home deep in anxious thought. He wasn’t completely sure but he was almost certain that when he had cupped his hands to that window, he had glimpsed his daughter backing towards the door, carrying something, but it appeared to him that she didn’t have any clothes on! Surely his eyes deceived him, he thought. And why would she be naked anyway? It didn’t make any sense.
He was as embarrassed for himself as he was for his daughter, if he had really seen what he thought he had seen. He knew he shouldn’t have peered in like that but at the time it had all seemed so innocent; he was simply looking for his toolbox.
He was still in a disturbed daze when he returned home. His wife, Patience, wasn’t home yet. He prepared a cup of tea for himself and sat at the kitchen table, staring unseeing in front of him, his tea going cold in his hands. That’s how his wife Patience found him on her return shortly afterwards.
‘Hello, dear,’ she called out cheerfully as she walked into the kitchen, her hands full of shopping bags. ‘Been home long?’
Fraser shook himself out of his reverie. ‘No, just got home. How was your church meeting?’
‘Oh! I can’t begin to tell you how annoyed I am about that group. They can’t agree on anything. We achieved nothing as usual. Do you know what Elspeth told me…?’ she began to ask as Fraser started to rise from the table. ‘Fraser, are you listening to me?’
‘What? Oh, yes. Of course.’
‘Fraser? Is something wrong? You seem distracted.’
‘Sorry, love, it’s just that I’ve had a bit of a…of a jolt. I…’ he tailed off, not sure how to continue, or even if he should.
Too late for that. ‘Fraser, what’s happened? Is it something to do with Charlotte, Todd?’ Patience asked with concern.
‘Yes...no… I mean…’ He paused, then told Patience what had happened. ‘I’m almost certain she was…naked!’
Patience actually laughed. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, Fraser. Our daughter? It’s simply not possible.’
‘I know, and I’m not absolutely certain, Patience,’ he replied, ‘but, well, even the thought of it has shaken me. Not so much seeing her naked, although that’s bad enough. It’s the thought that she may have been naked. Why on earth would she be naked?’
‘She couldn’t have been. You are mistaken, Fraser!’
Fraser shook his head. ‘I don’t know. I just don’t know.’
Todd settled down to watch the latest episode of “Bosch” on TV. Despite its similar theme to his real life, he found cop shows on TV to be relaxing and entertaining. But today, he couldn’t concentrate and after rewinding and replaying the same sequence three times, he turned off the TV and gave thought to the issue that was niggling him.
Although he didn’t plan to make any announcements to the world, he wasn’t particularly concerned if their new way of life became public knowledge, despite the ribbing he would receive at the station for a while. That would pass and he was OK with being known as DI Nudist or something similar. He was confident enough in his own abilities and future and naturism would not adversely affect this.
Charlotte was a different matter though. Her strict religious upbringing and cloistered schooling at an all-girls boarding school had entrenched puritan ideals into her psyche and it had been an unexpected awakening, for both of them, when she discovered and embraced her love for their newfound clothes-free life. In some ways, she felt that her life had actually become more complete.
Her morbid fear of revealing her secret lifestyle publicly, innocent as it was, especially to her parents, was an unfortunate result of her upbringing and the straight-laced ideals that they had instilled in her. Todd was all too aware that she could not possibly tell her parents. This was beyond her.
But it wasn’t beyond him!
Todd found Charlotte in the kitchen, sitting at the table reading her book. Todd sat opposite and stared until she looked up. She smiled. ‘Something on your mind?’ she asked.
‘Yes, something on my mind. Letting family and neighbours in on our secret is on my mind.’
‘Todd, don’t you dare suggest…’
Todd put his hand out, palm in front of him to placate his wife, whose ire seemed to be rising. ‘Hear me out, Angel,’ he told her.
Charlotte sat back. ‘Go on,’ she said challengingly, looking closely at Todd, elbows on the table.
‘You’ll agree that we’ve become comfortable with our new life, right?’ He didn’t wait for confirmation. ‘But on one hand, we’ve agreed to keep this to ourselves so that only our naturist circle know but on the other this requires manipulation of the truth for the rest of our lives and this makes us both uncomfortable.’
‘Yes, but I see no way around this.’
‘There isn’t. Not for you that is, but let’s think it through. Someday, in the not too distant future I hope, we’ll raise a family and I can’t see us reverting to a textile life again as the kids grow up, can you?’ Again he didn’t wait for Charlotte’s reply. ‘That means that we’ll have to live a double life – secretly naturist within our family and naturist circle and textile the rest of the time.’
‘So what? I’m sure that lots of families live like that.’
‘Yes, agreed. But deception, which is what it will be in our case, isn’t your strong suit, Angel. Wouldn’t it be a whole lot better if those that we care about know that we are naturists? I’m sure that once it’s out there, they’ll soon adjust to it. And then we can just be ourselves, no hiding the truth, no telling the kids to keep quiet, no double life.’
‘No, it wouldn’t be a whole lot better, Todd! My parents would never speak to us again!’
‘Your parents may be religious and prudish but they’re not unreasonable or vindictive and I don’t believe for one moment that they’re going to cause a permanent rift.’
‘You don’t know them, Todd. This would blow their minds. It simply can’t happen. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to tell them anyway. Or your parents, either!’
‘Well, that’s just it, Angel. I don’t think you should. I think that I should be the one to gently disclose this to all of them.’
‘Todd, if you think I’m going to agree to…’
‘Charley, stop and think about it. Do you want to go on running scared as you have been today, avoiding the truth, deceiving your parents, or would you like to have peace of mind once they know and adjust to it?’
‘Of course, I don’t want the stress I was under today but I don’t see how you can possibly do this without causing problems between my parents and us.’
‘I don’t believe it will cause lasting problems. And at worst, they will blame me for leading you astray.’ He smiled as he said this. ‘I can take that on the chin.’
Charlotte hesitated. ‘So, what would you say?’ she eventually asked.
‘I have it all worked out. If you agree, I’ll do it this afternoon before we go round to Freya and Sven’s. I’ll do it delicately and sensitively, I promise.’
‘This afternoon?’ she cried in panic. ‘No Todd, I just don’t feel comfortable with this.’
Todd, realising Charlotte needed time to digest his suggestion, got up from the table and prepared tea for them both. He discovered cheesecake in the fridge and put two healthy slices on plates.
‘That cheesecake is for the beach tomorrow,’ Charlotte chided, as Todd sunk his teeth into his slice.
‘Plenty left,’ he replied. ‘You asked how I’d go about it. What I plan to do is call your Dad – on his mobile as I think it’s best to approach him and not your Mum - and talk to him about the location of the pool. I’ll introduce the fencing and privacy that you explained to him this morning, just to try to guide the conversation in the right direction. Then, if the conversation works out, I’ll simply tell him that we are naturists.’
‘Todd, you can’t drop it on him, on them, like that. You simply can’t!’ she told him, shaking her head. ‘Darling, I’m really not sure. I agree that I don’t want to live a life of deceit – it’s against my nature – but I don’t want to harm our relationship with them either.’ She paused but Todd had said his piece and he waited it out. ‘Look, my business negotiation training says to me that we have opposing opinions: you want it all to come out and I want to protect my relationship with my parents. This means that we have to reach a compromise.’
‘OK. What do you suggest?’
‘I agree that you call my Dad and handle the conversation in the way you outlined, but that you tell him only that you like to skinny dip. See how the conversation goes from there, but I think we both know what will come next.
‘Yes, he’ll ask if you skinny dip too, and of course, this is where this all comes out.’
‘Exactly. But that's all we tell him, them, for now. Let them slowly get used to that. Then slowly over coming weeks and months during the winter we can gently work on them both so that by the spring when the pool will hopefully be finished and filled, they will be under no illusions that we prefer to skinny dip.’
‘I hope by then they will realise we like to do more than skinny dip, Angel.’
‘Step-by-step, please Todd.’
‘OK, let’s do it. I’ll put it on speaker’ Todd said, as he reached for the landline and dialled. ‘Then all we have to do is let the neighbours know,’ he added, as it rang at the other end and Fraser Duffy picked up. Charlotte looked horrified and made to say something but Todd put his finger to his lips and began to speak.
Charlotte’s mind was in turmoil, trying to follow the phone conversation and take in Todd’s last comment. Tell the neighbours? That wasn’t part of the deal. Why should they tell the neighbours? That was a whole new topic they were about to have after the call!
But the call quickly occupied her complete concentration as it took a direction neither of them had anticipated.
How does it turn out for Todd and Charlotte with her parents? And a surprise awaits them when they visit their neighbours.
Find out when the final part is posted tomorrow.
Happy nude reading!