The drive down from the city had been long and tiring. Her sisters were whining and cranky and the “are we there yet” chorus had begun the second they cleared the tunnel and were pointed south toward the beach resorts. They arrived at the bungalow and found the key just where her grandmother said it would be.
It was just before two in the afternoon by the time the car was unloaded and the family was settled into their rooms. She changed out of the shorts and tee-shirt she wore down from the city into her tankini from last year. It still fit, but that was not unusual. She did note that the fabric was worn in the seat of the briefs and the straps on the top were less elastic than she remembered from last year. She was still a girl size fourteen though; something’s never changed in her life. The rest of her summer clothing, five pair of cotton panties, two pair of cheer shorts and tee-shirts she used both for sleep wear and tops, were dumped into the drawers of the dresser in the bedroom. Her ugly nylon pool suit went in with the underwear.
“Mom,” she called into the back bedroom of the bungalow where her mother was tending to the seven year old twins, “I’m going to head up to the beach and check out the waves. Oh, and we need to go shopping for a new swim suit at G & G, maybe tomorrow.”
“The twins are going down for a nap, Waif, so I won’t be along for an hour or more. Be sure you have your beach badge and sunscreen. Have a good time,” her mother gave the call from the room in the rear. “We’ll see about a new suit, Waif, if they are on sale, maybe, but money is tight with all the bills coming in and if you can make do with what you have this year, it would help.”
“Got it all in my beach bag,” the girl called back to her mother, referring to sunscreen and badge as she slipped out the front door, thinking, 'I don’t know about the rest though.'
Wendy Ann Ingrid Farrell, having recently celebrated her eighteenth birthday in the hospital, was a happy teen-ager today. She was happy the doctors had again, for the third straight year, declared her blood and bone marrow disease in remission. She was happy that when the only choice for her to be alive was for her parents to try for another child with compatible stem cell and marrow for a transfusion that both of the twins, Amy and Tammie, were matches. She was happy that the stem cell transfusion, from the cord blood and placentas, just after the twins were born had held her for three years and was happy that the bone marrow from each twin, three years later had proven successful and aside from yearly visits to the transplant team hospital for follow up studies, she was healthy.
One thing was missing in the soon to be junior in high school’s life; that one thing was puberty. She was eleven when her marrow and blood were cleansed to allow for the stem cell transfer from the twins. From that age to her now 18th year, Waif, as she had been known all her life due to her initials, had neither grown an inch nor put on a pound. She was an 18 year old woman living in an eleven year old girl’s body, it was a girl’s size fourteen body; a body that was all elbows and knees and flat butt and chest lacking even the hint of puffy nipple or breast development.
Her illness and hospitalizations had cost her a year and a half of school and although she excelled in the classroom, the best she had been able to do was catch up half a school year. The kids she had been with in grade school to level Five graduated this June and were off to college or the work place. Waif smiled and wished them well in their lives. She knew that she did not fit in with that crowd, nor did she really fit in with the teens with who she now was in school. She was never bullied. Everyone from the district superintendent to the classroom teachers had made an effort to explain to the students that due to a very severe medical condition, Waif was the size and shape she was but in every other aspect was a girl of the same maturity and ability as they. Sixteen year old cheerleaders with curvy bodies adopted Waif as one of their own. She had cheered at football and basketball games this past year as a junior varsity cheerleader. Next September she would get a costume in the reverse colors of the varsity (JV wore white with red piping and letters; varsity solid red outfits with white piping and lettering) and could only hope she would have a body to fill it out. Cheerleaders got dates and went places with boys (in some cases with girls) and were popular. Waif was never asked out on a date. Her best friend, a boy named Walter, a neighbor since the pair shared a playpen as infants, explained to her that several boys liked her, for the smart and funny girl she was; however, none wished to date her as they feared being labeled ‘cradle robbers’ or child molesters.
Waif mostly interacted with her peers in group activities due to that and usually all girl groups. No one thought it odd when a group of girls had an eleven year old tag along ‘little sister’ with them, even if that sister was two years older and knew a lot more about life and it’s fragility than they.
Waif spread the beach sheet out just to the left of the life guard stand and plopped her beach bag down on the edge to hold it in place while she looked for shells to weigh down the lower corners. All she wanted to do was stretch out and get some sun and then maybe do some body surfing until it was time to go back to the bungalow for dinner.
Walking back to her beach things, Waif spotted a khaki shorts and pith helmet clad beach inspector standing near her things.
“Little girl, where are your parents?” The woman stood with a note book in one hand and a radio in the other.
“My mother just put the twins down for a nap at our bungalow on Springpoint Road,” Waif answered, “Why, ma’am, is something wrong?”
“Minor children without a parent cannot be on this beach, you have to be in the roped off area two blocks down, child,” the woman replied.
“But, I’m not a minor, I just turned eighteen and I have my beach badge on my bag here,” Waif spoke in the pitch of a tween trying to be older.
“All that proves is you have your mom’s beach bag, young lady, you will have to move to the children’s beach or you will have to go home and come back with your parents to supervise you.” The woman was now joined by a female life guard who was probably a year younger than Waif but certainly filled out her tight red one piece swim suit better than Waif filled out the two pieces from the tween department of the store where she bought it. Clothing cut for Juniors and young juniors simply did not fit the body she lived in so she regularly shopped the children’s racks and into her brain came the dawn, she looked like a kid and was dressed in kid clothes, those who did not know her would presume she was eleven.
“But, honestly, I’m eighteen and I can prove it. I have my driver license,” as she rummaged through her bag, she realized her wallet and all her identification were not in this bag at all. They sat by the wall telephone in the kitchen of her parent’s house, dropped there and forgotten when she went to the hospital. “Really,” she sputtered as the lifeguard and beach officer closed rank on her and she rolled her eyes in exasperation.
As she meekly walked to the kiddie area demarked by heavy rope and buoy type floats that even at high tide allowed children to go no deeper in the water than four or five feet, Waif sighed heavily. Then she saw what might be the only redeeming thing about this section of the beach.
The sign read: CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF TWELVE PERMITTED IN THIS AREA WITHOUT PARENTAL ACCOMPANYMENT. POTTY TRAINED CHILDREN ONLY. SWIMSUITS OPTIONAL.
* * *
The Township of Shoreside Park had gone all out to assure the safety of the youngsters vacationing within it. Three city blocks of the mile-long beach were set aside for small children. On each block a Gazebo was provided for shelter out of the sun, and inside was posted a list of the activities that day for specific age groups. A lifeguard and two junior lifeguards acted as counselors for the Shoreside Park children’s beach activity, while three guards patrolled each of the beaches, one with a rescue can walking the shore, another perched atop a guard stand chair and the last aboard a jet ski watercraft just outside the roped off swimming area.
“Little girl, can you swim?” The voice belonged to a junior life guard, about fifteen years old, blond green eyed and curvy enough that her one piece swim suit was nearly overflowing. “If you pass the swim test, you may want to try the skim boarding class that starts in half an hour.”
The test was relatively simple. Run into the surf, duck under the waves and then swim out to the rope barrier and back again, nonstop. Waif was an excellent swimmer. The hospital where she spent many weeks had a physical therapy pool half Olympic size in which she was encouraged to do laps to keep her muscles loose.
With the lifeguard standing on shore observing, Wait plunged into the surf. She almost timed her dive to get completely under the wave. Almost, as last year’s JC Penny swim suit, an ugly blue tankini style covered in yellow ducks, was more than a bit worn from sun, chlorine and wear. The elastic at the leg openings and waist of the bottom had lost its stretch. As she dolphin kicked her way under the wave, she felt the tug of the tide against the waistband of her swim bottoms. Popping up from the water between waves in a set of five rolling in, she made a grab for the bottoms and was hit blindsided by the next incoming wave. She rolled back beneath the water and felt the increased tug of the undertow on her bottom. Popping up for breath Waif realized the battle of the bottom was a lost cause. The swim briefs were bunched around her ankle and the first kick of her foot would knock them off into the water, probably lost forever.
“Oh, hell, I am not going to sit on shore and make sand castles all summer because of this stupid swim suit and this stupid test,” she thought to herself and began her strong over stroke and flutter kick toward the rope. Midway to the rope she knew the bottoms were lost.
She touched the rope and turned, swimming toward shore. As she reached the break line where the waves crested over a sand bar, she looked over her shoulder and timed herself perfectly to catch the next breaking swell into shore. Letting the water do its work she ram-rod straightened herself in the wave extending her hands in front of her to act as a nose cone and steered herself toward the beach.
The worn tankini top ballooned in the water from the force of the wave and it soon popped over her head and was gone before she could think to catch it as the sand of the beach came up at the same precise moment as the loss of the suit top.
With a triumphant smile she emerged from the foam and smiled at the guard who graded her effort.
“I thought you were in trouble when you broached the wave on your way out,” the teen age lifeguard grinned, “Glad to see the only casualty was your swim suit. Well, don’t worry, plenty of kids your age run around all over town wearing the same outfit you are. Just always have a towel handy if you want to go someplace public and sit. In Shoreside Park our motto is ‘no shirt no shoes, no pants, no problem!” The guard giggled again, “The town council is trying to extend the policy to kids under 18 for next summer. I sure hope they do, this suit is awful when you get sand stuck in the crack of your butt, I sure wish I could guard in the nude.”
She turned to walk away, and then turned back, “Oh, by the way, I’m Loretta; I supervise the ten eleven and twelve activities Monday to Friday, along with Hank, the other junior guard and Molly our lifeguard supervisor. So, should you need any help just call my name. I see that look on your face, yes, you passed the swim test with flying colors. Hank has the skim boards to pass out; I’ll be down to help in a moment, right now I kind of need the loo.”
“Well, what do I have to lose,” she asked herself, “No one in this town is going to take a second look at a pre-teen walking around nude, so if I can girl up and face this guy Hank, maybe I’ll have some fun today,” Waif wandered over to where the male junior guard was demonstrating the skim board to two boys and a girl about eleven or twelve years old.
The boys wore board shorts drooping low over non-existing hips. The girl wore a multi-color swim brief without a top.
“HI, everyone, I’m Waif, and Loretta sent me over to learn how to skim board.” Waif said by way of introduction. Hanks nodded and passed her a board, the boys Tad and Brad, were brothers one year apart in age, but looked like twins. The girl, Ronnie, looked at Waif in envy.
“I wanted to get naked, but my mom said I had to leave my bottoms on,” she pouted while biting her lower lip.
Waif smiled and told Ronnie she was not naked by choice, explaining the rough waves and her old worn out swim suit. Her four listeners howled with laughter at the story.
Brad said, “That happened to me last week, I fell off my bodyboard and with the leash holding me the board went sideways in a wave and my suit got ripped off, hey it’s no biggie.”
Tad nodded, “If you wait until high tide, even the adults on the beach two blocks down have a tough time staying in their suits. Sometimes the rip current will take them right off while people are standing in the surf line. Other times the wave break does the job. But a lot of people run out of the water trying to cover their bits and pieces and looking for their textiles in the sand.”
“Okay, then, let’s get started,” Hank called the four to order and began the talk about how to wait for the wave to break and toss the skim board into the receding surf run after it and catch a ride on it. He followed up with falling water side was always better than falling on sand and shells and added safety tips for duck diving waves if the kids went into the water in the middle of a set of big breakers.
Waif had to admit she had a very good time and got the hang of skimming very quickly. By the end of the two hour season, Tad had lost his board shorts and Ronnie had only recovered her bottoms when a breaker burped the briefs up into the sand. Everyone was laughing and tired as it neared five in the afternoon.
“Where are you staying,” Ronnie asked Waif as they gathered their beach stuff and headed of the beach.
“My gramma, Ruth Andrews has a place on Springpoint, she’s letting us use it for the summer,” Waif replied.
“Kewl, we live here all year round, but except for Brad and Tad and three other kids our age, I don’t have many friends, because there are not a lot of kids living here. Mostly kids come for a week or two then leave, so it’s hard to make friends. But, if you want to hang with us,” Ronnie almost pleaded with her voice.
Waif smiled, “You won’t think I’m a “Bennie?”
“Nah, bennies are the week or day trippers, we call you guys ‘summer here’. Some are here summer and some are here, period,” Ronnie giggled at the play on words.
Waif walked with Ronnie to his house. “Hey, this is me; want to come in for a while?” Ronnie asked as they approached a weathered cedar shake two story set up on pilings.
From inside the front door a voice called, “Ronnie, you and your friend shower off before you come in here. I just swept the floors.”
Ronnie rolled her eyes, “That’s my mom, for a beach bum living shore side she hates sand, and of course sand is everywhere all of the time.”
The two girls showered quickly in the outdoor stall beneath the house and wrapped towels around themselves to enter the house.
“Mom, this is Waif, her Gramma is Ruth Andrews and she and her mom and sisters are staying at the bungalow all summer.” Then Ronnie paused to breath. “She lost her swim suit to the ocean today and boy can she skim board.”
“Well, Waif, if you are the modest type Ronnie should be about your size, if not, nude is fine with us,” the thirty something woman with the soft curves and bobbed haircut was wearing a short shift that told everything there was to know. Which simply put was that it was the only garment on her body.
The words were not out of her mouth before Ronnie shed her towel, and plopped onto a resin lawn chair naked. “Ronnie, towel,” her mother instructed, then to Waif, “I am Brett Peters, Ronnie’s mother; you may call me Ms. Brett. Sit, child and be comfortable. So you are Ruth Andrews’ granddaughter. Are you the one she always speaks about?”
“Ma’am,” Waif responded, the question implied in her tone of voice.
“Ruth talks about a sweet grandchild from up north who got very sick and almost died. One who was never healthy enough to come visit her for the summer? Last we spoke she said that the girl might be well enough to make the trip this year, is that you?” Brett asked.
Waif blushed, “Yes, ma’am, that’s me. Finally this year the doctor’s cleared me to have a real summer vacation instead of months of poking prodding and testing in the hospital. So, my mom, my twin sisters and I came straight down from the city and Gramma will be home early next week.” Waif said, adding, “This was her annual trip to wine country, for the tastings.”
Brett laughed, “I know, she is bringing me two bottles of merlot I won in a poker game over the winter.”
Waif felt comfortable enough to unwrap her towel from around her and sit it on a chair with her on top of it. Ronnie and Waif regaled Brett with the tales of the day including Ronnie having to run up and down the beach searching for her swim briefs after being stripped by a wave. All three were laughing so hard that it wasn’t until the clock struck the hour that Waif realized she needed to get home to her mom and the twins.
Waif walked in the unlocked door to the house with the burned letters on the driftwood plaque bearing the name, “IT’LL DO, TOO!” The original ‘It’ll Do’ was lost in a nor’easter several years before. Granddad Andrews refused to be beaten by the wrath of weather and rebuilt on stilted piling, using screws and hurricane bolts to reinforce the new house against the weather. He also constructed a cement block bunker below the house that contained a small generator and the water heater for the home, as well as a washing machine. Outside the block shed on a cedar pallet with a draw curtain around it was the shower for the house. Strung between the pilings were clothes lines with pins to dry the laundry, rinsed swimsuits and bedding.
Waif called for the twins and her mom, but got no answer. On the table in the kitchen she found a note, “Waif, I took the twins to the pier to ride the kiddie rides and get a slice of pizza. Johnson’s is open down the block, take the ten dollars on the table and get yourself a burger or something. Love, Mom.”
Waif ran up the stairs to the bedrooms. Her grandmother had the first on the left, as it was her all year round home. Waif loved the view as the room window looked out over the ocean. Next to her grandmother’s room was the one her mother was using. Across from her on the right side of the small hall was the room the twins were using. Waif had taken the room just across from her grandmother. At the very end of the hall was the bathroom. An old fashioned claw foot tub and a pull chain toilet with the reserve water tank high on the wall along with a pedestal sink barely fit into the confines. Directly below on the first floor was a similar toilet and sink, but the tub space was a linen closet. This was the reason most guests used the outdoor shower during the summer.
Waif entered her room and opened the dresser drawer where she had placed her clothes when she unpacked. She had a yellow short set, actually a one piece zip front romper that she thought would be perfect to wear to the burger and malt place in town. Only one problem, the drawer was empty. So also were the two drawers beneath it and the small closet where she knew she had placed her light sweaters and suitcase.
Even her spare one piece pool style swimsuit was gone. She hated the nylon racer suit, but it was required for the hospital pool and had become a part of her routine. While unhappy it was missing as she still wanted for something to cover her bare body, she was not too upset it was gone.
She checked the twin’s room; this was the type of prank they would pull, but no suitcase and no clothes except their own in the room. She checked her mom and grandmother’s room also and found none of her clothing. So she was feeling like Goldilocks, there were clothes that were ‘too large and clothes that were too small’ but there were no clothes that were ‘just right’.
Her search continued downstairs, checking every hidey hole and closet on that level and she found nothing. Her mom had the car, so she could not check the trunk. But, she had changed out of summer shorts, underwear and a t-shirt into her swim suit when she got to the bungalow, so she was not mad or suffering heat stroke, she HAD to have brought her suitcase inside.
Finally, she remembered Loretta’s words, “In Shoreside Park our motto is ‘no shirt no shoes, no pants, no problem!” Waif grabbed a towel and the ten and as hunger overrode modesty headed off to Johnson’s Burgers and Malts.
The chill of the air conditioning in Johnson’s caused her skin to develop goose bumps and her bladder to remind her she needed to pee. She put her order in and went to the ladies room. When she exited Loretta and Hank were sitting at a table not far from where she stood. The saw her and invited her to sit with them.
“Still naked, kid,” Loretta stated the obvious. Hank just smiled, as Waif used the towel wrapped about her to sit upon.
“Loretta, it was weird, I visited with Ronnie and her mom for a while, went home to find my mom and the twins gone to the amusement pier for the evening, and every stitch of my clothing, along with my suitcase, missing from my room. Hey, I searched high and low and could not find them. Mom left me money to come here and eat, so I remembered you said it would be okay and here I am.” Waif spilled out the events all the while blushing furiously and hunching over embarrassed at being both cold and bare while in the company of kids she knew.
“”Well you are okay, although it is odd for you to be out so close to curfew, the nudity won’t be noticed, but being out after nine at night without a parent or guardian can get you picked up.” Hank pointed to the sign, “Curfew for minors less than twelve years old shall be nine p.m. from 15 June to 15 September unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.”
The clock on the wall indicated it was twenty minutes to nine. “Can you two walk me home later?” Waif asked the question just as her food arrived at the table.
“No problems, kid, Springpoint is on our way, and there is a party for teenagers over on Kingston, in the park by the Back Bay. We’ll drop you off and then keep on going.” Hank told her.
The trio ate and joked and just after nine forty left Johnson’s and headed to Springpoint to drop Waif off at home. Sure enough they passed two Shoreside Park police cruisers in the two blocks between Johnson’s and It’ll Do, Too! One car was cruising along the main boulevard where Johnson’s was located; the second was cruising up and down the streets leading to the beach, one of which was Springpoint.
The trio made it to the bungalow without incident and her escorts left Waif just inside her front door. Her mother and the twins were still not home. Falling naked on her bed, Waif lay awake and confused. If she continued to pass as an eleven year old she could be naked in public without a worry, as it was legal for twelve and under in Shoreside Park. However, the downside was she could not be out and about after nine at night without her gramma or her mother. That part sucked and left her with only Ronnie Tad and Brad to hang out with in daylight. Any ideas of romance had just narrowed from unlikely to impossible.
* * *
Waif woke early in the morning, having to use the bathroom. She flushed and feared the clatter of the pipes would wake not only the house but the neighborhood as well. She smelled coffee brewing and headed downstairs, finding her mother with an early edition newspaper and a cup of coffee sitting in the kitchen. “Morning Mom, did the twins have a good time at the pier?”
“If a good time consists of eating cotton candy and ice cream, then riding the Wild Mouse roller coaster and puking up your stomach contents, then yes they did,” her mother smiled, “oh, and where were you yesterday afternoon and why are you naked?”
Waif poured herself a cup of black coffee, put a bit of cold water into it and sat with the mug in front of her, “Mom, this town is weird. I went to the grown up beach and was told by an enforcement lady and lifeguard I had to go use the kiddie beach because I could not prove I was eighteen. By the way, I left my wallet back home, we left straight from the hospital and I never take my wallet there, just my insurance card. So I get forced to go to the roped off area for kids, also get forced to take a swimming proficiency test, the surf tore off my two piece, the bottoms as a I swum out to the far rope and the top as I rode a wave back into shore. By the way I told you I needed a new suit, didn’t I? Anyway, I’m naked now and find out from one of the lifeguards that if you are under twelve you are allowed to be naked on the beach and around town.
“Hey, I went from being upset at having to use the kids beach to being kind of okay with it, the situation was I could still hang out and have a good time, but had to pass for an eleven year old. I took skim board lessons, got pretty good at it and had a blast with a little eleven year old girl who lives here year round and two boys who also are all year resident’s one twelve and the other eleven.
“I walked home from the beach with Ronnie, she is the girl, and spent a couple of hours with her and her mom, Brett Peters, her mom and gramma are friends in the year round community. Ms. Peters knows about me, mom, gramma has told everyone in town about her sickly granddaughter, but I am guessing no one really knows how old I am.
“I got home and went into my room and found every stitch of my clothing missing, mom. I swear if the twins are playing a rude mean joke they have won the prize big time with this one. None of my grandma’s clothes or your clothing fit me, and I may be small but the twins stuff well no way I can squeeze into that. I was hungry and remembered kids under the age of twelve are okay anywhere nude, so I walked to Johnson’s and got dinner.
“Oh, the downside to all of this is while I was out getting my burger last night, the change is on the counter near the cookie jar, I found out if you are twelve or under you cannot be out without a parent after nine at night. Loretta and Hank, my lifeguard friends from yesterday, had to walk me home as ‘adult supervision’.
“Do you have any idea where my clothes are?” Waif finished her days’ worth of debriefing to her mother and waited.
“I only turned my back for a minute. When I did they were playing in their room, quietly. When I caught on to what they were doing I was furious. You know there is a strong breeze that comes in off of the ocean every afternoon about three o’clock, Waif? Well the twins were opening the windows and letting things catch the breeze and fly away. They were using pages from their coloring books when I caught them. Tammie told me they would stop doing it because the book pages were not nearly as much fun as watching Waif’s clothes fly away.” Her mother sighed, “As soon as grandma gets home we will go shopping, sweetheart, I am so sorry this happened. But, at least your vacation is not totally ruined, if you chose to play eleven year old for a few more days, you can at least go to the beach every day.”
Not knowing whether to laugh or to cry, Waif sat with her coffee and then heard the twins bouncing down the stairs. “Mom, may I deal with this, or have you handled it already?”
“No, I haven’t, really. I took them to the pier to get them out of harm’s way last night. I was afraid you would lose your temper with them.”
“Never, they are seven and do dumb things seven year old girls do. But, I think I can make the punishment fit the crime, if you let me.” Waif winked at her mother as Amy and Tammie skipped into the room and went bug eyed and slack jawed at the sight of their naked older sister standing with her cup of coffee.
“Momma, Waif gots no clothes on,” Amy stated the obvious. Tammie merely nodded affirmation.
“Ah, you noticed,” Waif looked at her sisters. “Just where are all my clothes, little ones?”
“Oh, oh, that’s right, momma told us Waif would be angry,” Amy said, “We are sorry we put your clothes out the window and watched the wind blow them away, Waif, really we are, you going to spank us?” Her eyes welled with tears and Tammie soon followed with open floodgates of eye water.
“No, I am not. I am proud of you for knowing what you did was wrong and now here is your punishment. You will go upstairs; pack every bit of clothing you brought on vacation into your suitcases and back packs, bathing suits and panties included. Until I have clothes to wear, you no longer have the privilege of wearing clothes.” Waif looked at the two of them go wide eyed and look for relief to their mother.
“You heard your sister, now go do it, and you better be bare assed naked when you come down stairs again.” Their mother strongly reinforced the punishment order.
Sobbing, the twins, at the awkward body conscious stage of growth dragged up the stairs as if sentenced to death.
“Nice job, Waif, you found the single most embarrassing humiliating thing to use to punish them. I think this is far more effective than a spanking that is over and forgotten in an hour.” Katherine Mary Farrell told her daughter. “It is perfectly legal in this town, but utterly embarrassing to them; their punishment will stick in their minds for a long while after it is lifted. Oh, we will go shopping right after your Dad’s stipend is deposited in the bank. Unless grandma Andrews can loan me a few dollars we are tight until then. I’m sorry none of my clothes fit you, but if you get dressed then so do they so maybe you being naked with them for a few more days is for the best?”
“I like the kids I’ve met and am hanging out with, mom; it is just awkward being so much older than they are and playing that much younger.” Waif sighed, but was accepting of her condition.
“You were a lab rat when you should have been a kid having fun, Waif, sick and sheltered in the sterile wards as you were. Maybe, this is your chance to catch up on some happy childhood memories. Now, eat something and go up to the beach and have fun. I’ll bring the monsters along once I’ve locked their clothes in the trunk of the car.”
* * *
Skype may be the next best thing to being there. It is the new long distance, so speaking to her father, a reservist with the Air Force stationed in the Middle East at a time of the morning when she should be asleep made all the sense in the world to Waif. Major Farrell smiled at his oldest daughter. She had explained to him why she was nude and the goings on around his mother’s home for the past ten days since the four Farrell females arrived.
“So Dad, mom is still waiting for your stipend to get direct deposited into the bank account, gramma has not arrived yet from her trip, and without funds, mom is not going to go shopping with me. Until then I am ‘officially eleven’ (she made air quotes) and running around starkers.”
“Waif, think about it, most of the time you spent in the hospitals going from test to test you were pretty much naked. Hospital gowns are not modesty garments by any stretch. If you want I’ll bring you home a burkha that would pretty much solve your exposure issue. I imagine gramma will have a solution of sorts when she arrives home, honey, so just hang in there. Oh, by the way, you do know what is celebrated in five days, correct?” The father teased his daughter.
“Uh-huh, Bastille Day, right?” Waif replied.
“Yes, that as well, but I was referring to National Nude Day. Every 14 July the event comes up on the calendar. Some places take the day quite seriously. They won’t allow anyone to be out in public wearing clothing without a penalty being exacted. So just be aware that you are already in practice for the day and your tan is absolutely perfect, kiddo, hey my time is up, so love to your sisters and mom and be sure to hug my mom for me and tell her I’ll see her soon.” With that Major Farrell signed off after hearing Waif tell him she loved him and so did the twins and his wife.
Morning dawned several hours later; Katherine Mary arose to the smell of coffee and eggs and found her oldest daughter busily making toast.
“You were up talking to your dad, weren’t you?” The mother smiled at the daughter.
“Yeah, he doesn’t know why the Air Force has screwed up the deposit of the stipend, he loves you and the twins to heaven and back, and I am supposed to remind you and gramma that the 14th is National Nude Day.” Waif gave the Reader’s Digest version of her conversation.
“Leave it to your father to think of that,” Katherine giggled. “WE should observe the day correctly and be sure to send him photographs of his family running around naked.”
“Some of us already are, mom, and he offered to bring me home a burkha if I was so uncomfortable being nude. Truth is, mom, I’m not uncomfortable being nude. I’m uncomfortable trying to pass myself off as a pre-teen. Heck, if it was legal I might opt to stay nude all the time.” Waif grinned.
“It is over a week now that the twins have been running around naked; I think they will consider it more of a punishment to have to climb back into clothing. Tammie told me that they had a sand sculpture competition as an activity on the beach yesterday. The clothed kids were complaining constantly about all the places the sand got caught in their swim suits. The twins just ran into the surf line rinsed off and came back smiling. It is going to be tough to get them dressed and get them home once summer is over.” Katherine told her daughter.
“Brett, Ronnie’s mother, told me about how great the school district is down here. Since the kids are allowed to be nude in town the clothing rules are way relaxed and if the days are too hot they hold classes on the beach so the kids and teachers can cool off in the water. Nine teachers in the school, all of them work as senior life guards during the summer, and water safety classes start in the kindergarten. Molly, the life guard supervisor for Hank and Loretta teaches third grade at the school. I think Brett was trying to convince us to convince gramma that we should move in with her down here.” Waif told her mother.
“Would you like that? To live here year round and skip being a cheer leader and all the other things that go with being a high school junior?”
“The high school is on the mainland, mom, and has a sport program that includes surfing, sailing and a swim team. I think I would rather do a sport rather than just be a pom-pom waver on the sidelines and I think surfing and swimming are two in which I could be fairly competitive.” Waif responded. “Or I could be home schooled. Both you and gramma are college graduates and most of what I need for a diploma can be found on the internet or in books we could borrow from the county library. You said yourself, the one reason you sent me back to mainstream school when I recovered was for the socialization. The kids I met this summer are going to be my friends and social circle for a good long time, mom, and so either option is good for me.” Waif turned and scooped eggs from the pan and set them out with toast for her mother. She then sat and ate at the table silently while her mother considered the options. Katherine determined to discuss this option with her mother when she returned home and with her husband when it was her turn at the Skype conversation.
* * *
Ruth Andrews arrived home at six in the evening 11 July. The town car that dropped her off was loaded with luggage. She paid the driver and went into her home searching for her family. Two very naked very wiggly girls leapt into her arms smothered her with kisses and began to demand of her what had she brought for them. A look, of the kind only a grandmother can give a grandchild settled the twins down. Their mother walked into the room a few seconds later.
“How was the trip?” Katherine asked her mother.
“Eventful, fill me in on Waif’s situation, please. When last we spoke on the phone it did not make sense.” Ruth demanded of the younger woman.
Katherine related Waif going to the beach, being unable to prove she was of age, being forced to go to the children’s beach and the subsequent stripping by the waves and the activities of the week’s subsequent. The twin’s state of undress as a punishment for losing Waif’s clothing was also explained.
The smile on Fiona’s face let Katherine know that there was mischief in her mother’s thoughts. “A trip north for the child’s wallet with her driver license will resolve the issue of her age, Katherine. I wonder though how the rest of the town and the children she has been playing age games with will react. I think amends will need to be made in any event as far as Waif is concerned. I know the prig of a beach tag inspector who monitors that beach. When this hits the fan, and I’m sure it shall, her testimony will partially absolve Waif of her guilt in the matter. But, as I have two bottles of wine to deliver to Brett I can bring Waif with me and settle matters there. Once Brett is on board, the rest of the town should be easily convinced that their erroneous thinking led to this fiasco.”
At that moment Waif, with Loretta and Hank in tow, blasted through the rear door from the outside shower. All were naked save for towels, the girls wrapped about their hair and Hank holding his to his midriff.
“Gramma,” Waif shrieked in delight and ran to hug her grandmother.
Loretta and Hank were slightly less enthusiastic and began to back out of the kitchen. Katherine signaled them to remain.
“Oh, I invited the guys home for lunch, then we have to get back to the beach in an hour. Hank is teaching me how to short board today.” Waif told her mother. As Katherine was used to extra children invading the house during the day, she just nodded. The trio began raiding the refrigerator to make a mid-day meal.
“Sorry we are naked, Mrs. Andrews,” Hank offered, “But, Mrs. Farrell, uh, Waif’s mom, told us if we dragged sand into the house she’d skin us for sure. So, it is common practice for us to use the outside shower, leave our wet suits there and come in as we are.”
Ruth nodded. “You may continue this ritual. Remember to sit on a towel and do not sit on the upholstered furniture. Beyond that, our house has no dress code.”
“Hey, is the coast clear? I’m coming up anyway,” A voice carried up the steps outside that echoed into the kitchen. Seconds later a very nude, very pretty, Molly Malloy, third grade teacher and senior lifeguard, walked into the kitchen rubbing a towel through her still drying brownish blond hair. She gasped, seeing Ruth and Katherine, and made as to cover her pubic area with her hands.
“None of that nonsense Molly come in, sit down and take a bite to eat.” Ruth smiled and then said, “There is even wine for the adults if you would like a glass.”
“Not for me, Ruth, I have kids to supervise in an hour or so.” Molly said, visibly relaxing.
“Wise choice. Oh Katherine, Molly and I have dealings all year long. She is the teacher shop steward for the NEA local. I am the president of the school board. Molly, I may just make this the dress code for all future meetings.” Ruth teased and Molly Malloy in response blushed a brilliant pink beneath her well-tanned skin at the thought.
“Actually, I need the three of you to join a small group of conspirators in carrying out a small deception.” Ruth Andrews began, then launched into the story, finishing with, “So you see, Waif is actually eighteen, but looks twelve due to her medical condition. If the three of you can hold to the secret and the cover story until just after the 14th, which is National Nude Day, I promise to reveal the secret to the entire town at the awards ceremony.”
“You know, from the very first she tried to explain her age and such, and none of us would believer her,” Molly said. “So it was actually us who lied to the rest of the town and forced Waif to take on a role she never asked to play. Happily, we have all adapted and it was her freedom to be normal in all things while naked that inspired the three of us to begin taking our lunch breaks here in the nude. I think the only one who will be heartbroken will be Ronnie. She believes her friend is her own age. But, if you intend to speak with Brett maybe she and you and Waif can get Ronnie to accept the real Waif.”
* * *
Ronnie Peters, far from being disappointed, was totally, as she put it, “KEWL” with Waif being eighteen. Brett Peters said she had actually suspected something of the like as Ruth Andrews had talked about her ill grandchild far longer than an eleven year old life span would account. “I thought perhaps, fifteen or sixteen. But, your grandmother is correct, you did miss out on being a little girl when you were one, so your secret is safe with us and I could not think of a better friend for Ronnie to have than you have been and continue to be.”
The days counting down to national Nude Day were spent in total relaxation. The Day was as festive as the July 4th celebrations earlier in the month, with a parade down the boardwalk of nude adults and children wearing nothing but sandals and fancy hats, followed by the Shoreside Park School classes walking with their parents and teachers, decorated bicycles and little red wagons being pulled either by dogs if they were large enough or with dogs in them for small breeds. The parade ended at the all-town barbeque and picnic at the bayside park.
Several speakers were announced and came to the stage to give short speeches about National Nude Day and the importance of the Nude In School program to the Shoreside park School District. Each teacher with his or her class of students, stood and a progression ceremony was held. Kindergarteners were handed from their teacher to the 1st grade level and the ceremony progressed through those in 8th level who would leave Shoreside Park to attend the high school on the mainland. Traditionally, the soon to be 9th graders were given graduation caps and gowns to wear, signifying their leaving the freedom of their hometown.
The ceremony, this year, halted before that occurred. Ruth Andrews was called to the stage and took the microphone. “People of Shoreside Park, I have just returned to town a few days ago and I have exciting news. First, the state school board and Department of Education have met and in compliance with the state assembly law PL2015-0160 signed into law by the governor on July 9th, the Nude In School model is now officially extended to and includes any publically funded junior college.
“This means that our children, leaving our elementary school, may now attend high school and junior college nude, if they so choose. It also means that all those 18 and under may now be naked in public at any time for any function.
“The legislation also provides for any educator who wishes to teach while nude, be allowed to do so, freely and openly. However, any educator declaring this option will also agree to be nude in public for the entire school year.
“Our first teacher to commit to this option is Ms. Molly Malloy, our 3rd grade level teacher. Molly, please come to the stage.”
The lifeguard and educator mounted the stage and was surrounded by her two classes of students the ones now going to 4th grade and the ones to be her charges in September. All were jumping about her gleefully.
“As the first official full time Naked In Public, full time students, I welcome my grandchildren, Wendy Ann Ingrid Farrell, age 18, and her 7 year old twin sisters Amy and Tammie Farrell. Girls please come to the stage.”
Waif took the hands of her two sisters who tried to drag their heels at being put on display but ultimately went along and the trio joined their grandmother on stage. Several gasps came from people who knew Waif, once they heard her true age.
“My son in law is serving our nation overseas. Until he returns, my daughter and my granddaughters shall be living in Shoreside Park and attending our schools. As president of the school board I present them as the first who shall permanently nude for all functions both public and private and ask the parents of the community to add their children to their numbers.”
Waif’s eighteenth year would prove to be eventful.
* * *
The Final Beach Day
Molly Malloy walked up to the gaggle of giggling girls sitting on the beach. Beginning the morning of 15th July, Molly had been walking her beach post nude. Grease pencil, like the kind used for triathletes to mark their numbers, read GUARD on the outside of her left arm and right leg.
“Hi, kids, how is the last week of vacation going? Remember, school starts on Monday,” Molly smiled at Tad, Brad and Ronnie who were lounging on the beach and waiting for their friend, Waif, to come back to the shore from the break line of waves she was riding along with Loretta and Hank, the two junior life guards. With them were five other girls, all sixth, seventh and eighth grade level.
“Miss Molly, we are more than ready. We have book reports for our summer reading, and Waif has been showing us algebra and geometry, so I think we are more than over the two month brain drain of summer.” Ronnie told the teacher. “I guess it is Ms. Malloy again and not Molly, right?”
“None of you are my students, so Molly is fine, Ronnie. I was actually looking for Amy and Tammie, have you seen them today?”
“They are off someplace with their other grandmother, their father’s mother, Ms. Fiona. There is a big stink going on with the two grammas. Gramma Andrews, has convinced her granddaughters to go to school in the NIS program. Gramma Farrell is against the idea, and has taken action to get the twins removed from their mother’s care, claiming she is unfit. She dragged the kids off to see a counselor today.” Ronnie reported, and then she added, “Waif is legally an adult so can determine her own fate, but, the girls are being used as pawns in a battle of wills between two distinct lifestyles.”
“Not your words, are they Ronnie?”
“Nope, Molly, they are Waif’s and I just remember what she says. She told me when she was sick and always in the hospital the two sides of the family played this same game over her treatment. Her father’s mother was against her mom and dad having another kid to try and cure Waif. Gramma Farrell believed God’s will was for Waif to be strong and suffer unto death and reap her reward in Heaven. Gramma Andrews convinced her daughter and son in law to go ahead and have the second child. Turns out they were the twins. The stem cell therapy worked, then the bone marrow therapy worked and now there are three grandchildren. Fiona Farrell still resents the science and medicine that intervened in what she sees as the true plan. Now that she is well, Waif says she is in remission, but all of us are praying she is well, the families are warring over how the twins shall be raised.” Ronnie reported, “Me I’m happy it’s just me and my mom. She makes good money writing her articles for the newspaper and magazine and I’ve never met my father, or either set of grandparents, so no one fights over how I’m being raised.”
“Yes, we know you are being raised by wolves, wild thing,” Brad teased. “Look at you no modesty what so ever, sitting there sprawled open for everyone to look at.”
Ronnie blushed and changed her position, then came back at her tormentor, “Hate what you see Bradley? You sure are taking good long looks; maybe you need a camera to take pictures that will last longer? Hmmm, Mr. Happy doesn’t look like he hates what he sees either!”
Molly Malloy ended this with, “What were you taught about respect, the two of you. Boundaries must be maintained. If this happens in school public paddling is the consequence, you both know that.”
A joint, “Yes, ma’am,” came from Ronnie and Brad. Molly Malloy continued her walk down the beach, smiling and wondering to herself how long it would take the two twelve year olds that they actually loved each other.
Copyright© 2012 by Mark Chessman. All rights reserved.