“I thought Eau Naturelle was a type of mineral water,” he said. “Fresh from the lake.” There was panic in the slow dawning.
They brewed a coffee and sat cross-legged scanning the website on their phones. The Wi-fi was surprisingly strong for a back-to-nature getaway.
“I guess they don’t actually spell it out,” she said. “Maybe we were just meant to know.” It wasn’t his fault, such an easy mistake anyone could have made. The resort’s laurels rested on natural beauty, the privacy of the location, the health benefits of the owner’s Grape Cure Diet™ (great for cancer sufferers apparently).
“Maybe it isn’t a nudist camp,” he said. “Maybe it’s just them. That’s just how they, y’know… roll.” He looked at her and the look in her eyes made him feel dumber.
“Just because we’re here doesn’t mean we have to join in,” he said. “We wanted to get away and be on our own. Nothing’s changed. Don’t have to see the neighbours…”
She looked out at the lake, glistening in the afternoon sun, heard the lap of the water on the muddy bank, felt the wind rustle through the trees. She kicked off her flip-flops and moved her toes through the earth.
She thought of herself twenty years ago – care-free, adventurous, willing to try new experiences. She was still that spirit, just work and responsibility had closed the shutters for a while.
“Maybe we should,” she said, undoing the clip from her hair and letting it flow down her back again. “When in Rome.”
THEY STOOD LOOKING AT EACH OTHER SMILING AND THE YEARS WASHED AWAY
His eyes widened with his smile. “When in Rome,” he said.
They bounced up and stripped with puppy-dog excitement, flinging jeans and T-shirts over at the tent with abandon. They were down to underwear in seconds. This is it. She undid her bra and he pulled down his boxers. “Let it all hang out,” he said.
When it came to her knickers a flutter of shyness caused her to pause and look around. She chuckled at the self-defeating timidity, then flicked them in the air with her toe. They landed on the tent roof, a gold star kick.
Let it all hang out. Be free. Don’t care what others think. Love your body, love the flab, the wrinkles, the hair, the folds, love yourself, love everything.
They stood looking at each other smiling and the years washed away. The breeze tickled their bare skin. She closed her eyes and raised her arms upwards, breathing in the freedom. She felt magnificent.
“You’ve still got it,” he said. For once, the comment didn’t sound sarcastic, but genuine, heart felt. He’s right, she thought, I really do, the spirit never left.
“Time to meet the neighbours,” she said. They held hands, both clammy with sweat, hearts beating faster, anticipation rising, aroused. Together, they found the path through the trees. The sounds of laughter grew nearer as they stepped out to greet them.
A BLUSH WAS RISING THROUGH HER BODY, SKIN TINGLING FROM SHAME TO ANGER
“For God’s sake, what are you doing?” The bloated woman shrieked and ran forward, blotchy and jiggling in panic. Heads turned in shock. A lady shooed two small children away, shielding their eyes.
This wasn’t the reaction they expected. They didn’t really understand the etiquette of naturism, but didn’t think it was screaming horror. They froze, unsure what to do, not knowing what was wrong. The adults were all as naked as they were.
The woman’s anger was genuine, every part was shaking in fury. “Don’t you know there are children here? What kind of people are you?”
She looked at him and he looked at her. Then she looked down and saw the problem. He was way too happy to be there. “Jesus on a fuckstick, just put it away.”
He looked at her, fear and shame in his eyes. “Where?” he said.
“Are you getting a perverted kick out of this?” The woman’s voice was a drill that wouldn’t stop. “Are you sick? Why won’t it go down?”
He was saying nothing, just staring at the woman, wide eyed. What was the matter with him?
A blush rose through her body, skin tingling from shame to anger. She held up her hand, time to take charge. “Okay, we didn’t realise this was family fucking day, alright?”
“How dare you call it that… we would never…”
“Look, we’ve obviously just made a mistake. We really aren’t… that kind of koala, so we’re just going to go back to our tent and leave you to your singed dogs. Che sera sera.”
The woman took off her sunglasses, finally. She looked them up and down, mouth a reptilian sneer. “You disgust me,” she said.
“You’re no painted wagon yourself love,” she said.
While the two woman ricocheted back and forth, he stood stock still, undecided whether to smile or frown. His hands strayed down to his groin, hiding his erection, then moved back to his sides. He didn’t want to look like he was fondling.
He kept on praying it would go down, but thinking about it just made him even harder. Maybe there really was something wrong with him? Usually, he was so sure of himself, even when he knew he was wrong. He stayed silent, hoping his neutrality would camouflage him into the forest and this nightmare would magically disappear.
“I’ll be writing to the board members about you,” the woman said, face redder than her chest. “There’ll be a meeting, we don’t want your sort.”
“You do that,” she said. “Type it up, put it in an envelope. Then shove it all the way up.” She took his hand and walked back through the bushes to their tent, unsure whether her furious mutterings were on the inside or out.