|This is a single author story, which is now complete.|
“R.F., I think that’s enough for today.”
The boy set his text book down on the blanket and rolled over. His mother was heading his way carrying a tray, on which lay a thick sandwich and a glass of orange juice. She bent over at the waist to offer the refreshments to her son, and he sat up to receive them, knocking the tray with the cast on his right arm as he did, thus sloping the orange juice.
“It’s a good job that cast is coming off tomorrow. If there is one think I know it is that you are no leftie.” she said, half chiding, half laughing at his clumsiness. She knew it wasn’t his fault.
He looked about the garden, “I’m gonna miss this place. Do we really have to move? ”, said R.F., settling back in the sun.
“You know we do dear.” replied his mother, tenderly. “You know you can’t go back to that school, not after the way they treated you, and we can’t afford to keep home tutoring you whilst we sue the local authority for damages. I can’t stay working as a teacher here either, not whilst I’m suing my former employers. It’s a nice enough house that we’ve found, and that’s a good school that you’ll be going to.”
“That garden isn’t a patch on this one. It will be hard to get an all-over tan there.” R.F. scowled.
“We’ll be keeping an eye out for another house, once we’ve got you settled in at your new school, if we can’t make the garden more private. Besides, we have been thinking about joining a landed naturist club, so you can enjoy greater freedom and make new friends.”
“Bloody Anne! Why couldn’t she keep her mouth shut? ”, stormed the boy.
“Now, now. You know it wasn’t really her fault. Those boys that bullied you have an intolerant streak a mile wide. You know Britain has a poor attitude to social nudity. “
“Anne knew that too. She should have known that her friends wouldn’t understand. Stupid cow!”
“Hey, just you stop that, young man! Just remember how upset Anne was when she realised how her revealing that she was a naturist backfired on you. You know she dumped her boyfriend and half her friends because they couldn’t get their heads around it.”
“Oh, look! Suddenly my cast has gone, and I didn’t suffer those other broken bones, or the cuts and bruises,” the boy shot back, sarcastically.
His mother said no more, but just turned and carried the tray back inside. She reflected on how close Anne and her brother were before Anne let the cat out of the bag. To say Anne was upset when she learned of the repercussions was wrong, she was mortified.
R.F. had his own thoughts to occupy him. He had been raised as a naturist, and he wouldn’t give that up for the world. It would be like betraying his parents and grandparents, let alone turning his back on something that not only made him happy, but was right and good. Actually, it wasn’t the naturism that he was tormented about; it was the implication that he was gay, which wasn’t true, as far as he knew. He didn’t have anything against gays; the son of his elderly godmother, of whom he had high regards, had come out. But, what proof did a twelve year-old have of his sexuality? All he could think was that, as his mind wondered, he found his imagination kissing quite a few of the pretty girls in the class.
It had all started when one of Anne’s class mates had commented on her luxurious all-over tan, and Anne spilled the beans, so to say. Of course it quickly made it through to her then boyfriend and on to his little brother, who was a nasty piece of work, and in the same year as R.F. According to him, only gays strutted their stuff in the nude, therefore R.F. had to be gay. That’s when the bullying started, first with the name calling, then the punches and kicks. R.F. was a strong and quick lad for his age, but bullies only ever travel in packs, so he never stood a chance. He tried to complain at school, but any investigation had been half-hearted. The bullies just denied it, laid low for a while, and then came back even harder. R.F. had been a popular lad, but not one of his friends stood up for him, in fact some of them had comments of their own to add to the insults.
This last incident, six weeks ago, was the worst. R.F. had taken to the bridleway through the woods, on his way home, riding his mountain bike. His tormentors ambushed him, throwing a branch through the spokes of his front wheel, which catapulted him over the handlebars. When he came to, he was being tended to by a paramedic, his helmet was split in two, his right arm broken and his bike was missing. The police found the mountain bike, with wrecked front wheel, dumped in the nearby lodge.
R.F. had wondered if it was the bullies’ own stupidity, in taking the bike, that had got the police involved. After all, you can’t have a bike accident without a bike. As it turned out, one of his old friends had witnessed the attack and felt bad enough to make the call for the ambulance and the police. Stuart was this old friend’s name, and he had been R.F’s best mate. He should have known R.F’s views on girls, and stood up for him. Even though R.F. was glad that someone was there to call for assistance, his overriding feeling towards Stuart was of betrayal and abandonment, and R.F. made this clear to Stuart when he visited R.F. in hospital. None of this would have happened if his friends had stuck by him.
|It must have been around six in the evening, if the time cues were right. R.F. had been hearing the rise in the rush hour traffic for about an hour, and now that was reinforced by the unmistakable sound of his father’s car pulling onto the loose gravel driveway. Sure enough, a couple of minutes later, a tall, slim man, with the same dark hair and square jaw as R.F., entered the back garden, also nude. R.F. hugged his father, Mike, briefly, and both took a spot on the blanket of which R.F. had previously been the sole occupant.|
“Big day tomorrow, the removal of that cast.” began Mike. “You’ve been cooped up here for the last month and a half, and that’s no good for an active kid like yourself, so your mum and I have got you something, something that you and I can enjoy together.
R.F. heard his mother struggling with something at the back door of the garage; a large box with the word ‘Trek’ emblazoned on it.
“Beth, I’d better give you a hand with that.” Mike called to his wife.
“No, I’ve got it now. Just you find the craft knife.” replied Beth.
“I used to ride a lot when I was your age. I explored all over the place. In fact, it’s probably the freedom that I felt when out on the bike, and the quiet places I found out of the way that made me think about trying naturism for the first time.” said Mike, handing R.F. the knife.
“A new bike? But you had my mountain bike repaired!” exclaimed R.F. in excitement. He ripped into the box, soon liberating the sleek, aluminium framed road bike, and hunted impatiently for tools to set up the partially disassembled components. Involved as he was, R.F. hadn’t noticed Beth disappear back inside and reappear with another box, not as large as the first, and more regular in shape. Mike and Beth could only stand back, out of harm’s way, as their son tore into the second box, in search of the required tools. He didn’t find them at first, as they were buried at the bottom, under layers of packaging, bottles of energy drink powder, bottles for carrying on the bike, pumps, jerseys, shorts, socks, waterproofs, gloves, helmets, pedals and cycling shoes. All clothing items were duplicated in two different sizes.
“I had my new bike delivered to work a few days back.” called Mike. “It’s in the back of the car. Once you’ve got that cast off and you feel up to it, we’ll start out with a few short rides over the moors and between your new home and school. Now this isn’t going to be your ride to school bike, that’s why we repaired your mountain bike. This is purely for you to go out with me, to enjoy yourself and explore.”
It was a morning appointment on the Thursday for the cast to be removed. It felt like it was the first time R.F. and his mother had been dressed for ages. R.F. was worried about the circular saw used to cut through the plaster of Paris, but remembered that it was in the hands of professionals, and relaxed with the thought that he should trust them. There was a follow-on appointment with the physiotherapist to assess the resultant immobility and muscle wastage, neither of which worried the doctor unduly. R.F. was simply discharged with a list of exercises to be performed on a daily basis, a prescription for pain killers, and the instruction that if the pain increased he was to refer back to the fracture clinic immediately.
Once home, R.F. stripped off again, and then set about finishing the setup of his new bike, a task that Beth had to haul him away from several times because he should have been studying. After some persuasion, R.F. gave up, concluding that he needed his dad’s help to adjust the position of the handlebars and saddle correctly anyway. He and Beth reviewed punctuation whilst nude sunbathing, and, when the afternoon became overcast, listed the Tudor period kings and queens, and their exploits, whilst dusting and vacuuming. Beth knew the house had never been kept so tidy, which was good since they were still trying to sell it.
|Mike made a long weekend of it by taking Friday off, in order for him and R.F. to get their first short ride in. Breakfast was taken as usual, with the whole family undressed. Having finished and dressed before heading out to school, Anne returned to the breakfast bar and made a point of giving her brother a hug and cheek kiss. R.F. remained cold and unyielding, even pulling away. Beth wondered if there was ever going to be a thaw in their relations.|
R.F. wondered about the clothing that was made for cycling. The material was just so thin and close fitting that it was almost like a second skin. Mike confirmed that one article that serious racing cyclists wore was indeed called a skinsuit, just for that reason. The shoes were the most alien thing to R.F. They were stiff, with a plate on the bottom that engaged with the pedals, in a similar way to ski bindings. Together, these made the cycling shoes difficult to walk in. R.F. also didn’t relish the cold cream that had to be applied to the pad in the shorts, in order to reduce chafing of sensitive skin.
So, it was vest, shorts, socks and jersey, not forgetting to apply suntan lotion to the arms, legs, face and neck. Shoes, helmet, shades and short fingered cycling mitts were the last things to put on before exiting the front door and retrieving the bikes from the garage. Tyre pressures were checked, bottles loaded, and the emergency tool packs secured. Then, with a light push of the pedals, they were off. R.F. marvelled at how effortlessly his bike accelerated, not at all like the heavyweight clunker of a mountain bike with its knobbly tyres.
Mike had planned that this was only going to be a short ride, just a few miles out from home with a loop out into the countryside. Mike let R.F. take the lead through the urban main roads so that he could watch R.F’s positioning and check behind for oncoming vehicles. Mike found that he had to suggest to R.F. to use a higher gear. R.F. had been used to the lower gears of the mountain bike, and was spinning the pedals with little effect. Still, with sixteen miles done in a little over an hour, father and son returned home pleased with the ride. Sunday’s ride would be longer, as they would head out across the moors. Following rides would be every Sunday and on alternating evenings, with increasing range and duration. R.F. came to love a freedom in riding that he only previously felt when unrestricted by clothes.
The run up to the family vacation was interrupted by the operation to move house, which came one month before heading to France. Everyone mucked in, and by the time the removal men arrived, the house contents were reduced to furniture, and a collection of labelled boxes. It wasn’t a long drive, as they were only moving to the next town, even though it was in an entirely different local authority area. Once the furniture was installed and the removal men departed, the stress of the removal was shed by all, along with their clothes. Fortunately, the street view was hidden from the large lounge window by the long front garden and plant covered trellis. Mike mused that a few more trellises and a set of high gates would make it possible to garden without clothes. The sale soon came through on their old house, so Beth and Mike were relieved to be able to pay off their bridging loan without it running into another month.
The month passed quickly and the family headed off on their annual holiday in western France. This involved long periods driving, both in England and abroad, with the travelling taking two days, on top of the long ferry voyage. Beth and Mike were glad of the time spent on the ferry; it would be the only real break they got from driving. It also meant that R.F. could be liberated from the confines of the car, so he took to exploring the ship from bow to stern, having understood that he was to be in the forward lounge in two hours. Anne was happy just to take in the onboard shops with her mum, and then curl up with a book. As it was to be an overnight crossing, Mike had booked a family cabin. Both he and Beth would need all the rest they could get to enable them to cope with the driving.
Landing on French soil, at St. Malo, felt like the real beginning to the holiday. The roads were better, the drivers more considerate, and, so it seemed, the view were just so different to England. Even though they had satellite navigation, R.F. had the old road map and took a keen interest in all the landmarks that he could identify as they glided down the autoroute. Having left St. Malo in the early hours of the morning, Bordeaux was reached by mid-afternoon, even with stops for breakfast and lunch. Entering the gates of the resort, R.F. was itching to escape to the pool as soon as he possibly could. It was a year since he had seen his friends, and this last year he had really missed them, despite the letters and photos that they had exchanged in the mail.
|Yvette, a French girl, and Stefan, a German boy, both the same age as R.F., together with Famke, a girl a year older from Groningen in the Netherlands, had been at the resort at the same time as R.F. and his family for the last three years. Sure enough, as soon as R.F. could see the whole panorama of the pool complex, he spotted Yvette, Stefan and Famke splashing each other under the water spout. He called out to them, and they replied with shouts of joyous welcome. R.F. pondered, sadly, that his distant and most trusted friends were now his best, no, his only friends. He had to make the most of his time here to be with them. Their chatter came in a mix of English, French, Dutch and German. R.F. could handle himself in the language of all his friends, at least up to as far as their conversations would take them.|
All too soon, it was time for dinner. First Stefan was called away by his parents, then Yvette. There was a cool breeze, and R.F. was drying himself off before heading back to the family’s chalet when Anne came to fetch him, leaving Famke alone in the pool. They weren’t to go to their chalet, but to that of their parents’ old friends, George and Muriel, a retired English couple who seemed like a permanent fixture at the resort. Again George and Muriel’s family would be joining them late and, as always, would arrive after R.F. and his family left. It couldn’t be helped, as George and Muriel’s son-in-law was a factory manager, and could only fit their vacation into the last two weeks in August. Beth, as a teacher, always felt she had to take two weeks to prepare for the new school year. This year would be no different, since she had accepted a new position in their new education authority area. So, yet again, the two families would miss each other.
Beth had obviously told George and Muriel of R.F’s trouble at school, and how they had recently moved to give him a fresh start. Muriel had a hug for R.F., and told him to be brave and grasp the challenge of a new school with both hands. George just ruffled R.F’s hair, a gesture that R.F. found he was getting a bit too old for, but accepted it as being well meant.
George also had a stern word for Anne, which Beth and Mike echoed. Anne already knew she was in the wrong; she should have laughed the whole all-over-tan thing off as being the result of the use of a sun bed. She had been dying to share her secret with her best friend, but hadn’t reckoned on her best friend being a gossip, nor thought of the consequences for R.F. Anne was sorry, and R.F. knew she was sincere, but he just wasn’t ready to forgive.
Two weeks of near solid sun were filled with swimming, sunbathing, horse riding, tennis and simply running around, air bathed. R.F. had told Yvette, Famke and Stefan about his new bike and how he and his dad had spent the last two months cycling together every other day. R.F. regretted not being able to bring his bike, as the hire bikes at the resort were not a patch on his own. Still, the time they all spent on the clunky hire bikes was precious to R.F. Although they were now his best friends, R.F. had not included news of him being bullied in his letters to them. He did tell them an edited version of the tale of his ‘accident’, the previously un-tanned right arm baring witness to the presence of the now absent cast, how they had moved house and his change of school. Even though they were good friends, R.F. couldn’t risk losing them by telling them why he was bullied. No, that part had to remain buried.
The return to England came all too soon. R.F., Famke and Stefan exchanged e-mail addresses, and R.F. made sure that Yvette had his new postal address, so that they could continue to write to each other. All three of R.F’s holiday friends would be staying on for a further two weeks, so would get to meet George and Muriel’s grandchildren. R.F. wondered if they played together, like they had with him, whether they even knew each other. R.F. didn’t follow the map on the way northwards, too obsessed with a melancholy that gripped him. Mike spotted this and talked of the riding that they’d get in and the time that they’d have together over the next two weeks. That seemed to do the trick, and R.F’s mood visibly brightened.
Although the weather had broken in England, it didn’t prevent R.F. and Mike’s cycling expeditions, once equipped with waterproofs and overshoes. However, R.F’s mood turned again to match the gloom as the new school year approached. He was without his only friends, and would soon be immersed in a sea of strangers. A new school and new class mates to keep secrets from. R.F. wondered how he’d ever fit in, but he knew he had to try.
End of episode one.
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