He was finding it hard to make an excuse now. They obviously didn’t care if he saw them; and it wouldn’t hurt if the other thing had to wait.
If they were comfortable than why shouldn’t he be? But for him, the intimacy of looking upon someone’s body should be kept private and exclusive. He hesitated, looking out through dim moonlight trying to find the horizon. He shrugged and joined them.
They were indeed naked. And they were beautiful. Why were they doing this to him? He felt like a predator if he looked at them and a prude if he stared away. He must have looked like he was tripping; his eyes were playing tennis in his skull. Had it become such a precondition that he couldn’t look at them without his gaze turning objective?
Dreadlocks smirked a little.
‘We were about to go for a swim, want to join us?’
‘Okay’. But he made no move.
‘Are you going to take your clothes off?’
He was taken aback. ‘No.’
‘Why not? You’ve seen us, it’s hardly fair.’
‘It’s entirely fair, you made your choice. You invited me down here. I don’t feel comfortable revealing myself to people I don’t know.’
‘It’s just a body, it has nothing to do with who you are’, said the one he vaguely knew.
‘Except it’s my body and it’s completely a part of who I am. It affects me in so many ways. I have no relationship with you, so this sort of closeness and familiarity makes me uncomfortable.’
‘If you say so, but if you ask me, there is nothing individual about a body, everyone knows what’s there.
‘I’m not so at ease with sharing everything.’
‘I suppose we have a fundamental difference then.’
‘I guess we do.’
Dreadlocks slid into the water. ‘Swim?’
He took his shirt off as Blue also submerged. She came up, hair slick, her face emanating natural glow.
‘Halfway there,’ she grinned.
He laughed but shook his head. He jumped in and felt a lot better now he could only see their faces. What they didn’t understand was he’d already forgotten what they looked like under the water, despite his initial evaluation. Immediately they became ten times more attractive again.
‘So you don’t mind showing your nipples but it’s weird for us?’ Dreadlocks asked.
He just twitched his mouth and conceded the point.
‘Do you do this often’, he asked.
‘When the mood takes us,’ answered Blue.
He nodded. ‘I like that, do what’s fun, do what you feel like doing. Too many people forget that.’
‘Most people would say it’s part of growing up.’
‘Yeah, but what does that mean?’
‘Who knows?’ said Dreadlocks as she duck-dived, her legs driving him to distraction as they disappeared. Blue floated away on her back.
‘So you do this all the time then?’ She asked.
‘I don’t generally get naked and swim in the middle of the night, no. But I ride the track a lot. It’s like I’m the only one awake.’
‘Ahh so we ruined it for you.’
‘There’s pros and cons for everything.’
Dreadlocks was doing slow languid laps. ‘Is this illegal?’
‘You could always claim sexual harassment if they arrested you like that.’
‘But, for real?’
‘Well it’s a public pool, and you’re nude so yeah, you’re probably breaking the law.’
‘Ooh that makes it more exciting,’ grinned Blue.
He turned to look back up the hill, checking on his bike despite rationality telling him it was ridiculous to think someone would come along and steal it. He just made it out, a slight sheen on the handle bar aiding him. Standing next to it was the Labrador, seemingly monolithic as it gazed down.
‘Jesus,’ he whispered, unnerved.
‘You see that dog up there, it never leaves me alone.’
‘What dog?’ asked Blue.
‘Right there by my bike.’
Dreadlocks cast a worried glance at her friend. ‘Dude, there isn’t a dog there.’
‘What do you mean it’s right th-’ but he looked again and there was nothing. ‘Oh it’s gone; you must have just missed it in the dark.’
‘I think someone has been awake too long,’ teased Blue.
‘It was there! It’s always there! Following me every night.’
‘Okay okay, it must have learnt to recognise you.’
The girls had moved closer together and further away from him, trying not to make it obvious. One change in the tone of his voice and they immediately perceived him as a threat. He could see in their eyes they no longer assumed he wouldn’t hurt them. Quicker than he could click his fingers he’d been made to feel like had to go out of his way to assure them he wasn’t a predator. It was one of the things that made him sad about the world. He didn’t even want to be there.
He’d planned this night to go very differently, would he have the nerve to do what he wanted now?
‘Maybe I should go,’ he said.