Canto Five – Everyone is Naked Under Their Clothes
The night was typical. Six nasty old hens pecked Valerie’s hands as she searched under them for eggs. The last one of those took a girl-fist to the side of the head. That, of course, didn’t faze the stupid hen. Chickens apparently have their brains hidden safely in their butts. But chores always came to an end. Mom was always sympathetic about chicken-stupidity-caused peck marks, and rubbed salve on them, visible wound or not. Then it was time to finish any homework needed, and up to bed. And Val always slept naked under the quilts and comforters. She slept well because… well, because naked was good when you were asleep.
Morning came, as mornings do, with a stupid rooster crowing the sun up. Of course, if hens are stupid, roosters, having the additional mental handicap of being male, were stupid times ten. No, stupid times twenty. Beau the rooster always got it wrong. The sun was never actually up until at least a half hour after the stupid rooster claimed it was up. Chicken pot pie. As Valerie pried her eyes open, she imagined chicken pot pie cooking on Mom’s stove. Beau-flavored chicken pot pie.
When she got to the bathroom, Daddy Kyle was already in there shaving. No problem. Once again Valerie marched in naked as the day she was born, though with considerably more hair on her head. She went straight to the shower, grabbed the shampoo off the shelf, and twisted the water on to just the right level of warm she always used. Warm, soapy water all over your body… piles of foamy shampoo in your longish hair… it was a little like Eden must have felt to Eve. And Eve liked being naked too… at least, until the mistake with the snake. Of course, Eden had to end when the water began to grow cold. Even in the summertime the well could put out near freezing levels of cold once the water heater was drained.
Kyle looked at her when she stepped out and grabbed a towel.
“No hot water left for me again, huh, Princess?”
“Sorry, Daddy. I need a good hot shower in the mornings.”
“Shouldn’t you put on a robe or something, dearest? You come in here every morning completely naked. You are getting too old for that.”
“Old? Too old for what?”
“When a girl reaches a certain age, she starts to change. When that happens, well…”
“But, Daddy, you are used to seeing me naked. You changed my diapers while Mommy and I were still in the hospital after I was born.”
“I know… I know… And it isn’t that there is anything wrong happening. It’s just…”
“You can’t be getting shy. I’ve seen you naked too… a lot.”
Kyle’s face reddened. He was apparently trying hard to stutter on.
“When a girl reaches a certain age… well, she…”
“Yeah, she changes. I know Dad. Mom told me what to expect. But honestly, I don’t even really have boob bumps yet. I look like a little boy when I’m naked… except I don’t have one of those water hoses to pee with.”
She was standing with the towel in her hand, looking at him while she was completely bare and being mildly amused by his extreme discomfort. He finally sat down on the closed cover of the commode, completely defeated. She decided to push things a little. She dropped the towel and went to sit on his knee even though she was a little damp around the edges and quite sincerely still naked.
“I love you too, Daddy.”
“No… I mean, yes, I love you… but this is not a good thing for a big girl to be doing. I worry you are getting so used to being naked around a man like me… even though I’m your Daddy… and one day… when boys, um… get curious… the way boys are… and, well…”
“If that’s what worries you, Daddy, no boy besides you has ever seen me naked. And I won’t let a yucky thing like that happen… until the time is right.”
“Okay, but promise me the time is not right until you are thirty.”
“Daaaad! You know everyone is actually naked under their clothes. Everyone has a body… so no one should be ashamed of it.” Surely he recognized that bit of wisdom. After all, it is what he’d said to her on the subject more than once.
“Okay. I trust you and believe in you. But develop a little modesty maybe? Put on a robe when you come in here. Or wait till I’m done.”
“Don’t you like me like this?”
“I love you. But you are getting to an age where you being naked like this around me… well… begins to get… um, uncomfortable. And your little wet behind is making my pants wet. I have work to do today, and now my pants have a wet spot shaped like your butt.”
“Oh, Daddy!” She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. He put an arm around her shoulders and gave a squeeze.
“I hope we can start getting some better habits going, Princess. We don’t want to get your mom mad or anything.” Valerie hopped off his damp lap and padded over to retrieve the towel. She wrapped it around herself and then gave him one more grin before she barefooted it out of the bathroom and toward her waiting school clothes. You never knew anything for certain. Maybe one day she would just have to go to school naked… to show Daddy that… well, okay… maybe not to school.