For the second time that day, Angela found herself attempting to melt into the upholstery of the backseat of a car. She lay flat across the seat, gripping a seat-belt with her left hand. Tammy drove, more jerkily than Angela would have preferred, and her mother sat in the passenger seat, making casual, oblivious conversation.
“Why are all these trucks honking at us today?” Tammy’s mother asked her, making Angela try to sink even further into the car-seat.
They soon arrived at the hospital. Tammy pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car with her mother. Angela raised her head slightly to peer out of the window. There were quite a few cars in the lot, so she was sure the hospital would be busy. During the trip, she had been thinking about how she would politely but firmly insist that Tammy leave her in the car. Would Tammy cause a problem? She didn’t know, couldn’t tell what this crazy chick was thinking.
Deserted malls and quiet suburbs were one thing, but a hospital was making things very public. Even if she had wanted to, Angela couldn’t just waltz in there naked. Surely Tammy understood that. Surely she knew that she was in danger of having Angela arrested for public indecency. And then who was she going to play dress-up with? Or dress-down, rather.
“You can stay in the car if you want,” Tammy told Angela, preempting her protestations, and showing that she had indeed thought of the practicalities of the current situation. “We should be back soon.”
Angela smiled and was about the assent, but then she noticed a big, distinctively painted van in the parking lot, sitting between Tammy’s car and the hospital entrance. A sign read “Travelling Thrift Store”, and she remembered reading about it in the local paper a few weeks back. It was a mobile second-hand clothing store, operated by a local charity.
Possibilities flew through Angela’s brain. She had to make a decision now. Back at the house, Tammy had probably been deliberate in spilling her drink. And the whole outfit thing had gone on for really long too. Who knew what Tammy had planned when they got back. Would she keep her promise about also getting naked? Then what would happen?
But the alternative… the alternative involved running naked through a public parking lot.
Angela made up her mind. She had to take her fate into her own hands, even if it terrified her. “Actually, I think I’ll come out,” she said, clicking open the car door in front of her. She cringed as the breeze brushed her bare flesh, but screwed up her resolve. “I want to see if that van has any good vintage clothes.”
“You girls and clothes,” said Tammy’s mother. “Clothes, clothes, clothes! One would think you had tried on enough clothes by now, Angela.”
“A girl can never have too many clothes,” replied Angela, shooting a dark look at Tammy as she shut the door behind her. “Anyway, I’ll see you back at the car.”
Tammy was silent. She took one last long look at Angela, and then turned and led her mother toward the hospital.
Alone now, Angela felt sick. She staggered back to Tammy’s car and leaned on it for support. She was in the middle of a large parking lot, cars all around. For the moment, no-one seemed to have noticed her, but that could change in an instant.
She crouched low and focused on the van a few feet away. Then she took off in a crouching sprint, ducking between cars for maximum coverage. Her running shoes smacked against the tarmac.
The van’s sliding door entrance was mere feet from where she crouched ass-to-heels in front of a large SUV. It was open, and Angela could see it was full almost to bursting with racks of jackets, shirts, dresses, skirts and slacks. Heaven in fabrics.
Angela scanned the parking lot ahead of her. The coast was clear. In almost a single leap, she bounded from her hiding place in front of the SUV to the van’s entrance. Catching a glimpse of a pimply girl of about nineteen at the front, engrossed in a magazine, she turned on the ball of her foot and disappeared into the stacks of clothing. She’d made it.
Angela buried herself in a rack of thick winter coats, losing herself in the euphoria of fur and leather against skin that was cold and had been exposed too long. She almost moaned in ecstasy, but stopped herself to prevent the cashier from coming to investigate.
Now she could relax and pick an outfit. But she wasn’t going to agonize over each choice like she normally would on a shopping trip. This wasn’t going to be a repeat of Tammy’s bedroom. She would pick a couple of things—that skirt, that blouse—and pay for them, not even pausing to look in the mirror.
Angela took a long, frumpy skirt detailed with flower patterns and stepped into it. She had briefly considered the pair of jeans next to it, but to put on jeans she’d have to take off her shoes, and she didn’t want to spend any time taking things off. Imagine: getting more naked!
The skirt now secured around her waist, she grabbed the pink blouse she’d spotted and pulled it over her head.
From a fashion perspective, the outfit was awful. Tammy would certainly not approve and neither, on a normal day, would Angela. But right now these two garments were the best clothes Angela had ever owned.
Angela breathed a deep sigh of relief, releasing the tension that had been building up inside her all morning, through every setback and moment of fake triumph. She was fully clothed, and there was no Sharon or Tammy around to change that.
Feeling calm, collected, and quite warm, Angela spent a few minutes browsing the racks. She considered a hat, a cardigan, a pair of shorts. But now was no time to get greedy. Her current outfit would be enough to get her home, barring any sudden up-drafts or cold snaps.
Angela walked up to the payment counter, startling the cashier from her magazine. “Oh, hello, ma’am. I didn’t see you come in.”
“That’s okay,” replied Angela, smiling secretly to herself. “I’ll take these two items, please.” She pointed to the clothes she was wearing and held up the tag of her blouse.
“You must really like them,” said the cashier, punching the numbers on the tag into a calculator.
Angela nodded vigorously and held up the tag on her skirt.
The cashier nodded, punched in the numbers, and told Angela the price. A very affordable price.
Angela leaned down, produced her phone from her sock, and waved it in front of the cashier’s calculator.
“Oh, we don’t take that, I’m afraid. Cash only.”
“A-are you sure?”
“Positive. I don’t even have a card machine here.”
Angela made a show of patting her clothes. Obviously she had no cash on her—she’d spent it all getting her hair done.
“Do you sell on credit?”
The cashier frowned. “We don’t. This is a charity shop.”
The cashier’s words hung in the air. Angela looked left and right nervously. Then she bolted.
She hadn’t taken two steps before the cashier was in front of her, barring the exit. The girl took up a surprising amount of space when she wasn’t slumped behind a counter. She was at least a head taller than Angela, and wider too. The vacant look on her face had been replaced with a flashing, aggressive stare.
“If you’re going to shoplift, at least try to be discrete about it. And maybe don’t pick a charity shop next time.”
Angela briefly considered trying to duck past the girl, but mental images of herself in a tight headlock changed her mind. “Look,” she said, “I really need these clothes, okay.”
The girl folded her beefy arms across her chest. “So pay for them. There’s an ATM in the hospital lobby. Go, I’ll keep them for you.”
“You don’t understand,” said Angela, “I’m not wearing anything underneath.”
The girl’s eyes widened momentarily, but then settled back into an angry glare. “First time I’ve heard that one. Clever, but I’m not buying it.”
“Look, lady, I get that you like the clothes. I won’t sell them to anyone else. But you’ve got to pay for them before you can take them home. That’s how it works.”
Angela’s pout turned into a scowl. “Okay, fine, I’ll prove it.”
And then, before she quite knew what she was doing, in one swift, angry movement, she pulled the blouse over her head and pushed the skirt down to the floor. “See?” she cried.
The girl’s eyes were as wide as saucers. “Oh-kay then. You weren’t lying.”
The sudden exposure was a shock to Angela’s system after being clothed again. “I really need these clothes,” Angela said, tears welling up in her eyes. “I can’t go out there naked!”
For a moment, the cashier’s expression softened, but then her scowl reappeared. “This is just something else,” she said. “Lady, you should be ashamed of yourself.
With an angry grunt, the girl swiped the blouse from Angela’s hands. She stepped forward, placing a booted foot on top of the skirt, forcing Angela to stumble backwards.
“I-it’s not my fault,” Angela sobbed.
The girl made a disgusted sound. “Oh come on, your nipples are rock hard. You’re enjoying this. Not only are you a rich bitch, with your latest iPhone and your expensive running shoes, who still somehow feels the need to steal from charity shops—steal directly from the mouths of the poor—but you’re also a fucking pervert!”
With that, the girl back-handed Angela right across the face. “Get out of my shop, sicko! Go find someone else to play out your exhibitionist fantasies with. You’re lucky I don’t call the cops on you!”
Angela whimpered and slunk out of the van, naked and disgraced. The SUV she had hidden behind before had left the lot, so she had to sprint to find cover crouching between two smaller cars.
The wind whipped at her bare back, and Angela let the tears fall. She had been so, so close this time, but it had all fallen apart, and now she was worse off than before. Every time she tried to fix things, she just ended up exposing herself to more people, in ever more perilous situations.
Finally, her tears dried, and her mind turned to other matters. Tammy’s car was still where she’d left it—she’d only been in the clothing van for ten minutes at most. It seemed like that was her only option: return to Tammy, and hope that she’d actually give her a dress. Eventually.
Angela’s mind turned to what the cashier had said. Was it true? Her nipples were pretty hard, but of course they were, she was cold! This had been a traumatic experience, not an arousing one. She wasn’t the kind of girl to walk around naked to get her rocks off, not like that blonde lady who had stolen her clothes and set this whole mess off.
And yet. Beneath all the embarrassment, the panic, the shame, the rushing adrenaline, she had felt moments of excitement. Maybe she wasn’t the kind of girl to walk into a hair salon in the nude, but she clearly was the kind of girl to strip off in one. Sure, she’d put up a bit of a fight, but in the end she’d gone with their crazy rules. And she’d taken the ride Tammy called for her, gotten in a car with a strange and gross man. But maybe she was just proactive.
Angela’s eyes were dry now. She put these strange and disturbing thoughts out of her mind. Tammy’s car was a few parking spaces away, but it was surrounded by vacant spaces. She would stay in her somewhat concealed position until Tammy and her mother returned.
Just then, she heard a voice behind her.
“Heyyy there, is that… Angela?!”
Angela’s head spun around and she came face to face with Mark. Mark, with the gentle green eyes and strong lantern jaw. Mark, who was now getting an eyeful of her very ample and totally bare ass.
“Hey,” she replied weakly.