Debra heard a knock on the door. Hoping that it was finally Lisa, rather than Shelly or Claire returning once more to report their lack of success at finding her, she sprung from her chair and quickly pulled it open. She was getting tired of doing this for Shelly and Claire, but should it actually be Lisa, she’d probably be naked and wanting to get inside pronto.
As soon as the door opened, a tall flannel creature with hunchback and two heads tumbled inside, collapsing on the floor. Debra let out a gasp, readied herself to battle the unholy demon, and then realized that one of the heads belonged to Lisa. The other head, and the tall, lanky body, appeared to be that of a college boy about her age.
Debra shut the door.
Lisa disentangled herself from the flannel and stood up, showing Debra the old, familiar sight of her naked body. Her hair was all over the place, her skin was streaked with dust and grime, and her bare feet were quite filthy.
The boy was similarly disheveled, but clothed, though his shirt was far too big for him and the top few buttons had come undone. He picked himself up, looked Debra in the eye, and held a hand out for her. “Colin.”
Debra took his hand in hers with a confused smile.
“You must be Debra, the witch,” he said. “Ow!”
Colin jerked his arm back, rescuing his hand from Debra’s sudden vice grip. But Debra paid him no attention, as she was too busy glaring daggers at Lisa, who had taken a seat, legs crossed, on Debra’s bed at the end of the room.
“What?” Lisa asked, looking genuinely confused before her eyes widened in realization. “Oh, right, it’s supposed to be a secret, isn’t it? The whole magic thing…”
Debra was fuming. “Yes, Lisa,” she spat through gritted teeth. “And it’s my secret, not yours. When I let you and the others in on it, it was on the understanding that you wouldn’t go running your mouth to random boys you fancied.”
Lisa blushed. Colin looked down at the floor, making himself small and looking like he wanted the ground to swallow him up.
“I’m sorry, Debs,” said Lisa, after a long, awkward silence. “It’s just, well, Colin’s really come through for me today. I woke up naked in the middle of the botanical gardens, unable to even touch clothing, all my belongings gone! If he hadn’t shown up, I would have had to do a solo streak all the way across campus! Heck, he saved me from getting caught by Bethany! Who knows what that would have led to?”
Now it was Colin’s turn to blush, a dopey smile spreading across his face.
Debra crossed her arms, unimpressed. “I told you the counter-curse wasn’t permanent. If you’d listened to me, none of this would be happening right now!”
“You said the onset would be gradual, and I agreed to come to you if I felt like it was returning. But it wasn’t! One minute, I’m totally comfortable wearing multiple layers of normal clothing. The next minute, I’m naked and get an electric shock when I try to pick up a sock!”
“I said it might be gradual, or it could be sudden. I wasn’t sure! Which I also said, but you didn’t listen to me. You were too busy running around with your new friends and going to class, like everything was totally fixed, when I told you it wasn’t.”
Lisa stood up, her face a mask of rage. “Yes, I was busy having a life again, as a normal college student, after being trapped in my dorm room for weeks because I couldn’t wear clothes! I wanted a normal life, how selfish of me!”
“And look were it’s gotten you,” replied Debra bitterly, gesturing at the floor length mirror propped against the wall to the girls’ side. “You’re even worse than before.”
Lisa turned her head to the mirror, and was confronted with her naked body in profile, as well as Colin’s swiftly averted eyes. “Some witch you turned out to be!” she spat.
“Careful, or I’ll turn you into a frog!”
“Frogs don’t have to wear clothes, so maybe that’ll work better than the last thing you tried! Unless it also wears off after two weeks!”
Debra and Lisa were right in each others’ faces at this point, their noses almost touching. Both looked ready to hit the other.
Colin stepped between them in an attempt to prevent this outcome. “Ladies, please, let’s just calm down. Mistakes were made, but we’ve got to move past that.”
“I should turn you into a frog!” shouted Debra. “After Lisa told you everything, that’s really my only safe option…”
Lisa was visibly shaking now. She pulled back her arm, and Debra’s eyes widened. But rather than slapping Debra, she slid her arm around Colin and sidled up to him. “Come on, Colin, let’s get out of here, before Debra the Teenage Bitch tries another one of her shitty spells.”
A war played out across Colin’s countenance. Any observer could see he was frantically calculating his next move, fighting a battle between desires, keenly aware of the naked girl pressing closer and closer to him, and slightly less aware of the witch trying to kill him with her glare.
Colin bit his lip and looked down at Lisa, taking a long moment to take in all of her. Then he looked away from her, and appeared lost in thought, while she slid behind him and started lifting the back of his shirt.
“Wait, Lisa,” he said. “I can’t let this happen.”
Lisa dropped the shirt and gave Colin a confused look. “What are you talking about?”
Colin sighed deeply. “I’m not going to pretend I understand a whole lot about this magic stuff. Debra, Lisa really didn’t tell me that much. But she told me enough for me to know that walking out right now would be a huge mistake.”
Debra’s expression softened, but Colin paid her no mind for the moment, turning to face Lisa. He looked her in the eyes, and then pointedly looked down at her body. “Lisa,” he began, “you told me that a witch put a curse on you that made it really uncomfortable to wear clothes, forcing you to go naked most of the time. That’s really crazy shit and I wouldn’t have believed it if we hadn’t just had the day we had. But here you are, naked in front of a guy you’ve just met, and choosing to get naked piggyback rides rather than put on clothes.”
Lisa blushed deeply. “I… I’m not usually like this.”
“I know,” said Colin. “And as fucking hot as it is to see you like this, and to carry you around… and even though a part of me wishes you’d never cover up…” At this, Colin returned his gaze to Lisa’s eyes. “I want you to be cured. I want to see you wearing clothes, and feeling happy, and being confident. And I think your friend Debra is the only person who knows how to make that happen.”
Then he turned to Debra. “Please, Debra, don’t be mad at Lisa because she told me a few things she shouldn’t have. I understand that you value your secrets. Heck, I’m still having trouble believing that magic is actually real. But please, forgive Lisa. I’ll keep your secret, I promise.”
Debra’s expression was a stony mask. Lisa and Colin looked at her with pleading eyes.
“I’m sorry about what I said,” said Lisa, shoulders slumping. “I didn’t mean any of it. I wasn’t thinking straight. It’s been a crazy day. I’m… really grateful to you, Debra. So far you’ve been the only person who’s come anywhere close to curing me. And I should have listened to you before.”
The muscles in Debra’s face relaxed into a weak smile. Lisa’s dejected expression was eminently pitiable, a trait only enhanced by her involuntary nudity. “Okay,” said Debra. “I forgive you. I probably should have been more understanding myself, given what you’ve been through. This magic stuff is complicated, and I could have explained things better.”
“I’m all ears from now on.”
“Then let’s get you cured. Permanently, this time.”
With a squeal of delight, Lisa sprung forward and hugged Debra, while Colin watched awkwardly from the side. Debra patted her friend on the back, and the hug separated.
“So, how do we do that?” asked Lisa.
“We need to go back to the source. The place the curse was cast.”
“The witch’s boutique.”
* * *
“Wow, Lisa, you look amazing!” said Colin, as he joined the four girls standing beside the road out of campus. It was dusk, a few days later.
“Thanks,” Lisa said, twirling a strand of blonde hair and blushing slightly. This was the first time he had seen her with clothes on.
Claire was dressed in her normal athleisure outfit, and Shelly in a hoodie and jeans. Debra and Lisa wore matching all-black outfits, consisting of sneakers, jeans and long-sleeved, form-fitting tops. Debra carried a black canvas bag, containing gloves and balaclavas for both of them, a pencil and paper notepad, as well as screwdriver and an unmarked bottle of strange blue liquid.
After Lisa had arrived in Debra’s dorm room, the girls had called a meeting. Colin, being unavoidably in on the secret now, was permitted to participate, on condition that he didn’t spend too much time staring at Lisa.
It was decided that Debra and Lisa would travel to the witch’s boutique in Lisa’s hometown, which wasn’t too far from campus. To avoid attracting undue attention from the witch or any customers, they’d do so at night, after the place had closed. But for any of this to work, Lisa had to be able to wear clothes, at least temporarily.
Lisa’s condition had worsened to a point where this was basically impossible, as she and Colin explained. Even the touch of fabric had become too much for her, though there was the loophole of clothing worn by someone else. After brainstorming some ideas about more piggyback rides or if she could pretend to be a conjoined twin with someone (Shelly’s suggestion), it was unanimously decided that Debra would try recasting her counter-curse that night. Colin had not been permitted to join.
“Witchcraft is girls only, pal,” Debra had said. “And you’ve seen enough skin already.”
It wasn’t a full moon, so Debra had to augment her powers with something she jokingly called “steroids for casting”, a blue liquid she’d procured at great expense. She’d also need it for any magic she’d be doing once they got into the witch’s boutique, hence the bottle in her bag. “We’ll be inside then, with no moonlight to work with.”
The counter-curse spell worked, and the girls were all able to get dressed afterwards.
“I don’t know how long the counter-curse is going to last this time,” Debra said to the group assembled on the roadside, “but it won’t be two weeks, like last time. If we’re lucky, we’ll have just enough time to pull this off. How are you feeling, Lisa?”
Lisa’s face was marked by a strained expression that her friends had long associated with attempts to wear clothes. “My heart is pounding and my stomach is doing jumping jacks, but that might be more because of what we’ve about to do than the clothes. I think I can hold out a while.”
Shelly placed a comforting hand on Lisa’s shoulder and gave her a reassuring look. “It’s not for much longer. Debra’s going to cure you.”
Some way down the road, a blue sedan rounded a corner and came into view. Debra glanced at her phone. “That’s our ride. Wish us luck.”
The girls all exchanged hugs, and Lisa gave Colin a quick kiss. Debra and Lisa waved goodbye as they climbed into the back of the sedan and greeted the rideshare driver. The car turned around, and their friends waved to them as they drove out on their mission.
“Where you ladies off too?” asked the driver, though he already had the location.
“Party at 56 on Seven,” Debra replied nonchalantly. “The theme is all black.”
In a spot of amazingly good luck, this was entirely truthful. Debra and Lisa had discovered that a club just down the road from the mall containing the witch’s boutique was holding an all-black outfit party that very night. To avoid catching a ride to a closed mall and raising undue suspicions, they would catch a ride to the club, pretend to go in, but then go to the mall instead.
“Cool, enjoy,” said the driver.
The trip would take around thirty minutes, during which time Lisa and Debra had to be careful not to speak about their real evening plans, or about any of their other many secrets.
“So… Colin,” Debra started.
Lisa smiled. “He’s a sweet guy.”
“A bit awkward though.”
Lisa nodded. “Not my usual type, I’ll admit, but he’s done everything right so far. Well, mostly.”
“Just watch out that he doesn’t take advantage. You know, of your… situation.”
“If all goes well tonight, there won’t be a situation anymore, Debra.”
Debra nervously flexed and unflexed her grip on the handles of the canvas bag. “Yeah, that’s true, I guess.”
Lisa could feel a knot forming in her stomach. “You know what you’re doing, right?”
“Of course,” replied Debra, flashing a winning smile.
Prying any further would require getting into specifics that weren’t appropriate for the driver’s ears, so Lisa dropped the matter and passed the rest of the ride in silence.
“We’re here,” said the driver, as he pulled in front of 56 on Seven. Music was pumping, and there was a line out the door.
The girls thanked him and climbed out of the sedan, then slowly ambled towards the end of the line. Once the car was out of sight, they ditched the line and headed for the mall.
Though they only walked a couple of blocks, it was enough for the music of the party to leave earshot, and the crowds of happy revellers to completely disappear. Lisa and Debra walked an empty street in the quiet, dark night, headed for the mall. This was a pretty safe part of town, but Debra nonetheless kept one hand on the bottle of magic steroids inside her bag.
The girls reached the back of the mall without incident, where they quickly located a fire escape. Now the mission really began. Debra handed Lisa a balaclava and gloves and took another set for herself. Both girls donned the masks, shoving their blonde hair inside, and then pulled on the gloves.
“This is making me a bit uncomfortable,” said Lisa. “My face feels like it’s being pushed, just slightly.”
“We’d better hurry then, the counter-curse is wearing off.”
The girls tip-toed through the fire escape, up a flight of metal stairs, and into the dark and empty mall. Lisa had spent a lot of time in this mall as a teenager, so she’d made sure to bring them to the closest fire escape to the boutique, which was indeed just a few shops down from where they entered. The slow, cautious sneaking seemed to take much longer than a brisk, daytime walk through the mall though, and with every step, Lisa and Debra thought about the consequences of getting caught.
There it was. Annabelle’s, it was called. Presumably this was the name of the witch. The interior was dark, and the doors were locked.
Debra put her canvas bag down, looked left and right, and then produced the screwdriver. She rummaged inside her balaclava and pulled out a hair pin. Then she set to work on the lock. Before, they’d just sneaked into the mall through an open fire escape. Now they were breaking and entering. There was no going back.
“Do they teach you this at witch school?” Lisa asked.
“There’s no such thing as witch school. And anyway, I need to save the magic for reversing your curse,” Debra replied, her ear pressed against the door as she fiddled with her tools. “My dad’s a locksmith, he taught me. It’s much easier with a proper pick though.”
For a few minutes, there was silence, but for the clinking of metal against metal. “I just realized,” mused Lisa, “this is the second time I’m committing a crime against this witch.”
Debra smirked, but continued her work without saying anything. Then there was a click, and the lock released. Debra smiled at her handiwork, pushed the door open, and bade Lisa to go in first. “The difference is that this time, we won’t get caught,” she said confidently.
The boutique was quite small, and its floor was a maze of clothing racks. Debra and Lisa took it all in, the dozens of different outfits for ladies of all ages, the reams and reams of fabric. Lisa absently took the hem of a dress between two of her fingers, and felt a slight shock, which made her withdraw her hand at once. They really didn’t have much time.
Debra opened her bottle of blue liquid, which appeared to glow faintly in the darkness and took a swig. “Yuck,” she said, making a face. “I’ll never get used to this stuff.” Then she closed her eyes and made a faint humming sound. She cast a spell to detect the magic residue in the store.
Though her eyes were closed, she was almost blinded by the sudden flash as the residue revealed itself to her. Many, many spells had been performed in this boutique, doubtless all of them by the witch Annabelle. Debra slowly opened her eyes and squinted out at the boutique, which was now, to her eyes covered in multicolored masses of glowing light.
“Did it work?” asked Lisa.
“I can see… everything!” Debra exclaimed. “This bitch has cast a lot of… hey, what happened to your shirt?”
Lisa stood before her in black shoes and jeans, a black bra and a black balaclava. Her bare stomach rose up and down in quick, nervous breaths.
“I had to take it off,” said Lisa. “I think the counter-curse is wearing off.”
“I’d hoped it would last a little longer. But whatever, we’re here now. All I need to do is find the residue that belongs to your curse.”
Debra took another look at Lisa, who was fidgeting with a belt loop on her jeans. Now that some of her skin was exposed, Debra could see faint pink tendrils of magic residue extend out from her. She traced the smoky line of one such tendril with her finger.
The line was thin and windy, and it tangled with magic in other colors, some of them in a very similar pink. A few times, Debra had to backtrack when she realized she’d taken a detour on a tendril that was dark or two light to be Lisa’s. But eventually she traced it to the source, a rack of dresses near the entrance of the store.
“I’ve got it,” Debra whispered, looking back at Lisa, who had lost her bra.
Lisa pumped a fist in the air, making her breasts jiggle. She blushed at this, and covered them with her gloved hands. This caused immediate discomfort, and she dropped her hands at her sides.
Debra returned her focus to the magic residue of Debra’s curse. She took another, bigger swig of blue liquid, and cast a recall spell.
At once, Lisa, under the effect of the spell, walked towards the rack and picked up the closest top. She looked left and right, and then furtively undid the front of her jeans and stuffed the top inside, before doing them back up.
As she turned to walk away from the rack, Debra heard a loud voice in her head. The witch’s curse came through clear and strong. Debra scrambled for the pencil and notepad in her bag to write it down.
The curse was long and complicated, with contingencies and defenses against all of the most common dispellations. As punishment for stealing the top, the witch Annabelle had cursed Lisa to very gradually grow more and more uncomfortable in the clothes she wore, to return to the feelings she’d had for a single week as a young child. For months after the curse was cast, she would only feel a minor irritation, not even knowing what it was. But this irritation would mount, forcing her to wear looser and looser outfits, for shorter and shorter times, until the mere touch of fabric caused unbearable pain. In the event of a countercurse, this process would speed up.
Finally the witch had added a single exception, perhaps as an act of mercy. The touch of fabric would only be bearable for Lisa while it was being worn by someone else. She could touch and hug without consequence. She would even be allowed to share another’s clothing, while they wore it, as long as her skin touched theirs.
Once the recall was completed, Debra opened her eyes. She saw Lisa, blinking out the effects of her trance, her undone jeans bunched up about her ankles, and the stolen top lying in front of her.
“I’ve got it,” said Debra. “I heard the whole curse, spoken clearly.”
“So you can undo it?” asked Lisa, pulling the jeans off her ankles.
“I think so. I just need a little bit of time to work a couple things out,” Debra replied, tapping the back of her pencil on the notepad paper.
“Please hurry,” said Lisa, as she carefully placed the top she’d taken back on the rack. Without the jeans, she was topless in black panties. “But also be careful and make sure you get it right.”
“I’ll try my best,” Debra said, tearing the page with the spell written on it out of her notebook so she could refer to it while she worked on the reversal.
The boutique was silent but for the soft sound of Debra’s pencil on paper. To a normal observer, the store was dark, but Debra saw her paper lit up by the masses of magic residue all around her. She cast her mind back to the lessons she’d had on spell reversal, and worked through the various conjugations.
At last, she lifted her pencil. “Okay, I’ve worked it out.”
Lisa had removed her panties, and was now naked but for her shoes, gloves and balaclava. “That’s great,” she said, “because even I can’t pull off this outfit. Nude burglar just isn’t my look.”
Debra cocked her head. “I dunno, Lis, you should give yourself a bit more credit.”
Lisa put a hand to her hip, and then struck a pose, like she was reaching for a high window, her gloved fingers curling like cat’s claws.
“You make it work,” said Debra.
“Thanks, but let’s get on with the spell reversal now.”
Debra nodded sagely and pulled the bottle of magic steroids from her bag. She opened it up, made a face, and then downed it. “Uurgh,” she whispered. “That was disgusting, but I’m ready now. Come closer.”
Lisa stepped towards Debra, and Debra began chanting. She put her hand on Lisa’s shoulder as her face contorted in unnatural syllables of the curse reversal spell. Her eyes glowed the same blue as the magical steroid liquid, and the glow slowly spread to her face, down her neck, and out of the hand that rested on Lisa’s bare shoulder.
Lisa felt a warmth as the glow enveloped her. All of her stress and discomfort evaporated at once. She forgot that she and Debra had broken into a clothing boutique in the middle of the night. She forgot the sweaty heat, the horrible constriction of being confined in those tight black clothes, the battle between her desire to stay clothed and the sheer intolerability of doing so. She felt warm, and safe, and comfortable, as though she was taking a luxurious bath. In fact, she was almost comfortable enough to fall asleep…
And then she wasn’t. All of a sudden, the pleasant warmth turned hot, and Lisa stifled a scream. Her eyes shot open, and she looked directly into Debra’s, which were wide with the same horror she felt. The blue glow around them had turned a harsh red color, and Debra had stopped chanting. The knuckles of her hand were white, and she dug her nails into the flesh of Lisa’s shoulder.
“W-what’s going on?” cried Lisa, “Debra, that hurts!”
The red glow blinked off, and Debra’s grip released. Lisa was left in total darkness.
There was no response.
Lisa put her arms out, but Debra was no longer standing in front of her. She looked around frantically, squinting in the darkness, but could see no sign of her friend. Where could she have gone? Lisa stepped forward to look for her, and her foot brushed against denim fabric.
Lisa crouched down and picked up the fabric. Bad idea: the shock of its touch instantly jolted her and made her drop it. “Fuck!”
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness, Lisa realized that she’d just tried to pick up Debra’s jeans, which were lying alongside the rest of her clothing in a heap on the floor. She could smell sulfur, and a faint plume of smoke rose from the pile.
“Debra!” she shouted, immediately clapping her hand over her mouth as her voice rang out in silent dark.
Then there came another shout, from somewhere further away. A man’s voice, harsh and gruff. There was more shouting, and the sound of heavy footfalls, and barking dogs. Lisa turned her gaze to the entrance of the boutique, and saw the beams of flashlights dance in the dark. Debra was gone, and she was caught.
Lisa’s nudity now seemed like the least of her problems.
To be continued…