Rubber bounced off paving as Lisa ran across empty city streets under the cover of darkness, clutching a dead phone in her right hand. Apart from the black running shoes on her feet, she was entirely naked. The movement of her unsupported breasts and the feel of the breeze on her skin kept her quite conscious of this. Her dirty blonde hair streamed out behind her pale body, and her light blue eyes scanned the street ahead for trouble.
A couple of times, she had had to duck out of the way of oncoming cars, praying they wouldn’t notice her. Her prayers had been answered, and she was making good progress towards her parents’ house, where she would be able to charge Debra’s phone and use it to contact Shelly. Then she could get out of this mess, hopefully without her parents knowing she’d even been there. The last thing she needed was to have to explain why their daughter had been engaged in a night-time city streak, or why she couldn’t wear any of the clothes in her wardrobe.
As Lisa was coming up to the corner of a block, a massive clothesrack wheeled in front of her. With a short, sharp cry, she ran head-first into a wall of fabric.
“Hey! What the hell?” shouted a high-pitched, but recognizably male voice.
“My work! My precious work!” shouted another, very similar voice. “Please, be careful!”
The fabric burned against Lisa’s skin, and she felt shockwaves all across her body. She had to bite her lip so as not to cry out. Desperate to escape the pain, she batted at the sleeves and tassels and other lengths of fabric that assaulted her, stumbling backwards.
The sensations diminished, and then dissipated. But as Lisa stumbled back, her heel caught on something, and she lost her balance. A shock went through her body as her ass hit the sidewalk.
“Here, let me help you,” said the first voice, which seemed to be attached to a hand that protruded from the cufflinked sleeve of a rich purple suit.
Lisa took the hand and pulled herself up.
“Oh heavens, you’re naked!”
The man who had helped Lisa up was an older gentleman wearing an ornate purple suit, complete with large hat. He was either a pimp or a fashion designer. Given the large number of outfits he appeared to be traveling with, Lisa was relieved to assume the latter.
A second man, dressed in a green suit that was of a different design but produced a similar effect, was busy smoothing out the clothes on the wheeled rack. He was about the same age as the man in purple, and may have been his brother. At the purple-suited man’s exclamation, he glanced in Lisa’s direction, looked her up and down, and returned to the clothing rack.
Being in the presence of such a well-dressed individuals made Lisa all the more conscious of her nudity. She blushed and awkwardly tried to cover herself with her arms. Neither of these men seemed particularly interested in looking at her body, and that just made it worse, somehow.
“Well,” said the man in purple, “it would be remiss of me not to offer you something to wear, given the circumstances.” He produced a tape measure from inside his suit jacket, and before Lisa could blink, it was around her waist.
“Yes,” he muttered, quickly and dispassionately taking her measurements. “Wonderful, you’ll be a perfect fit!”
The tape measure disappeared and Purple was standing in front of the clothing rack, holding up a mass of hot-pink ruffles. “Perhaps you’d like to try this little number?”
The man in green smirked. “If that were my design, I’d also be trying to get rid of it before the show.”
“Oh hush!” snapped Purple. He then turned to Lisa with a syrupy smile, “Pay no attention to my colleague. This is one of my finest creations.”
Lisa gulped. “Y-you’re very kind,” she stammered, “b-but I couldn’t! I wouldn’t want to ruin your fashion show!” Her throat felt dry as she forced the words out. Internally, she fumed at the witch’s curse, and how it compelled her to reject clothes freely offered.
Purple put a hand to his chest in a gesture of shock. “Please, do not think of it that way, madame! You must be cold, out in this city at night without any clothes on. I won’t ask how you came to be like this… unless… were you… should I call the police?”
Lisa’s eyes widened momentarily, and then she calmed herself down. “Oh no, no, I’m fine, it’s nothing like that. I’m fine, really. Well, mostly fine.” She smiled and tilted her head, while clutching her body tighter.
Purple visibly relaxed. “That’s… unexpected. But I will not pry. I can see you are uncomfortable. Please, put on this dress. Our show is not until this evening. I will collect it from you later.”
Lisa hesitated. She knew that as soon as she touched the pink fabric, shockwaves would shoot down her arm, and she’d have to let it go. The curse was worsening all the time, and Debra’s latest countercurse had completely worn off. But she couldn’t exactly explain any of that to this guy. Moreover, she felt terrible about rejecting his kind offer. If only she could take the ridiculous pink ruffled dress! Then all her problems would be solved.
Purple continued to hold out the dress, but his smile was waning.
“Ha!” said Green. “Look at her face! She’d rather stay naked than wear that hideous thing! Girl, I’m with you one hundred percent!”
Purple glared at Green, and Green glared back. For a moment, it looked like they might come to blows.
“I-it’s not that!” Lisa stammered.
“It’s okay, honey, I understand,” said Green. “I’d also sooner go naked than wear one of his designs. Maybe this orange number would be less insulting to a lady of your refined tastes?” At this, he pulled out something that looked like bedazzled prison overalls.
If anything, this outfit looked even more ridiculous than the first one. But Lisa would have given anything to be able to wear it.
“I wouldn’t let my dog wear that!” sniffed Purple. “Please, do not insult the lady!”
Purple took Lisa’s hand and placed it against the one of the pink ruffles of his dress. “Just feel that, isn’t it divine?”
“Yeeowch!” Lisa shrieked, immediately pulling her hand away.
The look on Purple’s face made her instantly regret her reaction. She felt as though she’d just put a knife into his chest.
“Bhwahahahahaha!” Green doubled over with laughter, his whole body shaking. “She can’t hide her true feelings! You’re a hack, Pierre!”
Pierre looked as though he might start crying any minute.
Fuming, Lisa reached out and grabbed the sleeve of the orange overalls. “AAAH!” she screamed, reeling back, shaking her hand and blowing on it. “Owowowowowow!” It hurt, but she was overplaying things a bit.
Green’s face fell, and Pierre seemed to cheer up a bit.
The pain and discomfort Lisa felt when touching clothes had slowly gotten more severe, but it was always relieved as soon as she lost contact with the clothing. She knew that she wasn’t actually getting shocked, or burned, or squeezed. Wearing clothes did not do her any physical damage. In a real sense, the pain was all in her head. But knowing that didn’t really help.
The shock of touching the overalls was gone, and Lisa surveyed the situation. A clothesrack full of high-fashion outfits, and two fashion designers who hated each others’ guts. If she stuck around, they would probably spend the rest of the night trying to get her to put on clothing designed by one of them, and the competition was likely to get extremely cutthroat. It would also mean a lot of pointless pain and discomfort for Lisa. She still had to get to her parents’ house before the sun rose.
“Thank you both,” she said. “I’m sorry for my reactions. Both of these outfits are wonderful. And you are so kind for being willing to let me wear them.”
Both men looked at her with confused expressions. “Why won’t you?” asked Pierre. “Why do you recoil at the touch of my work? Surely, even if it is not what you usually wear, surely it would be better than going naked!”
Lisa blushed deeply and avoided eye contact with either of them. “It’s… a bet. My… boyfriend bet me I couldn’t streak across town to his place. Right now I’m winning.”
Pierre raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“Your clothes are very tempting,” Lisa continued, wrapping one arm tightly around her breasts and squeezing the hand of the other between her legs. “I thought the streets would be empty, but I’ve been seen so many times already… it hasn’t been as easy I thought it would.” It certainly wasn’t easy, Lisa thought, standing naked in front of a strange old man and explaining why she wouldn’t be taking the clothes he offered you. Especially when she so badly wanted to.
Lisa’s expression hardened. “I almost gave into temptation and lost the bet. That is the reason for my reaction. I was disgusted with myself, not with your beautiful clothes! I would love to wear them, really, on any other day.”
“That is… brave,” Pierre said. “I don’t know if it is intelligent, but it is brave.”
Pierre reached into his purple suit jacket and pulled out a crisp white card. He presented it to Lisa with a flourish. “I am disappointed that you will not wear my clothes tonight, but if you feel differently in the future, perhaps you would like to model for me. Here is my card.”
Her? A model? Lisa blushed. “Th-thank you,” she said, taking the card.
“It is not every day one meets a naked woman on the street. Perhaps it is for a reason.”
Lisa smiled and held the card awkwardly for a moment, moving it from her breast to her hip. One of the more mundane problems with being naked all the time was that she never had anywhere to put things. But she was wearing socks, so she bent down and slipped the card into her left sock.
“Good luck with your fashion show,” she said to Pierre.
“And good luck with your bet,” Pierre replied. “I hope your boyfriend appreciates this.”
Then, before she could think anymore about the clothes she had rejected, she took off running in the direction of her parent’s house, the wind against her skin a reminder of what she couldn’t have.
The sound of police sirens quickened her pace. Had she made a mistake, not taking the clothes? The police would, after all, be looking for a naked woman. But how could she, when the slightest touch of fabric sent jolts of electricity through her? Well, clothing fabric, at any rate. The canvas bag had been fine.
Some time later, Lisa spied a couple in the distance, and dove into an alley. She found a dumpster to hide behind, peeking her head out just slightly so that she could watch for them to pass.
The woman of the couple was quite short, and had long dark hair. She wore a form-fitting black dress that showed off her ample curves. The man was broad-chested and had neat brown hair and an olive complexion. He wore a dress suit and trousers, his sleeves rolled up and the top button of his shirt undone. They were chatting and laughing with each other, and Lisa waited until their voices had died away completely before slowly, cautiously sneaking out of hiding.
“No. Way!” A female voice startled Lisa, and she turned around to see the couple standing right in front of her. With a small “eep!” she brought her arms over her body.
“Oh, honey,” said the woman, reaching an arm out. “I know exactly what you’re going through right now.”
“Y-you do?” Lisa brought her eyes up, and made eye contact with the woman, who had big brown eyes that lit up her sweet, round face. She was a few years older than Lisa, and a few inches shorter.
The woman nodded sadly. “You feel exposed, and constantly on edge. You’re stressed out, trying to find clothes, but no-one seems to want to help you, and there’s nowhere to hide from all the prying eyes. You feel like you’re giving yourself away, like you’ve become someone you never thought you would.”
The woman sounded sincere, and she held steady, sympathetic eye contact with Lisa. Had she been cursed once too? She clearly wasn’t right now.
“That’s part of it,” Lisa said.
“What’s your name?” asked the woman. “I’m Angela.”
“I’m glad to have met you, Lisa,” said Angela. “Believe it or not, I was in your shoes a few months ago. Well, until I lost my shoes as well, anyway. Not that far from here, actually.”
Angela nodded. “I was alone, naked, in the city at night. I’d been trying all day to get clothes, but everything I did just seemed to make things worse. No-one wanted to help me, and whatever clothes I did get, I would end up losing almost immediately. It was awful!”
“Hey, that was the night you met me,” said the man, sounding hurt.
Angela side-smiled and gazed at her boyfriend for a moment. “Well, there were some good parts too.” She leaned in to Angela and whispered in her ear, “Guys will go wild over your outfit.”
Lisa giggled, despite herself. That had certainly been true with Colin.
“There’s good parts and bad, but you have to be in control. And among friends,” said Angela. “I can see you’ve been through the bad parts.”
“What’s your plan?”
“I’m going to my parents’ house. It’s not far from here. I’m going to charge this phone there.” Lisa held up her left hand, which was still clutching Debra’s dead phone.
Angela smiled. “Well, please let me help you out.”
And at that, she grasped the bottom of her black dress, pulled it up and over her head, and held it out to Lisa.
Lisa gasped, putting a hand to her mouth. How could she refuse this? She couldn’t reuse the story about the boyfriend bet—she’d already revealed the truth to Angela, that she hadn’t ever intended to be out here naked, in her body language as much as in her words.
Angela stood beaming in her lacy white undergarments, holding her dress out. “I wish someone had done this for me.”
“I can’t take your clothes!”
“You can, and you will.” Angela looked at her boyfriend and winked. “You like this outfit better anyway, don’t you?”
“Yes ma’am.” Despite the naked college girl standing in front of him, Angela’s boyfriend only had eyes for her.
“Please, it would mean the world to me,” said Angela, practically shoving the dress in Lisa’s face. “Donato’s place is right around the corner, I’ll be fine like this. He’ll carry me. And after what I’ve been through, this underwear feels like a suit of armor. I’m sure you can relate.”
If Lisa couldn’t lie to Angela and Donato, maybe she had to tell the truth. Or part of it. Perhaps she could tell them she was allergic to clothes. They would be sympathetic. And if their place was right around the corner, maybe they could take her there, and then she could charge Debra’s phone, and figure a way out of this mess.
The sound of distant sirens reminded Lisa that she was still being chased by police. She couldn’t involve this kind couple in any of that. No, she had to part ways with them as soon as possible. For their own good. The police were scouring the city for a naked woman. She had to get to her parents’ place and lie low. But wouldn’t it help if she didn’t match description anymore? Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Angela cocked an ear, clearly hearing the sirens as well. “Fun fact! Public nudity is not actually illegal in this city. A policeman told me that, before leaving me naked on the side of the road.”
That was a surprise. If the police hadn’t been after her for breaking and entering, it might have made her feel better. Still, was one fewer charge for the rap sheet, should they actually take her in. Which they wouldn’t.
“I know that doesn’t help!” Angela added. “Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean you actually want to be out in the middle of the night with no clothes on! I totally get it.” She waved the dress in front of Lisa’s face.
Lisa looked at Angela’s heartfelt, sympathetic expression. She had thrown away her own clothes, and Debra’s, and then immediately been offered her pick of a line of high fashion outfits. Now this lady was giving her the dress off her back. The universe seemed to be telling her something. Lisa had to take the dress. She had to wear it.
Lisa remembered the canvas bag. She’d been able to carry it without issue, but the moment she started thinking about trying to wear it in some way, it had shocked her. She remembered her most recent encounter with clothes, with the fashion designers. How touching fabric had hurt, but only for a second, and how the pain never lingered once she let go. How it was all in her head. The curse did not cause clothing to physically hurt her, it just made it feel that way.
She had an idea, and the only way to know if it would work was to try it. The fabric in Angela’s hand was bunched up, vague. If Lisa unfocused her eyes a bit, she could tell herself it was a bag, not a dress. If she kept telling herself that, maybe she would start to believe it.
“Thank you,” said Lisa, as she took the black bag from Angela. Bag. Bag. Bag. Black bag.
“It’s the least I can do,” Angela replied, stepping backwards into Donato’s waiting arms.
Lisa grimaced with concentration as she turned the black bag over and then casually, nonchalantly, pulled it over her head. The strap of the bag was over her shoulder, she told herself. She was carrying the bag. Both of its straps were over her shoulders. She could feel it on her back. She could also feel it everywhere else, but she focused on her back.
As Angela was a fair bit shorter than Lisa, the dress was scandalously short, coming to an end well before mid-thigh. But Lisa didn’t think about this. She thought about carrying a black bag on her shoulders. She didn’t think about the feeling of the fabric on her skin, sheltering it from the wind. She thought only about carrying a bag.
“Thank you, Angela,” Lisa said, trying her best to sound happy and natural, even though pretending she hadn’t just gotten dressed was taking all of her concentration. Sweat poured down her forehead.
“The pleasure is all mine,” Angela replied, giggling as Donato hoisted her up into his arms. “Would you like my underwear as well? I’m not gonna need it.” She gave Donato a knowing look.
“That’s okay,” Lisa said quickly, worried Angela might actually strip off for her. “This is plenty.”
Angela nodded, seeming satisfied. “Good luck, Lisa!” Then she reached up and whispered something in Donato’s ear, and he carried her away.
Once Donato had turned the corner, Lisa took off running in the direction of her parents’ house, her mind still preoccupied with the thought of the black bag she was carrying and not wearing. She was sweating profusely, and feeling a familiar sensation of constriction, but so far, the mind games appeared to be working. She just wasn’t sure how long she could keep it up.
The dress rode up as she ran, and she could feel the cool air among her nether regions. She focused on that feeling, and it brought a blush to her cheeks. She was naked, carrying a bag. Running naked through the streets. Chased by police, whose sirens were getting louder.
Wait, why was she running? She shouldn’t be acting like they were chasing her! Lisa slowed right down to a walk and tried to look casual. She pulled at the bottom of the bag she was carrying, and felt that all-to-familiar sensation of mixed relief and discomfort as the dress—no, bag—once again covered her whole butt.
Lisa’s body was slick with sweat, and she could feel a dull constricting feeling. If she let her thoughts drift to the feeling of fabric against her breasts and tummy, it got worse. If she focused on the parts of her body that were still bare—her arms and legs—the pain and discomfort lessened.
But the most important part was to keep telling herself she was still naked. She called to mind the image of her body in the mirror, and focused on it. It had become a normal, boring sight, naked Lisa in the room with clothed Shelly.
Lisa then attempted to picture some of the rare group selfies she’d allowed the girls to take with her. Claire in the middle, Debra and Shelly at the sides. She’d always stand slightly behind the others, with their bodies covering enough of hers that one might think she was just wearing a shoulderless top, with an exposed midriff, and short shorts. She always looked a little embarrassed in those shots.
Finally, Lisa recalled the art class. Posing naked for all those students, letting their eyes devour her, standing with her legs—
The flood of images in her mind’s eye made her pace quicken, and fabric started to ride up her thighs. She pulled at the fabric without thinking about it—her mind battled itself as she tried to believe two mutually annihilating truths. She was naked. She was clothed. She was naked.
Somehow, it was working. Lisa was getting close to her parents’ house now. It was only a few blocks away. She looked forward to climbing through the window and dumping the bag she was carrying. Yes, the bag.
So absorbed was Lisa in her thoughts that she didn’t even notice the police patrol in front of her until a dog barked.
The dogs! She’d forgotten about the dogs.
But they had not forgotten about her.
Three policemen with three dogs stood at the far end of the street, having just left their cars. The dogs were barking at Lisa, and as she caught the eyes of one of the policemen, she saw a spark of recognition.
The dogs were coming for her. The men followed or were dragged, straining to keep hold of their leashes.
Lisa turned around and ran.
The air was full of the sound of barking dogs as Lisa sprinted through the dark city streets, twisting and turning through the streets and alleyways. Her dress was riding all the up now, bunching up by her waist, but this was the least of her worried. The policemen shouted at her, telling her to stop, to hand herself in.
All it did was make her run faster. She’d come this far, and she’d go farther still. She leaped down the sidewalk, not feeling fatigue, just the thrill of adrenaline. The barking was becoming fainter, and the shouts less coherent.
Until a wire fence leaped out in front of her. It was easily seven feet tall, and surrounded on both sides by buildings. Foolishly, she’d run down a narrow alley without checking that she had a way out. The only direction she could move was back the way she’d come, back towards the police and their dogs.
Lisa swore at herself. She looked back down the alley. Barking and shouting still filled her ears. There was no way she could go that way, her pursuers were too close.
Really, there was only one option. A few months ago, Lisa would have thought it impossible. Now, she wasn’t so sure.
Lisa took a moment to stuff the phone she still carried down the front of her… bag. It was tight enough that it should hold in place. Then she turned back towards the fence, bent her knees, and leapt, hands forward like claws.
She grabbed the wire links and climbed, hefting her body up to the top of the fence, and then over the top. She was straddling the fence. Now she had to get down. With a grunt of effort, she hoisted her right leg up and over the top, and threw herself forward.
Something snagged. There was a brief feeling of pressure, then a loud ripping sound, followed by a heavenly sensation of relief. Lisa had cleared the fence, but her dress had not. She glanced back at the torn black fabric, hopelessly tangled up in jutting wires, and then continued running.
For the first time, Lisa felt completely relieved to have lost her clothing. Her mind was exhausted from the pressure of trying to convince itself that she wasn’t actually dressed, and now it could rest. Her skin was delighted by sensation of the cool night air.
She ran until she reached a short wall. Behind it and below it raged the river that flowed through the city. Having nowhere else to go, she climbed onto the wall and looked down at the swiftly moving current.
The police had not lost track of her at the fence, like she’d hoped. After all, she’d left a twisted piece of fabric as a clue for them. And Debra’s phone! It must have dropped when she was climbing the fence! She’d forgotten all about it.
Dogs barked behind her, and the policemen approached. Lisa stood still on top of the wall, looking down at the river. The wind whipped up her blonde hair.
A loudhailer clicked on, and a man’s voice said, “We have you surrounded! Come down from there!”
The dogs had been quietened, and the man with the loudhailer paused to wait for Lisa to comply. There was long, tense silence. Lisa knew that she was in enormous trouble, the biggest trouble she’d ever faced.
A policeman coughed, and another one muttered something to a colleague about the view.
It was a ridiculous thing to worry about at this stage, after all she’d been through, but Lisa couldn’t help but blush at the thought of all these policemen standing behind her, staring at her bare ass. She suspected that the loudhailer man was pausing to savor the view.
Well, she thought, that’s all they’re going to get. She took a deep breath in and held it.
Then she fell into the river.
Lisa ignored the shouts of the police. Wind whistled over her body as she descended, finally breaking the surface of the water with a mighty SPLOOSH!
It was cold, so cold, and it propelled her forward. She struggled against, twisting until her head broke the surface and she could take a desperate gasp of air. She couldn’t see much above her, but she knew she was moving fast, far away from her pursuers.
She wasted no time in kicking off her waterlogged shoes and socks, finding she could keep her head above water more easily without the extra weight. Her toes wiggled in delight, and she felt that the last of her burdens had lifted. The river held her in its watery embrace, and she surrendered to it, lost herself to the current.
After some time, the high walls and the smells of the city gave way to empty fields, and then to lush riverbanks. This river, she knew, flowed out of the city and through a deep forest, and that’s where it was taking her.
A small, ever more distant part of her mind screamed at her that she was crazy. It was a miracle she hadn’t died jumping from that wall, and how was she not freezing right now?! For that matter, how had she managed to run so far and so fast, outrunning police dogs, and still have the energy to jump a fence? And how had she knocked out that purse-snatcher?
Living under the curse had changed Lisa. She was a very different girl from the naive, studious freshman she’d been at the start of the semester. Never in a million years would that girl have done what she was doing now.
The sun was coming up as Lisa slowly drifted towards the river bank. Grabbing fistfuls of reeds, she pulled herself out of the water and onto the shore. She stumbled forward, towards the softest patch of long grass she could find, and lay down, falling at once into a deep sleep.
To be continued…