For the next few days Betsy tried to think of herself as a nudist. It was the second summer session and she wasnít taking classes, but she was still working part-time at the campus library. She was grateful for the opportunity to go out of the apartment to go to work because it meant she had to be dressed.
But when she came home to the apartment, even when Kate was not there, she dutifully undressed near the door and went about her household chores nude. When Kate came home, Betsy would make her a drink and let Kate fondle her. She loved that part of the relationship. If being a nudist meant only this much she wouldnít mind, but each day she feared Kate would bring home friends from the office.
Fortunately, Kate had only been in town a few months and did not yet have friends she socialized with. Most of Betsyís college friends had already graduated and dispersed.
And then one afternoon Kate called. "I have good news and bad news," she said. "The good news is that Iím taking you out to dinner tonight so donít start cooking."
"Okay. Um, whatís the bad news?"
"The bad news is that you have to put on clothes to go to the restaurant."
Betsy was relieved that this was all Kate had meant, and she was secretly happy to have an excuse to wear clothing. But she couldnít let Kate know that so she said, "yeah thatís too bad. I wish I could go to restaurants naked."
"I know you do, poor thing. Iíll bet youíd go everywhere naked if you could, wouldnít you."
"Of course I would," Betsy insisted. "I wouldnít even own any clothing -- you know that." She was happy to play along with these imaginary scenarios that she knew were impossible. It was the real-life private party situations that she feared.
Betsy picked out one of her favorite dresses, but she knew better than to put it on before Kate came home. When she saw Kateís car pull up she met Kate at the door holding the dress on its hanger and then as Kate watched Betsy stood on the little rug next to the door and slipped on the dress. The rug had become the only spot in the apartment where Betsy was permitted to wear clothing.
At the restaurant after they ordered their meals and were sipping their wine, Kate said, "I have some big news. Iíve been offered a promotion and itís a really good opportunity for me."
"Oh thatís wonderful Kate."
"But there one catch," Kate went on. "The job is in Huron so I'd have to relocate."
Betsy could not breathe. What did this mean? Would Kate just leave her and move to another province hundreds of kilometers away. Were they breaking up?
But Kate took Betsy's hand and said, "will you come with me?"
"Ohmygod, of course I will!" Betsy exclaimed, finding her breath again.
And so the next day Kate accepted the job and that night they went out to dinner again, this time to celebrate. Betsy loved going out to restaurants. It was such a relief to be able to dress normally if only for a couple of hours.
Kate was talking about her new job and listing all the reasons it would be a good move. "But thereís another reason I took the job -- in fact itís the biggest reason of all."
"Oh you know. Youíre just too unselfish to think it would be my main reason."
Betsy was confused and kept her expression blank as she waited for more information.
"Come on, Betsy, donít be coy!" Kate said curtly, irritation suddenly thick in her voice. "Being a nudist you must be aware that Huron is known as the most nudist-friendly province in the commonwealth. I thought youíd be a little happier about this."
"Oh . . . I am, Kate, I really am," Betsy insisted reflexively, hardly aware of what she was saying. "Itís wonderful, but I . . . I was so focused on what this promotion meant for you that I wasnít even thinking about . . . how it would affect me."
"Oh you are so sweet!" Kate exclaimed, instantly transformed again. "This is one of the reasons I love you so much. You were so busy thinking about me you didnít notice that this was good news for you as well. Iíve heard that nudists can go anywhere they like completely naked. You probably wonít even have to own any clothing at all! Youíve said many times that this was your dream, and I want to make it come true for you."
Betsy was awash with panic and had no idea how to respond. Fortunately it was just at that time that the waiter came with their meals and made a big production out of grinding pepper and parmesan cheese and refilling their glasses so she had several minutes to take it all in.
Betsyís mind was churning. She knew this was impossible. Her foolish attempt to fake her way into Kateís heart had become a disaster. Now it would all come tumbling down on her.
She opened her mouth, intending to confess, but all that came out was "I love you, Kate," and then her throat closed as she began to cry.
Kate took her hands, mistaking the reason for Betsyís tears. "I love you too," she said. "Iím so glad to have the chance to do this for you."
After a moment, Betsy managed to compose herself. "Kate," she began timidly, "I hope you didnít take this job primarily for my benefit."
"What if I did?"
"Well . . . you shouldnít. You should do what is best for your career."
"This is a pretty good move for me, dear," Kate said. "Not exactly the same move Iíd have made otherwise, but still pretty good. And making you happy is worth a lot to me."
Betsy swallowed, but kept her smile. "Thank you so much, Kate."
Keeping the smile on her face, Betsy said in what she hoped was a teasing way, "would you still love me if I wasnít a nudist?"
"What kind of question is that?" Kate was still smiling, dismissing it as a joke.
"Well, I just wonder sometimes. I know you really like it that Iím a nudist, but you know, I need to be sure you love me just as me."
"Of course I do," Kate said. "But thatís so much a part of you, itís hard to separate it."
"But what if -- just hypothetically -- what if I decided one day that I didnít want to be a nudist anymore? Would you still love me?"
Kate wasnít smiling anymore, but she didnít seem mad; just serious. "Honey, I donít think itís good for a relationship to play these Ďwhat ifí games, but Iíll answer this one. Yes, Iíd still love you--"
Betsy exhaled with relief, but tried to hide how important this was.
"--but Iím not sure our relationship would survive."
"But . . . but if you still loved me . . ."
"It would be one of those tragic situations where someone changes drastically. Love isnít always enough if people become incompatible. What if I decided I wanted a sex change operation? Would you still love me?"
"Well I . . . I donít know. Gosh, you wouldnít do that would you?"
Kate laughed loudly so that other diners looked over to see what the joke was. "No, sweetie, I assure you I wonít . Now you give me some assurance in return. You wouldnít stop being a nudist would you?"
This was the moment when she needed to speak out -- needed to tell the truth and accept what must follow. But instead, Betsy heard her self saying, "No, I was . . . just being hypothetical. I canít imagine ever . . . not being a nudist." Best to wait until morning, Betsy told herself. After Kate went to work she could research Huronís nudity laws and find out for certain if Kate was right about this. It was only a shred of a chance, but Betsy clung to it.
"Well thatís a relief for both of us," Kate said. "Now, letís talk about something more real -- this big move of ours. Iím afraid weíre going to have to pull this off on very short notice, like within a matter of days. Theyíre in a very difficult situation right now and itís imperative that I get over there and start working by Monday."
"Monday? But how can we find a place to live so quickly?"
Kate reached into her jacket pocket and produced a business card. "Hereís the name of a realtor we can work with. My company has an arrangement with her firm and they specialize in this sort of thing. She can send you pictures by e-mail of our options. Maybe we can get that little house with a picket fence that weíve talked about."
Betsy felt her eyes watering. That was her dream -- moving in with Kate in their own little house. She wanted that so much. But if what Kate said about Huron and nudity were true, Betsy couldnít possibly continue carrying on the charade of being a nudist. She fought back her tears and clung to the one chance that Kate was simply wrong about about it. Betsy would find out in the morning and then decide what to do.