“Mom, Dad,” Amy paused, “Mom’s lover Dave. Dad’s lover Peter.” She sighed and pinched her nose. “I’ve gathered you here because I wanted you all to hear it from me.”

           “What is it, sweetie?” her mother said.

           “Should we be worried?” Peter said. He had his arm around her father’s waist.

           “No it’s not that big of a deal.”

           “Then just say it, hon,” her father said.

           “I’ve made the decision,” she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I’ve come to the decision that I will no longer be participating in Naked Tuesdays.”

           There was a cacophony of absolute silence. Amy’s mother looked like she might faint. Her father dropped his head in an I’m-not-angry-I’m-just-disappointed kind of way. Peter and Dave just stood there looking nervously around.

           “Oh,” her mom perked up and smiled, “this is one of those Ticky Tock pranks, isn’t’ it.”

           “Mom this isn’t a prank,” Amy paused, “and that’s not what it’s called.”

           “Did we do something to hurt you?” Her father said.

           “Does it have anything to do with your father and I both living here with our boyfriends? We asked you if it was okay. You said it was okay.”

           “I can’t say it’s not weird but this has nothing to do with that either. I’m glad you’re both happy. I just don’t want to do Naked Tuesdays anymore. That’s all.”

           “Sam! Patrick!”

           “Mom, don’t!”

           “June! Tina! Please come down here!”

           Amy looked at the bricks lining the fake fire place and thought briefly about bashing her head into them repeatedly. She didn’t want her brothers and sisters involved. This was just supposed to be her and her parents… and her parent’s lovers.

           The house began to tremble as four sets of feet came crashing down the stairs. Amy was the oldest of her siblings and she wanted to end this tradition for their sakes too. She thought if she stopped doing it maybe they would follow and then one day it would be gone for good.

           “What mom?” Tina said. She was the youngest of the five.

           “Your sister,” their mother said, “she.” She started sniffling and couldn’t get the rest of the sentence out.

           Her father said, “Amy doesn’t want to participate in—”

           “She doesn’t want to,” Peter started.

           “Now kids,” Dave said. This was the first time he’d spoken since Amy called the meeting. “Amy has made the decision—”

           “The hurtful and inconsiderate decision,” her mother threw in.

           “That,” it was her father again, “she doesn’t want to participate in Naked Tuesdays anymore.”

           Again the silence filled the room. Again Dave and Peter looked nervous. Again, her father sported that look of disappointment. Her mother was fully crying now.

           “Why?” Sam said. He was the second oldest, two years younger than Amy.

           “Did we do something to hurt you?” June said. She was just a year older than Tina, the last of the children before their parents split up. Sort of.

           “You love Naked Tuesdays,” Patrick said. He was the third oldest.

           “I don’t,” Amy said, standing firm. The hard, rough bricks around the fireplace were looking even sweeter.

           “We’ve been doing Naked Tuesdays in my family for generations,” her mother said through tears. “My mother did it, her mother did it, their families all did it. No one complained. No one,” she paused. She couldn’t find the right word.

           “Defected,” her father helped. Her mom nodded. “How hard is it to be completely naked with your family one day a week?”

           “It’s my favorite day of the week,” Sam said.

           “Mine too,” Patrick said.

           “I’ll admit,” Dave said, “when your mother first told me about Naked Tuesday I found it a bit odd. But after the first time I came and got naked with you bunch I realized how wonderful it was.”

           Amy nearly gagged at the image of Dave’s naked body. It had seared itself into her brain and wouldn’t go away.

           “It’s for Jesus,” little Tina said. “Do you not love Jesus?” She looked like she might cry.

           “Jesus doesn’t care if you spend one day a week in the nude,” Amy argued. “Read me one verse in the bible that says you have to get naked with your family to get into heaven.”

           “I could give you ten,” her mother said and then paused a moment. “I’d have to think about it though.”

           “Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s probably illegal,” Amy said.

           “It’s perfectly legal,” Peter said. “I checked before my first time doing it.”

           “Then what about the time the cops came?”

           “That was a misunderstanding,” her mom said. “He went away without doing anything at all.”

           “That’s because you made me answer the door with you, completely naked,” Amy said. “I was mortified.”

           “So that’s it then?” her mom said, “you’re done? Just like that?”

           “Yes, I’m done.”

           “But you mean like, after this Tuesday?” Sam asked.

           “Yeah like you’ll do it this Tuesday,” Tina said, “and maybe the next one, but then you’ll be done?”

           “No,” Amy sighed, “no more. I’m not doing Naked Tuesday ever again.”

           Her mom buried her face into Dave’s chest. Amy pictured all of the greasy hair under his shirt and almost gagged.

           Her father held Peter tightly and somberly, as if he was losing a child to cancer.

           Her brothers and sisters looked at the floor as they walked back down the hall and up the stairs. She heard Tina mumble something about Heaven to the rest of them.

           Amy stared at the bricks and daydreamed a moment.

           “We,” her mother tried. She had to take a deep breath to continue. “We still love you and respect your decision.”

           Amy could tell she didn’t fully mean it, but it was nice that she was trying. Amy hadn’t expected this.

           “We love you, sweetheart,” her father said. “And if you ever decide to join us during Naked Tuesday again we will welcome you back with open, completely naked, arms.”

           “Absolutely,” Peter said.

           Dave nodded.

           “I suppose this means you won’t be doing Naked Tuesdays when you go to college next year,” her mom said. “We were really excited for that. That’s how your father and I first met.”

           “God your mother was beautiful in that Biology class.”

           “Sorry, I won’t be doing it in college either.”

           “Okay,” her mother said.

           Her father nodded and tried to smile.

           Amy stared at the bricks. Amy stared at the bricks.

September 01, 2020 13:19

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