Two teenagers meet on a lonely beach in the South of France. It is a brief acquaintance but it changes both their lives forever.
It had been the same boring three weeks every year since I was five. Same tedious two day drive down, same stopover, same ‘idyllic’ cottage and the same bloody empty beaches, Cote D’Snore I called the place. All the local youngsters had moved to the large towns for better paid work. The only locals left all seemed to be older than god’s granny.
On the day my life changed forever I decided to go for a long walk. A mile or so up the beach a headland jutted out into the sparkling Med, I’d never been there before. My parents were sprawled in deck chairs engrossed in their boring books as usual. ‘I’m going for a walk’ I shouted from the gate.
‘Bye darling, don’t be too long’ mother called without looking up from her precious book.
‘I’ll be as long as I damn well please’ I muttered.
Around the headland near a stand of stunted pine trees nature called. I could have just stood on the beach and peed but, being English, I went behind a tree. I had just finished when an angelic voice behind me said ‘’ello young man.’ I was dumbstruck and stood frozen to the spot.
‘Don’t be embarrassed’ came the lilting voice again ‘everyone ‘as to pee.’
I hurriedly tucked myself away without shaking, cursing inwardly as the last drops ran down my leg. I turned to behold the most beautiful vision I had ever seen. She was about my age, tall and slim with cornflower blue eyes, retrousse nose and a mane of blonde thatch. She was stark naked.
I recoiled in astonishment, sitting down with a bump as my foot found a tree root. Her laughter tinkled like tiny silver bells. ‘Oh, Englishman, you are so funny.’
I flushed, deeply embarrassed ‘why are you sneaking up on people naked? I asked peevishly, my red face angled downwards. ‘How did you know I was English, anyway?’
The tiny bells tinkled again ‘by the way you are dressed of course, silly boy’ she said ‘those ‘uge baggy shorts and the sandals with the stockings ‘alf way up your skinny legs. As for that straw ‘at I wouldn’t put it on the ‘ead of the donkey.’
‘My legs aren’t skinny’ I said sulkily ‘they’re slender.’
Her hand reached downward ‘come, I ‘elp you up’ I extended my hand obediently. She pulled with remarkable strength and I found myself gawping open mouthed at her amber beauty.
‘What is the matter?’ she asked ‘ave you never seen a naked girl before?’
‘Well..er, no’ I blurted ‘aren’t you afraid you’ll be arrested?’
‘Silly Englishman, this is a naturist beach since last year. We are, ow you say, nudists.’
‘Oh’ I said feeling stupid’ ‘Who are you with?’
‘My family are camping behind those dunes’ she pointed down the beach ‘I ‘ave come collecting firewood for the cooking. So, mon ami, what is your name?’
‘I’m called Charlie.’
‘Pleased to meet you Sharlee I’m Margot from Alsace, we are on a camping ‘oliday, and you?’
I explained my plight as she listened sombrely ‘Ah, parents can be most difficult; even mine’ she smiled ’you would like to swim with me Sharlee, Oui?’
She had a totally unselfconscious grace, as though she’d spent her entire life naked. I instantly fell in love with this feisty girl; my shyness melted. ‘What about your firewood?’
‘Later, it would be nice if you ‘elped’ she said ‘but first we swim, non?’
‘Yes’ I said feeling relieved now because she would be covered by the water and I wouldn’t have to control my wandering eyes. I stripped to my underpants.
She tut-tutted ‘do all Englishmen wear those strange knickers?’
I blushed ‘they’re called underpants.’
‘Well take them off’ she ordered ‘they look even more ridiculous than your shorts.’
‘But….but’ I stammered.
‘Look’ she stamped her tiny foot, pointing ‘if I go around that ‘eadland I put on the clothes, yes?’ I nodded dumbly. ‘So, if you come ‘ere you take off the clothes, non?
I found being scolded by this bossy girl strangely exciting and we were alone so why not? I slipped off the offending underwear. My inhibitions instantly vanished as a sensation of pure joy washed over me. Never had I felt so liberated. We raced out to a distant rock, her lithe form cutting cleanly through the water.
Afterwards we lay on the sand drying, asking each other about school, friends and our different lifestyles. Her father was a pharmacist with a shop near Strasbourg. Mine was a family solicitor. My mother was a housewife, hers taught English.
She suddenly gasped ‘oh dear, the firewood, I forgot’. We quickly went about gathering dead wood. ‘Please, come and ‘ave lunch with us’ she pleaded ‘my family will adore you.’
‘Are you sure it’ll be alright?’
‘But of course and my brother Sylvestre will be so envious’ she giggled mischievously pointing downwards ‘you are bigger than ‘im.’
Her parents were delightful, her mother kissed my cheeks and, her father embraced me. Sylvestre shyly shook my hand. He was a good looking nineteen year old with the same brush of blonde hair as Margot. Lunch was superb with grilled sardines, cheese, olives and a huge salad. Wine and chatter flowed freely as I relaxed, wallowing in my new-found freedom.
Christophe, Margot’s father, started talking about happenings in Europe. ‘This German fellow ‘itler’ he said ‘seems intent on starting another war. I don’t know what will become of us if he does.’ He looked towards Sylvestre his face bleak. Margot senior quickly changed the subject then Sylvestre produced a guitar and we sang.
The wine inevitably crept to my head. Fortunately Margot’s mum noticed and stopped my indulgence. ‘Whatever would your parents think if we sent you ‘ome drunk?’ After that she forced strong French coffee on me.
As the happiest afternoon of my life drew to a close Margot held my hand and we walked back to where my clothes still lay. I found a piece of string on the water line and bundled them up, reluctant to become their prisoner again. She kissed me on the lips ‘You are such a sweet boy Sharlee and so ‘andsome. Will you come again tomorrow?’
I returned her kiss clumsily my heart pounding ‘Oh boy, yes’ I said unable to believe my luck. As I departed my joie de vie, her kiss and the wine conspired to lift me to towering heights of bliss. I was still deliriously happy and naked when I floated into the cottage. My parents stared aghast.
‘What is the meaning of this outrageous exhibition?’ my mother asked angrily. My father spluttered incoherently in the background his face crimson.
‘I’ve become a naturist mother, that’s all’ I spread my arms wide ‘what’s the matter? Have you never seen a naked boy before?’ I went to my room leaving them shocked and speechless. I sank onto my bed giddy with happiness and masturbated joyously.
True to their middle class Englishness my parents never mentioned the incident again although my father did make vague noises about being careful not to “bring any trouble home.”
Over the next two weeks Margot and I met almost every day frolicking on the sand and in the sea like the overgrown children we were. My parents refused to visit the nudist camp, their inhibitions too deeply ingrained. We did all meet up once at L’escargot D’dor for Sunday lunch though it wasn’t a success. My folks were stiff and formal, their conversation stilted and faux polite.
My conversion to nudism was firmly established now and things started getting serious between Margot and me. I loved her with all the wild passion of youth.
One day whilst picnicking alone she stopped pretending not to notice my erection when we kissed. She took me in hand stroking and squeezing. I fondled her pert breasts and stroked her buttocks. She squirmed, moaning softly, guiding my hand to her secret folds. It didn’t take long for either of us to come, me crying out in ecstasy, she emitting little yelps and sighs of pleasure.
On the last full day of her holiday Margot and I were leaving for our final picnic when her mother drew me aside. ‘Margot has told me of her desire for you Charlie’ she said seriously ‘please, be gentle with her’ then she kissed my cheek tenderly, a tear in her eye. Naive young fool that I was I failed to grasp her meaning.
The picnic over, Margot cleared the food and plates from our blanket then held me close. She became very serious as she showed me the condoms, the first ones I’d ever seen. ’I want it to be you, Sharlee, ‘oo makes me not the virgin’ she whispered.
Making love with Margot was an experience that stayed with me all my life. Yes, we were clumsy the first time but later we took it more slowly. We built up and up gently kneading, teasing until the final cascades of pleasure sent us into near delirium. I’ve been with women since who were very adept at pleasing me but nothing compared with the soul shattering ecstasy of my first time.
The next day Margot went home way up on the German border. We held each other close both shedding tears. ‘Promise me you will write Sharlee; promise me you will come again next year. I love you so much.’
I promised and meant it with all my being; Margot had become my whole world.
I did return to France that next year, 1940, but to a very different beach, a grey beach. I was queuing waist deep in a grey sea waiting for a grey boat to rescue me from Dunkirk. Overhead grey Stuka dive bombers howled their banshee wail of death, stouping like grey metallic vultures dropping angry grey bombs on us. My whole world had turned grey.
Throughout the war whenever I felt afraid, which was often, I thought of Margot building fantasies around her. Her photo became dog eared and worn but her memory always remained sharp, lifting my spirits.
It was five long years before I visited a French beach again this time in Normandy.
I searched for Margot after the war finding her elderly great aunt in the small Alsace village of Uberach. What I discovered broke my heart. Her parents had been caught disseminating news from the BBC and were shot by the Gestapo. Margot escaped and became a resistance fighter building a fierce reputation. She had married a policeman and settled near Nice.
Sylvestre, poor boy, had been forced into German uniform and sent to the Russian front like so many young men of that region. He never came back.
I went home, became a solicitor and joined my father’s practice. In 1949 I became chairman of the British Naturist Society. I never married although I had plenty of opportunities. None of the women I met could ever match up to the precious memories of my Margot.
In 1972, Margot, recently widowed, traced me. Although we were now fifty it was as though we were still teenagers, giggling and telling silly jokes. We were wed that same year.
Today we are in our mid nineties, we live in a modest cottage close to ‘our’ beach; we still occasionally walk hand in hand naked on the sands albeit a lot more slowly these days.