The thing was, Corey didn't think Testa was a weirdo at all and – even if she was – he didn't care. He liked going to the movies with her and sharing a tub of popcorn together. He liked sitting in a booth at Johnny C's talking with her about school. His heart beat faster when it was time to say goodbye or goodnight, nervous about the kiss – sometimes Testa initiated it, other times she waited for him to be bold – as if she was testing his courage and interest.
One night, in the dark of the movie theater, Testa let him touch her, him tracing her neck, ears and face with his fingers and hand as they kissed (the movie wasn't very interesting).
Another night, they went to a party Slider was hosting, their first real public outing as a couple. They traipsed through the house together, Corey keeping his arm slung around Testa's waist when able. The music was loud and there was plenty of beer and they ended up sitting together on the couch in the living room, making out in front of other people.
Testa's lips felt chapped but Corey liked the roughness against his mouth. She smelled of fragrant perfume, body sweat and the scent of the one beer she had consumed. He liked the way she tasted and he felt himself tingling in places he hadn't tingled before as heat rushed through his system, literally curling his toes. He felt a twitch between his legs and he knew that he was seriously attracted to Testa who kept smiling at him through the kissing. They were showing off for the others but neither cared. Their relationship had finally turned the first base corner and was heading for second!
The next weekend, Corey borrowed his mother's car again and Testa took him on an historical outing, this time to South County with more forgotten old landmarks to be found, hidden foundations and an ancient New England graveyard nestled in an opening of a wooded area.
They were five miles from nowhere, so far off the beaten track that "a drone couldn't find us" according to Testa. They brought a picnic lunch and they sat on the grass of the graveyard eating cold chicken, Dorito chips, and pickles. The sun was out and, because they were on a hill, Corey was pretty sure they were as close to heaven as one could get.
"By the way, I brought my camera in case you were interested in posing," Testa announced matter-of-factly.
"Pose?" Corey asked, confused.
"I've been having this reoccurring fantasy ever since I saw those Playgirls," Testa admitted.
"What are you talking about?" Corey asked.
"I was hoping you'd agree to pose naked in the graveyard," Testa said quickly, blushing just a little.
"Now that's just plain weird," Corey said. "I went along with everything else because I didn't think it was that weird but this is really weird!"
"I was hoping you'd say yes," she sighed.
"To pose naked!?" He exclaimed. "I can't pose in front of you with my…..you know what….hanging out."
"Why not?" She asked innocently. "It's just cemetery art."
"You don't think it would be weird?"
She rolled her eyes. "I wouldn't have asked if I thought it was that bad an idea."
"Do I really need an excuse to come up with to say no?" He asked with disbelief.
She shrugged. "I wouldn't have asked just anybody," she reasoned.
"What would you do with these photos?" He asked, squinting at her.
"Nothing," she said. "Just my private collection of cemetery expression. I've taken plenty of pictures before, but none with people in it – although one sort of looks like there's a ghost in the background!" She glanced around. "I just thought about making some sort of natural expression of Mother Nature's final act."
He found her explanation incredulous.
"Don't you think the cemetery is a lovely place for such an artful expression?" Testa asked. "Natural beauty all around?" She gave him a look of hopeful encouragement as she pulled her camera out of her knapsack.
"Is this some sort of joke?" Corey asked.
"It will only take a few minutes, promise," she said. "It's not so much about nudity and body image as it is artful expression and natural awareness."
He stared at her trying to figure out if she was trying to pull off some elaborate gag or if she was really serious about naked expression and artful displays. She returned his gaze, chewing on her bottom lip. Corey sighed and stood.
"You can never show the photos to anybody," he said.
"I won't!" She promised with excitement as she jumped to her feet and got the camera ready.
Corey stood among the stones, stripping out of his clothes, not sure if he should feel liberated, humiliated, or ashamed.
"Okay," he said, once he was naked, standing in front of her. "What now?"
"Thanks for doing this, Corey," Testa said with appreciation. "Just turn sideways a little bit more and take a step so I can see the gravestone behind you."
He did what she asked and she began clicking away with the camera.
"Just act natural," Testa said. "Walk around. Explore. Be."
Corey tried not to blush as he wandered around the gravestones with Testa clicking away.
"You're a natural," she said with amazement. "This is lovely!"
Corey turned and looked at her, a humble grin on his face. He actually forgot that he was naked – it really did feel natural. Suddenly, he started leaping up and down and Testa squealed with delight as she clicked away with the camera.
"This is ridiculous," Corey said from midair.
"I love how comfortable and free you are!" Testa laughed. Then she lowered the camera and stared at him, almost as if she was seeing him for the first time. It was only then that Corey started to feel awkward and self-conscious.
Testa handed him the camera and slowly began undressing.
"What are you doing?" Corey asked with surprise.
"I want to be part of the art," she said.
Naked, Testa began sprinting around the graveyard. Corey lifted the camera and began snapping photos as she pranced about the stones, her arms spread out as if she was trying to fly, her hair flapping in the breeze. She was as beautiful as that day when Corey saw her out the school window while sharpening his pencil. He came to a stop near a tall gravestone and Testa floated to a stop on the other side of the same stone.
"You passed the testa," she said happily as she leaned in and gave him a kiss, two historical explorers naked in the graveyard, expressing themselves naturally. What was so weird about that?