“Naked” by Matthew Zanoni Müller

At Christmas I was brushing my teeth with my brother. We were supposed to get ready for bed but instead we ran around the house and hid from my mother. She yelled in a way that made us want to help her. We got undressed.

“Grandpa’s coming over,” I heard my brother yell down the hall. I was getting changed. I had just gotten everything off except my underwear.

“Is grandpa allowed to see me naked, mom?” I asked.

“Yes, I think he is, but its up to you.”

I slid out of my underwear.

“Grandpa’s outside I think,” I heard my brother say from the living room.

I ran down the hallway and peaked in from around the corner. The Christmas tree didn’t have any presents under it anymore, and some of our new toys were still out. My grandfather had given my brother a hunting knife, which lay next to its leather sheath on the green carpet. My brother was standing at the window looking out through the drawn curtains that he parted in the middle. They were heavy and course. I didn’t believe that grandpa was coming. I ran out into the living room quickly and right as I was running through I decided that I didn’t want grandpa to see me naked. I was too old now. Just as I made it to the window the door opened. Grandpa was there. He came in with timid smiles. He was old and very nice. He had brought chocolate.

I bolted back toward the hallway, toward my room. I stepped on the knife as I ran. It cut into the ball of my right foot and I stopped and fell over. I looked down and saw that I wasn’t bleeding, just an open line of skin. I didn’t keep running in case I started bleeding and it would get on the carpet. I didn’t want to be naked in the living room though, where my grandfather could see me, and behind him the door was open to the street.

I looked closer at my foot and suddenly blood began to pour out. It didn’t hurt at all, and I didn’t even have to cry. My brother ran over.

“It tickles,” I told him.

“That’s cause the blade’s so sharp. It doesn’t hurt you when it’s that sharp. But it will hurt later.” I didn’t know how my brother knew this.

I looked at my grandfather who was standing with my father in front of the couch, looking across at me to see if I was hurt. I pretended that I hadn’t looked, that their voices were far away through water. But I knew he had seen me. I limped back quickly to the hallway and ran up it so that my mother could see I was bleeding. She dragged me into the bathroom and washed the blood away. She put on one of those big band-aids, the ones with arms.

“Grandpa saw me naked, mom,” I said.

“It’s okay,” she said.

I thought it was too, but I pulled a towel down to cover myself, to get ready for when it would begin to hurt.

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