Back at the Koala Bay Bares Kylie found Mungo out lying in a grassy field. Oscar was napping nearby. So the emu had found his way home, just as Mungo had said he would. "They told me I'd find you here," she remarked.
Letters : 19251 Words : 3551
Once inside, Kylie was confronted with a serious dilemma. Shower first? Or dinner? Admittedly, she was hungry. All she had to eat that day was berries. Then again, she felt grungy and desperately wanted to be clean. She smelled like someone who needed a shower.
A shower. A shower came first. Kylie went upstairs to her bathroom. She turned the water on nice and hot. The mirrors in her bathroom immediately fogged up. Kylie could care less. She left her clothes in a ball on the floor, and stepped under the water of the shower.
She had enjoyed her various swims during the walkabout (both the real ones and the one metaphysical one), but nothing compared to having heated water. She turned the tap up just a little more. Normally she didn't like her showers this hot, but tonight she made an exception. Kylie half expected the waters to run brown from all the dirt. She had expected to need to shower for an hour to get fully clean. Almost disappointingly, she got clean rather quickly. She shaved her legs and armpits, and after that stayed under the water for a few more minutes, before she decided not to waste any more water.
After her shower, she applied an ample amount of facial cream, and various moisturizers. Perhaps she used these products in excess, but she wanted to feel and smell as clean as possible. She left her clothes on the floor of the bathroom. Laundry would have to come later. Now it was dinner time.
She left her dishes in the sink. Dishes like laundry would have to come later. Her bed was calling to her. She went to her bedroom, and slipped underneath the covers and sheets. The feeling of her smooth skin against her high thread count cotton sheets was amazing. "Ohhh...I've missed this," she murmured, as she drifted off to sleep.
She awoke at 11:06am the next morning. She never slept in this late, and ordinarily she would feel guilty about it. But after the walkabout? She had earned every minute of last night's sleep.
Kylie went to the kitchen, and fixed herself a cup of coffee and had it with toast and coffee. Ah, coffee. Of all the things she had missed on the walkabout, she missed coffee the most. The hot beverage warmed her to the core. She followed her breakfast with a shower. Sure she had gone to bed clean last night, so she didn't NEED a shower. But she sure wanted one. So she did exactly that.
So what to do today? Technically she was still on holiday; a vacation that was only halfway over. If she wanted to go to the Koala Bay Bares today, she could. There was nothing stopping her.
Instead, she decided that she needed to take care of a few business matters. The first of which was a call to Steve, her producer, or rather, ex-producer. She did not enjoy what she had to do, but it had to be done. She would turn down the offer to stay on as an assistant-producer.
Kylie picked up her mobile phone and dialed Steve's number. She was not looking forward to making this particular call, but it had to be done. Be strong Kylie. The phone rang.
"This is Steve."
"Steve, It's Kylie," she said speaking into the receiver.
"Oh, Kylie, I wasn't expecting to hear from you for a couple more days. What's new?" There was a pause. "Have you reached a decision on the assistant producer job?"
"Oh, that's great. Listen, stop by as soon as you can. We have the paperwork all drawn up and ready for you to sign."
"No, Steve, listen," said Kylie. "I have made up my mind. I have to decline your offer."
"I...I don't understand..." said Steve sounding very confused.
"I'm just not interested in being an assistant producer," said Kylie.
"...I can't make you an anchor again."
Did Steve always have such a problem listening? "I'm not asking to be an anchor. I'm...I'm done..." It was true. She was ready to put the world of TV broadcasting behind her.
"I...I don't understand..."
"I think it's time I moved on. I had some time to think about things on my holiday, and came to the realization that I want to do something else with my life." Kylie added, "listen, there's no hard feelings here. You were only doing what the studio heads told you to do. We had a good run, and I enjoyed working with you." That was true. Steve was a great producer, and was respected as one of the best in the business.
"...Alright. I can't say I understand your reasons. But I do wish you luck. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"Yes, can you give me a good recommendation?"
"Sure, what sort of jobs are you looking for?"
"I haven't decided yet," said Kylie. "I'll be in later this week to get my things and clear out my desk." There was a brief pause. "Goodbye Steve."
The next thing on her list was to return Carl's camera. She gave Carl a ring and set up a meeting for that evening to return the camera.
After driving across town, Kylie knocked on the door to Carl's house. Carl came to the door. "Kylie, it's great to see you, come on in," he said opening the door and motioning for her to come inside.
"Okay, but just for a while," said Kylie. She had a few other things that she wanted to attend to back at home; pay bills, read mail, fix dinner, etc., etc. She followed Carl inside, stepping into the front hallway. "I wanted to give you back your camera," she said handing over the Scout. "I'm sorry, it's a little dirty..."
Carl turned the camera over and surveyed it for any damage. "It looks fine, nothing a little canned air and a cleaning cloth can't fix."
"And here are the batteries. They're both dead."
"Nothing to worry about," said Carl. "I can charge them back up, and they'll be good as new.
"And here's 20 for the tapes," said Kylie stuffing a bill into his hand.
"Kylie, you know I can't accept this. Consider the tapes a gift," said Carl.
"Well, thank you for the gift," Kylie said graciously.
"So...?" said Carl fishing for more information.
"So...what?" asked Kylie.
"Oh, come on! You know what!" said Carl. "Your documentary, how did it go?"
"I'll be honest," said Kylie, "filming didn't go well." That was sort of true. She had run out of batteries and been unable to film the end of the trip. Yet that wasn't the whole story.
"Really?" asked Carl sounding surprised. "I hope it wasn't anything to do with the camera. Ah jeez! You know I probably should have sent you off with the Venture model. It would have been more to carry, but it probably would have done a better job. I'm sorry Kylie."
"Carl, relax, it wasn't the camera."
"No." Kylie explained, "you see, when I lost my job as a news anchor, I had this great plan to go out and get this incredible exclusive story. I thought that I could sell the story and use it to leverage my way back to being an anchor. The thing is, as I was out getting the story, I came to realize that I didn't care if I ever got to be anchor again."
"But you'll be a producer, right? You took the job they offered you. Didn't you?"
Kylie shook her head no.
"Is everything all right Carl?" asked Kylie.
"Yeah, I guess..."
There was something more that he wasn't telling her.
Kylie had to giggle at that last one. The way Carl had said it, made him almost sound like a little kid.
"Don't laugh. I'm serious. She's always yelling and telling Macca and I how to do our jobs," said Carl.
"Look, she's probably just nervous," said Kylie. "She has a lot riding on her shoulders being the youngest anchor on television. She'll grow out of it. And besides, I was mean."
"...No...no you weren't." The hesitation in his voice was comical.
"Of come on Carl, even you don't believe that. Look, I know I could be difficult at times. But we can joke about that now."
"I guess..." He still seemed glum.
"So what's bothering you?"
"Are we...are we still going to be friends?" asked Carl quietly. "Look, I don't have too many friends, and I would really appreciate it if we could stay friends."
"You don't have anything to worry about Carl," said Kylie. "I'm sure we'll still be friends, and the same goes for Macca too."
"Do you really mean that?"
"Sure I do. I tell you what, how about we get together this Friday night for steak and beers." After the week she had just had, there was no way she was going to pass on steak and beer."
Kylie said her goodbyes to Carl. She assured him that they would stay friends and asked that he give her regards to everyone at Channel 5. He had said he would. She got into her car and drove home.
It was now getting late in the evening, and Kylie was ready for dinner. Now that she was home, she could get back to eating on her schedule; three square meals, at their regular times. She glanced into her fridge. It was not quite empty, but she did not find anything she wanted. She would have to go to the store tomorrow.
She checked in her freezer. It too seemed empty, until she happened upon a thin square box that was coated in a layer of freezer ice crystals. She chipped the ice away from the box to see what it was.
Kylie turned on the oven and put the pizza in. She turned on her CD player to listen to some music while she waited. In a short while the pizza was ready. Kylie sat down at her table and had a few slices. It wasn't good pizza (few frozen ones truly are) but after a week in the Outback, it tasted amazing. Plus, it meant that she could have the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. Cold pizza, now there's a breakfast you can't get in the bush.
After dinner Kylie decided to have a bath. She had already had a shower that morning, and though she had not been sweating enough (or even at all) to merit a bath, she had one all the same. After spending her time in the Outback she was having hot water once again.
She toweled off and put on her robe. She still smelled of apricots from the body wash she used. It was a pleasant smell; one that made her very glad to be home. Strolling about her home in her terry cloth robe, she made her way into the kitchen. She popped a bag of microwave popcorn and poured herself a nice full glass of red wine.
She settled into the couch with her popcorn and her wine. Kylie wanted to watch some TV, but after looking at the schedule of programming, nothing sounded good. The tape of her and Mungo's trip was sitting out on the coffee table. Should she watch it? She had already decided not to edit it and produce it as a documentary, but did that mean she couldn't at least watch it. Why not?
She got the tape, went over to the VCR and put the tape in. Kylie settled back onto the couch to watch the tape. She dimmed the lights and put the bowl of popcorn next to her on the couch. Kylie munched on her popcorn and sipped on her wine as she watched the video.
As she watched the video, she realized that it was a bit boring. After all, there were almost six hours of unedited footage. It would take all evening to watch it. So she watched the video with her hands on the remote, constantly alternating between the "Play" and "Fast Forward" functions. She would slow the footage down for parts that she found interesting, such as the footage of Mungo climbing the tree or starting fires, but she would fast forward past some of the parts that she found boring. The parts that were boring included many of the conversations on the trail. It wasn't that she found Mungo boring, far from it actually, but it just wasn't as good as enjoying his company in person. She turned away from the screen with the shot of Mungo killing and cooking the snake. That part still made her a bit squeamish.
Kylie was a bit surprised, though, at the quality of the footage. She didn't have much experience behind the camera, but her lack of experience was not obvious from the footage. Each shot seemed perfectly framed. The panoramic shots of the landscapes conveyed the broad and vast nature of the Australian outback. The shots of Mungo were good too. Despite the lack of professional makeup, and the fact that he was usually covered in ash, he was surprisingly photogenic. The shots of the flora and fauna were amazingly crisp. It was an impressive video to say the least. She could have easily edited the video down and made a good production. That was, of course, if she had intended to produce the video (which she did not) and if the video had succeeded in capturing the return trip home (which it had not).
Another thing Kylie found surprising was the shots that Mungo had taken of her. She had very little experience with a camera, and yet had managed to take some very good shots. Mungo, however, had no experience, and had produced some absolutely incredible shots. The framing, the lighting, the shadows, and literally everything about his shots were near perfect. There was no way an amateur could produce footage this good, and yet there it was.
Kylie was amazed at how happy she looked on camera. As she fast forwarded through the tape every single shot of her had her smiling, laughing, and generally enjoying herself. Given the amount of complaining she had done on the trip, there should have at least been a few shots of her looking grumpy or upset. There weren't any.
For that matter, there seemed to be a disproportionate amount of shots with her in them. She had only remembered Mungo using the camera on a few occasions, and yet he seemed to have gotten at least a dozen shots. Granted, most of the camera work was her own, but there was more of Mungo's footage than she had remembered.
She quickly made it to the end of the footage on the second tape, and the TV screen went black. That was the night she had run of batteries; which had effectively ended her documentary prematurely. "Well, guess that's all she wrote," Kylie murmured aloud.
Yet the screen went from black to back into focus. There was more? No there couldn't be. It wasn't possible. Yet the images on her TV screen proved otherwise.
It was footage of their night at the lake; the night of their skinny dip. The shot began with her and Mungo running into the lake. It captured their splash fight, their conversation in the shallows, and their eventual exit from the water. Kylie had to rewind the footage to watch it again. And again. And again.
It made no sense for this footage to even exist. The battery had died. That was it. With nothing to power the camera, how did these shots even exist? For that matter, the camera had been tucked away in her pack. Hadn't it? There was no way the camera was even close enough to the lake to capture these shots.
The footage was...incredible. The light from the full moon provided perfect lighting for their midnight dip. The fidelity was astounding. Sitting there on her couch, Kylie almost lost herself in the moment. It was as though she were back at the lake with Mungo.
Their conversation had been recorded perfectly. The sound quality was incredible. There was no loss in audio quality. There was no way the camera could have captured the sound this well. It simply was not suited for this quality of footage. The video itself seemed high definition (if not even beyond that). Yet the camera was not suited for high definition film, and Kylie's TV was not an HDTV. This footage made no sense.
As the Kylie on the screen was exiting the lake, Kylie hit the pause button on her remote. The image of her remained static on the TV screen. She was about to hit the power button and go to bed, but she stayed there on the couch looking at herself on the screen. Even though it was only a video, she was amazed at how good it looked. She doubted she had ever looked this good on film before; and that included her time with Channel 5 News. Yet despite the lack of makeup, she looked incredible. It was impossible to tell that at the time this was filmed she had not shaved her legs or washed her hair in several days. Her skin had this creamy white appearance from the light of the moon and the water beading off her skin. She looked as though she had stepped off the canvas of a Botticelli.
"Wow, I look really beautiful," she remarked to herself. The words hung in the air. "I'm...beautiful?" she said with an uncertainty in her voice. She had never thought she was beautiful; maybe pretty or cute, but not beautiful. Yet the image on the screen was all the assurance she needed. "I'm beautiful," she said aloud. "I'm beautiful," she repeated more emphatically. "Oh my god, I'm so beautiful."
Tears flowed openly from her eyes. They were tears of joy. In all her 38 years of life she had never allowed herself to think that she was beautiful. But now? There was no more lying to herself. There was no more deceiving herself. She saw herself as she truly was.
"I'm so beautiful," she cried.
She got up and opened the patio door to her balcony. Kylie stepped out onto her balcony. The wood of her balcony felt good on her bare feet. The night air was cool and refreshing. Slipping out of her robe, she hung it on the railing of the balcony.
"I interrupt your regular programming for this breaking news. I am Kylie Burns. I am 38 years old. I am beautiful, and I have my whole life to look forward to," she broadcast this information into the dead of night. She didn't know if she had woken up any of the neighbors, and frankly she didn't care. If there was anyone who could see her out nude on her deck, she didn't care either. She was beautiful.