The Same Place, Chapter 2: Leave-takings

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Published on 15.02.10 14:25 Age: 4 yrs
Category: The Same Place

Letters : 17495 Words : 3187

By: Cedar

Kylie woke up the next morning. She had not slept well. The good news was that her horrible birthday was over. The bad news was, well, everything else. She was no longer a news reporter. The thing she had worked so hard for had been snatched away from her yesterday; snatched away and given to a younger, prettier, reporter. The only thing that remained was to make her decision on the Assistant Producer job.

It was not a decision she wanted to make today. She couldn't work up the nerve to go to work today. She couldn't bring herself to look her former colleagues in the face. Worst of all, she couldn't bare to see Carl, not after the way she had treated him yesterday. So she called in.

"Steve, it's Kylie. I need to take another personal day. I hope that's okay." She spoke this message into his voice mail. Personally she was glad to talk to a machine and not to Steve. She didn't want to ask permission, she wanted to assume it was okay. She also did not leave any contact information.

So what to do with the rest of the day? Kylie mentally went over a few options in her head. She could stay in and read a book, she could go for a walk, she could take herself out for a fancy lunch. Still, there was only one thing she really wanted to do...

She decided a trip to the Koala Bares was in order. A swim in their pool might be just the thing she needed. Maybe she could even get Mungo to give her one of his fabulous massages.

She got dressed, packed a bag of snacks and poolside essentials and got into her car. Her mobile phone was left rather haphazardly on her kitchen table. After an hour in the car, Kylie was at the gate to the Koala Bares. She entered the code on the numeric keypad. The old mechanical gate creaked, but slowly opened allowing her to drive through. She drove up the road, and parked outside the clubhouse.

One of the more interesting conundrums that occur in a naturist resort is, "where to undress." The simple answer would be, anywhere at all, really. Yet there were a number of changing rooms in the clubhouse for just this purpose. There were two public changing rooms, as well as a few private rooms for some of the more nervous "first timers." Kylie had gotten used to changing in the public changing rooms, but she had seen many people simply undress in the parking lot and store their clothes in their car. For a change of pace, she decided to do just that.

As she undressed, she noticed a few people glancing her way. It was interesting; here the people were not staring at her out of interest in the act of her undressing. Rather, they were simply being friendly. They were curious as to who might be arriving, and were ready to strike up conversation at recognition. Still, no one recognized her. Kylie put her clothes in her car and walked inside the office to buy a guest pass.

The sight of a familiar head of blonde hair and green hair clip barely poking above the high counter signified that Willow was working behind the desk that day. She had on a pair of headphones, and her nose buried in a book. She was muttering something to herself, but Kylie couldn't make any of it out.

"Willow," she said announcing her presence. Willow did not look up. "Willow!!" she said a bit louder, still no acknowledgment. Kylie approached the desk, rang the bell, and shouted, "WILLOW!!!"

"Good morning, Willow," said Kylie. "I'd like to buy a day pass."

"Sure," said Willow who stood up to take the money from Kylie. When Willow stood up her full height was revealed. She was at least a half-head or maybe even a full-head taller than Kylie. Willow was quite tall, she was even taller than most of the male members of the Koala Bares. She was lean and had long and graceful figure. By modern standards of beauty, Willow would not have any trouble finding a job as a fashion model, but she never expressed any interest in it. For that matter, if Willow had any interest in journalism, she would have made a very marketable reporter. Heck, she could have given Lynette some stiff competition for prettiest news anchor...

Entering the transaction into the till, Willow said, "glad to see you here on a weekday."

"Yeah, well," said Kylie. "I needed to get away from it all."

Willow could sense something was wrong in Kylie's tone of voice. "Rough week?" she asked.

"You could say that."

"Want to talk about it?" asked Willow.

"No, not really." Nothing could be further from the truth. Kylie was desperate to talk to somebody about everything that had happened. Still, she hated to do that to poor Willow. Willow was usually so bubbly and effervescent. Kylie may have been in a bad mood, but there was no need to drag Willow down with her. "So what's that book you're reading? You seemed pretty into it."

Willow smiled and held up a copy of the Lonely Planet's Guide to India for Kylie to read the cover page. "Trying to plan our trip."

"Our?" asked Kylie.

"Yeah, I'm going to India with Tash and Herb. We leave this Saturday," Willow explained. "We've been saving for this trip all year, and I'm trying to plan out what sights to see. I'm also trying to practice up on my Hindi," said Willow pointing to her tape player and headphones.

"You are so lucky," said Kylie. "I would love to go to India. I just LOVE Indian food."

"Me too," Willow gushed.

"So where are you going?" asked Kylie.

"Rishikesh," said Willow smiling happily.

"I'm not familiar with it," said Kylie. That much was obvious. She had never been to India. Sure she knew a bit about places like Bangalore and Calcutta, but she hadn't ever really heard of Rishikesh."

"It's where the Beatles wrote the White Album," explained Willow.

Kylie was a bit taken aback to hear this coming from Willow. Sure, the music of the Beatles was timeless, but Willow was so young. Was John Lennon even still alive the year Willow was born? If anything this sounded a lot like Willow's cousin Tash and Tash's boyfriend Herb rubbing off on Willow. "Sounds...groovy." The word 'groovy' hung in the air, as though Kylie had just dated herself. Did young people even still say 'groovy?' 

"And it's not just me, a lot of people are on holiday this week," said Willow.

"Oh?"

"Yeah," said Willow elaborating. "Well, Fred and Janet have been talking about their trip to Hawaii forever, but they're still here. Of course, Loxie and Zoot are here as well." Willow seemed to be going through a mental checklist of who was still around to jog her memory about who was leaving. "But Herb and Val are gone. Harry, Kim, and the family are all on holiday. I haven't seen the Aletti's all month. Gee, even Mungo, is leaving, and I've never heard of him leaving before."

"Mungo? Mungo's leaving?" asked Kylie. Mungo had been an indelible part of Kylie's experiences at the Koala Bares.

"Yeah, he's going on a walkabout. Loxie and Zoot are helping him bring in his summer harvest."

"I'm sorry; would you excuse me, Willow? I need to go see Mungo before he leaves."

"Sure, no problem," said Willow as she slipped her headphones back on and went back to her book.

On the trail to Mungo's hut, Kylie ran across Loxie and Zoot driving a golf cart up the main path. Thankfully it was Loxie behind the wheel and not Zoot so Kylie did not feel the need to step way off the trail to give the vehicle a wide berth. The cart's occupants were both muddy. Their knees were dirty from kneeling, and their brows appeared to be streaked with mud from rubbing sweat away with dirty fingers. The back of the cart was loaded with bushel baskets full of cabbages, peppers, corn, and all sorts of freshly grown goodies.

"Kylie! Hi!" said Loxie happily. She pulled the cart over and got out to walk over to her. Loxie had black hair, and a healthy complexion. Kylie had to envy Loxie's tan at least a little bit. She however, had fairer skin, and though she had gotten rid of most of her tan lines, she was still quite pale. They had been schoolmates, though never really friends. Even though they had graduated the same year, Loxie appeared a few years younger than Kylie.

Zoot also got out of the car. His face was almost completely covered in mud, and his blonde hair had small clumps of dirt mixed in with it. There was something about those two that made Loxie and Zoot an especially cute couple in public.

"Kylie, it's good to see you!" said Zoot warmly. "What brings you here?"

"Well, right now, I came to say goodbye to Mungo," said Kylie.

"Good idea," replied Zoot. "He's set to leave at any moment. I'm sure he'll be glad to see you."

"I'll be glad to see him too..." said Kylie. She could not hide the sadness in her voice.

Loxie was sympathetic. "I saw the news last night. I'm sorry, Kylie." She hugged Kylie, an action that showed she had already put all the pieces together. "If there's anything we can do to help, let us know."

"Thanks, Loxie, that...that means a lot." Kylie vowed not to cry. It was no small effort, but she kept in control of her emotions.

"Oh, yeah, I'm sorry too," said Zoot. He went in as if he too were going to hug her, but seemed to break off at the last second. Loxie and Kylie went way back to their school days, but Zoot was still getting to know Kylie on a more personal level.

Brushing off Loxie's hug, Kylie said, "Thank you both for being so supportive. I really should go see Mungo before he goes."

"You should stay for dinner," offered Zoot. "We're going to grill up some of these lovely vegetables."

The offer was tempting, but Kylie was not in the mood for festivities. "I'm afraid I can't stay that long."

"Oh..." said Zoot sounding a little disappointed. "Well we can't send you home empty handed. Take some vegetables!"

On this he was insistent. So Kylie picked out two ears of corn and thanked Zoot for being so generous. She would have taken more, but she didn't want to come across as greedy. She excused herself, and they went their separate ways, with Loxie and Zoot heading back towards the clubhouse, while Kylie walked by herself to Mungo's yurt.

If there was anyone she needed to see right now, it was Mungo. When they had first met, she thought him weird and almost antagonistic. Yet he had played a critical role in easing her into naturism. He had reminded her of painful memories of her past, and though she had not wanted to be reminded, she confronted her demons and emerged a stronger person.

She never knew exactly how Mungo knew about her and Fisher's Creek. It was a secret that only her, her mother, and a few friends knew about. Yet somehow Mungo knew about it. To hear Mungo explain it, he was simply "a great listener." New Age mystics would probably label it as ESP, while modern science would seek to debunk it as some sort of coincidence. The more one tried to explain Mungo's abilities, the more they seemed to defy explanation. Mungo was special, and that was it.

She came upon the short old man tending to his gardens and whistling an unfamiliar tune. He poked his head up at the sight of Kylie, and waved her over. His white flowing beard was streaked with mud, yet he had a smile that conveyed a sense of satisfaction in his summer harvest. She approached him. "I was expectin' ya," he said. "I 've got somethin' for ya." He looked around on the ground in front of him, until he found what he was looking for. "Here!"

It was a hand made necklace of flowers. The aroma it gave off was heavenly. Kylie was surprised to see the sheer abundance of flower species. She doubted if even more than half of them were even in season. It was magnificent. "How sweet. You made this yourself?"

Mungo nodded.

"You remembered," said Kylie assuming the offering to be a birthday gift.

"Remembered what?" asked Mungo a bit confused.

Kylie could have been upset that yet another person had forgotten her birthday, but she wasn't. "It doesn't matter," she said, giving Mungo a friendly hug. She stood a full head taller than Mungo (most people did). As she wrapped her arms around him, his dark brown skin only served to accent how pale hers was by comparison. "It's good to see you."

"Yeah, good to see you too, Kylie," he said, returning the hug.

Letting go of Mungo, Kylie asked, "So where's Oscar?" referring to the large emu who seemed to have a strong affinity with Mungo.

"Oh he left. He was mad at me for not telling him about my travels. So he ran off. Haven't seen him in days." From any other person, this would have sounded like nonsense, but coming from Mungo it seemed plausible. "Don't worry though, he'll be back." As he said this he knowingly winked at Kylie.

"Yeah, so what's this travel? Willow said you were leaving," asked Kylie.

"I'm goin' walkabout. Been meanin' to for years," replied Mungo.

"How long will you be gone?" asked Kylie

"Until I get back," answered Mungo. Sometimes Mungo seemed to speak in riddles. It only seemed to contribute to the aura of mysticism that surrounded him. Some might have interpreted it as a sarcastic remark, but it wasn't.

"Can I go with you?"

On the other hand, she really didn't have anything holding her back. She had no job at the moment, and plenty of accumulated time off in the form of unused sick days and paid holidays. And hadn't she just been lamenting never taking a long trip? No time like the present right?

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! How could she have said something so stupid?

After a few moments of silence, Mungo gave his answer. "We leave tomorrow mornin'."

Mungo paused before speaking. "For you, bring good boots and socks for hikin'. Bring a small backpack, and bring somethin' to carry water." He paused, gave her a quizzical look and then added "...a toothbrush, toothpaste, and insect repellant too."

Again, Kylie tried to read into Mungo's speech. He had said 'for you.' Did that mean his answer would have been different if another person had asked? "What about clothes?" asked Kylie.

Mungo smiled. "Wear what you feel comfortable in," said Mungo. "I am already dressed for the trip," he said as he indicated his nudity.

"I will go nude," said Kylie adding the quantifier, "where it is appropriate." This was one of the fundamental differences between Kylie and Mungo. While Kylie enjoyed the freedom of being naked, she would not hesitate to wear clothes when the situation demanded it. Mungo on the other hand. was cut from a different cloth; or perhaps cut from no cloth at all. No one had ever seen Mungo wear anything that could be considered clothing. If anyone were to tell Kylie that Mungo had never worn clothing a day in his life, she would not be surprised.

"I hope ya do," said Mungo.

"What about food?" she asked

"I'll provide the food."

Again, he hadn't said he would "pack" food. He said he would "provide it."

"Any other questions, Kylie?"

She had one more question to ask. She hesitated to even ask it, since the idea seemed so dumb. On the other hand, asking to come on the trip had seemed like a dumb question mere minutes ago, and yet now she had an invitation to join him. She decided to ask her silly little question. "Yeah, I've got one more question..."

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