Mia’s Complaint

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Jenny had warned Bob the day before, “Don’t get your hopes up about this Mia girl, just because you can’t pigeonhole her. You’ve hired some great ones before, but they’re never our savior. She won’t be either.”

“I know, I know,” Bob had admitted.

“I wouldn’t count on a girl like that to be into Nude Day either, you know,” Jenny had further warned, with that old playful glint in her eye.

“Then she doesn’t have to participate,” Bob had said with some firmness he rarely used anymore, and that was that.

But now, standing by his parked truck on the corner of First and High just inside the city limits of their dying little town, he wondered. Hadn’t he maybe been holding out a bit of hope about this woman who was so unlike any of her predecessors?

Probably not really, he concluded, for even on paper Mia was the exact opposite of the type he’d always selected before. Which once again made Bob wonder just what had possessed him to hire someone who really didn’t fit the bill in any meaningful way that he could see?

Worst of all, what would Mandi have to say about it? “Prep” was the word she’d have used on Mia for sure, and Bob could still hear her spitting it out like it tasted bad.

Mandi, the love of his life, had been gone for over a decade now. But the love of his life wasn’t all the cancer had taken. Gone with her was the vibrant, mildly matriarchal community they had maintained so well for so long at their farmhouse five miles out of town. Her dying wish had been for him to give troubled young women like she had once been a fair chance. “Hire ’em for the summer, Bob, and see if they’re cut from our cloth. Troublemakers, druggies, losers, it doesn’t matter — sometimes they just haven’t found their tribe. I want you to help some of them do that, Bob!”

Bob was proud to say he had. Every summer since he’d gotten over the shock of losing Mandi, he’d put out the word among his network of hippies and assorted misfits all over the country that there was a job available for a young woman who needed a fresh start in life. All expenses paid including room and board at what had once been The Commune, and all she needed to do in return was work at the attached café and junk shop where he and Jenny, the last remnants of the commune, were the only permanent staff. He hadn’t expected a great response to his first query, but envelopes had poured in from near and far containing essays about broken homes and dropping out and drugs and booze and abortions and worse. Always priding himself on not rejecting any letters for poor grammar or spelling — he’d have had to reject nearly all of them if he had done that anyway — Bob had taken each story seriously and had come to be an astute judge of whom he was best able to help with a summer at the commune.

Which had him all the more bewildered now that he’d hired Mia this time around.

Despite casting a wide net in his search and having few hard and fast qualifications for the job, Bob had long ago learned that nearly all his summer assistants fell into just a couple of categories: the druggie, the dropout, the chip on the shoulder. Lots of overlap, but they’d all fit at least one of those categories — until now.

While most of her predecessors had barely made it through high school or dropped out, Mia had explained in her application that she was a recent graduate of a snooty private college (one Bob’s own parents had encouraged him to attend decades before, but he’d lit out for California instead), and had weathered a year as a trainee accountant back in her hometown. On paper she sounded for all the world for just the sort of thing Bob and Mandi had spent their lives trying to escape from.

But her soul-baring essay, written in a melancholy sort of poetry-in-prose, had struck a chord Bob couldn’t describe but could sure as heck feel. A star on paper, deeply discontented in reality, very much in need of a fresh start somewhere far, far away. And so he had a new category to add to his list: the prep. And he only hoped Mandi could forgive him.

The label fit, Bob saw the moment he saw Mia step off the bus: utterly incongruous to their rural setting in a sensible skirt and blouse, peering out at the scene through thick glasses, a sports-bottle of water in one hand and the other pinning an expensive-looking purse to her shoulder, nodding politely at Bob before she turned her attention to the young man behind her who was lugging her suitcase off the bus.

Mia had not seen a photograph of Bob before, but he was the only townie waiting at the bus stop and she acknowledged him with a smile. After thanking her helper with a cordial smile that tacitly said “no tip, and you’re not getting my phone number,” she turned her businesslike facade to Bob. “Hello, Bob,” she told him, extending her hand for him to shake. “I’m Mia.”

“Welcome,” Bob said, looking up at the first assistant to date who was taller than he: 6’1″ at least, triggering lovely memories of Mandi although she would never have Escort bayan worn Mia’s preppy, girlish outfit. She was built – the kind of woman who had probably been called a beanpole as a teenager, but who had filled out at last. He picked up her suitcase to carry to the truck. “Let’s get you to the farm.”

“Before we do, is there a ladies’ room around here?” Mia asked, gesturing to the sports-bottle clutched in her left hand.

“Not at this hour,” Bob said. “The shops all have one, but they won’t be open for an hour or so yet. It’s only about ten minutes to the farm, though.”

Mia looked back over her shoulder at the heavy woods across the street, and handed him the sports bottle. “Hold this,” she said, and before he could express his disbelief, she was off across the street.

Bob set her suitcase in the back of the pickup and then averted his gaze towards the town square up the block, wondering if this was her idea of a joke. Evidently it wasn’t.

“Thank you,” she said on her return, taking back the bottle. “You’ll get used to this, I promise,” she added, waving the water bottle in explanation. “I drink a lot of water. All kinds of health benefits to it, really. I pee constantly, but it’s worth it.”

“You didn’t strike me as the pee in the woods type,” Bob admitted as he unlocked the passenger door.

“I’m the do what you need to do type,” she told him. “And when you drink as much water as I do…”

“With that attitude, I think you’ll fit in very well in the commune,” Bob said, though he wasn’t looking forward to sharing the bathroom with her.

“The commune? Isn’t it just you? And me for the summer?”

“Well, yes,” Bob admitted as he pulled the truck out into the road. “Force of habit, I guess. It used to be a commune.”

Used to be a commune. No matter how many years went by since the end of their glory days, that phrase never lost its melancholy twinge. That was but one of several reasons why he had taken to hiring a troubled young woman every summer. Since they were troubled, they welcomed the opportunity for a fresh start in the back-of-beyond countryside. Since they were from far away, there were no intrusive questions about the good old days — and word didn’t get out among next year’s applicants about Bob and Jenny’s observation of Nude Day every July.

And since they were women, they did justice to the memory of the commune. It had always been a mildly matriarchal community: the men were treated well, but the women always had the upper hand. Gentle though that hand was most of the time, all were aware of who was in charge. Bob had never begrudged it: he was always very much aware, after all, that regaining his male privilege was only a matter of driving into town. He had always taken pains to remind the other men of the commune of the same thing, and usually they had come to bear it just as well as he had.

Bob had shut the place down and let it fall into disrepair for a couple of years after Mandi’s death, living as a hermit off his inheritance from his and Mandi’s well-heeled families. But Mandi wouldn’t have wanted their dream to die with her, and Bob wasn’t done living – or giving. And so he had reopened the shop and cafe, and he had taken to seeking out one young woman a year who needed a fresh start in life.

Every year there was some hope that the latest troubled young woman would prove to be just the one to revive the tradition, but every year he’d had to concede she was not. Usually they’d jumped at his offer to take the weekend off when he told them about Nude Day, too. While his first impressions of Mia were positive, it already looked quite clear she was not The One either.

Clearly she was not the Nude Day type either. But Bob and Jenny would cross that bridge when they came to it; they always had before, and they’d always had a great time on the big day with whoever among their old friends was in the neighborhood then.

In years past, the drive back from the bus stop had usually been filled with comments from the new arrival – often very caustic comments about how much her life sucked. Not this time: Mia sat demurely in the passenger seat and gazed out the window at the serene country view that Bob and Mandi had fallen in love with a lifetime ago. “It’s beautiful out here, but empty. Do you get a lot of customers at the cafe?” she asked as the signs of civilization receded.

“Quite a few tourists passing through,” he said. “There aren’t many other places to eat on that road. And then there’s also a ragtag network of folks like me all over the country who know about the old commune, and just have to see what it looks like nowadays.”

“Word of mouth, then,” Mia said in a thoughtful tone. “Nice. I love the idea of a network like that, all over the place.”

“It’s not just an idea,” Bob corrected her. “It’s exactly what we are. Back in the day, my Mandi and I, we welcomed people from everywhere you’ve heard of and a lot of places you haven’t. It truly was a home Bayan escort for us all.” An awkward silence ensued, and so Bob explained, “Sorry, I do try not to go on at length about Mandi. The cancer took her over a decade ago, but she’d have wanted the dream to go on, you know?”

“I’m sorry,” Mia said. “And I’m glad you hired me for the summer, too. The situation you rescued me from, well, you don’t even want to know.”

Oh yes I do, Bob mused silently as they approached the commune. His first impressions of her were quite positive, including and even especially her willingness to pee in the woods, but he still didn’t get it. Just what was this ‘discontentment’ that had made this beautiful and articulate young woman work her way into his graces with just a five-page typed essay?

All he said for now, though, was “Thanks, and don’t worry about it. I’ve had my time to heal and I know my Mandi approves of the way I’ve been pushing on since then.”

He’d done his belated spring cleaning at the commune the day before, and was able to welcome Mia into a tidy and brightly lit old home that he could see she approved of. Upstairs, he showed her to her bedroom with its gorgeous view of the secluded backyard and the swimming pool he’d finally had cleaned up last week. “Back in the commune days, the most senior woman after Mandi always had dibs on this room,” he explained as Mia set her suitcase at the foot of the bed. “It was coveted. The view here shows you why, I think.”

“What if she was married?” Mia asked. “Did they get a bigger room then?”

“Her privilege if she wanted it, but usually they preferred this room.”

“Her privilege only?” Mia asked. “Not his too?”

“Nope,” Bob said with a sad smile. “We ran things a little differently here than the real world. It wasn’t always easy for us men, but it sure was educational.”

“Wow.” Mia gazed out the window, giving Bob all sorts of prurient ideas that he forced himself to tamp down — clearly she wasn’t that type! Then she gave Bob a look that made it clear she was impressed with him.

“I will warn you, though, the bathroom is first come first served, and I also drink plenty of water,” he said with a grin.

“I understand,” Mia said. Then she laughed and added, “Good thing for us both you have plenty of bushes out there!”

Bob joined in on her laugh and then said he was off to prepare lunch. There was time for a shower after the long bus ride if Mia was interested, and she was.

He’d prepared tofu casserole for lunch, as her profile suggested she might be a vegetarian. “I’m not, but I do love tofu,” she reassured him when she appeared in the dining room, her preppy clothes now gone in favor of shorts and a polo shirt. Looking around the rustic but clean room, its huge dining table populated now by only the pair of them, she said, “I can just imagine what this was like when you had a full house. I sure am sorry I missed out on those days.”

“I think you’d have liked it,” Bob told her, and he meant it, although he still hadn’t figured her out. “Now, you don’t have to start today at the cafe if you don’t want to-“

“But I do!” Mia said. “I mean, thanks, Bob, but I did come here to work. I need to clear my mind and find myself this summer, and I’m not going to do that by getting lazy.”

“Fair enough,” Bob agreed, and he stood up and joined her at the sink where she had already set about washing her dishes. “You certainly don’t strike me as the lazy type, though, Mia.”

“That’s because I am, underneath it all,” Mia said. “I’ve been overcompensating for it since probably about the eighth grade.”

“And it’s gotten you a long way, I can see,” Bob offered.

“Not far enough,” Mia replied with a wry look.

And hence the discontentment, Bob mused. But he wasn’t quite ready to broach that subject, or at least he didn’t quite know how.

The house’s side door opened directly from the living room into the back office of the café. “It’s always pretty slow until just about now, and Jenny’s sent the breakfast crew home by now,” Bob explained. “We’re the lunch crew for today. If you’re wondering what this place used to be like, Jenny’s the one to ask. She’s been here forever. You’re going to love Jenny.”

“No doubt,” said Mia, taking her first look around the café as they stepped out of the office.

Jenny, an inveterate hippie like Bob and looking every inch the part, gave Mia her usual friendly welcome that was just as enthusiastic for every new friend as for the old ones. “Well, hello there!” she exclaimed. “You must be Mia! You’re going to love working here, my friend!” Heedless of the one lingering party of early lunch customers and of the fact that she’d never seen the younger woman before, she enveloped Mia in a hug.

Mia didn’t appear to mind, though she didn’t return the hug. “And you must be Jenny,” she said with a cordial smile. “Yes, I do think I’ll like it here. Bob’s been great so far.”

“He always is, isn’t he?” Escort Jenny said. “But I hope he didn’t order you right to work on your first afternoon! Bob?!”

“No, I volunteered!” Mia reassured her.

Bob, who had decades of experience with Jenny, stood off to the side and admired the greeting in silence. Jenny’s locks were now streaked with gray, but they were as lovely as ever in their long, neat braid which hung most of the way down her back. As much a relic of the commune days as Bob was, she was a more well-preserved relic – at least in Bob’s high esteem. She eased Mia into the work in no time, and Bob was pleased to see the two women chatting it up between orders like a couple of old school chums.

He could see in Jenny’s eyes that she was sure she had his number, too. On the first of Mia’s several trips to the ladies’ room, she sprung it on him as he’d known she would. “So you finally hired someone for a summer fling,” she said with that mischievous grin of hers that she’d always used when teasing him about something back in the day.

“Jenny, no!”

“It’s okay, Bob!” she reassured him. “I don’t blame you at all. You deserve some fun after all these years. But she does seem awfully straight laced for that. Have you told her yet? About Nude Day?”

“It’s not like that, Jenny! I hired her because she was a wonderful writer and it was time for someone different, that’s all. Remember, I never see any photos beforehand, so I had no way of knowing she was so beautiful. Or that she wouldn’t show up in leather and chains and smelling like cigarettes like the others.” Jenny let a laugh escape at that, and Bob joined in. “And no, I haven’t told her yet. I have no idea how I will, I don’t get the impression she’ll take it well.”

“I could tell her if you want,” Jenny offered. “It might seem less of a shock coming from a woman.”

“I might take you up on that,” Bob said. “But not yet, okay? We’re just getting to know one another, and she might surprise us. Anyway, Jenny, I’m serious, I did not hire her to get in her panties. Or to see her without any.”

“Okay, I’m sorry,” Jenny reassured him. “I believe you, Bob, I know that’s not your style. But I do want you to know, Mandi would have approved if you did. She wouldn’t have wanted you to be alone the rest of your life, you know.”

“I believe that,” Bob said. “Yeah, I believe that. But I just – for so long, I didn’t even want to.”

“I miss her too, Bob.”

Bob nodded and allowed a smile to grow as he saw Mia returning from the bathroom.

The afternoon and the dinner rush went by agreeably, with no chance for Bob to probe any further into his mysterious new employee’s past. It was never wise to keep the summer’s biggest secret for very long, so after the dinner rush he decided to tell Mia about his and Jenny’s yearly ritual and let her know she was free to go elsewhere for that occasion.

To broach the subject, he steered her towards the most bucolic corner of the commune: the secluded back yard, shielded from the highway by a wooden fence and from the cafe and its nosy patrons by a brick wall. “This was always our private space,” he explained. “Guests were welcome anytime in the house, but only the members, the ones we welcomed in completely, were allowed back here. It was our sanctuary. You’re welcome to treat it like yours for the summer,” he concluded, wondering if she had already guessed how the hippies she was no doubt imagining had been attired on those long-ago sojourns in the garden.

“It’s beautiful, Bob,” she said, gazing around the expanse of grass and trees and the pool at the center of it all. “The pool isn’t very hippie-ish, is it, Bob?”

“Neither is bathing in clean water, but we all preferred it that way, we agreed when we had that put in. We didn’t want a replica of Woodstock back here, you know.”

“Were you there?”

“I’m not that old, Mia. I was only in grade school then, and nowhere near here.”

“Sorry!” she grinned. “You don’t look old enough, that’s true. I can just imagine how much fun you all must have had back here in the commune days, too.” Then she looked at him with what Bob could only read as a knowing glint in her eye, and he chickened out from telling her about Nude Day for the moment. Maybe there was more still to his new friend than he’d even begun to suspect.

The very next morning, while making his way to the shower, Bob discovered just how right he was about that. Amidst the usual summer sounds of birds and katydids in the back yard, he heard a splash in the pool. Expecting a stray dog or some such, he glanced out the window.

It wasn’t a dog. It was Mia, wading knee-deep in the water and facing away from the house so she wasn’t aware of her audience. She was stark naked.

Bob pulled away from the window — he would not have Mia thinking he was a peeping Tom, thank you very much! — and did his best to tamp down the hardness he already felt coming on in his shorts. That was no use, he concluded promptly, and he was at full attention by the time he got to the bathroom. Giving up the fight, he closed his eyes and allowed the fleeting but lovely image of Mia’s bare back and buns to wash over him as he stroked himself to a quick and hard orgasm.

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