Content Advisory: This work of erotic fiction is intended for adults only. The story contains the following themes: magic; romance; therapeutic & erotic massage; naturism; stripping; exhibitionism; voyeurism; only one naked (OON); embarrassed naked female (ENF); intra-, extra-, and pre-marital sexual intercourse; first-time sex; group sex; oral sex; incest; mixed bathing; skinny dipping; and even sleeping nude! My!
Disclaimer: This is fiction. To the extent that there are people or places named in this book that exist in the real world, they are not as described here. The author recommends that you do not take practical advice from fictional persons.
Dedication: This book is dedicated to those who have pushed forward the theory and practice of modern medicine, without whom we’d still be living in the good old days, which really weren’t all that good. Thank you.
Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient.
— Hippocratic Corpus, Epidemics, Book Ⅰ, as translated by Thomas Inman
Kaitlyn and I had been married for two weeks when she insisted, “I need to learn to heal others.”
During development as an embryo, your body assembled the repair mechanisms that drive normal healing under direction of the DNA your parents gifted you at conception. If you get a cut on your finger, your body knows how to fix it without any conscious thought from you. The same goes for a large number of other health complaints: your body knows how things are supposed to be working and can often repair the damage; you don’t need mystical powers to achieve it, just time, rest, and sustenance.
Kaitlyn, being a mage, can direct her body to repair itself faster than normal by adding magical energy to the system. It’s no more mystical than boiling a pot of water dry on a stove versus waiting for the same pot of water to evaporate while sitting on the counter. Lots of processes go faster when you add energy. Magic is just one way to harness and direct energy.
One problem is that this is a purely internal mechanism. It’s tremendously more difficult for a nature mage to heal someone else’s body. Not only is a mage working from the outside inward in that case, without direct access to the ill person’s internal feedback and repair mechanisms, the mage has lived inside their own body for so long that they’re liable to apply a solution that’s correct for their body, not for that of the ill person.
A mage needs two large sets of knowledge to break past these barriers.
First, that mage needs to know a lot about anatomy, biochemistry, and other medical topics. A mage can do a lot of good work without being as well-trained as your local GP, but the more knowledge they have, the better they can heal someone else. My suspicion is that to practice magical medicine at the highest levels, we will in fact end up needing to become just as knowledgeable as the mundane medical specialists. Despite what you may have read in books, magic is natural and scientific; therefore, so also is magical healing.
Our primary advantage as mages over mainstream medical practitioners is the speed at which we can work, not in the scope of the results that we may achieve.
Speed is a qualitative advantage all on its own, of course. Kaitlyn was there when I prevented a man from bleeding out in a motorcycle crash, repairing his torn blood vessels and organs in minutes, work which would have taken a surgeon hours to repair, hours during which the patient might have died.
Nevertheless, I did not do anything for that guy that a surgeon could not in principle do. Perhaps someday when we have robotic surgeons and nanotech repair craft cruising our circulatory systems, mainstream medicine will stand toe-to-toe with magical healing.
The second set of necessary knowledge is a broad sense of how bodies differ. Without this, a mage can only use their own internal sense of what is “right” when healing others, which can lead to disaster: different bodies require different solutions for the same problem. I’m six-one and of Indian descent, while my wife Kaitlyn is five-two and of mixed Mexican-Irish descent. Back before she learned to heal herself and I had cause to fix a scrape or minor cut for her, I had to pay careful attention while working to avoid making her newly grown skin pucker from being made too large for her smaller frame, and then on top of that I had to avoid making the new skin several shades darker.
And skin’s easy! It’s largely passive, it self-repairs, it’s readily accessible, it’s regular in structure, and there’s a lot of it to work with. Every other part of the body is more difficult to heal, lacking one or more of these qualities. Virtually every other part of the body likely to go wrong in a person’s lifetime is internal. Then on top of that, some parts of the body are dynamic rather than passive, as with the heart. Still others cause secondary problems when they break, as with a compound bone fracture, which creates splinters, which can cut up other body parts. Then there are those parts of the body that are simply deeply complicated, such as the body’s endocrine and immune systems, or which are tiny and delicate, such as the ear bones, or which have essential internal complexity, such as the brain.
I have years more experience healing bodies than Kaitlyn, but I wouldn’t even try to heal brain damage. I’d be just as likely to cause more damage as to fix what had already occurred. I therefore felt fully justified in prohibiting Kaitlyn from healing others before she started gathering that knowledge, starting from when we’d had a formal teacher/student relationship. Now that we’re equal partners in life as well as magic, she continues following that good advice simply because it is good advice, and she knows it.
“I’m serious, Davie,” Kaitlyn said after waiting for an answer from me and not getting one.
“Oh, I agree in principle,” I finally answered, “I was just thinking about how you’d get the knowledge you’ll need to start with.”
“Well, how did you do it?” she demanded, fists on hips, her tone tinged with asperity.
I sighed. “Lots and lots and lots of reading, I’m afraid, and slow careful starts. I didn’t have a teacher, remember. I had to figure all of this out on my own, and I had to avoid getting pilloried as a warlock by the mob along the way. I was hoping to think up some kind of shortcut for you. My experience has to count for something, right? I can’t just dump it into your head, but I’ve got to be able to come up with a better plan for you than I came up with for myself; my first plan sucked, Kaitlyn. I can manage not to kill people, but even now, years on, I’m still not very good at healing.”
“So humble,” she joked.
“I’m serious. Maybe you’re impressed with what I can pull off, but by Ritchie’s beard, I know I’ve just achieved a taste of what’s actually possible! My fondest hope is that helping you learn will help me learn, and we’ll both move forward much faster than either of us alone.”
“That was a very nice piece of work back at the wedding,” she observed. I raised my eyebrows. “Yeah, I saw what you did to Jess. You didn’t say anything, but I saw you do it.”
My best friend Jess was the photographer at our wedding, and I’d paid her back on the sly for her work by fixing all of the health problems she’d developed by eating, breathing, and living computers since shortly after she learned to type. Her body was a mess of developing joint wear, back misalignments, and lower body vein thromboses, all too minor at her young age to be consciously symptomatic, but she was already feeling the early aches of RSI. I’d healed all of that for her.
Then I realized, that was it, our ticket to knowledge, and from there we’d achieve our broader goal: discover more mages. “Kaitlyn, about a month ago you said something about starting a desert nudist resort and spa to help find mages.”
“Right,” she said, tentatively, drawing the word out.
“Well, what if we build up toward it, starting with personal massage services? You not only saw what I did to Jess but also how: I did it under cover of a full-body naked massage. If we became licensed therapists, we’d have to learn a lot about anatomy and such just for the coursework, and we’d have to interact with a lot of different types of bodies. You’d receive the training you need, and it’s a perfect excuse for getting people naked, even in this conservative state.”
Nature mages do their best work under the most natural conditions, because it allows us to draw on Gaia’s power directly rather than draw only on our limited internal reserves. The most effective way to do magic is to be naked in nature. Truly.
Have you never wondered why there are so many stories about historical mages, but we find none in the modern world? The standard explanation is that these are just legends, but after becoming a mage myself, I realized that what we have going on here isn’t two separate effects — the rise of technology and the decreasing occurrence of mages in historical tales, independently — but one effect: rising technology encroaches on nature, which causes the number of nature mages to decrease as humanity’s access to nature decreases.
Clothing is a problem for mages because it’s a technological artifact: mechanically woven fibers in tight unnatural patterns, synthetically dyed, cut into unnatural shapes, permanent-pressed into still less natural shapes, held together by synthetic threads, riveted together at the seams, fastened with zippers and buttons so fine they’d have been fit for kings a hundred years ago, and then placed either directly upon the skin or held mere millimeters above it. Then on top of that you have accessories, jewelry, pocket contents… A modern person is literally surrounded by technological artifacts, all hovering just over their skin.
Kaitlyn and I have done several preliminary experiments where we can show a direct correlation between distance to technological artifacts and the amount of magic we can wield. When we get too close to tech, our magic fails utterly once our internal reserves are used up, and being in contact with tech causes us to use up those reserves faster besides.
We had many plans for what we’d do once we had more mages to help us, but the first problem was finding them. You can’t advertise for mages on Craig’s List. Well, not if you want to find actual mages anyway, rather than delusional people. That meant getting lots of people out in nature, naked. That’s tricky enough in the conservative-leaning US, but we lived in Utah; double whammy.
Neither Kaitlyn nor I had any plans to move to a more liberal clime. Kaitlyn had family here, and I’d left the big cities I’d grown up in and lived in all my life, coming out here to Moab, a small tourist town in southeastern Utah, specifically in order to get closer to nature. Places with liberal attitudes towards nudity tended to be urbanized, which just compounds a nature mage’s problems in a different way. A city park is poor sustenance to a nature mage, and it turns out that it’s impractical to spend hours each day naked in a US city park learning to do magic, especially if you’re trying to teach yourself something as spectacular as healing others while avoiding getting mobbed by the masses or turned into a government lab rat. So, we were stuck with working in rural areas and taking the minuses with the pluses.
Kaitlyn had been thinking about my proposal while I was woolgathering, so I was slightly startled when she asked, “So how do we get licensed?”
That threw me. All I knew was that it was legally required, not how to achieve it. “Ahh… Let me get back to you on that, love.”
A few hours later, I spun the swivel chair in the computer nook off the living room around and called, “Kaitlyn?”
She walked in from the kitchen, where she’d been working on dinner, dressed only in a dusting of breadcrumbs and splatters of something light yellow.
I remembered hearing the mixer running. To augment that datum, I inhaled deeply and took a guess. “Quiche?”
“Yup,” she acknowledged. “What’d you need, Davie? I was about to pour the mix into the shell.”
I stood and walked back into the kitchen with her and spoke as I helped her clean up from dinner prep, “Well, I looked into it, and there are actually a couple of ways to get a massage therapy license in this state: apprentice yourself to a long-practicing therapist or go to a massage school.”
“I like the sound of apprenticeship better,” she said hopefully. “No school fees, no set class times, no tests, no books… We could even work for free in exchange for the education, doing it in off hours and such, rather than take time off work to go to a school.”
“Alas, there are a bunch of problems with that option. The course requirements are more stringent, and you need more hours under the tutor. The tutor in turn has to file as much paperwork with the state as an accredited school does as far as curriculum goes. It’d probably take us years to go that way, and once you consider the value of our time, it’d be a lot more expensive besides.”
“So, back to school it is, then,” she said, unenthusiastically.
“Yeah. Not only can we get licensed faster that way, we’ll probably get better lessons in anatomy than if we went the apprenticeship route. Win-win.”
“What if we just start practicing on the side without getting licensed?” she asked.
“The law allows that only if we don’t charge for it and we don’t advertise our services using any word like ‘massage.’ We can’t practice widely if we have to keep our activities hobby-scale and we can’t advertise. It’s a poor path to our real goals, teaching you healing and then going out and putting those skills into practice.”
“What do we need to make money for? Do you want to quit your job?” she asked.
“Not exactly. I like what I do for a living, but I want the option to trade off hours spent repairing computers for hours doing massage and magical healing. That means I need to be making about as much money to avoid it feeling like a sacrifice. I don’t want to feel foolish spending time on this.”
“There are other compensating benefits besides money,” she said coyly, gathering me into a loose hug, smearing the cooking detritus over my equally bare front.
I looked down into her glorious green eyes and replied, “Sure, but when the end of the month comes and there’s a mortgage bill in the mailbox, I can’t send them a check made out to ‘Happy Feelings’ or draw on the account of the Fund for the Advancement of Powerful Magical Entities.”
She thought about that for a bit, then began chortling. “FAP-ME?” she said through her snorts.
“Caught that one, did you?” I grinned back.
“All right, so we go legit then,” she agreed, getting serious.
“Right. And part of that means we have to stick to just massage. No, shall we say, ‘extra services.’ No wink wink, nudge nudge,” I replied. “The state will get awful tetchy if we start offering happy endings and such.”
“Now hang on there,” Kaitlyn answered, pulling out of the embrace, “it’s only illegal if we charge for it, right?”
“Yeah, but we already covered the money angle…” I started.
“But nothin’!” she interjected. “There’ll be times when we need to go deeper than simple tissue massage to get the job done. We’ve already shown the power of sex magic for environmental cleanup. Surely sex magic will also work for healing? Are you going to tell me that if you’re faced with letting someone continue with some chronic disease or even die of an injury, but you can fix it with sex magic, you’ll refuse to heal them just because you’re now a licensed therapist?”
“Well, no,” I started to answer defensively.
“Right then. We just won’t charge for those, that’s all.”
She had such a ‘discussion closed’ look on her face that I was nervous about proceeding. “I agree in principle, but we’re married now. Newlywed, in fact. Are you telling me you’re not going to have a problem if your husband of two weeks starts banging other chicks?”
“Depends. Are these other chicks in desperate need of medical attention?” she challenged.
I completed her thought, “And how do I prove it to you after the fact when you catch me bouncing on the bed with her, both of us quite healthy? I can see the scene now: ‘But Kaitlyn, she was in horrible pain before I started boning her!’”
Kaitlyn laughed at that image, then proposed, “All right, so let’s set some ground rules then. We’ve got to be open and honest with each other about what we’re doing and why. Whenever possible, we get the other one in on the job if only so we agree that sex magic is appropriate.”
“I can agree to that,” I replied.
She sat thinking it through, then added, “I think there needs to be room in the agreement for emergency situations. I mean, say I’m out in the field for some work thing, camped out in the middle of nowhere with no cell service, and you come upon someone who will die in the next few days of something horrible if you don’t fix them. Do you let them die just because I’m incommunicado?”
I offered, “I see your point, but in that case I’d be able to point to medical charts and such to prove I needed to act right then. No after-the-fact fight about the now-healthy person. Besides, such a person would probably still be visibly weak from the dissipation of laying in a hospital bed dying of whatever it is that caused me to act.”
“Good point,” Kaitlyn acknowledged. “So, what about that motorbike guy whose life we saved back in the canyons several months back? You know, the spring break college kid? What if he was so much worse off that only sex magic would have saved him, and I’d been there alone? There were no records of the internal injuries before or after the healing. Would you be mad if I’d jumped his bones, if by doing so I could have saved his life solo?”
“I don’t suppose I would. But you make me wonder… Last month we did some experiments on whether, ah…solo work…”
“Masturbation,” she translated bluntly, quirking her lips.
“Right. Anyway, whether that was more or less effective than loving couples sex when it comes to doing magic with the energy released at orgasm,” I finished.
“I remember it well, Davie. It turns out that, shock of shocks, couples sex is better.”
“Well,” I went on, “would jumping Motorcycle Guy’s bones have counted as couples sex? He was unconscious at the time, and probably would have gone on being so while you bounced on his limp cock.”
“Ah, minor detail,” she said. “I wonder if I can use magic to give an unconscious guy a hard-on?”
“Probably,” I acknowledged, “it’s just a question of blood flow and regulating normal bodily functions, but then aren’t you basically proposing rape? There’s no consent. And let’s say we justify that somehow, telling ourselves that it’s for the greater good of the patient, does it even help? Are you having loving couples sex with the guy or are you masturbating him with your pussy?”
“Wow…” she said, stunned now in her own turn by my bluntness. “When you put it that way, I think you might be right. It probably does little good to begin with.”
“I think that’s correct, and even if it did work, I wouldn’t even know how to begin investigating the boundaries of that ethical tarpit. I think for now, we just have to say that we can only work on people who aren’t so far gone that they can give consent.”
“Agreed, agreed,” she said quickly.
“So, do you have a better example of someone who can give consent, but which is an acute case that has to be handled right now, without waiting for one of us to consult with the other before we begin work, and where there are no medical records to back the decision after the fact?”
“Well, no, not at the moment,” Kaitlyn admitted, “but can I at least get you to agree that there might be such a situation, and that we both can and should stretch the trust we had going into this marriage enough to cover any such case?”
“Sure, as long as we don’t use that permission to justify selfish actions,” I said.
“Agreed. Our first duty is to each other, to this marriage. The health of others must come after that, not just for ethical reasons, but also for practical ones: we’re far more powerful together than apart, Davie. We’d be doing the world a huge disservice if we broke up the marriage of the only known mage couple. If there’s a way to prevent it, we must, morally. Later generations of mages might have the freedom to blow up their marriages, because they can just find another to marry, but as long as we’re numbered among a small cadre of living mages, we don’t have that option.”
“Well-said. It’s agreed,” I said, taking her back into my arms and sealing our pact with a kiss on her cheek. “I promise not to hurt you, Kaitlyn.”
“No, Davie,” she said, pushing back from the hug, hand on my chest. “Promise instead to reduce the net amount of pain in the world. If you have to hurt me a little to save someone else’s life, I’ll take that hurt to see that benefit realized in the world. We’ll have to stay well under the 50/50 tradeoff point to avoid harming our marriage, but if the hurt is small and the benefit is large…”
“You’re right, Kaitlyn.” I took a deep breath then repeated her words solemnly, “I promise to reduce the amount of pain in the world.”
“And I promise that to you, Davie.” She relaxed back into the embrace, kissed me, squeezed me, and held me for a good little while before leading me into the bathroom to clean ourselves up while dinner cooked.
Ours is a nudist home, so we took no clothing into the bathroom and felt no need to find clothing after toweling off from our shower. We weren’t worried about a friend arriving, prompting a scramble for concealment; we didn’t have any friends we felt the need to hide our bodies from.
Out in the living room, Kaitlyn asked, “You got any particular school in mind?”
“Yeah, I’ve been looking at it, but there aren’t any massage therapy schools in Moab. We’ll have to pack up and leave for a while. There are several to choose from in Utah.”
“If we’ve got to travel, why restrict it to in-state schools?” she asked. “Surely there isn’t a tuition penalty for out-of-state students? This sort of education can’t possibly be taxpayer subsidized.”
“No, you’re right, but the thing is, massage therapist licenses don’t transfer across state lines, and each state has different schooling requirements,” I explained.
“That sucks,” she said.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Established therapists can get new licenses in another state by showing they were in business elsewhere long enough to prove they don’t need the training, but we won’t get to that point for years. Of the schools I’ve looked at, I’d prefer one up in the Salt Lake area. There we’d have the support of my old friends from when I lived there, especially Jess. Your mother’s got a bunch of friends up there, too. Anywhere else, we’d have to find a way to support ourselves while also going to school.”
“Sounds promising,” she replied uncertainly.
“With sufficient support, we can cram the required hours into a shorter period by taking both day and night classes. We won’t be able to hold down jobs on that kind of schedule, so we’ll need somewhere cheap to live, somewhere we can live on our savings alone.”
Kaitlyn looked thoughtful. “Y’know, Davie, Vin’s going up to U of U this fall. He’s leaving in a couple of weeks, in fact. Could we arrange something with him?”
“You mean like rent a house with him? Maybe…” I thought for a time, then realized, “Hey, Jess has a 3-bedroom house, and she lives in it all alone. I’m pretty sure she’d be willing to let me room with her if I asked. You’d be in my room, and Vin could have the other. It’d be crowded, but it’d only have to be for seven months…”
I was getting up a head of steam on this idea, but Kaitlyn interrupted, “Seven months‽ I can’t take off work that long!”
“Yeah, taking both night and day classes,” I confirmed. “If we take only day classes, it’s a year-long program.”
“Aw crap, Sherry’s going to flip if I ask for that much time off!” Kaitlyn complained, referring to her boss.
“Maybe, maybe not. There might be a sabbatical program you could apply for. And if not, it’s not like you have a huge amount of seniority banked. Just two years, right? Worst case, you’ll start over two years behind, no worse off than if you’d had to have a bridge job out of college. Sherry will re-hire you at your current position or equivalent, I’m sure of it.”
“Mmmmff,” she grumped.
I let her stew on it, so it was her who broke the silence. “What about you? Can you take that long off?”
“Yeah, no problem. Our work is pretty closely tied to tourist season, since our big bucks come in from our business clients, and the town almost shuts down through the cold months. 7 months takes us from this fall semester through to next spring, when business picks back up. For me, it’s as close to perfect as I could reasonably hope for. That’s why I’m eager to take the days-and-nights credit-jamming option: I want to be back here in the spring.”
“Well, you’ve got this all figured out then, haven’t you?” she said, still sounding somewhat irritated.
I shrugged. “Kaitlyn, I truly do think it’s our best option for getting you the training, experience, and legal cover you’ll need to learn to become a mage healer.” She was still looking upset, so I decided it was time for a bit o’ carrot. “In the end, you’ll become a better healer than I am today, and you’ll get there faster.”
Kaitlyn sighed. “All right, you’ve sold me.”
Gotcha! I mentally pumped my fist.
“How much does this course cost?” she added resignedly.
“Don’t worry about it, Kaitlyn; we’ve got it in the bank. I’ve run the numbers, and even considering a reasonable rental fee on Jess’ spare bedroom, I figure we can make up the loss in a year or two of practice part time. In the long run, it should pay out handsomely, even if we only ever end up doing it part-time.”
“I’m getting happier about this,” she said.
“Good. So should I start setting it up?”
“Not tonight,” she answered. “Let me bounce the idea off of Sherry and see what my options are.”
“You’ve got it.”
Over dinner, Kaitlyn said, “Hey, I’ve just thought of that good example you were wanting, a case where sex magic would be justified without consulting the other partner in this marriage.”
“Shoot,” I said.
“Swinging,” she said, simply.
“Aren’t we a little too young and too newly-wed to be swinging?” I asked, shocked.
“As a matter of everyday practice, yeah, probably, but what if we’re both at an island resort, and we’ve split up for the day, and you come across some woman who’s got a minor medical problem that’s best cleared up with sex magic? Do you leave her there to seek professional attention because I’m not around to get permission from, or do you bed her and get the problem fixed?”
“I take it you’re really wanting permission to do the same in inverse,” I replied wryly.
“Yup. There must be thousands of cute guys with minor medical problems for me to bonk,” she said teasingly.
“I guess we’ll have to fall back on the least net pain rule in cases like that, then,” I replied. I hesitated before going on, but this was the best opportunity to ask this that had come along in the month since the question had first come to me. “Kaitlyn, how do you want to define ‘open and honest’? I ask because your mother used that phrase with me in one of our conversations when referring to what she shares with your father and what she doesn’t. I think the idea has some overlap with our least-pain idea. As a motivating example, under what conditions could I simply choose not to tell you about the poolside pretties I bang in the name of emergency medical attention?”
“You’re asking me how you can get away with being unfaithful?” she teased, knowing I wasn’t.
“I’m asking where the boundary is, my love. Is there a case where the least pain is simply not to tell you, or do I always have to tell you eventually?”
“The first path seems to lead to more pain later, doesn’t it?” she returned, thoughtfully. “How about we tell each other what we’ve been up to as soon as practical, but if we decide the other has told us something they really didn’t need to, we can start to pare back the boundaries, giving the other more freedom. Does that work?”
“I think it will, at least to be getting started with,” I agreed.
We leaned across the table and kissed, trading bits of quiche, ratifying our pact’s first amendment.
“So, back to the question of sex vs love…” I began.
“The motorbike crash case again,” she acknowledged.
“Right. We already know that simple orgasm doesn’t produce much magic to work with and that passionate loving sex produces tons of magic. So, what does swinging do? What I’m really asking, Kaitlyn, is whether it’s actually love that does the work or passion?”
“I guess we’ll just have to try the experiment,” she replied.
“Got any prospects?”
Sadly, she said, “No, nothing comes to mind.” Then she sighed and smiled. “Well, I suppose that’s actually not a bad thing: it means I don’t know anyone with serious health problems, someone so badly in need of magical help that I’d have to have sex with them to fix their problem.”
“As a rule, I suspect we can do without the sex magic anyway,” I opined. “You don’t want to go out looking for strangers in serious need of magico-medical attention, do you?”
“No. No, definitely not. Let’s stick to massage only for now,” she replied decisively. “On that note, Davie, if we’re going to be leaving the area for half a year, I want to give all of my family and close friends a private massage as a going-away present. We can do a magical checkup on them at the same time, but as I say, I don’t think we’ll find anything. The real goal will be to set up a before-and-after comparison for when we get back, blowing them away with our new mad skillz.”
After we put away dinner and I washed the dishes, Kaitlyn having done most of the cooking, I made a couple calls.
First, I asked Jess if she would let us rent one of her spare bedrooms for the class period. She was happy to do it, even saying we could live with her rent-free for a period like that, but I didn’t want it to become socially awkward with tensions arising from a sense of free-loading. We could afford it, and it would lubricate the arrangement, so we agreed on a room rate we were both happy with, one we couldn’t hope to achieve shopping on the open housing market. I then asked her about her other spare bedroom, but she told me she’d made it into her home office — she actually called it her nerd-girl cave — so we canned the idea of bringing Vin in on this deal; oh, well.
Second, I talked to Jasper Poulsen, a close friend who’d officiated at our wedding. As a long-time police officer, he knew everyone in town, so I asked him if he knew anyone who could use our house while we were away. We didn’t want to get into formal rental agreements when we knew we were coming back. As I’d hoped, he had the answer, a relative of his whose doctor had prescribed some time in a dry climate to help heal a lung problem. We agreed on a price that’d cover our mortgage payment, utility bills, and property tax payments for that period. I told him we were planning to be out of the place in a week or two, depending on when classes started at the massage school.
That settled, I began packing the stuff I’d need to take.