OUR GROUP HAD become a close group of friends over our first two years at school, and we found that we all worked together very well. Only Sam and I lived in the village, so we tended to get together a lot at my place to study since Sam was a little skittish about letting Big people inside her place. On those occasions Edgar had to duck a little to come inside my apartment, and tended to bring his own folding chair, but it became normal for us all to hang out a few nights of the week.
One of the few times that I had inside Sam’s apartment; I had caught sight of a package of night-time protection that I guessed was why she didn’t want anyone over. She’d even been leery of me at first, but as we got to know each other, I told her more about my own past and Beth. As a consequence, we became good friends and I helped her out in situations where even in this city it wouldn’t be a good idea to go unescorted as a Little!
My time in law school was flying by unbelievably quickly! During my second year I had worked really hard to earn the recommendation of one of my professors to get an internship to clerk with the Chief Justice on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. Justice Ruth Jones was highly respected, and had a reputation for being a no-nonsense juror, but understood applying the law accurately and fairly as well.
After my finals ended in May, I’d made a quick trip home to grab my car - driving it first to New Haven. I’d taken a hurried day at Harlan to move much of my stuff out into storage, and the needed things into the car to take with me. I had been on the road for two hours to get to Crescent City, Capital of The State of Hartford, on the Saturday before I was set to begin interning. I was glad it was a city in the same state as Harlan, just so I could feel safer about this move. Unfortunately, the move was pretty much sight unseen for me with the apartment. I had interviewed with Judge Jones via a video conference instead of being in person due to my classes. She’d been completely understanding of my need for that, and had even complimented me on taking my coursework seriously. After she offered me the position, she was kind enough to send along a couple of recommendations of places to live that she knew were nice places close to the courthouse.
This apartment was in a high-rise building downtown only two blocks from the courthouse. Luckily it also had access to a parking garage for my car, even though it looked to me on the surface to be possible to never have to leave the area for anything other than maybe groceries. I pulled into the garage as I’d been instructed by the manager, grabbed my briefcase, and walked down the tall stairs to exit the garage. At the bottom I found a door that led to the apartments themselves. Opening a large door, I followed the arrows to the management’s office.
To my surprise it appeared to be a bigger office than I expected. A tall secretary looked up from her computer and said, “Well hello there! Can I help you?” The problem wasn’t the words… the problem was the pitch was high like you would use with a preschooler... or a baby. I hadn’t dealt with that much since I’d begun studying at Harlan.
I braced myself for more of that, but forced the smile I knew I needed in the courtroom, “Yes, I’m Cameron Sylvester. I’m supposed to move into my apartment today?”
Her face looked inquisitive for a moment, typed something in her computer, and then looked back at me. “Umm… No one told us you were a Little?”
I bit my tongue, “I’m not a Little, I’m legally a Mid, but my size isn’t going to be a problem in renting? That would be discrimination of course…?”
“Let me get my manager…” she stood up and walked away.
I pulled my phone out and placed it in a panic mode that could call Dad without being seen. I hadn’t felt the need to have a panic button ready to go in years now, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was going to be treated as a Little by her. I also started a recording on the phone just in case I needed evidence of what I feared was coming.
Another tall woman made her way to where I was standing. “Mr. Sylvester?” she said.
“Yes, ma’am?” I said as I held my hand up to her.
“I’m Ryleigh Edger, I’m sorry about the confusion here. You were given a reference by Judge Jones, but no one said you weren’t a Big.”
“I don’t see the relevance?”
“Well, we have an apartment furnished and ready to go for you, but it is unfortunately Big sized.”
I shrugged, “I grew up in a full-sized house, it won’t be an issue.”
“Well, maybe it wouldn’t for you… but we have an insurance company that doesn’t approve larger sized rentals for lessee’s due to the safety risks. Concerns of people falling out of too tall beds… not being able to reach safety equipment.”
“So, what you’re telling me is that you will not rent to me? Based upon my size alone?”
“You realize I will be reporting your discrimination? I will probably seek out a small claim’s suit against you all as well. Where am I supposed to rent an apartment on this short of notice?”
“Sir, what? You’ll rent to me?”
“No sir, I’m sorry, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Then I will do so.” I told her.
I turned and walked back to my car, getting inside, locking it, and shaking with nerves then. If she HAD called the cops that would have been a way to manipulate an arrest and get me into the courts. I set my car to drive a safe distance away to a shopping center parking lot where I could try and figure out a plan. I had just left the parking garage when my phone rang.
“Mr. Sylvester?” I heard the voice of Judge Jones.
“Oh, hello Judge Jones.”
“I wanted to see how you were doing? If you had made it to the city yet?”
I sighed, “Well… I made it to the city, but unfortunately the apartment I had arranged to rent was in a building that apparently believes in discriminating against anyone who’s not a Big.”
“What?!?” She sounded genuinely unhappy. “They can’t do that! You told them that?”
“I have a recording too. She was trying to claim it was due to their insurance not being willing to insure the apartments against an injury if I fell…”
“Really?” She acted surprised, “I haven’t seen one of these cases in a couple of years here. When we hang up, I want you to send me the audio recording. I think I’ll get it to our local DA and let him go deal with them… I guess that means your place to stay has fallen through?”
I sighed, “Yeah, I was just getting ready to find a place to park and start calling around for other places.”
“Well…you know what… don’t bother.”
“Ma’am?” I said, nervous she was about to fire me.
“I mean don’t bother. I have a room you can stay in at my house. I have had interns come before, but didn’t want to make you uncomfortable by suggesting it first.”
My stomach did flip-flops. For the second time in twenty minutes, I worried my maturity card could be in jeopardy! ‘She’s not one of those…’ I thought. I thought back to everything I’d researched about her. She had four kids – natural ones – who were all grown. The youngest son had just graduated college this spring, and as far as I knew they had never had a Little, and her kids hadn’t either. Her record spoke pretty positively on the Little front actually, having decided against many Bigs trying to cruelly bypass the stringent adoption rules that the State of Hartford had in place.
“I’d expect to pay rent,” I found myself saying.
“Nonsense! You’re a student! You and I both know what it’s like to eat ramen and get by with the bare minimum on things. Save your money.”
“Well… I have to do something to make it up to you?”
“Nonsense, now, I’m going to text you our address and I’ll be expecting to see you soon!”
“Yes Ma’am,” I found myself saying.
I got off the phone with her and messaged her a copy of the audio file from the apartment. I uploaded it somewhere safe too, before programming in her address and sending my car off to its new destination.
I called Dad then, “Cameron? Did you make it into your apartment already?”
“Hi Dad… No. Things didn’t go as expected…” I filled him in. He seemed to have his own worries along my lines, but neither of us saw another solution. “I’ll be careful Dad, I love you,” I told him.
“Love you too Cameron,” he said to me.
I saw that she must live a fair way out of town, because it was still another twenty minutes to get to her house. Right then my phone lit up with Meg’s number. I pressed accept and said, “Hi Meg, how are you doing?”
“Hi Cameron, you moved into your new place yet?” She asked.
“Not exactly,” I told her.
I explained everything, “Cameron that’s kind of scary. Are you sure it’s safe to go stay with her?”
“I hope so… all of my research tells me I should be safe…”
“I will… How’s everything going there?”
“Odd?” I asked curiously.
“Yeah… You know, when Stacy left there were some weird things that happened.”
“Well… I don’t think I ever told you about my cousins, did I?”
I thought back to what Stacy had told me about them, “You didn’t, but Stacy told me they were all in the worst shape, no teeth, can’t walk, etcetera?”
“Yeah… they were.”
“A month after Stacy left, they healed suddenly. Grew teeth, started to struggle walk again, and could talk like normal.”
“Uh-oh, what did your aunts do?”
“Nothing… Well… sort of nothing. They like turned up the affection levels… I haven’t seen them hit one of them since about a month after that. They’re even letting them eat regular food, and changing their diapers when needed - like a normal parent would. Before they were really abusive, but now both of them treat their Littles like cuddly dolls that they actually love. Well enough, that Neville told me decided to not run away when he suddenly could again.”
“That is weird… You think Stacy?”
“Yeah… I do.”
“Well, at least it’s just them?”
“No… that’s the thing. In the last six-months I’ve noticed less and less of the abusive behavior when Megan has taken me out. Then this week a judge made a ruling that Littles have the same rights to safe homes as normal minor children.”
“You think she somehow hypnotized everyone?” I had to keep from her that I knew full well what had happened.
“No idea… but I’m guessing she had something to do with it.”
“Does that mean Littles aren’t being adopted now?”
“No… unfortunately that hasn’t changed. If anything, I think I’m seeing more adoptions among Megan’s friends. There’s still plenty of ‘adjustments’ happening too, but at least the beatings and such seem to be not as frequent…”
“Things still the same there with you?” I changed the subject.
“Pretty much. Megan’s thinking about switching jobs though, so I may have to start going to a daycare during the daytime…”
“Ouch… I hope not?”
“She’s promised she’ll make sure it’s a nice one if she does.”
I saw the car was three minutes from my destination, “Hey Meg, I want to talk to you some more, but I’m almost to her house. I need to let you go so I can keep track of which of these mansions is hers…”
“I have a feeling her house is going to be bigger than Amanda and Fred’s.”
“Ooh… Good luck Cameron!”
“Talk to you later Meg,” I told her and hung up.
The car brought me to a gated entrance and I pressed the button at the gate, “Hello?” A voice asked.
“I’m here to see Judge Jones?”
“Is that you Cameron?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” remembering my better manners now that I wasn’t so frustrated.
“I’m opening the gate up and the garage, just park your car in the empty spot on the end.”
“Okay,” I found myself saying. The large gate was twice the height of my dad’s car, and looked like it probably would stop a very large vehicle from ramming through it. I saw it close behind me as I guided my car up the driveway to the house. I discovered they had five double garage doors lined up along the side of a large house finished with a stone façade. It looked to be three stories tall, and probably had a basement I guessed too. As I parked in the empty spot, I noted there was a large truck, two SUVs, a luxury sedan, and a small modest classic sportscar in the other bays. It looked like there was a pretty good-sized shop setup in one of the other bays to work on cars too.
I opened my door and looked at the tall figure of Judge Jones walking towards me with a man that I guessed was her husband. Her hair was short and gray, while he lacked anything on top of his head, and the hair on his sides was white. “Hi Judge Jones,” I said. “Thank you so much for helping me out here.”
“I’m Cameron,” I said to the tall man beside her. She was probably a little under eleven feet in height, while he was probably four inches taller than her.
“Nice to meet you Cameron, I’m Doug,” he told me.
“So, you made it alright?” Judge Jones asked me.
“Yes, Your Honor,” I said.
“Oh, stop it with that. If you’re going to be working and living with us, I can’t have you ‘Your Honoring’ me every two seconds. Call me Ruth, or if you really feel a need to be formal Mrs. Jones will be just fine.”
“What all did you bring with you?” She looked inside the car as I opened the back.
“Well, I had thought I was moving into an apartment today, so I brought most of the things I needed from my on-campus apartment…”
“You won’t need a lot of that. Why don’t you bring in your clothes, computer, and anything like that and leave the rest of your things in your car for now? We can store the rest of the boxes next to your car in the garage, or just leave it all in the car. I figure if you’re living with me, we’ll commute into town together.”
“That’s very generous,” I said with a smile.
“Why don’t we go show you your room,” she said after I had grabbed a couple suitcases, my computer, and her husband had grabbed another suitcase. They led me up the steps of a large porch that wrapped around the house, and inside the entry way of the huge house I had to gasp. I’d been inside Addy’s house twice while we had dated, and while probably more expensive, this seemed more elegant.
“You have a beautiful home,” I told them.
“Thank you,” she said. She led me up tall steps that were definitely sized for Bigs. It was a big step up for each, but I managed to balance everything and make to the second floor, and then the third floor where she opened up a door, “I figured you’d probably appreciate the privacy the third floor will give you. This was my youngest daughters… so sorry about the colors in here. You can at least switch the sheets if you’ve got the right size with you.”
I looked in at a room that I was surprised was suited for a shorter person. “She’s shorter?” I asked while looking at a bed that was sized for a Mid or a small Big child.
“Yes, she somehow ended up with a recessive gene. She’s only eight feet tall,” she told me. “Not that much taller than you really.”
“No, that’s the height my dad is,” I said.
“Anyway, when we figured out that she was going to be shorter, we found appropriate sized furniture. We also had the bathroom altered to make it a bit more manageable too.”
“Great!” I said with a smile. “I really do appreciate this!”
“Well, why don’t I let you get situated in here. I’ll have dinner ready in an hour – please come down and join us.”
“Are you sure I can’t pay you anything?”
“Help me with dishes after dinner each day, we’ll call that even,” she told me.
She gave me a look as I was about to argue more, so I smiled, “I’d be happy to do that.”
They left and I took a look around the room. It was decorated for a teen girl with a definitely girlish scheme. Two walls, including one with a huge window seat, were painted white, while the opposite walls were painted a light purple. A bed that looked to be my size was covered in a very feminine white comforter, with the headboard backed up against one of the purple walls. On the wall above the bed were hundreds of stuck on mirrored star shapes that were actually kind of cool. The opposite side of the room held a white vanity with a mirror on it that I assumed her daughter used to do her makeup with from the small dusty remnants that still remained. A fairly sturdy white desk sat beside it with a nice computer chair.
I opened up the closet and discovered it would have been a dream closet for most girls with all of the bars available to hang things. As I unpacked my clothing I thought, “I sure hope she isn’t wanting me to be a new daughter in here…”
As I said that quietly aloud, I noticed my long hair in the reflection of the vanity would certainly suit that look. ‘Why does Beth have to like it long too…?’ I shook my head and made sure I made it downstairs promptly for dinner after putting all of my things away.
Thanks to the couple of you who have been commenting! Please let me know what you think! I'll post more chapters on Sunday. Thanks for reading!