Chapter Description: After surviving his first day as a fifth-grader, Will meets with the school's guidance counselor and discovers the connection they share to his new adoptive mother.
Will tried to keep his head down for the rest of the morning’s classes. Although Mr. Byrd’s cloying, cringe-inducing tone still made him want to retch, he resisted the urge to act out – forcing himself to simply listen to and obey the teacher’s patronizing instructions. A private rebellion was still in full swing in his mind, however. As he slogged his way through simple reading exercises, worksheets, and eye roll inducing class discussions he continued to turn over his defiant mantra in his head:
I’m Twenty-Seven Years Old. I’m a grown man. I’m a lawyer. I’m going to get out of this.
When the bell sounded, he practically bounded out of his seat – only to be quickly shut down by Mr. Byrd.
“Will…” he warned, indicating for him to sit down again with a single swish of his finger. “The bell doesn’t dismiss you. I do.”
The boy obeyed with a frustrated huff, sitting down heavily in his chair to the sound of a few audible titters.
“Good work this morning, gang.” Mr Byrd continued. “Have a good recess. Will, stay behind.”
Will gave a bitter sigh. He hadn’t even done anything! He just hoped Mr. Byrd wasn’t planning on keeping him for the whole of recess. There were a few more giggles as the class filed out, but Will couldn’t tell if they were meant to be directed at him or if they were simply the ambient background noise of a group of excited fifth-graders heading out to play. Regardless, he was certain he saw a few smug looks directed at the sight of him sat dejectedly in his little desk with his arms folded. Julio gave him a sympathetic smile as he passed.
“See you outside.” He whispered. Will nodded curtly, trying to look unbothered as Mr. Byrd approached his desk. The teacher pulled up one of the undersized chairs, sitting down so that he was on the boy’s level.
“How are you doing, buddy?” He asked cheerily.
“Fine.” Will sulked, his pouty expression clearly portraying the opposite.
“You were a doing a lot better after our talk, bud – let’s just try and keep that up, okay?”
“Yes, Mr. Byrd.” He intoned robotically.
“Good lad.” He praised. “I saw that you’re booked in to see the guidance counselor this afternoon. Maybe she can help with that attitude problem of yours, hm?”
Guidance counselor? Will swallowed nervously. That couldn’t be good. What were they planning? More drugs? Brainwashing? Some freaky Clockwork Orange shit? He needed to talk to Liam – and fast.
“Yes, Mr. Byrd.” He repeated, trying to put on a vaguely cheery tone.
The teacher offered a broad smile. “That’s the spirit.” He rose to his feet, knocking on the wooden desk top with satisfaction. “Alright then. Off you go and play.”
Will didn’t need to be told twice. Without another word, he jumped to his feet and hurried out of the classroom. He burst through the double doors that led outside, his mettle tested when he was assaulted suddenly by a cacophony of sights and sounds. Everywhere he looked there were kids running, screaming, laughing, teasing. While many of the fourth and fifth graders were caught up in pickup contests of football and basketball, others played card games or hung out in their established cliques. The littler boys and girls, meanwhile, swarmed the swing set and scrambled madly over the open lawn, the scene so chaotic that Will couldn’t tell whether they were playing any sort of game or if they were merely shouting as loud and running as fast as they could. He scanned their numbers for any sign of Liam but there was too much going on to see if the second grader was out there, the flurry of activity too wild and raucous to make out any one child.
Will managed to swallow his mounting panic only when he saw that the teachers of the lower grades were out on the playground, watching their young charges to ensure they weren’t getting up to too much trouble. One of them seemed to be looking after kids about Liam’s age, and so Will strode stiffly up to the pleasant-looking middle-aged woman who regarded him with a curious smile when he cleared his throat to get her attention.
“Excuse me, are you Liam’s teacher?”
“Oh, you must be Will!” She beamed at the uncomfortable boy. “Your mom mentioned that Liam would be getting a big brother, I tried to get him to talk about you during class today but the silly little guy’s being a bit of a sourpuss.”
“Uh-huh.” Will winced as he realized that the trials of the younger boy must be even more humiliating than his own. “Is he out here?”
“Aww, it’s very sweet of you to check in on your little sibling.” The woman gushed, ignoring the way Will scowled when she ruffled his soft sandy hair. “I’m afraid Liam’s with the guidance counselor, though, he’s been seeing her over lunch the past few days to help him get more comfortable here. If you have a message for him I’d be happy to pass it along.”
“N-no, that’s okay.” Will managed as his heart sank. “Thanks.”
The boy staggered away without waiting for a response, numbed by the confirmation that this afternoon he’d be subject to whatever conditioning Liam was undergoing at that very moment. Frustrated as he was that he’d be unable to convene with his foster brother, that frustration was dwarfed by Will’s bone-chilling terror in realizing that Viridia wasn’t content to wait until he and Liam started thinking like real children – its citizenry was ready and eager to usher along that process in any way possible. At a loss for what to do, Will wandered the grounds until he happened upon Julio reading a book as he sat by himself against a wall.
“...hey.” So engaged had Julio been in the YA novel that he jumped and yipped when Will piped up, the boy’s approach having gone completely unnoticed. “Do you mind if I sit here?”
“...no, go ahead.” Julio said after a second, soft brow furrowed in concern when Will sighed and plopped down heavily beside him. “Is everything okay?”
“Not even remotely.” Will barked out a laugh as he shook his head, indulging in his misery for a moment before turning and meeting the worried eyes of his new friend. “By the way...why did you lie for me?”
“I…I dunno…” the boy stuttered uneasily, still very nervous. “You’re nice. I didn’t want you to get in trouble…”
Will put a reassuring hand on the boy’s shoulder, feeling the small cap quiver under his grip.
“Why’d you tell on me in the first place then?” He asked with a smile.
“That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
“I changed my mind.” He gulped, dropping his register into a low whisper. “Sometimes, when people get in trouble, they go away. I didn’t want you to go away…”
The two sat in silence for a moment, Will processing this new information as the sun beat down steadily on their heads. He spread out his fingers against the warm tarmac, fascinated by the way his regressed senses combined with the familiar stimuli heightened his heady feeling of nostalgia. The sound, the smell, the feel – it was all as it had been the first time he was in elementary school; as if the last decade and a half of his life had been nothing but some hazy arduous dream, and he had only just now been stirred back into reality.
A part of him had been clinging onto the vague notion that this was all made up –- it was a nightmare, or a bad trip, a fantasy conjured by some deep subconscious part of his brain. Surely in reality he was overdosing in a hospital bed or had slipped into a coma. But as he sat there with his hands stretched out on the playground next to his sad-eyed companion, he knew for certain that it was all too real. He looked into the boy’s dark brown eyes, deciding there and then that he could trust him.
“You mean they get younger.” He eventually stated.
Julio cringed but gave a solemn nod. “Sometimes they just join the younger classes, but sometimes…”
He trailed off as a dark shadow stretched across the two of them, a trio of boys which Will recognized from their fifth-grade class sauntering over from across the playground. The tallest of the boys, a stocky blond, stood in the middle clutching a soccer ball under his arm. His bare knees were cut and mud-stained, indicating that he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty – one way or another.
“What’re you dweebs talking about?” He demanded, flashing his sly eyes to his two companions for approval. The other boys provided it at once, snickering sycophantically at their chief’s non-joke and crossing their arms with that faux authority which could only be achieved by lame wannabee elementary school bullies.
“Leave us alone, Lucas.” Julio complained tiredly. Clearly, this wasn’t his first rodeo.
“Aww.” Lucas cooed. “Looks like Julio’s made a special friend.” He sneered down at Will. “What about it ickle Billy? Does your bum-bum still sting from Mr. Byrd giving you a spanking?”
After everything Will had been through that morning, the last thing he was prepared to entertain was a power play from a preteen. Though he knew that he risked a beating standing up for himself – his recently stirred up memories of his first childhood including more than one run-in with bullies that went bad – Will would gladly take another thrashing before he let this little prick and his goons join the cavalcade of those determined to hold dominion over him. Said goons shared an unsettled look when Will stood up from his seat against the wall, keeping his expression eerily calm as he stepped to a scowling Lucas.
“Get. The fuck. Away. From us.” Will snarled, allowing himself a tiny smirk when the trio’s eyes widened at the unhesitating venom with which he’d delivered the dirtiest word they knew.
“Figures that a weirdo like Julio would make friends with a crazy kid.” Goon One scoffed in an attempt to swing control of the situation back to their side. “You are gonna be in so much trouble when we tell a teacher.”
“Oh no, aw da big bad buwwies gonna tattle on me?” Were he still an adult, Will wouldn’t think of sinking to a bully’s level. Given his current standing and his need to lash out at somebody, however, the boy had no qualms with showing a little fire to defend himself and Julio. “I knew you guys were pussies the second I laid eyes on you, thanks a lot for proving me right.”
The trio’s eyes somehow grew wider when Will delivered the second of his one-two cursing combination, the bullies clearly not used to their prey showing resistance (to say nothing of Will’s colorful language in doing so). Lucas’ goons looked to him for reassurance as the ringleader stared down an expressionless Will, the horrible tension of the moment snapped when Lucas suddenly shoved him against the wall. Though the boy – ready and raring for a fight – bounced back with his fists clenched, it was to find the trio snickering as they backed away from the furious new kid.
“Relax, Billy boy.” Lucas sneered, his bravado back now that he was out of Will’s reach. “We’re just trying to help you fit in! Here’s a tip – don’t piss off the teacher and don’t make friends with freaks. Oh, and keep your head on a swivel – it’s a small town and we know every inch of it.”
With that the trio disappeared into the fracas, throwing jeers and insults over their shoulders as they went. Will waited until they were well and gone before allowing himself to relax, feeling a little woozy as he came down from the rush of blood to his head. When he looked down at Julio it was to find the boy curled up against the wall, arms wrapped tightly around the knees he buried his face into.
“Hey...” Julio jumped when Will touched the boy gently on his shoulder. “Are you okay?”
“...I-I think so...” Julio whimpered as he looked up, shaken by the confrontation. His breath came in hitches as his cheeks went scarlet, clearly ashamed of the emotional torrent that was carrying him to tears but powerless to pull himself free. “I...I thought you guys were going to f-fight, and it would’ve been m-my fault, and, and you would’ve gotten hurt and – ”
“Whoa, Julio, calm down man.” Will knelt beside the panicking boy and wrapped an arm around his slender shoulder, giving him a moment to regain his composure. “Even if we had fought, it’d would’ve been my decision and my fault, okay? I didn’t stand up to those assholes because I thought you needed protecting, I did it because it was the right thing to do.”
Julio sniffled but said nothing. Will waited a beat before withdrawing his arm and nodding at the book in his friend’s lap.
“What’s that you’re reading? Is it good?”
Julio wiped his eyes and smiled at Will.
“It’s The Adventures of Alex Law. You must have read it!”
Will gave an amused chuckle at Julio’s enthusiasm. “I haven’t,” he admitted, not up to date with the latest trends in grade school fiction.
“It’s so cool! He solves like crimes and stuff, and he has these super cool gadgets – but he’s only in seventh grade!”
“Yeah! Right now, he just overheard the principal talking about a criminal conspiracy, so he has to sneak into her office to find evidence!”
“Sorry – this is the sixth one. I can lend you the first, if you want.”
“Sure, I’d like that.” Will replied, although he desperately hoped he wouldn’t be hanging around for long enough to make his way through an entire book series.
Still, when he’d been a kid for real, he’d practically devoured books like that. He thought back wistfully at how he had torn through page after page of sci-fi adventures, epic fantasies, and spy thrillers not too dissimilar to what Julio was describing. He was still a fast reader – but nowadays he’d be lucky if he had time to read a magazine for pleasure. After spending an entire day skimming through mind numbing court judgments, statutes, and law review articles, the notion of cozying up in bed with a book was hardly attractive. He was much more likely to find himself zoned out on the couch watching some idiotic reality TV show – glad to turn his brain off in the few meager hours he had to himself.
“Do you know who the guidance counselor is?” He asked abruptly, hoping to glean some more useful information.
Julio’s eyes widened excitedly. “You get to see her?”
“Yeah – this afternoon.”
Will raised a skeptical eyebrow, surprised by the boy’s reaction. “What’s lucky about seeing a guidance counselor?”
“She’s super nice! And you probably get to miss class – unless you have the after-school slot.” Julio enthused. “I used to have her every lunch,” he added wistfully, “but they said I don’t need to go anymore.”
Will bit his lip thoughtfully. Could his suspicions have been correct? If he’d been seeing this so-called “guidance counselor” it certainly seemed likely that Julio was another victim of Viridia. The thought was hardly comforting. If Julio had ever been an adult, he was unquestionably now a little kid through and through. Sure, he was a little bit nerdy, but he was hardly mature. The boy had been close to tears after their interaction with Lucas, and that asshole was little more than some up-jumped cry bully. Still, it seemed he had been here a lot longer than Liam. He was certainly knowledgeable about the town – even if he did have the mind of a child.
“About that book.” Will circled back cautiously. “You ever do anything like Alex Law?”
“What do you mean?”
“Y’know. Sneak around. Listen to grown-ups. Look for clues in the principal’s office. Stuff like that.”
“We’re not allowed in the offices!” Liam objected immediately. “We could get in tr –”
“Not for real.” Will interrupted, immediately backtracking so as to not spook the kid again. “Like a game. Playing pretend.”
To his surprise, Julio actually scoffed. “Sounds kinda babyish.”
That was fair, Will supposed. Perhaps he had been coming on a bit too strong. The kid was eleven, not five. He forced himself to laugh, trying to play it cool. “Yeah, I guess...”
Will leapt as the sound of the bell rang out across the playground, frowning as he watched kids from all over the grounds be drawn towards the double doors like grains of sand sifting through the eye of an hourglass. Julio was just as bound to its thrall as the rest of the student body, and when the shy boy rose to go inside Will realized that there was little he could do but follow. He shivered as he stepped inside and into the crowded hall, loathe to trade the relative freedom of recess for the monarchy of the classroom. The one saving grace was that there was still time set aside for he and his classmates to enjoy lunch at their desks before diving back into the lessons, though it didn’t help Will to take his mind off matters when he opened his lunchbox and saw the strawberry Go-Gurt nestled between a halved sandwich in a plastic bag and an apple-cranberry juice box.
“Got anything you’re willing to trade for this?” Will asked Julio as he held up the tube of yogurt.
“Aw, strawberry! That’s my favorite.” Julio declared. “All I have is this.”
The shy boy held up an orange, hardly believing his luck when his new friend gladly swapped it for the Go-Gurt. Frankly, Will was happy to have at least one element of his meal be something he might eat as an adult, though he was too hungry to not also reluctantly eat half his ham and cheese (and too thirsty after that to not have half his juice box). The pair ate in silence at first, Will not at all surprised to discover that Julio was quiet and polite while he tucked into his own sandwich and took modest gulps of Go-Gurt.
“So...” Will ventured between bites, wanting to learn more about how Julio came to this town without letting on why he was asking. “Have you and your family always lived here?”
“Yep!” Julio piped, seemingly proud of the fact. “My mom and dad own the grocery store, and they say that it’ll be mine someday.”
“Cool! Is that what you want?”
“Well...” Julio frowned at his PB & J. “I mean, it’s really nice that they wanna give it to me, but sometimes the customers are jerks and it’s a lot of boring work just keeping the place clean. I guess it would be okay if I still had time to write.”
“You want to be a writer?” Will asked, getting but the barest nod of confirmation from his blushing friend. “How do your parents feel about that?”
“I’ve never told them.”
“Didn’t they ask after they read your stuff?”
Though Julio stayed silent, his blush going a shade deeper told Will all he needed to hear.
“So...they don’t know that you write, do they?” A shake of the head. “Have you ever shared your writing with anybody?”
“It’s not...it’s not like I have a lot of friends...” Julio managed though it clearly pained him to admit it. “And even if I did, they’d just think I was weird for writing anything that isn’t for school.”
“I don’t think you’re weird.” Will insisted. “And I’d really like to read anything you’re willing to share with me.”
Though Julio said nothing – and in fact didn’t speak another word for the rest of lunch – Will could see clear as day see a smile tugging at the corners of the shy boy’s lips as he ate. The pair completed their meal in companionable silence, the refreshment and happiness Will took from the respite lasting right up until Mr. Byrd asked the class to finish eating and get their desks prepared for afternoon lessons.
Will kicked his legs aggressively back and forth as he dangled from the high plastic chair. He was staring daggers at the freckle-faced young woman sitting opposite, tapping his fingers impatiently against the wooden edge of the desk in front of him as he tried to sniff out that same hokey, fake chumminess that he’d so easily detected in Mr. Byrd. To his surprise however, he didn’t find it – seeing nothing but sincere, kindly warmth in soft features framed amidst cascades of electric orange hair.
“How was your first day at school, Will?” She ventured with a coo, trying to coax the brooding boy out of his shell.
Will suppressed a snarl, the condescending question reinvigorating his bad-tempered pre-adolescent attitude.
“Fine…miss.” He choked out.
The woman waved her hand dismissively. “You don’t have to be so formal. You can just call me Jane.”
She turned a page on a file open on her desk, chuckling softly to herself. “This isn’t like one of your fancy law firms.” Will’s eyes widened, taken unawares by the direct recognition of his adult persona after a full day of being treated like a little kid. Jane flashed a mischievous smile.
“Don’t look so shocked.” She teased. “So, how have you found it?”
Will’s stunned silence exploded into unmitigated rage. “It’s bullshit!” He exclaimed, his high-pitched voice filling the tiny office.
Jane winced at the swear but maintained her collected demeanor – simply offering him an understanding smile. She extended her hands, making the boy draw back in surprise as her slender fingers made contact with his bare skinny arm. Will hadn’t noticed it before, but he was trembling.
“I know this is scary.” She reassured him. “But believe me when I tell you that what happened was for the best.”
Will led out an audible grunt as he forcefully pried his hands from out of the woman’s grip, baring his teeth belligerently.
“This is for the best?” He demanded. “What the fuck do you know about what’s best for me?”
“Alright, Will.” Jane said, diplomatically. “I understand you’re frustrated, but before we can continue you really do need to cool it with the cursing. It’s not very mature.”
The patronizing lecture made the boy want to hiss with rage, but he knew all too well from his confrontation with Mr. Byrd that these childish outbursts wouldn’t do him any favors. He dug his fingers aggressively into his jeans instead, forcing himself to give a curt nod.
“I’m sorry if I was too firm, sweetie.” Jane soothed, reaching her hand out again for him to hold. He didn’t take up the offer, regarding her outstretched fingers with a hostile glare. “These sessions are just supposed to help you find the best way to fit in around here. To help you get what you want out of this opportunity.”
The two sat in silence for a while as Will considered his next move. He wanted to spit out another snide remark, but he held back – trying to put together a more reasonable response.
“I don’t want this.” He eventually whispered, trying to maintain as calm and as adult a tone as was possible in his situation. “I want to go back to my old life.”
To his annoyance, Jane only gave an opaque nod – silently turning another page on the file. “Tell me more about your job. Were you happy doing what you were doing?” Will didn’t reply, resuming his dead-eyed grimace. “What about today? Did you make any friends?”
“Stop it.” He interrupted, unwilling to tolerate the misdirection. “Abby already told me that they only did this because I found out about Liam.”
“I see. So she should’ve dumped you on the side of after the road after it happened? Made you someone else’s problem?” Jane countered. “Hopefully you can appreciate how much work Abby put into preparing her spare room to make you feel welcome in her home. It would’ve been much, much easier to just drive to the next town and hand you over to the police. I agree that your circumstances are unfortunate, but – ”
“Unfortunate?” Will barked out a laugh. “What this town does is tantamount to murder. Even if I believe that you're trying to create more well-adjusted adults, what gives you the right to take people from their friends and family?”
“Typically we don’t.” Jane sighed. “Your situation is a very unique one, Will. We do our best not to let visitors get a whiff of what goes on around here for obvious reasons, one of which is exactly as you say – that it’s not fair to the loved ones of whoever stumbled upon our secret. When it’s someone who’s grown up in Viridia, the people around him or her understand that it’s what’s best for that little boy or girl. We may miss their adult self, but we know we’ll see them again – and when we do, they’ll be stronger and happier than ever.”
“How kind of you to make that choice for them. What did Liam do to deserve a trip back to second grade?”
“I’m afraid I’d be violating patient confidentiality by going into that.” Jane chuckled. “But you’re free to ask him yourself. Liam’s starting to realize how silly he’d been as an adult and he’s opening up a bit more about the mistakes he made in his past life. Surely you’ve got a few regrets of your own, Will, a few things you’d do differently if you had the chance.”
“And how would I even know to do those things differently if you’re going to make me forget I’d ever been in adult in the first place?”
“Well, sweetie, that’s what your mom is for. I’ll help her understand everything you learn about yourself while you become comfortable being little, and she’ll keep that in mind as you grow up so you can avoid the pitfalls that tripped you up the first time.”
“That’s insane!” Will insisted, frustrated by the calm, calculated answers Jane had for every query. “You’re asking me to trust my life and well-being to a total stranger. How can I even know that she wants what’s best for me?”
“You can’t.” Jane admitted with a shrug. “Being a child means trusting blindly in those charged with protecting you. That’s a responsibility that everyone in Viridia takes very seriously, Abby perhaps most of all. None of us want to violate the sacred trust our little ones put in us. She may have been forced to make you a member of her family, but I assure you that she’ll be the best mother a boy could ask for.”
“How? How can you be so certain?”
“Not to brag, Will, but I think she did a pretty good job with me.” Jane smiled when the wide-eyed boy caught on to her meaning. “I’m not perfect – none of us are – but I’m happy and healthy and enjoying my life. What more could anybody ask for?”
“She...” Will swallowed as his throat tightened and his mouth went dry. “She did this to you, too?”
“No, sweetie, believe it or not mom’s capable of having her own children.” Jane chuckled. “But there was many a time while I was growing up that we shared our home with a boy or girl being eased into their second childhood, and I can tell you as sure as the sun rises in the east that Abby loved every one of them every bit as much as she did me. It was so gratifying watching those scared, confused kids turn happy and lighthearted under her care that I’ve dedicated my adult life to aiding her and the other parents of Viridia in that process – which is what brought me to you, Will.”
The boy fell back heavily in his chair, realizing that there was no convincing Jane. She was inner circle, it seemed – and although her glowing optimism seemed genuine enough, Will reminded himself that her talking points were little more than well-drilled propaganda.
“If you don’t want to chat, why don’t we play a game?” Jane offered, searching through some papers in her desk before coming up with a photocopied black and white cartoon picture of a number of people standing around at a barbeque. In a separate box on the page, a variety of small shapes were displayed – from a toothbrush, to a cactus, to a party hat.
“See if you can find the smaller images hidden in the big picture.” Jane instructed, offering him a small jar of colored pencils. “You can color them in, if you’d like.”
Despite himself, Will gave a faint smile at the familiar game. “It’s hidden pictures.” He commented. “Like from Highlights. The magazine.”
“That’s right.” Jane smiled, the reassuring lift in her voice making the simple confirmation sound like doting praise. “Give it a shot.”
Will frowned, crossing his arms petulantly. “I don’t really feel like it.”
“That’s okay.” Jane relented, unfolding a plain hardcover book from underneath her file. “We can just sit in silence if you prefer.”
The boy gave a self-satisfied harrumph, forcing himself to frown as he fixed his gaze straight ahead of him. Jane began to read her book, leaving Will with nothing to do but listen to the steady sound of the clock ticking over her head. After a while, he inevitably found his eyes drawn down towards the paper- needing to look for only a moment before he recognized the shape of a paintbrush disguised in the form of the fence.
He cracked a smile, remembering how excited he had been as a real kid whenever their Highlights subscription had come in the mail. He used to love the puzzles, and he’d always rush to show his mother as soon as he found a clue. At first, she’d seemed so proud of him – but over the years her praise had dulled to well-meaning platitudes, and his enthusiasm had dimmed into a bored fuzz, the magazine nothing more than a momentary distraction from the Saturday morning drudgery. Eventually, when he was twelve, he’d stopped even reading the articles, let alone filling out the puzzles. His mom had canceled the subscription before he turned thirteen.
“Found something?” Jane interrupted, peeking out from behind her book.
Will gave a sheepish pout, trying and failing to disguise the fact that he’d found at least half a dozen hidden pictures by now. “One or two.” He finally admitted, trying to feign a disinterested shrug.
“Well go on then! Color them in!”
The boy forced out a teenaged sigh but did as she asked – grabbing up an orange pencil and starting to carefully fill in the shape of a traffic cone. He rested his head on the skinny arm draped across his desk as he finished coloring it in, trading his orange pencil for a silver one as he moved on to the wrench hidden right beside it. Though Will figured he’d be well bored with the task by now, there was something reassuring about the game after the humiliating confusion of the morning. Orange for the traffic cone, silver for the wrench, green for the leaves. Easy, satisfying, simple. Will didn’t have to think about anything – he could just let his hand move on its own, let it fall back into the muscle memory that had guided him through the meditative coloring sessions of his first childhood. Drawn into a sort of daze, the boy jumped when Jane suddenly snapped her book closed and regarded Will with an indulgent smile.
“I’m afraid that’s all the time we have today.” Jane declared, flashing her deep purple nail polish as she gestured at the clock. Will reddened when he realized that ten minutes had gone by without him knowing, that the task – childish even for his current age – had kept him as occupied as it would a real kid. “Do you know how to walk to the café from here? Abby won’t be able to close up for a few hours yet, so you and Liam can hang out and do your homework in the meantime.”
Will forced a nod as he rose stiffly from his chair, staring scornfully at the hidden pictures as though they’d tricked him into coloring them in. Shaken as he was by the session, the fact that he’d finally get some time to speak with Liam – even if Abby would be hovering in the background – was more than enough to get him on his way.
“Oh, and Will?”
The boy stopped in the doorway, turning to Jane and shivering at the broad smile on her lips.
magicformula · Jul 15, 2022Excellent writing style, storyline, and character development. You've done a wonderful job carrying on the Parkdale genre. Love the subject being an attractive guy, 27, who unexpectedly finds himself in this situation. Very cool tension I feel as a reader, reading how Will has been dramatically changed into the older brother of the unfortunate guy, Liam, that he encounters. I sense such incredible trepidation concerning Will's fate. Will he soon find himself Liam's equal or worse, the little brother of the little guy? It's then, I can feel myself enter into the story, as though in a dream, of me being Will. I fear and have a foreshadowing sense that I will find myself demoted further down to Liam's worse circumstance, then reduced humiliatingly down to an inferior position to Liam, and then, horrifyingly & inescapably enticingly, I feel those in charge must respond to my defiance further by taking me into the captivity of being taken further down into the non-verbal nursery life. Thanks to your great story, I'm Will and I am the 27 year old man of my own, now on a trajectory of being trapped as a baby, hidden and helpless in plain view. Thank you for the great story. I am so excited to see the story go on.
SCGuy19 · Jul 16, 2022I'm enjoying this story so much. I'm curious to see if Will's situation and status with his new mommy and younger brother will change in future chapters. I'm thinking Will's rebellious attitude will end up costing him In the end. can't wait for the next chapter. Keep up the great work.