A babysitter makes some mistakes while sitting the two daughters of a friend.
They seemed innocent enough.
"I love my girls to death, but you need to watch out for them," their mother told me before she left. "They’re gifted and they’re crafty -- do not underestimate them. They’ll no doubt try to make mischief with you. Take care of them while I’m gone!"
As we played together in the rec room, they struck me as perfectly harmless. Vicki, the youngest, was stretched out on the floor playing with her dolls. Audrey, the middle child, was folded into a big armchair, her legs hanging over an armrest, drawing in a sketch book with colored pencils. The oldest, Daphne, sat across the chessboard from me, staring intently at me as she awaited my next move.
I did some babysitting around 10 years ago, when I was 12 or 13, but hadn’t been around kids much since then. I wasn’t sure how old the three girls were -- they all seemed tall for their ages -- but I’d guess that Daphne was about twelve, Audrey around nine, and Vicki about six years old. They all looked like their mother, sharing her big, dark eyes, but they didn’t look very much like each other. Daphne wore glasses and had her short brown hair tied back with a blue kerchief, and wore a sleeveless dress of pale green over a white shirt. Audrey’s long black hair hung down her shoulders and she wore a long black shirt, black leggings and even black fingernail polish, like a Goth girl in training. Vicki a curly-topped blonde, still slightly plump with babyfat, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a Disney character and pink corduroy pants.
Ever since their mother had left for the conference, they’d been bombarding me with questions, taking brief pauses only to get juice. They asked me why I was still in school if I was in my twenties, whether or not I had a girlfriend, what my favorite color was, if I liked potato chips better than corn chips, and if I had a pet.
"We had a cat, but it flew away," Audrey mentioned, without looking up from her pad.
"Don’t you mean ran away?" I asked, trying to concentrate on the chessboard. Daphne had just taken one of my knights.
"Nope. Mom says we’ll get a new pet soon," said Audrey.
"When’s your birthday?" Vicki asked me from the floor. She was playing assiduously with several wooden dolls, each of which had a different face and different outfit from the rest. Plastic and cloth dollies reclined nearby. Vicki seemed to be seeing how many combinations she could make of them -- each time I looked over to her, a different doll was wearing different clothes and a different outfit.
"Shall we make the game interesting?" Daphne asked.
I smiled -- she sounded like a little card shark. "What did you have in mind?" I asked her.
"My picture’s almost ready," Audrey announced from her chair.
"Your birthday! When is it?" Vicki repeated.
"How about the winner gets to make a wish on the loser," Daphne suggested.
"My birthday is May 31st," I told Vicki.
"Mine’s May 28th!" Vicki exclaimed. "We were almost born on the same day! I was just born three days ahead of you!"
"What do you say?" Daphne asked.
"You two are both Gemini. That means you’re both the twins," Audrey pointed out. "Don’t you want to see the picture I drew of you?"
"Sure, Audrey," I said. "I don’t think we’re going to be twins, Vicki. We were born something like 16 years apart."
"If you win, you get to make a wish on me, and if I win, vice versa," Daphne urged.
Audrey got up and crossed the room. "Here it is," she said, handing me her pad. I had to admit she had a flair for illustration. Audrey had drawn a version of the chessboard, and put a recognizable likeness of my own face on one of the chess pieces -- a white pawn. Standing alongside it was a tall, black queen with Daphne’s bespectacled face, staring down with a bemused, inscrutable smile. And some large fingers with rings and long, black fingernails were outstretched above, as if about to pluck the pawn off the board. "That’s very ... imaginative," I told Audrey. "The faces of Daphne and me are really good."
"Well? Shall we do it?" Daphne asked, as I moved my castle out of harm’s way.
"What? Oh, sure, sure," I said. With that, she quickly reached over, took my hand by her smaller one and pumped it up and down, one, two, three times. "There! It’s all settled." Then she took my rook with her queen.
This evening was more active than I had in mind. When Helena asked me to baby-sit ("I wouldn’t impose on one of my teaching assistants like this, but I’ve got a paper to give tonight and our nanny had to leave town"), I imagined myself getting caught up on my Elizabethan Lit reading while the girls watched cartoons. Instead, I supervised them playing in the backyard for a while, fetched them popsicles from the freezer, brought some games up from the basement, answered their queries and played with them, all the while with an eye to their bed-times. They gave me a tour of their rooms: Daphne’s was full of bookshelves and had a computer covered with stickers, it’s color monitor bearing a screen saver of cat’s eyes; Audrey’s had art supplies, horror comic books, posters of cadaverous rock stars and various statues and plastic models; Vicki’s was pink, lacy and full of dolls and stuffed animals. Overall, Helena’s rambling ranch-style house wasn’t a place I particularly wanted to be, but I’d probably walk off a cliff if she asked me.
When I was assigned as Helena’s teaching assistant, I couldn’t believe my fortune. Helena is one of the tallest women I’ve ever met, three or four inches taller than me, olive-complexioned with a cascade of dark hair and the statuesque sex appeal you see in leggy starlets like Sigourney Weaver or Mercedes Ruehl. She was unmarried and something of a flirt, invariably pointing out the occasional erotic pun in a piece of Elizabethan poetry with a wink. Just yesterday ago I was recording the grades of English literature tests on the sofa outside her office, and she sashayed out reading from Shakespeare’s "Venus and Adonis:"
"Foundling, she saith, since I have hemmed thee here
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I’ll be a park, and though shalt be my deer.
Feed where thou wilt, on mountains or in dale.
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie."
Standing over me with the volume in her arms, under her prominent bosom, she arched an eyebrow at me and continued:
"Within this limit is relief enough,
Sweet bottom-grass and high delightful plain,
Round rising hillocks, brakes obscure and rough
To shelter thee from tempest and from range.
Then be my deer, since I am such a park
No dogs shall rouse thee, though a thousand bark."
I was grateful to have a handful of ill-written essays on my lap, as I believe I had the biggest, hardest erection of my life. No phone sex operator’s raunchiest spiel could have been as much a turn-on as Helena’s Shakespearean recital. She winked down at me, snapped the book shut and returned to her desk. Even before that, she was the leading lady in my mind’s eye during sleepless nights and dull lectures. I couldn’t say no to her. I remembered how poised and attractive she looked in her short black dress and diaphonous black wrap as she swept from the house a couple of hours earlier. She pointed out the beeper number on the kitchen counter and winking, telling me to use it "only if you really need me," but I was paying more attention to her legs, and how they seemed to go on for miles.
"Do you want to take my Mom on dates?" Daphne asked.
It was as if she’d read my mind. Helena wasn’t exaggerating when she said her girls were talented, although I doubted they were telepathic. They all were in some kind of school for advanced children, and I could attest that Daphne was some kind of chess prodigy, making her moves with swift decisiveness while I labored my thoughts out in advance. No wonder she’d suggested we play a game. I’d started out supposing that I’d let her win, and swiftly found myself trying to survive the game in earnest.
"Date your mother? No," I lied.
"Don’t you think she’s pretty?" Vicki asked.
"She’s very beautiful," I replied truthfully. "But I’m probably too young for her."
"So, if you’re responsible for us tonight, what would you do if we did something really bad?" Audrey wanted to know.
I chuckled as Daphne’s chess pieces were methodically breaking down my defenses. "You’re good girls. You aren’t going to do anything wrong."
"But what if we did?" Audrey persisted. "Like, what if we didn’t do what you told us. What would you do? Would you punish us?"
I shrugged. "I would if I had to. I guess I’d think of something." I took one of Daphne’s pawns with my bishop, then mentally cursed myself. I’d created an opening. Would she see it?
"Like what?" Audrey had put down her pencils and was perched on the armrest.
Of course Daphne saw it. Her queen took my bishop, and she began humming a tune to herself. "I don’t know," I said. "Make you stay in your room, or go to bed early? Give you a time-out?" I wasn’t really up on the latest rules for disciplining youngsters.
"But what if we wouldn’t do it?" she persisted. "How would you make us do what you wanted? Would you give us a spanking?"
"Only if you were bad enough, I guess." I didn’t mean it -- I couldn’t imagine a situation in which I’d spank any of them. I’d never lay a hand on one of Helena’s kids, and besides, they were all probably too old for spankings. I just said it because Audrey had backed me into a rhetorical corner, just as Daphne had cornered my king on the chessboard. I moved a piece to block her queen, and realized that the tune she was humming was "When You Wish Upon a Star."
In the hall, the grandfather clock struck eight. Oh yeah, "Eight o’clock -- bedtime Vicki," I announced.
"I don’t want to," Vicki said, still playing with her dolls.
"Checkmate!" cried Daphne, as her queen moved in front of my king. Audrey sidled over to look at the chessboard. "See. There’s nothing he can do. And you know what that means."
It was true -- she’d outplayed me handily. "Good game, Daphne. Maybe we’ll do backgammon next," I said, toppling my king theatrically. Daphne giggled. "Come on, Vicki. It’s time for you to brush your teeth and put on your P.J.’s."
"No! I don’t want to!" Vicki yelled. At that, she climbed on the sofa and began bouncing up and down on the cushions. "I-don’t-want-to, I-don’t-want-to" she called in a sing-song. Although it wasn’t her bedtime for another hour, Audrey got on the sofa next to her and joined the chorus. "I-don’t-want-to! I-don’t-want-to!"
Oh brother. Helena was going to owe me big time for this. "Get down from there! No jumping on the sofa!" I ordered. Vicki let out a laughing scream, lept onto the floor and ran off. Audrey dashed away in another direction. Daphne was put the chesspieces back into position, humming her song and smirking.
"Come on, Vicki, be a good little girl" I said. I pursued her through the kitchen, the dining room, the hall, back into the kitchen, back into the dining room, and finally caught up with her in the hall.
I caught hold of her arm, just to keep her from running off again. "Now Vicki, your mother wanted you to be ready for bed by now."
"She’s not here! Why should I do what you say?" Vicki protested, tugging against my grip and making straining noises.
"Because she left me in charge of you girls. It’s my job."
"But why should I obey you?"
I imagined that it was conversations like this that turned ordinary people into parents. "Because your mother told you to. Besides, I’m the oldest and I’m the biggest in the house, so you’re required to do what I say. Now come on, let’s get your teeth brushed." Losing my patience, I pulled Vicki by her arm.
"No! No! No!" she yelled. She tried to plant her feet and resist, but her socks slid on the hardwood floor, so I just kept dragging the little girl toward the bathroom.
"I know my wish!" Daphne called. "I’ve decided on my wish!" Audrey quickly appeared next to her and they strode down the hall toward me.
"Can you girls help me with your sister? You can see how bad she’s being."
"I’ve decided on my wish," Daphne said, pointing her right index finger at me. "My wish is for you to be the same age as Vicki." Audrey let out a laugh and clapped her hands together.
"Great. We’ll deal with that later," I told her, but as I turned away, I felt a sudden dizziness, a strange merry-go-round vertigo. I let go of Vicki’s arm, and the force of her tugging sent her tumbling back into her sister’s arms.
I felt completely off balance, leaning my weight from one foot to another. It was completely disorienting, like I was in a centrifuge going counter-clockwise. My vision seemed distorted, the pictures and bookshelves and the clock in the hall all out of proportion. Daphne abruptly was standing in front of me, and oddly, she was looking me right in the eyes, as if the 12 year-old were as tall as me. The swirling sensation made me rock on my feet, and I was aware that my sneakers felt heavy and roomy. Some kind of mist seemed to be in the air, rising and dissipating fast. I swayed in another direction, and now Audrey was before me, looking me square in the face, although I could swear we were both standing next to each other. My body felt as though it were vibrating, like a tuning fork, and my blue jeans felt unnaturally loose, as if they were much to big for me. The pale smoke continued to billow and disappear. Now little Vicki was standing there, only she wasn’t so little, but on the same level as me.
The dizziness began to ebb, and the fog cleared so quickly that I wondered if my eyes had just been clouded. "What happened? What was that?" I was shocked at the sound of my voice -- it was high and thin, not like my voice at all. I swallowed and spoke again. "Was that me who said that?"
I blinked, and saw to my shock that what I’d thought was some kind of hallucination was true. Bigger than life, Vicki stood facing me, exactly the same height as I was. She had a wondrous expression on her face, and smiled, with a glint in her eyes that said, Now you and I are equals.
I was even more shocked when her sisters moved closer. They loomed over me like Amazons. Audrey seemed to be seven feet high, and Daphne closer to eight. I was no taller than Audrey’s shoulder and Daphne’s chest!
"What- what happened to you girls? How did you get so... tall?" Again, I noticed how strange -- but strangely familiar -- my voice sounded.
"He’s a little slow on the uptake," said Audrey, smiling down at me.
"He’s just plain little," Vicki grinned.
"We didn’t get big -- we stayed the same" Daphne told me. "So what do you think happened?"
I looked to the floor to make sure I wasn’t mistaken, that girls were above me because I was sitting or kneeling. But no, I was standing on my own two feet. Had I become some kind of pygmy? My wristwatch slid off my arm and fell to the floor. I stepped back, intimidated by their height, and my pants slid down my legs. My sneakers felt way oversized and tripped me up, sending me sprawling to the ground. In a state nearing panic, I scrambled backwards, inadvertently kicking my legs further out of my jeans.
"Come on, we’d better show you." Daphne leaned over, caught me by the shoulders in her now-huge hands and hoisted me in the air. My legs pulled completely free of my jeans and boxer shorts, but my shirt was more than enough to keep me covered -- it now hung past my knees. Although the sleeves were short, they reached further than my elbows, and kept bunching up. The tall 12 year-old set me on my feet with ease, as if lifting me had required no effort.
The girls led me into the next room -- Vicki’s room, it registered -- and stood me before a full-length mirror. Strangely, I couldn’t find myself in the looking glass. I saw Daphne, the tallest, with her brown hair and glasses, and darkly dressed Audrey, and next to blonde Vicki, a young, blonde boy about the same height. He looked, I realized, just like I did when I was young. And I realize that the scrawny boy in the mirror’s was making motions that exactly matched my own, and he wore a shirt just like mine, only much too big for him.
"He has blonde hair now," Audrey told Daphne. "See? They really can be twins."
"This is impossible," I said, seeing the boy in the mirror mouth the words in unison. I raised my hand, and saw the boy follow suit. I looked at how soft and smooth my skin was, how my brown hair had turned blonde, the way it was when I was... "This can’t be."
"Duh! Sure it can!" Audrey answered.
"I wished it, so it came true" said Daphne.
"You’re not the oldest and the biggest anymore," Audrey said. "Now you’re the youngest and the smallest."
I whirled around to face them. "That’s not true! I’m 23 year years old, so I’m older than all of you! I’m a grown-up!"
"That’s funny. You look more like a grown-down to me," Daphne told me. The other girls laughed.
I was aware that I was blushing furiously. "Besides," I said, desperately," I’m not smaller than Vicki!"
"Are too!" Vicki said. "You’re not as tall as me, and not as old, either. I was born four days sooner!
"Am not!" I answered hotly, absurdly.
"Okay, settle down you two." Daphne commanded. "You need to stand back-to-back and we’ll compare you. Take your socks off, so it’ll be exact." My socks were hanging so loosely on my legs, bunched up like empty windsocks, that it was preferable to pull them off. When Vicki and I were both barefoot, we stood as directed, as her enormous sisters checked us. It felt strange to feel the back of the little girls’ head and shoulders pressing so evenly up against my own.
Audrey announced "Vicki is taller by a hair," and I whirled around and saw that it was true: the six-year old girl must have been almost two inches taller, and her eyes were slightly above mine. She grinned triumphantly. "You had your sneakers on before, so you looked the same height, but Vicki’s really the taller one" Audrey said.
"I’m taller! And older! And taller! And older!" Vicki sang.
"Don’t let it bother you," Daphne told me, patting me on the head with her big hand. "You know that little girls grow faster than little boys."
I shivered slightly, then suddenly realized that my bladder was achingly full. I crossed to the door and Audrey blocked my path, putting her arm across the door jamb. "Hey -- where do you think you’re going?" she demanded of me, effortlessly pushing me back with her other hand.
"I have to go pee," I said, feeling juvenile. I couldn’t figure out why it had come over me so suddenly -- maybe the urine in my system hadn’t shrunk when I had.
"Oh really? Well, a little boy should ask permission before he leaves a room, isn’t that right?" Audrey asked of me.
"Yes, it would be good for you to be more polite to your elders," smirked Daphne.
I wanted to argue with them, but was all I could do to keep from dancing foot to foot. "Will you please let me go the bathroom?"
"Of course. All you had to do was ask." She raised her arm and I hurried out past her, my shirt hanging on me like a caftan.
As I went down the hall, I felt dwarfed by the looming grandfather clock, the towering bookshelves. The bathroom doorknob was itself as high as my chin, and all the fixtures within -- the commode, the sink, the tub -- were all on a scale much bigger than my own. How short was I? Three and a half feet? I stood before the lip of the toilet, which was almost as high as my hips, and pulled up my shirt, to see to my shock that...
Well, let’s just say that my familiar thatch of short and curlies was replaced by a token covering of pale fuzz, and that my transformation was otherwise consistent with my new youth.
When I finished urinating, I went to the sink to wash my hands, only I couldn’t see as high as the mirror. A small footstool stood nearby, probably for Vicki, so I stepped onto it. It was beyond belief, seeing me so young again. What was I going to do? The girls were all taller than me, and Daphne and Audrey had to be much stronger. Was I at the mercy of these... these Amazon brats?
No. That couldn’t be true. As I dried my hands on a plush towel, I thought, No matter what had happened to me, I was still the same person. I was older and more experienced than they, and I can at least keep them out of trouble now. The worst thing to do would be to back down from them. Maybe I could convince them to change me back.
Music boomed from the other room, so I followed it down the hall to its source. I heard loud, female voices crying "Tell me what you want, what you really-really-want!" "I’ll tell you what I want, what I really-really-want!" and thudding, bass-heavy backbeat. I stepped into the room and the girls were dancing. Sort of. Vicki was jumping up and down and swinging her arms in what looked like a modified version of The Monkey. Audrey had donned a pair of dark glasses and was striking a variety of supermodel poses, like she was vogueing. Daphne had pulled off her kerchief and was swinging it over her head.
I began "Girls, this is much too loud, so --"
"There he is!" Vicki shouted, pointing at me.
"Dance with us!" Daphne ordered, grabbing me by the hand and yanking me to her. Audrey caught my other hand and, with Vicki completing a circle, they pulled me too and fro, bouncing up and down, to the approximate beat of the music. Like a pinball, I was knocked between Audrey’s hips on one side and Daphne’s on the other. Their grips were too tight for me to pull free, so for a few moments I was buffeted like a rag doll in a storm.
"So which is your favorite Spice Girl?" Daphne shouted to me over the music.
"He likes Baby Spice!" Vicki exclaimed, and fell to the floor laughing hysterically.
"We all like Scary Spice the best!" said Audrey. She made a face, baring her teeth and leaned in towards me. "Girl Power!"
"Girl Power!" the other sisters yelled.
I slipped out of their grasp and stumbled back. Finding the CD player, I tapped the button and silenced the dance music. "Awwww" Vicki groaned.
"Okay girls, fun’s fun," I said. "But it’s past Vicki’s bed-time. She should brush her teeth and go to bed."
"You can’t make me! You can’t make me! You’re too little! Neener-neener-neener!" Vicki sang, sticking out her tongue at me.
I sighed inwardly. "It’s not a matter of making you do anything, it’s what your mother wants. She knows best, doesn’t she, Daphne? She left me in charge, so she’d want you to do what I’d say."
Daphne considered this for an instant as I stood beside her. I couldn’t get used to seeing anybody so tall, let alone a 12 year-old. She topped the tallest player on the varsity basketball team! I felt intimidated by Daphne and Audrey, and not only by their superior height. It was as if, having been reduced to a six year-old, I wanted to instinctively defer to the authority of the "older children."
Eventually Daphne said, "Mom left in you in charge, but that was before. She would never leave a six year-old in charge of us. I’m twice as old as you are."
"But I’m not six years old! I’m an adult!" I protested.
"You’re funny. What should we do with him?" Daphne asked the others.
"Anything we want," Audrey laughed.
"If I have to go to bed, he should have to go to bed too!" Vicki said petulantly.
"That sounds fair to me," Daphne said. "Let’s tuck these two to sleep in Vicki’s room, and we’ll stay up."
"No! I’m not going to bed! I need to stay up! Someone has to watch you girls," I insisted as Daphne and Audrey stepped closer. I sighed. "I guess it would be okay if we all stayed up."
"Yay! I get to stay up! I get to stay up!" Vicki sang.
"I don’t know. The little people need to get their rest, or they’ll be cranky," said Daphne.
"He’s looking a little cranky already." Audrey pinched my cheek with her big thumb and forefinger. I pushed her hand away. "But we can have more fun with everyone awake."
"I want a popsicle!" Vicki announced, and marched into the kitchen. The other girls went after her and I trailed behind. This wasn’t working as I’d hoped.
"Want one?" Vicki held a popsicle, still in its paper wrapper, out to me when I entered the kitchen. The freezer door was standing open as the girls unwrapped their sweet desserts.
Putting my shoulder into it, I pushed the tall freezer door shut. "You girls can’t eat those. You aren’t allowed to have more than one popsicle, and you each already had one tonight," I told them, trying to sound authoritative.
"So what?" Audrey bit the tip off her popsicle.
"What are you going to do? Tell on us?" asked Daphne, sitting on one of the wicker chairs at the counter.
"Don’t be a tattle-tale!" Vicki told me. I simply stood there fuming. Soon their tongues and the corners of their mouths were all purple.
Finishing her treat, Audrey left the sticky wrapper and stick on the counter and dashed out of the room. Daphne and Vicki followed soon after her, leaving their garbage next to Audrey’s. "Hey, come back!" I called. "Y’all need to throw this stuff away! I’m not going to pick up after you!" The counter was as high as the top of my head, and I was reaching up to grab their trash when I heard Audrey call "Look what I found!" in the other room, following by the jangle of keys.
Oh no. I hurried into the hall and saw Audrey holding my key chain, Daphne my wallet and Vicki my pants, searching the pockets for any remaining treasures. "Hey, that’s my stuff! Leave it alone!" I cried.
Daphne removed my driver’s license and held it near my face. "The picture doesn’t look very much like you," she laughed. I reached for my wallet and she held it well above my reach. "Now don’t be grabby."
"Maybe we should play in his car," Audrey said, looking at the Honda key.
"Give it back!" I dashed over to Audrey, who dangled the keys over my head. "Now, now, you have to be 16 years old to get a driver’s license. You’re much to little to drive a car. You’ll get a ticket." She tossed the key chain to Daphne.
"Besides, you won’t be able to see over the steering wheel," Daphne explained. "You could sit on a telephone book, but then your feet won’t reach the pedals." She handed my keys off to Vicki.
"Keep away! Keep away!" yelled Vicki delightedly, waving the keys at me and then hurling them at Audrey. They went passed the nine year-old and clattered on the floor. I dove for them but Audrey, with her longer stride and longer reach, was able to snatch them up just as I was about to get them.
"All this stuff will just get a little boy in trouble," said Daphne. "We should put it away." She gathered up my belongings in the hall: my sneakers, shorts, underwear, and wristwatch.
"Come on Daphne! That’s my stuff!" I protested but she raised the bundle over my hands and carried it into another room. "You can’t just take it away!" I followed her into her room, where she put my clothes on a shelf, far out of my reach, at the top of her closet.
Audrey was right behind me. "Yeah, but those clothes won’t do you any good. They’re way too big for you now. Just lookit how big this shirt is -- it’s more like a dress." Looming over me, she caught my shirt tail and began pulling it up, as if about to yank it up to my head.
I caught the end and pulled down, trying to keep it below my waist. "Cut it out, Audrey! That’s not funny!"
"I think it’s pretty funny," she said. "Maybe we should take this away and get you something that fits. Vicki, do you have some hand-me-downs that we could give him?"
"I have some stuff that’s too small for me, but he could wear them." Vicki said, smiling. "But I don’t think he’s behaved himself."
"What do you have to say to that?" the black-haired girl asked me, releasing my shirt-tail as Daphne left the room.
I was about to answer in kind, then stopped. This would go nowhere. Maybe I should take another approach. "I don’t like this. It’s scary being all young again. Can you make me back the way I was?" How would a kid put it? "I’ll be your best friend."
"But we’re having more fun with you like this," Vicki said.
"Please you two?" I swallowed. It was galling to have be such a supplicant. "Pretty please?"
"I have an idea," Audrey said. "Why don’t you and Vicki play a game of Mercy, and if you win, you can wish yourself back the way you were. How about that?"
"That sounds like fun!" Vicki seemed thrilled. "Let’s play Mercy, okay?"
The game "Mercy" sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember exactly what it entailed. "I guess that’s a good idea," I said, as Vicki shook my hand three times. She then stepped closer to me. "Stand like this," she said, facing me, and pulled my hands up to about shoulder height. She linked my fingers with hers, her left hand to my right, and vice versa.
I began asking what the rules were when Audrey shouted "Okay, go!" and Vicki leaned forward, clenching her hands forward and bending my fingers back. "OW! That hurts!" I yelled.
"Why do you think they call it Mercy?" Audrey asked, as I tried to bend my fingers forward. It was difficult. Not only had Vicki seized the initiative, but her height advantage gave her leverage. She raised up on her tiptoes, making her seem even taller, and pressed down on me as hard as she could. "The loser is the one who begs for Mercy first." My knuckles were aching and I pushed back with all my might, but I couldn’t seem to make any headway. If this were happening at my real age, it would be different: years as a student, taking notes, using a mouse, typing at keyboards, had given me strong, dexterous fingers. But now I had the hands of a boy, more used to playing with toys than working, and they didn’t have the muscle. And I was skinny-framed, while the fuller-bodied girl outweighed me, too.
"Come on, beg for Mercy," Vicki said, aware that she literally had the upper hand. She pressed harder, and I lost whatever small gains I made. My fingerbones felt in agony. Could she actually break them doing this?
My leg seemed to buckle and I fell to one knee. The six year old girl towered over me, pressing down with all of her weight. A lamp was behind her, and her blonde hair seemed to frame her face with a halo. There was no way I could win, I realized. "Cut it out! Stop it!" I said, and pulling as hard as I could, yanked my hands free of hers.
"Hey! Cheater!" Audrey scolded me.
"He didn’t say Mercy! He didn’t play fair!" Vicki gave me an angry push and I sat down hard on the floor. Furious, my knuckles throbbing, I stood and shoved her back.
"You didn’t play fair! I wasn’t ready, and you didn’t tell me the rules!" Suddenly, I wasn’t sure how, I was grappling with Vicki, holding her arms away from me and pushing her back. Although she’d overpowered me, I didn’t have to let her push me around.
"Simmer down, you two," Audrey laughed, trying to push us apart. In a fury, I turned and pushed her as hard as I could, sending her back a step. I was fed up with being so short.
"Since he forfeited, he lost," Daphne called from down the doorway. "He doesn’t get to wish, so..."
"Oh yeah!" Audrey grinned. "He didn’t say Mercy, but he still lost. You still get to wish on him, Vicki!"
Breathing heavily, Vicki glared at me. "He’s acting mean! He’s too big for his britches!"
"He’s not wearing britches," Daphne pointed out.
"I think he should be half as big as he is now. So that’s what I wish for!" Vicki pointed her finger at me.
"No Vicki! Mercy! Mercy!" I cried. A shudder ran through my body and I felt a drop in the pit of my stomach, as if I were on an elevator going down, or a rollercoaster on the downswing. The same white fog seemed to rise up, but I didn’t feel that nauseating dizziness from before, only the plunging feeling. Vicki, full of wrath, still pointed her finger at me, but the blonde girl was much taller than before, and getting taller every second. Her shoulders passed my eye level. I felt like I was sinking in quicksand, while she was standing nearby and watching. The idiotically grinning Disney character on her shirt seemed to leer at me as it came up to my eye level, then passed above it. My shirt, already oversized, was billowing outward like a tent. Then sensation stopped, the fog dissipated, and I was staring, directly ahead, at the snap of Vicki’s pink corduroy pants. I was only half as tall as her, and leaned my head back to see her now-grinning face. "There! I like you a lot better this way!" she said, much taller now than Daphne had been before.
"Wow!" Audrey looked down at me, her dark hair hanging past her neck. "He is pretty small!" I only came about halfway up the thighs of the nine-year-old!
The biggest of all, Daphne, strode up massively. Her kneecap was as high as my ribs! "The baby-sitter’s looking more like baby himself, now." She leaned over, her hands on her knees, her eyes twinkling at me through her glasses.
To me, the youngest of them seemed at least 10 feet tall -- together, they made a trio of girlish Goliaths. This was intolerable. Being unwillingly made a child again was hard enough. Having other children now, in comparison, be as big as adults -- if not even bigger -- was an impossible situation.
Audrey suggested, "Let’s measure him!" I tried to move away, but my legs became entangled in my shirt, which seemed to be have completely engulfed me. As the enormous hands reached down at me, I waded forward as much as I could, and popped out of the shirt’s neck-hole, which was far wider than the waistband of my pants had been. Naked but free, I dashed from the room and down the hall. "I saw his little fanny," Vicki called.
I tried to concentrate on running -- if I paid too much attention to the sheer scale of the house, to the hugeness of the furniture, I’d probably curl into a terrified ball on the floor. Nothing was shorter than I was. I ran to the kitchen door and stopped short -- the door knob was far too high for me to possibly reach, although I desperately jumped up and down, trying to grab it. I heard the girls approaching and looked around. I saw that a cat door was built into the kitchen door, so I swung the little latch and pushed myself through it. I had no trouble fitting.
"Hey! You can’t go outside!" one of them shouted behind me. "You’ll get in trouble!" I rushed through the carport and into the shrubs, to catch my breath and my thoughts. It was getting cooler and although the sun had sank below the horizon, there was still some light left in the evening.
End part one.
Copyright (c) by CLH