by: nico | Complete Story | Last updated Jul 23, 2014

Chapter 2

Later in the evening, when Jake finds that the grown-ups have been droning on about boring adult stuff for too long, the boy returns to the bedroom.

He checks the corridor behind him to make sure no one sees when he creaks the door open. The coast is clear, and he pokes his head inside, looks around. There’s no one here.

Jake steps into the room, feet padding over carpet, and gazes around. Perhaps it’s something about the adult belongings, but it seems like such a big room to him. Like it dwarfs him.

And then, sidelong, he spies the mirror again.

Turning, Jake studies his own image once more.

On the other side of the glass the kid appears fixated. He furrows his soft eyebrows, squinting as though in recognition of something. As though perhaps realising that not everything is as it should be.

Standing there, framed at 3’9 and with skinny, boyish, hairless arms and legs, wrapped up in training pants beneath his fuzzy cartoon pajamas, Jake regards what he is - a six-year-old schoolchild - in full. His young eyes take in his form from his bare feet to his tender hands to his utterly inexperienced face.

He leans in closer, and looks almost perplexed. As though starting to realise that he is not, in fact, supposed to be this young; that he has been trapped and tricked into this role, humiliatingly demoted back to the first grade, even his knowledge and faculties reduced to the same level as his immature little grade-school classmates; as though it is dawning on him that there really is no way out of this, because this is his body now, he’s locked into it, and -

- and then Jake grabs the inside of his own lips and pulls the funniest face he can manage.

He sticks his tongue out at himself and then runs it in the gap of his teeth and giggles. He’s immersed in the silly game and he thinks of nothing else. Nor is he keeping track of time, and repetition no longer bothers the kid, so he keeps at it for some time, losing himself in typical six-year-old antics.

When he goes to leave, Tommy is standing in the doorway with his arms folded.

“You’re not suppos’ta be in here,” Tommy declares. Jake shrugs and looks away as though it isn’t a big deal.

“I was’n doing anyfing. I was just looking.”

Tommy considers this for a moment - and then he turns and hollers down the hallway.

“Aunty Lyssa! Jake snuck inta the grown-up bedroom!”

“I did not!” Jake howls as he chases after Tommy, who’s made a break for the living room so as to tattle on the boy in person. He’s gripped with fear that he might get a smack on his bottom.

The sound of their bare feet tromping on the carpet gives way to the harsh accusations of a childish argument, to the soft chiding of an adult intervener, to the peeped apologies of reconciled friends. Fortunately for Jake, Alyssa isn’t aware of what Chris warned him would happen if he snuck into that room again.

Within seconds there’s peace. Within minutes the tranquility is broken by high, ringing laughter and sounds of play that will fill the house for years to come.

Back in Jacob’s old room, the mirror sits on the wall and reflects, as ever, only what’s real.



End Chapter 2


by: nico | Complete Story | Last updated Jul 23, 2014


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