"What’s up?" Jenny said.
"My mom’s been turned into a five year old," Sarah said.
Jenny looked at Sarah incredulously.
"Okay..." Jenny said, and she turned around and began to walk back to her house.
Sarah grabbed her shoulder.
"Please, Jenny! You have to believe me. I don’t know how it happened. I came down to dinner and my mom had somehow become a baby."
Jenny stopped, and turned around.
"I thought you said she was a five year old?" Jenny said.
"She is. At first she was a baby, but now she’s become a five year old," Sarah said.
"Sarah, you’re not making any sense," Jenny said.
"Look, I know this sounds crazy, but this is the reality I’m living in right now," Sarah said. "Why don’t you come in and see for yourself."
As she said this, a beep came from her pocket. She pulled out the tamagotchi, and saw that the stats screen had changed to read:
Weight: 40 lbs
"Of course!" Sarah said excitedly.
Jenny just stared at her. "You’re all over the place right now, aren’t you?"
"No, I just think I realized what’s causing all of this," Sarah said. "But let’s try to deal with one impossible thing at a time. Jenny, meet Lizzy."
They had come to stand near little Lizzy’s time out corner, where the girl sat half-naked in a tattered diaper with her arms crossed and a sour expression on her face. Jenny knelt, and spoke in a soft voice.
"Hi there, Lizzy. What’s happening here?"
Lizzy looked happy to have a sympathetic ear. "I was just trying to make the room pretty, and then she came hear and yelled at me and I-, I-," and at this point Lizzy began bawling. She was nearly incoherent, but Sarah was pretty sure she heard "I want my mommy" somewhere in the mess of babble.
"Oh, you poor thing," Jenny said. "Here, why don’t we find some clothes for you, and get you out of this corner? Sarah and I are going to take care of you while your mommy and daddy are away." She hugged the little girl, and made a motion to Sarah that she took to be her signal to go and find clothes.
Sarah walked up to the attic where some of her old clothes were, and found some from when she was 5. She felt a bit thankful that her mom was the sentimental sort. She came back down, and found Lizzy and Jenny watching cartoons in the living room. Jenny had apparently known the right things to say to improve Lizzy’s mood. Sarah helped Lizzy dress up, and when they were sure that Lizzy was thoroughly engrossed by the TV, Sarah and Jenny went to the kitchen to talk.
"So, do you believe that that little girl is my mom?" Sarah asked.
"Look, I don’t know what to believe right now. Let’s say I accept she’s your mom. You said you knew what was causing this?"
Sarah pulled out the little device, and showed Jenny the display, which now read:
Weight: 40 lbs
Jenny looked at the proffered keychain nonplussed. "What am I looking at?"
"This is my mom’s old virtual pet. She said something about how if I raised it well, she’d lessen my grounding. I don’t know how, but I think this thing is somehow behind all the strangeness."
"Okay, well lets say that your theory is correct, and you’ve woken up in a Twilight Zone episode where your mom and a magic keychain toy have become connected. What if you could use this to your advantage?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you said she was a baby before, and now she’s a 5 year old, right?"
"Uh, yeah. So?"
"So, you’re getting a shot at raising your mom! Maybe you could give her a few ’life lessons’ to make her more laid back when she grows back up?"
"That’s... that’s actually a pretty good idea. Worst case scenario, she grows up to be her old self, and can’t really blame me for trying to take advantage of a magical freak occurrence. Best case scenario, she has a change in attitude, and my life becomes 100 times better!"
"See, now you’re talking!" Jenny said.
As she said this, Lizzy came into the room. "My show’s over, and I’m hungry!"
Sarah looked at the cold plate of spaghetti on the table, but decided against reheating it. "Lizzy, how would you like to go to the mall for McDonald’s and ice cream?"
Lizzy was on board with any plan that ended with ice cream, so they all got in the car and drove to the mall.
After they all ordered their food, Sarah decided to start her plan in earnest. "Lizzy, isn’t this so much better than homemade spaghetti?"
"Yeah! It’s yummy, and I get a toy!"
After they finished at McDonald’s and got Lizzy an ice cream cone, they walked over to the play place and let her play with the other kids.
While they sat watching her, they saw a boy from their high school come to the play place with a younger kid who was presumably his brother.
"Oh my gosh, is that Rick from the football team?" Jenny whispered to Sarah.
"Yeah, have you still got that massive crush on him?"
Jenny blushed, but said, "No, that was freshman year. I’m over him now."
"Oh, quiet down! I think he’s coming our way."
Rick walked over to them, and sat on the bench besides them.
"Hey, we have study hall together, right?" he said looking at Sarah.
Both girls were almost speechless, having a grade A hottie talking to them.
"Cool. Did you hear about the party at my place tomorrow?" Rick said.
Both girls had their tongues tied, so Rick just continued.
"Well, my parents are going to be out of town, so I’m throwing a party. You two should totally come."
Jenny elbowed Sarah in the ribs, breaking the spell.
Reality set in for Sarah. "I’d love to, but I’ve got to take care of my mo-, uh, sister."
"Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ve got a big basement, my brother and your sister can just play downstairs while the party’s going on."
Sarah wasn’t sure if that sounded like a good idea, but Jenny jumped in. "We’re totally going to be there!"
"Cool, I guess I’ll see you ladies tomorrow."
* * *
Sarah and Jenny both decided to buy party outfits after Lizzy was done playing. While they were trying on outfits, they tried to impart important some important life lessons.
“Remember, Lizzy. The key is to show off enough of your body to catch everyone’s eyes, but not so much that they think you’re easy,” Jenny said.
“Easy?” Lizzy asked.
Sarah shot Jenny a look. “Don’t you think she’s a little young for this kind of lesson?”
“Lizzy, you’re a big girl, right?” Jenny said.
“Yeah! I’m a big girl.”
Jenny raised an eyebrow, and turned to Sarah. “Sounds like she’s old enough for this kind of lesson to me. Plus, you don’t want her to develop Ms. Butler’s tragic taste in clothes, right?”
Sarah shuffled her feet a bit. “I guess not.”
“Great, why don’t you tell why being ’easy’ is bad, while I go take a smoke break.” Jenny began to walk off.
Sarah didn’t know were to start, but thankfully Lizzy was distracted. “My mommy says smoking is bad.”
“Well, Lizzy sometimes mommies are wrong about things. Smoking is actually cool. Plus it keeps you thin, which doesn’t hurt when you’re trying to get boys’ attention.”
Eventually, Sarah and Jenny picked out outfits that would have horrified Sarah’s mom a day ago, and went home. They talked about the party all the way back, and by the time they got home she was almost as excited as them for the party (even if they said she’d just be downstairs playing with Rick’s brother.)
Lizzy was their eager student, and since they had no idea how long she would remain an impressionable 5 year old (considering the short time she had spent as a baby), they tried to cram as many lessons in before bed time as possible, in between playing games and watching cartoons
“Nice mommies let their daughters get pretty tattoos like Jenny has,” … “Cool girls dye their hair,” …
It went on like this until Lizzy became too tired to keep her eyes open, and Sarah tucked her into bed. She pulled out the tamagotchi, and checked her mom’s status:
Weight: 40 lbs
Good, she was happy. Sarah really felt like this plan had a chance of working...