Kelly, this is gonna sound incredible and you can’t tell nobody..... anyone. I’m not really a little girl. I’m older than you!’
’Now Angie, you don’t want to rush growing up! You should enjoy....’
’No, no, no! My husband worked at the research facility that exploded. They were working on a drug that reverses the aging process. I have an anti-dote at home but I can’t get it. That’s why no one can find Lara’s mother... I’m right HERE! No one is looking for a 6 year old.’
’That ~is~ a pretty big story for such a cute little girl. But you’re just a little girl who has had a rough experience. It’s not unusual for a little girl to want to dream something up. Especially a little girl that is a s smart as you. You’re such a sweet thing and I think you should enjoy your childhood while you can. Now don’t try and argue just listen to me. Look how pretty you look when you smile’ Kelly held her compact mirror up so that Angie could see herself. ’Look at that pretty face! Now you don’t want to frown all the time, your face might freeze like that!’
Angie’s mouth slowly curled into a smile as she saw the child staring back at her. Then she saw the missing tooth and giggled.
’There.... you look much prettier with a smile.’ Kelly told her. She felt pretty good about the smile she was able to bring to Angie’s innocent face. Little did she know that she had just broken Angie’s ability to fight her mental regression.
’You want to look at your newspaper some more?’ Kelly asked trying to hand her the paper that she had earlier been lost in.
’Nahhhh... The ’Funnies’ ain’t even in color!’ Angie replied with a touch of childish disgust.
’Yeah, the Sunday comics are in color. I like those better too!’ Kelly said ’You sure know some big words. You really are a smart little girl. A lot of children your age couldn’t say those words or know their meaning. Words like Regression or Anti-dote..or Research Facility..those are quite a mouthful!’
’Uh huh...Ummmmm Re-gweshwun ummmmm Anteeedote uhhhhhhh Re...uhhhh Reeeechurch Fahcity Hmmmmmm?’
Kelly was stunned. A few moments ago this child was talking like a little adult and now she was struggling trying to say the same words...words that she’d just heard Kelly say!
’How come you could say all those words so good before?’
’Ummmm I dunno’ she shrugged.
’What about all that stuff about being a grownup?.... A husband?....A daughter? Were you fibbing?’
’Ummmmm..... Can I go play?’
’Angie, tell me what you told me earlier.’
’Ummm I forgot. ’k? I wanna play now!’
’No, I’ll help you. You said you were really an adult who was older than me...remember?’
’Can we do this later? K?’
’Angie, where did all your attention go? You’re suddenly unfocused and before you were very focused.’
’A-ttention.... It means your ability to stop and listen and try to understand. Why don’t you do that for me now. Don’t look at the other kids. Listen to me. Why did you tell me you were really a grownup and had a family... a husband that worked at the research facility? ...A husband? I thought your uncle was killed.... Was it your husband?....’
That caught Angie’s attention! All the memories came flowing back. ’What did you do to me?’
’Angie, you’re a strange kid....’
’I almost lost it. That’s why I need the anti-dote! Just you’re little speech about childhood and I slipped. I’m afraid one of these times I’m going to regress and no one will be there to bring me back before everything fades away. It’s getting harder to fight the regression. That’s why I read so much....to remember!’
Kelly listened to her story. The strange part was how convincing she sounded. All of a sudden her attention span was back. She could say ’regression’ with no problem again. She once again seemed more mature than her age.
’Kelly, it’s worse than I thought. Something else is going on. That boy I was talking to was my husband!’
’He used the pills too? This is crazy. It’s not possible.’
’Yes it’s crazy! But it is possible. I’m proof. But I don’t think he intentionally used the pills. He wouldn’t. He didn’t want me to do this but I wanted to be a friend for my daughter so that she would gain confidence and make her own friends. She was too withdrawn. He argued about it...but I wouldn’t listen! But I don’t know what happened. And I’m pretty sure I recognized a couple of other employees from there too. The one little girl with the jet black hair....I’d know that hair anywhere! Something else is going on. I have to get the antidote and figure it out before it’s too late. I’m afraid it is already too late for Jim.... But I’ve got to try. I can’t let him be shipped off to a foster home. Or Lara either!’
’I, I don’t know. This is so Twilight Zone!’
’Why don’t you do some snooping? Check out my records. They’ll be a deadend. They’re fake. Check out the ’explosion’ and I bet there will be something not quite right about it...maybe no investigation or the ~wrong~ people investigating. And my car in the parking lot? It’s broke down. That is why it is there. Just don’t tell anyone what you’re doing. I feel I can trust you but I don’t know who else I can trust. Please promise you’ll help!’
’I promise I’ll look into it. No guarantees. But I will check your story out. As a matter of fact, I’ll start right now. It ~is~ pretty out there though. I’ll check some things tonight and talk to you tomorrow. Bye Bye’ Kelly said and headed straight for the Files Room.
Angie wasn’t sure if she’d done the right thing but felt Kelly was her best hope right now. There was nothing to do now but wait. She found Lara, who was with another little girl, and joined them playing a board game. They played until bedtime.
This time Angie didn’t bother to try and time the guard’s rounds. It was always different anyway. She just curled up and drifted off to sleep.
-- BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ ---
The 6 AM buzzer rudely awakened everyone. Same routine...cold floor...brush teeth...breakfast. Only on this morning she didn’t get past brushing her teeth.
’This one?’ said an attendant.
’Yeah, that’s the one!’ replied another.
And in a moment Angie was pulled from the line and taken down a different route. Angie padded along as the hurried to keep up. The attendant dropped her off at an office door and slowly opened it.
’Doc? She’s here. You sure got an early call today!’
’Thanks, It was the only time I had available..... Well, Good morning Angie. And how are you doing this morning?’
It was Dr Frantz.
’I’m fine’ Angie answered.
’I wanted to see you and Lara tomorrow but the ’Home’ thought maybe I should see you a little sooner. A couple of the teachers thought you weren’t adjusting well....’
’Teachers? I haven’t seen any teachers.’
’Well, like Mrs Crow. She’s the one usually at the door. She says you are very distant with the other students in class’
’Ummmmm I didn’t think she was a teacher. We just spend all day in the Rec Room....’
’I really don’t know anything about the methods they use here I just have to follow their recommendations since they have much more time to observe. They are trained in what to look for and what to report. And I think they know best..... Have seat.’
Angie looked around the room. It was obviously decorated with children in mind. Stuffed animals. Cartoon characters on the wallpaper. Paintings of clowns. She sat down on a couch that was made to resemble a race car.
The doctor looked over her notes and then started speaking ’Why don’t you lie back and relax? You’ll feel much better. It says you had an incident with a boy yesterday. Boys can be difficult! It also says here that you’ve been really tense. Do you know what that means?’
The doctor scooted her chair next to the couch. ’Well you certainly look tense. I think we need to work on that first. Relax your mind and your body. You sure are a pretty young lady. You don’t need to be so tense!’
Angie smiled but then realized what happens every time this line of convesation comes up. She knew that she needed to concentrate on adult thoughts or she might slip again. ’Thank you’ she answered.
The doctor’s voice got softer. ’Try and relax, hon. I just want to help you. You’ve had a rough few days. Why don’t you stretch out on the couch. Put your feet up and put you head on the pillow.’
Angie scooted back on the couch and and rested her head on the pillow all the time remembering that she was an adult..
’There, isn’t that better?’
Angie nodded ’yes’.
’Now just relax.... feel yourself floating.....floating..... like a butterfly....’
Angie fought it but the Dr. kept talking. ’floating....’
It was getting hader not to relax.
It wouldn’t hurt to relax sh thought
Soon, Angie felt herself drifting off. She had done nothing but worry and this moment of relaxation did feel good. The doctor’s lilting voice was like a lullaby.
She felt very comfortable now.
’Little girl’s shouldn’t worry.... You don’t need to worry... just float.... like a feather....... a soft feather...... in the breeze.... Feel yourself smiling.... a pretty little smile..... on a pretty little girl....’
The doctors voice seemed far away. Angie felt like she was in a field of sunshine
’Angie, tell me why you’re so worried’ Dr Frantz asked softly.
’Cuz...of....my family’ she slowly replied deep in relaxation.
’Angie, you’re just a little girl.... you can’t always help what happens... adults worry for their children.... but you’re too young to worry’
’But what... about my children?’
’When you’re grown up you can have children and you’ll worry about them.... but grownups are better equipped... little girls like you shouldn’t have burdens like that....... It’s your time to play... to be free and young....’
The doctor continued on trying to drive the worries from Angie’s mind. Her voice sounded so relaxing to Angie. Almost like music.
Finally, she decided it was time to end this session. She really felt that they had made progress. ’Angie, I’m going to count to 3 and when I do I want you to wake up and feel really good...1....2....3’
’Whoa..... Did I fall asleep mam?’
’A little while. How do you feel?’
’Kinda pretty good.... ’
’That’s good! I think you missed breakfast with the others. Do you want me to call and have you something special made?’
’Nuh uh. That’s OK. I just wanna play ’K?’
’Sure come on.’ The doctor said and took her by the hand. ’I think we really made some progress today..... Now show me that pretty smile.... YES! there’s that pretty smile I like to see!’
Kelly arrived for work a little later than usual that day and she was in a hurry to find Angie. A quick scan of the room revealed Angie, still wearing only her sleepshirt, sitting at one of the tables with a newspaper. Kelly quickly ran to her.
’Angie! I believe you! It’s incredible but everything checked out. We’ll figure out something to get you the anti....’ her voice trailed off as she saw what Angie was doing.
’These Funnies ain’t colored so I’m colorin’ ’em in!’ Angie exclaimed proudly.