Chapter Description: When young and helpless, someone would inevitably be there for you to depend on. Especially if that means that person is treating you like a child.
When Reed arrived the following morning, he brought over some colored socks, a size 4 pair of Nike sneakers for kids, and a bag with some of his belongings. Reed didn't want me to be alone for as long as I was stuck as a kid, so he decided to take care of me for the time being. This came as a relief as I was getting bored of being alone and wanted some company over.
As I tried on the socks and shoes, Reed also brought out some colored briefs for me to wear during our shopping trip that day. He thought these would be more appropriate for me to wear. I still had the over-sized shirt and the shorts with the string done up tight, but the sneakers I was sporting made me look even more like a kid than before.
Before leaving for our shopping trip, Reed also took out some contact lenses as I still had my vision problems. He taught me how to put them on and take them off, which did take a while to get the hang of. My eyes felt a little irritated, but he assured me that I would soon adapt the wearing contacts.
Fortunately, Reed was able to drive, but he forced me to sit in the back as he wanted me to be safe while he was driving. I was phased that I couldn't sit next to him in the car, but I appreciated his concern for my safety. Throughout the trip, I tried not to make eye contact with any stranger in case they recognized either me or Reed. Reed told me to pretend that I was his 10-year-old cousin Michael needing some new clothes.
The trip took all day as he searched around for several shirts and pants that would be appropriate for me while not being too immature looking. When he delivered a pair of cargo pants and a blue graphic tee, I thought about how impossible it would have been for me to fit into these clothes. I stared at myself for a few minutes after putting the clothes on. Sure, they made me look every bit like the kid that I was for that first week, but I was also relieved about not having to wear over-sized shirts and tightened up shorts anymore. It got to the point where I asked both Reed and the employee helping us if I could wear them home. She then said that Reed still had to pay for the clothes before I could wear them outside.
Next stop was the grocery store, as Reed insisted on cooking us dinner that night. He looked through my pantry that morning and cringed at the processed foods I had available, reminding me that they weren't good for a child to regularly consume. He wasn't surprised though as I nearly burned the apartment down when I last tried to cook something. With the boneless skinless chicken breast in the cart, as well as the fruits and vegetables he insisted I start eating more of, it looked like he had done this before. I did cringe when Reed added plain milk to the cart; he couldn't have grabbed chocolate milk instead. He defended his decision by stating that a growing boy needs his milk. I didn't think I needed it as I'm not really a growing boy, at least at the time.
Reed also insisted on cooking dinner that night, and that I relax and not stress over what to have for dinner. While having dinner, the topic of my work situation soon came up.
“So, have you thought about what you're gonna do once your vacation days are done?”
“Well, not really.”
“You should start soon because I don't know if you're gonna still be a kid once your two weeks are up.”
“I know. I just don't know how my parents would feel about this. They were hoping to retire and move to Alaska next year, and I don't think they would want to take care of me again.”
“Who said they must take care of you again?”
“Well, it's what the social workers would assume as soon as they learn that I'm a kid again.”
“I see. Tell you what, until your arrangements get sorted out, I'll take care of you.”
“Anything for a friend. Besides, I think you really hate being alone now that you're as small as you are.”
“Well, it would be nice to have someone look after me. Thanks.”
“You are welcome. So, how do you like your dinner? I made it myself.”
“Much better than the crap I had to have for dinner since I ended up younger. Nice change of pace from those frozen dinners.”
For the entire following week, Reed lived in my apartment with me. I did feel a little bad about forcing him to sleep on the couch, and that he did the cooking, cleaning, and laundry for me. I insisted on helping, but Reed kept telling me not to stress myself on those responsibilities. We spent almost every waking moment that week together, taking daily walks outside whenever it was sunny, and playing video games together after dinner. Reed felt bad whenever he had to leave my apartment for work, but I insisted that I would still be able to take care of myself.
Reed was right about me hating being alone, especially because Reed worked during the evening and I had to put myself to bed. On one night, there was a severe thunderstorm. I remembered fearing thunderstorms as a kid but hearing that loud bang from the apartment at 8:30 PM brought back those memories and that fear. I found myself underneath the sheets on my bed, whimpering anxiously for the storm to pass through. Reed wasn't supposed to be back for another few hours, but I wanted him by my side, to help me get through the storm and calm me down.
Reed even tried to teach me how to ride a bike. I never learned when I was a kid the first time. I was always afraid of falling off the bike and breaking my arm. My dad would try to help every now and then, but we gave up after I turned 12. When Reed tried to teach me for the first time, he had to borrow a bike from one of his younger brothers. He was behind me, trying to get me to start riding before letting go. I tried riding for only a few seconds before stopping by putting my feet down, once again afraid of breaking my arm from falling. Unlike dad, Reed understood my fear, but assured me that there was nothing to worry about. We only took baby steps whenever it was time to practice riding, even though it was clear that I was not making any progress.
Reed and I both knew he couldn't take care of me forever, and he had an apartment of his own. Even if Reed wanted to eventually adopt me, his job would barely give him enough to keep me fed. He thought taking me to the clinic would give us some answers and a possible way to turn me back, but neither the clinic nor my physician had a single clue about what was going on. My physician did run a check-up on my body, but concluded I was healthy, and the records matched those from a physical I took when I was 9. I was tearing up in frustration since I did not know what caused my regression, and Reed comforted me on the car ride home.
“I know this has been exceedingly difficult for you Kevin, but this isn't the end of the world.”
“How would you know? You're still a grown-up, and at least you have a job to come back to. My work won't let me in once my vacation is done. There's no way they would let a kid work for them.”
“Well, if work is all that you are worried about, maybe it's best that you quit.”
“And lose my apartment AND all the money in my bank account?! Even if mom and dad want to take care of me again and hold off on moving to Alaska, they're in their 60s. There is no way they can afford to take care of me again.”
“How do you know that is how they would respond? I mean, you didn't even tell them yet.”
“Yes, they might not want you back in their care, but they would still love you all the same. On another note, didn't you tell me last month how much you hated your job? How much of a dick your boss is?”
“Well, yes but...”
“Maybe this situation can be your way out of that job.”
“But what would I have to tell them? I don't think they would believe that my reason for quitting was because I turned into a kid.”
“We'll make something up for you. There is nothing for you to worry about.”
Once we returned to my apartment, my cell phone went off. It was my mom calling. I have not heard from her for over a month, and I was nervous about answering the phone. "It's okay buddy," Reed stated, "Put the call on speaker and I'll do most of the talking."