Frank uses a remote to make sure his little girl doesn't grow up too fast.
“Are you really going to school in that outfit?” Frank said to his teenage daughter, Emily.
“What’s wrong with my outfit?” Emily asked innocently.
“I seem to recall the school dress code saying something about skirt length.”
Emily rolled her eyes. “Daddy! Come on, the cheerleader’s outfits are just as skimpy as this and they wear them to school for spirit days.”
“You’re not a cheerleader, are you?”
“No ‘but’s! Where did you even get this outfit - and the makeup?”
“Jenny let me borrow it,” Emily said. “I don’t want to wear frumpy hand-me-downs anymore, dad! I want to be popular - if I could just wear something pretty, all the boys-”
“Oh, you’re trying to get with boys are you? What did I say?”
“But dad, I’m 16 and all of my friends already have boyfriends. I can’t just wait until I’m 18!” Emily said, stomping her foot.
Frank shook his head. He had hoped he wouldn’t have to use the remote. But if his daughter was going to act immature, he was going to show her what true immaturity was like. He pulled the device out of his pocket, and pointed it at her, pressing down on the “Mental Age” button.
“No, daddy! Don’t use that thing on me any more. I’m a big girl! I’m not little, I’m old and mature. I’m…” She tried to fight the sensation, but it was no use. The pleasant static playing across her brain snatched her maturity and memories away bit by bit. “I’m a little girl, la la la!” She sang the last part, then she stopped talking altogether and something behind her eyes changed.
“How old are you, Emily?” he asked.
Emily was practically bouncing with energy right now, though her movements were a little clumsy and uncoordinated.
Emily looked at her dad and put her head shyly down, then she raised her hand swinging it in an exaggerated motion and sticking two fingers out.
“You’re two, wow baby girl, did you dress yourself this morning?” Frank asked.
Emily smiled and shook her head, moving much of her body with the motion.
“You didn’t, and why didn’t you dress yourself?” Frank asked.
“Can’t!” Emily said cheerfully.
“But you can undress yourself, right baby girl?” he asked.
Emily rolled on the balls of her feet, and said proudly, “Yeah!”
“You can! Well, those aren’t good clothes for you to wear, so why don’t we get you undressed and get you a new outfit, does that sound good to you?”
Emily nodded, and Frank grabbed her hand and led her up to her room.
“Where’s monkey?” she asked looking around her bedroom.
“Oh, you want your monkey?” Frank said.
Emily jumped up excitedly, “Yes, want monkey!”
“Let me go find it for you, why don’t you get undressed while I do that.”
Emily got out of her skimpy top and short skirt easy enough, but when she saw the bra a look of confusion played across her face.
“Mommy wears these?” she said.
She probed with her clumsy movements around the bra, but couldn’t seem to find the trick of it. She decided to grab the cups and start pulling it over her head.
That was a mistake.
Soon, she was stuck with her bra around her head, and her arms in an odd position trying to get them off. She didn’t have the coordination to get it all the way off of herself.
Frank returned to find Emily still struggling, and starting to get more and more annoyed.
Emily was whining and wiggling to try and get out of her predicament.
“Oh, baby girl, are you okay?” Frank asked.
“Stuck!” Emily said, tears starting to well up in her eyes.
“Let me help you with that,” Frank said.
He helped Emily out of her bra, and pulled out her stuffed monkey toy.
“Monkey!” she said happily, and hugged it tightly.
“Alright, now we’ve got to get you dressed again,” Frank said.
He walked to the wardrobe and picked out a modest and girly outfit for her. Emily hadn’t voluntarily worn this outfit in quite some time.
“Do you want to wear this pretty pink shirt?”
“Yeah!” Emily said, jumping up and down, completely oblivious to her bouncing breasts.
“First, we need to put a bra on you. Now put your hands out, that’s it,” he stepped behind her, and fastened her new bra. “Now your breasts won’t be so bouncy.”
“Aw…” she said frowning.
“Now put up your arms for your shirt,” he said. “Good girl! And here’s your pants.”
Dressing his 16 year old daughter this way wasn’t as easy as doing it with a true 2 year old, but she was eager to please her daddy and so soon she was fully dressed. After they had finished, he used a makeup wipe to wipe off her makeup.
He handed her her bookbag and guided her to the car.
“Where are we going, daddy?” she asked.
“I’m taking you to school,” he said patiently.
“Oh, but I’m not a big kid?” she said curiously.
“That’s alright sweetheart, you’ll be big before you know it,” Frank said happily.
Emily got into the back of the car, instead of the passenger seat and Frank bucked her up.
“Where’s mommy?” Emily asked.
Frank paused, looking hurt for a second.
“Your mommy isn’t here anymore, Emily. It’s just you and me now, and I’ll never let anything happen to you!” Frank kissed Emily on the forehead and got into the driver seat.
When the two of them arrived at Emily’s high school, Frank pointed the remote at her and clicked the slider below the mental buttons mental from “All” to “Accademic.”
He pointed the device at Emily and raised her academic maturity back to her 16 year old self.
Then he clicked the slider again, so that it was now on the “Romance and Sex” option, and pressed up until the display read 10. Ten years old was perfect, Emily would have a 5th or 6th grade understanding of sex, and she wouldn’t be interested in boys at all.
Then he clicked one by one and raised Emily’s remaining mental options to 12 years old. Frank figured if Emily moved, spoke and acted in most ways like a preteen that would kill whatever interest guys might have had of her. Her increasingly graceful and mature demeanor would revert back to her slightly awkward preteen years.
Emily blinked a few times.
“Thanks for driving me to school, dad!” Emily said. “Oh, there’s Jenny! I’ve got to go say hi.”
Emily kissed Frank and then ran out of the car waving for Jenny.
Frank discretely aimed the remote at Jenny, selected the “Fashion” mental option...
Jenny waved at Emily, but put her hands on her hips. “Emily, what happened to the clothes I let you borrow, weren’t you going to-”
Frank pressed down, and Jenny trailed off.
“What clothes?” Emily asked.
Jenny blinked confused for a second or two before looking at Emily.
“Uh, I’m not sure what I was just talking about. I lost my train of thought. Cute outfit though!” Jenny said.
“Thank you!” Emily said cheerily. She looked down confused. The whole morning was a blur, and she couldn’t remember picking out this outfit.
The two of them walked into school, before Jenny grabbed Emily’s hands.
“There’s Todd! Oh my god, you should go and talk to him!” Jenny said.
Emily tilted her head. “Uh, why should I talk to him?”
Jenny gave Emily a knowing look. “I seem to recall you having quite the crush on him.”
“Oh… Uh, did I?” Emily said. She didn’t feel anything looking at Todd. He was just a guy - she had never had a crush on anybody.
Before Jenny could ask what Emily meant, Todd walked up to the two of them.
“Hey, Emily!” Todd said. “Can I ask you a question, um, alone?”
Emily exchanged a glance at Jenny, who nodded, and Emily reluctantly broke off to have a private conversation with Todd.
“So, um, I know this is totally silly, but my buddies were telling me that you were totally flirting with me the other day, and I told them you were just being nice, but then I thought about how you acted and, um, do you want to go out some time?” Todd asked.
Emily looked uncomfortable for a second.
Todd became worried. Emily wasn’t twirling her hair, or giggling or laughing at everything he said like last time, it was totally different from before. She even seemed to carry herself a little different. It was hard to put his finger on it, but she almost seemed a bit… immature. He didn’t know why, but something about her was putting off “awkward late bloomer” vibes that he had never picked up on before.
Emily sighed. “Todd, I’m sorry, but I think your friends were wrong. I just see you as a friend. I’m not really interested in dating guys right now, never really have been.”
“Oh,” Todd said.
“Yeah, sorry,” Emily said. “But I wouldn’t mind being your friend or something? I could use a guy friend.”
“Oh.” Todd frowned, then he forced a smile. “I feel so stupid, I totally thought you were into me, but I guess I was wrong, I’m just going to, uh-” And he walked away without saying another word.
Emily went about her day, and things were pretty normal. The only thing that was a bit off was the sudden surge of energy she seemed to have. She just felt so antsy, as if she didn’t want to just sit and listen to the teacher for a whole hour. During passing period, her desire to get out and move had gotten so strong that when her and Jenny had lunch and were eating outside, Emily couldn’t contain herself anymore.
“Do you want to go play something?” Emily said, looking up from her sandwich.
“Uh, what?” Jenny said. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t know, I just feel like I’ve got a lot of pent up energy, and I just have to do something. Wait a second! I have the perfect idea.”
Emily ran off without another word, and then returned from the gym carrying a jump rope.
“What are you doing?” Jenny asked. “Boys are going to think you’re weird if you do this!”
Emily shrugged. “Who cares about boys?”
She started jump-roping. It was a lot of fun, and she was disappointed when the bell rang.
“Dang, I was just getting started!” she said.
“I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Emily,” Jenny said, shaking her head. “You’re acting like a kid or something.”
“Oh, like you’re so mature!” Emily said, sticking her tongue out.
“Seriously, it’s freaking me out, you never act like this!” Jenny said.
Emily crossed her arms. “I just don’t feel like pretending to be a boring adult anymore. We’re young, let’s have fun! For example, race you to our next class!”
Emily took off down the hall, bumping into a few people, and Jenny put her head down and tried to pretend not to know her until she arrived at the class room.
Emily sat down in the front of her World History class and pulled out her notebook. She opened up, and was surprised to see a note to herself.
“It’s me, Emily. If you’re reading this, then your dad has probably used the remote on you again.”
Emily looked up from the note. It was kind of like her handwriting, although it was a little neater.
And what was this about a remote? Emily read on.
“He always keeps it on himself, and he’s such a light sleeper. I haven’t figured out a way to get it away from him yet. He even takes it with him into the shower! You need to get the remote away from him - he uses it on you a lot to make you younger, and sometimes on your friends. He probably made you forget about it dozens of times before now. Put this note back for yourself to find again, and try to come up with a plan to get it away from him tonight. After mom died, I think something in him broke. He needs to be stopped!
“Don’t tell anyone about this! They can’t find out.”
Emily looked around to see if anyone was looking at her. Was this some kind of joke?
Emily tried to pay attention the rest of class, but her mind kept going back to the strange note. It seemed… familiar. She didn’t remember writing it, but she had a sense of deja vu reading it. How many times had she read it?
As she tried to think of a way to separate her dad from the remote, a thought crossed her mind. The note had said “Don’t tell anyone about this”, but what if that had been a mistake? Maybe trying to get the remote from her dad solo had been her mistake all along.
She began to form a plan.
* * *
The rest of the day passed by in a flash, and soon Emily was waiting for her dad to pick her up.
She realized how strange this was. She usually drove to school, but this morning she hadn’t. Was this part of the changes her dad had made?
The car showed up, and her dad smiled.
“Hey, sweetheart,” he said. “The doors unlocked.”
She got it, and waited for him to take off. When they were on the road, she cleared her throat.
“Um, dad,” she said. “Is it alright if I have a few friends come over for a study session?”
Frank looked over at his daughter. “Did you invite any boys?”
Emily nodded. “I invited Todd and Jenny. We’ve got a midterm coming up next week, and I thought it would be good to study.”
Frank reassured himself that Emily was incapable of being attracted to boys at the moment, and sighed. “Alright, you can have them over. But I want the door open at all times!”
“Of course, dad!” Emily said. She tried to hide her excitement and nervousness. Would her plan work?
They arrived home, and soon Emily got a call on her phone. She answered it, and when she hung up she turned to her dad.
“That was Todd and Jenny they’ll be here in 10 minutes.”
Sure enough, after about 10 minutes the doorbell rang.
“Can you get that, dad?” Emily yelled from her room.
Frank nodded, and went to the door. This was much better in any case. He could alter Todd to make sure that he wouldn’t be putting any moves on his daughter tonight.
Emily crept out of her room, to watch what happened.
Her dad opened the door a crack, before it was flung open knocking him off balance. Todd pounced on her dad and Jenny tried to get one of his arms.
“What. are. you. Doing?” Frank grunted.
“Sorry Mr. Emily’s dad, sir, we’re doing Emily a favor!” Jenny said.
Todd pulled the remote out of her dad’s pocket, and pointed it at her dad. He pressed down on the Mental button.
Frank felt a pleasant buzz play across his scalp.
“No-” but his objections were cut short. Soon he was babbling.
The display at the top of the remote now read “0.”
Emily walked down the stairs.
“Thanks for helping me guys.”
Todd was looking at the remote in amazement.
“I thought you were lying or crazy or something, I had no idea something like this could even be real!” Todd said.
“Neither did I,” Jenny said. “And he’s been using it on you this whole time?”
“That’s what the note said,” Emily nodded. “Can I have it?”
Todd handed it over.
Emily saw a button that said “Revert All.” She pointed the remote at herself and pressed it.
Memories flooded into her head, and she felt her clothes start to get tight. She tried to adjust her bra, but it kept getting tighter and tighter and eventually she had no choice but to unclasp it.
“Woah, Emily, how old are you? Jenny said.
Emily looked to be in her mid-20’s now and even in the modest clothing her dad had chosen for her, she was clearly a bombshell. Emily looked down.
“I- I don’t know? I only remember being 16, and then my mom died and my dad-” she trailed off. “I think he’s been reverting me one year over and over again, to keep me 16 forever.”
“Well, you look incredible,” Todd said. “You’ve got to be 25 or 26 or something.”
Emily blushed. “I’m a little too old for you now, don’t you think?”
Todd smiled. “We can worry about that later, what about your dad?”
Emily frowned. “I want to be angry at him, but I can’t keep him a mental baby forever. Besides, he might poop his pants and I don’t want to have to clean that up.”
She pointed the remote at him and aged him physically down to about 8 years old, so that he’d be easier to subdue. Then she clicked “Revert Mental.”
“Elizabeth?” he said looking up. “Is that you?”
“No,” said Emily sadly. “It’s Emily.”
“Emily,” he said softly. “You look so much like your mother. I- I never realized it. You were always my baby girl.”
Emily looked at Todd and Jenny. “Um, can you guys leave us alone for a moment?”
They both nodded and left.
“Dad, why did you do it?”
The little 8 year old started sobbing. “I missed your mom so much! I couldn’t risk losing you too. What if you grew up and left me all alone?”
Emily raised her voice. “So you decided to rob me of any future? Of any choice?”
“No, it wasn’t like that! I just- I just,” his crying made him incoherent for several words. “I can’t live without your mother. I can’t move on.”
Emily looked down compassionately at her father.
“You won’t have to, dad,” she said softly.
She pointed the remote at him and pressed down on the mental age button. 44, 43, 42… She kept the button pressed until it read 7 years old. She pointed the device at her dad and pressed the “Suggestion” button.
He had a blank look on his face.
“You are my son, and I am raising you,” Emily said.
Frank blinked and looked up at the older woman.
“Mommy! Can I play in the back yard?”
Emily smiled. “Of course, dear.”
He ran out back, happier than he had been in years.