Second Time

by

Máire Flynn

 

One of the peculiarities of the Event is how xenophobic in nature everyone became during that first week.  People were too ashamed to be seen around one another, even though everyone over the age of four got regressed.  Admittedly, this did cut down on the rioting, even if a mob of toddlers could only do so much damage to begin with.  The only problem that arose from this was that the TV news media was too ashamed of their reduced bodies to show up on the air to cover the Event.  The internet provided a lot of coverage, just as it had on September 11th, but the overwhelming surfing traffic bogged down all the major news sites.  People who did a search for “Age Regression” were confused to find several websites devoted to people who shared pictures, movies, and stories dedicated to the subject.  Some stories and pictures were innocent wistful depictions of how great it would be to be young again, while others were of a more sexual nature.  Before the Event, people would have treated the sexual AR community as though they were perverts.  After the Event, however, psychologists have gone to considerable lengths to say that there is nothing wrong with regressed adults resuming their sex lives in this new world.  They’re just as supportive of sexual activity as they are behaving like a child again, provided a healthy balance is met, and that adults maintain responsibility and discipline.

 

The Phoenix Reborn

by Ashley Harmon

 

 

 

A Little Extra to Spend

 

January 22rd, 2003

 

“I think the new anchorwoman has got some great make-up artists,” Wendy muttered.  Her girlfriend Emily came out of the bathroom, her hair up in a towel and a toothbrush jutting from her mouth. 

She stared at the screen, nodded, plopped the toothbrush out and said, “No kidding.  She looked awful stressed out a couple of months ago… if anything, she looked worn out.”

            “Yeah maybe she got some.”

            “Dick or pussy?”

            “I think she loves the cock, hon.” Wendy replied.

            Emily snorted at that.  “Yeah to be an anchorwoman you almost have to … for career advancement.  Not meanin’ to change the subject, but why don’t we both call in today and go shopping?”

            Blegh!  Consume, consume, consume!”

            “Well excuse me, My Sweet Love, but you’re the one who went five grand in debt last year on shoes and home interior!” Emily retorted. 

Wendy pretended to be angry, but her frown broke into a smile.  “Don’t you see my point?  If I hit the stores, I’m going to blow your bonus check … that is what this is all about, right?  Your bonus check is burning a hole in your pocket.”  Emily had been going on and on about her unexpected bonus check since the past Friday.  At first she had wanted to save her money, and to Wendy, it had been a noble effort for her lover to hold onto the check for so long. 

            “Damn right it’s about my bonus check!” Emily blurted. “It’s burning a hole in my pocket, so you’ve gotta help me spend it today!  Wendy gazed deeply into Emily’s eyes and realized that her partner had reached the edge of human endurance.  Shopping could no longer be avoided.

            “Ah what the hell, I’ll call in.  Anthony’ll be pissed, but he’ll just have to deal with it.” 

            By the time Emily got finished in the bathroom, it was Wendy’s turn.  She thought about touching herself up in the mirror; at twenty-eight, she and Emily both had become more and more dependent on cosmetics – literally becoming lipstick lesbians; but looking in the mirror this morning, she decided that maybe she didn’t need to wear any.  The News Channel 4 anchorwoman could eat her heart out.  I just hope I look as young as she does at thirty-five—she needs to share her secrets, Wendy thought to herself.

            After they were both dressed and groomed, the two women looked each other up and down.  They were vain, but at least they were attractive.  Emily considered them to be of a higher order than the more masculine lesbians.  She would still openly cringe at the memory of Lilith Fair.  A bunch of fat hairy dykes making out as far as the eye can see.  Emily had muttered at the music festival.  When Wendy tried to shush her, saying that it was mean to talk about obese lesbians, Emily had responded with, I don’t want to see fat hairy anything kissing!

           

Once they got Emily’s check cashed and got out on the interstate, the drive to the mall was a pleasure, the sun was shining brightly, and it seemed that everyone was high on positive vibes.  Even the radio personalities were unusually chipper.  Wendy frowned slightly when she heard them compliment each other, reminding her of what she and Emily had discussed concerning the anchorwoman’s makeup.  Hey Cathy, you’re looking good this Wednesday morning!”

            “Well thank you Tom, you look rather good yourself . . . funny, I was gonna ask you if you were working out or something.”

            “Nope, just the same old manly man I’ve always been…”

            Emily groaned and rolled her eyes.  “Why don’t they just fuck and get it over with?  I mean, it’s not like they’re getting any younger.”

            “Sweetie, you know their routine.  They flirt around with each other and make jokes about sex, but they are never going to hook up.  It’s just like Moonlighting . . . the moment they fuck the sexual tension is gone, along with their ratings.”

            “Ratings?  It’s radio … TV has the rating system.  And didn’t they fall in love on Moonlighting?

            “Yeah, the audience had been begging for them to, but when the networks granted their wish, the ratings dropped.  The sexual tension was gone.”

            Damnit, Wendy … why do you have to get smart on me all of a sudden?  Tom and Cathy are both divorced, probably really fucking old – like forty or something – all they have is each other, so they need to just get hitched and drop this stupid radio deal.”

            “Yeah, but they’ve been there and done that with marriage!”  Wendy glanced at Emily and thought to herself, God, she acts so juvenile at times.  “Why go and get remarried and watch it all fuck up again?  With this ‘radio deal,’ they can be co-workers and actually get along with each other … not like me and that big queen, Anthony.  If they want more, they can be best friends; and no matter what, as long as they stay dedicated to their show’s formula, they will always be lusting for each other, always wanting the other’s company, and always flirting like a couple of teenagers.  I think it’s beautiful.” 

Wendy almost missed the turn for the Cooley Hills Mall.  Emily was not even paying attention to anything, only staring straight forward, fuming.  “So what are you saying?  You envy that?  I don’t know what you think of me now, but I love you Wendy!”  Wendy looked at her partner as though she had just been slapped.  A tear stained Emily’s cheek, her blue eyes trembling.  The anger appeared to make her look younger than her actual years, like back when they had first met.  Wendy could see Emily summoning up the strength to speak again; “After all we have been through, after me getting kicked out of the fucking Air Force because I wanted you more … you sit here and say that the ideal relationship is like Ken and fucking Barbie?!  You just want a professional relationship?”

            “Emily, no!  That’s not what I’m saying.  I was just saying…that…that…”  Of all the times Wendy could be at a loss of words, that very moment was not a good one.  Emily grabbed up her purse, and got out of the car.  Wendy got out as well to chase after her in the parking lot, but her lover was way ahead of her.  Against Wendy’s desire to never make a scene in public, she cried out, “What the fuck, Emily?!  Where are you going . . . I’m the one who drove us out here, am I just supposed to leave you?!”

            Emily whirled around, about to say something venomous, but relented.  “Look … I … I just need time to cool off.  I’ll meet you in the food court in half an hour, okay?” 

“I’m sorry.” Wendy called out to her as she felt her eyes water with guilt.

Emily’s face softened a little.  “I’m sorry too… I love you.”  That brought a few disapproving stares from other women leaving and entering the mall.

“I love you too, Em.”

 

Wendy entered the mall and went straight for the Ladies’ Room.  She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror and was glad that she decided to pass on the makeup.  Her face looked red and puffy from the crying, but at least she had not been wearing mascara.  She cupped some cool water in her hands and splashed it in her face.  She opened up her bag and pulled out a handkerchief to dry up and blow her nose.  She regarded herself in the mirror and noticed how once again tears could make someone look much younger.

“Positive vibes my ass.”  She muttered.  It had started out as such a beautiful day, and now she was hard-pressed to think of how it could get any worse.

            Damnit, I just bought this last weekend, and now I think I picked out the wrong size.” said a girl next to her who had just stepped out of a stall.  Wendy turned to her and saw that the blouse did look a little loose. 

            “Did you buy it at Dillards?” Wendy asked.  When the girl nodded, Wendy pointed out that they had a pretty good return policy – even if she had lost the receipt.

            “Thanks, I think I need to go do that.  Do you shop there often?”

            “All the time, when I have money to burn,” Wendy said with a smile.

            “Wow, that’s great.  By the looks of things you might need to return your clothes too.”  The girl said as she stepped out of the bathroom, leaving Wendy with a bewildered stare.  Bitch!  She thought to herself, I was trying to help you.  Feeling self-conscious, she looked at herself in the mirror.  There was nothing wrong with her clothes – they were just fine!

            Or were they?

            Her khakis were a little loose around the thighs, hips and ass, but other than that they looked just fine.  She tightened the belt a notch and examined her body in the mirror.  She laughed a little at herself for labeling the woman as a bitch.  She was right; Wendy did need some clothes … the ones she had on were obviously meant for a heavier woman.  All that exercise at the fitness center is finally paying off!  She lightened up a little and stared at her new figure.  No wonder her face had looked young, she was just in better shape!  She checked her purse and smiled at the one hundred and fifty dollars Emily had given her at the bank.  I should get her something too. Wendy thought.

            Wendy stepped out of the bathroom and was ambushed by the smell of cookies from Kookie Korner.  Unable to resist she went over and picked out an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and ordered a milkshake to go with it.  Might as well indulge a little … I don’t want to get too skinny!  The girl behind the counter wrapped the cookie in wax paper and tallied up the total with apathetic dullness.  “That’ll be Three-sixteen.”  Wendy handed her a ten dollar bill and sixteen cents, and waited for the change.  While she was waiting, she couldn’t help but notice the Kookie Korner employee.  She looked like a fifteen year-old, which was really odd for her to be working at eleven-thirty on a Wednesday morning.

            “Wow that must suck.”  Wendy spoke up, making small talk.

            “I’m sorry?”  The girl asked, handing her change to her.  The girl cursed under her breath and turned her watch back around from the underside of her wrist. 

            “I said it must suck having to work on a day off from school.” 

The girl frowned at Wendy and said, “Oh… no… I don’t go to school.  I tried community college for a semester but it just wasn’t my thing.”

“Oh, my mistake!”  I was way off! she thought.  “I just thought that because you look a little young to be here on a school day.  Wow, I bet you’ll still look young when you’re my age!” 

The girl smiled, but frowned a little.  What, like twenty-three?  That’s not old at all.” 

Wendy smiled at the girl and said, “Damn you’re a smooth operator!”  Wendy reached in her purse and handed the girl a five dollar bill and said, “You definitely earned that tip.”  She chuckled and walked away from the counter.  “Twenty-three . . . Gosh, wait’ll I tell Emily that one.”

            “Wow … um…thanks?” the girl said, looking at the money.  She stared at the odd female walking away – she was certain that the young woman was in her early twenties at the most, but decided just to forget about it … after all, her lunch break was in half an hour and now it was paid for.  She was going to have to compliment customers more often!

 

Wendy sat down at a bench and began picking at her cookie, enjoying its warm, chewy texture.  She chased down her bites with a gulp of her shake and scanned the shopping crowd, hoping to catch Emily in advance.  She observed the passers-by and frowned a little.  Maybe I oughta just keep wearing the size I have on.  It seems like baggy clothes are in with the young crowd these days, like the girl at Kookie Korner.  Something seemed a little odd and she couldn’t quite figure it out, then it dawned on her … where were all the senior citizens?  They usually arrived by the hordes to walk the mall for exercise like extras in a George Romero flick, but today she didn’t see any.  Sure, there were some men and women out walking who looked to be in their late fifties, like her dad’s age, but that wasn’t elderly!  Fucking old, but not elderly.  God, one of these days I’m gonna be like that … but why is old age creeping up on me so soon?  I’ll be thirty in twenty-two months for Pete’s sake!  She felt especially depressed to see so many young people shopping, like teen-ager young.  She did see one woman who looked to be in her late twenties, but dressed rather conservatively.  Geez, why do Republicans always dress like they’re at a funeral or witch burning?

            She finished eating her cookie and sucked the last bit of shake through the straw, making a noise that made more noise than she intended.  She stood up and hissed with annoyance.  “I thought I just tightened this.” She muttered as she tightened the belt another notch.  I think I need to hit Dillards after all.  She gathered up her purse and decided to make her way to the food court to meet Emily.  No need in being late, it would probably only make her beloved go ballistic again.

            Having reached the food court, Wendy looked around for Emily, and almost missed her.  There at a table near McDonalds sat a girl who was dressed like Emily, but that was the problem … she looked like a girl, maybe twenty years old.  Wendy walked closer to her and saw that it was indeed Emily.  She turned and looked up at Wendy and smiled weakly, but then she frowned a little.  “Wendy?”

            “Yeah?”  Wendy asked.

            “You look…different for some reason.”  Wendy sat down across from her, frowning, like she had been doing ever since she arrived at the mall. 

            “Yeah, I know what you mean, I think I’ve been losing weight or something … but I’ve noticed something weird going on.”

            “You too huh?  I can’t quite put a finger on it, but everything – everyone – seems different.  I thought I was having some sorta acid flashback!”

            “But Em, you said you’ve never done acid.”

            “I know; that’s what makes it so weird!  It’s like everyone seems to glow or something.  I mean, they aren’t really glowing, but they look …”

            “Younger than they should be.”  Wendy said it, and Emily seemed to pale some.  “You look younger too.  Oh my god, I’m just now putting all of it together!  I ran into a woman in the restroom who was wearing a dress that seemed a little big on her.  She was complaining about the size.  She looked like a woman, of course, her clothes just looked a little loose.  She pointed out the same thing to me, and she was right, I’ve lost some weight.  I haven’t been this slim since the mid-nineties.  Oh but there’s more!  I bought a cookie from this girl who looked fifteen, and she got all weirded out when I asked her about school.  I was talking about high school, but she starts saying that she dropped out of community college!   

            “This just can’t be.  We’re just under a lot of stress, we got into that fight in the car and we’re just stressed out, Wendy.”  Emily picked up a french fry with a shaky hand.

            “There’s more though, look around … Where are all the senior citizens?”

            “I don’t know!  Maybe their shuttle bus broke down and they’re back at the retirement home.”

            “Yeah but look at the people that are our parents’ age.  They’re not dressed like Baby Boomers, look at that guy there … he’s got his pant waist buckled around his upper stomach!  Look at how everyone’s acting, people are noticing something’s wrong, big-time.

            Emily looked around her, and grew increasingly more frightened, but she did not try to shut it out of her mind, like some people were obviously doing.  She took in everything around her, finally her eyes settled on the fast food booths.  “Hey Wendy, check out the food court employees.”

            Wendy looked in the McDonalds booth and saw three teens who looked to be about fourteen years old standing around, talking to themselves, looking confused and a little frightened.  Their clothes were definitely loose.  One boy pushed the bill of his cap back up, but it only slid down again.  Becoming frustrated, he tightened its strap and muttered something to the boy and girl next to him.  The girl could be visibly seen adjusting the bra strap under her uniform blouse.

            “This is going to be bad.”  Emily muttered.  Wendy turned to look at her girlfriend, who looked like a frightened teen rather than the woman from this morning who had been pushing thirty.  “This is going to be real bad.”

            Sensing the general unease of the people around them, Wendy took Emily’s hand and stood up.  “We’ve gotta get to a bathroom.”

 

The two girls stared in the mirror with wide eyes and gaping mouths, and they were not the only ones in there.  A woman who looked to be about thirty-five was tracing her fingers over areas of her face wear lines used to be.  Another young woman who looked to be twenty-five was fondling her chest and smiling.  Wendy was sure the chick was marveling at how firm her boobs had become.  And another girl, and this one disturbed Wendy and Emily the most, looked no older than eleven.  She was clutching a C-cup bra, staring blankly at the mirror, her bottom lip quivering.  Her loose blouse had the Kookie Korner logo stitched on it.  Wendy wasn’t sure whether she should be more shocked by the people in the bathroom with her, or her and Emily’s reflection.  It would be a liberal estimate to say Wendy and Emily looked eighteen at the most.

            “What’s happening?  What’s happening to us?”  The girl who had been holding her breasts asked, finally looking up at everyone else in the room.  The woman whose wrinkles had faded shook her head to show that she didn’t have the foggiest idea.

            “We’re getting younger.”  Emily said.

            Nnnnn….” the eleven year-old began to stutter.

            “That’s impossible … this is some kind of hallucination, it’s some kind of chemical attack; that’s what!”  The wrinkle-less woman exclaimed, deciding that even a ludicrous explanation made more sense than what Emily said.

            “….nnnnn…..”

            “Oh that’s bullshit!  What kind of chemical makes your tits firm up?  I’m thirty-five and I haven’t looked this good in nearly a decade!”

            “But this doesn’t just happen, we’re seeing shit, that’s all!”

            “…..nnnnn……”

            “Seeing what?  Touch them.” said the young woman.

            “Gross get the hell out of here you dyke!”

            “…..nnnnn……”

“Hey watch your mouth!”  Emily interjected.  Wendy began tugging at her sleeve, trying to get her out of the bathroom.

            “Hey what’s your problem, kid?  Don’t you hear what this woman’s saying?  She’s out of her mind and trying to hit on me.”

            “Who are you calling a kid, bitch?!”

            “Don’t call me a bitch or I’ll knock you flat on your—”

            “….nnnnNNNOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  Everyone in the bathroom recoiled as if a shot had been fired.  NO NO NO!  I CAN’T BE YOUNG AGAIN!  I WON’T GO BACK TO LIVE WITH HIM GOD NO NO no no no no-ho-oh!”

            “Hey kid, it’s okay it’s okay!”  Wrinkle-less woman tried to console the shaking child, but she backed away from the woman’s touch.  “Get the fuck away from me!  I’m not a child!  I’m nineteen!  I’m nineteen!  OH GOD NO!!!”

            Emily attempted to say something but was forcibly yanked from the restroom by Wendy.  “We’ve gotta get out of here now, there’s gonna be a panic and we’re stuck in the middle of town.” 

Emily began running to keep up with Wendy, who was already at the mall entrance they had come through.  They raced to their vehicle in the parking lot; upon reaching it, Wendy’s shaking hands finally fished the keys out of her purse when Emily shouted, “Damnit!”

“What is it?”

“I left the shoes I just bought at the table in the food court!”

Wendy looked at her and said, “If this isn’t some hallucination, those shoes aren’t going to fit you in another hour or so.”

 

Traffic had already picked up – people had begun to panic.  It took nearly thirty minutes to get outside of town and back on the interstate.  Emily and Wendy caught glimpses of other drivers.  Some looked like adults, others looked like children peeking over steering wheels.  Everyone looked frightened. 

            “Oh my God,” Wendy heard Emily say, who had the neck of her blouse pulled out, her head staring down inside.  “They’re smaller.”  She began examining her hands too, which were also smaller and more delicate than how they had been earlier that morning.   She slipped a shoe off her foot and stared at the loose sock drooping from it.  Wendy didn’t say a word, she just kept staring ahead.  She had been noticing that the mirrors seemed off in the car, but she knew that it was really because she was losing her height now  She hoped they could make it home before she shrunk too much more – driving was becoming increasingly difficult.

Emily turned on the radio and tried to find out what was going on, but there was no emergency news being broadcasted.  “I think this is a pretty goddamn big emergency if you ask me.”

“They aren’t broadcasting anything yet because they don’t know what’s going on.”  Wendy muttered.  She coughed, trying to clear her throat, which was useless.  Her voice sounded funny because she was lucky to be thirteen at the most.

“It seems to be happening quicker now … God, Wendy … I don’t wanna die like this.”  Emily said; her voice full of despair.

“Die?”

“What if this doesn’t stop, Wendy?  What if we keep getting littler till there’s nothing left?” 

            “Maybe it’ll stop, Emily…  Christ how am I supposed to know?  I just wanna get home and find out what’s happening.  If we die, then that’s it… we’re dead.  At least we’ll die together.”

            As they neared the interstate off-ramp to their community, something happened that made everything up till then seem mundane.  Wendy had just used the right turn signal and was decelerating when there was a bright flash that turned everything white.  Emily screamed and Wendy’s heart leapt up into her throat.  We’ve been nuked, oh my god I’m blind!

When the light faded,    Wendy found her view obstructed, by all things, the steering wheel.  Above it she could see the windshield.  “Oh my god!”  her unnaturally high voice shrieked.  She tried to mash the brakes, but all she did was cause her huge shoe to slip off a foot that was at least a foot away from the pedal.   “Oh my god! she screamed again, fairly certain this was the last moment of her life, when she felt the car come to a screeching halt over bumpy terrain, slamming her forward against the seatbelt.

            She looked over to the seat next to her and saw a toddler staring back at her, probably only three or four years old, with huge blue eyes and short curly blonde hair, wearing oversized clothing that looked comically adorable on her tiny body.  She was still gripping the emergency brake lever.  Emily.

“Wendy?” the little girl asked.

“It’s me.”

“You look like a child.”

“Have you looked in a mirror yet?” asked Wendy.  Emily looked down at herself and gasped.  “I’m glad we wore our seatbelts.”

“I think I wet myself.”  Emily said in a matter-of-fact tone.

The car was coasting down the off-ramp before Emily had pulled the emergency brake.  When she did, its initiative sent it squealing across an intersection and over into the grass on the other side of the road before it came to a stop.  Had she not pulled the brake when she did, they would have slammed into an oak tree at fifty miles per hour.  As it was, they stopped six feet short of impact.

            Emily stood up from her pile of wet clothes, leaving her panties and skirt on the seat, and stared out the window.  There were cars scattered all over the road.  Some of the drivers weren’t so lucky when the White Flash had occurred and had hit other vehicles; one had even decapitated a fire hydrant.  The water geyser was spraying a good fifteen feet up into the air.  Emily could see small children standing around in baggy shirts that reached their ankles, or curiously peering out of car windows much like she was. 

There wasn’t an adult to be seen anywhere.

.

“I think I can get us home,” Wendy said, standing up from her pile of clothes, her chubby little hands on the steering wheel.  “But I’m going to need your help.”

            “Are you crazy?  We nearly got ourselves killed trying to get this far.  Let’s just wait for help, or get out and walk.”

            “Help isn’t coming… from the look of things, the help is going to be needing help.  Speaking of which, will you help me?”

            “Sure Wendy, but if you get us killed, I’m gonna kill you.”

            “Great, what I need is for you to get down on the floor in front of me and when I say ‘gas!’ you hit the gas.  When I say ‘brake!’ you hit the brakes.”

            “Okay, but you better be careful.”  Emily grumbled.  In other circumstances, it would have been adorable coming from such a small child.  As it was, it was merely cute.

            “You’ll be controlling the gas, so you be careful.  Just do it slowly.”  Wendy grabbed the bottom of her blouse and pulled it up over head, exposing her nude cherubim form to a perplexed Emily.  Blushing a little, Wendy wrapped the blouse around her waist like a skirt in order to preserve some modesty.

            “Why’d you take off your blouse?”  Emily asked.

            “Because, the sleeves are driving me crazy and I need complete use of my arms to steer.”  Emily frowned but nodded as she climbed down onto the floor of the card.

            The last leg of the journey was a jerking, lurching ride, but both girls made it back to their home unharmed.  The parking job wasn’t the best in the world, but Wendy really didn’t pay much notice.  She tried to use the door-handle but found herself having to use two hands to lift it.  Was I this weak as a child?  Apparently she was.  She opened the door finally and had to jump down; Emily followed suit.  The two girls looked around with surprise to see that they weren’t even eye level with the driver’s side window.  “This is really weird.”  Emily said, overstating the obvious.

            “I wonder how tall we are.”  Wendy said, slipping her blouse back over her.  “It doesn’t seem like we’re too much taller than three feet.”

            “Do you think everyone’s affected by this?”  Emily asked.  “I haven’t seen an adult since we left the mall.”

            “Me neither,” Wendy admitted.  “I don’t know how much of an area this has hit, but I bet there’s something on the news by now.”

            “It better have more info than the damn radio, that’s all I’ve gotta say.”  Emily said with a cynical snort.

            The two girls walked up the stairs to their apartment.  There was no one out and about that they could talk to, either because most of the residents were at work still, or they were indoors glued to the television.  Wendy was sure many were still stuck in the city.  After the White Flash had hit, there would not have been anyone tall enough left to single-handedly operate a vehicle.  “I’m glad you talked me into going to the mall with you, Emily … and I’m glad we came home together.  Otherwise, I think one of us would have been left stranded.”

            “Yeah,” Emily took Wendy’s hand and squeezed it.  “I love you.”

            “I love you too, sweetie.”  Somehow it felt weird expressing her vows to a child, while she herself was obviously the same age.  It was like two kids pretending to be like the grownups in a soap opera.

            Wendy got her keys out when they reached their apartment door.  She instinctively held the keys at her waist level and laughed at herself when she saw the doorknob was at eye level to her.  “This is definitely going to take some getting used to.” she muttered.

            The door opened and the two girls stumbled in, feeling the weight of madness and exhaustion pressing down upon them.  They stared up and up at their environment, always warm and familiar, but now alien.  It was like everything had doubled in size, rather than they being shrunk.  “We need to call our family and make sure they’re okay,” Emily said with growing fear.  “I hope my Dad’s okay!”  She ran over to the wall-mounted phone and discovered that it was now a good distance above her head, and just slightly beyond her reach.  If the phone had not been cordless, she could have yanked it down; as it was, it was just simply beyond her grasp.  If she stood on her tip-toes, she could just barely touch it.  She finally gave up, backed into the wall, where she slid down into a fetal position.  The tears came on strong … everything from the entire day came pouring out like a broken hydrant, threatening to drown her soul and carry it off.  Wendy ran over to her and hunkered down next to her, wrapping her arms around her tiny lover.  “I wanted … wanted to call them but I can’t even do that anymore!  I want to wake up now, Wendy… I wanna wake up.”

“Emily, calm down.  We can push a chair over here and then you can call them, but let’s find out what the television has to say first.”

“Okay…okay.”  Emily took a deep breath and got back on her feet again. 

They walked back into the living room and began searching for the remote control.  After a few minutes, Emily climbed onto the couch and pointed to the top of the entertainment center, which was beyond their reach also.  “There it is…” she pointed.  Wendy looked at it and felt a little annoyed. 

“Okay, we’ll just have to do this the old fashioned way.”  Wendy walked across the room and pressed the power button, which felt unnaturally large under her small fingers.  The TV came on to Channel 4; instead of someone speaking to the audience, there was a message scrolling down the screen with the American flag fluttering in the background.

            …REMEMBER TO STAY CALM AND KEEP YOUR FAMILY CLOSE.  IF YOU HAVE A LOVED ONE WHO IS AWAY FROM HOME, PLEASE REMAIN INDOORS AND EFFORTS WILL BE MADE BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES TO SEE THAT HE OR SHE IS TAKEN CARE OF UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE.  THE ROADS HAVE BECOME UNSAFE FOR MOTORISTS.  LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT, THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, AND THE NATIONAL GUARD ARE MOBILIZED TO BRING RELIEF AID TO AREAS IN NEED.  PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM YOUR LOCAL NEWS CHANNEL 4 TEAM …

            “Mother of god.”  Wendy whispered.

            “Why wasn’t anyone speaking?”  Emily wondered.

            “Because, the news team’s been turned into children like the rest of us.  If they go on the air right now and people see them as children too, people will only panic more.”  Wendy slid off the sofa and walked into the kitchen.  She pushed a chair over to the counter, got up on it, and opened up a drawer.  “I needed the chair to see down in the drawer,” she said to Emily’s puzzled look.

            “What are you looking for?”

            “A measuring tape.”  She rooted around in the drawer and found the tape and a marker.  She hopped down onto the linoleum floor and walked over to the wall, stood up against it straight, and pulled the tape from its metallic roll.  “Hey Em, come over here and mark my height.”  Emily hopped down from the sofa and joined Wendy in the kitchen, taking the marker from her.

            “Jesus, everything feels so big and clumsy.”  Emily said.

            “I know, I don’t know if I’m gonna get used to this again, if we’re stuck like this.”

            Emily marked her lover’s height and wrote a number out beside it.  “Thirty-nine and a half inches tall.”

“Just over three feet, and three inches?”  Wendy asked with surprise.  “I knew it was something like that, but it’s just so fucking weird!

“Here do mine.”  Emily handed Wendy the magic marker and stood up against the wall right next to her.  Wendy lined up the measuring tape, made a mark, and wrote a number out beside it.

“Forty inches even.” Wendy said.  Damnit, ho … you’re taller than me.  C’mon, let’s go check our weight.” 

Emily followed Wendy into the bathroom where the scale was set.  Wendy once again pulled her blouse off and stepped up on the scale.  Upon doing so, part of her mind was expecting the usual consequences … a needle that would swing way too far to the right; this time, however, it stopped way short.  Goodness, I’m less than forty pounds!  “I’ve got thirty-six pounds.” She said to Emily.

            When she stepped off, Emily attempted to get up on the scale when Wendy said, “Take your top off so it’ll be accurate.”

            “I don’t know if I want anyone looking at me like this.”

            “Sweetie, look at me … it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Everyone else probably looks the same as us.  It’s just nudity … didn’t you run around naked when you were this size anyway?”

            “Well yeah, but this isn’t natural … not like this.”  Wendy came up close to Emily and pulled her blouse over her head.  Emily stood there, blushing with one hand covering her crotch while the other crossed her chest.  “Wendy, this is really weird … I feel like I’m in a kiddie porn movie.”

            “You’re not in a kiddie porn movie, and we aren’t doing anything wrong.  We are two twenty-eight year olds in our house, measuring ourselves … and that’s all.  There’s nothing wrong with nudity, no matter what age we are physically.  Now, just step up on there and we’ll get this done with.”  Emily complied with a resigned sigh. 

“I’ve got … Jesus!  Thirty-five pounds?  We’re total shrimps!”

            “Thirty-five pounds?  You’re taller and you weigh less than me.  Bitch!” exclaimed Wendy with a smile.

            “Well no wonder, look at your pudgy little stomach!”  Emily said, turning around to poke it.  Wendy made a ticklish giggle that had more than a passing resemblance to the Pillsbury Doughboy and backed away.

            “No don’t tickle me!”  Wendy squawked.

            “Tickle?  You mean like this?”

            “No stop!  Stop!”  Wendy was giggling out of control, though.  Finally she turned and took off running.  Emily, lost in the moment, ran after her little girlfriend, pinching her on the bare butt along the way.  Wendy ran into the bedroom with Emily hot on her tail; she looked around and saw that the only place she could be safe was under the covers in the bed.  She scrambled up onto it, amazed at how the bed was wider than she was tall.  Emily jumped onto the bed right behind her, pinching her on the butt again, making Wendy squeak.  Wendy shoved her legs under the covers and pulled them up over her head.  Emily, seeing that her tickles could not breech Wendy’s defenses, settled for hopping up and down on top of her.  “OOF!  UGH!  ARGH!”  Wendy grunted from under the cover.  “Okay!  Okay! I give up, just—OOF—stop!” 

Wendy pulled the cover down, revealing her short auburn hair, her big green eyes, and her freckled nose.  Emily was straddling her, panting with a smile.  Aside from their age difference, the bed had seen this sight many times before.  “Hey, why don’t you let me under there?”

“Promise you won’t tickle me.”  Wendy warned with a smile.

            “I promise I’ll start tickling again if you don’t let me.”

            “Alright Alright… come on in.”  Emily climbed off of Wendy and settled in under the covers beside her.  Wendy caressed Emily’s cheek, marveling at the beautiful little dimples her girlfriend had.  “What was that all about?  I thought you were on the verge of a nervous breakdown earlier, now you run around terrorizing me.”

Emily frowned a little and thought about it.  Ya know, you’re right.  What was that all about?    I felt like I was going to lose it, then all of a sudden I felt really happy and energetic.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve been that playful.”

            “If I didn’t know any better, I think our minds or our moods might be different now,” Wendy said, biting her lip with concentration.  “All my memories are there, and I don’t feel any less smart; I can work math out in my mind and I can still reason the same … but my mind kinda wanders.  It’s like I can’t sit still for too long or I start getting antsy.  I mean, we were watching the news, and normally I think I would have kept watching for any late breaking coverage, but I was already up checking my height.”

            “Yeah, I was the same way, sorta!  I wanted to call my Dad, and I started to get a really bad anxiety attack, like the world was ending … then you got me to watch TV and it just passed.  Heck, I’d almost forgotten about it too.”

            “I bet our brains are readjusting to our new bodies … our chemical levels are probably way off from when we were physical adults.”  Wendy raised up on an elbow and leaned closer to Emily.  “Here, kiss me.”

            “Why?”  Emily asked.

            “For science.  I just want to see about something.”  Emily and Wendy’s lips met in a slight peck, which made Wendy frown.  “No, not like that.  Really kiss me like we normally do.”

            “This sounds kinda lame, but I feel like we’re gonna get in trouble.” but Emily took a deep breath and met Wendy’s lips in a slow passionate kiss that their minds remembered from the bygone days of adulthood.  It was really strange, sort of thrilling even, but different from before.

            Wendy pulled back and said, “Interesting.”

            “What?”

            “Did it feel different to you?”

            “Well yeah …”

            “It’s really strange.  Normally when we kiss like that I get really horny, but this feels different, almost subdued.  The passion is there – believe me I could have kept on doing that, but my body doesn’t seem to respond like it used to.”  Wendy rolled over on her back; Emily could see her legs part under the cover.

            “Are you doing what I think you’re doing?”  Emily asked.

            “Yeah, I’m trying to get myself aroused … it’s working, but not like it used to.  I’m drier than before.”

            “What does that prove – that prepubescent bodies don’t turn you on?”

            “Well sorta, but I think it’s because my body isn’t yet ready for too much sexual stuff.  I really think our hormone levels have been altered.”

            “So what you’re saying is that aside from our memories and a few other mental things, we’re small children in every other way?”  Wendy nodded, still rubbing herself.  “So how old do you think we are … Three? Four?  Five?”  Wendy stopped touching herself and rolled over to look at Emily.

            “I have a three year-old niece who’s nearly three feet even in height.  You and I are about three to four inches taller than her.  I’m guessing we’re about four years old.”

            “Four years?  Good God Almighty.”  Emily brought a hand to her mouth in astonishment.  “Are we stuck like this forever?”

            “Beats me … at least I hope we’re not stuck at this age.  Hell, we might start getting younger again.  We need to check our measurements every day just to be sure.”

            “Assuming we aren’t, we’ll either magically go back to our old age quickly … or …*yawn* … the old fashioned way.”

            “Yeah, won’t that be weird, growing up a second time.”

            “I hope no one makes us go to school again, that would really suck.” Emily said, yawning again.

            “Yeah me neither.  What I want to know is how many people have been turned into toddlers like us.  It could be the whole world.  And what about all the kids under the age of four; what’s happened to them?  And, how are we going to function in a world that’s been made for grown-ups?  What’s going to happen— 

Wendy paused at the sound of Emily snoring.  Bless her little heart, Wendy thought to herself.  Emily looked so cute, like the daughter Wendy never had.  She stroked the sleeping girl’s hair with her right hand, admiring the little blonde girl’s angelic face.  She’s been through a lot today, I’ll just let her sleep for a while.  I need to go cook some supper for us and see if anything’s happened on the news.  However, the thought of getting up out of bed, finding some clothes that would even remotely fit her reduced body, having to climb up on the kitchen counter to get to the cabinets while listening to the television felt like a daunting task.  She simply wasn’t up to strength for it.  Oh well, maybe I’ll just lay here a while longer … take a little nap too.  Then me and Emily can tackle the kitchen whenever we wake up . . . Heh, maybe we can bake some chocolate chip cookies.   And it’s not like the news is going to disappear.  They still talk about September 11th. 

Yes, something told her that people would be talking about January 22nd, 2003 for a very long time to come.