Okay, I hate people who do the "firsties" thing and I just became one of them. I can see now the temptation is great...
Anyway, to kick things off, here's a bit I've been working on for Part 4 of Original Son.
A cloudless cerulean sky greeted the visitors as they exited their minivans and funneled through the doors of New Life Christian Church. The small group that regularly attended the church’s biweekly “Prayer, Praise, and Fellowship” group had exploded in numbers in previous weeks, owing in part no doubt to the extraordinary effects their children were undergoing. This Thursday the flock of mostly happy parents could do nothing but chat endlessly about what size pants Johnny wore now and Kathlene’s returning baby teeth.
”Oh, did I tell you the good news?” Sharon bubbled with an enthusiasm only mothers can muster. “Candace finally stopped asking about bras.”
”Well, you know how I told you they had been getting a lot smaller over the last few days,” Sharon explained as she illustrated with cupped hands. “Anyway, yesterday she woke up and I swear I could hardly see anything there, maybe a couple little bumps. That was it. Then today Don took us all swimming over at Ridgemont, you know that place just past Friday’s?”
”We were putting on our bathing suits and when Candace came out of the locker rooms, wow! I got a good look at her and they were gone.”
”Oh, completely. Not one boy at the pool even gave her a second look,” Sharon exclaimed. “I tell you. It’s such a blessing seeing those things disappear. Nothing but trouble if you ask me.”
Patricia concurred. “So much easier not having to worry about sex—“
”They really changed her back when she got them, remember? After that growth spurt around the sixth grade, it was like she became different person overnight. But now I feel like I have her back, you know?” Sharon paused, realizing she was monopolizing the conversation. “Hey, how is Matt?”
”Well, the anger is still there. It takes a fair amount of persuading just to get him to go anywhere these days, but oh, I forgot to tell you—his voice broke yesterday.”
”Praise God,” Sharon said. “How old would you guess?”
”We’re saying twelve-ish. He’s probably closer to eleven now. Poor thing kept clearing his throat all day trying to make it sound like it used to,” Patricia described the situation matter-of-factly. “He knows something is different, but I think the shock is wearing off now that he’s mostly past puberty. How is Candace adapting?”
”She has spells, you know, where she asks a lot of questions. About the same when it comes to obeying adults, but she seems less hostile to church, so that’s good,” Sharon detailed. “I tell you, though, I just can’t get over how much they’re changing!”
”I always had faith in miracles,” Patricia said, laughing a little, “but now that one has happened, I can hardly believe it.”
The smell of fresh glazed doughnuts filled the hallway as the crowd loudly made its way into the fellowship hall. Pastor Leary addressed the anxious assembly of parents with his trademark pearly smile.
”Everyone quiet down. We’re about to start. Please, if you could just take your seats. I know we have a lot to talk about this evening...”
The noise died away, except for a few excited stragglers in the back.
”What a day the Lord has made, has he not?” Pastor Leary lifted his arms in praise.
A round of applause spontaneously erupted. Shouts of “Amen!” were heard.
”Let me tell you. When I heard the news I was as shocked as the rest of you. Never in my thirty years of ministry have I witnessed such blessings in one community. Never.” Pastor Leary’s laughter wove itself into his words in such a way that one could hardly separate the two. “This congregation, praise Jesus, is experiencing a modern day miracle. He’s giving you a gift, a chance to bring your sons and daughters closer to God, to allow you the joy of seeing your teenagers return to you as children, your children…”
Another “Amen!” went up.
”But what do we do?” a lone voice called out. The room paused in mild surprise.
”Janice?” Pastor Leary turned his attention to a young black woman no older than thirty.
”I mean, it’s great that God is blessing us, but I‘m not sure,” she mumbled shyly. “What if we don’t want our kids to be young again?”
”This is what God wants,” Pastor Leary answered unworriedly.
”But I already raised Tanya once and I think she turned out wonderful. I mean, she’s a good girl and you should have seen how excited she was about getting her driver’s license next month. Now she’s too young—“
”Oh honey,” another woman consoled, placing her arm around Janice’s shoulder. “It’ll be okay. Tanya will be just fine. God is just giving her a second chance. Who wouldn’t want another chance to be a kid again?”
”Yeah, think about it,” Sharon added. “Her first day of school, dressing up on Halloween… plus, well, I know we’re all thinking it. They’re so cute!”
The parents grinned at one another and nodded. “It’s true.”
”But what about her friends at school? They’ll all be out of college by the time she graduates from elementary school… or who knows, maybe she’ll be in diapers then. No one knows how long this will last and I’m just afraid she’s going to wake up one day and remember.”
”Tanya is such a sweetheart. She’ll make new friends in no time.”
The parents, mostly women but some men, continued conversing for the rest of the meeting about how best to handle such an unorthodox situation. Topics ranged from home schooling to Vacation Bible School to recommended diaper brands. Pastor Leary capped off the evening with a heartfelt prayer:
”Lord, we are all your children and we give thanks for all the blessings you’ve bestowed upon us. We have no words to describe such gifts. Lord, we pray that your will be done and the young people of this church come to know you as you mold them into true children of God. As you move back the hands of time, oh Lord, show them what it means to be bathed in your love and forgiveness…”
Meanwhile, three and a half miles away, Matthew sat arched over his keyboard, the still loading image of a naked eighteen-year-old model fingering her wet, glistening pussy displayed on the screen. This little nightly test proved his libido remained intact. Once a hobby, masturbation had now become Matt’s sole surviving _link_ to adulthood. The size of his penis, however, tended to cast a gloom over the proceedings.
Thursday had been a day of dread finally realized. Now, in addition to looking like a scrappy twelve-year-old, Matt had finally developed a voice to match. That morning it had suddenly climbed several pitches and by afternoon he sounded like a rosy-cheeked little youngster. No doubt Patricia would sign him up for choir before week’s end.
Thinking happier thoughts, Matt tightened his grip and accelerated, finally falling back into his seat – spent. Still enjoying the post-orgasm tingle, he wadded the tissue and was about to toss it in the trash when he noticed.
”Oh man,” he moaned.
Disappointed, Matt inspected the dry Kleenex in his hand and then glared down accusingly at his pubeless crotch.
Gazing at the virgin white tissue, Matt felt like some bastard brother of Onan, the supposed masturbator of the Old Testament. Perhaps the same God that struck poor Ony dead for refusing to impregnate his dead brother’s wife had cast the reverse punishment on Matt. Maybe God favored more subtle methods nowadays; rather than send down lightening bolts or turn people into piles of sodium chloride, he preferred irony. Cum too often and poof, you’re a prepubescent.
Hearing his mother shut the door below, Matt hastily minimized his dream woman and hoisted up his pants.
Tomorrow he would suffer through Candace’s birthday party, a sure-to-be-surreal celebration marking his best friend’s retreat into childhood. How old would she be? he wondered. Matt pulled his fifth grade yearbook from a stack of books above his desk and thumbed through the pages. He stopped on page 36 and scanned down to the third row: there she was, wearing a cool smile and hiding some mischievous secret behind her ten-year-old eyes.
He thought back.
After falling away from the church, or “backsliding” as their former youth minister would say, Candace had experimented with different faiths and religions before settling on a kind of personalized agnosticism. Matt remembered her Buddhist phase, her short-lived flirtations with Wicca, and even the month she had dabbled jokingly in Scientology.
Matt, on the other hand, had simply renounced religion entirely by middle school, going from lukewarm Christian to skeptical atheist in a matter of days. He had to wonder, could that have something to do with his imperviousness to the Christian messages that were so clearly affecting his peers? Was his stalwart refusal to entertain religious ideas slowing his mental regression?
Maybe Darwin really will end up my savior,, he thought.
Matt was both relieved and terrified by the idea. While his Youth Group classmates all devolved into naïve, gullible children, he might be the exception, the mutation, forever immune to God’s plans. Still clutching the tissue and thinking of his shrinking manhood, Matt began to wonder if his invulnerability might become an even bigger curse.
Suddenly, and for the first time in his life, the bliss of ignorance seemed unusually attractive.
”Don’t forget your present,” Patricia reminded Matt as he slammed the car door. “It’s in the trunk.”
Multicolored streamers and balloons gracing the doorway and mailbox announced the arrival of Candace’s “birthday.” As Patricia shepherded her reluctant son toward the front porch, he read the homemade banner draped over the bushes with unease:
“Happy 10th Birthday, Candace!”
Sure enough, inside, the house bustled with pre-teen energy. Matt recognized most of the girls from Youth Group, which answered his first question. How would her parents manage to throw a birthday party when all of Candace’s other friends were still high school juniors and seniors? It appeared her circle of acquaintances had shrunk (right along with her body) to include only similarly aged friends from church.
The house was training bra city.
Matt watched, dumbstruck, as Candace weaved her way through the sea of pink and purple and blue to say hello.
”Hey Matt,” she said. “I hope you don’t feel weird being the only boy…”
”It’s okay,” he yelled overtop the blaring generic girl-pop coming from the living room.
”What?” she hollered.
”I said it’s okay!”
It was like Candace’s yellowing yearbook picture had sprung back to life. Eight years had erased nearly everything but her impish smile. Her beautiful breasts and hips had vanished, leaving her built like a boy from the waist up. An airy Old Navy tank top lent a good view straight down her bare chest. Matt couldn’t help but reflect on how much “the scenery” had changed.
Behind him, he could barely make out the conversation between Sharon and his mother.
”Oh, she is just adorable!” Patricia exclaimed.
”Do you think Matt will mind being surrounded by all these girls?” Sharon asked.
”No, no,” Patricia said, gently nudging Matt in the back. “Go on… they won’t bite.”
Once Matt wandered safely out of range, they continued.
”He’s looking younger than the last picture you showed me,” Sharon said, eying the lone boy as he warily waded into the living room crowd.
”Not as young as Candace, but he’s getting there.”
”I think he’s as cute as can be,” Sharon remarked with a warm, maternal smile. “Look how short they’ve both gotten.”
”Matt won’t let me measure him.”
”That’s a shame. I’ve been marking Candace’s height on the wall next to her room every night. Since Monday she’s lost seven inches. Can you believe it?”
Bewildered by the swirling mass of young females circling around him, Matt didn’t even notice at first when Candace tugged his shirt from behind.
”Matt, this is my friend Megan,” she introduced a baby faced girl who stood just taller than him. “She’s from Youth Group.”
”I guessed as much,” Matt said indifferently as he observed two small lumps on Megan’s chest, a rarity among the girls at the party. Judging from her face, she couldn’t have been much older than Candace; the fledgling breasts were probably the result of her slightly overweight figure.
More tedious minutes with the Justin Timberlake crowd ensued, sending Matt into near convulsions of boredom. Finally, and not a moment too soon, Mrs. Summers turned down the music and called out, “All right everyone, you know what time it is…”
Of course, very few truly knew what “time” meant anymore. With the exception of Matt, none of the guests acted out of the ordinary. Girls who, in any sane world, should have been terrified by the shrinking buds on their chests happily danced to overproduced boy bands and swapped pretentious gossip like regular middle school girls.
Before Matt even reached the kitchen, the “Happy Birthday” song was underway.
Candace smiled melodramatically for the cameras, her face lit by the orange glow of ten flickering candles gracing her childish birthday cake. The girls soon dug into the pink and blue monstrosity, especially Megan who inhaled the icing like it was a contest.