|A Time Like No Other
©1999 Sandfur -- all rights reserved
They say "Youth is wasted on the young." Sometimes a family believes in sayings enough to do something about it.
So many choices... I never would have guessed there were so many summer camps near our little town. I suppose that's why I want to go to a summer camp, just to get away from here, and from my...
...family and one person in particular, my seven year old brother, Tim. He's big for his age, sandy blond hair and an incredible knack for getting me in trouble, which, I expect, is what he is doing now.
"What do you want, brat?" I asked as civilly as I could.
"Mom, says you have to help me pack," he smirked in his usual mocking tone of voice.
"What for? Oh yeah, that family vacation."
"Yep, and you have to help me. Ha-ha."
That was it. I had him in a headlock in record time.
"MOM! HELP ME!!" he shouted, a strangled sort of shout, but loud enough for the Parent Police to hear him, and come to his rescue.
"All right Mark, let him go."
Mom to the rescue... again. My parents spoil Tim so much it makes me sick. They don't seem to care about me near as much as they do him. I think they want me gone to camp as much as I want to be gone.
"Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark," my mom groaned, shaking her head. "Why can't you be more like your brother?"
Oh, Good-dy. It was lecture number seventeen... again.
"Because, mom, I'm thirteen, remember? I'm a perfect textbook example of a rebellious teenager and he's a sweet little mama's boy. I like getting out of this house, and he likes hiding behind you and dad! I know you liked me better when I was seven, but I'm growing up! I'm not your little angel anymore!"
The outburst surprised both of us, but it was worse for my mom.
"I know Mark, I know. I had just hoped that..." and then she burst out crying. "Just go help your brother pack."
Something hit me then, something I had forgotten when I had become a teenager. She loved me. A lot. And the way she looked right then forestalled any further argument on my part.
So I helped Tim pack. I had never realized how baggy his clothes were. They were very similar to the kind I wear, at least when I wasn't stuck at school wearing the uniform required there. Very "cool". I hadn't expected Tim to follow fashion. Once he was packed I went and tackled my own packing. Tackled is the right word by the way, my suitcase needed that and much more before it would shut.
Early the next morning, we all piled into the van and headed for Dad's "secret vacation spot," a good six hours away, a drive long enough to make us all sick of each other, and to leave Tim with a few new bruises.
The beach was a wonderful break after a regimented school year, and, of course, my family. I got as far away from them as I could, which ended up being a secluded and abandoned grove with a little cove that had a stream flowing into it from further inland. There I changed in to my beach clothes: the baggiest shirt and shorts I had.
I tested the water. It was COLD! I mean really, really cold. Like ice. Well, forget that, I'd prefer to go swimming anyway. So I went down to the water in my little private cove. It was wonderful. No school. No parent, and, most of all, no little brother. So I swam, and swam the day away. That night at the hotel I was simply exhausted. And was asleep in almost no time.
The next day, we went hiking, another part of the "family vacation." I was getting dressed when I noticed something a little strange. My shoes seemed to have gotten a little looser, and my clothes might have been a little baggier. But I had years since lost track of how baggy certain articles of clothing were. I didn't really care. As long as they fit, it didn't matter. So we went out to hike.
I didn't know how had Dad had found this place, but I had to give him credit. It was beautiful. Most of the places we saw completely eluded description, but there were crystal clear waterfalls flowing into luscious green meadows and granite cliffs, huge and awe-inspiring, towering over us. This place was magical... well, no magic isn't the word to describe it. It was enchanting. And I enjoyed every minute of it. Once, again I dropped of to sleep quickly that night.
I woke up groggy and sore the next morning. As I wiped the sleep out of my eyes, I noticed that something was wrong. Everything was too big. Not giant-like, but definitely larger than it should be. The ceiling seem to have gotten higher, and the room larger.
I stood up and my shorts fell off, slipping off a much slimmer waist. I hurriedly pulled them back up, and ran to the mirror. What I saw there surprised, and scared me. Sure, it was me in the mirror, but I was almost a foot too small, had way too many freckles. I also had much too fiery red hair, and I was missing a tooth. There was also the problem that my clothes were hanging on me like tents, so nothing else I had was going to fit either.
So who do you go to in times of crisis like this? Obviously... "MOM!" I shouted, and then I realized that my voice was almost an octave higher than it had been the day before.
"Tim? What is it? It had better be good."
"It's not Tim. It's Mark. I'm getting younger!" I shouted, trying to shake her awake. "Look at me!"
Mom rolled out of bed and looked at me. She stared in shock, then started crying, "No, no, no, let's not do this, please George!"
"Mom?" I asked as calmly as I could. "What's going on?"
"Please..." she said, but to who, God, Dad, or me, I'll never know. "Just go swim."
"I can't go out like this!" I cried shrilly. "Nothing I have fits me!"
Mom dug through my brother's stuff and dug out his baggiest pair of swim trunks. "They may be a little tight but at least you'll be decent."
I slunk off to the bathroom and put on the trunks. They were a little tight, but since I shouldn't have been able to put them on at all, it still bothered me. I headed in the direction of the hotel pool, but I wasn't allowed to go in because I need a parent with me. I was too young to go in alone, so I went back to our room, from outside the door I heard my parents arguing. As soon as I stepped in I they both stopped and looked at me.
"Back so soon?" asked my dad.
"Yeah, I'm too young to be swimming by myself, or so they say."
"Oh that's too bad. Look your mom and I were 'discussing' a few things, and, well, since this is our last day here, what do you want to do, go hiking or swimming?"
At first I was going to say hike, but then that secluded grove with the unnaturally cold stream came to mind. It must be behind everything, so...
"Let's go swimming."
As soon as we got to the beach I made a beeline for that secluded cove. It was still there, and the little stream was as cold as ever. I tried to follow it to its source, but was stopped by very heavy undergrowth. So I tried the next option that came to mind.
"Excuse me, Mr. Lifeguard, do you know of any streams that make people younger?"
"Yeah kid. It's called the Fountain of Youth, and it's in Florida. Now leave me alone!"
It started to ask someone else in the general vicinity when I realized, that my brother's trunks were no longer tight. They fit me perfectly. I was probably seven years old again!
That did it. I started running up and down the beach shouting my head off, demanding to know why I was getting younger. Soon the Lifeguards took me to my parents and "requested" we leave. So we went home a little early. On the way, my brother hit me. It hurt more than it ever had before. I hit him back and was rewarded with a squeal of pain. Still, his punch had hurt.
"Ooowwww!" we were both shouting.
"Oh, stop fighting," said Dad. "Mark, I think you'll want to read this." He handed me a brochure for a vacation company:
A subdivision of Spells R' Us
"We did for your sake, Mark" I heard mom say, almost sobbing. "We did it for the good of the whole family. You'll be the smartest seven-year-old in the world. And you need to get used to it. There's no way to reverse it except natural growth."
So that's what all of the arguing had been about, and why my parents hadn't worried when I started getting younger. I was going to be seven and have to grow up again.
"Please," I asked, also on the verge of tears. "Help me."
My brother smirked.
My mother wept.
My father turned away.
"Help me." I whispered to no one and everyone.
The only response was silence.
About the author
Sandfur is, in real life, a 16-year-old in-going junior. He plays French Horn in the Marching Band, sings, acts, "techs," runs a Redwall club online, is becoming a Star Wars fanatic and attends Los Alamos High School.
He enjoys transformation in all its aspects, though mainly AR and furry, and writes on TSA-Talk. He loves (hint, hint) comments on his stories.