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 Post subject: Slow Shrink Tale: “My Very Short Story” By jasbow (1-13)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:08 pm 
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Slow shrink tale: “My Very Short Story” By jasbow (Chapters 1-13)

(If you want to get straight to the "Height Comparison" stuff go directly to Chapter 5).


Chapter 1:

It was my ex-girlfriends’ idea, the whole shrinking thing. I was happy being six foot four. Why did I let her talk me into it and how could I have been so stupid, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Let my story – my very short story -- be a warning to those of you who, like me, fall in love too easily, and with the wrong woman. I have to preface my little tale by saying that I like women, I mean really like them. I always have. Tall, short, thin, voluptuous, younger, older, it doesn’t matter, I like them all. It isn’t just a sexual thing. Sex is great of course. I am a healthy, heterosexual 28 year old male, after all. But even leaving asside sex, I just like being around women. I enjoy their company. If a woman has a pleasant smile, a decent brain (vacuous is a turn off for me), a sense of humor, and doesn’t hate men or chew them up and spit them out for sport, I’m halfway to being in love already. If she has a pretty face and attractive figure to go with it, watch out – I’m a total sucker for a pretty face. And Molly wasn’t simply pretty, she was breathtaking -- hair that perfect shade of deep red, melting brown eyes, a cute little nose lightly dusted with freckles, and lips just made for kissing; all wrapped up in a cuddly, five foot two inch package that was both slim and curvy at the same time, with just the right mix of each and in all the right places. She was a perfect armful; at least she was back then. She would be a lot more than an armful for me now. But I’m getting ahead of my story. It all began the day that Molly burst though the door of my apartment (she had a key of course) to tell me her BIG news.

“Jake, you remember that experimental shrinking drug that Daddy told us about when we had dinner with my parents last month?” [Molly’s father is a senior executive with a major pharmaceutical company, in charge of product development - her Mom is a doctor, a shrink actually, quite the little irony that.] “Well, guess what?” Molly didn’t wait for me to guess, pausing only briefly for dramatic effect before continuing on, “The Company has received approval to begin testing on people, and they’re looking for volunteers.”

“That’s interesting,” I answered carefully. When she continued to stand there, looking up at me from down below shoulder level with THAT LOOK, I added, “And?”

Of course, I had more than an inkling as to what was coming. Molly and I had met eighteen months earlier, while I was in my last year of grad school. I was finishing my master’s degree in architecture, and Molly was studying graphic design, so we did studio work in the same building. For me, as was often the case, it was infatuation at first sight. Add to that the fact that Molly gave off very clear signals right from the start that she was interested in more than just friendship and, well, what red blooded male can resist that kind of flattery from a woman as attractive as Molly? Before I knew what was happening, we were a couple, and I was suddenly walking around with a great big virtual ‘HANDS OFF, HE’S MINE’ sign hung around my neck. I later found out that one of Molly’s girlfriends, whom I knew casually, had pointed me out one day on the steps leading up to the studio building, telling Molly that she was interested in me. Molly is a highly competitive girl. The over-indulged, only child of well to do parents, she is used to getting what she wants, and she doesn’t like to lose. She looked me over from a distance, and decided on the spot that her ‘friend’ should not be the one to have me. She should.

I realize now that Molly never loved me, at least not in the way that I loved her. She was fond of me, and very affectionate, which I interpreted as a sign of love. I suppose she loved me as much as she is capable of loving anyone. But from the beginning it was mostly about her. Beneath the warm words and physical affection, I was really just a conquest, one that she liked showing off to her friends, like the big game hunter showing off that very impressive lion head mounted on his wall. I’m not trying to boast. I don’t pretend to be Hollywood heartthrob handsome, but if I can be pardoned for saying so, I am a fairly decent looking guy…other than being really, really short that is. My features are regular, with a lean jaw and straight nose, I have blue eyes, a full head of wavy, dark brown hair (for some reason its gotten curlier since I shrank) and I’m told that I have a nice smile. I’m pretty well-built too, a little slender, but with good muscle definition from working out and narrow hips that make my shoulders look wide by comparison, even if they aren’t really all that broad in proportion to my height. And back then, I was tall.

Everyone said we made a cute couple; tall, slim, dark haired Jake and petite but curvy little red headed Molly. I suspect now that she chose me largely because of the aesthetically pleasing contrast that we made. She was an art student after all. At first, Molly seemed to appreciate my height. She would ask me to do things like reaching things on upper shelves for her, or changing the light bulbs in her ceiling fixture, commenting appreciatively on the fact that I didn’t need a stool, not like so many other guys she knew. She liked to snuggle under my arm when we sat on the couch, or climb into my lap, and she made a point of working into conversations when she introduced me to her friends the fact that I was six four and had played basketball in high school. Gradually, however, the novelty seemed to wear off. After awhile Molly began to complain that she got a crick in her neck when she had to stand next to me for very long, and that the 14 inch difference in our heights made it hard to carry on a conversation in a noisy room. At parties, or waiting for a table at restaurants, she was always on the lookout for somewhere we could sit down. In the end, I think she just got tired of the way I loomed. Her father was only 5’6”, and her previous boyfriend had only been a little taller. She was used to men who didn’t tower over her. Molly had a dominating personality. She didn’t like being loomed over. I think she came to feel that my height somehow diminished her.

Instead of boasting about my height, as she had at first, Molly began making jokes about it that were in fact, thinly veiled criticisms. My legs stuck out too far when I sat on the couch, my elbows got in the way, and I took up too much space in the bathroom of my small apartment, not to mention the bed. I began to sense a growing coolness on her part. I’m a reasonably bright guy, and I could read between the lines. I had been suspecting that a breakup was coming for some weeks, and deeply anxious about it. I was in love, and desperate not to let the breakup happen. I had begun trying to diminish my height, slouching or stooping in Molly’s presence and wearing the flattest soled shoes I could find. It hadn’t helped. When Molly burst through the door that day with such a determined look on her face, I feared the worst. So it was came as a big relief when I realized where the conversation was really going. She wasn’t breaking up with me. She was asking me to shrink.

An impossible solution to or irresolvable problem had presented itself. Our relationship would be perfect again, if only I weren’t so tall, at least that’s how Molly saw it. All I had to do to hang onto my beautiful girlfriend was to become a guinea pig for an untested and potentially dangerous new drug. I agree now that it sounds like a pretty stupid thing to do, especially in light of what actually happened. But I wasn’t entirely rational at the time. I was a fool in love, and willing to do almost anything to keep Molly. Was I willing to give up the advantages of my height? I was aware of the claims, some of them actual scientific studies, that tall men earn more money, are happier, healthier and more successful at love. And besides, I just liked being tall. Was I willing to trade all of that to hang onto my strong willed and demanding girlfriend? You bet I was! I would have given up a whole lot more than a few inches to hang onto Molly.

As it turned out, I lost a whole lot more than a few inches, and in the end, I still lost Molly. So not only am I a fool, I’m a loser too – a very short loser. Well, a fool yes, but maybe not a loser. I did discover a bright side to my…deflation. This is a short story, not a horror story. Things are looking up for me in some ways, if you’ll pardon the pun. I’ll let you be the judge.


Chapter 2 - An Inauspicious Beginning.

All it took was one phone call to Molly’s father. Two days later, I found myself sitting in an office at Massive PharmaCorp, across the desk from one of the company’s lawyers. In front of me was an ominously thick document entailed “Project SX2.3 Pharmaceutical Trial - Disclosure, Consent and Waiver Agreement.” I had been given an hour to read the document and had just spent another half hour listening to the lawyer explain what all the “whereas’s” and “heretofor’s” meant. The document included a page and a half of type in all caps that began: “THE UNDERSIGNED, FOR HIMSELF AND HIS OR HER HEIRS AND ASSIGNS, HEREBY IRREVOCABLY AND FOREVER WAIVES AND RELEASES…”. The gist of all the legalese was pretty simple, however. I acknowledged that the shrinking drug, referred to as Shrinx2.3, had only been tested on animals; that results were uncertain and that bad things could happen to me; and I agreed not to sue the company if something went wrong. I hesitated for only a moment as I thought about Molly and how…grateful, she had been when I agreed to join the trial. Let’s just say that it had been a very interesting and active two days. I picked up the pen and signed. By signing the agreement, I committed to remain in the study for a period of six months, or until I had lost 30 cm in height (just under a foot), whichever came first.

Although I was giving up all rights to sue Massive PharmaCorp if anything went wrong, the agreement did provide some perks. If there were complications, I would receive free medical care. I was also given a generous allowance that could be used to replace my wardrobe as I shrank, assuming the drug was successful in shrinking me. In return, I was required to report to the company’s clinic once a week, where I would be examined, measured and photographed again, before receiving my next booster shot of Shrinx2.3. In between clinic visits I was required to record my weight and height each morning and evening, using a high tech digital scale that the company supplied. Instead of one of those sliding bars like the scales in doctor’s offices, this one used a lasar light sensor to accurately measure my height.

After the meeting with the lawyer, I was taken down to the clinic for a physical. After the physical, I was weighed, measured, and photographed from all four sides standing against a height scale. The measurements were very detailed, and quite embarrassing. At least for the photos I was allowed to wear a pair of briefs – supplied by the clinic so that all of the photos would be uniform. After the exam, I was given my first shot of Shrinx2.3, along with a bottle of supplement pills which I was required to take with each meal. The nurse who gave me the shot was business like and efficient. The whole thing took all of two minutes. After the long morning spent going over the legal documents and then being poked, prodded and measured, the shot seemed anticlimactic, hardly worth mentioning.

Afterward I was taken to lunch at the company dining room, where I was introduced to the researchers who were in charge of the study, along with a group of fellow participants who had also been examined and injected that morning. Besides myself, there were only two other men in the group, not surprising I suppose, given that most men would rather be taller than shorter. One of the men, a bond giant named Carl, was so tall that even I had to bend my neck back to make eye contact. He told me shyly that he was 6’11”, that he didn’t much like basketball, and that he was tired of hearing jokes about “the weather up there”. He hoped to at least shrink enough that he wouldn’t have to duck to go through doors. The other man was surprisingly short, barely 5’4” in his shoes. He was lean and fit but quite muscular, with shoulders that were broad for his height. Tony explained that he was a professional jockey, but that with his naturally muscular build he had trouble keeping his weight down within the required range. Even though he was pretty short already, he was willing to loose a few more inches if it meant that he wouldn’t have to work as hard to make weight. Since he was starting from a much lower base height, his contract had a lower cap. He had agreed to stay on the drug for three months, or until he lost 15 cm, whichever came first.

The remaining dozen or so participants who had enrolled that day were women. Not surprisingly, they were all significantly taller than average. I had never been particularly attracted to tall women, as distinguished from short ones or woman of average height. As I’ve said, I like them all, short, average and tall. But I have to admit that being around so many women who were close to my height was refreshing. In that group I didn’t feel awkwardly large or clumsily male, as I sometimes did in a room full of average women. Little Tony, on the other hand, was clearly having a hard time. The shortest of the women was at least five inches taller than he was, and one or two topped him by a foot or more. He was visibly nervous and uncomfortable, and I couldn’t help smiling to myself at the way his eyes kept jerking up every time he turned around and found himself looking straight ahead at exactly the wrong place. He was the first one of the group to hurry to a seat at the table after the introductions were completed.

One of the tallest of the women was Janet. Although she was wearing flat shoes with soles thinner than the ones on my athletic shoes, she could look me straight in the eye. She might have had half an inch on me. Janet was about my age, in her mid-20’s, and attractive in a statuesque way. She wasn’t overweight for her height and build, but everything about her was oversize, shoulders that were wider than mine, big hands and feet, broad hips, and generous breasts. She was dressed casually, but stylishly, and wore her light brown hair in a short but attractive cut. I could tell that she took pains with her appearance. Her voice was low and quite lovely. She seemed confident and poised, and from her conversation I could tell that she was intelligent and well–educated. She also showed a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at herself. She referred to herself as an ‘Amazon’, joking with the other tall women about how difficult it was to meet men who weren’t intimidated by her size. I found myself taking an instant liking to her. Janet couldn’t hold a candle to my Molly, of course, but for such a big woman she moved with surprising grace, and she had a pleasant face made even more pleasant when she smiled, and beautiful, clear green eyes.

I got to know my fellow test subjects quite well over the next few weeks. Most of us had full-time careers and to accommodate us, the clinic scheduled our weekly checkups and booster shots on Saturday mornings. We would chat as we sat in the waiting room, and those of us who didn’t have to rush off for something or other would meet for an impromptu lunch in the Massive PharmaCorp cafeteria, which was open six days a week. Lunches were on the company. We compared notes about our progress and our experiences with shrinking. My initial impression of Janet proved to be correct. The more I got to know her, the better I liked her, as a friend that is. There was nothing romantic between us. I was too besotted with Molly, and too preoccupied with the continuing troubles in our relationship, mostly caused by Molly’s disappointment over my initial lack of reaction to the drug.

The Shrinx2.3 trial was largely a bust. It turns out that most people have a natural immunity to the drug. Many participants didn’t shrink at all. Others shrank an inch, or two, or possibly three with an increased dose and extended treatment, but no more than that. Little Tony was one of the latter group. Over the course of six weeks he lost a total of two inches, and although he continued treatment for the remainder of his three month agreement, that was the extent of his shrinking. He didn’t just shrink proportionately, however. The drug caused him to loose bone mass at a slightly higher rate than height. He ended up with a lighter, more wiry build than before, narrower though the shoulders and smaller boned all over, although just as muscular. Tony was pleased with the results. His modest reduction brought his body mass down just enough, he said, but without a huge loss of height. As a short man, he was happy that he didn’t get any shorter than 5’2” – actually, he was 5’ 1 & ½” in his bare feet, but he didn’t like to admit it. He told us that his wife, who had been an inch taller to begin with, had teased him by buying a pair of shoes with four and a half inch heels, in place of her usual flats and modest pumps. Combined with his two inch height loss, those tall shoes boosted her enough to look down on the top of his head. Tony told us about it one day at lunch.

“She patted me on the head and called me her ‘little man’. But I put a stop to that. I told her that her bottom looked a whole lot bigger now that I was closer to it. That shut her up. She hasn’t worn those shoes since.”

Tony had a cheeky sense of humor.

As to side effects, a few participants reported increased headaches, loss of appetite, or mild joint pain, but nothing more. I had no side effects, but then, I wasn’t losing height either. By my third checkup, the researchers had pegged me as someone with a strong natural immunity to Shrinx2.3.

A small minority of subjects had no initial immunity to the drug, but instead built up anti-bodies over time. For a few of those, the initial height loss was dramatic. Big Carl had the greatest reaction. He shrank 3 inches his first week, and almost as much his second and third. By the end of three weeks he was shorter than me – I had lost a few pounds, but no height at all. By four weeks, however, his shrinking had slowed, and when he topped shrinking completely after five weeks he was still a quarter inch over six feet tall. Carl was happy. He was still a moderately tall man, but no longer a huge one. Instead of being limited to big and tall stores, he could now buy clothes off the wrack in the mens department, and he didn’t have to duck anymore to go through doors or wash his hair in the shower. When people asked him about the weather, it was because they wanted to know if it would rain, not because they were making a joke at his expense.

Janet also had good results her first few weeks, although not as spectacular as Carl’s. She lost a total of five inches in the first month, before her immunities built up enough to halt her shrinking. That left her half an inch under six feet tall. Janet would have liked to have shrunk even more; she was still a tall woman, after all. But all things considered, she too was quite happy with her results.

“At least I can honestly say that I’m under six feet” she told us with a throaty chuckle at lunch after our fifth appointment.

Like Tony, Janet had also slimmed down. Her figure was still lush, but her waist was narrower and she wasn’t as broad proportionately through the shoulders and hips. Her feet and hands were still long, but much slimmer than before. She was no longer a “big boned girl”, as she put it. She looked great, long and leggy, rather than big, but still with generous breasts and a very spectacular cleavage. Her face had been attractive before, but now her bone structure was a bit more refined, more elegant. The changes were subtle, but the combined effect was remarkable. She was no longer merely attractive, she was beautiful. The male researchers at the clinic were all openly drooling over her, which Janet found both flattering and amusing.

By this time Janet and Carl had begun dating. I was happy for them, but also a little jealous. My own relationship with Molly was on the rocks. Molly was deeply disappointed at my lack of reaction to the drug. Although it was completely unfair, she blamed me.

“You’ve been on that drug for more than four weeks now and you’re just as big as ever!” she said in an accusing tone. I had been hearing similar comments at an increasing rate since the second week.

“That’s not true. I’ve lost seven pounds. I’ve had to tighten my belt a notch…and my shoes are loose,” I added, hopefully.

“You’re still six four,” she snapped. “So you’ve gotten a little skinnier, that’s nothing. And your feet are still enormous; size 15 instead of 16, big deal! That guy Carl you told me about is shrinking away like an ice cube on a hot day. I bet his feet are smaller than yours.” That stung. I knew that Carl was down to a size 11 from a size 19. Then Molly really did it, as she added, waspishly, “Maybe you should introduce me to him.”

“He’s dating someone. And she’s every bit as pretty as you, and a whole lot nicer,” I snapped back, sufficiently provoked for once not to keep trying to placate her.

It went down hill from there. We had been seeing less and less of each other and I was expecting a final break up any day. Then, in week six, everything changed.


Chapter 3 – My First Shrinking Spurt.

I had committed to remain in the shrinking study for up to six months, but by my fifth checkup the researchers had pretty much given up on me. Then, the Monday following my sixth appointment at the clinic, I woke up to a BIG surprise -- I had shrunk out of my clothes overnight. My fancy high tech scale said that I was five feet ten and five eighths inches tall, an astonishing loss of almost five and half inches while I slept! That was more than Carl, the record holder so far, had lost in an entire week. Overnight I had gone from tall, to scarcely taller than average, not even a six footer anymore.

I was ecstatic, because I knew how happy Molly would be. But I also had a small problem (pardon the pun). My boss and I were presenting a design proposal to a client first thing that morning. My office was a hip sort of place. Normally we wore t-shirts and jeans, even shorts in warm weather. But this client had a buttoned-up corporate culture, and my boss had asked me to wear a suit. As an underpaid intern just out of architecture school, I only owned one suit. And when I tried it on I looked ridiculous, like a half-grown teenager dressed up in his father’s clothes. I was on the slim side to begin with, my features are regular and could be described as boyish looking, and I have a bit of a baby face, with light facial hair and no chest hair at all. Even at my former six four I looked younger than my age. Now the oversize clothes made me look like a high school kid. There was no way I could wear that suit.

I finally settled on a pair of khakis and a sports jacket. The pants had been barely long enough when I bought them, and had shrunk even more the first time I had them dry cleaned. They had been hanging at the back of my closet ever since. Good thing I hadn’t thrown them out. The slacks bunched up over my feet, but at least I wasn’t tripping over the cuffs like I was with my suit pants. However even with my belt buckled to the smallest hole they kept sliding down my hips. I finally solved that problem by digging out a pair of suspenders from my bottom draw, purchased on a whim a few years before when suspenders had – briefly – been considered cool.

My shirt was way too big as well. The bottom ballooned out at the waist, the sleeves slid down over the tops of my hands, and when I buttoned up the collar there was a noticeable gap around my neck. My sports jacket was almost as bad, too long in the sleeves, droopy at the shoulders, and baggy when I buttoned it up. But at least it was better than the suit. I had one last problem to deal with, however. When I sat down to put on my shoes, I discovered that my feet had shrunk even more than the rest of me. I finally had to stuff the toes of my loafers with tissue and put my dress socks on over a pair of athletic socks to keep my shoes from sliding off my feet when I walked. They felt like clown shoes. I didn’t have time to do anything about it however. I was already running late.

Everyone at work knew I had joined the shrinking trial. I had told a couple of my closest friends, and well, to be charitable, it was news too good not to share -- an honest to goodness shrinking man. My co-workers were a creative bunch, and the things they came up with were quite inventive. But after a couple of weeks, when I wasn’t getting any shorter, the subject sort of died down. That morning it was a different story, at least once everyone got over the shock, that is.

My boss is 6’3”, almost as tall as I used to be, and the two executives to whom we were presenting our design proposal that morning were both tall as well. One was a slim, elegantly dressed woman, probably close to my new height flat footed but over six feet tall in her heels. The other was a burly older man as tall as my boss and twice as wide. When we greeted the clients in our reception area with the usual round of handshakes, I found myself looking up to make eye contact with all three, a new experience for me. For the first time in my life I felt short. My oversize clothes lent an air of comedy to the situation. I had met the clients only briefly before, and it had been some months back. Neither of them said anything now, but they both kept looking at me oddly as the meeting progressed. So did my boss.

Later, after the clients left, it wasn’t just funny looks. It didn’t take long for the initial amazement of seeing me five and half inches shorter to turn to humor…at my expense. I think I heard just about every possible pun using words and phrases like ‘short’, ‘shortly’, ‘short of breath’, ‘short sighted’, ‘short shrifted’, ‘coming up short’, etc.. I also heard lots of comments on what a bad tailor I had, and innocent sounding questions as to whether I was wearing hand-me-downs from my big brother. My best friend at the office, Todd, was 6’1”. He had always had to look up at me. Now the tables were turned and I was the one looking up at him. It was only two inches for crying out loud – OK, two and three eights inches, but that’s not very much. It didn’t justify Todd calling me ‘big guy’ the way he did all day. He kept saying things like ‘hey there big guy’, or ‘how are you holding UP, big guy?’, or ‘feeling a little UNDER the weather, big guy? The worst though, was when one of the women, whom I had teased occasionally for her petite stature, asked me sweetly and with a bland face, and in front of about half the office, to retrieve some drawings that I had previously stashed on top of a filing cabinet.

“You better get them down while you still can, Jake. At the rate you’re, er…reducing, you might need a step stool pretty soon like the rest of us -- what was the term you used? Oh yah, VCAs - vertically challenged adults.”

After that I was a VCAM -- VCA in the Making -- or PVCA, for pre-VCA. Finally, around 4:00 o’clock, my boss took pity on me and suggested I take off early to buy some new clothes. It was a relief to get away from the ribbing, and a good thing too, because my clothes felt even roomier on me than they had that morning. A quick stop at my apartment confirmed that I was down another inch almost, five feet nine and one half inches, barely average height. Before I headed to the mall I chucked my overlarge pants, shirt and sports jacket in favor of a pair of athletic shorts with a draw string waist that I could cinch up tight, and a t-shirt. They were just as big on me, but at least I wasn’t tripping over my pants legs. I tried to convince myself that I looked less ridiculous than I had in my too big slacks and blazer.

I was soon disabused of that notion, however. At my favorite mens store the snooty salesman took in my ludicrously oversize outfit with one disapproving glance and dryly suggested that I might find a medium more flattering, or with my ‘trim build’, perhaps a small, depending on the sizing. Wow, I hadn’t been a small since I shot up in the seventh grade. I was also startled to discover that my shoe size was now an eight. When I pulled out my credit card to pay for my purchases I noticed for the first time how much smaller and slimmer my hands had gotten too. I no longer had big hands. They weren’t even average size anymore. The salesman was about my height, but bigger built. I couldn’t help noticing as he handed me my shopping bag that his hands were quite a bit bigger than mine.

Since I didn’t know how much more I might shrink, or how quickly, I ended up leaving the store with just enough to get by for a few days; a package of underwear, a few shirts, and two pairs of board shorts with draw string waists like the athletic shorts I was wearing, only in a smaller size. It was summer, and I could get away with the shorts at work as long as I wasn’t meeting with a client. For foot wear, I purchased a pair of inexpensive flip flops. No point in spending a lot of money on shoes that might be too big for me before long.

After I had completed my purchases I decided to leave my oversize clothes on for just a little longer, so that Molly could get the full effect. I called her on my cell phone to make sure she was home, and told her I had a LITTLE surprise for her. She was cool, but confirmed that she was in for the evening if I wanted to drop by.

When Molly opened the door her coolness vanished. She gasped, and her eyes grew wide as she took the sight of me standing on the front step in my ludicrously large clothes. Molly lived in a townhouse (purchase for her by her parents) with a direct entry from outside. The floor level in her foyer was one step above the level of the front step. It was a low step, not more than six inches, but she was also wearing a pair of platform sandals which added almost four more inches to her height. I used to look down at her when I stood at her door. But now between the step and the shoes, I was actually looking up at her a little. I stood there grinning up like Cheshire cat as I waited for her to take in the full effect.

“Jake, you shrank! This is so wonderful! Why didn’t you tell me when you phoned? How tall are you? No, let me guess…you must be, what 5-10?”
“Five nine and a half,” I answered proudly, smiling even wider as I said it.

That’s all I was able to get out before Molly threw her arms around my neck and leaned in to plant a very long, and very passionate kiss on my lips. As she pressed against me I could feel her breasts pushing against my chest through the thin fabric of her light weight summer top, her nipples slightly higher than my own. She wasn’t wearing a bra. Molly had very nice breasts, but I had always thought of them as smallish and almost perky. Now they felt…bigger, and a whole lot higher up. In fact, everything about her seemed bigger. As I squeezed her back she felt more substantial, no longer dainty. I was still seven and a half inches taller than Molly. She only seemed taller than me at that moment because of the step and the shoes. But even allowing for that fact, Molly was no longer petite, at least from my newly average perspective. When she finally let go and I stepped up through the door, she barely seemed to shrink at all. With her tall heels and my flat soled flip flops, the top of her head was level with my eyebrows. I was used to looking way down at my girlfriend. Even when she wore platform shoes I could rest my chin on the top of her head. It was really freaky now to see her looking so tall. If I had still been 6’4” Molly would have been almost six feet tall in those shoes, and taller than average in her bare feet.

As soon as the front door closed behind us Molly was all over me. My reduced size was like catnip to a cat, a total turn on for her. She was wilder and more passionate than she had been even before our relationship began to cool. As we stumbled up the stairs towards the bedroom, still entwined in each others arms, we left a trail of discarded clothes behind us. The last thing that came off as we landed on the bed were Molly’s tall shoes. She didn’t kick them off until we were horizontal.

Because I had been so much bigger and heavier, I had always been the bottom and Molly the top. Molly had complained that she felt smothered when I was in the upper position. That evening I was still the bottom, but Molly felt a lot bigger and heavier on top than she used to – not too heavy, but a nice sort of soft and solid at the same time. And we could now kiss and have intercourse at the same time! Before, Molly’s lips would have been down by my throat and mine up by her forehead. French kissing and screwing at the same time was a whole new experience!

Later…much later, we paused long enough for a quick supper – we were both famished -- and then we made love again, gentler and slower this time, which was just as nice in its own way. I finally fell into a deep and very contented sleep, with Molly’s head on my shoulder and my arms wrapped around her seemingly enlarged form as her nicely expanded round breasts pressed against my side.

It had been a wonderful reunion, all of our troubles evaporated along with my height. Is it any wonder that as I drifted off I was actually looking forward to getting smaller. If Molly was this turned on with me at average height, how much more passionate would she be when I was even closer to her size! That night I dreamed about it. In my dreams I was still a little taller than Molly, maybe 5’5” to her 5’2”; still ‘the man’, but now with a whole lot more woman to love. It was a very pleasant dream…while it lasted.

Chapter 4 –Looking Up.

My shrinking rate slowed considerably after that first big shrinking spurt, but I was still slowly dwindling. By the time my next Saturday checkup rolled around I was down another inch and a half, to 5’8”. I was also exhausted. I had slept over at Molly’s every night that week, dropping by my apartment only briefly before and after work each day to perform my obligatory measurements and record my height and weight. Needless to say, ‘sleeping over’ at Molly’s hadn’t involved a lot of REM sleep. Let’s just say that Molly was VERY enthusiastic about my continuing reduction. Fortunately for me, she was flying out that morning to spend a few weeks at her parents’ condo on Maui. With our relationship most definitely back on track, I had received a last minute invitation to accompany her, and a generous offer to pay for my plane ticket. I couldn’t get off from work on such short notice, however, so it had been settled that I would join her there in another week. In the meantime I was actually looking forward to a little down time.

I came straight to the clinic after dropping Molly off at the airport, arriving ahead of schedule. For once, the prospect of twiddling my thumbs in a chair in the reception area while I waited for one of the staff to fetch me was rather appealing. They were remarkably comfortable chairs, well padded, upholstered in soft leather, wide and very deep. Being a long legged six four, I had always appreciated deep chairs. Now that I was average height, however – well, to be honest, less than average height – I discovered to my surprise that there was actually such a thing as a chair that was too deep. Along with a comfortable chair which proved to be not quite as comfortable as I remembered, I was also disappointed in another way. I had been hoping to finish my appointment early so that I could indulge in a little power napping back at my apartment. But that morning the receptionist took one look at me, picked up her phone, and all of my plans for the day were turned upside down. I was suddenly the focus of attention for every researcher on the team, and even some who weren’t. After being written off as naturally immune to Shrinkx2.3, I had managed to lose an astonishing eight inches in less than a week. They all wanted a piece of me, every last one. The senior MDs and PhDs were called in from home just to see me, and they weren’t very good at sharing.

That morning I was poked, prodded, stuck with needles, measured, X-rayed and photographed more times than in all my previous appointments put together. The level of excitement among the researches was palpable. It was like Christmas, Hanukah and someone’s birthday, all rolled into one. I was the package that everyone couldn’t wait to unwrap – also the Christmas stuffing, the birthday cake, the dreidel, the pi?ata and the donkey, as in ‘pin the tale on’. As the researchers clucked and fussed and compared notes, talking around me and over my head, I knew how a lab rat must feel. It was all a bit disconcerting.

What was also a little disconcerting was how tall the people crowding around me seemed. I had already been feeling rather low at the office. My coworkers were doing a great job of reminding me of my reduced status, spouting clever new short jokes -- and a whole lot of old ones -- each time I walked past. Of course, it would have been politically incorrect to point out my ‘deficiencies’ if I had always been below average height. But somehow because I used to be tall it made the short jokes OK, at least to everyone else. It had been open season on Jake since I walked though the office door Monday morning with my head five and half inches lower than when I left on Friday afternoon. But at least at the office I could retreat to my drafting table or computer screen and lose myself in my work. Here at the clinic retreat was impossible. I was under the microscope, both actually and figuratively, and my height, or lack of it, was the topic de jour.

Some of you are probably thinking that five foot eight -- 173 cm -- isn’t all that short. You’re right, it’s borderline. Five eight is short for a man in say, the Netherlands, but about average in Japan. In some parts of the world a five eight guy would be considered moderately tall. In California, where I live, with its polyglot mix of ethnicities from tall to short, average height for a young Caucasian or African American man in his twenties is a smidge over 5’10”. But average height among our substantial population of Hispanic and Asian immigrants is lower – closer to my new height, and in some cases, less. Even within my own age and ethnic group -- Caucasian males in their twenties – I only missed the average by two inches…OK, two inches and a smidge. That isn’t much. But for someone used to seeing the world from six four, being two inches below average meant an eight inch reduction in my eye level, and those eight inches made one hell of a difference.

I had been looking down at most men, and way down at most woman, since before I graduated from junior high. Now, although there were still plenty of guys around who were shorter than me, for the first time in my adult life I found myself looking up at other men more often than down. Before there was only one guy on the clinic staff who could look me in the eye, a big Samoan lab tech who moonlighted as a bouncer at a local bar. His name was Mataio, but he went by Matty. I was on a first name basis with Matty because he liked to talk sports with me. I think he assumed that because I was tall I must be as much of a sports nut as he was. In fact, despite the fact that I was a runner and had played basketball in high school, I was only mildly interested in professional sports. I read the sports page, however, and could carry on an intelligent conversation about Dodgers and Lakers and Rams and such. This morning it was Matty who came to conduct me to the examining room. Where before he had seemed merely big, now as I extricated myself from my over large chair and rose to my feet he appeared positively mountainous, towering almost a head above me and with probably double my mass. He reached out to grasp my shoulder with a meaty hand that seemed as big as a shovel as he steered me down the hall. He had never done that before. And was that a slight smirk on his face as he held open the door to the examining room, looking down at me as I squeezed past his bulk? By comparison, I felt like a half grown boy.

I still looked down at a lot of the women who swarmed around me that morning, but not nearly as far as before. At five eight I had about four inches on the average woman. That put me a lot closer to the middle of the curve than before when I was a foot taller than the female average. The head nurse at the clinic, Mrs. Nagamo, a short, stocky woman who barked orders like a drill sergeant and had the bedside manner of a pit bull – no one would dare use first names with her, I’m not even sure she had one – now came up to my chin. Before when she fixed me with her gimlet glare it had been from down below my shoulder. If I thought Nurse Nagamo had been intimidating then, now, seemingly eight inches taller, she was downright scary. And she was the shortest of the women. More than a few of the female technicians and researchers could look me in the eye, or even down at me slightly. Maybe it was my overly sensitive imagination, but like big Matty, those suddenly taller women seemed to smirk a little too.

That morning I was paid a visit by the head of Massive PharmaCorp’s research division, the august Dr. Anna Johnston, MD, PhD. Dr. Johnston was a close friend of Molly’s parents. She had attended medical school with Molly’s mother and had been recruited from academia to be the head of drug research at Massive PharmaCorp by Molly’s dad. I had met Dr. Johnston at a party at Molly’s parents’ house before I joined the shrinking trial and she had made a point of reintroducing herself when I entered the program. She had dropped by to see me several times since during my regular checkups, so I wasn’t surprised to see her now. Dr. Johnston was a handsome, coffee skinned woman in her late middle years, of ample proportions, tall and full figured, with a prow that would have put the Titanic to shame – I suspect that in her case, the iceberg would have lost. In contrast to her dignified solidity and string of impressive degrees, she had a stunningly sexy voice, low and throaty, and she still spoke with that lovely Jamaican lilt despite having lived in the US since her undergraduate days at Johns Hopkins. She was also an incorrigible flirt. Doc Johnston and I had a thing going. When we first met she had pronounced me a “lovely boy” and told Molly that I had “beautiful eyes”. After I joined the shrinking trial she referred to me as her "favorite guinea pig". I would be a perfect 10, she liked to say, if only I had a little more meat on my bones.

That morning she entered the examining room with my chart in hand and her customary flirty manner.

“Well now pretty boy, I hear you’ve been stirring things up more than usual this morning, and it’s not just those baby blues this time. Let’s have a look at you, shall we?”

While she was checking my pulse and listening to my heart with her stethoscope Dr. Johnston quizzed me about how I was feeling: Any headaches? Joint pain? Was my appetite holding up? I did look a little thin. How was I sleeping? That last question was a bit too loaded for comfort. I wasn’t about to admit that I was feeling tired…or why. When she was finally done with her questions, Dr. Johnston asked me to slide off the examining table and stand up. As my bare feet hit the floor it came as a bit of a shock to find myself looking up a little to maintain eye contact. Dr. Johnston was a moderately tall woman, a little over five ten or thereabouts, but she wasn’t as tall as some of the participants I had met in the study. And I had always looked down at her before. Now she stood a good three inches taller than me, even in her sensible, low heeled shoes.

“Stand up straight please, Jake.”

“I am standing straight,” I replied, a bit stiffly.

I hadn’t meant to sound affronted, but somehow it came out that way. Doc Johnston just smiled benignly.

“Turn around for me, pretty man. Now touch your toes and hold to a count of five…there’s a good boy. OK, you can straighten up. Go ahead and sit down. The nurse will be back in a minute with your booster shot. Then we’ll let you go.”

“What was that for?” I asked, as I climbed back up onto my perch.

“Oh, I just had to see if Franny Nagamo was right,” she answered airily. Her dark eyes were twinkling behind her glasses, and she was smiling even wider, more of a grin, really. Was she referring to Nurse Pit Bull? Franny?

“Right about what?” I asked suspiciously. I was afraid that I already knew the answer.

“That your smooth little bottom cheeks are even cuter now than before.”

Although I had suspected what was coming, I still couldn’t believe my ears. As I sat there listening to Dr. Johnston’s throaty chuckle, I could feel the heat rising in my face. I was suddenly very conscious of the fact that the only thing I had on was one of those short hospital gowns, one that tied at the neck…and that undoubtedly left a gap at the back when I bent over. Were the women all checking out my ass? If even Nurse Pit Bull and the eminent Dr. Johnston were talking about it, mature women with husbands and grown children both, what were the younger technicians and researchers saying behind my back? OK, that was a bud pun, but you get my drift. And wouldn’t what the good doctor had just done be grounds for a sexual harassment claim if our genders were reversed? She was old enough to be my mother for crying out loud! Talk about a double standard.

Seeing me blush made Dr. Johnston laugh even harder, which caused her ample bosom to jiggle in a very interesting way. As I sat stiffly, listening to her lovely laugh, I felt myself unbending. Embarrassed as I was, I had to admit that it was rather funny. I didn’t really mind being teased by a handsome older woman, even if she did make me feel a bit like a piece of meat – and a smaller cut of meat at that. I enjoyed listening to her laugh. While I would never have presumed to think of Dr. Johnston as a sex object, her husky voice certainly was sexy. Her bosom was pretty impressive too; even more now that I was smaller. As I’ve said before, I like women, even older women built like the Titanic. So if I could appreciate the sexy voice and magnificent frontage of a woman of Dr. Johnston’s maturity and accomplishments, I suppose it was OK for her do a little appreciating of her own. It wasn’t like she had taken advantage of me, after all, just my na?vet?; a little harmless fun.

By the time I was finally released from my cage the usual Saturday lunch bunch had already disbursed. But I found Carl and Janet still seated at a table in the cafeteria, lingering over coffee. They looked up as I approached. For some reason Carl appeared out of sorts, but Janet was her usual smiling self.

“Hi Jake, I was hoping we would see you. You were the talk of the staff today. Wow, I can’t believe it, you really did shrink eight inches. You’re shorter than I am now, but as handsome as ever. You look good at this height.”

As Janet finished speaking, Carl hastily pushed back his chair and stood up. The first time we met I had to look way up to him. More recently, he had been the one looking up at me. Now our positions were reversed again. Although he didn’t seem as tall to me as he had when I was six four and he was six eleven, he still looked tall. I was standing close enough that I had to tilt my head a little to meet his eyes. He mumbled something about having chores waiting at home, bent down to give Janet a hasty peck on the cheek, and with a somewhat terse “see you around, Jake”, walked quickly toward the door.

“Don’t mind Carl,” Janet said, seeing the puzzled expression on my face. “He’s a little jealous, that’s all. He didn’t shrink at all this week and the doctors say he’s reached his limit. You’ve supplanted him as the star shrinker. Congratulations, Jake! And don’t worry, Carl will get over it. He’s happy with his new height, just a little temporarily bent out of shape.” She glanced briefly in the direction that Carl had gone with a slight frown. I could almost hear the words that she hadn’t voiced out loud: ‘at least I hope it’s temporary.’ She recovered quickly though, and with her customary cheerful smile, gestured towards the chair which Carl had just vacated. “Now, why don’t you sit down and tell me all about it.”

It was the first time I had spent any significant time alone with Janet. She was an engaging conversationalist…and a sympathetic listener. Somehow, I found myself telling her about Molly -- the despair I had felt when our relationship was on the rocks; my reason for joining the shrinking trial as a way to save our relationship; and how wonderful things were between us now that I was finally shrinking. Before I knew it, an hour had gone by and the janitor was waiting for us to vacate our table, mop in hand.

As we stood up to leave, Janet looked down into my eyes and said:

“I hope it doesn’t bother you that I’m taller. It doesn’t bother me. I’m used to looking down at men, but I know it makes some guys uncomfortable.”

At that point Janet was only three and a half inches taller than I was, but she was wearing tall shoes, which added to her height. She had slimmed down a little more, I noticed. She looked amazing, long and slender, but with a fantastic figure, and very, very sexy.

“It doesn’t bother me at all” I answered as I smiled back up at her. “You’re a beautiful woman, Janet, stunning really,” and then I added mischievously, “and you have fantastic legs. I know I’m being selfish here, but in all seriousness, I really hope you don’t shrink any more. You’re perfect just as you are.”

Janet flashed her dazzling smile, clearly pleased – why hadn’t I noticed before just how dazzling her smile could be? Then she reached out, lightly brushing my check for just a moment with her long, slim fingers. Her brief touch, gentle as it was, was like an electric jolt. I was quite literally stunned. I stood there, gaping like a fish, listening to her as though from a long distance away.

“You’re a sweet man, Jake, and a dangerous one too I think – far too good looking to be safe. I hope your Molly appreciates you, because she’d better hold on tight.”

With that she turned, and was gone. I had just discovered who the dangerous one was…and it wasn’t me.

Chapter 5 – Everyone is so tall!

After my booster shot on Saturday I had another shrinking spurt. It wasn’t as dramatic as the first, but by Sunday afternoon I was down three more inches, to 5’5”. The clothes I had purchased the previous week when I was average height were hanging on me, so I headed to the mall once more. At 165 cm I was no longer borderline short. I was officially a short guy. I downloaded a height chart from the internet and discovered that I was at the fifth percentile for US men – a little below it in fact -- meaning that only five out of a hundred men would be my height or shorter. 9 out of 10 men were now taller than me. I was still slightly taller than average for US women. But as I discovered when I got to the mall, that fraction of inch didn’t make much difference, especially given the fact that at least half the women there were wearing shoes that boosted their height compared with my thin soled flip flops – modest size 8 flip flops that were now ridiculously large for my further reduced feet.

My first purchase was a new pair of flip flops. I also bought a pair of running shoes so that I could keep up my fitness routine, size 5 this time. The shoe salesmen told me that it was hard to find men’s shoes in my size. My new running shoes were actually a youth size. At least he said ‘youth’ rather than ‘boy’. When I moved on to clothes I discovered that with my slim build the smallest off-the-rack sizes I could find in the men’s department had plenty of room. If I continued to shrink, which seemed likely, I would soon be reduced to buying my clothes in ‘youth’ sizes too.

The bigger shock, however, was not my size extra small clothes, but how tall everyone else seemed. Even average size guys were beginning to look tall to me. Anyone six feet or above seemed like a giant. I had to look up at them from down by their collar bones, and in some cases, their chests! Some of those tall dudes could have rested an elbow on my head! Sure, there were guys around my height, or close to it, and even a few who were shorter, but not many, and not by much. In the whole time I was at the mall I only spotted one man short enough that I could look down at him the way I used to look down at average size guys when I was six four, an elderly little Asian man who was about level with my eyes.

There weren’t many women either who were still at or below my eye level, only the most petite. Before I shrank average size woman were shoulder high to me and the most petite women were barely chest high. Now that I was roughly even with women of average height the ‘girls’ didn’t seem quite so girlish anymore. Some of them were Amazons. There were more than a few females strolling around the mall that afternoon who towered above me. I was the one looking up at them instead of the other way around. It was those tall women, even more than the taller men, who made me feel small. As I passed one woman after another my height or taller I felt…diminished. Guys are supposed to be taller than girls, after all. But at the same time there was something about looking up at all of those suddenly tall women that I found…intriguing. Before I shrank it had been extremely rare for me to see a woman my height, and even rarer to encounter one noticeably taller. Now they were everywhere, and a lot of these tall women were real lookers too. I live in Southern California, after all. There is some truth to the stereotype that California girls are all fit, pretty and really tanned.

As I neared one of the high fashion womens boutiques, a very tall, willowy blond about my age exited the store just in front of me. She was wearing skinny jeans that showed off her long, long legs – very sexy legs – and half boots with stiletto heels that must have elevated her to at least six three, a full head taller than me and maybe a bit more. She turned in the direction I was going, so I picked up my pace slightly to follow in her wake – with those legs her purposeful stride ate up a lot more distance than mine. She was a bit too thin perhaps, like one of those fashion models who subsist on little more than celery and mineral water. Her ass was a bit bony, but her legs made up for it and in addition to fantastic legs she also had a really nice pair of shoulders. My eyes were actually a little below her shoulder level. All I had to do was look straight ahead and keep up the pace in order to admire them. The leggy blond slowed to check out a display in a store window and was just turning back towards me as I came abreast. I managed to catch her eye, smiling up at her with my brightest, blue eyed smile. To my delight, she returned my smile from her lofty height, looking down at me with a half amused expression that seemed to say ‘oh how cute’. I almost turned into a puddle of warm goo right on the spot.

That night I dreamed I was surrounded by tall, willowy blonds, like a flock of exotic golden flamingos, striding along on their long, long legs and smiling down at me as they passed. But as my delightful dream progressed, those blonds blurred and became one woman, still very tall, but with a lusher figure, light caramel hair that gleamed with soft highlights, a dazzling smile, and amazing deep green eyes. I woke up Monday feeling faintly disturbed…and a bit guilty. I knew who that tall brunet was -- Janet from the shrinking trial. I had a busy week ahead of me, however, and a wonderful vacation with Molly to look forward to at the end of the week. I determined to keep my thoughts firmly fixed on business, and on Molly.

When I measured myself before leaving for work I was five feet four and one quarter inches tall. At the firm-wide staff meeting that morning I discovered that I was now the shortest man in the office. My 6’1” erstwhile buddy, Todd, went out of his way to point that out to me, as if I hadn’t noticed on my own. He walked right up to me, invading my personal space and forcing me to bend my neck back to maintain eye contact as he greeted me loudly.

“Hey there squirt, how does it feel to be the short man out?”

Then he actually had the nerve to reach over and pat me on the head, like a little boy, in front of everyone. The big jerk! As the day progressed, it got worse. The short jokes were flying fast and furious. If anything, the women seemed to get even more of a kick out of my reduced stature than the men. I think some of the guys felt sorry for me. But the women were merciless. Several of them referred to me as ‘petite’. Petite! Our office manager, a motherly, gray haired lady who was normally the soul of kindness, kept calling me ‘sweetie’. For crying out loud, she was only a few inches taller than me in her heels!

Fortunately, the rest of the week went better. My shrinking slowed again after my weekend spurt, and as my coworkers got used to my new height, or lack of it -- and the jokes began to get stale, even to them -- things quieted down. I kept my head down, so to speak, coming in early and working late every day in an effort to finish my current projects before I left for vacation. I was so successful at getting ahead that my boss suggested I take Friday off as well. He figured I could use the extra decompression time, all things considered. I appreciated his thoughtfulness, but he didn’t have to say it in such condescending tone, or pat me on the shoulder like that… or use the word ‘decompression’ with such knowing smile. So what if he was 6’3”, big deal.

Since I had an early fight on Saturday, I had arranged the week before to move my next checkup at Massive PharmaCorp to Friday morning. I had intended to come into the office afterwards, but when my boss offered to let me begin my vacation early I had a spasm of guilt and decided, reluctantly, that I should take the opportunity to visit my mother instead. She lived in Laguna Beach, an hour’s drive down the coast even in off-peak traffic from my little studio apartment in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, so I didn’t get down there as often as my mother would have liked. The MPC research complex in Irvine was on the way, however, sort of. I bit the bullet, called my mom on Thursday, and invited myself to dinner the following day. I loved my family, but I wasn’t looking forward to this particular visit. I had met my older sister, Stacie, for lunch the week before when I was five nine, the same height as Stacie, which was really weird. But I hadn’t been to see my mom or my little sister Beth since before I started to shrink.

My examination Friday morning lasted almost as long as the one the previous Saturday. The researchers were still drooling over me. At my appointment I measured five foot three; well, 5 feet 2.6 inches, if you want to be precise, but everyone rounds their height up. Nurse Pit Bull did the measuring. She now came up past my eyes, making her even scarier than before. I couldn’t help blushing a little, wondering what she was thinking as she looked me over. Was that a gleam of amusement that I detected in her otherwise flinty eyes?

Instead of receiving another booster shot, when my examination was finally complete Dr. Johnston’s assistant came to conduct me to her office in the executive building adjacent to the building that housed the lab and clinic. The assistant was a young man, perhaps a few years older than me but close to my age, nice looking and well groomed – leave it Dr. Johnston to have a good looking male secretary. He was barely average height though, probably a little shorter than his boss. But that still put him about seven inches taller them me. He held the doors for me and smiled down at me each time as I stepped past him. He stood a little too close in the elevator too, which made me uncomfortable. I avoided looking at him as we rode up to the top floor. Was he gloating over how short I was, or was he checking me out? I suspected that he was gay. He had greeted me with a limp handshake when he introduced himself. I had made a point of making mine extra firm.

As I entered the large corner office Dr. Johnston rose from her chair and came around her desk to welcome me. I had to keep shifting my gaze higher and higher as she approached, until my neck was at an almost uncomfortable angle. Instead of the lab coat over casual attire that she had always worn during my weekend visits, today the doctor was wearing a business suit. I couldn’t help noticing that along with the more formal business attire she was also wearing higher heels, raising her stature to at least six feet, or maybe a little higher. Dr. Johnston no longer seemed like a big woman to me. She was huge. She loomed over me like an African Warrior Queen, dwarfing my slender frame with her statuesque bulk. I was suddenly uncomfortably aware that her very substantial cleavage – she was wearing a rather low cut top under her open jacket -- was just below my eye level…and only inches away. With a swallow, I forced myself to keep looking up.

I suspect that Dr. Johnson knew what I was thinking, because her dark eyes were twinkling mischievously as she looked down at me.

“Uhm, umm, umm, you just get cuter and cuter, too cute for words.” Then she added, “I hope you don’t mind my teasing you, Jake. Pretty men make me forget myself sometimes, and you’re prettier than most. You’re also like family to me.” She paused for a moment as her expression grew more serious. “All kidding aside though, how are you feeling about all of this? It must be something of an adjustment for you, going from a tall man to a small one, and in such a short time.”

‘I’m doing OK. And I don’t mind the teasing. Not from you,” I answered, smiling up at her. “But would you mind if we sat down? I think I would be a tad more comfortable if I didn’t have to look up quite so far. I’m getting a crick in my neck.”

Dr. Johnston broke into her rich, throaty laugh, the one that I loved so much. Then she did something I wasn’t expecting. She reached over to rumple my hair before taking my arm and steering me towards one of the chairs in front of her desk. I must have had looked as surprised as I felt, because she grinned even wider as she said,

“Looking down on those adorable curls, I just couldn’t resist.”

Curls? What was she talking about? My hair was wavy, not curly! It had been curly when I was a kid, OK – little old ladies used to fuss about it, which I hated. But it had grown in straighter when I entered puberty. Admittedly, it had been a while since my last haircut. I suppose I was looking a little shaggy. And come to think of it, maybe my hair had become a wee bit more…unruly since I began shrinking. But ‘adorable curls’, like a sweet little boy? Give me a break.

Once we were seated, Dr. Johnston opened the folder in front of her. I could see that it contained copies of my medical chart, and my waiver agreement.

“You’ve passed the contractual shrinking limit set under your contract, Jake. We didn’t expect it to happen so quickly, or at all, for that matter. Much as I regret letting my favorite guinea pig go, you have fulfilled your obligation. That’s why we didn’t give you a booster shot this morning.” Then she added, almost as an afterthought, “We will pay you the full stipend, of course.”

I thanked her, and managed to come up with some crap about being happy to help expand the frontiers of science, even if it meant contracting my own. Doc Johnston laughed dutifully at my small joke.

“I do have one little request to make of you, Jake. My research team is hoping that you will come back in a couple of weeks and let us do a few more tests. We still haven’t figured out how the drug overcame your strong natural immunity.” She glanced briefly at my chart before looking up again. “And your blood test this morning shows some small continuing level of Srinkx2.3 in your system.” I felt a twinge of concern at those words, but she added quickly in a reassuring tone, “Oh, it’s not enough to make you shrink, at least not much, a centimeter or two perhaps, less than an inch certainly, hardly noticeable. The drug should be fully metabolized in another few days. But those traces really shouldn’t be there at all. We gave you a smaller dose after your big shrinking spurt last week. Comparing your test results once the drug is fully out of your system may help us understand your somewhat…unique reaction.”

I agreed of course – I couldn’t say no to Doc Johnston. As I left her office I stopped at her assistant’s desk to make an appointment for the week following my return from Maui. No doubt about it now, he was definitely giving me the eye. I made a point of telling him that I would be on vacation for the next two weeks…with my girlfriend. The assistant assured me that the appointment when I returned would be quick -- just routine. Boy, was he wrong!

Chapter 6 – Man of the House, or just Mother’s Little Boy?

My father had died suddenly, from an aneurysm, during the spring semester of my sophomore year in college. He was a tall, well built, ruggedly handsome man, much bigger through the shoulders and chest than I am – or rather than I was at my tallest. Dad was a natural athlete who watched his diet, never smoked, drank only moderately -- never more than a glass of wine with dinner or an occasional beer -- and kept himself in shape by swimming four mornings a week and playing tennis on the weekends. But we learned from the autopsy that despite his robust appearance, he had been walking around with a congenital defect in the wall of one of his arteries – like a ticking bomb. Needless to say, it was a difficult time for my mother, my sisters and me. I suddenly found myself transformed from carefree middle son to responsible man of the family, or at least semi-responsible.

My mother and older sister are strong, independent women -- my younger sister had just turned 11 at the time, still a little girl – and they really didn’t need a man’s shoulder to lean on after Dad died. In fact, my sister Stacie is the kind of woman who makes strong men blanch, grabbing them by the short hairs and twisting as she slowly and coldly crushes their you-know-whats, smiling sweetly all the while. That’s my big sis for you, but I love her anyway. It was a good thing the women in my family are strong, however, because my dad’s shoulders were a lot broader than mine, and not just physically, and his shoes were bigger, at least in the figurative sense. He was a tough act to follow.

My new role was mostly a symbolic one, carving the turkey at Thanksgiving, that sort of thing. But I still felt some pressure as the only son and man about the house. While I was in school the house where I had grown up in Laguna Beach remained my home. I lived there during term breaks and except for the semester I spent studying architecture in Italy, I came home for every holiday. Even during the three summers when I worked as a counselor at a boy’s camp in the San Gabriel Mountains near Lake Arrowhead I was still able to return home every other weekend (the counselors rotated weekends off). Now that I was out of grad school, however, with my own apartment and a demanding job, not to mention a demanding girlfriend, my visits to my mother’s house were shorter, and increasingly less frequent. I felt guilty about it, just not guilty enough to visit more often.

My mom wasn’t loaded like Molly’s parents, but she was comfortably well off. My dad had been a structural engineer, which is how I acquired my love for buildings, and the last ten years of his truncated but otherwise successful career had been particularly remunerative. My parents had made wise investments, and Dad had made sure that he had a good life insurance policy, too. Between the insurance, the assets that Mom and Dad had accumulated during their marriage, and a not insubstantial inheritance from Mom’s family, there was more than enough to pay for our education – Mom and Dad were both big on education -- and to maintain our family’s comfortable middle class life in the home where I had spent my childhood. It was a typical California suburban ranch style house, unpretentious, but in a desirable area and worth a lot more now than when my parents had purchased it shortly after I was born. It wasn’t a particularly large house, at least for the neighborhood, but the family room opened onto a spacious lanai and expansive patio and pool, with peek-a-boo views of the Pacific -- what the real estate agents describe as a ‘partial ocean view’ – and half of the garage had been converted into a painting studio. The other half was stuffed to the rafters with basketballs, tennis rackets, bikes, skateboards, surfboards, pool equipment and other accumulated detritus of a moderately affluent Southern California youth; the cars had to stay in the driveway.

My mother had maintained her own career as an artist, even when her children were young. She was a talented one too. It was from her that I got my drawing ability, which had led me to a career in architecture rather than engineering like Dad. Mom sold her paintings though a local gallery and also taught art classes in her studio. She didn’t make a huge amount of money from her painting, but it was enough for an occasional splurge, like the trip to visit me in Italy while I was studying there, or new high end appliances for the kitchen – in addition to her painting, Mom was also an artist when it came to food. But her painting was really more of an avocation, and something to fill her time. Her primary occupation was worrying about her children, and managing, or at least attempting to manage, our lives.

Mom had been against the shrinking trial from the start. Why would a tall, good looking young man with everything going for him – her words – want to be shorter? Everyone in my family was tall. Mom was the shortest at 5’7” – we teased her about being the runt. People had referred to my parents as a “handsome couple”, but that didn’t do them justice. Mom had been a real beauty in her youth, and she was still a very attractive woman, a stylish dresser, and girlishly slim, with a classically elegant bone structure. I inherited my slimmer build from her, as well as my blue eyes. My darker hair came from Dad. My sisters were also tall, taller than Mom, and both very pretty, but with Dad’s brown eyes. Mom had been proud my father’s six feet three, and like the parents in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon, she was proud of her ‘above average children’. She had always maintained that she would have liked to be an inch or two taller herself.

For reasons she couldn’t fully explain -- or wouldn’t -- Mom didn’t think much of Molly either. But that was an old subject, and one on which we had reached a draw, more or less. However the fact that it was Molly’s idea, the shrinking that is, only added to my mother’s opposition. My big sister Stacie, the level headed, do-no-wrong child, thought I was crazy too. I had always been too impetuous, Stacie had lectured me in her best big sister tone. I had jumped in with both feet without considering the consequences, as usual, she had declaimed.

“You should at least have let me read the waiver agreement before you signed it, Jake.”

Stacie was a lawyer, and one of those scary smart, pathologically organized people who had her entire life mapped out by her early teens: President and valedictorian of her high school class; undergrad at Dartmouth; law school at Michigan – Harvard was OK if you were insecure and needed to name drop, but the premier public university law school would add some Midwestern balance to her California and Ivy League credentials. That’s how calculating she was. In law school Stacie was an editor of the law review and moot court winner, and she was now a star senior associate in the litigation department at a high powered LA law firm. She and her husband Tom (we called him St. Thomas, for his saintly ability to be married to Stacie), also a lawyer, but a tax layer, not a litigator, were expecting in a few weeks -- twins no less. Leave it to Stacie to one-up the competition. Of course, she was planning to return to work almost immediately, gunning for partnership. The babies weren’t even born yet and Stacie was already interviewing nannies. No doubt she had already registered them for some tony preschool too. I could match Stacie in brains, on a good day, but I was much less driven, less calculating, and I tended to be an appeaser rather than a challenger. Mom said it was because of my softer, artistic nature.


Mom was putting something into the oven as I came though the back entry from the laundry room – the one the family always used. She turned toward me with a welcoming smile. But at sight of me in the doorway – a much higher seeming doorway than the last time I stood under it – her smile quickly drained away, to be replaced by a look of complete and utter shock as she took in the fact that the son she had been looking up to since he was 13 was now more than four inches shorter than she was. I knew Stacie would have told Mom about seeing me at 5’9”, but I guess I should have prepared her before I arrived for just how much shorter I was now.

“Oh Jake,” was all she managed to say as she stepped away from the stove and enfolded me in her arms.

I was used to hugging a mother whose head could tuck neatly under my chin. Being engulfed in the arms of this tall stranger made me feel like a boy, as though I had regressed back to 12 years old – no, make that 11. At 12 I had already been taller than I was now. It was all very strange. It must have felt strange for Mom too, because she squeezed me tighter, and then burst into tears. That was even more disconcerting. My family are Wasps -- White, Anglo Saxon Protestants -- in every sense of the term. We’re Presbyterians, and we don’t show our emotions much. I had only seen my mother cry on a few occasions; like the time she drove all the way up to Cal Poly to tell me in person that Dad was dead. We both cried then. But Mom had managed to stay dry eyed at the funeral, a pillar of strength for the rest of us. That’s why her tears now were so disturbing.

I finally managed to extricate myself from her clutches, which was a good thing, because she was getting me damp crying into my hair. With my hands on her shoulders and gazing into her eyes, normally a deep, clear blue like mine but now reddened, puffy and swimming with tears, I attempted my best masculine soothing tone – the big, strong, manly man comforting the emotional little woman. But given the fact that I was looking up into her eyes, instead of down, there was something just a little off about that picture.

“Mom, it’s all right. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m perfectly fine. I’m the same old Jake, just a little more…compact. It’s not so bad, really. I’m done with the drug trial as of today, so I won’t get any smaller.” I decided not to mention what Dr. Johnston had said that morning about shrinking a little more – it would hardly be noticeable she had said.

“I’m OK with being short,” I assured my mother now. “Give it a little time and you’ll get used to it too.” I could see that I hadn’t convinced her, so I decided to try a little humor. “Look on the bright side, you get to think of me as your little boy again.”

“Mothers never stop thinking of their sons as little boys, no matter how old they are” Mom sniffed, finally smiling a little though her tears. “But I suppose you do have a point. You are more huggable this way.”

“There, you see? There is a bright side. Better to view the glass as half full, instead of half empty,” I said, grinning up at her.

“More like ‘half pint’ than ‘half glass,” Mom replayed a little acerbically. But at least she had stopped crying.

After Mom had dried her eyes, she suggested that we open a bottle of wine and go sit by the pool ‘for a nice long chat’. Dinner was in the oven but would be a while – beef bourguignon, my favorite. Once we were seated, like all good Wasps we managed to avoid the elephant in the room – although perhaps ‘elephant in the room’ wasn’t the right euphemism given my current size. Mom rattled on, filling me in on Stacie’s pregnancy – more details than I cared to know, thank you – the color scheme Stacie and Tom (make that Stacie) had chosen for their nursery, the Beatrix Potter themed wall mural that Mom had painted for them, and the multiple baby showers that Stacie’s girlfriends, their couple friends, and Stacie’s co-workers had thrown for her. Somehow I had a hard time picturing a bunch of high powered women lawyers sitting around in a circle oohing and awing over cute little baby things…while their blackberries pinged in the background. But I suppose even lawyers have to reproduce.

Our peaceful interlude was interrupted all too soon by a cacophony of sound approaching from around the side of the house. It was my little sister Beth, the caboose of the family, nine years younger than me, with ‘a few’ of her friends, all talking loudly and on top of each other, as teenage girls do anytime they are in a pack – teenage girls always seem to come in packs, or flocks, or gaggles. Mom looked at me apologetically and had just enough time to get out a warming:

“Beth joined a beach volleyball club team this summer. I completely forgot that she was going to invite her new friends back to the house for a swim after practice. Sorry Jake.”

Then the girls were on top of us. As I stood up to give my little sister a hug it struck me that she was no longer my LITTLE sister. Beth was taller than Stacie by a full two inches, 5’ 11” – a fact which irritated Stacie to no end. She was almost as tall as my friend Janet, I realized. And in the last year or so she had transformed from a tall, skinny tomboy into a beautiful young woman, filling out quite nicely. She was very athletic, muscular from playing sports, and with a touch of extra width to her shoulders that she had inherited from Dad. From my newly shortened perspective she seemed…impressive. What’s more, Beth’s volleyball teammates were all tall girls like her. The shortest of them was at least two inches taller than Mom. A couple of the girls were well over six feet! I was the smallest person present, and by a wide margin. I was going to have to get used to that. I was also the only male in this towering feminine crowd; how ironic.

Beth just stood there, staring down at me with her mouth open, at a complete loss for words. The big brother she had looked up to all of her life was now a little twerp, barely chin high. It was Mom who came to the rescue, introducing me to the other girls as Beth’s ‘older brother’, and saying what a nice surprise it was that I had dropped by for dinner. Count on Mom to cover, and to have the wit and social grace to say ‘older brother’, instead of ‘big brother’. The girls were so wound up from their practice that I’m not sure they even noticed Beth’s momentary silence. But they still eyed me curiously. I knew what they were thinking. How could tall Beth have such a little runt for a big brother? An ironic thought occurred to me: there would be no more teasing Mom about being the runt to the family. The joke was on me now.

Like the rest of my family, Beth was quick. She also had a wicked sense of humor…and more than a bit of Stacie’s ball busting competitive streak. I could tell she had recovered her footing when she looked down at me innocently and suggested:

“Hey big bro, since you’re here, why don’t you come join us for a game of volleyball in the pool. Cristy had to go home, so we’re one short.”

Did I detect a slight emphasis on the words ‘big’ and ‘short’?

“The net and boundary rope are already up,” Beth added, helpfully.

We used a nylon rope strung with floats to separate the playing area from the deep end of the pool and to mark the out of bounds zone. Then, she added looking down at me slyly from her almost six feet -- damn she was tall:

“Or are you afraid of a bunch of girls?”

“I’m not scared of a bunch of little high school girls,” I shot back, rising to her bait. It wasn’t the most creative comeback, but it was the best I could manage under the rather unsettling circumstances. On reflection, I should have chosen my words more judiciously. I could tell from the glint in Beth’s eye when I said it that the word ‘little’ might come back to haunt me. Well, there was nothing doing but to soldier on.

“Much as I would enjoy showing you up, sis, I’m afraid I didn’t bring my swim suit. Sorry, but you’ll just have to lose another time.”

As I finished my verbal counter stroke, I opened my blue eyes as wide as they would go and attempted to ooze sincere disappointment from every pore. Stacie had always complained that even after I sprouted up to man size I was still very good at projecting an air of choirboy innocence, a totally false one according to her. I figured the wide eyed look would work even better now that I was closer to choirboy dimensions again. In reality I kept a pair of swim trunks in my former room, just so I could use the pool when I came over. But I felt safe, knowing that my old swim trunks were way too big for me to wear now.

Clever Beth managed to call my bluff, however. Boy she was good, taking lessons from Stacie it would seem. Or maybe she was just a natural. This did not bode well.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure Andrew left his swim suit behind last time I baby sat him,” Beth responded, in a voice even more innocent sounding than mine had been.

Andrew was our youngest cousin. He had just turned 12, but he was tall for his age, and husky.

“They might be a little big for you, he is twelve now after all, starting junior high in the fall,” she continued sweetly, plunging in the knife. Then came the final twist, “but if you cinch them up tight enough they'll probably stay up.”

Then, with a challenging lift to her eyebrows, Beth drew herself up to her full, very impressive height, and looking down her nose at me added in a tone that was neither sweet nor innocent:

“And, BIG brother, I don’t think YOU of all people should be calling US little.”

There was no mistaking the emphasis this time. Why was it that I never realized before just how bratty my little sister could be? Beth was clearly enjoying this unexpected turn of events. As I looked up over her shoulder I could see that her audience was enjoying it too. The other girls were snickering. They might not understand the joke in its entirety, but they recognized the verbal jousting, and they clearly understood the ‘BIG brother’ and ‘little’ parts, and the suggestion that swim trunks worn by a 12 year old would be too big for me. Playing water volleyball with these towering teenagers was the last thing I wanted to do. But Beth had me trapped. I couldn’t back down now. My masculine honor was at stake, all five feet two and sixth tenths inches of it…or was it less than that now?

As I admitted defeat and headed into the house to change I overheard one of the girls say to Beth,

“Your brother is totally cute. He’s so little, like a jockey. I just love anything to do with horses.”

A jockey! I had never been on a horse in my life, not even when I worked as a counselor at Camp Tall Timbers. I handled the crafts, and shot hoops with the campers on the outdoor court. I stayed away from the trail rides. Leave it to a teenage girl to come up with a mental leap like that.

“How much older is he?” I heard another voice chime in.

“Are you serious, 26? He looks like he’s our age. Some of the guys at school look older than your big brother. Does he even shave?”

Lots of giggles at that, and then from yet another girl,

“He is sweet looking though, even if he is sort of boyish, and way short.”

“He’s not that sweet, believe me,” I heard Beth laugh. “I guess he does have kind of a baby face though. But mostly he just looks young because he’s little. He has a growth hormone problem.”

I realized that my teeth were grinding. Growth hormone problem! I was short, but I wasn’t a midget, or a little person, or whatever the hell the current politically correct term happened to be. I was 5’3”! Close enough, anyway. And I was a grownup, not a boy. These girls were talking about me as if I were just another teenager. I was a LOT older than them. I was used to more respect from my little sister and her friends. The ‘little girls’ Beth’s age I knew from the neighborhood had always looked up to me, a much older man…and a really tall one. Some of Beth’s little friends had even had crushes on me! I had to give Beth points for inventiveness, however. Her little story provided a convenient explanation as to why I was so much shorter than my sister and Mom. And in a way I did have a growth problem. I was growing down instead of up.

It didn’t help cool my slow burn any when I discovered that Beth was right about my little cousin Andrew’s swim trunks. I did have to cinch them up. They were baggy on me. And even worse, they had a big Superman logo, unfortunately placed, right across the fanny. Andrew was still at an age when superhero logos were acceptable. He and his prepubescent buddies probably thought the prominent rearward location of this particular logo was hilarious, a total joke. Superhero logos – and anal humor -- weren’t appropriate for someone of my adult dignity, however. But I suppose it could have been worse. At least the graphic wasn’t on the front. With teenage girls that would have been even more embarrassing.

Back in the pool the first match went reasonably well. But then, my team was on the shallow side of the net starting out, and I had always been a good jumper. The girls had even refrained from commenting on my baggy Superman trunks, although I did detect a few meaningful glances, followed by grins as they looked at each other over my head. It was when we switched sides after the first match that I got into trouble. We always switched sides between matches because the pool sloped down before the out of bounds rope, giving the team on the shallow side a slight advantage. At least, I had always thought of it as a ‘slight’ advantage. When I rotated to the back row on the deep side the water came a lot higher on me than it used to, and a lot higher than it did on the girls. I was barely shoulder high to the tallest of the girls, and even the shortest topped me by close to a head. Not only was their reach longer, their shoulders and arms remained well above the water even at the deepest end of the playing area. I was low enough down that the water impeded my movements, a lot more than it did there’s. I was letting down my team. Beth’s side was creaming us.

To make matters worse, my not so little sister kept making comments like, “heads up there Jake” or “stay on your toes, big guy” or “chin up -- at least try to keep it above water”. The worst though was when she quipped,

“Hey Superman. How are you supposed to leap tall buildings in a single bound when you couldn’t even reach that serve?”

There it was at last, the open reference to my ridiculous little boy’s swim suit. I didn’t think it all funny, but Beth was clearly having a wonderful time, and the other girls thought she was hilarious. Pretty soon they were teasing me right along with Beth. What else could I do? I could stay mad and have a miserable time, or I could admit defeat and join the fun. I decided to waive the white flag. I even managed a few short jokes of my own. Once I unbent I really did have a good time. The girls on my team, which included the two plus six footers, took me under their wings, so to speak, and began to coordinate, playing to my strengths as the low man, while they went for the spikes. We came from behind and won the second match. I even managed the save that won the game for us, although I had to lunge, going completely under and being rewarded with a mouth full of water for my efforts. I had to pull off another quick save too when I almost jumped out of my over large Superman suit on that last lunge.

As we climbed triumphantly out of the pool my teammates grabbed me, hoisted me up onto the high shoulders of the two tallest, and paraded me around the pool deck like a conquering hero, if a rather small one. After we had made the circuit, instead of setting me down as I was laughingly demanding, the twin towers only lowered me part way. One of them held onto my ankles while the other grabbed my arms. As I shouted in mock outrage, they swung me back and forth a few times for effect, then sent me flying out over the deep end of the pool. I tipped the scales at a featherweight 108 lbs, or at least I had that morning. Those big girls probably weighed close to half again as much as I did…each. They manhandled me quite easily. I came up sputtering, but I was laughing too. Then, just to prove that they could, they did it again.

I had to admit it was kind of fun to be picked up and tossed like that – better than a water park ride -- even if it was a couple of GIRLS doing the tossing…girls my little sister’s age. It was certainly an interesting reversal. I had done the same thing to Molly the first time I brought her down to Laguna Beach for a visit; picking her up and throwing her into the pool while she squealed. Now I was the lightweight getting tossed into the water. At least I hadn’t squealed like a girl. Admittedly, my voice was a little lighter now, more of a tenor instead of a baritone, and perhaps a little more youthful sounding too. But my shouts were still a man’s bellow, or at least those of youth past puberty. I might not weigh any more than a petite girl, but at least I didn’t sound like one.

All things considered, the visit went much better than I had expected. The volleyball game with Beth’s friends broke the tension. Even after they left, Mom, Beth and I spent the evening laughing. Mom did look at me regretfully and shake her head a few times, especially when I had to ask Beth to put away the platter I had just dried because I couldn’t reach the top shelf. But we managed to laugh about that too.

Chapter 7 – Getting There is Half the Fun.

Doc Johnston had proven correct in her prediction that I might shrink another centimeter or two. It was late when I got home from Mom’s house and I was too tired to check my height. I no longer needed to record it twice a day now that I was done with the shrinking trial. But remembering Dr. Johnston’s words, as I was climbing out of the shower the next morning I decided to measure myself. I had a few minutes to spare before my car service arrived to take me to LAX. According to my fancy digital scale I was exactly five feet two inches tall, and 105 lbs, down three more pounds and six tenths of an inch from the day before. That was within the range of what Doc Johnston had suggested – hardly noticeable. But somehow five foot two sounded a whole lot shorter than five foot three. I was now exactly the same height as Molly. Boy was she going to be surprised…and excited! I could hardly wait.

At the airport I was once again struck by how tall everyone in the crowd seemed, even taller than during my last public outing to the mall the previous Sunday. I had been 5’5” then, three inches taller than I was now. I wasn’t even level with an average woman anymore. There were very few women in view that I could still look down at, and not that many with whom I could see eye to eye. I had never stopped to wonder about it when I was six four, but why is it that some women wear such absurdly tall shoes? Do they really need to add those extra inches to their height? Some of these towering women seemed positively Amazonian.

The men were even taller. Average size guys were nearly a head taller now and the bigger guys were head and shoulders taller. Even the kids looked bigger. It was peak summer travel season and there were a lot of families at the airport. For the most part, the only boys smaller than me were grade school or younger, kids who hadn’t hit puberty. Even the rug rats looked bigger now that I was closer to the floor myself.

I noticed that morning that I was attracting some curious glances. I was pretty short…for a guy. I also had trouble seeing where I was going though the crowd. My sightlines kept getting blocked by tall shoulders and backs. As I navigated towards the security line after checking my bag I suddenly got a sinking feeling in my stomach. I had forgotten that according to my driver’s license I was supposed to be six four. I had my passport and birth certificate with me, along with an official looking document from Massive PharmaCorp explaining about the shrinking trial and confirming that one Jake Stratton had indeed been six four, but was shorter now. I had forgotten to remove my travel documents from my duffel before I checked it, however. All I had was my wallet with my driver’s license. When it was finally my turn I stepped up to the first security checkpoint, the one where they look at your ID and match it to your ticket and your face, trying to look as inoffensive as possible, and feeling very nervous. The big dude who was checking ID must have been six four himself, and probably 260 lbs of muscle, bone and gristle. Incongruously, his name was Marvin. I know because the name tag on his shirt pocket was staring me straight in the face, level with my eyes -- in fact, a little higher than my eyes. Somehow the name Marvin makes me think of scrawny little runts with glasses and nasal voices who get beat up on playgrounds. It doesn’t belong to someone the size of Mt. Everest. At least that’s how big he seemed to me.

Fortunately, it’s not that hard to look inoffensive when you’re only five two…with blue eyes…and yes, I’ll admit it, a baby face. Marvin didn’t even bother to look at the numbers on my driver’s license. He just checked the picture to make sure that my face matched, more or less – make that less – and waived me though. Some security! Note to all drug dealers, international criminals and would be terrorists: if you want to slip through airport security, better to be a short guy, and have a choirboy face. No one will suspect a thing; we little guys look harmless. Well, come to think of it, I suppose I was pretty harmless. That big security guard could have snapped me in two without breaking a sweat…with one arm. Funny, I had always taken for granted the fact that I was a physically powerful guy. I was slim, but athletic and strong, and at six four I had been a lot taller than most, with a long reach and plenty of leverage. Now it hit me. I wasn’t powerful anymore. I was a little dweeb, an easy target, one of the Marvins of the world. Was this how other people viewed me now, a Marvin?

As I walked down the crowded concourse I was seeing the towering people around me in a whole new light. I was vulnerable. I could get hurt! I had never felt myself at a physical disadvantage before, a weakling. Well, maybe a little bit when I was playing volleyball with Beth and her tall friends, but that had seemed like an aberration. Those girls were all pituitary cases. They were the freakish ones, not me. This new feeling of vulnerability was unnerving, not to mention a blow to my male ego. Now as I caught people glancing curiously in my direction -- looking down at me -- I began to wonder what they were thinking. Was it ‘aw, isn’t he cute’, or were they thinking, ‘Jeez that guy is short, what a shrimp!’?

Well, there was nothing I could do about it. I had volunteered for this; I would have to learn to live with it. I could have gone on feeling vulnerable and sorry for myself. Instead I decided to square what little shoulder I had left, pull myself up to my full five foot two, and walk tall. If I was going to live the rest of my life as a little guy I would be a proud, fearless little guy, a Napoleon…Napoleon before Waterloo that is. Welcome to my new world.

***

Actually, being Napoleonic does have its perks. As I had discovered at the mall, tall women are hot. And there were even more towing women around now that I had shrunk another three inches. The short girls were hot too – just my size. As I marched square shouldered down the concourse with my renewed sense of pride and my chin up – as high as it would go anyway -- there was a lot of interesting scenery to look at, and admire.

Halfway to my gate a gap opened in the forest of tall bodies around me and I spotted a Starbucks off to the side – where isn’t there a Starbucks these days? Since I was feeling decisive, I decided to march over for a triple latte – make mine a Grande thank you, no mere Tall for me – and a breakfast sandwich. With all the airline cost cutting these days I couldn't expect to be fed well on the flight. The girl who waited on me was Asian, but her hair was blue instead of black, and she had a diamond stud in her nose and a butterfly tattoo peeking out from beneath the collar of her blouse. She was also petite, her eyes level with mine, and pretty in a punkish sort of way. As she took my order the girl gave me an appraising look. She was quite bold about it, looking me slowly up and down, checking me out quite thoroughly. I guess she liked what she saw, because she flashed me a smile that was more than a little friendly, almost a come on. And she kept glancing back at me from under her heavily mascared eye lashes as she filled my order. Was she flirting with me?

It turned out that she was even bolder than I thought, and very direct. As the blue haired punk girl handed over my order she said:

“You’re a cute one. I like small guys. How tall are you?”

I was a bit taken aback by her direct approach, but I answered that I was five two.

“Put ‘er there,” she said with a grin, holding out her hand for a high five. “So am I.” Then she added, “If you happen to pass though LAX again, be sure to stop by. I’m here most weekends, and when I’m not in school, about half the weekdays too.” I gathered that she was a college student. “Maybe we can get together. And Next time, I’ll throw in a little…extra foam.”

From the way she said ‘extra foam’, it was clear she wasn’t talking about milk. I couldn’t help grinning back. As I marched on towards my gate, my back straight under the weight of my carry-on backpack, and with my green and white cup held high, like a sword, I felt even more like a conquering Napoleon. I had told my mother that she needed to look at the glass as half full. I would follow my own advice. Being five two wasn’t half bad.

***

I had dreaded long flights when I was tall, crammed into a those narrow, too shallow seats with my long legs bent like a pretzel. Molly had been generous in buying my ticket, but not generous enough to pay for first class. With my new Napoleonic proportions, however, my window seat in coach turned out to be surprisingly roomy – another perk to being small. I had brought a book to read; a beach read sci-fi thriller that turned out to be incredibly well written. No it wasn’t about a shrinking guy, incredible or otherwise. The hero was tall, with an excess of muscle – who needs big, bulging muscles anyway? But his sidekick was a little guy. He was also green…with cat eyes and pointy ears, but hey, I could identify with him. Why is it that heroes are always tall, and sidekicks are short? I was starting to feel militant about this short thing. Short men unite! Power to the little people!

My coach seat was sufficiently comfortable that I might even have managed a nap, topping off my batteries in preparation for Molly – I would need them fully charged, I suspected. But a nap was not to be. Just my luck -- I happened to be sitting next to a restless little boy. Don’t get me wrong, I like kids. Like most people, I had been a kid myself. I had even volunteered to work at a youth camp for three summers and despite that experience, I still hoped to have a family of my own one day. Just not yet. Or any time soon for that matter. Until the day arrived that I was forced to travel with my own wiggly kids I would have preferred not to spend six hours trapped in a confined space, sitting next to an energetic boy with no outlet for his energy other than squirming. I would have preferred a seatmate a few years older, say in the 20’s range, and of a different gender.

Actually, sitting next to the kid wasn’t that bad. The boy managed to keep occupied for the first two thirds of the flight with only an occasional squirm, not more than once every three or four minutes. He watched a DVD, one of the Lord of Rings trilogy, and played with his Game boy. But once the battery on his laptop had worn down, and his Game boy had ceased to amuse him, the kid got…twitchy. His mother, who was sitting in the isle seat, glanced over at me with an apologetic look, and tried to distract him. His father was sitting across the isle with an older sibling -- divide and conquer I guess. Finally, in desperation, the mother pulled her last weapon out of her capacious bag of tricks -- a sketch pad and a box of drawing pencils. It turned out that the boy liked to draw. So do I. I struck up a conversation with him, explaining that I was an architect, and telling him that I liked to sketch too. The boy -- his name was Brandon -- was suitably impressed. He asked me questions about what it was like to be an architect, and then we spent the next hour designing an elaborate city together – a city for hobbits. I’m pretty good at free hand drawing, and Brandon had a great imagination. Also as an architect I’m trained to think about the needs of the people who will occupy the buildings I design. Now that I was short I had a fresh appreciation for the needs and perspectives of hobbit size people. Even the boy’s mother was intrigued with the results of our collaboration, putting down her book and watching over Brandon’s shoulder.

As we worked Brandon told me that he was nine…and a half – half years are important when you’re a kid -- that he would be entering the fourth grade in the fall, and that he planned to play park district football now that he was big enough. I had guessed him to be 10 or 11, but he was just big for his age. When the pilot announced that we were 30 minutes out from Kahului, and that the peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island would soon be visible in the distance on our side of the plane, I offered to trade places so that Brandon could watch out the window while we landed. All three of us stood up in order to change seats. It was the first time during the flight that we had all been up at the same time and in the same small space. I had taken advantage of an earlier trip to the restroom by Brandon, one of several, and his mother, to slip out for a bathroom break of my own. But I had returned to my seat ahead of them. I could see now where Brandon got his height. His mother towered over me and the kid was even bigger than I had thought, only a few inches shorter then me! He had to be at least 4’11”, close to five feet. Holy crap! It was one thing to find myself looking way up at a grownup; I was beginning to get used to that. But seeing a nine year old not many inches away from looking me in the eye was really weird.

Brandon eyed me curiously, clearly noting that I wasn’t all that much taller than he was, or much bigger around for that matter. Like me, he must not have realized how close we were in size while we were sitting down. But he didn’t say anything until we were in our seats again, with me in the middle this time -- Brandon had been quite emphatic that he wanted his new friend Jake to sit next to him, not his mom. Once we were belted in Brandon turned to me and asked me in that direct way that kids have,

“How tall are you?”

I was hearing that question a lot lately. I gave him the same answer I had given to the blue haired girl, that I was five two.

“Wow, that’s short. My mom is six one and my dad is six three.”

I could have told him that I used to be six four, which beat his mom and dad, but he wouldn’t have believed me. Well, maybe he would, he was nine after all. To a kid, anything is possible. But I didn’t want to one up him. He was clearly proud of how tall his parents were.

Brandon glanced out the window, and seeing only boring clouds and water, returned to his topic.

“Its kind of cool, being little. You could almost be a hobbit.” Then glancing down he added, “Except your feet are too small. Hobbits have big feet you know, and they don’t wear shoes.”

I noted that Brandon’s sneaker clad feet appeared to be several sizes larger than mine. It's true what they say about little boys and puppies, that they have to grow to catch up with their feet. I had big feet when I was his age too. Well not any more.

After another pause spent peering out the window, Brandon added,

“My brother is five four. He’s 11. I bet I’ll be taller than you by the time I’m 11.”

“Maybe sooner,” I said with a smile. I was thinking in another year, when he was ten and a half – not next week.

There was another pause to check for sightings out the window, then another question:

“How old are you?”

“26…and a half,” I answered. I couldn’t help grinning at Brandon’s incredulous expression.

“My cousin looks older than you. He’s 18. He grew a beard this year. But he’s a lot bigger too. He’s even taller than my dad. I guess you look younger than him because you’re little.”

I told Brandon that I had a beard as well, but that my whiskers were kind of fine and slow growing, so they didn’t show unless I skipped a day between shaves. I had shaved that morning before leaving for the airport. Brandon gave some further thought to that, but still looked skeptical. Come to think of it, I hadn’t been all that stubbly that morning, shaving more out of habit than need, even though I had skipped shaving on Friday, the day before. Had my already light whiskers gotten even lighter? I decided to change the subject. I pointed out Maui, finally visible below, with the summit of Haleakala rising above a ring of afternoon trade wind clouds. From that point on there were no more questions. Brandon’s snub nose stayed plastered to the glass.

***

I spotted Molly almost immediately as I emerged into the open air baggage claim area – once the big guy in front of me who was rudely blocking my view with his shoulders got out of the way, that is. She looked stunning, and more tanned than I had ever seen her. Redheads don’t tan all that much, even redheads from California, but she had a sort of burnished glow, and her cute freckles were more pronounced than ever. She was wearing a closely fitted Hawaiian print sun dress which looked simple, but was probably very expensive. It showed off her toned arms and clung to her body, revealing every curve of her fantastic figure. She also looked astonishingly tall – but then, who didn’t? Molly had tried to wheedle out of me over the phone how much more I had shrunk, but I had insisted that it be a surprise. Now as she ran up to greet me she stood there for a moment, looking astonished. We were both wearing flat sandals, and we were exactly the same height.

After her short pause to take me in, what was left of me, Molly reached up, threw her arms around my neck and purred:

“Oh Jake, This IS a wonderful surprise.”

Then she leaned in even closer for a long, warm, welcome-to-Maui aloha kiss. I could feel Molly’s breasts, round and firm and soft all at the same time, as they pressed against my chest, nipple to nipple. They had seemed bigger when I first shrank to average height, no longer small and perky. Now they felt amazing, lush and full; not too big, but more than big enough. Perfect, in fact. As my mind leaped to thoughts of how heavy these seemingly enlarged orbs would feel when I could finally get my hands on them, I felt a familiar stirring in my shorts. My shorts were a little baggy , purchased when I was 5’5” and a few pounds heavier – well, more than a few. I didn’t think anyone would notice my little expansion underneath all that extra fabric, but Molly clearly felt it. How could she not? She was glued to me. Any closer and she would have been inside my pants herself. She didn’t say anything, but she glanced down briefly with one eyebrow raised, then grinned at me wickedly and shook her finger in a ‘no no’ as she stepped back.

I took a gulp of warm air, scented with an exotic combination of hibiscus flowers and jet fuel, and tried to bring my thoughts back down to earth. I was helped in that effort by a rather startling comment I overheard coming from another passenger, a stout, grandmotherly lady standing a short way beyond us. The lady smiled in our direction, turned to her similarly white haired companion and said, not bothering to lower her voice – perhaps her friend was hard of hearing:

“What a darling little couple, both so petite. He’s no bigger than she is. They belong on the top of a wedding cake, don’t you think.”

The elderly lady was hardly one to talk, maybe 5’6”, not much taller than average. But that meant that she was four inches taller than us, and she was stout, making her quite a bit wider. Molly heard the comment too. She glanced briefly over her shoulder and then turned back to whisper conspiratorially into my ear:

“Well, you may be petite, but at least part of you is growing, not shrinking. We’d better collect your luggage and get you home, little man, while you can still fit into your pants. For some reason those shorts don’t look quite as loose as they did from a distance.”

As we made our way over to the baggage carousel assigned to my flight, I kept my arm around Molly’s shoulders. They seemed really wide…and high up. It was almost a relief when the luggage began to arrive and I had an excuse to drop my arm. My single bag was pretty light; I hadn’t packed much because most of my clothes were too big. But the same two elderly ladies were standing next to us, and they were clearly having a much harder time with their luggage. Being the gallant young man that I am, I leaped to their aid. I hadn’t bargained on the fact that those two harmless looking old ladies had packed everything except the kitchen sink. On second thought, maybe the sink was in there too. Nor had I quite gotten my head around the fact that a heavily loaded bag would be a whole lot bigger, heavier and more awkward for someone who was say, five two, than for someone who was, say, six four.

As I was struggling to set the last of those cement bags on the floor, assuring the grateful ladies that ‘it was nothing, really’ – lying through my clenched teeth – I spotted young Brandon, standing with his family on the other side of the conveyor. He had clearly been waiting impatiently to catch my eye. He grinned and waved, and after I had rubbed the kink out of my back and straighten up, I waved back.

“I see you made a little friend on the flight,” Molly said in a voice pitched low so that only I could hear. “He’s about your size, too. Maybe we’ll run into them at the beach and you two little boys can play together.”

“Very funny! Now, where did you leave the car? I believe you suggested that we should hurry. You said we needed to get home before I…what was it? Oh ya, ‘while I could still fit into my pants’.” I leaned over to nibble her ear as I added sotto voce, “Once we’re at the condo, I’ll show you the difference between playtime for little boys, and how a man likes to play. They may come wrapped in a smaller package, but I still have all of my grownup toys, and as you’ve already noticed, they work just fine.”

Molly reached around behind and gave my backside a pinch.

“Oww, what was that for?” I asked with my best air of blue eyed innocence.

“Behave little man, or I may just have to give you a spanking. I bet I could do it too.”

“Ooh, threats. I like it! Getting spanked by a big, beautiful redhead sounds like fun. Where can I find a paddle?”

“Why you little… I am NOT big! You’re just a shrimp…and treading on thin ice, too.”

“Well it’s a good thing I don’t weigh much. I won’t need to worry about falling through,” I shot back with a cheeky grin. “Don’t worry; I’m not going to crack this ice.” Then glancing sideways at Molly with my best sly leer, I added: “I’m going to thaw it. I’m told that the weather forecast back at the condo calls for ‘hot and steamy’.”

On that happy note we headed out into the warm Maui sun hand in hand, as the trade winds rattled the fronds of the palm trees lining the road separating the terminal from the parking lot, and my light weight rolling duffle bumped along behind us. A perfect afternoon in paradise, or so it seemed. Being a little guy wasn't all that bad, I decided, especially considering that my gorgeous girlfriend clearly liked me this way. No regrets. Unfortunately, along with blue skies, warm tropical breezes and swaying coconut palms, there are serpents in the Garden of Eden, as Adam found out the hard way. I was about to discover that thanks to my Eve I had already taken a bite from a bad apple, and I had only begun my fall.

Chapter 8 –There at Last.

Molly came from old money; old by Southern California standards that is. Her great grandfather had founded the company which became, though multiple mergers and acquisitions, the global conglomerate known as Massive PharmaCorp. MPC wasn’t just a drug manufacturer. Through its various subsidiaries it kept its thumb in all sorts of pies, from cutting edge nanotechnology research, to the manufacture and marketing of household cleaners, cosmetics and even such prosaic products as mouthwash, deodorant and baby powder. There probably wasn’t a home in all of North America, Europe or Japan that didn’t have at least one MPC product in its medicine cabinet or on its shelf. Molly’s family no longer controlled MPC, but the holdings of the scattered heirs collectively amounted to a healthy chunk of the stock. Molly’s father was the only member of the family currently active in the company, but at MPC he was a very big man indeed, at least figuratively. Like Molly, he was short, although I was short enough now myself that I would be looking up to him next time we met. In addition to being the senior executive to whom all of the many vice presidents in charge of product development reported, Molly’s father was also head of strategic planning for the company, and heir apparent to the current CEO.

In Molly’s immediate branch of the family the real wealth was controlled by Molly’s grandmother. Grandma, or Nana as she so quaintly liked to be called, was a legend. She had been, briefly, a Hollywood starlet known by her stage name, Monica Bryan – Bryan with a ‘y’. Her given name was actually Molly O’Brian – O’Brian with an ‘i’, and also an ‘O’ and an apostrophe. Little Molly O’Brian hailed from Bridgeport, the one in Chicago not the one in Connecticut. But not many people outside of the family remembered those details. My Molly claimed that her father had christened his only daughter ‘Molly’ as an act of defiance towards his mother, Monica, knowing it would irritate the heck out of her. After meeting Nana I could see why he might have wanted to do that.

Of course, I had heard about Monica Ryan long before I met her, even before I found out that Molly was her granddaughter. Who hasn’t? According to the legends that had grown up around Molly’s Nana, as a young Hollywood starlet Monica Bryan spent more time auditioning than acting; auditions which were almost always conducted in the horizontal position. It was said that she had a particular talent for the casting couch. Her professional career had been a short one, however. She had arrived in Hollywood like a whirlwind at the tender age of 19. At 22 she married Walter Francis Parker, Jr., the youngest child and only son of the founder of MPC, and retired from the movies, although not from...auditioning. The marriage had come as something of a surprise to Walter’s friends and family, since at the time he was a committed bachelor of 45. It had come as a surprise to Walter too. I don’t need to spell out what ‘committed bachelor’ meant in Hollywood back then. But Junior manned up, rose to his new responsibilities, and managed in reasonably short order to produce a son and heir, Molly’s father, Walter F. Parker, III. Then, his duty fulfilled, Junior quietly and conveniently passed away. He died from pneumonia, brought on from a chill contracted while on a ski vacation with his beautiful young wife…and their decorator (Monica was always up for company). But according to the Monica Bryan legend, the underlying cause of Walter’s death was a severe case of spousally induced exhaustion. Whatever the truth, he left his young widow a very rich woman -- and one with time on her hands.

After her husband’s untimely death Nana had proceeded to expand her assets many times over, though shrewd investments, and also through a serious of additional short, but strategic marriages to rich older men, all the while enjoying frequent affairs with younger and more satisfying lovers. Some claimed that Monica had been a serial violator of her marriage vows, all four of them. But that was untrue. In fact, she had conducted many of her multiple affairs at the same time, in tandem, and on one celebrated occasion involving the members of a visiting university football team, all at once. Those in the know say it was the wildest and most exciting Rose Bowl event Pasadena has ever seen, and they are not talking about the football game. Nana’s affairs were all managed with consummate executive skill, however. Given her demonstrated talents for both investment and management, if she had set her mind to it she could have been running MPC. But Nana had chosen a different path to power.

Nana outlived the first three of her four husbands. No. 2 died in a car accident -- running away, they say. No. 3, who was 75 when he married Nana, died of a heart attack in bed. But he died happy, with a smile on his face -- a very wide smile. Nana’s final husband was also an actor, bringing her full circle back to her thespian roots -- a B movie actor and former polo player from Argentina twenty years her junior, known more for his sonorous voice and his melting Latin good looks than his rather pedestrian acting ability. Nana was so rich by then that she no longer needed to marry for money. She could afford a hobby. Hector Ramon Carlos Luro Bola?o was known to the members of his small but devoted fan club simply as ‘Hector’. But among the bored housewives of Beverly Hills he was known as ‘El Toro’, named for a part of his anatomy that was said to be unusually large. Hector the Bull was a youthful 34 when he married Nana – a man in the lusty prime of life. You might think that a woman by now in her fifties would have trouble keeping up. But in fact, it was the opposite. Unfortunately for Hector he was the one who couldn’t keep it up. To make matters worse, after his marriage he began to put on weight, and to loose his hair. Too much stress, it was said. Hector still had his sonorous voice, but Nana had paid for the full enchilada, and paid well. Like her high priced automobiles which she replaced every few years -- along with the handsome young chauffeurs who drove them -- she wasn’t about to keep an expensive toy who no longer met factory specs. And being the shrewd investor that she was, she had made sure that she had a watertight prenup. Nana summarily divorced the poor boy, pensioned him off, and put him out to pasture back at the remote Patagonian estancia from whence he had sprung, and which Nana had purchased along with Hector.

Nana’s storied past was ancient history by the time I met Molly, however. She now reigned in splendid solitude from the mansion in San Marino which had come with her second husband, playing her greatest role yet, the part of one of the last aristocratic old money dowagers of that well-healed anti-Beverly Hills. She still kept a handsome young chauffeur in the apartment over the garage, and employed an even younger, handsomer and exceptionally muscular pool boy who went about his work sans shirt, a part-time job for which Nana paid a full time wage. But according to Molly – and she would know – this latest chauffeur and pool boy were strictly ornamental. Instead of the gossip columns, Nana’s name now appeared frequently in the society section of the Los Angeles Times as hostess for one charity function or another: raising money for the symphony; a new giraffe house at the Griffith Park Zoo; that sort of thing. Once she even hosted an event for a real charity, the American Heart Association, in memory of husband No. 3. But that particular soir?e was one of her rare busts. The gaggle of celebrity glitterati, B-listers, moneyed heiresses, rich entrepreneur hipsters, and occasional euro-trash who frequented her affairs were over in Bel Air that evening at a competing event for Venezuelan orphans. Orphans make better photo opps than aging, overweight smokers, and Hugo is tres chic with the Hollywood crowd. However Molly’s shrewd grandmother never repeated a mistake. After that one unsuccessful event she stuck to the more stylish causes.

Along with her notable charity work, Nana had a notable temper, and a well deserved reputation for being a dragon. Everyone in the family was terrified of her, everyone except Molly that is. Molly and her grandmother got along famously. Molly’s long suffering father, whom I liked very much and who was solid, steady and eminently respectable despite his glamorous Hollywood roots, was deeply embarrassed by his flamboyant mother. I once heard him say in exasperation after Molly had defied his wishes over something or other – a frequent occurrence in the Parker household – that the problem with his strong willed daughter was that she was too much like Nana. I strongly disagreed. Molly looked like her grandmother, but I was sure that the resemblance was only superficial. Molly was nothing like her infamous grandmother temperamentally. Well maybe just a little, but most of the resemblance was physical. Monica Bryan had been a famous beauty in her day, as beautiful as Molly was now, and before her hair turned silver she had been a redhead too. Molly’s formidable grandmother was also a surprisingly tiny woman, not quite five feet tall in her prime, and like me she had shrunk, although in her case, she was shrinking with age. Surgery and Botox had done wonders for Nana, but even the heels on her Ferragamo pumps couldn’t disguise the fact that she was really short. At least there was one person I could still look down at. Molly’s mother was moderately tall, an inch and a half taller than her five foot six inch husband and more than five inches taller than her daughter, but Molly and her dad got their shorter stature from Nana’s dominant genes.

While Grandma controlled the real wealth, Molly’s parents weren’t exactly hard up for cash. They both earned a substantial income in their own right. Dr. Parker was a prominent psychiatrist with a successful practice and Molly’s dad earned even more with his valuable MPC stock options. What’s more, if Washington, always hungry for revenue, doesn’t close the many loopholes that keep clever tax lawyers like my brother-in-law, St. Tom, gainfully employed skipping money happily from one generation to the next, Molly’s father, his younger half brother -- presumably the child of his 2nd father but looking nothing like the old goat -- and Molly, could all look forward to one day becoming very, very rich. Of course, Nana was going to live to be a hundred. Mean girls never die young -- they die old and rich. But in the meantime, both Molly and her dad were already the beneficiaries of a trust fund established by the founder of MPC. As a member of the fourth generation, Molly’s interest in the family trust was more diluted than her father’s, but her regular remittances enabled her to maintain a comfortable life while dabbling as a freelance graphic artist -- more ‘free’ than ‘lance’ -- instead of holding down a regular job which would have prevented her from taking her usual five or six vacations per year.

The Maui condo was not the Parker’s primary vacation home. Molly’s parents occupied a luxurious residence in a gated enclave in Newport Beach and vacationed at a rambling stone and shingle lodge on the shores of Lake Tahoe that had been in the family for four generations (counting Molly’s) and was owned by the family trust – a Parker family asset which Walter Jr.'s sisters had managed to keep out of Nana’s rapacious little hands. The condo on Maui was primarily a place for Molly’s father to indulge his passion for golf. But Hawaii also served as a convenient central location for his frequent meetings with executives from MPC’s Tokyo and Hong Kong offices. Molly’s father would be joining us at the condo towards the end of our stay for a short business meeting and some golf -- mostly the golf. We were scheduled to return to California with him on one of the MPC corporate jets. There would be no worries about passing airport security going home, thankfully. For the next week, however, we had the place to ourselves. I had been to the family’s Tahoe house for a ski weekend, but I had never been to the Maui condo. My only previous trip to Maui was a family vacation when I was in high school, before my Dad died. I was looking forward to re-visiting the scene of those happy memories. Even more, however, I was looking forward to being alone with Molly. In fact, I could hardly wait.

Despite my visible impatience to reach our final destination, Molly had other priorities. Seeing how light my duffel was, and the loose state of my clothes, Molly insisted that we first make a stop at Liberty House to ‘refresh’ my wardrobe. I did my best to persuade her that a shopping trip could wait, but when Molly had her mind made up there was no unmaking it. And she was driving.

“It’s a long way back to town from Kapalua, and the clothing outlets in West Maui are mostly small resort shops not likely to carry your more…limited size,” she said, measuring me pointedly with her eyes and grinning. “Liberty House at the mall here in town has a much bigger selection, since it’s where the locals go.” Actually, many of the locals go to Wall-Mart and Costco – it costs a lot to live in Hawaii. But I knew that while Molly might have heard of such a thing as a big box store, she had certainly never set foot in one. Molly continued, “As long as we’re close, we should take advantage of it. Come on Jake, it won’t take long. I’m very good at power shopping.” Then she added in a tone which promised great things to come: “I’m as anxious to get home and …relax as you are.”

Once at the store we spent a frustrating 20 minutes – 20 minutes which would have gotten us that much closer to the condo, and Nirvana – searching through the racks in the men’s department and trying on shirts and shorts for size. In all that time we found only one shirt, a size XX-small, which was small enough to satisfy Molly’s exacting standards. I liked my clothes to be comfortable and would have been happy to keep on re-washing the few shirts I had brought with me, or buying others in the same size that were equally roomy. But Molly preferred to see me in clothes that were more form fitting.

“I want to show off that cute little bod of yours. You’re not very wide, but you have nice proportions and good muscle definition. Why not flaunt it?”

I was wearing a men’s extra-small shirt already, and there was no denying that the XS was big on me. But size XXS was almost non-existent; we only found the one. The shorts in the men’s department were even more hopeless that the shirts. Without a belt even the smallest waist size slid right off my ‘skinny hips’, as Molly so kindly referred to them. I preferred to think of my hips as ‘narrow’ rather than ‘skinny’ and as performing a useful function other than holding up pants – by making my not very wide shoulders look wider in proportion. But even with a belt the smallest size shorts were still baggy in the seat. Seeing our dilemma, one of the sales associates who had been hovering in the background approached, and suggested that we try the boy’s department.

“We have a big children’s department, and we carry some styles in the larger boy’s sizes that are quite grownup. Besides, many of our…smaller customers find that they appreciate being able to wear the more youthful fashions from the student section.”

Our smaller customers? Please! And the woman didn’t have to sound so condescending when she said it, or look down at me with that studied smile that was oh so professionally polite, but held more than a hint of a smirk. Woman, heck, the sales clerk was really just a girl! She couldn’t have been older than 20 or 21, younger than me. So what if she was tall. The girl wasn’t bad looking though, a part of me had to admit. In fact, she was more than merely attractive. And I did like looking at tall, good looking women, even if it required craning my neck to take them in all the way. The sales associate was a local girl, one of those indeterminate racial blends who make the residents of Hawaii such a handsome people. She was elegantly slim, and for someone of her obviously part Asian heritage, quite tall, at least 5’9” in her bare feet and close to six feet in her stylish heels – more than tall enough to look down on the top of my head…and to talk down to me too. Maybe she had some Swedish in her.

But being slim, pretty…and tall, wasn’t an excuse for the sales associate’s condescending manner. Her smile reminded me of my little sister Beth. As I thanked the smug girl with an answering hauteur, or at least as much hauteur as I could muster drawing up to my full five foot two and gathering my shredded adult dignity, I noticed that Molly had her hand pressed over her mouth. That didn’t exactly help my mood. And the…girl was right too, the clothes in the boy’s department did prove to be a better fit. That didn’t help my mood either. Was this what I had to look forward to now that I was at the bottom of the height chart? Being patronized by twenty year old sales clerks, not to mention looked down at that way? For the first time in my life I found myself actually looking forward to putting on a little middle aged spread. That way I would at least be able to buy my pants in the mens' department again.

While I concentrated on my idea of necessities – a few tank tops; a couple of pairs of board shorts; new running shoes and shorts; and of course, more underwear in a smaller size – Molly loaded up on what she described as ‘take him out in public clothes’: multiple aloha shirts with solid color shorts; plaid shorts with solid color polo shirts; trendy looking t-shirts with skinny jeans. She even managed to find a pair of euro style capri pants in a student size. I told her she was buying too much; more than I could possibly wear during my 10 day stay, not to mention slowing us down. But she wouldn’t hear of it.

“I haven’t had this much fun since I stopped playing dress up with my dolls,” she responded with a laugh.

Had it come to this? Was I just a boy toy for her to dress up, like a doll? Sensing my disgruntled mood she added,

“Oh come on Jake, lighten up. You’ve hardly touched your clothing allowance from MPC. You’ll be able to wear most of this stuff back home. Just think of these clothes as being on Daddy. You deserve it for helping him with his product development research. And I, for one, certainly appreciate the results.”

As I soldiered on, resignedly trying on outfit after outfit as Molly picked them out, I attempted to ignore the curious glances from the other shoppers around us. The other “smaller customers” all had women helping them pick out clothes too – middle school boys with their mothers getting an early start on back to school clothes. The ones trying on outfits in my size all seemed to be around 13, give or take a year, more take than give – boys who were just beginning or hadn’t even begun their fastest growth spurts. It was disturbing to know that before too long these scary-tall pubescent and pre-pubescent boys would all be even taller, and scarier, adolescents, and that they would all be looking down at me. I tried to ignore that too.

Molly though it was all very amusing. She also got quite a little chuckle out of the fact that I could fit into a pair of boy’s skinny jeans. I was not amused. And who wears jeans in Hawaii in the summer anyway? It was not that long pants would be too hot, at least for me. I have a high tolerance for heat; it takes a lot to make me sweat. But my idea of a tropical vacation is to get up in the morning, throw on a pair of comfortable shorts, preferably well worn ones, and be dressed for the day. And one thing was certain, even more than those skinny jeans, no matter how much Molly insisted, there was no way I was going to wear those damn capri pants. She could add them to the growing stack by the cash register, but that didn’t mean I was going to put them on. Capris may be considered acceptable for men in Europe, even cool, but in America they’re pretty far out there, a bit effeminate. Here, outside of a few metro-sexuals who are more ‘metro’ than most, capri pants are almost exclusively worn by girls. I’m a style aware guy, possessing what I like to think of as good taste, but I prefer my clothes on the conservative side – the manly conservative side.

The only thing worse than capri pants, in my opinion, would have been a pair of those silly Speedo or thong swimsuits that European men wear to the beach. Other than competitive swimmers who have no choice, no man over 30, even one with my lean build and level of fitness, should wear a Speedo. Make that no male over 18. Eighteen is old enough to know better. And no self-respecting man of any age should wear a thong, not ever. Molly actually suggested that I would look cute in a Speedo, but fortunately the store didn’t carry them. I know because she asked. Board shorts were in. Speedos hadn’t been in since the 80’s. We were politely directed to try a sporting goods store nearby that supplied the local junior high swim team. The sales woman definitely said ‘junior high’, not ‘high school’, and she was looking at me – down at me – when she said it. Another one, damn! But fortunately even Molly wasn’t willing to take the time to drive to another store.

At last we were done. Molly had finally had enough of playing dress up with her toy boy. We stuffed our shopping bags into the trunk of Molly’s convertible next to my considerably smaller duffel and motored off into the sun, a sun that had moved quite a bit lower in the sky while we were in the store. A whole lot of wasted time as far as I was concerned.

The condo, when we arrived over an hour later after a scenic but agonizingly slow drive, was every bit as impressive as I had expected, but more for its location and interior than its exterior. It was in a small, very exclusive, very expensive complex near the far western tip of West Maui. From the outside, the buildings were attractive, but architecturally unimaginative; a sort of late 1970’s reinterpretation of the 1920’s Hawaiian territorial style. When the sugar industry dominated the Islands the rich people who managed the sugar plantations lived in sprawling hipped roof houses like the ones the architect of this complex was clearly trying to invoke. It was a condo for rich people after all. The working stiffs who labored in the hot sun to actually grow the sugar cane lived in tiny, single wall construction, board and batten cottages that looked nothing like these buildings. And in any case, the sugar-plantation-manager’s-residence look was spoiled somewhat by the row of garage doors visible from the entry drive.

Once through the front door however, it was a different story. The Parkers' condo was very large, with two big, luxuriously furnished bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms – one with twin beds I noted unhappily – a separate den, a third bathroom (just in case), and a large open plan kitchen, living and dining area. Molly’s parents had recently spent a small fortune – make that a large fortune – on renovations to bring the nearly 30 year old condo up to date. The floors were a sea of pale French limestone and dark stained Brazilian cherry wood, scattered with colorful and expensive looking rugs. The upholstered furniture was overstuffed and supremely comfortable despite being excessively deep, at least from my standpoint. Designer touches were everywhere: tall, tawny yellow bamboo canes artfully arranged in a large stone urn in the front hall, their tops reaching high above my head; an antique Chinese lacquered chest; a carved Balinese screen; the rich reddish brown glow of a polished Koa wood bowl. The walls were adorned with works by local artists; not prints, but the real thing. The most impressive was a large oil painting depicting a handsome Hawaiian woman wearing a flowing muumuu and a straw hat with flowers around the brim. She was seated on a woven pandamus mat, stringing blossoms from a colorful assortment of flowers laid out around her into a lei. I was no painter, but I understood composition and color theory and could recognize talent when I saw it. That one painting alone was probably worth five times as much as all of my earthly possessions put together. Considering the post-graduate state of my worldly possessions, make that ten times.

Even more impressive than the furnishings, however, was the view. The condo faced an unobstructed panorama of deep blue Pacific, flecked with trade wind driven whitecaps sparkling in the late afternoon sun, and with the lush green peaks of the Island of Molokai in the distance to the left. Across an expansive lawn and below a shallow bluff waves foamed against a glistening beach of pale golden sand; a beach with public access, but no public facilities, and therefore no public. For the most part the only people who visited that beach were the mostly older, well-heeled owners of the up-market, low density and very tasteful condo complexes which overlooked it, and their nearly as well-healed holiday renters. No renters in this particular complex, however. Too exclusive – renters weren’t allowed. As Molly descriptively but rather cruelly put it, there would be no overweight, middle aged, middle brow Dicks and Janes with skin an alarming shade of boiled lobster from too little sun at home and too much fun on vacation, wearing too short shorts and loud matching aloha prints. There was plenty of that sort of action if I wanted it, Molly assured me, a short distance away at Napili Bay. “They get the package tourists over there” she had added snidely.

Although I appreciated the glorious view and near solitude of our beach, I did find it a bit lacking in the fun local color and sheer, unapologetic kitschiness that I recalled from my happy Hawaiian vacation with my family as a teenager – grass skirts and hula girls; pastel colored drinks with pineapple garnish and little umbrellas; and tourists. Why hadn’t it ever struck me before just how snobby Molly could be? Mercurial, stubborn, demanding and yes, at times imperious, but when things were going her way, warm, funny and very, very affectionate – that was my Molly girl. I had never before thought of her as a class snob, however. Her parents weren’t like that. The senior Parkers were gracious to a fault. Well, I guess you just can’t take the ‘spoiled’ out of ‘spoiled rich girl’. For all of her flaws, Molly had so many wonderful qualities, not the least of which was her amazing talent in bed…and on the couch…and on the rug…and just about anywhere else you can think of for doing it.

And speaking of doing it, most of all right then, more than the expensive art work or the mesmerizing view, I was attracted to the enticingly wide bed in the master bedroom – we would be sleeping in the master bedroom until Daddy arrived, I was relieved to learn – and the walk-in master shower. I have a thing about being clean. I especially like to be clean when I make love. Compact as we both were, this luxurious, marble clad shower was more than big enough for the two of us. Heck, it would have been more than big enough when I still took up a lot of space! With its rain shower head, multiple side jets, and wide bench, the sybaritic shower was far more than just a place to get clean. We both recognized the potential immediately. In a matter of seconds after stepping through the bathroom door we were out of our clothes and under the stream. Finally!

We stood under the pulsating jets with our bodies pressed together, shoulder to shoulder, chest to chest and hip to hip, exactly on a level. Well, maybe not exactly. It occurred to me for a moment to wonder whether Molly’s shoulders might be ever so slightly higher than my own; her head too. We were exactly the same height when she greeted me at the airport. Since I began shrinking I had become very good at estimating height, especially in relation to my own increasing lack of it. But now that I thought about it, Molly had been wearing a pair of imported Italian leather sandals, undoubtedly very expensive, and with very thin soles. The bottoms on my inexpensive, mass-produced rubber flip flops were a little thicker, a fraction of an inch. I was exactly 5’2” -- my high tech laser scale had told me so that morning. But maybe Molly was actually a bit over five two; perhaps by a quarter of an inch, certainly less than a half. That would explain the slight difference. It was a minor difference, however, hardly worth noting, and I didn’t dwell on it. I had other things on my mind.

We may not have been exactly the same height, but on balance we were an even match. We were nearly the same width through the shoulders. Mine were a smidge wider, as they should be. But Molly was more than a little wider through the hips. I had more muscle -- again as it should be -- but my muscles, while hard and well defined, were those of a marathoner, lean and tight rather than bulky. And Molly was pretty toned herself, with a surprising amount of definition for a girl. Her freelance schedule left her plenty of time for trips to the gym. She also had those wonderfully rounded breasts which seemed so full to me now. Her ass was nicely rounded too, definitely bigger than mine as I enjoyed pointing out. I earned a playful slap to my own somewhat smaller backside for that one. Molly threatened to start calling me ‘Half Ass’ if I didn’t quit commenting on the size of her’s, a playful combination of ‘half pint’ and ‘asshole’ and according to Molly, entirely accurate. She would have done it too…and in public. Like her famous Nana, Molly sometimes had a salty tongue. She could out salt a sailor when she chose too. But Molly also had her softer side. And while soft tissue isn’t as dense as muscle, Molly had a lot more soft parts than I did. We probably weighed about the same. Our hands and feet were the same size too. In fact, Molly’s feet were slightly longer than mine. I had very small feet now, for a guy. My new running shoes were size four and half, but only because I had tried them on wearing very thick, cushiony socks. The expensive leather sandals which Molly had insisted that I purchase – cheap rubber flip flops just wouldn’t do for going out to dinner with Molly -- were a size four. Only boy’s shoes come that small. I might even have been able to wear a three and half, except that the store was out of that size.

Enough about feet, however. Molly had always been an assertive lover; now she was a tigress, so turned on was she by my new size. At first she was downright rough. She left tooth marks! Under the soothing influence of the warm water, however, those nips and none too gentle pawings evolved into longer, slower caresses. Massaged by the shower jets, as well as by each other's hands, our bodies locked together as we explored each others mouths with our tongues. God, it was so much easier to kiss now that we were the same height! Almost the same height anyway. As we continued to hungrily explore each other’s lips and faces, I slid my hands over Molly’s shoulders – shoulders as wide as mine for all practical purposes – and down across the silky smooth skin of her back, moving gradually lower and lower until I was gently kneading the delicious firmness of her shapely bottom cheeks -- I could just mange to reach them although I had to stretch a bit -- while Molly did similar things to me. Molly paused for breath, and to comment teasingly that she had never felt a man’s hard-on so high up. As she gazed directly into my eyes – yes, directly; that fraction of an inch didn’t make her gaze any less direct – she reached around with her soapy hands and began to do things that made me gasp with pleasure. I was still a handful for her, but her hand around my inflamed member felt bigger and stronger and so, so good. The pleasure was almost unbearable.

But Molly wasn’t ready yet, and she was definitely the one in charge. I didn’t care. I was more than happy to surrender to her lead. She guided my hand around to her front to do a little advance preparation of my own, crying out ecstatically that my touch was so much more ‘delicate’ now that my fingers were smaller, no longer clumsy and thick. These things must be done delicately. NOW she was ready. Before, I would have had to bend my knees at an uncomfortable angle and almost squat to have sex with Molly standing up. Either that or lift Molly up in my arms and lower her onto me. Molly was small, but surprisingly solid, and although I was more than a foot taller and very fit, I wasn’t exactly muscle bound. The few times we had tried a standing position when I was six four I had remembered it in my back for several days. Now I entered her without painful bending, and without any strain. It was amazing! All I had to do was press my small hands against her deliciously wide bottom, lean against her with her luscious round breasts pushing into my chest, soft and firm at the same time, and pump up and down with my hips and thighs. Molly cried out, ‘yes, yes’, and ‘oh yes’, and as she approached orgasm she involuntarily arched her back and rose on her toes, pushing up with surprising strength against the downward pressure of my hands. I had no choice but to follow. I had to go up on my own toes in order to stay inside her. I climaxed a fraction of a second after she did and we slumped against each other spent, but elated, leaning on each other for support as we caught our breath.

Then it was on to the main course, this time in the big king bed. For two small people a king size bed is delightfully expansive, offering plenty of room for creative foreplay. Molly was as aggressive in bed as she had been in the shower. She no longer complained about my weight when I was on top. Instead she exclaimed:

“God Jake, you feel so good on top of me, so light.”

I may have felt good to her on top, but the next thing I knew I was being pulled and rolled until she was on top and I was the one underneath. Her weight pressed me into the softly yielding bed far more than it had done the last time we made love when I was still a little over five eight. Not too heavy, but I definitely knew she was there…in a very good way. From my reduced perspective Molly was more than an armful, and more than able to hold her own too. I decided that two could play at Molly’s little game. I reached around and used my shortened but still sufficient leverage to flip her in turn. It became something of a contest, but a delightful one. We kept rolling and twisting. One minute I was on top grinning triumphantly, the next minute underneath with Molly laughing down into my eyes. Then I would assert myself and roll on top again. In between all of that flipping about we were also stroking and teasing and coaxing each other into an ever greater state of arousal. On and on it went, until the bed sheets were a tangled mess and we were both sweaty and in need of another shower. Our mutual climax the second time was even more intense. And it came for each of us at exactly the same moment, equals in our playful little game of one-upmanship. It was only coincidence that Molly happened to finish on top.

It was the best sex I had ever had! If this was what my life was going to be like – at least my sex life – now that I was five foot two, I was more than happy to have sacrificed those fourteen inches. Experiencing this wildly passionate love making with my beautiful girlfriend – my beautiful BIG girlfriend – made it all worthwhile. I didn’t care if I had to shop in the boy’s department, or be looked down at, or be teased or even mocked for being a runt. These moments of ecstasy were worth every lost inch! As I lay in a pleasant post-coital haze on the rumpled bed with my arm stretched wide around Molly’s shoulders, her damp red hair tickling my cheek and her moist skin pressed warmly against me inch for inch all the way down to my toes, I gazed down the tunnel of years ahead and saw a long and very satisfying life. All of my previous doubts were gone, both about the shrinking, and about Molly. I was absolutely convinced now that Molly was the one for me. I decided right then and there that I was going to make an honest woman of her. I was going to propose. What more romantic place to propose marriage to your girl than Maui?

Despite what you may think, this decision was not entirely spontaneous. I had been thinking hard about our relationship during the two short weeks since it had been so wonderfully repaired. I didn’t want to risk loosing Molly again. Now that I had sacrificed my height for her I wanted something in return. I wanted commitment. I wanted security. And yes, I wanted hot, wet, passionate sex for the rest of my life, or until I was too old and feeble to perform anymore, and even then, I wanted to savor the memory of it.

I had come prepared in case the moment felt right. Carefully zippered into an inside pouch of my carry-on backpack was a small black box. The box contained my grandmother’s diamond ring, the one my grandmother had given to me after Granddad had passed away and after Gran had learned that she herself had only months to live, diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Gran had wanted me to give it to my future bride. At just under a carat it wasn’t a large stone. Like me, my grandfather had been a young man starting out when he proposed, and he had practically mortgaged his soul to buy that ring for my grandmother, the love of his life. But neither was it anything to sneeze at, and measured by sentimental value, it was priceless. The ring itself would be too big for Molly’s smaller hand – too big for my hand for that matter – but we could always have it re-sized when we got back to LA. Now all I had to do was figure out the precise where, when and how for springing my little surprise.

Chapter 9 – Counting Down to the Big Event.

I woke up early on Sunday, still on California time and feeling very…replete. After our late afternoon ‘nap’, we had decided to stay in for dinner. Molly had been to the market that morning and had planned the menu. I did the cooking, of course. I enjoy cooking and I’m pretty good at it, having learned from my mother. Molly can’t even boil an egg. While I prepared the meal Molly sat on a bar stool and watched, ‘enjoying the view’ she said. She derived particular enjoyment from the sight of me standing on a chair, which I needed in order to retrieve a seldom used platter from the top shelf in the cupboard. She also ‘enjoyed’ the fact that I had to stretch to reach the wine glasses on the next shelf down. I didn’t mind, though. It was all in good fun. I was still in a glow from our…nap. My well cooked dinner was followed by an even better desert, and I don’t mean the edible kind. Is it any wonder that we both fell into an exhausted, but very contented sleep not long after the final course?

Molly is not a morning person. She was still out cold when I woke up, snoring softly – one of her many little endearing traits. I didn’t want to disturb her so I managed to find my new running shoes, sports shorts and a pair of briefs without opening the blinds. I tiptoeing into the bathroom and closed the door softly before switching on the light. Before leaving for my run I paused for a moment in front of the bathroom mirror to examine my reflection. I still wasn’t used to seeing my face so low down. But it was the same familiar face. Well, maybe my jaw was a tad less… square, and perhaps my chin was a little smaller, but then my whole face was smaller. I wasn’t any more boyish looking. Not really. My eyes only looked bigger and my features less…angular because my head was smaller. Putting those thoughts aside, I ran my hand lightly over my cheeks and jaw and decided that I could skip shaving that day. Then I reached up to finger comb my hair. Doc Johnston was wrong. My hair was not curlier. It just looked that way because it was still rumpled from the pillow, and because I needed a haircut. I was still the same old Jake Stratton, only now in the new pocket size version instead of the giant economy size.

It was a glorious morning, full of bird song and the salty tang of the ocean, and with a few fluffy white clouds to accent the deep blue of the sky. The air was like candy. I wasn’t the only early riser lured outside for a morning jog. In fact, there were quite a few runners out and about. So what if the other joggers I passed were all taller then me? Get used to it Stratton, you’re in the bottom one percent now. I wasn’t going to let it spoil my day. In fact, I made a point of smiling and nodding a greeting to everyone I passed, even when I had to look way up to catch their eye as I did with almost all of the men and more than a few of the women. I was pleased to see that I still had the old Jake Stratton charm, too. Every last woman I passed smiled back at me. So what if some of the taller women had ‘that look’ as they smiled down at me; the one I was becoming familiar with; the one that seemed to say “oh how cute”. At least they smiled.

By the time I arrived back at the condo Molly was up. She had even made coffee. I poured myself a cup – I didn’t have to stretch to reach the mugs, which were on the lowest shelf – and went to join her on the lanai. Molly rose from her deck chair to greet me with a good morning kiss.

“Umm, you taste salty,” she purred. “But I’m not sure I like the idea of you running around outside without a shirt, and without me to protect you. Too tempting. A tender little morsel like you -- some big, hungry, scary woman might snatch you up in her talons and carry you off to her nest.”

“Very funny.” I replied as we both sat down. “I may be small, but I proved last night that this ‘tender little morsel’ can stand up tall where it counts and more than hold up his end.”

I was pleased to see before we took out seats that standing up Molly and I were once again exactly on a level. I must have been imagining things in the shower the previous afternoon. Then I noticed that Molly was barefoot, and remembered that I was wearing thick soled running shoes. Okay, so that was a little…deflating. It wasn’t just speculation anymore. I was shorter than Molly. So what? Lots of men are shorter than their girlfriends or wives -- some by more than a little. I wasn’t shorter by much. The height difference between Molly and me was practically nothing; so small that Molly didn’t even notice. I wasn’t going to let that minor difference puncture my wonderful mood any more than seeing ‘that look’ on the faces of those tall female joggers. It just wasn’t a big deal. And as if to prove my point, the subject – our relative heights – didn’t come up at all that day. There were plenty of ‘short jokes’, but no ‘shorter jokes’. Of course, when we weren’t playing in the surf we spent most of the day horizontal, so there also weren’t that many opportunities to compare our heights.

Some of that horizontal time we actually spent outdoors, working on our tans. I tan easily and rarely burn, although I do use a light sun block just to be safe. I especially enjoyed rubbing sun block lightly all over Molly. Now that my arms were shorter and my hands were so much smaller there seemed to be a whole lot more of her to cover. While I hadn’t been out in the sun much lately – too busy with work – I was pleased to see that by the end of the afternoon I was already darker than Molly. She teased me about my tan lines as we were changing for dinner. One tease led to another, but we still managed to be only half an hour late for our dinner reservation. We had a delightful dinner, followed by desert, and an even more delightful ‘second desert’ back at the condo. Another very satisfying meal!

The following day, Monday, was much like Sunday, once again a busy day full of more playtime in the surf -- and playtime in bed. The subject of my height didn’t come up on Monday either. A nagging little voice at the back of my head whispered that perhaps Molly seemed ever so slightly taller than she had the day before. But I quickly managed to suppress it. It wasn’t like I was trying to avoid standing next to her. Not really.

Tuesday I didn’t have to avoid anything, since we spent most of the day in the car. We had decided to get all of our touring done in one day in order to minimize the impact on our…down time. We set our alarm for an ungodly hour – the middle of the night according to my grumpy and barely awake girlfriend – and made the long drive to the summit of Haleakala, arriving just in time to watch a glorious sunrise as we huddled together under a blanket against the high altitude chill. We were too sleepy, and too cold, to pay attention to a little thing like which one of us was taller. After watching the sunrise we drove back down the long switchback road to a lower and blessedly warmer elevation, and then made the longer and even curvier drive to Hana…and back again. The scenery along the Hana Highway is justifiably famous. The narrow road winds in and out of jungled gorges and across even narrower bridges, with alternating glimpses of spectacular waterfalls and deep blue sea, and more shades of green than you ever thought possible. But it’s a long road, and a slow one. Once you’ve stopped three or four times to get out of the car and take pictures, by the fifth or sixth waterfall all you do is slow down. By the tenth waterfall you don’t even slow down anymore.

We took turns behind the wheel so that each of us could have a break to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. It was nice not having to spend minutes fiddling with the seat and mirrors each time we switched places. Before I would have had to bend down and move the seat back before I could even climb into the car. I was too big to squeeze between the steering wheel and the seat when it was far enough up and forward to accommodate Molly. Now we drove with the seat in the same position and I was able to hop right in when we switched. On the last leg it was my turn again to drive. Molly must have moved the seat slightly when she got out of the car because it was almost too far back. I waited until she was looking the other way, then nudged the power-seat toggle forward a little. I wasn’t trying to hide anything. I just didn’t want to give Molly another opportunity to tease me about being short. Once I had the seat properly adjusted I put it out of my mind.

We stopped on the way home to pick up carry-out from a Chinese restaurant in Lahaina, and then sat on the lanai eating out of cartons and drinking wine as we watched the sun vanish into the ocean beyond Molokai, waiting for the green flash. Then we turned in. We were sufficiently tired from our early morning departure and all day drive that we only made love once before calling it a night. We had spent nearly the entire day sitting or lying down, with even fewer opportunities to compare height than the day before.

Wednesday, however, was the dawn of a new day, and a different story. I had gotten up before Molly again to go running, and this time I noticed that my new shoes felt a bit loose. They were sliding against my heals; not enough to raise blisters, but enough to throw me off my stride a little. When I joined Molly in the bedroom after my shower where she was fastening her bikini top, she looked at me oddly. Then she put voice to the suspicion that I had been working so hard to ignore for the last two days:

“Jake, you look…different. Come over here baby and stand in front of me will you?”

I did as she had requested…reluctantly.

“Hon, are you slouching?”

“No, I’m as straight as I can go,” I replied glumly.

Molly didn’t need to say anything more. We could both see it. I was looking up into her eyes, and she was looking down into mine. It wasn’t a big difference, but it was a bigger difference than it had been on Sunday. We found a tape measure in a drawer in the kitchen. As I stood with my back against the wall – standing as tall was I could – Molly made a pencil mark level with the top of my head. I couldn’t help noticing that she drew the mark quite easily while remaining flat footed. Then, while I held the end of the tape measure down at the floor, Molly slowly unwound the tape upward until it was even with the mark on the wall. She stood there in silence looking at the results until I finally asked,

“Well? What’s the damage?” I was afraid to hear the answer, but I needed to know.

“Five foot…one” was Molly’s slow reply. I could tell by her voice that she wasn’t being entirely truthful – to be specific, that she was stretching the truth a bit.

“Give it to me straight. I’m big enough to take it.” I tried for a glib tone, but under the circumstances my little attempt at humor fell a bit flat.

“Ok, you asked for it. You’re a quarter inch over five feet,” was Molly’s brutal reply.

Damn! Down another inch and a three quarters. That was two full inches since Doc Johnston had told me I might shrink “a centimeter or two” -- 2.35 inches to be exact, although I felt justified in rounding down given our less accurate measuring method. As an architect, I’m familiar with metric conversions. Two inches equals five centimeters, near enough, which was a lot more than ‘a centimeter or two’. I told Molly what Doc Johnston had said, but without quoting her precise words. I told her that the doctor had said I might shrink a “little more”. Molly suggested that we call Dr. Johnston. As a close family friend, and a Parker, Molly was able to get past Dr. Johnston’s officious office assistant on the first try. After a few pleasantries she handed the phone over to me. Once I had explained the facts to Dr. Johnston, she asked me a few questions. She sounded professionally interested and mildly concerned, but did not seem overly worried. She asked me if I was exhibiting any other symptoms. I told her that I felt fine, “tip top” in fact. I cocked an eyebrow and winked across at Molly as I said that, trying to lighten things up and pleased with my little joke.

“Well, that’s…positive” the doctor drawled in her wonderfully husky voice.

Was that a hint of a smile in her voice? Had she understood my double entendre? I had forgotten for a moment just how smart Doc Johnston was. She hadn’t earned those multiple advanced degrees for nothing. Awkward!

The doctor continued in a brisker tone -- though still just as husky -- “I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about, Jake. You’re more sensitive to Shrinkx2.3 than our other test subjects, that’s all. The drug should be fully metabolized by now. I doubt if you’ll shrink any further. Just to be on the safe side however,” – she was practicing defensive medicine, no doubt – “I’ll talk it over with my research staff. I think there may be something we can do to stiffen you up and boost your natural immunity.”

Damn, there was definitely a slight emphasis on the words ‘stiffen’ and ‘boost’. She had understood me. For once, however, she had referred to me as a ‘test subject’ instead of a ‘guinea pig’. I was grateful for that much. Dr. Johnston added that I should report back to her if my ‘little problem’ continued, but that otherwise I should relax and enjoy myself. She didn’t expect to hear from me, she said.

‘Little problem’? I wasn’t having a ‘little problem’. I was shrinking! There was nothing little about that. And as for those double entendres of the doctor’s own, there was nothing little about my other…parts either. I was a nice, regular manly size. Extra regular! And I didn’t need any help stiffening up.

Dr. Johnston ended on a cheerful note:

“Now, I’m sure an energetic young man like you has better things to do than chat with an old woman on the phone. Run along and play with Molly, dear. I’m sure she’ll appreciate that ‘tip top’ condition you’re in even more than I do.”

I heard Doc Johnston’s rich, sultry laugh just before the line went dead, and felt myself blushing. Once again, she had gotten me.

“Are you OK, Jake? You look a little flushed. What did she say?”

I assured Molly that I was fine -- that the doctor had said that I was unlikely to shrink further. I left out the part about ‘boosts’ and ‘stiffening up’. Molly listened, and no longer seemed alarmed. If anything, she seemed almost…disappointed. If I hadn’t known better, I might have wondered whether Molly wanted me to keep shrinking. That was ridiculous, of course.

Reassured by the doctor’s jocular tone, I did manage to relax and enjoy the day. Molly enjoyed it too… very much. She checked regularly to make sure that I was ‘stiffened up’ and in ‘tip top’ condition. She exhibited a particular desire that day, almost an obsession, for repeating our shower experience from Saturday, making love in the shower stall standing up. She kept me on my toes for most of the morning, and again after a short trip to the beach, for much of the afternoon. We ran out of hot water in the hot water tank on four separate occasions. Not very green of us, I know, but we sure had fun. In between our…showers, Molly also had fun teasing me verbally, calling me ‘shorty’ and ‘little man’. That was uncalled for. An inch and three quarters is hardly significant. Sure I had to look up slightly to meet her gaze when we stood toe to toe, but from just a few feet away we were basically on a level. And it wasn’t like I had to stretch when we kissed or anything. Our height difference was noticeable mostly because Molly insisted that we spend so much time in the shower, standing chest to breast. When I managed to get Molly horizontal it wasn’t noticeable at all.

Molly measured me again Thursday morning. I was exactly five feet high. Well, not exactly. Molly said I measured 59.75 inches, but that’s almost five feet. Close enough. I was surprised given what Dr. Johnston had said, but not alarmed, especially considering how much I had shrunk already. Later while we were eating a light lunch I called the doctor to report, as she had requested, expecting the conversation to be much like the one the day before. But this time Dr. Johnston didn’t make any jokes. And she didn’t sound quite so reassuring. To me half an inch didn’t seem like much. I was already so short, what difference did it make if I was 59.75 inches instead of 60.25? Either way it still rounded to five feet. But the doctor kept asking whether I was sure that we had measured correctly. I was. Molly had measured me twice. She seemed to enjoy measuring me -- while she had the tape measure in her hand she had measured other parts of me too. But I wasn’t about to tell that to Dr. Johnston.

Before the doctor ended the call she explained that she had spoken to her research staff. They were working on an immunity enhancing formula which, they were certain, would stop any further ‘reduction’. She asked me when I was due back. I told her Wednesday. She suggested – it was merely a suggestion of course – that if possible I might want to cut my trip short and get back to California by Monday.

“I don’t want to spoil your fun young man, but I really would like to see you sooner than Wednesday. All quite routine of course -- nothing to trouble your pretty little head about. It’s just that we expect to have your booster shot ready first thing Monday. In fact, I’ve ordered my staff to work though the weekend to make sure it's ready. I wouldn’t want their efforts to go unappreciated. I understand you’re coming back with Walter, on the company plane. Under the circumstances I’m sure he won't mind cutting his golf outing short. I’ll go ahead and call him for you, shall I?”

The telephone rang a few minutes after I hung up with Dr. Johnston. It was Molly’s dad. He was due to arrive on Maui late the following morning Hawaii time, and had originally planned to return to LA Tuesday morning, with the two of us hitching a ride on the jet. He readily agreed to wrap up his meetings over the weekend and fly back with us Sunday afternoon instead, generous as always. I really liked Molly’s dad. His daughter had inherited his generous spirit, I was confident of it. In Molly it was just more difficult to see sometimes.

While we waited for our ride home on Sunday, there was really nothing we could do about my continuing shrinkage. I probably wouldn’t shrink much more in any case. It had to stop soon. We both agreed that we might as well make the most of our remaining vacation. Besides, I had big plans for the evening. I had figured out the ‘where’ and ‘when’ for popping my little question. Tonight would be the big event. Looking ahead to the exciting evening to come I even managed to forget that I was no longer at the bottom of the height chart, I was off the chart completely.

***

One of my favorite memories from my previous trip to Hawaii with my family had been attending a luau dinner and show at the Old-time Maui Luau, said to be the best and most authentic of the many luaus presented to tourists on the Island. The lovely and romantic open-air, ocean-front setting where the luau was held would be the perfect place to make my proposal. I recalled that a couple had gotten hitched there the night my family attended. But when I first suggested the luau to Molly she turned up her nose.

“Jake, those luaus are all fake, and the food is terrible. I don’t want to waste my evening sitting at a long table with a bunch of strangers eating bad buffet food. That’s what the package tourists do.”

Those pesky package tourists again. I reminded Molly that the after dinner show included lots of bare chested men in skimpy loan wraps beating drums and prancing about.

“And lets not forget all of those nubile young maidens in grass skirts” Molly had fired back. But she seemed to be softening.

I worked on her for several days, and on Tuesday, while we were driving in the car, she finally relented and admitted that the she wouldn’t mind seeing the show. I used my cell phone to call for reservations right then and there, before she could change her mind. But Molly’s capitulation came with a price – she always extracted a price. I was going to have to wear those damn capri pants. I realized it was the price I would have to pay in order to bring my little plan to fruition. Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on the fact that by Thursday evening, those capri pants, which had been just comfortably loose when I was five two, would be almost too big for me– verging on high-water instead of capri – and baggy. I had clearly lost more weight along with those additional inches. There was no scale at the condo, but I could guess. I had to be under a hundred pounds, lighter than Molly. A “98 lbs weakling” to quote the pejorative made famous by Charles Atlas -- or maybe a 95 lbs weakling. Molly thought it was hilarious that my pants were too big. She especially got a charge out of the way I had to tighten my new belt, acquired the previous Saturday from the boy’s department at Liberty House, to its smallest hole.

To add insult to injury, Molly chose the occasion for the maiden voyage of a new pair of shoes. Previously she had worn her flat soled Italian sandals when we went out to dinner. As someone recently admitted to the short guys' club, I had discovered a new appreciation for flat shoes on a woman. But Molly said that for something as SPECIAL as a luau, she needed special shoes. Her sandals looked expensive, but these new shoes were astronomically expensive – I had seen the price tag – especially considering that they seemed to be more air than shoe. They were little more than a few straps and some heels -- heels which were as astronomically high as the price tag. Those spike heels added more than four inches to Molly’s height, pushing her up past five foot six. As she so kindly pointed out, in her new shoes she was tall enough to see over the top of my head. And that was despite the fact, as she additionally pointed out, that while my head was below five feet, my “boyish mop”, as she put it, stuck up a little higher.

I did have to admit, however, that Molly looked really hot in her form fitting spaghetti strap mini dress and those height enhancing shoes. Really hot! And really tall! While Molly could see over my head, I had to lift my chin a bit just to see over her shoulder. I was proud to be escorting such a sexy looking babe, however, even if she was a lot taller than me. As I gently steered my tall, sexy woman out the door of the condo with a hand placed lightly at her waist, Molly looked down at me and asked in a sweetly innocent tone whether I would like her to drive. She was concerned that I might have difficulty reaching the pedals, she said. I drew up to my full five feet – I was still five feet tall in my leather sandals not even counting the hair, or close enough anyway; I had checked -- and assured her that I was more than able to step on the gas. Then it was off to the show, with my grandmother’s ring burning a hole in the pocket of my too big capri pants.

***

We arrived at the luau grounds a few minutes early, so we had to wait for the gates to open with the rest of the early arrivals off the tour buses. As we waited we examined the posters hung outside showing some of the delights that we were about to experience. Okay, so maybe there is some justification for Molly’s opinion of luaus. They can be a little hokey, and yes, they do serve buffet food. But the after dinner shows full of nubile, scantily clad maidens and handsome warriors are wild and fun. You just have to get into the spirit. Who cares that the average Polynesian village of ancient times may not have been quite so overflowing with slender young maidens – all with long hair hanging to their shapely bottoms, sporting fake sharks’ tooth necklaces and uncomfortable looking clam shell bras, and with little swatches of colorful print fabric the size of a handkerchief tied around their hips, no doubt imported from China by canoe. And maybe those bare chested Polynesian warriors weren’t quite so body sculpted, and couldn’t really dance like they’d all done time in Vegas.

But then, perhaps the South Seas fantasy of the luau wasn’t all that far from the truth either. According to accounts of the early European explorers, such as the redoubtable Captain Cook, Polynesia was paradise; the people all tall, strong and remarkably handsome. They went about wearing little clothing, and they were very generous with their favors. On the other hand, it didn’t take much to impress a European of that era. The average eighteenth century British sailor was stunted from poor diet (as opposed to stunted from foolishly submitting to be a guinea pig for a shrinking drug), had bad teeth, pockmarked skin and a distinctive…odor. According to the Polynesians, who liked to bathe, those doughty Western explorers with their only passing familiarity with bath water were really, really ripe. And yes, I’ll grant that Captain Cook’s cross-cultural explorations with the Hawaiians ended badly, with the great Cook himself providing the main course for a luau buffet, stuffed into the cooking pit in place of the roast pig. So perhaps those early accounts were tinted a bit rose. But the luau shows derived from the sanitized histories were still good, clean, honest fun; suitable entertainment for the whole family, but with more than enough skin to titillate the grownups – something for everyone.

I was looking forward to a little titillation, but mostly, I was looking forward to seeing the look on Molly’s face when I asked her to marry me. I did not have any doubts as to her answer. If I had, I wouldn’t have chosen such a public forum. And I wasn’t being cocky or over confident. I loved Molly, and I was sure that she loved me. What’s more, I had sacrificed my height for her. How could she say no to a suitor who had turned himself into a five foot nothing slip of a man just for her. While Molly visited the ‘powder room’ I took the opportunity to seek out the luau’s hostess. I intended to enlist her aid in surprising Molly with my grandmother’s ring. I hoped to have one of the servers bring it to Molly on a covered silver platter. Once Molly lifted the lid, I would fall on one knee and pledge my troth. I would have liked the whole world to witness Molly's acceptance of my proposal, but a luau full of tourists, package or otherwise, would do quite nicely.

On my quest to find the hostess I encountered some unexpected difficulty navigating though the crowd. There were too many people milling about, and they were all much too tall; taller than they had any right to be – tall and more than a little wide, many of them. Why couldn’t they all just take their seats? It was worse than navigating down the airport concourse when I was five foot two. At least at the airport everyone was moving. Here they were just standing around, gawking at the half clothed dancers who were circulating through the crowd, gabbling to each other, and sipping from their umbrella drinks. It’s a good thing I’m not claustrophobic. I had to stay alert for openings ahead and then quickly squirm my way though before the gaps closed up again. More than a few people looked down at me with surprised expressions as I wormed my way under their gesticulating arms. What was a man doing way down there? Or worse, maybe they thought I was a kid not minding where he was going and being rude. I tried to apologize whenever I trod on a toe, or jostled a drink -- or brushed up against a part of someone that I shouldn’t have been brushing. I couldn’t help it though.

The hostess, when I finally found her, could have been the model for the painting of the handsome Hawaiian lady on the wall back at the Parker’s condo, right down to the muumuu and the straw hat. Maybe she had been the model. Except that the figure in the painting had been seated, instead of looming over me the way this woman did. The word that sprang to mind upon meeting her was…’stately’, not to mention ‘statuesque’, or perhaps ‘monumental’. She had the same presence and dignified air as the black and white photos I had seen of 19th century Hawaiian royalty. I had read in a book which I found on the coffee table at the condo – a pictorial history of Hawaii – that the Hawaiian royal family were sizable people. King Kamehameha the Great was said to be close to seven feet tall and Princess Ruth, one of his descendants, was six foot three and weighed 440 lbs. The hostess was a sylph compared to Princess Ruth, but she was still a big woman, nearly a foot taller than me and at least double my mass. Her prow was even more impressive than Dr. Johnston’s…and I was seeing it from even lower down. She overshadowed me. Looking up at her made my neck ache. But despite the fact that she made me feel so small, I liked her instantly. She had kind eyes, a warm smile and a motherly demeanor. Maybe too motherly, because after she generously agreed to act as my accomplice, her next words were:

“My but you young love birds seem to get younger and younger every year. Just how old are you dear, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Twenty six” I replied. Looking up at the doubtful smile on her face I added quickly, “almost 27.”

The ‘almost’ was a bit of an exaggeration. My birthday was not for another five and half months – five months, three weeks and six days, if you must know. But when you’re not quite five feet tall and look young for your age, it’s okay to cheat. The hostess wasn’t buying it, however.

“Of course you are, sweetie, and I’m still 29.” She chuckled conspiratorially as she said this. And yes, she actually called me ‘sweetie'. “You might possibly be 21 though, I suppose,” she continued. Her smile said that even that was in doubt. “Let’s just assume that you’re legal, shall we? That way I won’t need to check with your parents first. Now then young man, you need to scamper back to your pretty lady – Molly was it? -- before she wonders whether you’ve gotten lost…or been kidnapped. Run along dear, and don’t worry about a thing. Just leave the details to me. I promise I’ll take good care of your grandmother’s precious ring.” She had already given me a receipt, written on a cocktail napkin, and as she said this she reached up to tuck my little ring in a safe place – a warm and very capacious safe place.

I had explained about the ring when I first approached the hostess to ask my favor. As she listened to my tale her eyes had seemed to go a little misty way up there. For a moment I had feared that I was about to be rained on. Her warm hearted reaction didn’t’ surprise me, however. I got misty eyed too when I thought about my grandmother and what this ring had meant to her -- even an emotionally inhibited WASP like me. But now the hostess did something that I wasn’t expecting, and which left me momentarily speechless. She bent down – way down – and planted a motherly kiss on my cheek. Then came the truly unexpected part. Straightening up to her full monumental height and taking me gently by the shoulders, she turned me in the direction of the tables and gave me a little pat to send me on my way. Way too motherly. She made me feel like a little boy -- very young, and very small.

People don’t realize what an acute sense of hearing I have. As I pulled away under my own power after being launched by the big woman, I overheard her murmur an aside to one of her staff, a somewhat younger woman but one nearly as tall, who had come up to stand beside the hostess during our conversation:

“Such a sweet boy. And so handsome – did you see those big blue eyes under that mop of curls? Just adorable! But he’s so tiny. Maybe that’s why he lied about his age – compensating. It was cute of him, but if that child is a day over nineteen I’ll eat my hat, and a late bloomer at that. He doesn’t look full grown. It was obvious that someone has picked out his clothes to leave some growing room. I doubt if he even shaves.”

Doesn’t look full grown! Okay, so maybe I was on the short side of ‘full grown’, and yes, my clothes did have growing room. And yes, I was in fact growing. But I was growing down instead of up. The woman couldn’t know that, however – who would ever guess? People don’t shrink, at least not young men in their prime, or late blooming nineteen year olds for that matter, not without a dose of that damn Shrinkx2.3. And how could she doubt that I shaved? I had shaved that afternoon as I was getting ready for the luau! So what if it was my first shave in …was it really four days? Looking back now I recalled that my last shave before today had been on Monday. I hadn’t realized that I had gone so long. I hadn’t thought about it – too busy with more important matters. But I had definitely needed a shave today. Molly had teased me when she saw me lathering up, something unoriginal about cats and cream, and licking it off – a joke which I had heard more than a few times from my big sister Stacie back when I was a teenager. Okay, so I didn’t have a visible beard shadow. I could feel some stubble when I rubbed my chin and upper lip, at least a little, even if my cheeks felt smooth.

***

Despite my hackles being raised by the hostess’ belittling comments about my…youthful appearance – a complete exaggeration – true to her word, the plan went off without a hitch. The silver salver arrived while we were enjoying our after dinner drinks, born by one of the handsome half-naked male dancers. I would have preferred one of the female dancers – this guy was a little too visibly male – but I wasn’t going to quibble over small details like that. Molly was suitably surprised, and excited. But when she lifted the lid and saw the ring it almost appeared for a moment that she was…disappointed. I jumped in quickly with my prepared speech, explaining that it was grandmother’s ring, and how much it meant to me to be able to offer it to her. Molly brightened up at my words, and when I went down on my knee – I didn’t have very far to go – I was delighted to see as I gazed intently up into her eyes that they were welling with tears -- tears of joy.

“Molly Parker, you are the most beautiful woman in the world and I love you with all my heart. Would you please do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

Molly didn’t hesitate. “Yes Jake, my darling little man, I will marry you. Yes, yes, yes!”

As Molly threw her arms around my neck the people at the tables around us broke out in murmurs and scattered applause. I overheard a woman behind us sigh to her companion: “Look at those cute kids Charlie, isn’t that sweet. Who says romance is dead?” I could have done without the “cute kids” part, but I was delighted that the woman had pronounced my proposal romantic. I had hoped to score points for romance. I had every intention of redeeming those points later, back at the condo. Molly seemed suitably impressed by my method too. She was laughing and crying all at the same time, blotting her eyes with her napkin and trying to keep her makeup from running. It made me feel even happier to know that I had succeeded in pleasing her.

On every parade a little rain must fall, however. As I was getting up off my knees I happened to overhear another comment, one that managed to deflate my happy little balloon somewhat. I saw the big guy sitting across the table from us lean over to his date and heard him whisper smugly, “I guess she must like it small -- can’t imagine why,” then he glanced down meaningfully in the direction of his lap. It seemed a poor attempt at humor to me – a very small joke. But his date, a peroxided blond in an exceptionally low cut top, seemed to think the big jerk was hilarious. She shook so hard with suppressed laughter that what little of her boobs remained to be exposed threatened to pop right out. The guy was big, over six feet tall, and not bad looking in a conventional sort of way, but he had a pouty mouth…and a wandering eye. I had seen him eyeing Molly earlier in the buffet line while the blond concentrated on filling her plate – she looked like she enjoyed her food. I noted now with some satisfaction that even though the jerk wasn’t much older than me – late twenties, thirty at most – his hair was already receding and he had the beginnings of a beer belly. He looked like he might have played football in high school, but that the bulk which had once been muscle was beginning to soften up. The bovine blond draped across Joe Sixpack’s arm and giggling so hard at his lame little joke was wearing too much eye shadow. And those jiggling boobs of hers were much too big to be real – a whole lot of silicone in there, I was sure. Package tourists!

But now it was time to turn our chairs toward the stage, and, happily, away from the amateur comedian and his bottle blond across the table. The stately hostess came forward to greet the audience and to do her warm-up for the performers. She welcomed us to ‘our island paradise’ and told us how delighted she was on behalf of the cast and staff of the Old-time Maui Luau to be able to share with us ‘the spirit of aloha’ and some of ‘our unique cultural heritage’. The introduction was just as I remembered it from my visit with my family years before. The next bit came as a surprise, however.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, before we begin our performance this evening, I have a little announcement that I would like to share with you. As one of the most romantic venues in all of Hawaii, we here at the Old-time Maui Luau are always delighted when young couples choose to begin their lives together right here on our beautiful grounds. Tonight, we have in our audience a very handsome young man from California who has just asked a very lovely young lady to be his bride. And I want you other ladies to know that the young man proposed using his grandmother’s wedding ring. Isn’t that special? The young lady said yes, of course. How could she say no to his grandmother’s ring?” The hostess paused for appreciative laughter from the audience, then after a suitable moment continued, looking straight at us this time, “Molly and Jake, please come up and join me on stage for a warm Hawaiian style congratulations.”

The audience applauded enthusiastically, made louder and more enthusiastic no doubt by the Mai Ties that had continued to flow freely all though dinner. Even though I had chosen a public forum to propose, I am not by nature an exhibitionist. I certainly hadn’t planned on this. I could feel all of those eyes boring in on me as we made our way forward hand in hand, with me trailing Molly slightly where the spaces between the tables narrowed. Molly seemed completely at ease. She bestowed her brilliant smile indiscriminately on the people we passed, the picture of glowing happiness, clearly basking in the attention that was being focused on us. But overhearing that snide comment form the big balding jerk across the table had soured the evening just a little for me, and planted a few insecurities. Sharp ears can be a curse. What were all of these people thinking behind their applause, I wondered. Were there others in the audience whispering about how “small” I was? I was suddenly acutely conscious of just how much taller Molly stood in her tall shoes, and how much taller still the towering hostess was as we climbed the steps to join her. I was acutely conscious as well of the fact that I was wearing those decidedly unmanly capri pants, and that despite the belt I had on, I had to keep reaching down to tug them up.

When we reached the stage the hostess greeted us each with a hug and a kiss. Did I detect a little snickering from the audience at how far she had to lean down when it was my turn. Then two of the cast members, a young man and woman, came out from backstage, carrying flower leis, to congratulate us in traditional Hawaiian style. Although I felt very self-conscious, not to mention smothered by the wide leis – why did they have to pile on so many? – I appreciated the gesture. I also appreciated the kisses bestowed on both of my cheeks by the nubile, scantily clad female dancer. In addition to being nubile and scantily clad, she was also quite tall. When she bent over to place the flowers around my neck it almost took my breath away. For all of you who may be wondering, I can now definitively report that while the shark’s teeth may be fake, those clam shells are very real. So is what’s behind them.

I didn’t appreciate quite as much, however, the way the big male dancer seemed to linger in bestowing his similar congratulations on Molly. Its not that Molly was encouraging him. Not at all. She was just being friendly. If I were the suspicious type, which I’m not, I might have paused to wonder whether the hostess had chosen these two particular cast members just for their contrasting effect – specifically, their contrast to little me. The female dancer was as tall as the hostess in her bare feet, but the gigantic male dancer topped both of them by a head. He could have used the top of my head as an armrest. And while the lithe, leggy young woman was absolutely lovely – more than lovely, breathtaking in fact, especially when she was leaning over – the big bare chested brute with the tattoos was entirely too big, and had way too much muscle.

After our Hawaiian greeting by the two dancers, the hostess continued her riff:

“Folks, young Jake here proves that little guys really can come out winners. Look at what a lovely prize he just won. You know what they say, good things come in small packages.” Lot’s of raucous laughter at that. The hostess smiled down at me benignly as she paused for the laughter to die down, then slipped it right between my ribs: “Ladies, isn’t he just too cute for words? For those of you at the tables further back, our little Jake here has the bluest blue eyes I have ever seen. But please don’t rush the stage ladies. I hear he’s taken.” After a pause for more appreciative laughter from the audience she wrapped it up. “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for these two adorable little lovebirds, Molly and Jake. Please give them a great big hand.”

Why did I ever think of the hostess as motherly? A mother would never embarrass her son in such a public way. As Molly and I returned to our seats I felt even more conspicuously small than when we were walking up to the stage. I noticed that Molly seemed a little put out as well. She was still beaming, but knowing her as well as I did I could tell that her wide smile was a bit fixed. She was bothered by something. Is it possible that she was bent out of shape because the Hostess’s conversation with the audience had been more about me than her? I would gladly have traded places with Molly as the recipient of the hostess’…gentle humor. But no, my Molly wasn’t like that. She was more likely irritated on my behalf. It was one thing for Molly to tease me – she was quite free about that. But maybe she didn’t like seeing her fianc?e teased in front of an audience.

Whatever the reasons for her pique, as we watched the performance from the relative anonymity of our seats Molly relaxed. By the third number – one featuring the male members of the cast and some very big drums -- Molly really seemed to be enjoying the show. By the time the show was over she had clearly forgotten all about whatever had been bothering her before. After the fire dance at the end, performed by the same big brute who had placed the leis around Molly’s neck, she jumped to her feet and whistled. She wasn’t alone. So did quite a few of the other women in the audience, and here and there a few men too, mostly men in pairs. The rest of us men – the ones seated boy girl -- stayed firmly planted in our chairs until the female dancers joined big-guy on the stage. Then we all jumped up. Unfortunately, I only caught a brief glimpse of the ladies taking their bows. Once everyone rose to their feet I couldn’t see a thing.

***

Our lovemaking that night – our last night in the big king bed – was better than ever, but less frenetic; more leisurely. Standing at the foot of the bed we took our time undressing each other, trading turns with a button, zipper or snap, and with plenty of stroking and gentle rubbings in between. Molly kept her tall shoes on until the very last. According to her I was even cuter viewed from above. The fact that I had to stretch up as high as I could on my toes to meet her lips made her giggle – she was a little tipsy. Molly kept demanding that I kiss her as she held her head up straight and refused to help by bending down.

The view from my angle wasn’t bad either. Not bad at all. Standing up close and personal to a gorgeous redhead, wearing nothing but skin and a pair of high heels, and towering seven feet tall, was freaking hot – every man’s fantasy! Molly wasn’t seven feet tall of course. But seven feet is how tall she would have been if I were still six four – as an architect I’m good at calculating proportions too. My eyes were level with the little hollow at the base of Molly's collar bone and the nipples of her lush, rounded breasts tickled the skin at the upper end of my chest not far below my own collar bone. Those breasts seemed even fuller now with their tops rising almost to my chin. If Molly had been just a few inches taller I could have rested my head on those soft, warm pillows without even bending. It was a good thing Molly didn't demand that we make love standing up with those shoes on. Even in my 'tip top' condition I doubt if I could have reached high enough to make it all the way.

Once we were finally horizontal, however, I forgot all about who was taller, at least from head to toe. It did occur to me for just a moment that perhaps it was taking a bit more effort on my part to flip Molly over. My arms and legs had grown slightly shorter, reducing my leverage I suppose, and Molly seemed slightly wider and correspondingly a bit heavier when she was on top. But I soon put it out of my mind; or rather those thoughts were quickly crowded out by the waves of pleasure that soon followed. I managed to rise to the surface often enough -- once I even felt myself rising into the air as Molly’s back arched beneath me like a bucking bronco. We even ended the evening with me on top and Molly underneath, which was new. Molly said I felt good on top, warm and nicely weighted, like a comforter. Molly felt good underneath too, soft and squishy and firm all at the same time. As Goldilocks put it when she finally tried the last bed in the three bears’ cottage, the one belonging to Baby Bear, Molly felt “just right”. I guess I was Baby Bear now, only without the fur, and the extra padding, but that was okay. As I snuggled down on top of Molly I decided that I liked being four feet eleven and three quarters, and something less than a hundred pounds.

Chapter 10 – Dinner with the Grownups.

Friday morning after the luau Molly and I transferred our things to the guest room – the one with those unfortunate twin beds. Then, while the maid was changing the sheets in the master bedroom -- and scrubbing the extra accumulated soap scum from the tiles in the master shower -- we drove the short distance to the West Maui Airport to meet Molly’s dad. But before we moved our things to the other bedroom we first engaged in what was now becoming our regular morning routine – the let’s-measure-Jake-and-see-how-much-he’s-shrunk show. This time when I stood against the wall I was down another three quarters of inch from the mark Molly had made the morning before. Four feet eleven inches, right on the button, or in my case, the pencil mark. Was the shrinking accelerating? The gap between my current height and the original mark, made when I was still a quarter inch over five feet, was widening. What’s worse, Molly had kindly drawn a darker line at 5’2” to show my height on arrival at the condo, one at 5’8” to show how tall I was when Molly left for Maui, and standing on a chair, one way up at 6’4” to show my starting point.

Staring way up at that intimidatingly high top mark was more than a little unnerving. Had I really once been that tall? I was beginning to have trouble remembered what it was like to look down at other people. God I was small! Most jockeys are taller than I was now. And if I weighed more than 90 pounds it couldn’t have been by more than an ounce or two. I was rapidly growing out of my new prep size clothes…in reverse! What’s worse, when I sat down at the table on the lanai with my coffee and a light breakfast of plain yogurt and a quarter of a papaya drizzled with lime juice – a favorite of mine – I realized that my heels no longer met the floor when I sat back in the chair. At least my toes still touched, but for how long?

“They had better be able to fix me on Monday back at the MPC clinic,” I growled to Molly.

But unfortunately, my growl didn’t sound very threatening, even too my ears. Somewhere along the way my voice had changed again. Three weeks ago I had been a baritone. A week ago my voice had still been somewhere between a baritone and a tenor, although moving closer to the tenor range. Now it was a definite tenor – a light tenor, and yes, boyish sounding, especially compared to my former manly baritone.

I was upset and worried about my further height loss and disgruntled about being so short. I felt…diminished, as though I were somehow less of a man. The comments I had overheard the evening before about being tiny and looking like I was not yet full grown hadn’t helped, nor had that snide joke about my small you-know-what made by that big jerk across the table, a complete distortion of course. But to be honest, my feelings were…complicated. I am not by nature introspective; not self-focused. But shrinking below five feet was finally causing to me to examine my feelings in way I had never done before, and face up to a few truths. I had to admit that I liked making love to this new plus size Molly now that she was no long my height, but in fact a little bigger than me. Actually, I more than liked it. I had enjoyed our lovemaking when I was taller, and even more when we were the same size…very much. But Molly’s little bit of apparent extra height and mass now that I was smaller added…something. A further excitement maybe? A challenge? Or was it something else? Whatever the reason, I had to admit that Molly looked really hot in those tall shoes, especially when she was wearing the shoes and…nothing else. I also enjoyed looking up at all of the other very tall women who now seemed to fill the world around me. Even women of average height – 5’4” – were beginning to seem tall to me. Being surrounded by Amazons was disconcerting, but in a strange way it was also a turn-on. Was there something wrong with me that I liked being smaller than my petite girlfriend, and looking way up at taller women too?

Of one thing I was certain, however. I did not like feeling like a pipsqueak in comparison to other men, and I did not appreciate being talked down to or belittled by members of either sex. I was beginning to discover why short people, especially short men, complain about negative social attitudes and height discrimination. Our supposedly enlightened culture frowns on making fun of people for things like race or disabilities. But somewhere in the fine print there seems to be an exception for jokes about height. If it’s wrong to make fun of someone because of their ethnicity, or because they are blind, deaf or missing a limb, why is okay to make fun of someone because he lacks inches? But even worse than the short jokes, I was discovering that there is an attitude of dismissiveness and assumed superiority by taller people towards shorter people, sometimes overt, but all too often subconscious. And the attitude is worse towards small men than it is towards small women. If a tall man is assertive, he’s being an alpha male. If a short man is assertive, he’s compensating. Good looking tall men are handsome; good looking short men are cute, and in my case, boyish. Short men are never hunks. What’s more, adjectives like ‘petite’ and ‘tiny’ can be considered complementary when applied to a woman. Those same words applied to a man are most definitely not a complement.

Among men this dismissive attitude towards shorter males may have its origins in the playground pecking order of our pre-socialized childhood, where size and strength equals power, as simple as that. With women, it's about power too, but in a more complicated way. Some of it may be coded into their genes. Big, strong cavemen were better at bringing home the kill to feed the women and children back at the cave. Small, weak males made poor providers. When it comes to a woman’s biological imperative to reproduce, taller wins. But at the same time, many modern women resent male dominance based on superior physical strength. So they are both drawn to it, and repelled by it. When it comes to men who are smaller than they are, I was beginning to suspect that ambivalence some woman feel towards male strength can lead to a strange mixture of emotions, ranging from condescension, to contempt and even to resentment, and perhaps in some women, a weird attraction based on a desire to dominate. Was there just a bit of the dominatrix in Molly? No, not my Molly. She was just a little spoiled and used to having her way, and sometimes bossy as a result. But I was discovering a strange new attraction to my taller seeming girlfriend. I liked looking up at Molly in those tall shoes, and I liked how assertive she was becoming in bed now that my advantages of size and strength had been… neutralized. Was there a part of me that wanted to be dominated?

There was a conflict in all of this, I know. I was definitely of two minds, or maybe three or four. It was all very confusing. It made my head hurt just to think about it. I’m afraid I was more than a little grumpy as a result. During breakfast Molly teased me about being a ‘sour puss’.

“Jeez, you’re acting like a petulant little boy this morning,” she had commented after I had snapped back at her for the third or fourth time. “Maybe I should pick up some different breakfast food to sweeten you up, something with more sugar…and more age appropriate, like coco puffs, or lucky charms.”

I told her flatly that she wasn’t funny, but my waspish response did nothing to dampen her gaiety. If anything, it made her gayer.

For some reason Molly didn’t seem as concerned about my shrinking as I was, and she didn’t share my negative mood. She was quite cheerful that morning – annoyingly so. Her determined cheer and her occasional little jokes at my expense rubbed me the wrong way -- as opposed to the right way, such as in the shower or in bed. Normally I would have shrugged it off and laughed along with her. I’m a good sport, with a usually sunny disposition, and I had gotten good at laughing at myself. But somehow being 59 inches tall, 150 cm, didn’t strike me as quite so funny as when I could still round up to five feet, especially since the odds were now looking pretty good that I would loose even more height between now and my appointment at the MPC clinic on Monday.

Molly’s mood must have been due to her excited anticipation about announcing our engagement to her father. That was it, I was sure. It couldn’t have anything to do with my further diminution. With the three hour summer time difference between Hawaii and California it had been too late to call our parents after we finished our…activities the night before. We had phoned our mothers that morning, but Walter had already been in the air by the time we got out of bed – we had woken up somewhat earlier, but getting out of bed was not our first priority, especially given that it would be our last morning waking up in the same bed until we got back to California. Molly was…energized by her night’s sleep. Her hands and tongue seemed to be everywhere at once, especially now that her hands were bigger than mine and her reach was longer. Despite my inclination to be grumpy, I had enjoyed her manhandling and tongue lashing immensely. I couldn’t help wondering, however, whether Molly seemed just a wee bit heavier on top than she had been the night before – I hadn’t been measured yet. It was disorienting to wake up each day with everything around you grown slightly bigger, including your girlfriend.

When we finally spoke with Molly's mother she had been gratifyingly delighted and effusive; my mother a little less so. But Mom still managed to rise to the occasion and say all of the right things. I didn’t tell Mom that I was still shrinking, of course – one thing at a time. Now it was time to spring our surprise on Walter. Rather than reach him on the plane's sat-phone and struggle to carry on a conversation over the static and the roar of the engines, we had decided to meet him at the airport and make our announcement in person.

As we drove to the airport I finally managed to put my sour mood of the morning behind me. I was too nervous anticipating the upcoming meeting to continue to wallow in self-pity. Although I got along well with Molly’s father and was confident that he liked me in return, the thought of asking one's future father-in-law for his blessing is a bit unnerving for any prospective bridegroom, no matter how strong his relationship with said father-in-law. It was even more unnerving for me given my new…lower status. Molly's dad was someone I respected and looked up to. Well, I used to look way down at him physically, but I had always looked up to him figuratively. I would be looking up to him in both ways now. I had come to think of Walter as something of a substitute father, and I think he saw me in much the same way, as the son he had never had. But to be honest, I was a little concerned that Walter might think I was too puny now to be a good husband to his daughter, a too small catch that should be thrown back into the stream in favor of a larger fish.

As it turned out I needn't have worried. Walter was as delighted as Molly’s mother, and happy to give us his blessing. He laughed when Molly commented that since Walter was shorter than her mother, it was appropriate that she marry someone who was shorter than her. But he couldn’t completely disguise his alarm over just how small I was. The last time we had been together I had been more than a head taller than Molly's dad. Now I only came an inch or so past his chin and he was the one looking over my head. My eyes were level with his collar bone. It was weird seeing him so tall, and having to look up at him like that. In a way it made me feel even more like his adopted son than ever – a half-grown son looking up to his bigger, stronger father. When I signed up for the shrinking trial Walter had joked about looking forward to seeing less of me. He said that while I was always welcome in his home, it would be pleasant not to have me looming around the house quite so much. But at the time he hadn’t anticipated that I would shrink down even shorter than he was, and by a full seven inches. None of us had, least of all me. Walter was deeply concerned about my continuing, and seemingly accelerating height loss. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that he also seemed to enjoy putting his arm around my shoulders and calling me 'son'. He did it more than once. I suppose it wasn't often that Walter got to look so far down at another man. I had found a new purpose in life, I thought dryly – making five foot six inch shot guys feel like big men.

I can't fault Walter for his caring generosity, however. He wanted to call his office right then and have his personal assistant book me on a flight home that afternoon, at his expense. I would have taken him up on it too; except that Molly jumped in to explain that we had already spoken with Dr. Johnston – twice – and that the lab team was working on a fix for “my little problem”, but that they wouldn't have it ready until Monday. And the commercial flights for the next few days were undoubtedly full by now. There was no point in trying.

“Besides, Jake might have trouble getting through security now that he’s a foot and half shorter than the height on his driver’s license,” she had added with a laugh.

I had told Molly about my moment of panic at the airport the previous Saturday. But she was exaggerating now for effect. I was only a foot and five inches shorter, not a foot and a half. Walter had always had trouble saying no to his daughter, and he conceded the logic of her arguments, although reluctantly. Since I didn’t want to seem like an alarmist – or a cry baby – I went along too.

We had dinner that evening with Walter and his business associates. I would have preferred to keep Molly to myself – and not display my new even lower status in the company of Walter’s colleagues. My public debut would come all too soon when I had to go back to work the following week, but I wasn’t quite ready to come out of the mini-closet yet, so to speak. Walter said that having two lively young people along was just what was needed to keep the conversation away from business, however. Molly was happy to oblige him. It would give her an opportunity to show off yet another new dress – despite our preoccupation with sex Molly had still found time to shop – not to mention another occasion to wear those super tall shoes.

The other executives all happened to be men, so Molly would be the only woman present. Her new dress was even lower cut – and sexier – than the one she had worn to the luau. Molly also got a kick out of the fact that in her new shoes she was actually slightly taller than her father. She made Walter stand back to back with her so that I could declare who was the winner. Molly won by half an inch, although she cheated by calling the contest before Walter had a chance to put on his loafers. In his low heeled shoes she would still have won, but only by a hair. Even in his socks the difference was so close that I couldn’t tell who was taller when they stood back to back without going up on my toes for a better perspective. Molly thought that was a hoot. Walter didn’t seem to mind being a little shorter than Molly. He was used to being shorter than his wife and he was clearly very proud of his beautiful daughter. I was more than proud to be the acknowledged fianc?e of this magnificent woman, even if she was so much taller than me in her tall shoes, and displaying a bit too much d?colletage for my taste. Not that I minded the display. Molly looked stunning, especially since with her breasts even closer to my eye level than they had been the evening before. It’s just that I would have preferred that she not flaunt her assets in quite so dramatic fashion for other men to ogle – taller men who could ogle down from on high.

Molly’s tall shoes meant that Walter and I were the shortest members of the group that evening. Well, to be honest, Walter was more like the bottom of the middle. I was the shortest, and by a wide margin. At least Molly didn’t make me wear those damn capri pants. She let me wear a pair of trendy plaid shorts and the dressiest looking of my solid color polo shirts, the one we had purchased in the men’s department at Liberty House instead of the boy’s department – the only size XXS we were able to find. In fact, she had my outfit laid out for me on my bed when I came out of the bathroom. The shirt, in all likelihood the last item of clothing from the men’s department I would ever be able to wear, had seemed tailored when I bought it. Now it was roomy, wide across the shoulders and chest and too long. So were the shorts, too wide and despite the current fashion for long shorts, almost too long. At least they weren’t capris.

Fortunately the other men were casually dressed as well, although a bit more grown up looking in light weight slacks and short sleeve aloha shirts. All except for the executive from Hong Kong, that is. He wore a blazer and tie, with starched Bermuda shorts, knee socks and polished shoes. It was an astonishing getup. I didn’t think anyone wore Bermuda shorts and knee socks outside of Bermuda anymore. But then, the guy was British, not Chinese, with one of those ‘varry’ upper crust Etonian accents that one only hears in BBC productions of Evelyn Waugh novels, or country house murder mysteries by Dorothy Sayers – very Lord Peterish. His name, of all things, was St. John Longford-Smythe, with the first name pronounced somewhere between ‘Sinjin’ and ‘Sinjun’; definitely a schwa in the second syllable. Sinjin even looked the part; thin, pale and very, very tall. Walter only came up to his shoulder. I barely reached the bottom of his chest. I had to look up just to see his lapel and way up to see his face. He had a long, thin aristocratic nose; a long, narrow face with an even longer chin; and large hands with very long fingers to go with that lanky six foot six inch frame. When he reached down for a handshake my little hand completely disappeared into his grasp. Fortunately, he didn’t squeeze too hard. He was probably afraid he might break me. Not a good thing, breaking the boss’ future son-in-law.

The two executives from Tokyo were not as tall as the one from Hong Kong, but even they towered over me. The older of the two, a man in his mid forties, was only a little taller than Walter, about two inches, although with a stockier build. But even at that modest height, less than average for an American, my eye level was below the man’s shoulders – very wide seeming shoulders too. The other Japanese executive was younger, no more than five or six years older than me, and slimmer, but also much taller; just over six feet, making him very tall for a Japanese man. My head didn’t quite reach his shoulder and my eyes were level with the bottom of his chest. Damn, but it was going to be hard getting used to looking up at other men and being towered over that way.

In this company of accomplished older and much taller men I felt myself regressing into a schoolboy. I experienced a curious compulsion to mind my manners, speak only when spoken to and respond with ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ when addressed. I was so rattled I even had to think for a moment before I could remember which fork to pick up first. I hadn’t felt that young and callow in a very long time. It didn’t help matters any when the wine steward paused before pouring my wine to ask how old I was. She didn’t pause when she poured Molly’s wine. The woman was apologetic about it, but she still asked.

“I’m sorry young man, but I have to check – management’s rules. You are 21, aren’t you?”

Does every woman on the planet now feel entitled to call me ‘young man’? The wine steward couldn’t have been much more than 30 – too young to be calling an almost 27 year old man “young man” – and not much more than average height either. Standing up I would only have been a little shorter…okay, maybe a lot shorter. But she still didn’t have to address me in such a condescending way. I didn’t see the humor in her question either, but everyone else chuckled, especially Molly. Actually, Molly’s chuckle was more of a guffaw. She thought it was hilarious. Every time I took a sip from my wine glass she would wink at me and whisper, “are you sure you’re old enough?” or “careful young man, it’s easy to overdo it your first time”. To make matters worse, I did feel a bit…light headed after just one glass. Because I felt challenged by Molly’s teasing I had drunk my first glass a little too…enthusiastically, in order to prove a point. Unfortunately, it was Molly’s point that I had proven. She was right; my capacity had diminished along with the rest of me. After my head began to swim I was careful to eat something before I drank anymore, and I sipped my second glass very slowly, nursing it all the way through the meal.

Along with the light head which I couldn’t quite shake, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling of being, well…boyish, like a kid attending his first grownup dinner party and trying not to spill. And it got worse rather than better as the dinner progressed. For one thing, the portions were too big. I didn’t finish my appetizer, hardly nibbled at my salad, and ate only one bite of my herb roll, and yet I could barely manage to choke down half of my entre, delicious as it was. I felt stuffed, as though I had eaten two meals instead of half of one. I couldn’t remember a meal since I was 10 when I hadn’t managed to clean my plate, not even the awful dorm food in college. As a teenager my mother used to say that I ate enough at one sitting to feed a family of four for a week, along with the family dog, a Saint Bernard. As a runner my appetite hadn’t slackened all that much even after I achieved my full growth – my original full growth. Well, it had certainly slackened now. Looking back over the last few days it struck me for the first time that I hadn’t been eating all that much recently, certainly not up to my usual standards. I hadn’t drunk much either. I had been having a light breakfast, skipping lunch most days, and sharing appetizers and deserts with Molly at dinner, with just a single glass of wine. My lack of appetite was especially surprising given that I had gone running at least every other day, and given how much…energy I had been expending with Molly too. Was the mass that I was burning off as I grew down somehow reducing my body’s need for fuel? Was I feeding on myself? That was certainly an unsettling thought.

Even worse than the feeling of being stuffed was another feeling that I kept having. In between those overly large courses I kept having an urge to…squirm. As we waited for our coffee and deserts – everyone else had room for desert, I only ordered a coffee – the urge to squirm became an almost irresistible compulsion to swing my legs in my chair. Fortunately my legs weren’t quite short enough to swing in the air…yet.

My sense of alienation -- being alienated from the grownups -- was compounded by the fact that Molly appeared to be flirting a little with her father’s guests. I’m sure she was only being friendly, just like she was only being friendly to the big, muscle-bound, tattooed brute the night before. But she could have been a bit less…friendly. Old horse-face Lord Longford-Whatever seemed particularly smitten, practically eating oats out of Molly’s hand. If he had been a dog, instead of horse, he would have been rolling over to expose his tummy and thumping his tail. He would have made a very large and mangy looking dog too, notwithstanding the jacket, tie and Bermuda shorts – a dog with fleas. An outdoor dog that should never be allowed in the house, let alone on the furniture.

The two Japanese men were also smitten, especially Kentaro, the younger one. Actually, he didn’t seem so much smitten as…lecherous. The older man was wearing a western style wedding ring and passed around pictures of his children, although I noticed the he managed to get in his share of ogling notwithstanding the wife and kids. Kentaro, on the other hand, was single, and I suspect quite the man about town back in the Shibuya. He was well-built, good looking, although to my way of thinking, not exceptionally so, and debonair. He was also more than a little full of himself. Kentaro’s English was excellent, having earned an MBA in the US and spent some time in the home office in California before returning to Tokyo. Being younger and quicker, he beat the slower moving and clearly disappointed Sinjin to the seat on the other side of Molly, pausing first to draw out Molly’s chair with an elaborate flourish. What year did he think we were in, 1959? Or what century? Molly was quite cable of seating herself. And even if she had needed help, she had me to pull out her chair for her. I was the fianc?e after all…and the boss’s future son-in-law. Quick draw Kentaro better watch out.

All through dinner Kentaro kept up a steady stream of conversation directed at Molly, full of flowery little complements and subtle innuendo. He was clever about it too. He did it without neglecting the other members of the party -- all except for me that is -- and there was nothing inappropriate in what he said to Molly; nothing which could have gotten him into trouble with Walter. Everything was perfectly innocent…on the surface. But I picked up his subtext – at least after I had eaten a little and my head had begun to clear. And I could see that Molly had picked up on it too. What’s worse, she seemed to be enjoying it.

When Kentaro wasn’t leering at Molly’s face – that oily smile of his was definitely a leer – he kept sneaking glances down the front of Molly’s low cut dress. He was a sneaky bastard, too, although I had to give him points for his smooth technique. No one else seemed to notice, not even Molly. But by this time I was watching him like a hawk. I glared at him like a hawk too every time he copped a glance, but Kentaro simply ignored me, or worse, flashed me a challenging smile, as if to say: “yah, and what are you going to do about it, little man?”. Much as I hated to admit it, I wasn’t exactly threatening, even with my most hawkish face. I suppose I was more of a sparrowhawk than a hawk, or as far as six foot Kentaro was concerned, maybe just a sparrow. But I was Molly’s fianc?e! How dare he ignore my warning glares? Kentaro’s dismissive attitude toward me only served to shorten my already short temper even more -- a short man with a short temper; how fitting. It didn’t help either to realize that I was too short to peer down Molly’s dress the way that six foot Kentaro could. By the end of the meal I was seething. If not for Walter’s restraining presence it would have been WWII all over again, only this time the first attack would not have come at Pearl Harbor. It would have happened one Island over, in the dining room at the Kapalua Ritz, and it would have been an American doing the attacking. As it was, I was very grateful when the dinner finally ended and we could escape back to the condo.

That night I made my displeasure known to Molly by being distant and proper, and hopping into my own little twin bed as soon as I was done brushing my teeth. I even made a point of donning a pair of briefs – I had been unable to find boxers in the boy’s department – and one of my newly oversize t-shirts, before climbing under the sheets. With Molly I always slept in my birthday suit, skin to skin. I tended to get cold easily from the air conditioning, even more now that I was smaller. But Molly’s body temperature was higher than mine, enough to keep me warm at night. However Molly was even more amused by my little cold shoulder act than she had been at the sour expression on my face when I reached up to shake Kentaro’s hand as we were leaving the Hotel. Actually, it was more of a grimace than a sour face. Unlike prissy Sinjin who had held back with his grip, Kentaro put every ounce of his considerable strength into his parting handshake, proving, as if I hadn’t known, that his hand was a lot bigger and stronger than mine. It hurt! I thought for a moment that he might have broken a bone, or at least left a serious bruise. It hurt even more to have Molly laugh at me now. She said I was acting like a pouty little boy – not the best thing to say to someone whose masculine pride was suffering the way mine was.

Seeing my genuinely hurt expression, however, Molly finally realized that I wasn’t just play acting. She took pity on me and tried to make amends. She assured me that she had eyes only for me. Besides, Molly reminded me, she didn’t like tall men. She preferred her men small, cute and cuddly, just like me. Eventually my wounded vanity was mollified, and I was coaxed into paying a visit to Molly’s side of the room; coaxed out of my boxers and t-shirt too. Once I arrived next door, however, Molly kept giggling that we needed to be quiet so as not to disturb ‘daddy’ on the other side of the wall. It was a solidly built wall, so I wasn’t worried about the noise. But I went into stealth mode just to prove that I could be very quite, but at the same time very thorough, proving once again that I was still ‘the man’.

The two of us fit quite nicely in a twin size bed too. But Molly tended to sprawl in her sleep. She claimed that she needed more space for sleeping than for making love, despite how much she liked to thrash around in bed. So when we were finally ready to call it quits I reluctantly moved back to my own bed. Back in my own neighborhood once again things were lonely. I missed not sleeping next to Molly’s warm and increasingly solid and reassuring bulk. I had trouble falling asleep. As I listed to Molly’s soft snores from the other bed I lay awake for a long time, wondering what the tape measure would reveal in the morning.

Chapter 11 – A Slight Chill.

Fortunately, I was able to avoid the dreaded tape measure the next morning. Molly and I had made plans for Saturday, the last full day of our vacation, to dive the famous Cathedrals dive site off Lanai Island, across the channel from Maui. We had to meet the dive crew for an early departure from the boat launch near the luau grounds at the West end of Lahaina, so there was no time to check my height first. I have been diving Catalina, Baja and the kelp forests off the California coast since I was 12. Scuba diving was a sport to which my dad had introduced me and which we enjoyed together before he died. Dad and I had visited the Cathedrals site off Lanai on our previous trip to Maui and I remembered what an awesome experience it had been, watching the shafts of light filter down from the surface through the openings in the lava tubes like sunlight though stained glass. On that trip we had spotted a white tipped reef shark cruising less than 25 feet away and had also been treated to the jaw dropping spectacle of a mother whale and her calf breaching just 20 yards from the boat during the channel crossing. This time the whales would all be up in their summer feeding grounds in the arctic, but I had told Molly about the other highlights of the trip and she was eager to see them for herself. Molly had earned her diving certification the previous summer, at my urging. She was still a novice, but she had taken to the sport with her usual enthusiasm, and she was fearless in the water.

Since we didn’t have our dive gear with us – mine wouldn’t have fit in any case – we stopped by the dive shop Friday afternoon while Walter was at his meeting to be fitted for rental equipment. In most countries, the US included, you have to be at least 12 years old to earn an open water certification, and most beginning divers are older than that, so dive equipment is hard to come by in my new, barely twelve year old size. The store manager sized me up…and down, and headed over to the kid’s side of the shop to find a mask, snorkel, fins and a shorty wet suit that would fit. It was bad enough having to wear a kid’s size wetsuit; wetsuits are supposed to be tight to help retain body heat. It was the BC that the woman chose for me that really had me upset. BC is short for BCD, which stands for Buoyancy Compensation Device. It’s a sort of inflatable vest, with a harness on the back to hold your air tank, and a clip or Velcro flap on the front to fasten your spare regulator and hose. BC’s are basically unisex. However they do make ones that are sized for a woman’s smaller, narrower frame, but with a scosh more room proportionately at the front of the chest. My rented BC was a woman’s model, size X-small to fit my…flatter proportions. Molly’s was merely a small. Here I was a grown man, wearing a woman’s extra small! How humiliating is that? And what’s worse, I had to cinch it up almost as tight as it would go.

The store manger, who introduced herself as Candice, was an attractive woman perhaps a few years older than Molly and me, but no more than thirty. Her thick, honey brown hair was tied back in a simple ponytail which complimented the strong bones of her face and her slightly prominent nose. In addition to being attractive, she was also very tall -- at least she seemed very tall to me. I guessed that Candice might have been just under 5-9 in her bare feet, tall for a woman but not exceptionally so. But when you’re looking up form a height of only four feet eleven inches – 4’11” was my height on Friday when we visited the shop -- even five eight and three quarters seems tall. And Candice was wearing platform sandals which added at least two and half inches to her height. In her sandals she topped me by at least a foot. My head didn’t quite reach her shoulder, affording me a straight on view of her very low cut top, and her very deep…tan. In a word, Candice was busty, and she clearly wasn’t ashamed to show it. I am not normally the kind of guy who stares at women's chests, but in this case, how could I help it? This busty woman was practically flaunting herself, and her substantial cleavage was right in my face, so to speak, exactly at eye level.

The dive shop was affiliated with our dive operator, so before we tried on rental equipment we first filled out the medical certification and liability waivers for our trip the following day. We had to show Candice our diver certification cards. My card listed my birthday and had a picture of my face, but no height, fortunately. The picture had been taken when I was in high school right after I earned my advanced certification. It still looked enough like me to be recognizable – in fact, it looked a lot like the image I had been seeing in the mirror for the last few days, a more ‘youthful’ version of myself. Candice lifted her eyebrows when she read my birth date on the card.

“Wow, I would never have guessed you were 26, Jake, you look even younger in person than you do in your photo. And so cute,” she added, looking down at me with a friendly smile – more than friendly in fact, a very warm smile…and slightly predatory too. “But you must hear that all the time,” she continued. “Now, let’s see what we can find that will fit you. You’re under five feet, right? I think we’ll have to put you in a kid’s size wetsuit.”

Younger looking than my picture? I was 17 when that picture was taken, how could I look younger? She only thought I looked younger because I was small. That had to be it. But while I might look young to her, Candice clearly found me…interesting. In fact, she seemed fascinated by me. It was almost as though she got off on seeing a man so much smaller than herself, and that she just couldn’t resist rubbing it in a little. Well, more than a little! She kept brushing up against me and standing much too close, so close that I kept having to step back in order to avoid having a face full of breasts. She insisted on helping me try on my BC, leaning over me and hovering much longer than necessary as she ‘helped’ me into it. Even worse, She then proceeded to buckle it up and adjust the straps, as if I hadn’t put on a BC about a million times before! I felt like a little boy being dressed by his mother – well, not his mother exactly, not with those big bazookas hanging right in my face. I had to consciously remember to breath! She did it twice, too. The first BC Candice had me try on was too big. If I were the suspicious type I might have wondered whether she had chosen one that would be too big on purpose.

“My, you are a little one. That was a woman’s small, and its still too big for you,” she announced in a booming voice that every customer in the store could hear. “I think we’ll have to try an extra small. We only have a few of those for rent for our most petite customers. Even the young kids just learning to dive are mostly bigger than you are, short cake.”

Short cake! No one had ever called me ‘short cake’ before, not even when I was a kid and still short, way back in grade school. It wasn’t exactly flattering, at least to my way of thinking. By the time Candice had finished ‘helping’ me I was thoroughly embarrassed…and flustered. I couldn’t wait to make my escape from the big woman. Molly had noticed Candice’s outrageous behavior too, of course, as well as my flustered reaction. But rather than being annoyed by it she seemed…amused. That made me even more flustered. And Molly hadn’t seen the worst of it. She didn’t see Candice wink at me. The busty too-tall woman only winked at me when Molly wasn’t looking, but she did it more than once. And Molly didn’t witness the pinch either. The pinch came as I turned to follow Molly out of the shop, just when I thought I was finally safe. Candice was standing directly behind me, once again too close. I could feel her breath stirring the hair on the top of my head. I could feel her gaze boring down on me from behind too. And as I started towards the door I felt something else – a sharp sensation in my right…cheek, my lower right cheek. I couldn’t help myself. I jumped. I heard a delighted chuckle from above, followed by words this time pitched too low for Molly or any of the other customers to hear:

“Your little ass is just too cute! See you on the boat tomorrow…sweet cakes.”

First ‘short cake’ and now ‘sweet cakes’…with a pinch! I was so indignant that it took a moment for the rest of her words to penetrate -- Handy Candy was going to be on the dive boat with us tomorrow. Yikes! More opportunities for her to loom over me, and maybe get in another pinch or two. With that last unhappy thought I hustled my little bustle out of the shop as fast as I could go, along with my injured dignity, and I didn’t turn around. I didn’t want to see the big woman laughing at me as I scurried to get out of range.

***

Saturday morning, although I avoided being measured as we were heading out the door, I could tell by looking at Molly – looking up at her – that I was even shorter than the day before. For some reason since I stopped taking Shrinkx2.3 most of my shrinking seemed to happen at night, while I was sleeping. It didn’t seem to matter that I had gotten very little sleep the night before. Between all of that tossing and turning in my lonely twin bed I had managed less than five hours of real sleep. That morning Molly appeared to be about four inches taller than me…in her bare feet, which meant that I was down to four foot ten. The gap between us might even have been a little more than four inches, but on my reduced scale four inches seemed bigger than it had when I was six four, so it was hard for me to tell exactly without measuring. Whether it was four inches or four and a quarter, or…gulp, four and a half, once again I had shrunk more than the day before, and on only a few hours of sleep. That was certainly a depressing thought.

I didn’t have time to brood about it, however, because we were nearly late for the boat. Molly does not move quickly in the morning. I wasn’t moving all that quickly either. Part of the reason I was dragging was because of the headache I was nursing from too little sleep. It almost felt like a hangover, but that was impossible. I had only drunk two glasses of wine at dinner. I couldn’t possibly have a hangover from two glasses of wine, could I? The other reason I was dragging, however, was because I was reluctant to step out the door in my new ‘togs’, especially knowing that Handy Candy would be waiting for me on the boat. Molly was not a gracious loser…or a gracious winner either. Having won the battle of the capri pants Molly had decided that she would stop at nothing short of total subjugation. That morning I was wearing something I had vowed never to wear -- a Speedo swim suit. Molly had managed to find one, a boy’s size 12, at the back of the shelf in the children's section of the dive shop. While tall Candice had looked down with an amused expression on her face, I had protested vigorously against buying it, throwing up the strongest resistance that I could mount in public. But Molly had pointed out in a sweet voice of reason that my baggy surf shorts were too big to fit under my kid size wetsuit. They would bunch up and be very uncomfortable, not to mention giving me a spare tire bulge.

When Candice kindly seconded Molly’s opinion from the sidelines, I knew that it was a lost cause. The ladies did have a point, and I didn’t want to make a scene in front of Candice. I had already provided her with more than enough amusement for one day. I was also afraid that my protests were beginning to make me seem like a petulant little boy. I didn’t want to look like I was having a meltdown in the store. I decided that a strategic retreat was called for – a temporary retreat only, of course. I intended to return to the skirmish once we got back to the privacy of the condo. Later, however, I had been somewhat mollified to discover that when I tried on the skimpy suit it was actually a little small for me, with a pronounced bulge in a different place to demonstrate to the world that I was still bigger than a 12 year boy, at least where it counted most. And with Walter returned from his meeting by then I could hardly throw a temper tantrum over something so small – I mean that figuratively only – within his hearing.

Saturday morning, however, the Speedo wasn’t quite as form fitting as it had been the day before, and to my worried eyes the bulge in front appeared to be, well, smaller. That was even more depressing than seeing Molly at least four inches taller than me in her bare feet. So was the fact that when I climbed into the driver’s seat of the convertible the furthest forward position on the power seat wasn’t quite forward enough. I could still drive, but it was a stretch. And I had to sit up very straight in order to see the road over the too tall dashboard and hood. If I got any shorter I was going to need extension pedals and a pillow.

As I had feared the dive crew that morning included Candice, who was actually our dive master for the trip. It turned out that she had a master’s degree in marine biology and taught part time at the local community college. Which, as with Doc Johnston, just goes to prove that brains and big you-know-what’s are not always mutually exclusive. Candice’s family also owned the dive shop, which is why she had been tending the store the day before. It also turned out, even more surprisingly, that Handy Candy had a boyfriend -- our six foot three inch boat Captain, a barrel chested part Hawaiian named Kapali Lindquist. Even more improbably than his Hawaiian first name and Scandinavian last name, Kapali’s other job – many Maui residents have multiple jobs due to the high cost of living in paradise – was teaching at the local high school, English literature no less. Somehow big Kapali didn’t exactly look the English Lit type. He looked more like a football coach -- a football coach who moonlighted as a bouncer. Later that day I looked up the meaning of Kapali in a book of Hawaiian names that I had spotted on a shelf at the condo. Kapali means ‘cliff’, and this Kapali certainly looked like a cliff, at least to me. I had to look up just to take in the expanse of his way too wide chest! Looking up at this man mountain was more than a little intimidating. I was quite certain that even the toughest tough guys in Kapali’s English classes, guys a whole lot bigger than me, must think twice before messing with this particular English teacher.

With her big boyfriend on board Candice was better behaved that she had been the day before, or at least more circumspect. She still managed a sly wink as well as a lingering glance and an appreciative grin down in the direction of my…Speedo, when neither Kapali nor Molly was looking. She also ‘helped’ me on board, and when it came time to go into the water for our first dive it was Candice who came over to do my equipment check, making sure that my straps were properly…adjusted. Normally, the assistant dive master would have done that job. Great! Now I had something else to worry about in addition to where Handy Candy might strike next -- whether her gigantic boyfriend might notice what she was up to and blame it on the innocent victim, little me. I could end up as shark bait -- minnow size bait for a jealous Great White size boyfriend. Fortunately, Kapali turned out to be as genial and easygoing as he was big. Or maybe he just didn’t see someone as puny as me as a threat.

The assistant dive master was even bigger than Man Mountain Kapili, if you can believe it. Matt was a former Navy Seal who had recently completed his tour of duty at Pearl. He was staying on in Hawaii for now, working as a dive instructor while he thought about what he wanted to do with his life after Uncle Sam. He was about my age, but that’s where the similarity ended. At first I thought Matt might be even taller than 6-6 Sinjin from the night before. Then I remembered that I was at least an inch shorter, which meant that Matt was probably the same height. When you’re only four feet ten inches tall – or maybe a little less – six and a half feet seems almost inhumanly tall. If I were still six four this guy would have been an eight and a half footer. It was one thing looking up at an eight foot plus man as thin and pale as prissy, middle aged Sinjin. I could almost convince myself that he was the one who was freakishly tall, instead of me being the one who was freakishly small. But there was nothing thin, pale or prissy about Monster Matt. He was at least twice as wide though the shoulders and chest as lanky Sinjin. He wasn’t as wide all over as Captain Cliff, but his muscles were even bigger, and a whole lot harder. He looked more like a bull sea lion than a seal, or perhaps a Navel destroyer.

Along with taking up to much space big Matt was also extraordinarily hairy. His chest and stomach had so much hair that it looked, well, matted, more like fur than hair. He was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s younger and taller brother, wearing a spandex suit made from a bear skin rug. I had an all too clear view of his hairiness, because Matt wasn’t wearing a shirt, and when we were introduced I found myself face to…stomach, with an eye level view of his furry six-pack abs. The top of my head didn’t even reach the guy’s overly muscled and excessively hairy chest. What a monster! Of course even one chest hair would have made him substantially hairier than me. But it wasn’t just sour grapes on my part. The guy looked like he could be the missing link between humans and apes, or rather between humans and bears…grizzly bears. Even his face was hairy, and he wasn’t wearing a beard. It was clear that Matt hadn’t bothered to shave that morning. His dense overnight stubble was more like a two day’s growth for a normal man. It would have taken me at least a week to look that bristly. Oh what the hell, make that two weeks. I had been unable to detect even a hint of stubble when I glanced at my reflection in the mirror that morning, despite the fact that I hadn’t shaved since Thursday.

There was one part of Matt that wasn’t hairy, however – his scalp. I know I’m being petty, but that was at least some consolation…a small one. Okay, so his back wasn’t hairy either, but he probably had someone shave it for him. Matt still wore a military style buzz cut, and when he took off his baseball cap and went into the water to anchor the boat at our fist dive site, and I could finally look down at him, I could clearly discern a thin spot on top. My hair might be a boyish mop, and a whole lot lower down, but at least it covered my entire head. Maybe His Hairiness should try rubbing Rogaine up top instead of on his torso, I thought to myself smugly.

If I were that hairy I’m sure Molly would have complained about me shedding all over her house. But for some inexplicable reason she didn’t seem to mind all that hair on someone else. In fact, she seemed quite taken with His Hairiness. Matt was moderately good looking I suppose, once you got past all those follicles. Well, maybe more than moderately. And under all that hair his muscles were…impressive. But Molly had assured me just the night before that she preferred her men small, cute and cuddly…like me! There was nothing small about Matt, and although he bore some resemblance an an oversize teddy bear – the fuzzy part -- he wasn’t exactly ‘cuddly’ either. So why was my fianc?e, who claimed that she wasn’t attracted to tall men, and who was engaged to marry a man as small, cute and cuddly as they come, being so friendly with this big, hairy, muscle bound walrus? Between watching out for Handy Candy, and watching Molly looking at Matt with that appreciative expression on her face, it was turning out to be a much less enjoyable channel crossing than the one I had taken with my Dad. Instead of seeing whales in the water, we had two whales on the boat with us, Captain Cliff and His Hairiness, Monster Matt.

The boat had a full complement of passengers that day, and even leaving aside tall Candice, her gigantic boyfriend and the even more gigantic assistant dive master, I was still the smallest person on board. And that was counting the two kids, a brother and sister, who had just completed a certification course and were making their first open water dive with their father, an experienced diver. Actually the boy wasn’t all that much taller than me, two inches or so, close to five feet, but his sister was quite a bit taller. I pegged the boy as 12 or a young 13, but judging by his scrawny, immature physique probably closer to 12, just old enough to earn his scuba certification. That meant that I was shorter than a kid who had just finished sixth grade and who wouldn’t start junior high until the fall! The kid wasn’t actually all that much scrawnier than me, either, about the same width through the shoulders. But I was a whole lot more toned, with more mature muscle definition, even if I didn’t have more mass. And hey; at least there was one person on board who didn’t tower over me. As with His Hairiness’s thinning scalp, we little guys have to find our small consolations where we can.

I guessed the boy’s taller sister to be fourteen or fifteen, a couple of years younger than my little sister Beth. She was athletic looking but still girlishly slim, probably at her full height but not yet filled out. She wasn’t as tall as Beth, but looking up at her from my barely twelve year old level she seemed really…grown up. The girl was more than six inches taller than her brother, and with my further diminution of the night before, a head taller than me –five foot seven to her brother’s five foot zero and a half, and my five foot minus two…and a smidgen. The height difference between the siblings wasn’t all that surprising when you consider that not only was the sister older by two or three years, but that girl’s generally get their growth spurts ahead of boys. Their father was tall, an inch or two over six feet – it was just my luck that every other man on the boat that day was at least a six footer, all except for me. The boy would likely spurt up as well before too long. In a couple of years he would be looking down at me from an altitude even higher than his sister’s. Another depressing thought.

Along with being taller and more mature looking, the girl also appeared confident and eager, while her smaller brother seemed hesitant and very nervous at making his first open water dive. Once we got out past the breakwater and hit the swells in the channel he also looked more than a little green. I decided to strike up a conversation, hoping to offer some encouragement, as well as a needed distraction for the poor kid to take his mind off the motion of the boat. He was seated next to me, so my motives weren’t entirely altruistic. If he got sick I would be in the direct line of fire. The conversation also provided a needed distraction for me to take my mind off of the way Molly was reacting to Monster Matt. I explained to the kids that I had been diving since I was twelve and told them about my experiences diving the Sea of Cortez and Catalina. I wisely avoided mentioning the shark I had seen on my previous Maui excursion. Reef sharks aren’t very big, and they aren’t dangerous as long as you don’t antagonize them. But to a nervous kid a shark is a shark.

It turned out that I was right in guessing that one of the siblings was the same age I had been when I began diving. But I had it exactly backwards! Although she could have passed for 15, it was the sister who was twelve years old, heading into the seventh grade. She had an early birthday for her grade, but she wouldn’t be thirteen for another two months. A 12-year old girl a head taller than me, that was disconcerting! The brother was actually the older of the two, just turned fifteen and already in high school, but small for his age and slow to develop. I felt sorry for him. It must be hard to be small for your age and have a little sister six and half inches taller than you and a whole lot more developed. He probably got teased a lot. Then I remembered with a sinking feeling that I was even smaller for my age, and that the gap between my little sister and me was exactly twice as wide, now more than a foot. And much as I hated to admit it, Beth probably looked more developed than I did too. Although I never get seasick, Molly turned to me just then and commented that I looked more than a little green myself.

While I had been conversing with the kids and their dad, Molly had been busy…chatting…with His Hairiness. Matt had come over to stand directly in front of her – hovering over her really – balancing with practiced ease on a pair of enormous, hairy feet and steadying himself against the pitch of the deck with one shovel sized paw – even the backs of his hands were hairy -- resting on the edge of the overhead canopy where it ended a few feet behind the cockpit. If I had tried that hold I would have been dangling from the canopy with my hairless little feet high in the air, assuming I could have reached it at all. Matt’s huge paw was directly over my head, with his sinewy, tree-limb of an arm stretched out high above me, affording me a much better overhead view than I would have liked of his massive bicep and bushy underarm hair – even standing up I would have been below his outstretched arm. If he had been sweating, I would have been dripped on. I was enough to take my appetite away. No wonder I looked green.

Despite the…little…annoyances on the boat ride over to Lanai, the first dive site, when we finally reached it, was every bit as spectacular as I recalled. And tall, busty Candice in a form fitting wetsuit was a pretty spectacular sight too. So was the sight of Candice peeling off her t-shirt as she got ready for the dive, revealing a bikini top that was more string than top. She was a mighty big girl for such an itsy bitsy bikini, and her wetsuit had to be custom made, I was sure. I wasn’t the only man on the boat staring as Candice squeezed herself into her stretchy neoprene suit, no doubt wondering whether it would close all the way. I caught Molly with a slight frown on her face as she watched me watching Candice, and grinned at her smugly. Two could play at this little game. Molly was making no secret of the fact that she enjoyed looking at Matt and his big, hairy muscles, although why was beyond me. I could certainly do a little harmless looking of my own. A few minutes later, however, I was the one who was frowning, as I had to watch His Hairiness ‘helping’ Molly enter the water ahead of me. Those oversize hairy hands of his were just a little too…familiar, especially given the fact that the lady he was handling happened to be my fianc?e. Molly flashed a quick grin back over her shoulder at me just before making her giant-stride entry into the water.

I had been a moderately heavy breather – a diving term for someone who uses up air quickly – when I was tall, needing the largest size air tank to compliment my long frame and powerful kick. I was pleased to see that at first my air supply was holding up better than usual, despite the fact that I was using a smaller tank. Half way through the dive I had used less air than Molly. But that’s when I began to experience a different problem. Hawaiian waters are warmer than the Pacific off the California coast, especially in late summer, so I had expected that my rented shorty wetsuit would provide plenty of insulation. A shorty wetsuit is exactly what it sounds like – a wetsuit with legs that end above the knee. And this one was a 3 mm suit, appropriate for tropical waters, instead of the 5 mm thick suits used in colder water. It was also somewhat less…snug than it had been when I tried it on, allowing more water between my skin and the neoprene, and requiring more body heat to keep the layer of water warm. I wasn’t one of those big, sweaty guys who perspire easily, even when I was big. And now my diminished body was clearly generating even less body heat than it had before. In short, I was chilled, and getting chillier the longer I stayed under.

It is a physiological consequence of being chilled on a dive that your metabolism rate and breathing increase to compensate, and you use air more quickly as a result. As I grew more and more uncomfortable, my air supply began to drop rapidly. I signaled to Candice, who was leading our group, that I needed to head back to the surface. We had exited from the end of the lava tubes by then and the underwater buoy and anchor rope for our boat were just inside our visibility range through the clear, sunlit water, about than a 100 feet away. Molly signaled that she wanted to stay down a little longer with the rest of Candace’s group, enjoying the colorful reef fish darting around the lava formations. Since the exit point was within sight, Candice indicated that I should go ahead. His Hairiness was already heading in that direction with the smaller group of novice divers which he had been leading, including the two kids.

As I made my way by myself back to the boat, watching my dive computer and being careful not to ascend too quickly, I began to shiver even harder. I broke the surface just as big Matt was helping the last of his group climb the ladder into the boat. By that time my teeth were chattering and my skin was covered in goose bumps. Normally a diver removes his BC and tank in the water and hands it up to one of the crew on the boat before climbing up the swim ladder. But looking down at me and seeing how much distress I was in, big Matt didn’t wait for me to remove my tank. He simply bent down, grabbed me under the arms and lifted me out of the water and onto the deck, BC, tank and all. He did it effortlessly. Don’t get me wrong, chilled as I was I was grateful for the quick exit from the water. But I wished that the lift up hadn’t been quite so effortless on Matt’s part, and that the other members of Matt’s group hadn’t seen him do it. God, what a little shrimp I was, and a pathetically shivering little shrimp at that! As Candice and the rest of the divers joined us on the boat and we got underway to the our second dive site, I sat in the sun wrapped in a double layer of towels, trying to warm up. Candice and Matt were handing out snacks and drinks, but the last thing I wanted was a cold drink. Despite the over eighty degree air temperature, I could have used a cup of hot tea.

For our second dive Candice found a hood in the bottom of one of the lockers that was small enough to fit me. I also switched wetsuits with Evan, the scrawny, undersized 15 year old. He was wearing a full length suit which turned out to be slightly smaller than my shorty. I had overheard him complain to his dad as we were suiting up for the first dive that he had trouble zipping it up and that he could barely breath once it was zipped. The smaller suit fit me better. And my slightly larger shorty wetsuit fit Evan better. If I didn’t know it to be impossible, even for a teenage boy, I would have sworn that young Evan had grown taller during our first dive. He had certainly grown in confidence, because he was clearly feeling a lot more…cocky. He was particularly cocky about handing down his too small wetsuit to an adult man even smaller than he was. He practically crowed about it. The kid was quite annoying in his preening, repeating things like, “that suit totally fits you. It was WAY too small for me.” He even had the nerve to ask me how tall I was, or as he put it, “how short are you anyway? You’re like a midget, right?” After that one his father finally made Evan shut up. Why had I ever felt pity for the kid? It was his dad and sister I felt sorry for now. What a brat! If he were a couple of years older – and a foot taller – I would have enjoyed fixing him up with my little sister Beth. They deserved each other.

As Evan and I were trying on each others' wetsuits Candice had looked at me oddly, with an expression that was at first puzzled, and then startled. She knew that the shorty suit had fit me the day before -- she had ‘helped’ me try it on. But because she had been wearing tall shoes in the store I don’t think she had noticed until that moment that I was even smaller than I had been the previous afternoon. As we got ready for our second dive I tried to ignore the measuring glances that Candice kept shooting in my direction. Those curious glances made me even more uncomfortable than the flirting. I was glad when it was time to go back in the water, even though I had only just managed to get warm. Thankfully, with the combination of the hood and the smaller full length suit I did fine on the second dive, although I needed to warm up again afterward. Scrawny as he was young Evan didn’t have any trouble with the water temperature, even in his hand-me-up shorty suit. Was this what I had to look forward to, being shown up -- and put down -- by a skinny, underdeveloped kid who was probably the smallest boy in his class…and much too big for his britches?

The ride back to the condo from the boat harbor was even chillier than the first dive. I was miffed about the way Molly had flirted with His Hairiness, and although it was completely unjustified on her part, Molly was even more put out about the way I had watched Candice donning her wetsuit. Of course, my comment about how well Candice filled up her suit, innocent as it was, didn't helped. The only reason I had said it was because my justification that every man on the boat had been looking at Candice as she put on her suit had prompted an offhand comment from Molly about how many ‘big, manly looking men’ had been on board that day, followed immediately by an innocent sounding remark about how fortunate it was that the ‘little boy’ had been bigger than me so that we could trade wetsuits. Molly then continued in the same vein, noting what an impressive chest Matt had and what big arms, and that she had never seen hands as large as his. That had led to musings about whether it was true what they say about men with big hands. Layered in among these comments about Matt and his muscles, and musings about men and their endowments, had been little non sequiturs, such as how ‘roomy’ my boy’s size tank top was now that my shoulders and chest were even smaller, how tiny my hands looked against the steering wheel, and how my Speedo appeared to be “a more comfortable fit” today than it had been when I first tried it on. I met these stinging barbs with the cold silence they deserved.

Molly tended to blow hot and cold, with quick changes in the weather in between. By late afternoon a heat wave had replaced her cold front. Molly suggested that we head in from our separated lounge chairs by the pool to the air conditioning, for a “quick nap” in one of the twin beds before Walter returned from his meeting. But although Molly had completely forgotten her displeasure from earlier, and while I had decided to be big about it and let her comments pass, I couldn’t forget how mean spirited Molly’s little barbs had been…or how much they had hurt coming from the woman I was going to marry, and for whom I had given up so much.

Chapter 12 – Four and Half Footer

When Molly measured me Sunday morning the new mark on the wall was even lower than I had feared; the distance between the floor and the new low just 56.5 inches, four feet eight and a half. Molly no longer needed her tall shoes to seem tall to me. Everything about her seemed…bigger. She was wider than me through the shoulders now as well as though the hips; her hands and feet were bigger; her legs were longer, and bigger around too. Molly made a show of comparing our respective sizes. She placed her foot next to mine to demonstrate how much larger hers was. Then she grabbed my wrist with one hand and pressed my palm against her other hand, crowing over the fact that her hand was both wider and longer than mine and that my fingers were slimmer as well shorter. At least her arms weren’t bigger around – our biceps were the same size, but mine were harder! As Molly happily pointed out, however, my arms were shorter and my wrists were smaller. When Molly was finally finished with her…comparisons, she stepped up toe to toe and draped her arms around my shoulders, pinning me in place, as she grinned down at me. I was very conscious of the fact that her breasts, which used to press against the bottom of my ribs when I was six four, were now level with my shoulders – and a whole lot bigger than ever – and that standing so close I had to tilt my head back to look up into her eyes.

As she grinned down at me Molly happily informed me that she had once heard her mother say that the medical definition of a dwarf was an adult less than four feet ten.

“Look on the bright side, Jake, you can join the Little People organization now -- you’ll probably be one of its tallest members.”

I was not amused. I fixed Molly with my most quelling glare, the one my dad had used on me when I was a kid and being disrespectful. But I’m afraid the stern look didn’t work quite as well for me as it had for my dad. Dad was over six feet tall, and he had been taller than me back then. For some reason ‘the look’ worked a whole lot better when it was coming from above, instead of below. With Molly my eyes were glaring up at her from a level not much above her shoulder. She simply ignored my expression as she continued.

“How does it feel to look up to your ‘little woman’, short stuff? I sure enjoy the view from up here. You just get cuter and cuter by the inch; so petite, and so huggable. I’m almost sorry you’ll be getting that immunity booster tomorrow. If I’m lucky, you’ll lose a few more inches between now and then. I’d love to see you a four and a half footer.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! I had suspected that Molly was enjoying my continuing diminution – well, more than suspected. At first she had spoken sympathetically, and claimed that she shared my concern. But her cheerfulness, the way she enjoyed measuring me and comparing sizes, and her teasing as I continued to dwindle had said something else. I couldn’t believe, however, that she was actually coming out and admitting that she wanted me to keep shrinking, especially given that she could clearly see how upset I was. Didn’t she care about my feelings? This was going too far! I was so astonished, and upset, that I was at a loss for words. I ignored her needling comments, squirmed out from under her arms and headed towards the bathroom. My reserve and frosty demeanor should have been enough to clue Molly that she had crossed a line. Apparently they were not, however.

Molly continued to tease me, and she was clearly turned on by my new even smaller size. There was something a little odd about that, given how she had reacted to oversize Matt the day before. Did she like it both ways – bigger and smaller? Molly tried to coax me into the master bathroom for one last…shower before we left for the airport. Walter was at a breakfast meeting with his associates, wrapping up his business dealings. Actually, Molly did more than coax; she tried to pull me into the hall and towards the master bedroom. With her height and weight advantage Molly was surprisingly strong – a match for me in pure muscle power and with the advantage of greater leverage and more mass. I had to plant my feet and throw every ounce of my diminished weight into resisting her pull. But I was definitely not in the mood for a shared shower, especially after listening to Molly’s astonishing declaration.

Well, to be completely honest, maybe I was a little in the mood. Disturbing as the thought was, I was a little turned on myself at seeing Molly so much bigger than me. In a bizarre way I liked looking up at her and feeling…out-sized by her. But I was far more upset…and hurt…by her words and attitude than I was turned on. I also had a nagging suspicion that with the increasing difference in our heights I might have trouble…performing standing up. Molly had demonstrated a tendency to go up on her toes involuntarily when she climaxed. I was worried that I would have trouble…reaching all the way in when she was flat footed. If she went up on her toes I feared that I would slide right out. I could just imagine what Molly would have to say about that. I wasn’t about to give her another chance to belittle me. I pleaded a headache and took my shower in the guestroom bath…by myself. It didn’t help that I had to stretch to adjust the shower head, or that when I ran my hand over my face, I still didn’t need a shave.

Given the baggy state of my clothes, Molly and I had ventured out to a nearby beach-wear shop the previous afternoon after our ‘nap’ and purchased a few more things to tide me over, boy’s size 12 this time. The clothes we bought in the junior high section of the boy’s department the week before were too big for me now. This morning, even my new size 12 board shorts and t-shirt felt loose. I had to cinch the waist up more than I had the evening before. And since the shop didn’t carry underwear, the briefs I was wearing underneath my shorts, purchased the previous week, were more than a little roomy. The elastic sagged around my shrunken waist and threatened to slide down over my hips.

My one consolation was that when we boarded the corporate jet I had no trouble with the low headroom in the cabin. The pilot, a long, angular and carefully coiffed woman who towered head and shoulders above me, had to bend her neck to keep from mussing her helmet hair against the cabin bulkhead, and the co-pilot, an even taller man, had to bend over at an uncomfortable looking angle inside the plane. Even Walter could only stand up straight in the center of the cabin. I, on the other hand, could step in front of my seat at the side of the cabin without bending. Sitting in the plush leather seat was a different story, however. Molly’s heels lifted off the floor when she sat back in her deep seat. When I slid back and buckled in my little feet came completely off the floor. Molly’s seat was opposite and facing mine, on the same side of the plane. She didn’t say anything, but she glanced down at my dangling feet and then looked up with a grin, and a wink. Fortunately the seats came with a built in foot rest which I could raise once we were at cruising altitude. Otherwise my feet would have dangled all the way to LA.

While Walter dozed in the forward section of the cabin, Molly and I had a long heart-to-heart talk in the back. Sometimes Molly could seem like two different people, insensitive and even cruel one minute, warm and loving the next. Now she apologized, saying all the right things and acknowledging that she could understand why I was upset, and sensitive about my…lack of inches. She even apologized for flirting with His Hairiness, maintaining that she was just trying to make me jealous…and make herself feel better too. She claimed that she had felt overshadowed by Candice and her amazing…proportions.

“I know that was small…err petty of me. But Hon, I don’t love you any less because you’re boy sized,” Molly assured me. “It’s because of me that this is happening to you. You wanted to make me happy. I love you even more for that. I’m sorry that your size is upsetting you, but I want you to know that I find you incredibly attractive. In fact, you’re more attractive to me than ever. I think you’re totally hot like this.”

Molly grinned at me slyly, unfastened her belt and slid forward in her seat as she leaned across the space between us and slipped a hand under my shorts and down the inside of my thigh. Her hand seemed bigger than ever against my little leg as she finished in a whisper just loud enough to reach my ears above the muted roar of the engines:

“If daddy wasn’t along I would have you out of those little shorts of yours so fast it would make your head spin. I’ve always wanted to do it on a jet.”

How could I stay angry? A tall, beautiful, incredibly sexy woman was leaning over me with her hand in a very…friendly place, telling me that she thought I was hot, and that she wanted to rip my clothes off. My male pride felt restored. I might be a tiny twerp, but I still had the love of my beautiful Molly – my big, beautiful Molly. Although most of me had shrunk, there was one part of my body that was growing now – make that two parts. Like the Grinch, my wounded heart grew three sizes that day. I felt overwhelmed by a rush of warm emotion, and overwhelmed by Molly’s enlarged and very sexy presence too. I wanted her to rip my cloths off, Walter or no Walter.

Of course, Molly didn’t rip my clothes off…in the cabin. However we did manage a ‘quickie’ in the tiny lavatory at the back of plane while Walter slept and the pilots were eating a meal in the cockpit. We felt daring, and very wicked. We giggled over the fact that we would not have fit in the cramped lavatory together if I were any “bigger”. I sat on the head while Molly “climbed” aboard, pressing me down with her substantial weight as she rode me up and down. With Molly up in the saddle, and with her longer torso, her wonderfully full breasts were at a perfect height for nuzzling, and the vibration of the plane added a little something extra to Molly’s energetic…posting. I highly recommend “doing it” on a jet, assuming you’re not too big to double up in the lavatory, that is. Ah, the advantages of being a nice, compact size. The initial turbulence aside, it was a pleasant flight – a very pleasant flight.

***

I stayed over at Molly’s place Sunday night so that she could come with me to my appointment at the MPC clinic the next morning – and so that she could do a little of that clothes ripping that she had promised. The clothes ripping was fun, although it turned into more of a slow peel than a rip. I thanked Molly…profusely…for helping me out of my shorts. I was also grateful the next morning that she had offered to drive me to my appointment, because I was even shorter than the day before, and by quite a bit. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to operate the clutch on my own car if I had to drive myself. In her bare feet Molly now topped me by a full head. My eye level was an inch below her collar bone and when she stood in front of me my view ahead was blocked by her shoulders. Once again, I felt a surge of mixed emotions. I felt chagrined and despondent over my further shrinkage, but at the same time, whenever I stood next to Molly and looked way up at her I felt aroused. How could I feel so…diminished, but at the same time be so turned on by being towered over? I didn’t have time to dwell on it, however, because we were due at the clinic at 9:00 AM, and as usual, Molly was running late. She didn’t even have time to measure me.

When we arrived at the clinic Monday morning the gum chewing blond who usually worked the weekend shift was seated behind the reception desk. Before when I came in for my regular Saturday appointments she had flirted with me as I signed in, making it very clear that she liked what she saw. But this time she just stared at me. In fact, she lost her gum as she gaped at me open mouthed. Seated behind her desk our heads were on a level. It was when she looked down to make sure that’s all there was of me that her gum fell out. Did she think I had walked in from the parking lot on my knees? I know some very smart women with blond hair, but this one was definitely a member of the subspecies femalius blondus dumbass. Or maybe she was just pretending to be a dumb blond. When she bent down to retrieve her gum I spotted dark roots, so I guess she was really a dumb brunette.

The big med tech, Matty, was on duty that morning as well. It was Matty who measured me before escorting me into the examining room, while Nurse Pit Bull hovered behind his shoulder and recorded my “statistics” as he read them off. According to the all too accurate high-tech scale, I was 54.2 inches tall. As I had feared, I had shrunk even more than the day before, down more than two inches. Damn! I weighed 70.4 lbs, cloths and all. A boy's size 12 pair of shorts and a t-shirt don't weigh all that much, but in my birthday suit I would have been at least a pound lighter, maybe two. Molly would be happy though. I was only a fraction of an inch above the four and half footer that she had hoped for. Even short, stocky Nurse Nagamo seemed huge to me, and scarier than ever now that she towered six inches above me. Six foot four inch barrel chested Matty positively dwarfed me. With my further diminution he seemed even bigger to me than His Hairiness had. My face was level with Matty’s substantial stomach and when he held the door to the examining room for me I was able to walk right under his outstretched arm with plenty of room too spare. I could have used his outstretched arm to do chin ups, if it hadn’t been too big around for me to grip, that is. Next to Matty’s mountainous bulk I felt like a little boy.

“You don’t need to undress yet, Jake.” Matty said, looking down on me from what seemed like balcony level. “We’re going to take you down to the lab for more extensive testing a little later. But first we’re just going to draw some blood and administer the immunity booster shot that the lab guys cooked up for you. Go ahead and hop up on the examining table.”

I stood for a moment staring at the table – the very tall examining table. How the hell was I supposed to “hop” way up there? Was this one higher than standard? It sure seemed that way. The top was level with my ribs. I looked for the pull out drawers at the base that I remembered from visits to my pediatrician as a little boy, the ones that were really sliding steps that could be pulled out for…smaller patients to mount. But if this table had built-in steps it wasn’t immediately obvious how to open them. I guess they didn’t get many…pediatric size patients at the MPC research clinic. Or perhaps they had different rooms for the little ones – rooms with lower tables, bright colors, and wallpaper with cute little fuzzy animals…and maybe a lollipop or a balloon if I managed not to cry when I got my shot.

Fortunately, while I might be smaller than the clinic’s other adult patients, I was athletic and physically fit. After pausing for a moment to study the situation, I decided the more dignified way to “hop up” would be to stand with my backside against the table and my hands planted on the surface on either side, then spring upwards pushing off with my legs while hoisting myself the rest of the way with my arms. That would be better than starting out facing the table and having to pivot in mid air like a gymnast. Before I could move to position myself, however, I suddenly felt a pair of enormous hands grab me below my arms as my feet left the floor and I was lifted, rotated and plopped down unceremoniously with my little fanny on the table and my legs dangling over the edge. I hadn’t realized that Matty was still standing behind me. He had seen my dilemma and had decided to lend a hand. Damn, this was the second time in just three days that I had been picked up by a much bigger, stronger guy…effortlessly. Was this going to happen often? Face it Stratton, you’re not even a flyweight anymore, I thought to myself sourly. I would have preferred that Matty have asked first -- so that I could tell him ‘no thanks, I can handle it.’ But I thanked him for the lift anyway, trying to seem casual about it, as though being helped up onto an examining table was perfectly normal, a service that every patient received. Inside, however, I felt humiliated, and very small.

As Matty applied the rubber tourniquet and drew several vials of blood, I couldn’t help noticing how spindly my little arm seemed in comparison to his impossibly huge hands. After Matty had drawn the blood samples, he left and was replaced by Nurse Pit Bull, who entered the room with a syringe so enormous that it looked like it belonged to a vet – a syringe for cattle. Instead of administering the shot in my arm, as I had expected, she ordered me briskly to pull down my shorts and lie face down on the table, or as she put it,

“Sunny side up, young man, and no dawdling. You'll only feel a little pinch.”

I got the feeling that the Pit Bull was enjoying this. As I was lying in that undignified position, tensing for the stab from that enormous needle, the door opened and I heard Dr. Johnston’s husky laugh. Just what I needed right then, another woman who enjoyed seeing me in…compromising positions.

“I see I arrived just in time. And what a lovely view,” I heard the doctor say in her sexy voice. “How are we doing this morning petty boy?”

How did she think I was doing? I was four and half feet tall, weighed less than 70 lbs, and was lying ass up with my shorts pulled down waiting to be injected from a syringe big enough for a bull. But social convention took hold as I responded,

I’m doing fi…oww!”

True to form, Nurse Pit Bill had managed to find the most tender spot possible to drive in that giant needle. I felt a sharp stab, hardly the little pinch she had promised, followed by a feeling of pressure that seemed to go on and on…and on. Eventually the enormous needle was withdrawn, to be followed immediately by a cold sensation as the Pit Bull swabbed my bottom with a cotton pad moistened with alcohol. She seemed to take her time swabbing, and she seemed to be covering more area with her…swabbing than strictly necessary – not that I had much ass left to cover.

Finally, I heard Doc Johnston say,

“Thank you Franny, I think you've tormented the poor boy long enough. Now then sweet cheeks, much as I’m enjoying the view of your smooth little backside, go ahead and sit up and pull up your shorts."

I did as the Doc had ordered, except that I did it in reverse, wriggling to pull up my shorts while I remained lying down, before rolling over and sitting up. As I surfaced the doctor was smiling down at me…broadly, more of a grin really. I felt myself flushing, and watched as her smile widened even more as she broke into her sexy chuckle.

“Oh I’m bad, I know. But I just love the way you blush, Jake, like a pretty girl.” Doc Johnston’s tone turned more professional as she continued, “The shot Mrs. Nagamo just gave you will take care of your…little problem. I had my people working overtime to come up with it. But just to be sure, we’re going to send you home with a syringe kit and a supply of the immunity stimulator so that you can give yourself a booster shot every few days.”

Great, I was going to have to stick myself at home, or worse, have Molly do it. I just hoped the home ‘kit’ didn’t include a cattle syringe. And I didn't appreciate her reference to my "little problem" either. My problem was definitely not little.

Doc Johnston continued blithely on, ignoring the expression on my face,

“First, however, we need to find out just why you’re still shrinking more than two weeks after your last dose of Shrinkx2.3. I’d like you to come down to the lab with me for a few tests. Don’t pout dear, we’ll have you out of her in no time, I promise.”

I guess she had noticed my expression. But I wasn’t pouting. I was glowering!

Dr. Johnston’s "no time” turned out to be the balance of the morning. And this time I did have to put on the hospital gown first. On me the standard issue gown was almost formal length, coming down nearly to my ankles. To make matters worse, before I disrobed Dr. Johnston decided to ‘help’ me down from my perch on the examining table, and like Matty, she didn’t ask first. As my feet touched the floor I made the mistake of looking up, only to discover that my view of the rest of the doctor was completely blocked by her Titanic prow, hovering just inches from my face as she bent over me. Glancing down I could see that she was wearing shoes with heels higher than any I had seen her wear before, elevating her past six feet. Even when she straightened up her…shelf jutted out above my head, like an awning. I felt completely dwarfed by the woman, and more than a little unmanned by how small I was in comparison.

When my ordeal of being poked, prodded, X-rayed, scanned and otherwise thoroughly examined finally ended, I discovered that my true ordeal was just beginning. As I joined Molly in the waiting room she put down her magazine and announced portentously that she was going to take me…shopping. Shopping was the one activity which Molly liked even better than sex. I sighed. It was clearly going to be a very long day. Seeing my mulish expression, Molly admonished me,

“Don't be petulant Jake. You can’t go back to work dressed in an over-size t-shirt and shorts so big they threaten to slide down each time you move.” Then she added happily, “you need a whole new wardrobe.”

First pouty and now petulant. Because of my size did these Amazon women see me as an recalcitrant little boy, rather than a man? They were certainly treating me that way. Had I been reduce to the status of a pouting child?

***

That afternoon was my first exposure to being out in public at four and half feet tall. As we strolled through the mall every adult we passed towered above me. And most of those towering adults were women! There were a surprising number of shoppers out that afternoon, considering that it was a weekday. But then the stores were all running August back-to-school sales. Many of the other shoppers appeared to be stay-at-home moms, or working mother’s who had taken the day off to shop for school clothes, often with a child, or two, or three, in tow. The little girls all seemed happy and excited to be out shopping with their mothers. Indoctrination begins at a young age. But I also suspect that contrary to current feminist theory, it’s not all nurture. Women seem to be born with a shopping gene that most males lack.

Unlike the girls, the boys being pulled along by their mothers, especially the older ones, did not look happy. Neither did I. For one thing, I was very conscious of the funny looks and outright stares that I was attracting, far more than when I was five feet nothing, or even five feet minus two. It’s unusual to see a man who is barely five feet tall, and even rarer to see one who is below five feet. There are, however, some very short but otherwise perfectly normal men who fall into the upper four foot range. But a man who misses the five foot mark by almost six inches cannot be described as “in the normal range”, even under the most charitable definition of the term. Somewhere between five feet nothing and my present four feet six and…less than a quarter, I had crossed the line. As Molly had suggested when she measured me the day before, I was a little person now.

According to the children’s growth chart at the MPC clinic, I was now barely average height for a boy just turning ten. And although I looked younger than my age, I certainly didn't look like a ten year old. I didn't sound like one either. My voice might have climbed a bit more, but I was still a tenor, or at least a low alto, not a boy soprano. It was obvious to anyone who looked closely, or who overheard me speaking with Molly, that I was not a little boy.

I suspected that some of the curious glances were the result of other women trying to figure out my relationship with Molly. Women like to do that – speculate about relationships. What was this little sawed-off, baby-faced runt doing with such an exceptionally attractive woman in her mid-twenties; a young woman who could clearly have had her pick of good looking, taller men? Was I her very short, very young looking boyfriend; her little brother – we didn't look anything alike; or was I an unusually mature sounding boy out shopping for school clothes with his babysitter?

The children who stared at me were even more directly appraising than their mothers, especially the younger ones. I found it particularly disconcerting that so many of these grade school kids were staring at me from right at or close to my eye level. In fact the older ones were staring down at me!

As I was sill taking in the disconcerting view from my new…perspective, Molly suggested that we stop at the food court for a snack. She had been in too much of a hurry to hit the stores to take time out for lunch at the MPC cafeteria first. While I stood in line for our food Molly went to stake out a table. As I was waiting to order a little girl who was standing directly in front of me in line turned around and examined me curiously. She was with her mother, a tall, distracted looking woman talking into her cell phone, and a towheaded boy about my height – well, a little taller actually. From the resemblance to the girl and her mother, the boy was undoubtedly her older brother. I guessed that the boy was ten or eleven, and the girl was about seven. She had a round face, blond hair in a short pixie cut with bangs across her forehead that made her face even rounder, and eyes almost as blue as mine -- a cute little thing, except that she wasn’t exactly little, at least to me. She reminded me of my sister Beth at that age…only much, much taller! I was sixteen when Beth was seven, and had reached my full height by then, although I was still pretty skinny, a long, thin bean pole. As a second grader Beth had seemed tiny to me. But the top of this…little…girl’s head rose almost to my eyes.

After staring at me for what seemed like a full minute, the child addressed me, without preamble, as directly as she had been examining me:

"I'm going into first grade, what grade are you?"

First grade! That meant she was six, even younger than I had thought. She was certainly tall for her age. Although on second thought, maybe she was only moderately tall. At least I could still look down at her, however, unlike her brother. I managed a smile, although I suspect it was a weak one, as I answered,

"I'm not in a grade. I'm a grown up. I've already graduated from college."

I could have mentioned my master’s degree too, but I doubt if that would have meant anything to the child. As it was the girl's eyes grew rounder as she looked back at me.

"Wow, I thought you looked kind of old, but you're really short. I've never seen a grownup as little as you. My brother is bigger and he's only nine and a half, going into fourth grade. He's the third biggest boy in his class," she added proudly.

Hearing the reference to himself, the girl's older brother now turned to stare at me too – stare down at me. He was defiantly taller than I was, by a good three inches. He must have been slouching before. He wasn't slouching now, however. He was sturdily built too, almost stocky – bigger around than I was! And he was only the third biggest boy in his class? If this kid was number three, just how big were numbers one and two? This gigantic boy was the same age as young Brandon, the very tall nine year old who had been my buddy on the plane going over to Maui. But although this youngster seemed even bigger to me than Brandon had, he was actually shorter than Brandon by a couple of inches, I realized. That was an unpleasant thought. Just over a week ago I had been the one looking down. Brandon would tower over me now, even more than this kid.

The enormous fourth grader looked at me appraisingly, as though sizing me up for a wrestling match. Then he grinned. It wasn't a pleasant grin.

"I'm four feet nine and a half. What are you, four six?" Definitely a belligerent tone there.

"Four six…and a quarter," I answered, fudging only a little.

"Wow, that's totally cool. You're like super short…for a grownup. But you don't look that old. Are you really a grownup?

"Almost twenty seven," I answered, trying to maintain a polite tone and fudging a little more. I felt justified in stretching the truth, given the challenging way the kid was staring at me. "I just look young," I added, sounding defensive even to my ears.

"Yah, you look like you could be in junior high. Our big brother is thirteen and he looks almost as old as you. He's like a foot taller too. You must have been this tall when you were his age."

The boy held his hand out level with his chest, well below his six year old sister's height. I was tempted to tell him that I had passed six feet before I turned fourteen. But he wouldn't have believed me.

The big kid continued in a resentful tone,

"Kyle got to stay home by himself. But Mom made me come, even though I didn't want to, just because he's bigger. It's not fair! I wish Kyle was a midget like you. I bet mom would have let me stay home and made him come instead. And then I could be the big brother and push him around instead of him bossing me."

The kid had actually called me a midget. What a brat! He clearly needed some training in tact, not to mention political correctness. The proper term was ‘little person’, not ‘midget’! Thankfully the children's mother had finally received her order. She now ended her cell phone conversation and turned to herd her nosy offspring over to a table. As she did so she looked down at me curiously for a moment too, clearly noticing me for the first time. I had been standing directly behind the woman for several minutes and talking to her kids, for crying out loud! Just because I’m short doesn’t mean I’m invisible. But I guess it’s easy to overlook someone when they’re…way down there. I didn't even reach this woman's shoulder. As I bent my neck back to look up at her I put on a false smile and complimented her though gritted teeth on what well-mannered children she had. She looked astonished. So did the pimply teenager behind the cash register when I stepped up to place my order. The tall display counter came up to my chin and the kid had to lean around his cash register to see me. As he peered down at me with that incredulous look I felt like a…midget.

***

We managed to find clothes that looked reasonably grown up in the children’s sections of the higher end department stores, although Molly insisted that since I wasn’t due back at work until Wednesday, tomorrow we should visit the Brooks Brothers store downtown as well. She had heard they had good quality boy’s suits. I wore a boy’s size 10 now, although I was actually near the lower end of the size 10 range. Shirts in that size fit me okay, but in pants I needed a size ten slim, and the bottoms on some of the pants were borderline too long. It was the shoes that turned out to be the bigger problem, however. My feet were now very small. At the shoe store the sales clerk measured my foot and announced that I was a little boy’s size 13, the equivalent of a US men’s and big boy’s size zero, and a US women’s size two. From my heel to the top of my big toe my foot was 7.25 inches long, and narrow in proportion to its length.

“I’ve been selling shoes for ten years and I’ve never seen a man with such tiny feet, so dainty” the clerk said to Molly as the two women carried on a conversation about me… over my head…and as though I wasn’t there.

Molly cheerfully pointed out that she wore a women’s size six, four sizes bigger than me!

We finally found some loafers in my size that didn't look too juvenile. They would work for the office. I purchased two pairs, one in brown and one in black. But Molly insisted that we also purchase a pair of Sketchers Hot Lights – the ones with Velcro straps and toes that light up when you walk – just for fun, she said. She paid for them herself, as a present. Some present. I didn’t see the fun in them. I was okay with the pop-out roller shoes however. Molly and I both lived a few blocks from the beach boardwalk, and we liked to roller blade on the weekends. The convertible roller shoes might actually be fun -- even if they were bright orange…with navy toes…and white stars.

Back at Molly’s townhouse, when we were finally done shopping for the day, Molly insisted on measuring my hands too. If anything, my hands were even smaller proportionately than my feet. The distance from my wrist to the tip of my middle finger was just five inches, and my hands were only a little over 3 inches wide at their widest across the base of my thumb. Molly insisted on taking a few more measurements to see whether there was any truth to the supposed correlation between hand and foot size and penis size. She just couldn’t help herself. In a flaccid state I was admittedly rather…small. But fully inflated I was up to the job, as I proved to Molly later that evening in bed. I just had to work a little harder, that’s all.

***

After our foray to Brooks Brothers the next morning, Molly insisted that we make one more stop, this time to the tailor who made her father’s custom suits.

“Your new suit and the two sports jackets from Brooks Brothers are reasonably grown up looking, but you’re going to need a tux for Nana’s party, hon. I don’t want you looking like a ring bearer at someone’s wedding in a ill-fitting rented boy’s tux.”

This was the first I had heard about a party at Nana’s. I was now informed that as soon as she heard about our engagement Molly’s awful grandmother had announced that she was going to throw an engagement party for her only granddaughter and that ‘tall hunk of a fianc?e of hers’. Nana hadn’t seen me since I shrank, and I gather that she hadn’t gotten the memo. Molly thought the reference to me as a “that tall hunk” was absolutely hilarious.

“I’ll have to warn Nana that you’re more of a cute little morsel now than a tall hunk,” Molly laughed.

The party was three weeks away, which was just enough time for the tailor to finish my tux and two custom made shirts to go with it. According to Molly, it’s always a good idea to have a spare tuxedo shirt. I pointed out dryly that this was the first formal occasion to which we had been invited since we began dating.

Molly smiled, and then replied innocently,

“But sweetie, now that you’re kid size, I’m afraid you might spill.”

She said it in front of the tailor too, which made it worse.

“Maybe you should just buy me a bib” I responded sarcastically. “It would be a lot cheaper.”

The tailor was a little man, no more than five foot three himself, but very plump, with round, pink cheeks, an even rounder stomach, and chubby little hands, like an overgrown baby. Well, his hands were bigger than mine, but they were little in absolute terms. Being so short himself I think the guy got a charge out of the fact that I didn’t even come up to his chin. He certainly took his time measuring me, clucking and fussing and lingering just a bit longer than strictly necessary in a few places. From his mannerisms I suspected he was gay. But his reaction probably had more to do with getting a kick out of being able to look down at another man for a change, instead of up.

What is it about being small that makes people want to measure me? Did I make the chubby little tailor feel like a great big man? How nice for him. He was certainly going to charge a great big price for his work. When he announced the cost of that one tux and two custom shirts it made my jaw drop, and that was with the 'special discount' that he supposedly threw in for being the future son-in-law of one of his ‘best customers’. It wasn’t as though my tux was going to use much material. So why was it going to cost twice as much as the rest of my new wardrobe put together? This one acquisition would use up the remainder of my generous stipend from MPC, and then some. But it was the price I had to pay for marrying into money, I suppose. I wondered what other little sticker shocks I was going to encounter along the way to the alter.

Chapter 13 – Partying Down at Nana’s

I spent the three weeks between my return from Hawaii and our engagement party at Nana’s getting used to my new perspective. The immunity booster cooked up by the MPC lab guys had worked. I shrank a fraction of an inch more, but then stabilized at 53.9 inches, close enough that I could claim that I was four feet six without blinking. But now that I had finally stopped shrinking I had to come to grips with the reality that I would be seeing the world from the perspective of a ten year old boy for the rest of my life, looking up at every adult I met. To be brutally honest, I was a little below average even for a ten year old. I was living in a world of giants.

At work my feet dangled off the floor when I sat at my desk, I had to stand on a chair to reach the upper drawers in the filing cabinets, and the keyboard and mouse for my computer were awkwardly large for my small hands. But the short jokes had finally stopped. Everyone was too shocked at seeing me more than a head shorter than the already very short guy I had been before I left for vacation.

I would almost have preferred the jokes, however. Instead of jokes my coworkers tiptoed gingerly around the subject of my height, carefully avoiding all comment. Some of them went out of their way to avoid me too, except when they were forced to speak with me about a work matter. In an office with ten principals, 30 staff and an easy-going informality, that kind of avoidance is pretty obvious. It was as though I were walking around with something disgusting sticking out of my nostril, or a bad case of halitosis, obvious to everyone but me, but which they were too polite to mention. So instead, they just pretended to ignore my unfortunate condition, or turned away. It was bad enough being reminded of how short I was every time I carried on a conversation and had to look way up at someone. With the women in the office in particular I was careful to maintain eye contact, even if it made my neck sore. I didn’t want anyone accusing me of staring at her boobs if I looked straight ahead. But the pointed silences about my diminished height, and the avoidance of me as well as the subject, made me feel alienated, and even more diminished that I was. I was temped to climb on a chair in the middle of the office and shout “Four feet six. Yah, I’m a little person, get used to it!”

Getting to and from work in a city with limited public transportation was also a problem that had to be dealt with. As I had feared, I really was too short now to drive my car, a battered eight year old Honda Civic. The Honda had been my present from my parents when I graduated from high school, before Dad died, although I had proudly contributed to the cost with earnings I had saved from mowing lawns and cleaning pools. It was my first car, the one that had seen me through college and grad school, and I was fond of it. I was also too poor still to replace it, especially now with a wedding coming up. My Civic was a stripped down economy model which lacked a height adjustment for the driver’s seat. It also had a manual transmission with a very stiff clutch. Although I could manage to engage the clutch if I sat forward in the seat and stretched, I just wasn’t strong enough anymore to operate it for extended periods in heavy traffic. I could have shelled out to have the seat raised and a set of pedal extenders installed, but those modifications wouldn’t have solved the stiff clutch / weak leg problem. Who wants to sink money like that into an aging car anyway?

Fortunately, Molly had been lusting after a new BMW convertible, and after spending two weeks driving the one that her parents kept in the garage at the condo, she was ready to go for it. She leased a new car and gave me her old one to drive, a Lexus IS 300 which her parents had purchased for her a few years before. The baby Lexus was a bit of a chic car, and to make matters worse, it was yellow, but it had an automatic transmission and a power seat that went up as well as forward. I was grateful for Molly’s generosity. With the aid of a couple of cushions – one behind my back and the other under my butt – I was able to drive, which preserved my independence at least. In turn I handed my old car down to my little sister Beth so that she could learn to handle a stick. No one would mind if she burned out the clutch in my elderly Honda – no one but me that is. Beth was delighted, but she just couldn’t help using the occasion to get in a little dig at me. She joked that now that I was her LITTLE brother, my car was really a hand-me-up not a hand-me-down. Ingrate!

Although my transportation problem was solved, on my second day back at work I discovered that I had another related problem. Driving home from the office I was pulled over by a cop who thought I was a junior high kid out for a joy ride. My ID didn’t help. The cop, a beefy woman head and shoulders taller than me, was sure that the six foot four inch Jacob Stratton on my driver’s license must be my older and much taller brother. I showed the officer the official looking papers from MPC, but the more I tried to explain in a reasonable tone, the madder she got. She ended up "hauling my sorry little ass", as she put it, down to the station where I could explain to my parents when they came to get me why I was driving a car underage and trying to pass myself off as my big brother. If Molly hadn’t been home and available to come downtown and vouch for me, I probably would have spent the night in juvenile detention. As it was, it took three hours and a call to Doctor Johnston at her home to straighten things out. Molly thought the whole incident was hilarious, especially the threat of reform school. All the way home she kept joking about those "big bad junior high delinquents at the juvenile home" and what they might do to a cute little boy like me. I was not amused!

After the incident with the cop, I decided that I needed to get my driver’s license renewed…with a new picture…and my corrected statistics. But that proved to be harder than I thought. There was a box on the form for ‘lost license’, one for ‘change of address’, and even one for ‘change of gender’ – I live in California after all. But there was no box for ‘shrinking’. Without a box to check the bureaucrats at the DMV were clueless as to how to proceed. My sister Stacie ended up having to write a legally threatening letter on my behalf, submit a formal affidavit from Doctor Johnston, and make multiple phone calls to people in high places in Sacramento. Once I finally had my new license I still got pulled over, but at least I could now avoid the threat of juvenile court.

Stacie, who was expecting the birth of her twins any day and had already begun her maternity leave, was bored, so my driver’s license fiasco gave her something to do. Unfortunately, she also had plenty of time to lecture me in her best and most annoying big sister tone about how I had foolishly let myself get into this situation in the first place. She wasn’t all that happy about my engagement either.

“Strong relationships are grounded in mutual respect, Jake. It’s not healthy to be marrying someone who can wrap you around her finger the way Molly does. She’s got you by short hairs, LITTLE brother.”

Stacie knew me entirely too well, and she was never one to mince words. But I took some consolation in the irony of that particular lecture coming from someone who had her own easygoing husband trained to sit up, beg and roll over on command. I also got the same lecture from Mom, however, although in Mom’s case, stated more diplomatically…and one from Beth too. The nerve! Just because Beth was almost a foot and half taller didn’t mean my little sister had the right to talk down to me that way. It didn’t exactly help either that when I stood next to my 5’11” baby sister I was acutely conscious of the fact that Beth looked very grown up, and that her grown up looking breasts were now above my eye level. It left me with the weird feeling that our roles really had been reversed somehow; that I was now Beth’s baby brother.

Thankfully, the women in my family soon had things other than little me to occupy their attention. Stacie’s twins arrived a few days after my drivers license mess was finally straightened out, a little girl, Emily Elizabeth, named after Tom’s grandmother and mother, and a boy named Jacob Thomas, after St. Tom and my Dad. Jacob was an old Stratton family name which had been passed down through the generations in our family, even when it was out of fashion. The name was currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity, but when I was a kid it had seemed embarrassingly old fashioned. That’s why my family had always called me ‘Jake’, instead of Jacob. We were informed in no uncertain terms, however, that Stacie’s son would be ‘Jacob’. No nicknames for Stacie’s kids. I had a strong suspicion that the poor kid was going to hear his middle name a lot too, as in Jacob Thomas do this and Jacob Thomas do that.

The other big event that helped take the focus off of me, or at least my height, was the arrival of the invitations to Nana’s party – beautifully engraved and very expensive looking invitations – along with personal notes form the famous Monica Bryan herself. The notes were nothing special, full of the usual social platitudes about ‘what a fine young man’ I was and how much credit to my family, and how Monica was looking forward to meeting the women who had done such an outstanding job rearing me. Even the note to Beth said something along those lines. God! Beth was bubbling over with excitement, and Mom was only slightly more constrained. Monica Bryan was a legend, after all; a legend who lived an almost royal existence in one of the grandest early twentieth century mansions in Southern California. And given the crowd she ran with, there would undoubtedly be at least a few twenty-first century celebrities or near-celebs in attendance in addition to the old legend herself. Even hard-headed Stacie was impressed. She informed me with more detail than I cared to know that since she had no intention of breast feeding, she and Tom could well leave the twins at home with the nanny for a few hours. It was arranged that Mom and Beth would drive with Tom and Stacie, while Molly and I, as the guests of honor, would travel separately, so that we could arrive early and stay for the entire show.

Oh, and there was one other big development during those three weeks leading up to the party – I moved in with Molly. The lease was coming up on my studio apartment and Molly said that now that we were engaged there was no reason for me to renew it. I would save money by not having to pay rent. Sharing the walk-in closet in the master bedroom was out of the question, of course, since it was stuffed to the ceiling with Molly’s clothes, purses and shoes, especially the shoes. But she graciously offered to let me clear out the smaller closet in the guest room across the hall. All of the clothes in there were ‘so last season’, she said. The guest room closet wasn’t very big, but it had more than enough space for my things now that they took up so little room, as Molly kindly pointed out. Besides, I was sleeping at Molly’s place four out of five nights already…if you can call it sleeping. Molly was VERY enthusiastic about my new size.

***

Nana’s ‘little get-together’ with a ‘few of her friends’ turned out to be nothing of the kind, of course. But it was everything that my family had hoped for, and more. There must have been at least four hundred guests in attendance that evening, including more than a few of the show business crowd. I had never seen so many beautiful people in one place. I had never seen quite so many women in teeny weeny cocktail dresses that pushed the definition of ‘low cut’ either. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But it was a bit disconcerting the way I kept getting a face full of mammary glands every time I turned around. With all of those expensive surgical enhancements on display at eye level, it was like watching an anniversary episode of Nip Tuck. I was getting a crick in my neck trying to avoid staring at all that feminine pulchritude hanging at eye level.

Molly’s fourteen year old cousin, Luke, the older son of her father’s half brother, was certainly enjoying himself. The kid was a head taller than me, but short for a fourteen year old boy. Nana’s genes were dominant in all of her progeny. Having been Luke’s height briefly on the way down, I knew that the view from his level must be pretty good too. In fact, his view was probably better than mine. Given how many of the women present were wearing very tall heels, a good portion of the d?colletage on display that evening was actually above my eye level. Luke probably had a better view looking slightly down than I did looking up. Unlike me, however, Luke didn’t even try to keep his eyes focused elsewhere. He was at that awkward age, when hormones are surging, but without the social maturity to know how to deal with it. The little pervert was so obvious about where he was looking that Nana finally sent him off to watch a movie in the home theatre, along with his younger brother.

I was sorry to see the boys go. Notwithstanding Luke’s harmless teenage ogling, they seemed like nice kids. And I had been delighted when I was introduced to the younger one, Trevor, who was not quite twelve, to discover that he was close to my size, small like his brother and the rest of the family. After my encounter with that overgrown nine year old at the mall it was a pleasure to meet a sixth grader who didn’t tower over me. When I was introduced to Molly’s Uncle and Aunt and the boys before the party I had asked Trevor how tall he was. He replied that he was four six, so I stuck out my hand and said “put ‘er there, so am I.” Everyone had laughed, which helped cut the awkwardness of discovering that Molly’s fianc?e was no bigger than her undersized eleven and a half year old cousin. Actually, I was surprised when Trevor had answered that he was four six. He looked more like four seven to me, an inch or so taller than I was. He must have had a growth spurt since that last time he was measured. The kid was close enough to my size, however, that we were able to connect – fellow members of the four and half club. With the boys gone off to watch their movie it left me as the only kid sized person at the party.

I felt very conspicuous standing next to Molly in my ‘darling little tux’, as Nana had pronounced it, as the guests circulated over to greet us. Actually, what Nana had said was:

“Don’t you look adorable in that darling little tux, so grownup.”

Unlike me Nana was getting a rise out of the fact that I was four inches shorter than she was even without her shoes. When we first arrived Nana had kicked off her heels and made me stand face to face with her, cackling with delight as she looked down at me. Talk about embarrassing.

Molly was wearing tall shoes too, yet another new pair purchased for the occasion. I was acutely conscious that in my custom made low heeled dress shoes – the tailor had a cobbler friend, even more expensive than he was – my head didn’t even reach Molly’s collar bone. It didn’t help matters that my ‘darling little’ tuxedo pants seemed a trifle loose, as well as a tad too long, and that the sleeves of my jacket kept sliding down a little too far over my hands. Walter’s expensive tailor was definitely not all he was cracked up to be. I hadn’t noticed that the tux was too big when I went in for my final fitting earlier in the week. But I only had it on for a few minutes, and frankly, I had been too busy worrying about where the chubby little tailor was going to put his too friendly hands next to pay attention to the fit. I didn’t have Molly with me for protection that day, and I was feeling…nervous. It was clear now that the tailor had gotten my measurements wrong.

The expressions on the faces of Nana’s guests as they were introduced to me and found themselves looking so far down would have been comical if the reason for those funny looks hadn’t been me. Knowing Nana and her…proclivities, I’m sure they were expecting that her only granddaughter, who looked so much like her, would be marrying a great big, lusty fellow. Instead, they found themselves introduced to a tiny little twerp who didn’t even reach his petite fianc?e’s shoulder. More than a few of these people were actors – or at least called themselves actors. But when they saw me for the first time they couldn’t seem to act at all. Their eyes would widen involuntarily and more than a few had to struggle or even turn away briefly to hide their smiles. They couldn’t hide the amusement in their voices when they spoke either. A lot of the men called me ‘son’ as they looked down on me patronizingly, all the while applying bone crushing pressure to my hand, or worse yet, attempting to knock me over with a hearty clap on the back – “son” as in “you’ve got yourself quite a prize there, son.” The tone in which they said it made it clear that they were having trouble understanding how a little runt like me could end up with a prize like Molly.

The women were even worse. They all made a show of kissing me, given me an eye full as they leaned over to do it – deliberately it seemed – and sometimes forcing me to stretch up ridiculously on my toes in order to air kiss their cheeks in return. Southern California is a kissy-face place, and the Westside crowd is even worse -- the Westside of LA includes Beverly Hills, Bel Air and the other celebrity studded neighborhoods all the way out to Santa Monica, but its really more a state of mind than an address. What I wouldn’t have given for a little New England reserve right about then. A few of the more matronly ladies, friends of Nana’s, actually had the nerve to pat me on the head as they commented on ‘what a handsome boy’ I was. Two of them even pinched my cheek…and one had the audacity to pinch my bottom when she thought Molly wasn’t looking -- another handy Candy who thought she could take liberties just because I was petite. Not that these older women were all that matronly, really, with their rictus smiles from too much Botox, nipped, tucked and painted into dresses that would be daring on women half their age. Many of them looked like they were wearing plastic body masks of twenty year olds, a little stretched from over-use. That’s unkind of me, I know, but being patted on the head like a little boy, or pinched on the cheek – or worse, on the ass – by these artificially youthful dowagers didn’t leave me feeling particularly charitable.

It was a relief when my family finally arrived and I had an excuse to focus my attention on them instead. But my family stayed just long enough to be introduced to Molly’s relatives, and to witness Walter’s gracious toast before Stacie started getting antsy. Tom was clearly having a good time – what man wouldn’t with so many gorgeous woman walking around half clad. But Stacie was feeling more maternal than any of us had expected, including Stacie. Beth was having a wonderful time too, celebrity spotting and doing more than a little ogling of her own at the younger male set, not to mention Nana’s chauffeur and pool boy who were helping her equally buffed butler with the serving. Molly had told me that the butler, whom Nana addressed by his last name, Jensen, was a recent acquisition, a wannna-be actor and former fitness instructor whose qualifications for the job consisted of having once played a butler in a high school production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and his very large…muscles. Beth was particularly fascinated by Jensen. But Mom and Stacie, between the two of them, managed to drag her away.

That left me without cover again. I didn’t even have Molly’s parents to talk too. Nana seemed to want to hover close by Molly…and me. Like I said, she was getting a kick out of having someone shorter around. But although Walter and his half brother and their wives all appeared to get along very well with each other, they were not on similarly good terms with Nana. In fact, they exhibited a strong preference to be anywhere that Nana wasn’t. Once the toasts and their social duties were done, Nana’s sons and their wives retired to the library for a quieter conversation…without mother. But being one of the guests of honor, and very much on display, I did not have the option of retreat.

After saying my goodbyes to Mom, my sisters and Tom, I had wormed my way back though the thicket of giants and out to the terrace where I could get a little breathing room. I was chatting with Molly, who had joined me there – along with the unshakable Nana -- with my back turned towards the house, when I heard a momentary lowering of volume, followed by an even louder buzzing that seemed to spread like ripples through the crowd. Like everyone else near us, I turned to see what was going on. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There she was; the heroine of my favorite new TV series, Harper Tallman – all 75 and a half inches of long legged, elegantly slim but very muscular and deliciously curvy woman – very curvy up top especially – and wearing her trademark form fitting spaghetti strap mini dress and high heeled boots. By leaving early my family had missed the biggest celebrity of all as she made her late arrival timed for maximum effect. To be sure, there were other celebrities at the party who were ‘bigger’ stars, but Harper Tallman was undeniably the biggest of them all when it came to sheer physical presence.

Harper was the star of the new Si-Fi series, Mega Woman, a run-away hit when it had debuted as a replacement show the previous spring. But I had been a Harper Tallman fan since her break-out role as the insatiable fem fatale in the teen cult movie, Randy Girls. She was playing a super hero now, instead of a bad girl, but there was more than a little bad behind her character’s persona as a mild mannered librarian and computer whiz with the ability to increase her height at will. Along with her inner bad girl, the show’s writers had added a little comic twist to Mega Woman’s super power. She tended to loose control over her size changing ability at times of heightened emotion, such as when she was pummeling a bad guy, enraged at some injustice or other, or when she was making love. This meant that she occasionally grew at very…inopportune moments. As an even more comical touch, Mega Woman’s frequent lovers often woke the next morning to discover that their pants were a little…roomier, and that they no longer quite measured up. It seems that Mega Women had an involuntary and unconscious reaction to sex – she tended to absorb a little of her lover's size when she…peaked. As someone who had actually experienced waking up smaller in real life, I could identify. Although I would never have admitted it to Molly, I had occasionally fantasized about Harper…err, Mega Woman.

Harper Tallman didn’t just play the part of a mega woman, however. She was the real deal. This woman didn’t need computer generated special effects to seem like a giantess, especially to me. The distance from the bottom of those stiletto heels to the top of her platinum updo had to be more than six feet eight inches. She was so tall that she had to duck as she stepped beneath the transom above the French doors opening onto the terrace.

I recognized Harper’s escort too from seeing his picture more than once on the cover of those celebrity magazines sold at grocery checkouts, but I couldn’t remember his name. Lance Something-Or-Other. He played the heartthrob on one of the daytime soaps, ‘As the Stomach Turns’ I think. Or was I confusing the title with the soap opera send-up from reruns of the Carol Burnett show? There wasn’t much difference, as far as I was concerned, except that Carol Burnett’s version was intentionally funny. Lance What’s-His-Name was impossibly good looking in his own right, and he wasn’t exactly short either, an inch or two over six feet tall, but next to the larger than life Harper, with her glittering platinum blond beauty and incredible height, he appeared downright…stubby, and almost plain. From the pouty expression on his chiseled face Lance seemed well aware that he was overshadowed, and he clearly wasn’t happy about it.

Despite the fact that I was standing next to my own dazzling fianc?e…and her formidable grandmother, I couldn’t help staring at Harper as she made her way towards us from the house. From my vantage point next to the pool, instead of being blocked by a fence made of chests and backs I had a clear view of Harper approaching down the terrace from the other side -- something that was becoming a rarity in a crowd considering how low down I was. Was it just my guilty conscious, or was Harper staring at me too? Her eyes seemed to swivel towards me the moment she stepped out of the house, and she was striding towards us now through the crowd on those impossibly long legs like a battle ship parting the waves, full steam ahead. She was no doubt heading over to pay her respects to the hostess, but for some reason I couldn’t shake the feeling that this battle ship of a woman was on the hunt, and that her big guns were aimed straight at little me.

I should have been delighted at the prospect of meeting the glamorous Harper Tallman. But the way she kept eyeing me as she steered in my direction left me with a very uneasy feeling. I felt like a mouse being sized up by a cat – a cat the size of a mountain lion. I had a strange urge to scamper off and find a hole to hide in, and to grab a piece of cheese from one of the servers on my way.

My warning instincts about Harper Tallman proved correct, and in a very spectacular way. As we were being introduced Harper had loomed over me much too close – we little guys are hyper sensitive to people invading our body space. She was even bigger in person that she looked on TV, and I don’t just mean up and down. She was well over six feet tall to begin with and with those elevated boots my eyes were approximately level with her navel. I had an up-close and personal view of toned midriff under thin, skin tight silk, with a whole lot of hilly real estate up above between my eye level and Harper’s. In order to keep my eyes focused on Harper’s face high above without having my view blocked by her magnificent…frontage as it jutted over my head, I had to keep inching back. But somehow Harper seemed to anticipate my every move, and to counter them easily without seeming to move herself. It really was like a game of cat and mouse. Looking up into her impossibly gorgeous face so high above – when I could see it – I had the distinct impression that Harper knew she was making me uncomfortable…and that she was enjoying it. Her conversation was all politely correct, but her body language and facial expressions telegraphed a very different message from her words. I was very glad when she finally left, stalking off on those long, long legs of hers to bother someone else. God, she had a magnificent ass too! I couldn't help but notice as she turned away because it was level with my chest.

Even after Harper took her T&A elsewhere, I kept feeling her eyes on me, and every time I looked over to see where she was, she was looking back at me. The spectacular part of my introduction to Harper Tallman came about a half hour after Harper’s grand entry. I was still standing by the rim of the pool briefly abandoned by Molly, being chatted down to by two of the old battle…I mean, two of Nana’s ‘dearest friends’, and feeling… claustrophobic, when someone bumped into me from behind. It was a very large someone doing the bumping, Harper Tallman in fact. In addition to being more than two feet taller in her heels, she also had at least twice my mass. And her ‘bump’ was more of a shove, really. I lost my balance, stood their flailing ineffectually for what seemed like minutes, and then slowly and dramatically toppled into the pool. If the sound of the splash wasn’t’ enough to draw everyone’s attention, the screeches from Nana’s ‘dearest friends’ as the pool water splashed over their $500 pumps and splattered the fronts of their dresses would certainly have done the trick.

As I surfaced I could hear the tittering all around me. I was a laughing stock, Molly Parker’s mini-me fianc?e knocked off balance and into the pool by a woman the size of an NBA player. To make matters worse, as I attempted to climb out, red faced and weighted down by my sodden tux, the two men who had been flirting with Harper a moment before decided simultaneously to lend a hand. I appreciated the sentiment, but I would have preferred for my two rescuers to have taken a more coordinated approach to their efforts. Each one grabbed one of my arms simultaneously and pulled up and in the opposite direction. I don’t weigh very much, even fully clothed and dripping wet, and these guys were both big. The laws of physics went into effect. I popped out of the pool like a cork out of a bottle of Champaign as my arms were pulled taught and nearly out of their sockets. My ‘helpers’, realizing that I was at risk of a dislocation, and with the same total lack of coordination, let go simultaneously, leaving me teetering precariously on the edge of the pool once again. It was Harper who saved me from a second dunking. She clamped her long hand on my shoulder and tipped me in the opposite direction. I ended up slumping against her, dripping wet, with my face pressed against her midriff.

Although my little show was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening for the other guests, I was mortified. As I pulled myself upright for the first time I wished time that I could shrink even more and disappear completely. I started to stammer an apology for leaving a wet mark on the front of her dress, but Harper, still with her hand on my shoulder, interrupted.

“Don’t worry about it, this fabric is thin and it dries quickly. I’m the one who should apologize. I’m so sorry, Jake. I didn’t see you down there. Are you all right?”

Did she have to say ‘down there’? Even worse, to my ears Harper’s words sounded…rehearsed. Despite her denial I had a sneaking suspicion that Harper had known exactly where I was. She had been watching me like a hawk since she arrived. Had she bumped into me on purpose? Despite her stunning looks, and despite those incredible breasts looming over my head as she leaned over me, I was no longer a member of her fan club. In fact, I hoped her new show tanked.

Nana bustled up at that moment, rescuing me from having to keep on making nice to the Amazon woman who had made a spectacle of me. Molly’s parents and her aunt and uncle came rushing out of the house too. They had seen the whole thing from the library windows. Great! The only one who wasn’t there was Molly. I was happy that she hadn’t witnessed my…performance, but I did wonder where she was; the powder room no doubt.

Molly’s aunt kindly offered to let me borrow some of Trevor’s clothes. The boys were staying over with Nana for the weekend and she always packed an extra change for Trevor, she said.

“That child has a remarkable affinity for spills. You know how it is with boys his age.”

I was grateful that the tactful woman hadn’t said, ‘boys his size.” Being reminded that little Trevor’s clothes would fit me was bad enough. Molly summoned Jensen the butler to fetch the clothes from the boys’ room and conduct me to a guestroom where I could change. As I followed the six foot three inch mountain of muscle into the house, a tiny wet figure in a dripping tux with my shoes squelching at every step, I was acutely aware of how completely ridiculous I must look. I intended to take my time changing. If I was lucky, I could avoid the rest of the party altogether.

***
By the time Jensen had shown me to a room on the second floor at the far end of the guest wing I was not only soaked, I was chilled. It was a cool evening for early September in LA and the pool, which was almost as old as the house, wasn’t heated. And as I had already discovered, I tended to loose body heat quickly now that I had so little body left. I decided to take a hot shower in the en-suite bathroom to warm up. By the time my teeth had finally stopped chattering the bathroom was filled with a cloud of steam. I heard the bathroom door open, and certain that it was Molly come to check on me called out,

“Is that you Molly? I’ll be right out as soon as I dry off.”

I opened the shower door a crack, not wanting to loose the pleasant heat too quickly, and groped for the towel. The towel bar seemed further away than I remembered, but just as I was about to give up and open the door further, I felt the thick, fluffy towel thrust into my hand.

“Thanks hon.”

As I rubbed my hair dry with the towel, obscuring my view, I pushed the shower door open the rest of the way with my shoulder and stepped out onto the bathmat. I pulled the towel away from my face and looked up, fully expecting to see Molly. But the figure standing just inside the bathroom door was a whole lot taller than Molly. I kept looking up, and up, and up, until my horrified gaze met the eyes of Harper Tallman, grinning back down at me with a predatory look.

“You’re not Molly!” I squeaked – it sounded like a squeak even to me – as I dropped the towel down and held it in front of my…lower regions. I was stating the obvious of course, but it was the first thing that popped into my shocked brain.

“I’m afraid Molly is…occupied,” Harper purred back as she stood looking down at me with those cat eyes, clearly enjoying the view. “I sent Lance off to keep her busy. He likes to be useful, and he’s very good at it…keeping young ladies occupied that is. And dear Jensen was so helpful. He told me right where to find you. It’s such a large house, so sprawling, and with such solid walls. We have this whole wing to ourselves in fact. I’m feeling a little…lonely, aren’t you?”

“I’m not looking for companionship. Please leave,” I answered coldly and with as much dignity as I could muster under the circumstances.

The rational part of me was angry and wanted Harper to leave. But to my shame there was a part of me that was more than a little interested. That part of me watched open mouthed as Harper, instead of answering, reached up slowly and undid the back of her dress, slid her spaghetti straps over her shoulders and did a sort of shimmy. Her dress, what there was of it, slid to the floor, leaving her clad in nothing but a pair of lacey black panties…and those high heeled boots. The woman was most definitely not wearing a bra. God she was…magnificent, and really, really big! Six and a half feet and more of booted, platinum haired goddess, which from my shrunken perspective, seemed like well over nine feet.

The part of me that was so weirdly turned on by being towered over by a beautiful woman was clawing to get out, and to my horror, I felt an answering stirring behind my shield of bunched up towel. But the other part of me, the rational, loyal, faithful part, was rising up too, with anger. This Amazon stalker wasn’t just coming on to me, she was eyeing me like a…piece of meat! What little remaining compunction I felt about shouting at one of Nana’s guests evaporated.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I yelled. This is my engagement party for God’s sake. Get the hell out of here…now!”

“Well, well, the mouse roars. How cute. You really are delicious Jakey; such a pretty little boy-toy, and so nicely proportioned. Lance said you were a dwarf, but that’s because he was jealous. You’re really very nicely put together for such a tiny man, a bit skinny perhaps now that I see you undressed, but then, I’ve always liked twinky little boys. Oh, and now you’re blushing too…all over. That makes you even cuter,” she added with a laugh.

I wasn’t blushing! I was flushing…with rage. I gathered my dignity, drew up to my full height, and replied with remarkable restraint,

“If you won’t leave, Harper, then I will.”

I wrapped the towel around my waist and stepped towards the door, but Harper was having none of it. She moved in front of me, blocking my way, and reached down to grab my arm. Fortunately I was still wet, and therefore slippery. I twisted in her grasp and lunged to the side, intending to go around her. But Harper was too fast for me. I hadn’t accounted for how quickly she could move on those impossibly long legs. Instead of going around her I collided against her, bouncing off of her hips and flat, toned stomach. She was a very big girl, and very toned. It was like colliding with a wall. As she grabbed my arm again in a vice-like grip Harper bent down and placed her lips close to my ear as she drawled,

“What’s the hurry little man? The party is just beginning.”

Desperate now, I twisted violently. I managing to loosen her grip and lunged again, this time towards the one place she least expected. I threw myself between her legs and scrambled for the door. I didn’t even have to go down on all fours to go under her – I only needed to duck. Harper was standing with her legs apart for balance and the crotch of her black lace panties was almost shoulder high to me. I lost my protective towel as Harper grabbed for me and got a fist full of terry cloth instead, but I was free. Scooping up my borrowed clothes from where they lay neatly folded on the bed I raced for the door, sliding a little on the polished wood floor. I grabbed the doorknob, twisted, and give it a tug that should have sent the door slamming into the wall. It didn’t budge. The door was…locked. It was an old fashioned lock set, and there was no way to open it without a key.

“This house is a landmark, I understand,” I heard Harper drawl from behind. “But even landmarks have their flaws. Take the locks in this one, for instance. I’m afraid they wouldn’t pass code today. Jensen told me that they keep a spare key on top of the door frame just in case.” Harper paused for dramatic effect, then continued with a tone of mild surprise, “Oh look, I have the key right here.”

I would have needed a running jump to reach the top of the door frame, if I could reach it at all, but for towering Harper it would have been a simple matter to pluck the key down as she came through the door. She could do it standing flat footed. I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I turned to face her. Harper was grinning down at me from across the room, holding up a small brass key, high above my head. As I watched in horror she tucked the key between her breasts as she added with a challenging smile,

“If you want it little man, you’ll have to come get it.”

Harper wasn’t waiting for me to come to her, however. She circled around and began to advance towards me from the side. As she moved closer I kept my eyes on her and backed away. I was afraid if I looked away for an instant she would pounce. But in my flustered state, and focused solely on staying out of her reach the way I was, I made the mistake of forgetting how the furniture was placed in the room. Unwittingly I had put myself right where Harper wanted me to be – cornered. The backs of my legs came up against the side of the tall bed, blocking my further retreat. That’s when she pounced.

Harper moved with incredible speed as she lunged forward, grabbed me under my arms and tossed me effortlessly onto the bed. One moment I was flying backwards though the air. The next moment she was on top of me, pressing my slight frame into the mattress and pinning me in place as her mouth came down over mine and her big tongue fought to part my lips and enter. God she was strong…and so heavy! Her enormous breasts were pressed against my much smaller chest, making it hard for me to breath. I was completely helpless, I realized, at the mercy of someone much bigger and stronger than me for the first time since at least the fourth grade, when I grew tall enough to hold my own against the biggest sixth grader on the playground.

“Get off of me you crazy bitch,” I managed to gasp.

Harper’s response was a delighted laugh, and a redoubling of her efforts to subdue me.

As I fought to keep Harper’s tongue from choking me, one of her big hands slid between us and grasped my cock, which she began to stroke between her fingers. To my horror, it responded with a mind of its own.

“Well now, it seems that part of you wants to play.”

Harper chuckled evilly, easing her weight for a moment as she shifted for better leverage. That moment was what I had been waiting for. Using every ounce of strength I had I was able to free my right arm and one of my legs from where they had been pinned. I flailed for leverage, trying desperately to unpin the rest of me. But Harper was just too damn big.

I wasn’t trying to hurt Harper. I just wanted to get out from under her. My parents had drilled into me all too well the rule that a man never hits a woman. Of course, they hadn’t foreseen the situation I was in now, a man reduced to four and half feet being attacked by a woman twice his size. My inhibitions held nonetheless, but while they prevented me from hitting Harper intentionally, in my desperate flailing I must have connected with something…sensitive.

“Oww! You little bastard, so you like to play rough do you? Well so do I…very much.”

Harper’s weight shifted again as she quickly sat up. I started to slide towards the edge of the bed but once again Harper was too fast for me. She lunged, reaching down to grab one of my shoulders with one powerful hand and my hip with the other. Then she…flipped me. Before I even realized what was happening I found myself lying on my stomach with my face pressed into the pillow as Harper straddled my legs and pinned one of my arms behind my back in a painful half nelson. I was like a small child in her hands, helpless to resist.

Smack! There was a loud crack and a sharp, stinging pain as Harper’s free hand connected with my ass. Smack! Her hand was big, with a lot of muscle and leverage behind it, and my bottom was…small. It hurt like hell. Smack!

“Nooo, stop! You can’t do this to me, I’m a grown man, not a child!” I shouted.

But Harper didn’t stop. The hard blows continued to rain down on my unprotected behind as I squirmed helplessly. This was surreal. I was actually being spanked! I hadn’t had a paddling since I was six, and it had been a lot gentler than this one. My ass was stinging. But the humiliation hurt even more than the physical pain.

“You’re not a man, you’re a weak, pathetic little freak. And you need to be taught a lesson,” Harper hissed in a sneering tone. “Oh, I know all about the shrinking trial -- a very useful fellow, Jensen, so corruptible. He was listening in on the telephone call when your little Molly told granny all about it. So you were once a great, big, strong man. What a laugh. Well, you’re not big – smack – or strong – smack – or even a man anymore – smack. I’m in control here. You’re just a helpless little boy. Get used to it!”

Smack!

By the time Harper finally let up my ass was throbbing. Her hand had to be stinging too, which is likely the only reason she stopped when she did. I was in bad shape. Even worse than my throbbing hind end, I was shaking uncontrollably. I had never felt so helpless, so violated. As Harper rose to her feet and stood over me I continued to lie there with my face turned away. I was too humiliated to even look at her, and shaking too hard to move.

“Look at you, trembling like a leaf. You really are a pathetic little worm!”

Harper’s voice was moving away towards the bathroom, undoubtedly to retrieve her dress. A moment later she was back.

“Well, I came up here to have a different kind of fun, but I must say, that was even better than a good fuck. Let’s do it again soon, Jake. I’ll have my people give you a call.”

The ghastly gargantuan woman was still laughing derisively as I heard the key turn in the lock and the door open and then close behind her.

***

When the door opened again ten minutes later I was still sitting on the bed, and still sharking, although I had managed to pull on my borrowed clothes – a pair of cargo shorts and a t-shirt with large block letters across the front that read “LOWELL ELEMENTARY TITANS” – clothes that must have been purchased to leave growing room for young Trevor, since they were big on me. I expected it to be Molly come to find me…finally. But once again it wasn’t Molly. It was Monica. Nana looked at me for a moment as I sat with my arms crossed, hugging myself tightly as I tried to control the trembling. Then she spoke,

“I sent that psycho bitch packing; Jensen too, more’s the pity. I have no quibble with consenting adults having a little fun. Lord knows I’ve had my share. But you weren’t consenting, and that Queen Kong has a pretty twisted concept of fun. No one gets away with abuse like that on my watch. She won’t bother you again, I can promise you that! I just happen to be the majority investor in the production company that owns her fucking show, and the director owes me a few favors. That little bit of news came as quite a shock to dear Harper. She’s on probation,” Nana concluded in a flat tone that was all the more frightening from its lack of inflection.

“How did you know,” I asked dully.

“Let’s just say that I have a very sophisticated security system. I like to know what goes on in my house. The gal who monitors the screens alerted me – I hire a woman for that job; never trust a man with a hidden camera. But I was too late to stop the assault I’m afraid. It was already over by the time I got up here. I’m sorry about that. I figured you could use some time to yourself so I had a little chat with that over-grown girl first. But damn it, now it’s time to buck up. You need to stand up, put on a smile and go out and face the crowd like nothing happened.”

Seeing my incredulous expression she continued,

“Trust me, its better this way. Its one thing for a woman to cry abuse, but when I man says that he’s been abused, and by a woman no less, well, you’d be a laughing stock, far more than you are already from your little dip out there. I like you Jake. I don’t care that you’re a shrimp. Some of my best lovers have been shorties – they try harder. Hell, you’re even cuter small than when you were tall, and for a woman my size it’s refreshing to be able to look down at a man for a change. Molly or no Molly, if I were ten years younger…”

Nana’s voice trailed off as a wistful look replaced her stern glower for a moment. Despite how upset I was, I remembered now that one of the most famous Monica Bryan stories, after the Tournament of Roses legend that is, involved the cast party she had hosted a few years back during the filming of the movie ‘Under the Rainbow’ – Nana playing the role of Snow White along with seven little men in her own unique re-telling of the classic fairytale, or so the story went. Nana’s wistful mood didn’t last long, however. Her glare returned, more steely than ever, as she continued,

“As I said, I don’t care of Molly wants to marry a munchkin, but I don’t want a future family member of mine to become a punch line because he got manhandled by a woman.”

Nana paused again and looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, although even her thoughtful appraisal was more of a glare.

“I’m going to leave now, Jake. But in five minutes I expect to see you downstairs, fully collected and with your head high. Under that well bred, push-over exterior, I think you have more metal than Molly gives you credit for. Heaven help you if you don’t, because you’ll need all the metal you can muster to stand up to my granddaughter – she takes after me.”

With that she was gone. I waited exactly four minutes and thirty seconds, and than did what Nana had told me to do. I pulled myself together, put on a false face and went to find Molly. But inside I was still shaking and despite my recent shower, I felt…soiled, not to mention very, very small.

***

Back among the remaining guests I had to endure the smiles and raised eyebrows at my grade school t-shirt, not to mention witty comments, such as the one from the man who asked me innocently whether after my swim I was still wet behind the ears. But somehow I managed to endure the rest of that awful evening. I didn’t tell Molly about what had happened and thankfully, neither did Nana. It remained our sordid little secret, just Nana’s and mine…and Mega Woman’s.

The day of the engagement party had been the worst day of my life, but at least the worst was over, or so I thought once I was finally home and could breathe a sigh of relief. The next day, however, proved me wrong. I found out why my tux had seemed so poorly tailored and why I thought little Trevor was taller than four feet six. I wasn’t 53.9 inches tall anymore, I was 52.7. My high tech scale confirmed the brutal truth. I was shrinking again.


 
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 Post subject: Re: Slow Shrink Tale: “My Very Short Story” By jasbow (1-13)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:59 pm 
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this is very well written story.
unfortunately it is not complete.
I had been following this story from giantess city site.
Bit sad that author is not inclined to complete this story.


 
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 Post subject: Re: Slow Shrink Tale: “My Very Short Story” By jasbow (1-13)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:17 pm 
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Posts: 9
Fantastic story!


 
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 Post subject: Re: Slow Shrink Tale: “My Very Short Story” By jasbow (1-13)
PostPosted: Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:55 pm 
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Chapter 14 - Welcome Home.

Chapter 14 - Welcome Home.

I asked the cab driver to drop me off near the row of garages at the back of Molly’s townhouse complex. I didn’t want to be stared at by the neighbors walking up the front walk. The garage door code box was now well above my head, but by stretching up on my toes I was able to reach the key pad and punch in the code. I wondered gloomily how much longer it would be before a simple task like opening the garage door was beyond me. As the door clattered upward on its track I was glad to see that Molly’s BMW was not in the garage. It meant that I could postpone the moment of reckoning for a little while longer.

Once inside the house I set my duffle wearily on the floor in a corner out of the way and headed upstairs to take a hot shower, anxious to wash off the smell of the hospital. It wasn’t a big duffle, but it held my laptop and several books, as well as my toiletries, along with a one month's supply of the enhanced immunity booster, carefully packed in foam lined case, together with an injection kit with needles and a syringe. It was heavy; at least it was heavy for a skinny little four foot runt like me. As I passed through the front hall I noticed a pair of what I thought were my old loafers, sitting by the front door. They looked enormous; even larger than I remembered; big enough for me to place both of my shrunken feet into one shoe. It was odd to see them there. I thought all of my old clothes had gone to good will. What were they doing by the front door?

The stairs seemed different to me as I mounted to the second floor. On my new scale the standard 8 inch risers were more like a foot high to a normal man, and the nine foot ceiling was more like fourteen feet up. Even the six inch height loss since I was last home made the stairs more awkward to climb. As I walked into the master bedroom, I spotted a large suitcase sitting on the bench under the window. Was Molly planning a trip? It was a standard department store rolling suitcase, not one of Molly’s fancy matching set of designer luggage. I was still puzzling over the suitcase as I stepped through the bathroom door. And then it hit me. It felt like I’d just had a ton of bricks dropped on my head. There on the bathroom counter, level with my chest, was a man’s safety razor and a can of shaving cream. I used a portable electric razor when I shaved, which wasn’t very often any more. And my razor was in my bag downstairs. So was my toothbrush! There were two toothbrushes in the toothbrush holder, Molly’s familiar pink electric toothbrush, and a well worn standard toothbrush in blue. And to complete the picture, there was a pair of men’s boxers hanging on the hook by the shower. I hadn’t noticed them at first because they were well above my eye level. I had to jump to pull them down. The label inside read size X-large. I hadn’t been an X-large even when I was six foot four.

There was no escaping the truth. Molly had a houseguest -- a male houseguest. Very male. Now that I looked closely, I could see short, curly dark-blond hairs scattered across the bathroom floor and the bottom of the shower. Molly was a redhead. This guy was blond…and hairy. He shed. And he was BIG. No wonder the shoes by the front door had seemed even larger than I remembered. They weren’t my shoes! Whoever this usurper was, his feet were even bigger than mine used to be.

I walked slowly back into the bedroom in a daze and stood leaning against the wall by the door, too stunned to think. I don’t know how long I stood there, a few minutes perhaps, before I was roused by the sound of the back door opening, followed by voices coming up the stair well from downstairs. They were laughing! One of the voices was Molly’s. The other was a deep, rumbling bass – a very distinctive voice, and one I had heard before. Suddenly, the rest of the picture snapped into place -- the huge shoes by the door, the suitcase, the blond hairs all over the bathroom, and the extra large boxers. And now, that voice. It was Matt’s voice, the huge, hairy, muscle bound gorilla from the dive boat in Hawaii.

As they walked into the front hall Molly and the ape didn’t notice me at first standing a few steps up from the bottom of the stairs. I suppose the railing obscured most of me, since it came up to the bottom of my chest. They had obviously been for a run. Molly was wearing running shorts and a sports bra, and she had that beautiful, slightly damp glow that she always had after exercise. The ape wasn’t glowing, he was just plain sweating. He was wearing running shorts too, and nothing else. He did have a towel draped around his neck, but it didn’t hide the sweat-matted hair covering his torso, or his bulging, inhumanly large muscles. From my further shrunken perspective he looked even bigger than he had on the boat; impossibly big, like a cartoon giant from a children’s story. Standing three steps up as I was I still had to look up at him.

Molly spotted me first.

“Jake! What are you doing here….” As her voice trailed off the look of guilt on her face was enough to confirm everything.

The big ape just stood there, gaping.

“Remember me?” I asked bitterly, glaring up at Matt. “But maybe you don’t. I was 10 inches taller the last time we met. I’m Molly’s fiancée, Jake. Or didn’t she tell you she was engaged to the incredible shrinking man?”

‘Oh Jake, don’t.” Molly moaned. “I didn’t want you to find out like this. I was going to come tell you at the hospital, but knowing how depressed you were about your….situation, I just couldn’t.” I shifted my glare from the ape to Molly, not saying anything as she continued to babble on, digging herself deeper. “Matt came to LA to look for a job. He’d been sleeping on a friend’s couch when I ran into him on the boardwalk. I was lonely, and scared, and the house felt so empty without you. So I invited him to stay in the guest room. I swear that’s all it was at first. I didn’t mean this to happen. It just…happened.”

“How long has he been sharing your bed Molly? Two weeks? three? Was the bed still warm from me when you invited him in?”

I could see Molly wince as my voice, already a squeaky, boyish sounding tenor, rose even higher. By now I was all the way down the stairs, glaring up at the two of them. God they were big, even Molly! The bottoms of her breasts rose higher than my eyes, and she stood barely chest high to the ape. My eyes were exactly on a level with Matt’s navel. I had to tilt my head just to see up past his hairy six-pack abs. Matt glanced down sheepishly at Molly, rumbled something about having left his shirt in the car, and ducked out the door. Coward!

Now it was just Molly and me. She was looking down at me with a miserable expression, but also a spark of that defiant spirit I had come to know so well. Seeing that spark, something inside me broke, like a dam bursting. Humiliation and wounded pride mingled with rage, bitterness and my desperate fear about my diminishing future – it all came poring out. I don’t recall exactly what I said – make that screamed. But I know it included phrases like “selfish bitch” and “spoiled rotten” along with colorful descriptive terms such as “narcissist”, “Jezebel” and “nymphomaniac”, with more than a few well placed F bombs liberally sprinkled throughout.

Everything I said was true, and completely deserved. But it was perhaps not very wise of me to hurl invective at someone more than a foot taller and probably 40 lbs heavier than me, especially someone with a temper like Molly’s. As I raged on Molly’s face gradually darkened, the guilty expression replaced by one of anger of her own, and yes, there was contempt mixed with the anger.

When I finally paused for breath, Molly spit right back. “I’m a F__ing bitch, OK, I admit it. But what about you? Just look at you Jake! You’re ridiculous. A little boy throwing a temper tantrum -- a little boy who only thinks he’s a man. I was going to let you down easy, but after what you just said, I don’t care anymore. You were cute when you were jockey size. But look at you now. Four feet and shrinking! You’re not a man, you’re a freak! What the hell makes you think I would want to be stuck with a shrinking freak for the rest of my life. What’s going to happen when you’re three feet tall? Two feet? You’ll be helpless! You’ll need to car seat and a stroller…and someone to give you your bath and help you go potty. Jeez! It would be like being tied down with a toddler – a toddler who never grows up! I don’t want to live like that. I won’t live like that!”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was shrinking because of Molly, and now she was throwing it back in my face. I had known from the beginning of our relationship that Molly was self-focused, but I had made excuses for her. She was just a little spoiled, and a little volatile. Underneath she was really a warm and caring person, with a heart of gold. And she loved me. God was I wrong. I had been blind to the truth. No, I had blinded myself to the truth. Molly wasn’t just a narcissist; she was a selfish monster, with no human feelings at all. Her taunting now was the last straw. Forgetting everything my parents had drummed into me about never hitting a woman, and forgetting too that Molly was a lot bigger and stronger than me, I flew at her, pounding at her ribs with my small fists.

Molly was stunned for moment by the sheer ferocity of my assault. But then she struck back. She landed a punch to my left eye that almost knocked me off my feet. If it hadn’t been for the wall behind me, I would have fallen. Molly advanced and hit me again, this time splitting my lip. Grabbing my arm in a painful half-nelson and spinning me around, she frog marched me into the living room. She did it effortlessly! Then putting all of her considerable strength into it, she threw me to the floor. I landed hard, with my head against the couch. My eye where Molly had hit me was starting to swell, and blood was dripping into my other eye from a painful gash where I made contact with a corner of the cocktail table on the way down. As I squinted up at her half dazed, she sneered back down at me.

“You’re pathetic, Jake! How does it feel to be overpowered and beaten up…by a GIRL? You’re not a man. You’re not even a little boy. You’re a week, sniveling little mouse. Don’t ever hit me again, Jake. Next time I’ll break you in half, and then squash you like the bug you really are!”

Molly stood over me for a moment, glaring down. Then with a final dramatic gesture, she pulled my grandmother’s ring off her finger and threw it in my lap. I had been too angry to notice before, but Molly had still been wearing my ring while she was playing house with Matt!

“Here, take your little ring. It’s as pathetic as you are. Its too small for me, just like you!”

Before this final humiliation could fully seep into my dazed brain, she was gone. I heard the back door slam and knew that Molly had gone to find her brawny new lover. First that awful Harper Tallman had overpowered and spanked me, and come close to raping me, and now my own fiancée had backend my eye, split my lip and tossed me around like a rag doll. God, I really was pathetic!

After a few minutes I managed to pull myself to my feet and totter upstairs to the bathroom, where I held one of Molly’s designer face towels to my bleeding forehead as I examine my brutalized face in the mirror. Thankfully, the mirror was one of those full wall mirrors that came all the way down to the counter. I didn't have to tiptoe the way I had to see my reflection in the tiny mirror over the sink in my hospital room. The gash in forehead was shallow, but head wounds bleed a lot. Molly was going to have to towel out. It served her right I thought to myself with a small sense of satisfaction. But damn! There was the first aid kit, high on a shelf in the medicine cabinet well out of my reach. Why couldn’t it have been in one of the drawers? How much more humiliation did I have to endure, I wondered bitterly as I hoisted myself up onto the vanity and stood up shakily on the counter to reach the kit.

Once I had patched myself up there was no reason to linger. I didn’t want to be there when Molly came back. I never wanted to see her again! I grabbed the file box with my passport and important personal papers from the floor beside the desk in the guestroom -- I hadn’t had time to unpack it yet. But there was no use bothering to take any of my clothes from the closet. They would all be ludicrously large on me now, even my new suits from the Brooks Brothers boys department and my little tailor made tux. The file box was heavy, at least for me, and so was my duffle downstairs. Then I remembered Matt’s oversize rolling suitcase on the bench under the window. I carried my box back into the master bedroom, unzipped the case and tried to dump it over, but the case was nearly as big as I was, and loaded. With my short arms and shrunken muscles I just didn’t have enough leverage. So instead I grabbed armloads of Matt’s X-large clothes from inside and threw them in heaps on the floor, giving them a few kicks for good measure. Once the suitcase was empty, I was able to lift it to the floor. I placed the file box inside and then, with the suitcase bumping behind me, and not caring whether I scared the walls or the gouged the floor, I made my way back down the stairs. I retrieved my duffle from the floor and stuffed it into the suitcase along with the box. Then I headed out the front door, not bothering to close it behind me. If would serve Molly right if some punk saw the door open and emptied out the house. But then with a sinking feeling, I remembered that Molly’s new boyfriend was as big as a house. With muscle bound Matt guarding the place, no one would dare rip Molly off.

When I got to the corner, I stopped, realizing for the first time that I had nowhere to go and no way to get there. I had the keys to Molly’s Lexus, but I didn’t want to go back to the condo and risk running into Molly and Matt. And besides, I was way too short now to reach the pedals. Then I remembered that my i-phone -- a gift from Molly in better times -- was in my duffle inside the suitcase, along with my wallet. My little boy's jeans weren't designed to carry a man-size wallet and an i-phone. The pockets were too small. I set the case down flat on the sidewalk, unzipped it, and rummaged around until I found my phone. I started to speed dial my mother, but paused with my finger hovering over the button. Humiliated and beaten up by my girlfriend, “running home to mother” would only make it worse. I thought about calling Stacie, but even that was too much -- a little boy calling his big sister to come to his rescue. So instead, I called Tom. Fortunately, I got him at the office on the first try. Tom listened without interruption while I spilled out my sorry tale, barely coherent. He asked where I was, and I told him I was at the corner near the entry to Molly’s condo complex.

“OK, there’s that micro brewery just down the street, right? Go get a table, order a drink and don’t move until I get there. Its 3:15. If the traffic’s not too bad yet I can be there by 4:00. I’m leaving now. And Jake, I know this is awful for you, but we have your back. Stacie and I will always be there for you. We love you.”

I felt my good eye welling up as Tom hung up the phone. Thank god for Saint Thomas. My calm, level headed, diplomatic brother-in-law was good in a crisis, and he always seemed to know the right thing to say. The waitress gave me a very odd look when I pushed through the door of the brewery a few minutes later, four feet tall, with a large bandage on my forehead, a swollen lip and a black eye, not to mention a suitcase as big as I was bumping along behind me. Before she could stop me, I looked up at her wearily and said,

“I’m 26, OK. I’m not a little boy. Here’s my driver’s license, see. I’m a dwarf…a dwarf who just got tossed”, I added bitterly under my breath.

The waitress examined my license suspiciously, the one that said I was four foot six. But she showed me to a booth in the corner, and after a few more suspicious looks, she even brought me a beer. Boy did I need it. I sat on the banquette across from my suitcase with my feet dangling off the floor, waiting for Tom to come rescue me, and cried into my beer.

to be continued...
jasbow


 
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 Post subject: Re: Slow Shrink Tale: “My Very Short Story” By jasbow (1-13)
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 4:32 pm 
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Very nicely written. I really like the Harper character... invading his personal space.


 
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