Strangers and Candy

by Usagi Anami (兎あなみ)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/170294.html)

Where am I? Do I even care? I’ve been driving around for these last couple of hours. Heh. Waste of gas money. Don’t care. I have work in four hours. Don’t care. I don’t care because anything is better than being home right now.

I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t even want to watch my horror flicks. I didn’t want to wake up alone for another bone-grinding day of work. I’m tired of being responsible. It means nothing more than living paycheck-to-paycheck. Maybe if I had hadn’t fucked up everything, maybe if I had gone to school – ah, fuck it, I’m tired of thinking, too.

I’m somewhere on the outskirts of town now. Less houses, more trees. The sky is starting to turn dark blue. Stupid dawn. I liked watching the headlights peel away the darkness, layer by layer. I liked the feeling that I don’t know where I’m going until I get there. Soon I won’t even have that.

My car stops. I guess that’s what happens when you forget your tank was empty and go driving around because you couldn’t stand the pain of living. Heh. Okay, fine. I’ll just call –

My cell phone is dead. Seriously? Am I in a fucking horror movie here? Whatever. I’ll just sit here until dawn breaks and I’ll be fine. Mass-murdering psychos usually don’t operate during daylight hours.

Okay, so maybe daylight didn’t scare off Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I am not in Texas. The only thing I have to worry about in these parts day-wise are all the goddamn sparkly vampires. But I doubt they’d be interested in me.

Whatever, I’m already clearly feeling just a tiny bit self-destructive, so why not go whole hog? Why not go outside in the dark alone looking for someone who can call me a cab or something? I should be dead in ten minutes, tops.

I don’t even have a flashlight, so I just walk down the road waiting for my eyes to adjust. I’m dressed too dark for cars to see me, so I keep getting blinded by headlights. Then some frat boy screams in my ear when he passes me. It starts raining. Hard.

After a long, wet, miserable while, there’s a road leading up to nice house. Heh. Bastard probably makes 50 times my salary just to sit in a fucking office. Most rich people are crazy – but whoever lives here isn’t Patrick Bateman rich, so I’ll probably just get killed instead of raped, tortured, and then killed. Well, here goes nothing. I bang on the door.

A woman in her late forties answers the door. “Hello? Can I help you?”

Wow, she’s gorgeous. For her age, anyway. No, forget her age, she’s just gorgeous. If I liked girls I’d probably fall for her. She’s looking at me like I’m missing part of my head.

“Oh my, look at you. You’re going to get sick! Please come in.”

She grabs my hand pulls me inside, like she knows me. She’s not rough, but it’s clear that she’s not letting me go. I don’t resist. It beats being out in the rain. Rich old ladies like pampering people. Might as well let her go ahead. She orders me to sit down and promises to return with a towel. I stretch out on the couch. Comfy. Okay, let’s see, how safe am I? Number one: she’s not German and doesn’t have a picture of conjoined twins on her wall. Number two: she’s a woman. True, Jason’s mother was the bad guy in the first Friday the Thirteenth movie, but that’s the exception, not the rule. Number three-

“Here’s a towel,” she says. I start drying out my hair. “Can I get you some hot chocolate?”

Holy shit, she is… damn. I can’t stop looking at her. Wait, what was I talking about? Probably doesn’t matter.

“Uh, no thanks. I’m not thirsty.” Maybe I’m feeling a little less self-destructive now. I can’t completely let my guard down just because she’s a ridiculously attractive woman. Oh man, those hips. I wish I had hips like that. “My car ran out of gas. Can I use your phone to call a ca- hey, wait are those kookaburra licorice?”

On the table there’s a candy bowl filled with the best licorice in the whole entire world.

“Yes. Would you like some?”

“Yes, please!” I dig in. Unf. So good. Kookaburra was my favorite candy as a kid. My dad used to get it whenever he came back from overseas, one bag for him and one for me, so we didn’t have to share.

“I’d like to help you, but I’m not sure if there are any cab services open this late, at least around here. But you’re welcome to stay until morning. I have a guest bedroom.” I’m only half-listening to her. Mostly I’m just eating my candy and remembering how good it is. She reaches over and keeps towel-drying my hair.”You have to dry it out all the way or you’ll get sick.”

“Okay.” For some reason this feels perfectly natural to let this complete stranger into my personal bubble. Her hands feel nice against my head. It feels like forever since anyone has touched me, even this much. She smells good.

“There you go, all dry,” she says. “I have some dry clothes you could change into, if you like.”

“Okay.”

Her pajamas are a little loose on me, but they are really comfortable.

“Do you feel better now?” she asks. I nod. “Do you want to call in sick for work?”

“Okay.” And I do. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but my boss didn’t sound as pissed as he usually does. Everything would get sorted out tomorrow. Everything is fine.

“Did you brush your teeth?” she asks, a little impatiently, like we’ve had this conversation before. But that doesn’t especially bother me.

“I didn’t bring –”

“There’s a guest one.”

“Uh, okay, sure.”

She follows me into the bathroom and makes sure I take two minutes to brush my teeth. A lot of adults don’t take good care of their teeth. She’s just looking out for me. There’s nothing wrong with that, not in the least. The bed in the guest bedroom is a little small, but I’m a pretty small person, so it’s not a big deal. She tucks me in, because I’m so tired at that point I can barely get myself in the bed.

She plays with my hair and touches the scars between my eyes. I know the question is there, in her eyes, curiosity and pity.

“I burned myself as a kid,” I say, “You know, playing with matches.”

“That’s strange, because it looks like a cigar-”

“It’s not. It’s not.”

“All right, it’s not,” she says, like she’s indulging a compulsive liar or something. It pisses me off.

“It’s not. It was just me. I did it to myself.”

“I believe you.”

“You don’t. You don’t believe me. You think I’m lying, and I… uh… I’m so tired…”

“Shhh. It’s all right now. Everything is fine.” And everything is fine. “Just go to sleep now.” And I do.

When I wake up the bed feels a lot bigger. I sit up, and I’m wearing different pajamas. They fit me better and they’re covered in cute frogs. Actually, now that I think about it, everything feels a lot bigger. Was the guest room full of kid stuff last night? And uh… where did my boobs go?

Okay, I’m dreaming. Lucid dreaming or whatever it’s called, but still dreaming. So that means I should be able to dream my boobs back, right? Wait. How does lucid dreaming work? Do I just think really hard? I think really hard. I don’t have frog pajamas. I have boobs. I have a million dollars. Nothing. I think harder. Still missing a couple of feet in height and boobs. And my million dollars. Okay, I thought I was thinking hard, but I was really just scrunching my eyebrows. Maybe if I…

No, denying this is pointless. Because in movies everyone is like ‘This isn’t happening, this can’t be happening’, when it is, and they end up getting killed or doing something stupid because they can’t accept that something impossible is actually possible.

I’m a kid (again). That woman is a goddamn witch and witched me into being a kid so she can eat me because I was stupid enough to eat her magic evil candy. I’m screwed.

“Good morning, sweetie!” The lady says. “Did you sleep well?”

“What the hell is going on?” My voice sounds different. Well, what was I expecting? “Why the fuck did you do this to me?”

“You do not use that language in front of me.”

“Oh, fuck you! Fucking psycho… I… ah, why did I have to be so stupid? Dammit.”

I start crying, and I can’t stop. I’m so scared. She kneels down and holds me.

“It’s all right,” she coos. Except it’s not.

“I kn-knew this would happen…”

She laughs. “No you didn’t.”

“Well, not th-this, but I’m still going to die ’cause I’m stupid.” I wipe my nose on my sleeve.

“Don’t do that, that’s gross,” she laughs and grabs a tissue and wipes my eyes and nose. “Do you feel better now, sweetie?”

I make a run for it, but she picks me up and pins me to the bed. I try to kick, punch, and bite, but it’s no use – I’m too small and weak to break free. I start crying again. I cry until my head hurts, until I run out of tears and all I can do is scream. She holds me there until I wear myself out. I lay there on the bed, staring at the ceiling. I feel her wiping away all my tears and snot. She tells me to sit up, and I obey because I don’t want to be forced. She has me drink water.

I could handle being chased down and murdered. I think I could even handle being tortured first. But I can’t handle this. I don’t want to be a kid. It was bad enough the first time around.

“I can understand how this might be scary for you,” she says. “But you don’t have to be scared. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going to be your mommy and take care of you.”

“You’re crazy,” I say without much feeling. My headache starts to go away. I feel numb. “I don’t want to be your little girl or whatever, so whatever twisted shit you’ve got planned, I won’t play along.”

“I thought I told you not to use that language.”

“Fuck fuck fuckity fuck. What are you going to do, wash my mouth out with soap?”

“For someone who wants to be an adult, you certainly aren’t acting like one.”

“I think I have the right to be pissed!”

“I’ve treated you with nothing but kindness.” Uh-huh. Bullshit. “At least have the courtesy to hear me out.”

“Fine.”

“I will restore you to your actual age if you will be my little girl for while.”

“Oh, wonderful. Let me guess, if I refuse, I get to grow up the slow way, assuming whatever you did to me allows me to age. Oh… wow, that’s smart. That’s really smart of you. Because if I run away, who can I turn to? Who is going to believe I’m an adult stuck in a child’s body? Eventually child protective services will nab me and throw me in an orphanage. Heh. I’ve really got to hand it to you, you’re quite the –”

The look in her eyes told me not to finish my sentence. So I didn’t.

“Okay,” I continue. “I guess I don’t really have a choice here, do I? Either way I’m stuck in this body. How old am I, anyway, ten?”

“Eight.”

“Fuck. Eight, really?”

“I am trying to be patient here, but if you swear again I will wash your mouth out with soap. Consider this your last warning.”

“Fine. How long are you going to keep me like this?”

“I’m not sure. 6 months, which I will add to if you misbehave.”

Goodbye job, goodbye friends, goodbye… everything. I thought I didn’t have any tears left, but quiet tears gush out of me. She holds me. I don’t want her to touch me, but if I don’t let her play out this fucked-up fantasy she might never let me go. Or she’s leading me on and she’s going to keep me like this forever. Ugh. I don’t want to watch Saturday morning cartoons for the rest of my life.
“May I go back to sleep?” I ask.

“Yes, for a few hours. You’ve been through a lot.” Don’t offer me sympathy for something you did to me. Crazy witch!

I wake up after an hour. I smell bacon. I wander out into the kitchen where she’s cooking, and start drooling a little.

“Are you feeling any better?”

“Yes.” In the sense that I’m not having a tantrum, sure. Unless I act like I’m hunky-dory, I’ve got no way out of this nightmare.

“If you want breakfast, you need to get dressed.”

“Oh, you aren’t going to dress me?”

“Oh, I thought you were old enough to dress yourself.”

I flush. “Yes, I am old enough to dress myself. I just… don’t know what you want from me.”

“What I want from you is for you to get dressed.”

“Okay, Jesus Fucking Christ!”

“I am adding another month. Go back to your room and don’t come out until I come for you.”

“No. You can starve me for all I care.”

“That’s two months. Do you want to make it three?”

I go back to “my” room in a huff. Eight months of this. Why couldn’t I just do as she says? What is wrong with me? I just got so angry, I couldn’t… why can’t I control my emotions? Is it because I’m in this body? No, that’s ridiculous. She didn’t just mess with my body, she must have messed with my head.

I look around. There are some stuffed animals, some dolls, some action-figures (I guess she believes in gender neutral child rearing), some children’s books, a doodling pad, and some crayons. She didn’t say I couldn’t… I can’t believe I’m even considering this. Well, it’s not like I really want to do this. I’m just bored.

I start doodling what’s in the room with crayons. I’m still able to draw the same level that I could at my real age, which isn’t much, but it’s not the level of an eight-year-old. I think about all the things I’ll be missing. Booze. Cigarettes. Horror movies. More than anything, I’ll miss my horror movies. Saw, Hostel, Wolf Creek, Human Centipede. If I ever get out of this I’m going to finish watching Teeth. I doodle a huge vagina dentata with vampire fangs.

My “mother” comes in the room, holding some printer paper. I flip the doodle pad closed to hide the obscene drawing. If she notices, she doesn’t seem to care. She sits down next to me and hands me the paper.

“These are the rules. If you break them, I will add more time.”

The rules are:

1. No swearing.
2. No backtalk.
3. No attitude.
4. No complaining about being a child.
5. You are only allowed to call me Mommy.
6. Bedtime is at 8 pm.

I dig my nails into my palm. Ouch. Yes, this is really, really real. Thought I got it the first time around, but I have to remind myself.

“But I didn’t call real mother mommy when I was eight.”

“I don’t care. I’m your mother now, and these are my rules.”

“Fine. It’s not like I have a choice, anyway.”

“That’s another month.”

Nine months? Dammit – well, that’s kind of funny, actually.

“What? That’s not fair! I didn’t do anything!”

“Attitude and complaining about being a child. Technically that’s two infractions, but I’m being lenient and only adding one month.”

Oh, how generous of you, crazy witch woman. I will beat you! You’re insane. I’m sane. I have all the advantage here. I will get out this. I will. I just gotta look guilty! Look guilty! I twist up my face and keep my eyes Bambi-wide.

“I’m sorry… Mommy.”

Her face lights up. Oh, you like that, don’t you, you sick fuck?

“I’m glad to hear that, but I’m not taking it back.”

“Please, Mommy. I’ll be good from now on.”

“You’d better be good, if you want to grow up.” She hugs me. She’s so warm. She still smells good, which I’m trying very hard not to pay any attention too. “I know you don’t mean it right now, but thank you for at least making an effort to cooperate.”

I bite my tongue and hug her back.

“And you still haven’t gotten dressed!” she tsks.

“Okay, sorry! Getting dressed now!”

She deigns to give me a little privacy. Maybe she’s not a complete pervert after all. I slowly undress. There’s a me-sized mirror in the corner. I don’t exactly want to look my body now, but I have to face facts.

Yeah, that’s about what I remember it looking like. No hips (not that I had much in that department anyway). No pubes. No tits. No scars. I guess that’s the silver lining. Now that I think about it, I feel a lot better too. I don’t have trouble breathing. I don’t want to drink and I don’t want to smoke. I’m healthy. I’m even kinda cute. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all. Aside from the whole “prisoner” thing, I mean.

“Have you finished dressing yet?”

“Uh… just a minute,” I pull open a drawer and… My Little Pony underpants? This is cruel and unusual! Spongebob? No way! Don’t you have any underwear that doesn’t have a damn cartoon character? I settle for a pair of blue panties with Eeyore on the butt. At least he’s someone I can relate to.

Breakfast is cold bacon and lukewarm pancakes. It’s still actually pretty good. By the time I’ve finished, I’ve put together my best Stepford smile. As I wash my dishes like a good girl, I fantasize about stabbing her sexy eyes out. I mean, her evil eyes. Evil witch eyes.
“Do you want be my little helper in the garden today?”

“Is that where you grow herbs for you spells?” I blurt out, and put my hand over my mouth. Shit. Another month of this, all because of my stupid mouth. She gives me a look but doesn’t say anything.

“I do grow herbs, vegetables, and flowers. I even have a few fruit trees. Would you like to see?”

“Yes, please!” I bounce around and act like I’m going to Disneyland or something. Maybe if I play my role good enough she’s let me go early on good behavior?

The witch’s garden is…a pretty normal garden. Tomatoes, cucumbers, daffodils. Herbs – I couldn’t tell you what was what. Two apple trees. A compost pile. Surprisingly, I didn’t see any radishes. We spend a good hour digging up dandelions, and my hands are filthy and raw by the time I’m finished. If she wanted slave labor, wouldn’t it be more effective to keep me as an adult? But, oh wait, that wouldn’t satisfy her lesbo pedophile incest fetish.

“So now what?”

“You can play outside until lunch.”

“What about TV?”

She shakes her head. “No TV.” Now that I think about it, I didn’t remember seeing one. Now I can’t even watch Saturday morning cartoons. Not that I wanted to, but I at least wanted the option, you know? Plus maybe I could catch some awful midnight movies while she was sleeping.

“Can we please get a TV if I’m good?”

“No, it will rot your brain.”

I want to tell her my brain is already rotten. That there’s nothing in my skull but gore, death, and filth. But I don’t say a thing. I shouldn’t be trying to bargain for privileges. Freedom and adulthood is the only privilege I need. But, damn, 9 months without a single horror movie… it’s cruel and unusual punishment to deny me my cruel and unusual movies.

“But what am I going to do?”

“Anything you want,” she says as she bags up all the weeds. “Run around. Climb a tree.”

She finishes cleaning up and leaves me in the backyard. I could run away, but I’ve already discussed why that isn’t going to work. I just sort of sit there for a few minutes, picking at the grass, but I start feeling fidgety. I forgot how much energy kids have. I need to move, it’s like there’s a bunch of bugs in my legs or something. So I run. I run back and forth, making sure not to trash her garden. I run around the trees in a sideways figure-eight. I surprise myself by doing a somersault. I’m just, uh, testing my new body. Honest. Before I know it it’s time for lunch and I’m almost disappointed. Almost.

Lunch is really good. Must be because she’s a witch. Witches have mad domestic skills. After lunch I run around in the backyard some more. I try to jump from one tree to another. My shirt gets tangled up in the branches and I’m left swinging until “mother” helps me get down.

“You seem like you’re having fun,” she says. And I am. It’s way too early for Stockholm syndrome to set in. But I’m in a new, clean, un-fucked-up body. I may as well enjoy it while it lasts. While I’m tired of running, I re-enact my favorite scene from The Thing and wind up pretending to be a detached, skittering head for a good forty minutes. It’s more fun than it sounds. Then I play House of A Thousand Corpses and Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

It’s dark before I know it. Dinnertime. In my case being an adult does not make it any easier to eat your vegetables, but I choke them down like a pro. I’m rewarded with a small bowl of licorice for desert. The best licorice in the world.

I bite my tongue to keep from screaming, “You fucking bitch! I hate you! How could you do this to me? You ruined one of the only good memories from my childhood, you cunt. I’ll fucking kill you.”

I eat the candy. I get it down so fast I don’t even taste it. For the rest of the night I don’t say a word.

***

The first couple of days are the worst. There’s no internet here, so there’s no chance I could get on my Netflix account and watch Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy. She won’t even let me read “grown-up” books, so I’m stuck with Narnia and Winnie the Pooh. The worst part is she insists on helping me bathe instead of letting me wash myself because she’s a freaking pedophile. Apparently she’s content to just watch because she hasn’t tried actually molesting me or anything yet. But it’s still creepy.

When she puts me to bed she tells me stories. No three little pigs here. They are weird stories I’ve never heard of, like this princess who wanted to die so she asked for the “Green Knight”, but the Green Knight is a real dude. They fall in love and then he turns into a bird and gets poisoned and crap. Another one is about this guy who makes a bet with the devil. The guy has to wear a bearskin and be a crazy homeless bum for seven years, and if he survives he’ll be rich. But he did it. He beat the devil. The bearskin guy is my hero. I want to be just like him and outlast the devil.

She doesn’t tell any stories about witches.

***

I know she’s going to molest me any day now.

She kneels down next to me and asks, “What are you playing?”

I have to pretend that I’m totally into being her daughter. By doing that I can catch her off guard and figure out how to either stab her or escape or reverse this curse she put on me.

So that’s why I made a fake mech thing out of paper and taped it to one of my action figures.

Aliens.”

“Oh. Is that one of the aliens?”

I roll my eyes. “No, that’s Ripley. She fights the aliens. She does kind of become an alien in the fourth- you know, just forget that part. Ripley fights aliens. She’s trying to save Newt and everybody, so she’s in this forklift mecha thing fighting the alien queen.”

“Oh. Where is the alien queen? Is she invisible?”

“No, I ran out of paper.”

“I think you’ve got some clay.” She’s way more excited about this than I am. “Do you want me make you an alien?”

“No way, you’ll just – yes, Mommy. Please and thank you.”

How much longer do I have do this? I can’t believe it’s only been a month.

She rolls the clay between her hands. She’s totally going to screw this up. I can’t believe she’s never seen Aliens. Are witches Amish or something? Except there is electricity in the house, so that doesn’t make sense.

She makes a weird lumpy thing that looks like a cross between a gray alien and a greyhound, with a stupid crown on its head. She’s ruining everything! But if I try to fix it she’ll probably say I’m having an attitude problem and condemn me to being eight for eight trillion years. So Ripley goes ahead and fights the stupid fake alien queen.

***

Any day now. Going to get molested.

***

I have chores. I help with the garden, keeping the house clean, and making dinner. But most of my time is free. I can read anything at my “reading level”. I can draw. I’m getting pretty good, and she’s letting me use pencils now. I’m even allowed to go exploring in the woods, as long as I’m within yelling distance. It’s all really normal, which is weird for me.

And the food is really good. She makes these awesome cucumber sandwiches with mustard – anyway, it’s good food.

I have to say, as far as prisons go, it sure beats WCCW. And as much as it pains me to admit it, a crazy lesbian pedo witch that is keeping me here against my will is still doing a better job of mothering than my actual mother.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to stab her. I don’t care if I go back to prison. At least there I won’t have to wear cartoon pony underwear and be tucked into bed. I’m not contradicting myself here. I just said this is a nicer prison, not that I wanted to stay in it, okay?

***

She’s fast asleep on the couch. Blobs of sunlight ooze over her face. It’s already been two and a half months. I guess the random heat wave is getting to her. I twirl the pencil around in my hand and wonder which part of her face I should start with. Well, duh, her eyes. I sketch her closed eyes. She’s got these long, gorgeous lashes.

I don’t have Stockholm syndrome. That’s when you sympathize with your captors, right? I don’t have any sympathy for her. She’s crazy. I know that. And yeah, maybe I’m crazy, too, but it’s not Stockholm syndrome. It’s more like a parasitic relationship. Like a tapeworm. They don’t deliberately get eaten. But when it happens, they are pretty happy. I’m just a tapeworm.

I don’t want to be on the outside. That’s why I kept stealing, drinking, and fighting. I was trying to get myself back to somewhere where I wasn’t in control of my life. But prison wasn’t much better. So why try to fix what isn’t broken?

It hits me that maybe my thoughts aren’t my own. Something she did to me, the magic that changed my body and mind, is also eating at my resistance. Pretty soon I’ll be completely brainwashed. I’ll be someone else, some empty headed little girl that never wants to grow up. Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Or that Stepford Wives sequel, where it’s kids instead of wives. Looks I found myself in a horror movie after all, just not the kind I like to watch.

I can’t kill her. Not because I care about her. I’m not that stupid, okay? I just can’t kill somebody. I’m bad, but I’m not that bad. I watch her sleep for a while, and get ready.

I take one of the bags used for weeding and put some food and water in it. I jump every time she makes a noise, but she never wakes up. I wonder if she’s testing me. If she is, I guess I failed the test. I shut the door quietly behind me, walk for about five minutes, and start running. I figure being taken in as an orphan has its upsides. I’ve got the experience and brains of an adult, even if I’m not a very brainy adult, so maybe I can market myself as a child prodigy. If only I was good at something.

There’s the road leading up to the house, but there’s no highway or road connected to it. I check the other side of the house, but there’s nothing but the garden and more woods. I swear I was walking down a road when I…

I go into the woods where I remember the road was but hesitate about going further. Is it going to be one of those things where no matter what direction I go I keep crossing the same landmarks and don’t get anywhere? Am I even still in Washington? Forget that, am I even still on Earth? This is like every bad Outer Limits episode ever. This is like… forget it, this isn’t like anything. It just is. It’s just me, trapped for no reason, with no escape.

I keep walking. I climb over fallen logs and duck under branches. Sunlight oozes through the evergreens; there’s ferns, moss, foxgloves, insects chittering. A quail bolts at my approach. You know, all that scenic Pacific Northwest garbage. I see it without seeing it. I don’t care because it’s not real. I run. And keep running until my legs are rubber.

I can’t see the house from where I am anymore. I lie down on a fern and stare at the sky through the trees. This isn’t real. She’ll come looking for me soon. If there are no real means of escape, then she must have been using that “I’ll restore you to your real age” as a leash to get me to obey. I’ve been so good because I wanted out. Now there’s no reason to play her game. So what will she do now? Spank me? Beat me? Drag me by my hair around the house? Put out a cigarette in my face?

I fall asleep. When I wake up, the sky is dark. Moonlight oozes through the evergreens. Something crawls over my face and flies off with a buzz. I sit up, my legs aching, my head sore, my mouth dry, and my stomach sick. She’s not in the corner of my eye, or standing over with waiting to say something witty when I wake up. I’m tired, cold, and alone.

I walk back to the house. It only takes a few minutes before I see the porch lights. The door isn’t locked, and I find her asleep in her room. I crawl into bed.

She makes sleepy sounds, and then her eyes open.

“You’re a mess. Please tell me you at least took off your shoes.”

“Sorry.”

“Silly girl,” she laughs, and takes off my shoes for me, brushes the dirt out of my hair. She didn’t go and find me. Because she knew I’d just find my own way back. I don’t want to starve to death in some dream forest. No, that’s not the truth.

She pulls me close to her, even though I’m still dirty. She smells good. I feel small and safe and good, my body spooning perfectly into hers.

Nobody gets to choose being born, or who their parents are, or their home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow to love it.

Who am I? Do I even care? I’m falling for my captor. Heh. Like some awful bodice ripper. Don’t care. Only took seven months to break my mind. Don’t care. Seriously, I’m probably certifiable at this point. Don’t care. I don’t care because I’m home.

***

That would have been a perfect time for her to molest me, having completely broken my mind and everything, but she doesn’t.

***

What if do you do if you go crazy and fall in love with your captor, but they don’t love you back? It’s pretty sick. She wants me to be her daughter. I just thought it was some fetish of hers, that she’d start kissing me harder when she put me to bed, groping me in the bath, or reading me naughty stories, or something, anything. But nothing. This has been a perfectly chaste hostage experience, which shouldn’t be frustrating, and I shouldn’t be falling in love with my kidnapper in the first place. Don’t get me wrong! I’d much rather be in own, adult body. But I’ve still got the mind of an adult. I thought if I didn’t have the hormones I wouldn’t get urges, but nope. They keep coming on strong. Especially when she comes out of the bath, with that tiny towel and…

I knew I was crazy at this point, okay? I just didn’t think I was crazier than her.

***

I can’t sleep. My own bed is too big, too empty. There’s a space here, where she’s supposed to be, but she’s not. There’s this heat in my stomach now. It’s sick, I know. I’m sick. It’s her fault. I’m a sick fuck, but she’s the sicker fuck. She’s got to be. I got to her room and climb on the bed. As soon as the bed squeaks, she’s pulling back the blankets to let me in.

“I can’t sleep.”

“Oh? Did you have a nightmare?”

“Yeah.” Let’s go with that.

She’s holding me. I feel better, but it’s not enough. My face is against her neck and I breathe her in. I’m gonna start shaking soon, I’m going to fall apart. She smells like apples. I breath her in and hold her my lungs till I can’t hold on any longer. Something slips out of me, pulling and pulling away from me until it snaps loose. I kiss her neck. She sighs and laughs. I kiss more. Her throat. Her collarbone. Her laughs falter. Her fingers tangle in my hair, grown out long now. She hesitates for moment, a good long moment, then she slowly pulls me off by my hair.

“Stop that.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re too little for that, and –”

“I’m not little. You’re not my fucking mother,” I snap. I try to squirm loose, but she keeps a firm hold my hair. “You want me to do this. You do. So just let me.”

“N – no. This is wrong.”

“Yeah, and so is kidnapping people! But you want this, so don’t be a hypocrite. You haven’t done anything for the same reason you didn’t chase me when I ran away. Because you knew. You were waiting for me. You did this to me, you made me like this. It’s your fault.”

“No.” She’s crying now. Whatever. I’m not falling for this. I’m not going to feel guilty. “It’s your fault.”

“My fault? How is this my fault? You did this to me.”

“You kept calling me,” her fingers unknot my hair and I kneel on the bed glaring at her. “I tried to ignore it. The desires of ordinary humans don’t carry much weight, not anymore. It was easy enough at first. But you kept calling, and calling, year after year. You wouldn’t shut up. There are others that have suffered worse than you, that would be grateful, but you were the one that I couldn’t ignore.

“So I’ve tried to give you want you wanted, what you asked for. But I’ve failed you. This wasn’t what I intended –”

I pull her down and kiss her. “Will you just shut up and change me back?”

She shuts up. Her hand closes, and when it opens, she’s holding a piece of licorice. I reach out to take it, but she pushes it into my mouth instead. It’s the best piece of the best licorice in the world. There’s no pain, no poof, I’m just myself again, grown. The kid clothes are gone, and I’m sitting there naked. My body feels both familiar and strange, too big for me, like a suit that used to fit me but doesn’t anymore. I try to kiss her and our heads and teeth knock together. I’m so clumsy now, my head and lips too big, but she just laughs it off and keeps kissing me. When I straddle her I realize that I’m taller than her now. It’s like my body was put somewhere else to grow when I was kid.

My body must be too heavy now, I know I’ll crush her, but she’s pulls my face down to hers. Our bodies don’t fit together perfectly anymore, but I do my best to make myself fit. I wish I had time to relearn my skin and I wish I had the patience to wait. Because she doesn’t deserve to be fumbled with like this. She deserves better my awkward tongue in her mouth, she deserves better that my pawing at her breasts and butt like some stupid teenage boy. I bite her lips too hard. I bruise her with my fingers, teeth, and lips. I bury my nails into her side until she has to pry my hands loose, finger by finger. She forgives me everything. I don’t deserve it. But thankfully for me, life isn’t fair.

Her nightgown’s so wet I have to peel it off her thighs. She didn’t make a sound when my nails broke her skin, but I barely brush against her cunt she whimpers like I’m hurting her. I pull her underwear aside, feeling her, feeding her my fingers. I’m trying to be gentle, but she whimpers again, this little strangled noise that breaks me open.

“Do you want me to stop?”

“No.” And I don’t.

***

“I don’t want to go,” I whisper into her neck. I hold her from behind while she chops carrots. “Hey, just let me stay, okay?”

“No.” She doesn’t turn around. She keeps chop-chop-chopping like she totally doesn’t want to have sex with me right now. “You have to earn your keep somehow. You can’t just sit around watching those awful movies all day.”

Yeah, I finally talked her into getting a TV.

“I thought my charms were enough for me to earn my keep with.”

“Very funny.”

So it turns out I’m a familiar, which basically means you’ve been exposed to enough magic you become a little bit magical yourself. It also means she feels the need to boss me around and do her dirty work. Witches are busy women, you know? They can’t do everything by themselves.

Not that I mind, exactly. Except for missing my Nightmare On Elm Street marathon. And missing her neck between my fangs. I mean, teeth. It’s teeth. Unless I want it to be something else. I’ve been quite a few monsters figuring how my powers work.

I’d like to go all Creeper and tear up the sky, but she’s needs to practice a little of restraint after the last couple of sightings.

Horror movies don’t usually have happy endings. People die, the monster never stays dead. But sometimes the monster gets a happy ending.

My bones turn to light and my hair melts into feathers.

“Be careful not to fly into any windows.”

I don’t have much of a mouth left, so I just chirp something that sounds sort of snarky and fly out the open door.

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