Years for Sale – Ch 2 – by lostandwhatever
Originally published on my Patreon.
Continued from Chapter 1.
Caroline received a text message from Audrey the day before they were supposed to see each other again. Caroline was surprised as she had not given the girl her phone number.
it’s audrey. do u have any old clothes still? stuff you outgrew?
maybe buried in my closet.
cool. bring a few outfits. i want to try something with the bracelets. ok?
you still there?
And, that was the end of the conversation.
Caroline sighed and put her phone down on her nightstand. She sat on her bed and wondered what her cousin was planning this time. Whatever it was, she doubted she would like it.
She lay down on her bed and stared at the ceiling, trying to figure out how she could handle Audrey better this time around. Last time, she had failed to maintain her authority as a babysitter. She had let Audrey, a child, take control of everything, even Caroline’s own body. She looked down at her feet and sighed. Not only were they embarrassingly small and young looking, but also they were not even her feet. They were Audrey’s feet. Since she had left Audrey, these feet she was stuck with had been a constant reminder of her failure. Every time she put on those girly pink and white shoes, every time she stood for hours at work and felt her little feet getting sore trying to support a body too large for them, every time she looked at those tiny toes and thought of the girl they actually belonged to, every time she was reminded of that night, she felt a wave of shame wash over her.
“I screwed up,” she said aloud, “But, I won’t let it happen again.” Her voice was full of determination.
Sure, she might have just agreed to let Audrey transform her again, but she would not give in to everything Audrey wanted to do. She would maintain her authority. She would keep the girl in check. She would not lose control over the situation ever again.
Feeling determined, she got up from her bed to look for some old clothes to bring with her tomorrow night.
When Caroline rang the doorbell of the mansion, she was greeted at the door moments later by Audrey herself. For a moment, Caroline was shocked at how small Audrey looked. In her mind, the girl had grown larger and larger as the week went on. Now, she wondered how she had ever felt intimidated by such a little kid.
“Did you bring the clothes?” Audrey asked before Caroline could even say “Hello.”
Caroline, again feeling a bit taken aback by the girl’s surprising confidence, replied, “I have them in the trunk of my parents’ car.”
“Good,” Audrey said with a smirk.
“Audrey?” her mother called to them. “Is that Caroline at the door?”
“Yes,” Audrey called back. Then, she whispered to Caroline, “We’ll get them out after my parents leave. Come in. Come in.”
Caroline stepped into the house and Audrey shut the door behind her. Caroline tried to shake the feeling that a trap had just shut on her.
“Hello, Caroline,” Uncle David said as he walked down the stairs. He was dressed up in a suit and looked like a million dollars.
“Hi,” Caroline said. “How are you tonight?”
“Good, good,” he said and took a moment to check his tie in the mirror by the door. “We’ll be out until around eleven, most likely. You’re fine with staying that late, right?”
“Of course,” Caroline said.
Aunt Beverly showed up, wearing a modest but fashionable white dress. “Hello, Caroline,” she said. “How are you?”
“Good,” Caroline said. “We were just discussing the job a little… How late I would be staying… I did want to talk a little about… Well, you know…”
Aunt Beverly glared at Caroline for a moment and then told her daughter, “Go wait in the living room for a minute, Audrey. We need to talk business for a moment.”
“Right,” Audrey said, not betraying any annoyance at being sent away. “See you in a little bit, Caroline.” Then, she left Caroline alone with her parents by the door.
“We paid you forty an hour last time. Right?”
“How about sixty an hour?”
“That would be great,” Caroline said.
“Good,” Aunt Beverly said and turned to check her hair in the mirror. “Now, that amount is contingent on there being no problems tonight. If there are problems, we’ll be paying you only forty again.”
“I see,” Caroline said. “You don’t have anything to worry about. No problems.”
“Good,” she said and turned to her husband. “Ready dear?”
He checked the time on a watch that cost more than the car Caroline had parked in their driveway. “Let’s get going,” he replied.
The two of them called over Audrey to say goodbye to her and Caroline. Then, they went to the garage, got in their luxury sedan, and drove away.
Audrey led Caroline upstairs to the library. When the girl flipped on the lights, Caroline immediately found the display case with the two bracelets resting in it.
“Ready to change back to normal?” Audrey asked.
They looked down at each other’s feet. Audrey was wearing Caroline’s old shoes on her oversized feet. They made her look faintly clownish still, but not in a way that was unrealistic for a girl of her size. Same with Caroline’s own little shoes. They were strangely small but not impossible.
“Yes,” Caroline said, taking a seat on one of the antique chairs to untie and remove the little girl’s sneakers she was wearing. Meanwhile, Audrey went about unlocking the case and retrieving the bracelets.
Once Caroline was barefoot, she stood up and joined Audrey by the case. Audrey held out the silver bracelet to Caroline, who took it and almost put it on immediately.
Seeing Caroline pause, Audrey asked, “What’s the matter?”
“You’re only changing our feet now, right?”
Audrey gave her a pleasant smile. “Of course,” she said. “We can talk about other changes a little later.”
Caroline was hesitant to trust the girl, still, but she decided that she had no other choice but to go along with the trade for now. She slipped on the bracelet.
Audrey put on the gold bracelet and shut her eyes. “Just let me focus a moment,” she said.
Caroline stared at her feet, anxiously watching for any change in them. Seconds later, she felt them start to swell. The carpet beneath them felt as though it were shrinking as her toes slid further out from her heels. In a matter of moments, the change stopped. Caroline flexed her teenager toes again and rocked back and forth onto her heels, enjoying the stability her bigger feet gave her.
“There,” Audrey said, stepping out of Caroline’s shoes, revealing the small, sock-covered feet that Caroline had been dealing with all week. “Everything is back to how it should be.”
Caroline gathered her sneakers from the floor and went back to the chair to put them on.
“Now,” Audrey said, as she sat on the floor and started to put on her own pink and white sneakers. “Let’s talk about the next change I have in mind.”
Audrey paused as she was about to tie her shoelaces. She swiftly pulled off the bracelet and set it down on the table next to her. Then, she returned to her shoes. She felt more confident having a mature body from head to toes again and decided it was time to lay down some rules. “I have a few things I want to say first before we do any more changes.”
With her shoes tied, Audrey stood up and inquired, “What would you like to say?”
“I’ve thought it over, and I wanted to say that I won’t use the bracelet unless you agree on a few rules first,” Caroline said and stood up again.
“Okay,” Audrey said, looking up at her patiently. “What are your rules?”
“First, I do not want you to change me at all unless you ask me first and I agree to the change.”
Audrey nodded and said, “That’s fair. Alright.”
“Second, I want you to change me back immediately if I say I want to go back to normal.”
“Again, that’s fair. Sure.”
“And, third…” she started to say but hesitated to finish her last point.
“Yes?” Audrey prompted.
“I am your babysitter, so I am in charge when we are together. No matter how we might change, you need to respect me and do what I say.”
Audrey smiled, but it was a complex expression on her face. There was a hint of a simper and a smirk in it, but there was also something amused about it as well, as if Caroline had just said something a bit funny. “You don’t have to worry about that,” she said. “You’re the boss. However we change, you’re the one in charge. I agree to abide by all of your rules.”
Caroline was not sure if she believed the girl, but she was satisfied enough with having a verbal agreement. “Good,” she said. “So, tell me why you wanted me to bring old clothes here.”
Audrey picked up the silver bracelet. Now holding both, she headed for the door to the library and said, “Let’s get everything together in the living room first.”
The sun was nearly setting when Caroline carried in a garbage bag full of old clothes and set it on the couch in the living room.
“Is that it?” Audrey asked.
“It was everything I could find.”
Audrey opened the bag and dug around for a moment before pulling out a pair of shorts Caroline had outgrown that were nevertheless too big for Audrey. “Perfect,” she said.
“So what’s the plan?” Caroline asked.
Audrey sat down and said, “I want to be older and a bit taller.”
“Wait a few years,” Caroline said. “I’m sure you’re due for a growth spurt soon.”
Audrey smirked and shook her head. “I’m not a fan of waiting. Tonight, I want to try out being a teenager.”
“So,” Caroline said. “You want to borrow some years from me?”
“About three,” Audrey said. “If I did the math right, that should make us about the same age, around 13 or 14.”
“So, that’s what the clothes are for? You want something to wear when you’re older?”
“Exactly. And you’ll have something to wear as well when you’re younger.”
Caroline did not like the idea of getting younger, especially not when Audrey would be getting older at the same time. “We said three hundred this time, right?”
“That was the deal.” Audrey pulled out a phone and flicked it open. “I’ll send it to your PayFriend account right now.” A few presses later, and Caroline’s phone let out a notification.
She checked her phone and said, “The money’s been transferred.” Then, she frowned. “Hey, how did you know I had a PayFriend?”
“The same way I knew your phone number. I’ve been looking through some of my parent’s information about you.”
“How do you have a PayFriend account at your age?”
“I’m good with money,” she said.
“That can’t be legal.”
“It’s a joint account under my mother’s name.”
“Does she know about it?”
“She… might know,” Audrey said and quickly turned her attention back in the bag. “Let’s get started.”
“Wait,” Caroline said. “I still haven’t agreed to do this yet.”
Audrey paused her search through the bag and said, “You don’t want the money?”
“I do, but…”
“You’re just lending a few years to me for the evening. I’ll give them back before you leave,” she said and added. “Hold on a moment.” She picked up her phone again and thumbed in more info. Again, Caroline’s phone let out a notification.
She checked it. “You sent me another hundred?”
“Just to sweeten the pot. Do we have a deal?” Audrey asked.
Caroline wanted to say, “No.” There was way too much shady business going on with the money, and Audrey seemed just as sketchy as ever. However, it would get her a lot closer affording the car she wanted… “Fine,” she said. “We have a deal. Three years for the evening. That’s all.”
Audrey smiled and handed the silver bracelet back to Caroline.
Caroline took the bracelet and slipped it on her wrist. “Let’s get this over with,” she said.
Audrey ran over to press a button that automatically shut the curtains in the room. Then, she started to strip off her clothes. Caroline averted her eyes when Audrey was down to her training bra and panties.
“What’s the matter?” Audrey asked. “We’re both girls.”
“Yeah,” Caroline said. “But… Well… We’re family, and you’re younger.”
“Not for long,” Audrey said as she tossed her underwear onto the couch followed by the rest of the clothes she had been wearing. Then, she walked to the chair to pick up the gold bracelet again.
Caroline glanced at her young cousin. The girl was showing only the first hints of puberty, but there was not much to be proud of yet besides the slightest curves and some scattered hair.
Audrey slipped on her bracelet and said, “Here we go.” She shut her eyes and concentrated.
Caroline felt herself begin to shrink. Unlike the first night, this change was much more noticeable as it was happening under her clothes. She could feel them getting looser and sliding against her skin as it contracted beneath the fabric. Feeling herself disappear a little at a time was disturbing. Part of her worried that the shrinking might never stop, kind of how a person skydiving worries about their parachute. If she kept dropping without stopping, then there would be nothing left of her soon enough. She had made a protective agreement with Audrey, though, so she clung to that assurance to overcome her worry.
When she glanced at Audrey, Caroline was simultaneously concerned and fascinated by what she saw. Witnessing Audrey getting bigger only emphasized how much Caroline was getting smaller. Then, there were the signs of maturity appearing on the nude girl. Her hips spread wider as her legs stretched longer. The nascent mounds on her chest swelled as they matured into young breasts. Then, there were the subtle changes to her face. Caroline had seen Audrey with a grown woman’s face before, but watching it change slowly like this was strangely captivating, like watching a time-lapse film of a plant sprouting. Then, just when it felt as though Audrey would outgrow her, Caroline felt the shrinking stop. She looked down to take stock of how she had changed.
Her clothes were all looser. She felt some extra space in her bra and in her shoes. Her jeans wanted to slip off of her narrower hips, but they hung in place still. What might have been most unexpected was how little she had changed despite losing three years. It seemed that she had not grown as much as she had thought since turning thirteen. Ultimately, she was now just a bit thinner and shorter.
“Wow,” Audrey said. Caroline looked over to see her cousin cupping her new breasts. “These feel great,” Audrey said.
Audrey’s changes were as dramatic as Caroline’s had been underwhelming. It seemed that going three years up from 11 was a considerably bigger shift than the three years down from 16. She had been such a kid before. Now, Caroline could not help but think of Audrey as a peer. She could imagine seeing Audrey walking through her high school as a freshman. And, the new teen had curves, which Caroline realized might be a bit more pronounced than her own curves at the moment.
Audrey noticed Caroline at last, and stifled a laugh. “Aw,” she cooed. “You look adorable.”
Feeling a bit miffed at hearing the girl she was babysitting belittle her like that, Caroline said, “How about you put on some of my old clothes?” She tried to ignore the slightly higher pitch of her voice.
“Oooh!” Audrey said. “Yes! Dress up time! Let’s dig in.” She rushed over to the bag of clothes and began tearing through the pile, checking out how the garments fit and then tossing the rejected ones on the floor as she went.
“Hey,” Caroline said. “You don’t need to make a mess of them.”
“I’ll clean up when we’re done. Don’t worry,” Audrey held up a belly shirt to her chest to check if it would fit. “You might want to look for an outfit as well. I can’t imagine those big clothes are comfortable on you now.”
Caroline sighed. Audrey was right. She did feel uncomfortable in her oversized clothes. However, she did not like the idea of having to go back to wearing her own old clothes. She reminded herself that it was only for the evening. Besides, no one other than Audrey would see her looking like this. She got undressed and set her mature outfit on a chair by itself. Then, naked now, she started to search through the discarded clothes on the floor for something to wear.
Caroline found some underwear that fit, including a bra that was a full cup size smaller than she had been wearing earlier today. After that, she put on a pair of shorts and a basic T-shirt that fit properly. When she felt that her outfit was complete, she checked on Audrey again who was still pulling clothes out of the bag. Her cousin had made a small pile of garments that Caroline guessed she wanted to try on. However, Audrey was still nude.
Audrey groaned in frustration as she attempted to put on one of Caroline’s old bras when she could not close the clasps on it. “It’s too small!” she said and turned to Caroline. “None of your underwear fits me.” She frowned. Then, she noticed the pile of clothes Caroline had set aside on a chair. “Hey, maybe this underwear will fit me.” She walked over to the chair, but Caroline stood in her way.
“Wait,” Caroline said. “Those are the clothes I was wearing tonight.”
“That’s fine,” Audrey said. “I don’t mind putting on your clothes. I mean, you did take a shower today, right?”
“Of course I did, but…”
“I’ll give them back to you later. You don’t need to worry.”
Caroline sighed. “I’m not worried. I just don’t want to share my underwear with you. I have to wear it again later when I go home.”
“I’m clean as well,” Audrey said. “Come on…”
“I’ll pay you extra if you let me borrow your clothes.”
Caroline wanted to argue more, but she was finding it hard to refuse Audrey when money was involved. “Fine,” she said. What did it matter anyways? She could take a shower later when she got home.
Audrey pulled out Caroline’s bra and panties and tried them on. To Caroline’s disappointment, the underwear fit her cousin perfectly, meaning that the girl as a young teen was already as developed as Caroline was at 16.
“Thank you,” Audrey said. “This ought to do it.” She walked back to the pile of Caroline’s old clothes and picked up a few tops and bottoms to try on. Then, she headed for the mirror by the front door. Caroline followed her cousin to the door and watched as Audrey tried on a basic T-shirt that was a bit small for her. Then, she exchanged it for a belly shirt. When she saw it fit her chest well, she put on a pair of workout shorts that stretched tightly over the curves of her butt and hips. Caroline could remember wearing those clothes, but they had never looked as good on her. “Perfect!” Audrey said, turning side to side to appreciate how she looked. Caroline noticed herself reflected in the mirror next to Audrey. She looked like Audrey’s less impressive friend.
Noticing Caroline looking a bit down, Audrey put an arm over Caroline’s shoulder to pull her in close next to her. They were the same height at least, even if Audrey had more meat on her bones than Caroline did. “Look at us,” Audrey said. “We’re like a pair of friends now.”
“Yeah,” Caroline said with a half-hearted smile. “I suppose this feels more like a sleepover now than babysitting.”
“Oooh!” Audrey said. “That’s right! It does! We should do sleepover stuff. What do kids do during sleepovers?”
Caroline gave Audrey a concerned look. “Y-you’ve never been to a sleepover before?”
“No,” Audrey said, with only the hint of a frown. “I’m not very… popular with the kids at my school. I think they’re a bit jealous.”
“Oh,” Caroline said, feeling a bit of sympathy for her cousin. She had never considered how the girl must feel lonely at times as an only child in a big house like this. No wonder she seemed to be latching on to Caroline. She must have been starved for attention. “Well, we could play some games, watch some TV, try on some makeup…”
“Makeup! Yes!” Audrey said and gave Caroline a big hug. Caroline felt a bit annoyed that Audrey seemed to be literally shoving her larger chest into her. “You can teach me how to put it on. Perfect!”
“Right,” Caroline said, trying to sound enthusiastic. “Let’s do it.”
A short while later, Audrey had gathered up her mother’s makeup kits, and the two of them had relocated to Audrey’s room to sit in front of her dressing table together. Caroline did a series of demonstrations, penciling on eyeliner, brushing on foundation and eyeshadow, putting on lipstick. After each demonstration, Audrey tried to do the same. The results were not great, but they paused repeatedly for Audrey to clean her face off and try again. Meanwhile, the longer they played with makeup together, the more Caroline felt like this really was a sleepover. They started to laugh with each other over Audrey’s mistakes, while they chatted about school and parents. Audrey felt hers were too strict. Caroline felt increasingly relieved about her own parents the more she listened to all the studying Audrey was forced to do. Eventually, they managed to get both of their faces looking great.
“I look so sexy,” Audrey said, smiling. “Look at my eyes. Damn, I’m hot.”
“Yeah,” Caroline said. “You’re looking good.”
“And, you look good too!” Audrey said. Then, she sighed and her smile faded.
“What’s the matter?”
“Well,” Audrey said. “It seems like such a waste that no one’s going to see us looking like this. This took a lot of work.”
“No pictures,” Caroline said. “I don’t want to create any evidence of what we’ve been doing tonight.”
“Okay,” Audrey said. “But… what if…?”
“No,” Caroline said, anticipating what Audrey was about to suggest. “We’re not going out of the house like this. No way.”
“No!” Caroline said, firmly. “Where would we even go?”
“There’s a summer carnival set up downtown by the lake. I really wanted to go to it, but I didn’t have anyone to go with. You could go with me. They’d have food and rides there. It would be so much fun.”
“It probably would be fun, but your parents will be home by eleven.”
“We can come back home before them.”
“And, just how would we get downtown?” Caroline asked. “Look at me. I’m too young to drive now, and it would take at least an hour to walk there.”
“We have bikes in the garage. It won’t take very long to ride there.”
“What if someone I know is there? Huh? I’m younger, but I still look the same. They’d recognize me. How would I explain why I look like I belong back in 8th grade?”
Audrey frowned and thought a moment, while Caroline felt relieved that she might have finally convinced her cousin to drop the idea of going out. But, then Audrey’s face lit up. “I have an idea!” she declared and ran out of her bedroom, leaving Caroline sitting there.
As Caroline waited, she let her eyes wander around the walls of her cousin’s room. Besides a few posters of pop stars, she noticed many posters depicting famous foreign destinations: Paris, Rome, Rio de Janeiro… She wondered if these were places where Audrey had been or places where she wanted to go.
Audrey returned to the room holding the magic bracelets in her hands. “Here they are.”
“What are you planning on doing with those?”
“Let me show you,” she said, handing the silver bracelet to Caroline.
“I’m not putting it on until you tell me what you plan to do. Remember what we agreed earlier?”
“I know,” Audrey said, taking a seat next to Caroline as she slipped on her gold bracelet. “But, it would be easier to explain if I just showed you what I want to do. I promise, I’ll reverse it if you don’t want to keep going.”
“Of course, there will be more money for this as well.”
Caroline sighed. “If you’ll turn us back immediately, then fine. Do it.” She slipped on the silver bracelet.
Audrey concentrated and Caroline watched their reflections in the mirror. Their faces started to look different. It took a moment to realize that it was their noses that were changing shape. Then, Caroline’s hair grew darker as Audrey’s became fairer. When the changes stopped, Caroline realized that she did not recognize the girl she had become. She resembled herself, but with a new hair color and a slightly shorter nose, it would be possible that her own parents might not recognize her.
“What do you think?” Audrey said.
“It might work,” Caroline admitted. “Still…”
“I will give you a thousand dollars more if you go to the carnival with me,” Audrey said. Then, she walked over to her computer, turned on the monitor and logged in.
“Where are you getting all of this money?” Caroline asked as Audrey checked that her VPN was working.
“I have a trust fund,” Audrey said as she opened a browser and started logging on to a bank website.
“Don’t you normally need to be an adult to take money out of something like that?”
“Normally you do,” Audrey said. “But, I happen to know a thing or two about moving money around online.”
“Where’d you learn that?” Caroline asked.
Audrey ignored the question and said, “Look. I have the transfer ready to go.”
Caroline saw that there was $1,000 ready to be transferred straight to her own bank account. She knew she should say, “No.” It was the responsible thing to do. This whole situation was too shady and too dangerous. There was no telling what might go wrong if they left the house. Yet, she thought about how much faster she could afford a car with that money. She might even be able to get a better car than the old beater she had been considering. She imagined the freedom that a car would give her. It would mean she would be practically an adult, then.
She looked back at Audrey, who gave her a look full of hope.
Caroline relented. “Yes,” she said. “We can go.”
Audrey finished the money transfer and shut down her computer. Then, she stood up, held her arms wide, and motioned for Caroline to give her a hug. Caroline stood up and obliged her. As they held each other, Audrey whispered, “You are the best friend I’ve ever had.”
“Thanks,” Caroline replied, feeling a bit of pity for Audrey because her best friend had to be bought.
They broke off the hug, and Audrey said, “All right. Let’s get going!”
Down in the garage a short while later, they found that the bikes available did not fit them well. Even though Audrey’s bike was a bit too small for Caroline, she could still ride it. However, both of Audrey’s parents’ bikes were too tall for her to comfortably reach the pedals.
Audrey sighed. “If I were only a couple inches taller…” she said. Then, she and Caroline exchanged a look.
Caroline sighed. “Two inches, maximum,” she said and held out her hand as Audrey took the bracelets out of her sack backpack. Then, they put on their bracelets and stood facing each other as Audrey concentrated on trading height between them. Caroline watched two inches of length leave her legs to be added to Audrey’s legs. When the transfer was done, Caroline was troubled to find that she now had a four inch height deficit with her cousin. She passed the bracelet back to Audrey who put them both away in her bag.
“Are you sure you want to take those with us?” Caroline asked. “What if you lost them?”
“I won’t,” Audrey said. “Besides, their magic has been pretty useful. What if we need them again while we’re out?”
“Why would we need them?”
“I don’t know. Something might come up. Better safe than sorry, right?” Audrey got onto her bike, which fit her longer legs just fine now.
Caroline sighed and got onto her smaller bike, which also fit her better. Mentally, she reviewed the growing list of things the two of them had swapped already—3 years, noses, hair color, and now two inches of leg length. As they left the garage and shut it behind them, she made sure to repeat the list in her mind a few times to make sure she did not forget it. It would be a real headache if she forgot to get everything back by the end of the night, like what happened with their feet last week.
“Right,” Audrey said after checking that they had everything they needed. “Let’s go to town!”
Caroline and Audrey heard the woosh of the rides and the cheers and squeals of the riders long before they saw the lights. The sun set as they rode into town, giving the rainbow lights outlining the carnival rides a backdrop of twilight when they came into view. Young people flocked to those lights, like a cloud of excited moths. They rode on spinning contraptions that rose above the treeline a moment and dipped back below, flipping them in sickening ways as they screamed and hollered for more.
The two girls pulled up to the park where the carnival had been set up and stood a minute, straddling their bikes, to watch the fun everyone was having. Caroline was hit by nostalgia, thinking of all the years past she had been to this carnival. With how busy work was keeping her this year, she had even planned on skipping it. Now, she could not imagine how she had even considered not going. What was summer without rickety rides and overpriced carnival food? Whatever doubts she had carried with her on the way here were set aside. This was a good idea, she decided. She needed to be here.
“Wow,” Audrey said.
“Yeah,” Caroline said. Clearly, Audrey felt the same way.
“Let’s get in there,” Audrey said, getting off of her bike and walking it to a bike rack by the sidewalk.
Caroline followed her lead, and they both found a couple of open spaces. When Caroline noticed the locks and chains on the other bikes, she asked Audrey, “Do you have locks and chains for us?”
“Um,” she said. “No, I don’t think I do.” She shrugged. “It should be fine. It’s too dark now for anyone to see if they’re locked or not.”
“Well…” Caroline started to disagree but stopped when she smelled hot dogs and fried foods, making her stomach rumble. “I guess this will be okay.”
“Come on,” Audrey said. “Let’s get something to eat. I’m starving.”
They mixed into the crowd, and Caroline was reminded of what she had traded away that night. All of the adults and most of the teens they passed were taller than her. She had not checked her height since the changes, but she guessed that she was below five feet tall now.
As she hustled to keep up with Audrey’s long strides, Caroline found herself getting tripped up by Audrey’s slightly too small flip-flops that she was wearing. Audrey, though, was wearing her mother’s flip-flops, which fit her just fine, letting her walk normally. The more distance that grew between them, the more worried Caroline felt. The last thing she wanted was to have to explain how she had allowed something bad to happen to Audrey at the carnival. Even though they were the same age now, Caroline found she could not totally let go of her responsibilities as a babysitter. She had to look out for Audrey.
Finally, she caught up with Audrey at their first stop, the ticket booth. Audrey bought a large stack of tickets and split them evenly between them.
“Are you sure?” Caroline asked after counting her tickets. “I can afford to pay for my own tickets.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Audrey said. “After all, what’s a few dollars between friends?”
“Sure,” Caroline said, trying to set aside thoughts about babysitting and the bracelets.
“Cool! Now, let’s get something unhealthy to eat.”
They began their tour of the park. First, they spent some tickets on corn dogs and cola. Next, they walked around the carnival as they ate, surveying the rides and games, debating what they wanted to do first, and chatting like a pair of old friends. It was easy to get comfortable palling around with Audrey. Sure, Caroline realized that she was playing a role here. She was meant to be Audrey’s best friend as they pretended to be young teens. Having a body for the role made acting the part easy, it seemed. If Audrey had been awful to be around, then she could have survived it. However, Audrey was actually sort of fun. Her confident attitude and sharp mind kept their conversations going effortlessly. She certainly did not talk or even think like a 10-year-old girl. Feeling more confident that the evening would go by smoothly, Caroline started to let down her guard and enjoy the carnival.
When their food was eaten and they had made up tentative plans for how to tackle the amusement options available to them, they headed for their first ride, the Ferris wheel. Audrey had done some calculations to make that decision. The ferris wheel had the shortest and fastest line, and it gave them a good view of the whole carnival when they were at the top. They could better plan their next choice from that vantage point.
However, before they got into line, Caroline noticed a problem. “Wait,” she said, grabbing Audrey’s arm to stop her.
“What?” Audrey asked.
“I know them,” Caroline explained, pointing subtly at a muscular teen boy and the pretty blonde girl standing by him at the end of the line for the Ferris wheel. “That’s Alex and Jenny. They’re in the same grade as me. Alex used to be my…” She let the sentence hang as she was reluctant to remember.
“So?” Audrey asked. “You’re not you right now. They won’t recognize you.”
“I don’t want to chance it.” She took a step back. “Let’s go on another ride first.”
Audrey sighed and said, “You’re being silly. Come on.” She walked into the line.
Caroline considered ditching Audrey for a moment, until her babysitter instincts kicked in and she followed the girl. She stood behind Audrey and tried to hide in her shadow. As much as she wanted to ignore Alex and Jenny, Caroline could not help but overhear their conversation.
“Hey,” Alex said to Jenny. “Is it alright if I invite a couple more guys over to the party next Saturday? They heard a rumor about it at work, and now they’re begging to go.”
Jenny replied, “Everyone can go, so long as people stop blabbing about it so much. Just tell them they have to bring their own drinks.”
“Right,” Alex said.
“So,” Audrey said, inserting herself into the conversation. “You’re having a party?”
Caroline tried to will herself invisible.
“Uh,” Alex said. “Yeah, next Wednesday at Jenny’s house.”
“Alex!” Jenny said, scolding him. “What did I just say about not blabbing about it?”
“S-sorry,” he said.
“Besides,” Jenny said, “the party is only for juniors and seniors.” She looked over Audrey and said, “You don’t even look old enough to be a freshman.”
“But, if I was old enough…?” Audrey wondered.
“Yeah,” Alex said.
Jenny said, “It’s bad enough Peter is coming with his friend.” She gestured at a pair of boys ahead of them in line. They looked to be the same age as Audrey and Caroline now were. “We don’t need any more kids there.”
“Hey,” the boy who was probably Peter whined. “We’re not kids.”
“You’re eight graders,” Alex said.
“We’ll be freshmen in the fall,” Peter’s friend noted.
“Yeah, what Pat said,” Peter agreed.
Audrey said, “Maybe I could be your date.”
Hearing that, Caroline’s eyes went wide, and she said, “No!”
Suddenly, everyone’s eyes were focused on Caroline.
“This is Katie,” Audrey said, introducing Caroline. “She’s a little shy. I’m Addie.”
“I’m Pete,” Peter said, stepping past his sister. “This is Pat,” he added, when his friend joined him next to Audrey. The two boys smiled at Audrey and Caroline as if they had just found hidden Christmas presents. “Are you new in town? I’ve never seen you at school before.”
“Yeah,” Audrey said. “I just moved to town, and Katie lives in my old town.”
Caroline noticed Alex staring at her curiously. “What?” she asked him.
“Do I know you?” he asked her. “You seem familiar somehow.”
Caroline shook her head. “I’ve never seen you before.”
“You sure?” Alex said. “Maybe you’re related to someone I know.”
“Maybe,” Caroline said with a shrug.
Jenny sighed and said, “Listen. Whoever they are, whoever they’re with, they’re not coming to the party. That’s it.”
“All right,” Audrey said. “But…” She looked at Peter. “Maybe you two could be our dates for tonight.”
Pete and Pat exchanged an excited look. Caroline stared daggers at Audrey, who returned a pleading look and clasped her hands together in prayer. She whispered, “Just one night.”
Caroline sighed. There seemed to be no stopping going where this conversation was headed. She resigned herself to just tough it out. “Fine,” she replied.
Audrey smiled and turned to Pete. “So, Peter,” she said. “Tell me everything about you.”
“Uh,” he said, blushing. He stammered a moment and said, “W-what do you wanna know?”
“Hi,” Pat said to Caroline. “Nice to meet you.” The boy had red hair and freckles and was almost half a head taller than her.
“Nice to meet you,” Caroline lied.
Pat smiled and said, “Y-you’re pretty cute.”
“Uh,” Caroline said. “Thanks.” She tried to seem appreciative, but having an awkward 13-year-old boy clumsily hitting on her was not exactly a dream come true.
So much for this being a fun time.
Not much later, the three couples started boarding the Ferris wheel cars. Alex and Jenny went first, followed by Audrey and Peter. When it was Pat and Caroline’s turn, she hesitated a moment before taking a seat next to him.
“Come on,” he said. “I don’t bite.”
She gave in and sat next to him, keeping her hip pressed to the side of the car to stay as far from him as she could be. Then, the attendant locked the bar across their laps, and the wheel turned forward, leaving them hanging in the air alone.
They heard a girl laughing above them. Looking up, they saw Audrey laughing with Peter. She leaned her shoulder into the boy, affectionately.
Pat and Caroline exchanged a nervous glance with each other. The contrast between the two cars and their “dates” was pretty stark.
“Um,” Pat said. “It’s a pretty nice night, huh? Nice… weather.”
“Hey,” he said. “You ever kissed a boy before?”
Caroline felt a sudden desire to escape. She wondered if she would hurt herself by jumping off of the ride from that height. Then, the wheel turned again, lifting them higher into the air, and she put aside any ideas of getting away. She was going to be stuck with this boy for the duration of the ride, it seemed.
After one more stop to let on a couple more passengers, the wheel began its slow continuous turn, and Caroline prepared herself for a long ride.
When their mostly silent ride came to an end, Caroline left Pat behind without even a goodbye and started to chase after Audrey and Peter who were already walking away down the exit ramp. Unfortunately, the couple quickly disappeared into the crowd and Caroline lost sight of them. She was too short now to look over the sea of bodies to find them.
Pat caught up to her and said, “Hey, what’s up?”
“I need to find my friend. She just wandered off with your friend.”
“We can find them together,” he said and tentatively held his hand out to her. Seeing her reluctance to take his hand, he explained, “So that we don’t get separated in the crowd.”
She sighed and took his hand. Then, he led her through the mass of bodies. Caroline tried to shake the feeling that she was a little kid trying to avoid getting lost.
When they reached a clearing, they took a moment to scan the nearby people for their friends. It did not help that Audrey had a new face, which Caroline had not looked at for long.
“I don’t see them,” Caroline said.
“Damn,” she said, trying to figure out what she would do if Audrey was really gone.
“Hey,’ Pat said. “Why don’t we check out some of the other rides. We might find them in the line somewhere.”
Realizing that she was still holding his hand, Caroline sighed. It seemed that their date would continue until they found their friends. “Let’s keep looking,” she said and started to drag him along behind her.
They walked around the whole carnival. Pat treated her to a few rides along the way. Caroline had no fun. She was too focused on worrying about Audrey to enjoy anything much. Eventually, she needed a visit to the Porta Potties. Besides having to ignore the smell, Caroline felt herself relax a little inside. For once, no one was looking at her and Pat was waiting at a respectful distance.
When she finished, she stepped out and went to clean her hands. That is where she found Audrey and Peter, by the hand wash station. They had their arms around each other and were kissing passionately, totally oblivious to the crowd around them or the shamelessness of their public display of affection.
“Audrey!” Caroline cried and marched over to the girl.
The two of them broke their kiss and released each other.
“Oh,” Audrey said. “Hi, K-Katie.”
“What are you doing? I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
Pat walked up to them and said, “Hey guys, we found you. Great.”
Caroline grabbed Audrey’s wrist and started to drag her away from the boys. She did not get far, though. Audrey pulled back, and her greater mass was enough to stop both of them.
Rather than engage in a tug of war, Caroline said, “Can we talk… privately, for a minute?”
Audrey looked back at Peter and smiled. She said, “Just wait here. We’ll be right back.”
“Okay,” he said, smiling back.
Caroline dragged Audrey around the back of the Porta Potties and said, “Where have you been?”
“Oh,” Audrey said. “Sorry about leaving you behind. I was having such a good time with Peter that I forgot to stick with you. When we realized you two were gone, we just figured we would run into you again later. And, we did. No problem.”
“No problem? Do you have any idea how worried I was?”
“Sorry,” Audrey said. “I just got so caught up in the date. Peter is really cute. I think he wants to be my boyfriend.” She chuckled. “If he only knew…”
“That’s another thing,” Caroline said. “You shouldn’t be messing around with that boy. He’s too old for you. You’re not ready for that kind of stuff anyway.”
“Hey,” Audrey said. “I can decide what I’m ready for on my own. Besides, there was nothing serious going on. We were just having a bit of fun.”
“It’s getting late,” Caroline said and pulled out her phone to check the time. “We should be leaving now so we have enough time to ride home.”
Audrey sighed. “Do we have to?” Caroline gave her a stern look and Audrey relented. “Fine, let’s say goodbye to the boys first.”
They walked back to their waiting dates and Caroline said, “Sorry, guys. It’s getting late. We need to go.”
Peter said, “Can we give you a ride home? My sister drove us here.”
“No,” Caroline said. “We rode here on our bikes.”
Pat said, “Will we see you again?”
“Probably not,” Caroline said. Then, she dragged Audrey away as the girl blew a kiss to Peter.
As they weaved their way through the crowd to where they left their bikes, Caroline felt herself starting to relax a bit more. She had taken back control of the night. Soon, they would be back home and back in their normal bodies again. Unfortunately, that relaxed attitude only lasted until they made it to the bike rack.
“Where are they?” Audrey said, looking for their bikes.
Caroline looked around trying to figure out if they were in the right place. “We left them here,” she said. “I’m sure of it.”
“They’re not here now.”
“I can see that!” Caroline said. The worry was back, and she was starting to get angry. “Someone stole them. We should have locked them up.”
Audrey did not try to argue.
“Let’s get going,” Caroline said and started walking away from the carnival. “We might make it back in time on foot if we hurry.”
“I have a better idea,” Audrey said. “We can get a ride home from the boys.”
Caroline turned around and said, “First, I don’t want to be stuck in a car next to a horny thirteen-year-old. Second, I don’t want you and Peter near each other anymore. And, third, I don’t want to have to deal with my ex-boyfriend when I’m looking like a damn thirteen-year-old girl!”
“Wait, the guy that’s dating Peter’s sister… Alex. He used to be your boyfriend?”
“Yes!” Caroline said, unable to contain her fury. “I don’t fucking want his new girlfriend driving us home. Understand?”
“Oh,” Audrey said. “I see.”
“Let’s get walking.”
“We’re not going to make it in time.”
“I don’t care.”
“I’ll pay you more if we get a ride from them.”
Caroline stood there and silently clenched her fists and unclenched them. She was already hating herself for what was about to happen. “How much?” she asked. “It had better be a lot.”
Caroline turned and walked back to the carnival. “Fine. Let’s find the boys.”
A short time later, they were riding squeezed in the middle backseat of Jenny’s car, sandwiched in by their “dates” on either side. During the whole interaction with Jenny and Alex, Caroline had avoided making eye contact with anyone. She had just tried to follow Audrey’s lead through the whole mess. If she had been paying better attention to what was going on, Caroline would have objected to the seating arrangement.
Caroline noticed Audrey and Peter holding hands and whispering sweet words to each other. Caroline glanced over at Pat, who mistook her attention for an invitation. Pat mimicked his friend, taking hold of Caroline’s hand as well.
Over the music on the radio, Jenny called back to Audrey, “How long until the next turn?”
“It’s the next light,” Audrey said, pulling her attention away from Peter. “Turn right.”
“You live in a nice area,” Jenny said.
“Thanks,” Audrey said.
“Is your friend staying at your place tonight?”
“Yeah,” Audrey said. “We’re having a sleepover.”
“Man,” Alex said. “I miss sleepovers.”
“Me too,” Jenny said.
“Well,” Alex said, glancing over at Jenny. “I suppose what we do together is kind of like-”
“Alex!” Jenny cried, cutting him off. “Not in front of the kids.”
Caroline started to feel carsick.
Then, she felt something wet touch her cheek. She recoiled away and looked to her side to see, Pat sitting there with his eyes closed and lips pursed. The kid had just kissed her!
“Stop the car!” Caroline yelled as she extracted her fingers from Pat’s grip.
“What’s the matter?” Jenny asked.
“Let me out!” Caroline cried and reached for the door handle.
Likely fearing that Caroline was about to jump out of a moving vehicle, Jenny pulled the car over to the gravel shoulder. Even before the car had stopped moving, Caroline had the door open and was crawling over Pat, who was stuttering through an apology.
Caroline got to her feet and started walking away down the road ahead of the car.
“Wait,” Audrey cried from the door as she followed Caroline out onto the roadside. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t do it,” Caroline said. “I can’t spend another second in that car.”
“No way!” Caroline said. “We’re walking.”
Audrey ran back to the car and said something to Jenny through the window. Then, the car drove off without them, leaving them alone on the gravel shoulder in the darkness.
“Let’s go,” Caroline said. They started walking in silence. After fifteen minutes, Caroline asked, “How much farther is it?”
“A few miles. Maybe?”
Caroline checked the time on her phone again. “We don’t have enough time. Damn it!”
“I have another idea,” Audrey said.
“I don’t think I want to hear it.”
“It should get us home on time.”
“Still, don’t think I want to hear it.”
Audrey pulled the bracelets out of her bag and held out the silver bracelet to Caroline and said, “I can borrow some of your size until you’re small enough to carry. Then, I’ll run us both home on my long legs.”
Caroline stared at her. “Are you crazy?”
“It’ll work. Trust me.”
“More money,” Caroline said. “A whole lot more.”
“You got it.”
Caroline put on the silver bracelet as Audrey put on the gold one. Then, Audrey stripped down to her underwear and removed her bra, replacing it with her shirt a moment later. When she was ready, she closed her eyes to focus her attention.
Caroline watched as the girl in front of her slowly grew into a giant, stretching their already large size difference out even more. Meanwhile, it felt as though the clothes Caroline was wearing were expanding on her, getting looser and looser until her shorts fell off her hips and dropped to the gravel and her shoulder poked out of the neck hole of her too large shirt. She had to hold the widening bracelet on her wrist to keep it from falling off.
When Audrey was now at least twice as tall as Caroline, the growing stopped. “Oof!” Audrey moaned in a deep, manish voice. “I can’t go any bigger.” Caroline could see the gold bracelet was now skin tight on Audrey’s huge wrist. “Grab the clothes.”
Caroline gathered up their huge clothes in her little arms, slipping the silver bracelet safely into the middle of the pile and setting their sandals on top. “I’m ready,” she said in a high, chipmunk voice. Audrey bent down and cradled Caroline in her huge arms. Then, Audrey stood up, lifting Caroline high into the air.
Audrey began walking briskly, and Caroline felt a breeze pick up. At her shrunken size, it was hard to tell just how tall Audrey had become, but Caroline guessed that Audrey must be at least 8 feet tall. Her incredibly long legs were moving them forward at close to the speed of a bicycle now.
The walk continued and Caroline tried not to feel silly, but it was a hard feeling to shake. She was a midget girl being carried by a 13-year-old giant. She felt like a toddler. She felt helpless.
Suddenly, headlights shone on them. A car had just turned a curve ahead of them and was approaching them on the other side of the road. Caroline wanted to leap into the woods and hide. Audrey just kept walking, not even breaking her stride. The car slowed down and Caroline could see the man driving it staring at them with his mouth open, watching two freaks pass by.
For a moment, Caroline wondered if the man might do something to get them in trouble somehow. Maybe he would call the police. Then, she felt like laughing, trying to imagine what that call would be like. Officer! I want to report a giant girl carrying a tiny girl down the side of the road. That feels like it should be against the law, right?
No other cars passed them on their journey, and soon they were traveling up the driveway to Audrey’s home.
When they reached the door to the mansion, Audrey stooped down and set Caroline back on her feet. With the house in front of her, Caroline finally had a sense of their relative scale. Looking up at the door handle, she realized she could not be more than three feet tall now, barely the size of a toddler. Audrey’s giant hand reached into the pile of clothes Caroline was holding and fished out a keyring from a pocket. She flipped through the seemingly tiny keys, trying to get hold of the right one.
“Hey,” Audrey said. “Help me unlock the door.” She handed Caroline the correct key and lifted Caroline into the air. Caroline did not even protest. She just slipped the key into the lock and unlocked the door. After Audrey set her back down on the stoop, Caroline pushed the huge door open with all of her might. Then, they gathered up the clothes and headed into the house.
With the door shut behind them, Caroline checked the clock on the wall. “They’ll be here any minute!”
“Put on the bracelet,” Audrey said.
Caroline pulled out the silver bracelet, but she fumbled it, and it fell to the floor and began rolling away.
“Shit!” Caroline cried, chasing after it as it rolled over to a cabinet. Just before she could grab it, the bracelet disappeared into the gap between the bottom of the cabinet and the floor. She laid on the floor and tried to grab it, but it seemed to have come to a rest just out of her reach. “My arm’s too short still!” she said. “Can you move the cabinet?”
“There’s expensive old dishes inside,” Audrey said. “I might break them.”
Caroline tried to reach the bracelet again. “Then, find me a ruler or something.”
Audrey clomped off and ran up the stairs, taking them three at a time. Meanwhile, Caroline waited, expecting to see headlights coming up the driveway at any moment as she wondered how she had let everything get this out of control. Audrey returned down the stairs taking slow steps to avoid tripping. She handed Caroline a ruler. Again, she tried for the bracelet.
“Got it!” she cried and pulled it out with the ruler. She put it back on her wrist and said, “Ready! Do it!”
Audrey shrank as Caroline grew. It seemed to take forever for them to be nearly the same size again, but when they were, Audrey asked, “What else did we trade?”
“Two inches on our legs.”
“Right.” Audrey concentrated, and their heights evened out even more.
Then, headlights shone through the windows.
“They’re here!” Caroline cried.
Audrey started gathering up their clothes on the floor. “Get the clothes in the living room. We’ll finish in my bedroom.”
Caroline tossed all the clothes on the couches and floor into the bag and carried it to the stairs, following Audrey up and into her bedroom.
Once inside with the door shut, Caroline said, “Now the years,” as she removed her remaining clothes.
Audrey focused and Caroline grew up again as the girl shrank smaller, losing her mature curves. When they had become their correct ages again, they heard a door open downstairs.
“Get dressed,” Audrey said, handing Caroline her shirt and underwear as Caroline handed back the silver bracelet.
Caroline slipped on her underwear and found it to be horribly stretched out as was her shirt. Still, they fit well enough. Next she pulled up her jeans.
Aunt Beverly called up to them, “Audrey? Caroline? Are you upstairs?”
“Let’s go,” Audrey said, opening her door. “Coming, Mom!” she yelled back to her mother downstairs.
Caroline followed her into the hallway to the top of the stairs, but after taking a look at Audrey’s hair and nose, she grabbed the girl’s wrist and stopped her from walking down.
“Our hair and noses,” Caroline whispered.
“There you are!” Aunt Beverly said, appearing at the bottom of the steps.
“Hi,” Caroline said, hoping that there was enough distance between them all, so that her aunt would not notice that their faces were wrong.
“Hi, Mom,” Audrey said. “Wait just a minute. We’ve got to go back to my room for a moment. We… forgot something.”
They hurried back into Audrey’s room and put on the bracelets. Then, Audrey fixed their heads back to normal. After checking in the mirror to quickly verify every feature on their bodies was on the right body, they headed back out again.
“Are we good?” Caroline asked.
“We’re good, friend,” Audrey said, smiling. “We did it.”
Laying in her bed that night after a thorough shower, Caroline thought back on the events of the evening. It all seemed like a dream now or a weird nightmare. Feeling suddenly worried, she got out of bed for the third time that night to check her face in the bathroom mirror. When she had convinced herself again that everything about her body was back to normal, she returned to bed.
“Never again,” she told herself, laying on her back staring at the ceiling, feeling relieved that it was all over at last. No way she was ever going to babysit Audrey again. There was no controlling that girl. Audrey had shown that she could get what she wanted no matter what rules Caroline set up for them. It was best to just keep out of the kid’s way, Caroline decided.
She heard a notification on her phone and checked it. Another thousand dollars had been added to her account. She opened the app and looked at her new balance. She was almost halfway to her goal now, and most of the money had been deposited tonight alone.
She sighed. “No,” she moaned, realizing that she had already begun to change her mind. She put her pillow over her face to muffle her frustrated groan.
The money was too good. When they asked, she knew she would go back. She would babysit again. She would even wear the bracelet again.
It was only a matter of time.
To be continued…