A Small Mistake

by Bookguy

At the 114th Annual County fair, there really wasn't much to interest me. A couple of friends had convinced me to tag along with them, but come on! They were judging pigs and cows, for goodness sake. I was way too old for the rides and the few carnival games they had had prizes geared towards teens, not just over 30 year olds like me. I guess I let my displeasure show too much, since my friends abandoned me, saying that we'd meet up later.

Oh well.

I just wanted to sit down for a few minutes, but all the benches were taken by families trying to get some food into their kids in between rides and games. Finally, I stopped outside of a tent where there was a chair. I had just sat down when I heard a soft voice from inside call, "Come in, sir, come in," What the heck.

It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. There was a foreign- looking man sitting at a table with,... a crystal ball? Oh please, this was ridiculous. He even had some moth-eaten lime green robes on.

"Oh it not ridiculous," said he. What? Had he--
"Read mind, sir, yes, sir, Come sit." So I did.

"You upset, sir. I help. No, no tell fortune, but let see what was."

"What does that mean,"

"It mean you pick time, I let you see it, Time you happy."
He was right in one way. I felt bad about leaving my friends, just because I couldn't let myself go and enjoy what was going on around me. I didn't used to be like that.

"OK," I said, "When I was about 9, there were two friends of mine, neighbors a few doors down. One was a year older and one a year younger, but we were all best buddies. We played everything together and had a blast. They had some trees on their property; we just called it The Woods, but it could be a jungle, a club house, a pirate ship, anything," I said. Why was I telling this man about this. I hadn't told anyone about this, but I do remember being happy there.
"OK, I would like to see The Woods, just for a little while."

"You see Woods little?" he said.

"Step this way," he said. He stood up and put out his arm. Why not? I followed him to the back of the tent where there was a small indentation in the smooth sides of the tent. There was just enough room for one person to stand, I guess that meant me.

"Sir, listen. You go there, but you stand right in same place in 20 minutes or wait day or longer. Portal appear same place same time every day." Whatever.

Then, there was light and I felt myself falling. Whatever this guy had in his tent, at least the show was good. Then the feeling of falling stopped and I heard, what, birds, bugs.

I opened my eyes and saw - The Woods! He really did it I was there, but something was wrong. The view was all wrong, or it would have been right if I was lying on the....NO! He had said - "See woods little" and I thought he meant for a little while, not, little, little. I couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 inches tall. Wow, what a trip. Well, why not. I allowed myself to walk a few feet and then spotted something that convinced me I really was there, in The Woods.

It was a baseball glove. Not any glove, but Danny's. Danny was the younger of my two friends. I recognized it immediately, down to the DANNY crudely lettered on the side. It was 20 times bigger than I remembered it, but damn if it wasn't his. I walked over to it and put my hand on the D. Wow. I let myself walk a little farther into The Woods and then it hit me. They moved after high school, how could the mitt still be there, unless I really was back in time, back to when I was 9 and Danny and Dave were my best friends. Double wow.

Then I heard something off in the distance, a rustling, a pounding. I looked around the plant that I was standing next to and saw - Danny. Danny at age 8, with his striped shirt, sneakers, shorts, blonde hair and a giant! Compared to my new size, little Dan was huge! He had a ball in his hands and was looking for - damn, the mitt. He spotted it and walked over. I had to lean my head back farther and farther to watch him. So far back that I fell. Danny heard the noise of my falling and looked over. No! He reached out with one hand and pushed the plant aside. He spotted me lying on the ground.

"Wow, neat," he said and knelt down, his shadow falling over me. He reached for me.

"Danny, no!" I screamed as his fingers began to approach. They arched and formed a cage around me. I looked up into the lines on my friend's palm. I pushed myself back and poked my head out between two of the fingers.

He took that as his cue to close in his hand and I was trapped. He turned his hand over and I turned myself over. I couldn't take it all in. My old friend Danny, all of eight years old and holding me in his hand. He didn't recognize me, of course; I was nine and around here somewhere, not 30+ and a couple inches tall. One finger from his other hand came up to touch me. I tried to push it away, but it wouldn't be stopped, not by me at that size. Danny ran his finger down my arms, my legs, not really believing I was real. After a few minutes, he stood up. I lay flat in his hand, hoping I'd stay on, I didn't want to fall.

"Danny!," a voice called.

"OK," he yelled back and I put my hands over my ears.

"This is gonna be great," he said. He bent down for the mitt and I saw a light behind him. I couldn't think what it could be and then I remembered - the portal. My route back to the future and normal size, going, gone. I'd have to get away from Danny and come back here tomorrow according to my "travel agent" who had arranged this nightmare.

Danny straightened up again and looked down at me.

"You're gonna be a lot of fun," he said and started walking.

"Danny, come on, we're leaving," I heard my other friend Dave call. Danny closed his fingers and I curled up in a ball, not knowing what was coming next. He didn't want Dave to see me, at least not yet. He finished closing his hand and it was dark. I could feel his hand move, but I couldn't tell where. Finally it opened and I slid down some fabric. I was in his pocket. It wasn't very deep, so I lay down at the bottom.

"Get in," I heard Dave say. Danny moved and I was flattened against his leg.

"Ready for the cabin?," I heard his mom say.

The cabin! NOOOOOO!

Every summer Dave and Danny spent two weeks at their cabin with their parents. I wouldn't be able to get back to the portal today or tomorrow or for two weeks. As I lay in Danny's pocket, his hand resting protectively above me, I wondered what lay in store.

After about 20 minutes, I heard the muffled voice of Danny say, "Can I sit in the back?" The answer must have been yes, because soon the pocket I was in was turning every which way as Danny got in the back of his family's station wagon. There was a seat in the back which faced out of the back window. Most of the area would have been filled by their vacation things, but Dan was small enough that he could fit.

Small enough, right. For another 15 minutes I lay there, wondering what was coming next. Finally, the tips of his fingers started making their way towards me. I pushed to the bottom of the pocket behind me, but Danny's large fingers were more than supple enough to get behind me and pull me out of his pocket.

I shaded my eyes, having been in the darkness for more than half an hour. From what I remembered them telling me about their trips to the cabin, we had more than two hours to go. Danny cupped his hands, so I lay on his interlocked fingers. I could hear the radio playing, but no other family members talking.

"Dave and Mom are asleep," he whispered to me. That was why he felt he was able to bring me out. Danny's head filled my entire vision. I knew that Danny was a good kid, but what would he do with a little man?

He started to move me around with his thumbs, just watching me move and react to his probing.

"Danny, stop!" I started to say. He immediately brought his face right up to his hands.

"You gotta stay quiet," he said, talking slowly as if I were a smaller child or wrose, animal. This did not look promising. If he couldn't understand that I was a real person, he might never let me get back to the portal. As it was, I knew I was stuck with him for the next two weeks.

Danny slid down and lay down on the car seat, the shadows of his bent knees falling on his chest. He lowered his hands to his chest and I slid down to sit on his chest.

"You are the coolest thing," I heard him whisper, probably to himself more than to me. He kept one hand behind me and kept playing with me with the other. After a few mintues, I noticed his motions getting slower. He was falling asleep! I could see his eyelids drooping, his blond lashes almost touching his cheek. Finally, his head fell to the side. He was asleep.

What could I do? I could hide from him and try to survive for two weeks before staying hidden for the drive back. Before I could decide myself, Danny's hand which had been behind me, knocked me down and lay on top of me. I tried to push it off, but I couldn't even budge it. Now I was under my friend's hand as he slept on a car ride to his family's cabin.

The movement of the car must have lulled me to sleep as well. I had no idea how much time had passed, but I heard, "Hey guys, we're almost there." I think it was Dave & Danny's father. I looked up and saw Danny's eyes snap open. He looked down at me and then wrapped me up tight in one hand. I heard Dave say something to him, but I can't tell you what since sound didn't carry too well through Danny's hand. I was in total darkness, but could imagine Danny's panic. Finally, the hand opened and I fell down onto something soft. I heard a loud ripping sound and the light was cut off again. From my few seconds of light, I had seen large pieces of fabric. Clothes? Had Danny put me in his duffle bag?

About 10 minutes later, I felt the car stop. I had no idea what to expect next. None of us from the neighborhood had ever gone up to the cabin with Dave and Danny. Their parents had always wanted it to be a 'family only' time. We did hear them talk about their 'cabin friends' occasionally, the kids who were up in their own parents cabins, but I couldn't remember anything else about it, especially after this long a time, for me at least. They used to bring their dog, Rhett up here, but if I had estimated Danny's age correctly, for him Rhett had died about a six months. I don't remember them ever getting another pet.

I was tossed to my left as someone picked up the bag and carried it into the cabin. I could only hope that it was Danny. Again, I could hear people talking, but really couldn't make out what was being said. I felt the bag being lowered onto something and then heard footsteps leaving the area. It stayed quiet. I took the opportunity to feel around for the underside of the zipper. I found it after climbing up a pile of what I hoped were Danny's shirts. I followed the metal trail until I reached the end. I felt for the bottom of the zipper opener and pulled. Light streamed in. I had done it! I pulled it open more and saw that the bag had been placed on the floor. I looked around. The bed was one of two in the room. Behind me was a table which was between the two beds. I saw curtains on the windows and endless trees outside of them. The floor was wooden and I spotted a throw rug here and there. The bag that I was in was partly under one of the beds. I pulled myself out of the bag and slid down the side to the floor.

Before I could do anything else, I heard people returning to the room. I couldn't get back into the bag, so I crouched down behind it. David and Danny came into the room. And I thought Danny was huge! David was only two years and a few inches taller, but at my size, what a difference. I saw Dave leading the way in and heading right for the bed I was under. He sat down near the head of the bed. He was still a kid, so his feet didn't quite touch the ground. I saw the tip of one blue sneaker hanging down into my line of sight and saw the bed move down as he sat on it. Danny sat on the one opposite. Had Danny put me in Dave's bag?

They were talking about plans for the next few days. They wanted to go fishing, swim, see Kevin, whoever that was and not much beyond that. I tried to attract Danny's attention without letting Dave know that I was right under him. I finally had to come out almost in front of the bag, jump up and down and wave my arms. When Danny saw me, I literally thought that his eyes were going to pop out of his head.

"What's wrong?" Dave asked. Danny gulped for a moment. He didn't want Dave to see me yet.

"We forgot, Mom wanted us help put the food away. You know what'll happen if we don't."

"Yeah," said Dave with a sigh. He hopped down off the bed and I scrambled back to stay away from his feet.

"Let's go," Dave said.

"I'll be right there," Danny said, watching his brother leave the room. He immediately got down on the floor.

"What are you doing?" he asked me, but must not have expected an answer, since he immediately grabbed me and stuck me back in his pocket.

I spent the next two hours in that pocket, alternately feeling Danny walk or pressed down flat when he sat down for dinner or to watch TV. He went outside for a few minutes and pulled me out of his pocket. It was getting dark. He held me in one hand, my back against his fingers, my legs sticking out onto his palm.

"Here you go, little guy," he said and held out some chicken or turkey or something. I was starving, so I took it, but was mad at myself for taking it so quickly. Danny might be expecting me to act like an animal, but I should know better. He watched me tear into the food, light glinting off his blonde hair. He was thrilled with his new find - me! When I was done eating, he held up a glass of water, his size and held it next to his hand. I didn't know what he wanted me to do, but then I realized. I crawled to the edge of his hand and scooped water out of the glass to drink. It was messy, but again, I was parched. When I had had enough, Danny downed most of the rest of the glass himself and I watched fascinated as my giant childhood friend downed enough water in one gulp to drown me.

"Danny!" I heard and he immediately stood up and stuck me in his pocket again. There was more walking and then talking and then walking again. Then my whole world moved down. I stayed in the pocket, not sure what was going on. I couldn't feel Danny anymore and about a minute later, my suspicions were confirmed. He reached back into the pocket and pulled me out. He had taken off his pants and laid them on the bed while he changed. I was very glad I had missed that. I didn't see Dave around, but remembered that when they were younger, Danny had to go to bed 1/2 hour before Dave since he was younger.

Danny carried me over to the bed, holding me down to his palm with his thumb. He pulled back the covers and got in. He held me in his palm and started to pet me.

"No," I said, trying to push his hand away.

"You are the coolest thing ever," he said, ignoring me.

"Danny, stop," I said.

He smiled and continued to pet. Then, he pulled off my shoes and put them in a drawer in the desk. Was that where I was expected to sleep? On the one hand I hoped so, on the other, I hoped not. I didn't want to be squished, but I didn't want to be found either. One giant kid I could probably convince to let me go when they got home, or at least get away long enough to get back to the portal. If Dave found out about me, there was twice as much time and twice as many giants to amuse.

From the bedside table, he reached for and brought over a box. It was a very large matchbox, the kind that holds eight of the small ones. Holes had been punched into it. NO!!

He opened it with his free hand.

"Danny, please, no!" I yelled. He brought the box over.

"Danny!" I yelled, holding onto one of his fingers. I was desperate at this point and would do anything to avoid what was coming next. Danny lowered his hand towards the open match box.

"No, no, no," I pleaded. He shook me loose and I fell into the box. He used one finger to push me down and closed the box. I could see him through the holes. He (and I) turned to the left. He shut off the light, though I could still see somewhat from the light in the hallway. He lay down and put the box on his chest, covering it with both hands. I could now see nothing through the top of the box, but I could see his face through the holes on that side. I couldn't believe it. My childhood friend was keeping me in a box like an insect. Was that how Danny thought of me?

I've never really thought of myself as being claustrophobic, but as soon as Danny fell asleep and I realized that I probably wasn't going to get out of this box until morning, boy did it kick in. I was trying to decide what to do when I heard Dave come in for bed. From the holes in the box, I saw him enter the room, he had already changed for bed, but the rest of my view of him was blocked by Danny's hands on top of and on the side of the box. I knew that I couldn't try anything until Dave went to sleep.

Once I heard his breathing slow, I tried to move the box around, but Danny's hands were holding it pretty firm to his chest. My only chance would be if Danny moved in his sleep. While I waited for that to happen, I fell asleep.

Daylight was streaming into the room and my box when I awoke. Danny hadn't moved at all! If he had, I would have woken up. I didn't know what time it was; it could be anything from just after dawn to late morning. I tried again to push against the end of the box, trying to get it out from under his hands. The box didn't move, but Danny did! He turned onto his side, releasing the box. It fell, landing upside down. Without the pressure of Danny's hands, I was able to get my fingers between the inside and outside of the box and pull them against each other. The box began to open!

I pushed again and it opened enough for me to slip out. I looked at where I was. Danny's chest was behind the box. Looking one way, I saw his stomach and legs and feet far in the distance. In the other direction, much closer, was his head, resting on the pillow. He had turned away from his brother's bed, so I didn't have to worry about being seen by Dave. I was effectively trapped, though. In front of me was Danny; behind was a wall. I walked around on the bed, bouncing a bit, trying to figure out a way to get away. I didn't notice Danny waking up while I paced and so it came as a big surprise when, turning around, I walked right into his hand. I tried to back out of it, but he was too fast. His fingers closed in from behind and he pulled me up towards his face. He stayed on his side, shielding me from his brother.

"Hey little guy," he whispered. The thumb of the hand holding me rubbed my back - he was petting me!

"Danny, listen. I'm not a pet, I'm a real person."
"It's so cool you can talk," he whispered.

He brought his hand up to the pillow and laid it down next to his face, which was turned towards me. He smiled, seeing his cool new what? Friend? Toy? Pet? in his hand. He opened his hand so I laid directly on the pillow, but left it on top of me.

"We're gonna have so much fun today." he said.

"Danny, please l..." I started as he wrapped me in his hand again. He was trying to be quiet so Dave didn't wake up. He threw back the sheet and stood up. He took me to the bathroom where he and I did the necessaries, he in the usual place and I in the sink. Once we were both done and our hands washed (though I must admit much more of me had gotten wet than just my hands), he tip-toed back to the bedroom. Dave hadn't moved at all.

Danny pulled open one of the dresser drawers. Some of their things had been put away and he lowered me onto one of his folded shirts. He took another and the rest of his clothes for the day. He leaned over the drawer, putting his finger to his lips and closed it most of the way. I heard him leave the room again.

I had to find a way to make him listen to me. If I could just get him to understand that I was perfectly willing to stay with him (what choice did I have) as long as he let me go when he got home. If I couldn't even get him to talk to me and not at me, what hope did I have? I heard movement outside the drawer and assumed it was Danny coming back. Imagine my surprise when the drawer opened and Dave's wavy-haired face came into view. Luckily I hadn't stood up when Danny closed the drawer so I stayed as still as I could as Dave looked in the drawer. He must have thought I was just another toy or action figure, because he barely gave me a look. He did reach into the drawer for some socks. I barely held in a scream when his hand brushed by me. It was quite a bit bigger than Danny's and more tanned. He withdrew his hand, closed the drawer and left the room.

A few seconds later, the drawer flew open again and it was Danny this time, changed into a tank top and shorts and scared witless.

"Oh, wow, you're still there," he said, "Did my brother see you?"

"He did, but I didn't move, he must have thought I was a toy or something," I told him as I stood up.

"That was smart," he said, hopefully re-thinking his previous opinion of me.

He lowered his hand next to me. "Hop on, little guy," he said.

"Danny, I have a name. It's... ," and I hesitated. I couldn't tell them I was Chris. I'd go by my middle name, "It's Nick," I said.

"Hi Nick," he said. Wow, progress.

"Hi Danny," I said. We both heard footsteps coming down the hall and Danny grabbed me rather than waiting for me to get onto his hand. He stuffed me into a pocket, head first! I fell to the bottom and tries to straighten out even as Danny started to walk.

It was Dave asking what he wanted to do. Danny said he was just going to stay around the cabin for that morning. Dave said OK, but he was going to catch up with some of their friends and left without another word. Danny and I would not be disturbed.

He walked back to the dresser and picked up a bowl or cereal that he had brought from the kitchen. He sat back down on the bed, crossed his legs, put me down on his left knee and dug in. At first, all I could do is watch him swoop down with the spoon and pick up enough cereal to feed me for a week in every spoonful. There was enough milk in the bowl for me to comfortably bathe in. I was getting hungry watching him eat and reached for a fruit loop or whatever. Danny saw what I was doing and blocked me with his hand. I look up at him in confusion.

"Danny, I'm hungry," I said.

He picked up a piece and handed it to me. This was ridiculous. I wasn't going to be fed by hand. I ate it, having little choice. He stopped to watch me pick up the huge round, red thing. I was able to break some off since it had sat in the milk for a little while. I finished off the one and thought that I could handle another, but that would be about it. Again, I reached for some cereal and again Danny blocked me.

"Danny. I can get my own food," I told him.

"Go ahead then, it's in the kitchen," he said. He wanted to have his way. What choice did I have? He picked up an orange ring this time and handed it to me. I took it, but turned my back to finish my breakfast. When I was done, I stood up, thinking I'd walk around the bed while he finished. He took that moment to pick up the bowl and put it down on the bed-side table. He barely moved his legs, but it was enough to knock me off his knee. I fell onto his right foot which had been under his knee. I picked myself up, but had to press against the foot to stand up. Danny liked this new game. He pushed the foot back against me. In my rush to keep it away from me, my right arm got caught between two of his toes. I tried to pull it out, but he had flex them towards me and caught my arm. I braced myself against his knee and pulled. I managed to get free, but found myself falling back towards the edge of the bed. If I fell, there would be no going back home.

"Danny!" I yelled.

Without a thought, he brought his left hand behind me and steadied me back on the bed. I was never so grateful to be in contact with his hand.

"Careful, Nick," he said.

"Let's go out," he 'suggested'. I braced myself for the grab that was coming. Danny grabbed me and stood up. I put my arms on the top of his fist; only my head, shoulders and arms were outside.

"You gotta go in here for a minute," he told me and quickly dropped his hand towards his pocket. It was easier this time; he held the pocket open with his other hand and loosened his grip. I slid into the pocket. Danny took a step to the left (picking up his bowl?), and then was off. I heard his bare feet slapping the floor as he walked. I heard him drop his bowl in the sink and then a screen door swing open and closed. We went down four steps and then I couldn't hear Danny walking at all, but felt him as we walked away from the cabin.

Danny walked for only a minute or so before stopping and reaching into the pocket for me. He put a thumb and finger under my arms, pulled me into his hand and closed it again. I shielded my eyes from the sun for a few seconds, but then opened them to a beautiful sight. There was a lake off to our right, trees all around us and hills up ahead. Now I knew why Dave and Dan's family came up here every summer, it was gorgeous.

Danny walked a few more dozen feet and sat down on a large rock. He opened his hand, leaving me lying in his palm. He just looked down at me for a second. Maybe this was my chance to tell him about staying with him until he got home. If I waited too much longer and he got (gulp) attached, he might never want to let me go. If he knew now that our time was limited...

He brought up his other hand to pet me for a few moments and I took that time to try to convince him.

"Danny?" I said.

"Yeah, Nick?" Hey, he was talking to me.

"I need to tell you how I got this small," I said. His eyes opened wide. He was interested!

"I was..." I paused, I couldn't tell him the whole truth, tell him I was from the future, "I was sent here to have a quick look around and they didn't even tell me I'd be small."

"You didn't know they'd make you this small?" Danny asked.

"No, and that was really unfair. Anyway, I had to get back to the spot where I arrived and I'd get to go home and be big again, but I couldn't when you found me." I paused for a minute. Would Danny understand?

"Anyway, I wanted to tell you that I will stay with you, will play while you're here, but when you get home, you have to let me go back home. Will you do that?"

Danny just stared a me for a minute, trying to take in what he just heard. Would he take the deal? A willing playmate for now, but with the realization that he couldn't keep me?

"OK Nick. When we get home, you can go home, too" Yes!

"Let's build you a raft," he said. He stood up and we were off. Our first stop was a small shed behind the family cabin. Danny grabbed some twine off a shelf and we were on our way again. Danny held me cupped in his hand, so he could easily hide me if anyone surprised him. I had to hold onto one finger to make myself feel like I wouldn't fall out of his hand.

Danny stopped by a small stream and knelt on the ground. He lowered his hand and put me down next to him. I took a few more steps and looked up at my friend. I still couldn't believe that this colossus was my childhood friend. If I didn't look up, all I could see of him were his legs and feet. He started to collect sticks. I wasn't so sure I wanted to, what did he say, build a raft for me? Did he really expect me to ride on the water? Thank goodness I could swim.

"Help me find some sticks, Nick" Danny said, a voice from on high.

I decided to play along, to do my part, so Danny would do his when he got home. Of course, I could only grab one at a time and all of mine were too small compared to the ones that Danny found. He put ten or twelve together that were just about the same size and started to tie them together. I think that Danny was in cub scouts at this point in his life, so I guess I should be surprised that he was good tying knots. A few minutes later, Danny put down a good sized raft, for me at least. It was about as wide and long as I was tall. I looked up at Danny, a bit skeptical of actually using the thing.

"Come on Nick, let's try it out" he said. He picked the raft up with one hand and scooped me up with the other. He walked about twenty feet and knelt down again next to the stream. He put the raft down on the bank and then lowered me next to it.

"Danny, are you sure it's safe?" I asked.

"Sure, I'll keep up and take you out down there," he said. I looked up at his arm and then saw where he was pointing. It was only a few steps from where he built the raft. Maybe it would be OK.

"Danny, I need a pole to steer with," I said.

He stood up and walked a few steps away. He picked up another stick and brought it over to me. He bent down and lowered it to me. I reached up and took it from his giant fingers, which I was getting much too familiar with.

"Give it a try, Nick" he said. I stepped onto the raft and pushed it into the stream with the stick. I was off immediately. I heard Danny giggle behind me and took my eyes off the stream for a second to watch him walking along the bank. That was a mistake. I hit a stone and the raft started spinning. I tried to gain control back, but found myself floating past the point where I was supposed to stop and gaining speed. The pole was pulled out of my hands and I crouched down, hoping for the best. Finally, the raft crashed against the bank and I was thrown off of it. I lay there for a minute, hoping beyond hope that I hadn't broken anything. I was sore, but everything seemed to work. I heard someone crashing through the underbrush. I lifted my head, expecting to see Danny's bare feet. What I saw, though, were sneakers. I turned over, dreading to see the owner of these feet. Blocking my view was a hand, descending. I put up my hands to try to block them as I was engulfed in this huge, new hand.

"Put him down, he's mine," I heard Danny call.

The hand opened around me and I looked up to see Dave was holding me.

He only opened his fingers slightly, he still held them around me, but I saw him look at his brother.

"What do you mean?" Dave asked.

"His name is Nick. I found him in the Woods when we were leaving. Someone made him small and he can get big again when we go home, but until then he's gonna stay and play." Pretty succinct, but correct.

"You had him since yesterday and you didn't tell me?" Dave asked.

"I was gonna," Danny said weakly. I tried to stand up in Dave's hand to see what was going on. Dave felt me moving and looked down at me. He moved his fingers together so half of me was still within his grasp while the other half was sticking out from between two fingers.

"So you'll share him?" Dave asked.

"Sure," Danny said, his eyes narrowing with suspicion.

I held out my arms to Danny. I know, I know I was playing on his sympathies, but in the day that he had me, I learned what Danny would and, hopefully wouldn't do. I didn't have that same sense from Dave, yet.

"Look, he wants to come back to me," Danny said, pointing at me.

"But you had him all morning; now it's my turn," Dave said.

''But,..." Danny said.
"You can have him back later, I want to play,' Dave said.
"Just don't show him to the guys yet," Danny said.

"OK, see you later," Dave said and turned his back on Danny. I looked up, trying to see if I could get some sense of what Dave was thinking, what he was planning to do with me, but all I could see was his smile.

Dave walked well past where Danny and I, well, really Danny had built the raft. He was walking away from the cabin and away from the lake. He still held me between two of his fingers and all I could do was rest my arms on them and hope that he, like his brother, would realize that I was a real person and not a toy.

He sat down on a log and again I had to submit myself to petting. Dave laid me down on his palm and just ran his fingers up and down my arms, my legs, my chest. I tried to get up once, but one finger pushed me back down. He was two years older than Danny and quite a bit bigger, especially in my reduced state. I had barely fit on Danny's hand, but there was plenty of room for me on Dave's. As I mentioned before, he had darker, more wavy hair and was more tanned than his brother. His finger moved my head from side to side.

"You talked to my brother?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered.
"Cool, you can talk," he said.
"Of course I can. Dave, I'm a real person. Something made me little, but I'm still a person," I said.
"Your name is Nick?" he asked.

"Let's play," he said and stood up. He sat down on the ground almost immediately and put me down next to his knee.

"My friend Chris lent me a book last month," he said. I had! I remembered that! OH, CRAP.
"It was called Gulliver's Travels. It was about a man meeting little people," he said.
"Let's play that. I'll be Gulliver and you be the little people."

"Dave, I..." I started to say.

"Gulliver got washed up on shore and he got knocked out. I'll go over there and lie down. You come and discover me." he said.

He stood up and I backed up so he'd have plenty of room to walk without stepping on me. He took about 20 steps and lie down. "OK Nick," he called.

Great. Well, maybe it wouldn't be too bad. I walked towards him and tried to play along.

"Well, the King said I had to patrol the woods," I said as loud as I could, "I hope I don't find anything scary," I said and I heard Dave giggle.

When I got closer, "Nope, nothing wrong here." Another giggle.

"Hey, where did those hills come from?" I said.

I walked towards his feet.

"I don't remember those hills being here. I'd better investigate." I know, but he's just a kid and he wanted to play.

I walked along his leg and stopped a few feet in front of his hand.
"What's that?" I asked. Dave kept his eyes closed, but I could still see his chest heaving with trying to hold in laughter. He was "unconscious", remember.

"It's, it's a hand! Oh, no, it's a giant!" I screamed and Dave laughed out loud again.

I went on anyway.
"I must report this to the king, but first, I must investigate this giant."

"How was that, Dave?"

"Great, Nick," he said, turning his head towards me. "You read this story, too,"

"Yeah, I...." I couldn't tell him I was his friend Chris who lent it to him, "I read it when I was your age."
"Then you know what comes next" he said. I did, but I had hoped he didn't.

I took a few steps and walked onto the back of his hand. I walked up his arm, he kept it remarkably still. I stepped onto his shoulder and then crossed to his chest. I felt his chest move up and down with his breathing.

"Giant, I claim you in the name of his majesty, the King of Liliput." I said.
Dave's eyes opened. "What?" he said.

"You belong to the people of Liliput," I said. I know in the book Gulliver was tied up, but we didn't have the props for that.

Just before Dave grabbed me, I saw the shadow of his hand meet my own shadow on his chest. Two fingers grabbed the back of my shirt and lifted me off his chest.

"I'm Gulliver, I don't belong to anyone," he said. He obviously didn't remember the book.

I kicked in the air. "Put me down, giant!" I called trying to stay in character.

"No, you belong to the giant," he said, leaving me suspended from his two fingers.

"OK, Dave, let's do something else," I said.

"No, I can do what I want, you belong to me and Danny," he said. He wasn't in character anymore.

"Dave, please," I said.

He sat up, but didn't change his grip. Now I was afraid of falling and stopped squirming. At this point, I even wanted to be held in his hand - anything to keep me from falling.

"That was fun," he said.

"Dave put me down," I said, trying not to sound bossy. In his current mood, giving orders was the worst thing I could do.

"No, not yet," he said, but he did swing me into his fist, wrapping my entire body, except my head in his hand. I couldn't even turn around to see what he was doing. Then he brought his other hand up and started to push my head into his fist with the index finger of his other hand. He laughed as he did this. He really didn't understand that I wasn't a toy. Ironically, his younger brother had, but I was with Dave now, not Danny.

Soon, he had pushed me down enough that my entire body was inside his fist. There was a little light coming from over my head, but it was dark, much too warm and clammy. I felt Dave move around me and I thought that he was standing up. The hand I was trapped in started to swing slightly and I assumed he was walking. I don't know how long it was, it felt like an hour, but it was probably only five minutes or so, Dave stopped and his fist opened. I inhaled the cool air greedily and relished the feeling of having nothing pressed up against. me. I was rolled out onto some sand. We seemed to be near the edge of the lake.

"Let's build," Dave said and used both hands to dig a hole just to the right of me. I moved to my left quickly to avoid falling in. Soon Dave had a pile of sand started as well as a road. He took two toy cars out of his pocket. He was making roads and tunnels for the cars. I really didn't do much, but as long as I didn't try to get away, Dave seemed to be satisfied. He did look over at me at least ten times a minute, just to make sure I was still there.

He must have worked for at least fifteen minutes and a whole maze or roadways materialized around me. When he was satisfied, he reached out for one of the cars - and me. Before I knew what was happening, I was held, on my stomach, between Dave's hand and the car. I was going to be the 'driver'. Dave raced me around the track, making car noises the whole time, screeching to a halt and the reversing. I was soon covered with sand and taking whatever opportunities I could to breath. At one point, he sent the car through a tunnel, reaching in with one hand and then switching hands to complete it.

He soon tired of that and finally let me go, still straddling the car at the bottom of a hill.

"Did you like your ride?" he asked with a smirk.
"Not really," I said.

His eyes narrowed and he pushed the top of the hill on top of me and the car. I crouched down to avoid as much of the sand as I could. It now reached my ankles. He pushed a little more over and it reached my knees. Was he going to bury me in the sand?

Next, he turned to reach something behind him and in doing so, knocked down more of the hill. I'm pretty sure it wasn't on purpose, but it covered me in sand. I wasn't sure that any of me was sticking out. I barely had time to take a breath and I was surrounded by sand. Even at my small size, the grains were small enough that they would flood into my mouth if I opened it. I tried not to panic, tried not to flail, but I was scared. Did Dave even know what had happened to me, did he even care? I tried to move backwards, hoping that my feet or legs were outside of the sand, but I only heaped more sand on top of me. My lungs were getting sore, I wanted to breathe, but knew I couldn't. Just before I opened my mouth, I felt a tug on my leg and then I was out and swinging from Dave's hand by the foot he held between his thumb and index finger. I gasped, gulped and almost cried, I was so relieved.

"You OK, little guy?" Dave asked.

"I....think....so," I managed to get out.

"Wow, you're covered with sand," he said and stood up, leaving me dangling. He walked to the edge of the lake and lowered me into it, dunking me once, twice. I came up gasping for breath again.

"There you go, all clean," he said. I was beginning to not like my old friend at all. He lowered me into his other hand. I coughed and sputtered.

"I should probably take you back to the cabin," he said and started to walk. After a few steps, he shoved me in a pocket and I was grateful. I couldn't believe this.

I felt Dave stop and his huge fingers came for me again. He pulled me out by an arm this time and put me down on the dresser in his room. Danny rushed over.

"What happened to him?" Danny asked.

"He got covered in sand, so I cleaned him off," Dave said. "What do you want to do with him now?"

"Nothing," Danny said, "Let him get dried off," Thank goodness for Danny.

Danny left the room for a minute and came back with a facecloth. He then put it down next to me and pushed me into it. He rubbed it on me to try to dry me. It worked to a fashion, but I felt like I had been thrown into a cement mixer. Danny stopped after a few minutes and then touched my back with two of his huge fingers.

"Better?" he asked.

"I guess," I said.

"We'll go get you some lunch," Danny said and pulled Dave after him.
I can't believe I had to stay two weeks with these kids. I had almost totally ignored the fact that these two were my old childhood friends and that I was more than 20 years in the past. They had never treated me this way when they were friends, but then again, I had never been four inches tall before. It really gave me an insight into them. If anything brought the reality of the past to me though, it was their clothes, their hair styles and the total lack of computers, cell phones, pagers, even cordless phones. What a difference!

Dave and Danny returned 15 minutes later with a tiny (to them) piece of bread, some roast beef, 1/4 of a potato chip and a bottle cap filled with soda. I ate and drank as much as I could, as the boys sat on Dave's bed and watched me eat. Even this could amuse them. When I was done, the boys spent at least a couple of hours talking about how much fun it would be to play with me, who would have me when and lots of plans that I really didn't want to listen to. Towards the end of the afternoon, I sneezed and really did not feel very well. I think my dunking had done me in.

"What's wrong?" asked Danny

"I think I'm getting sick," I said.

"OK, you can stay here for the rest of the day," Danny said.

"No way," Dave said, "I want to play more."

"If he gets really sick, we won't get to play with him at all," Danny told his older brother.

"OK," Dave said.

Danny came over to me and put his hand down next to me. "We'll put you in the drawer by the beds so you can rest." he told me. I had little choice. I stepped onto his palm and sat down, holding onto his thumb like the safety bar on a ride. He carefully crossed the room, opened the drawer and lowered his hand into it. I stepped off and he brought the face cloth down into the drawer. "You can rest on here," he said. I lay down on the cloth, grateful for the break from the boys and their hands. I quickly fell asleep.

When I woke again, it was dark. I must have slept all evening and into night. Dave and Danny were probably asleep and I didn't even hear them come in. Something was different, though. I didn't think I was in the drawer anymore. There was light somewhere off to my right and I could feel a breeze. The breeze was warm. Oh, no. As my eyes adjusted I could see more. Above me was Dave's face, one fist propping up his head. As I took in my surroundings, all I could see was more Dave. He had picked up the cloth, with me sleeping on it and put it down on his bed. He was turned on his side and looking at me. Before I could get up, I felt a huge finger petting me.

"What time is it?" I asked Dave.

"I dunno, about dawn," he said. Wow, I had slept throught the rest of the night and into morning. I probably would have slept even longer if Dave had been able to keep his hands off me. I tried to sit up, but Dave's index finger pushed me back down again.

"Stay there," he said, and continued to pet. I wasn't sure whether I should call for Danny or not. He probably wouldn't like Dave 'stealing a turn' with me, but I really didn't want to make Dave mad either. I had to go home with them to make it back to my home, and Dave could jeopardize that.

"Where are you from?" he asked. I told him as much as I could, not mentioning the fact that I was from 20 years in the future, or how I got there. Luckily, I didn't work at a .com or for a cell-phone company or something that he wouldn't get. I told him about my family and how much they'd be missing me and that they'd be really glad to see me when I got home again.

He finally withdrew his finger and I thought that I was done dealing with having to touch him for a few minutes. The finger returned, though, with its four brothers. Dave lay his hand flat over me and started to lower it. I put up my arms to try to block it, but just a slight increase in pressure convinced me it was a losing cause. He then lay it on top of me, my head lying next to his middle finger's tip. Then he started to press and I tried to bring my hands back up again and even my feet and legs. He was just experimenting with me, but I did not want to be touched. I wanted his huge hand off of me. Just when I thought he'd start pushing the air out of me, he stopped. He looked over his shoulder at Danny, sound asleep on the other bed. Then he looked back at me. He slipped off the bed, reached down and grabbed me.

"Da..." I started and he wrapped his other hand around my head. He did not want Danny to hear us sneaking out. I was encased in both of his hands as he walked out of their room.

From my trip outside with Danny the day before, I thought that Dave was taking me outside. I heard the change in his footsteps from the linoleum of the kitchen to the wood of the back porch to the quiet of bare feet on bare ground. Dave finally opened his hand again and I saw that he had sat down. He put me down on his knee. We were looking out over the lake, with the sunrise creating a beautiful reflection in the water.

"Was this what you wanted to show me?" I asked.

"Yup," he said, "Isn't it cool?"

Wow. I would never have expected this from the kid who dunked me in the lake less than a day ago. I guess some things you just have to share. I went to duck out of sight when I heard the cabin door open and close behind us, but I saw that it was Danny. He came over and sat next to his brother, and we just watched the sun come up. Now this I could take. If they could just be like this for the rest of the trip, I'd be happy.

(to be continued?) Added 9/3/03:
DANNY!" I screamed. I was desperate. He stopped and turned his head.

"OK, Danny, I'll try," I said and the anger washed away from his face like it was never there.

"First, though, can you explain the course. All good sergeants review it with their men," I said. Did I know how to work this kid?

Danny beamed at being called the sergeant and he went over the whole course for me. Now that I was willing, he even listened and made the obstacles more doable and safe.

When he and I were both satisfied, he lifted me back to the starting line - yeah, I know I could have walked, but any excuse to have me in his hand...

Once again, "Go!" and I was off. I finished the course in just under a minute and Danny was thrilled. He and I talked about different things to add or change and spent most of the afternoon doing different courses. I was in relatively good shape and there was enough of a break between each run while we changed things around that it was OK.

It was funny, I remembered Dave, Danny and I doing something similar when I was young. Not an obstacle course, but a 'fort' which was really just some boxes, scraps of wood and chairs. It had kept us busy for days one summer until it rained and the boxes got wet and collapsed. Wow, I hadn't thought about that in years. And I don't think I had talked to Dave or Danny for what, five years? six? Why not? We had had so much in common, had been inseperable for so long. Wow, this little jaunt to the past was really making me think.

The next day, Dave and Danny's parents decided to go into town. They explained that it only happened once or twice during the two weeks, so each trip was special. They decided that I should stay at the cabin this time, but promised to bring me back something cool.

It was weird spending the morning on my own, knowing that no one else was in the cabin. I had had the boys leave out their books and comics again and I just relaxed - again something I rarely had a chance to do back at home. No cell phone, no pager, no TV, no paper, no responsibilities, just being able to relax and think. Wow, how cool.

And I spent the next week having these little epiphanies about how just a few little things could make my life back home so much better - appreciating what I had, spending time with family and friends and lots of little lessons Dave and Dan were helping me learn without even knowing it.

I won't say that there weren't problems along the way. Dave still treated me different than Dan, but he was the big brother and used to getting his way. When it was Dave's turn with me, I had little choice or input, but he wasn't cruel or dangerous anymore.

Sunday afternoon was very interesting. Dan and I were in the bedroom reading a magazine. Dan was lying on his stomach and the magazine was propped up by his pillow. I was sitting on the bed with his head hanging over me so I could help him with the bigger words.

Dave came in, Dan leaned back to say something and both brothers stopped. Dave hadn't expected Dan to be there and Dan hadn't expected Dave to bring a friend back with him. I froze.

"He there, Chad." said Dan, taking to the tall boy with very short black hair who had come in with Dave.

"Hey," said Chad.

"Is that the football preview?" Chad asked, walking over to Dan's bed, pointing at the magazine.

"Uh, yeah," said Dan.

"Can I see?" asked Chad and before Dan could say anything, Chad leaned over and reached for the magazine.

"Hey, who's that an action figure of?" Chad asked as he spotted me. I was lying down, trying not to blink and had Dan's head and now Chad's in my field of vision.

"No one special, just a beach dude," said Dave. It's true. The cool thing they had brought back from town was clothes. I had a tank top and shorts on at the moment.

"Cool," Chad said and reached for me. Dan almost stopped him from taking me, but I guessed that Chad was a good friend and if there wasn't anything special about me, they wouldn't make a fuss. It would be suspicious otherwise.

I spent a few scary minutes in Chad's hand. Chad was even taller than Dave and so his hand was even larger. He looked me over, left, right, and sideways and I tried my damndest not to panic, not to scream, not to let Chad know that I was real.

"Neat," he said and tossed me back to Dan, who caught me and gently placed me on the bed, whispering, "Sorry."

There were now only three days until Dave and Dan would be heading back home. Overall it had been much better than I ever hoped it would be. All I had to do was go back with them, the portal would show up again and I'd be home. And going there a little wiser.

The family took their last trip to town and this time I got to go. They decided that Dave would hold me in his pocket since there'd be more room. Hey, I give them credit that they were even thinking this way now. I remembered my first car trip with them and thought this one was better. Not only was I able to slide down Dave's leg and sit in the pocket next to him, but he didn't have to hide me from his brother.

Dave and Dan got to look around a couple of the stores by themselves with a couple dollars each to spend, so of course it took them forever trying to decide what to get. Some baseball cards and gum? Comics? Comics and gum?

Every so often, Dave would tap the bottom of the pocket and let me know it was safe for me to stick my head out to get some fresh air and even help him decide what to get.

Towards the end of their trip, Dave tapped and I pulled myself up to the lip of the pocket and watched as Dave's hand move up and out of sight. I looked to my left and met gazes with a little boy who was about 4 or 5. He literally gasped and said, pointing at me, "I want one of those!"

I immediately fell to the bottom of the pocket and prayed that Dave would get me the hell out of there.

I heard the boy come over to Dave and ask to see the 'cool little man'. Dave tried to ignore him, but the boy called for someone named "Bob" who told Dave to show the little boy what he wanted to see.

Dave reached into the pocket and I almost fought with him, but realized that the other kids would see me moving. It was time to pretend to be a toy again.

I froze as Dave lifted me out of the pocket, holding me in his fist. Bob turned out to be about a mile tall! Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating alittle, but he must have been 13 or 14 and was more than a foot taller than Dave.

"See, it's just an action figure," Dave said and the little boy's face came right at me.

"But he moved!" said the little boy, almost yelling right in my face.

I couldn't see Dave or Bob's expressions, but I know what I would have done and Dave was smart enough to do it too.

"Yeah, my little brother thinks that sometimes, too," Dave said.

"Yeah, dummy," said Bob, "the toy can't move."

"But he did," insisted the little brother, his hand coming up to touch me.

Dave was quicker and lifted me up out of the way, and then lowered me back into the pocket.

"I pushed his head out of the pocket with my hand," Dave explained, pushing my feet from below until I rose up again.

"Cool," Bob said and grabbed his brother's hand, his brother dragging his feet all the way.

"That was close, "Dave said to himself, and me.

After that close call, we mostly stayed around the cabin until the last night when Dave took Danny and I to a field about a 1/2 mile away from the cabin where we could see the stars.

I don't ever remember a clearer night or seeing so many stars in my life. I saw the Milky Way for the first time! As I lay there, getting used to the slow rise and fall of Danny's breathing under me - I was laying on his chest - I realized that this little mistake had been worth it.

The next day, Dave and Danny packed and they decided Danny would have the 'honor' of taking me on the ride home since he had found me. It would time out just right, I thought. I'd be there with at least 1/2 hour to spare before the portal. I was going home! I never even had to mention it to Dave and Dan. We had reached an understanding.

Dan sat in the back of the station wagon again and I got to ride in plain sight since I didn't have to hide from Dave. Dan fell asleep again and I did have to spend an hour or so trapped under his hand, but I figured I'd let him have this last chance to have me in his hand. I had gotten very used to this hand and it's brother and his brother's hands. It got so we played a game where I kept my eyes closed and one of them put out a finger. By the end of the two weeks, I knew not only who's hand it was, but which finger. I definately wouldn't miss being held in a boy's hand, but if that was the price I had to pay for learning the lessons I had learned, so be it.

We were delayed in traffic a little and I began to get nervous that I'd miss the portal. I knew Dave and Dan would be more than willing to take care of me for another day, but it would be harder to hide me at home. They had had pretty free rein at the cabin, but not so much at home.

"Danny, when we get back, you've got to get me right to the portal," I told him.

Danny got Dave to come back into the back with him so we could say our goodbyes then. Dave put out his hand and I walked into it. He brought me up to his face and rubbed me against his cheek.

"Man, I'm gonna miss you," he said, lowering me back down again.

"It's been fun," I said.

When we pulled up in front of Dave and Dan's house. Dan was good as his word and jumped out, heading straight for the portal. I heard someone call out to them. Oh god, it was me! Me as a 9 year old! Dave headed the me off who was coming down the street as Danny ran.

I was damn glad he did, because as soon as he got to the spot where he had found me, I saw a light coming from way down below on the ground.

Danny saw it too and said, "Cool."

"Bye, Nick," he said, his huge blue eyes filling with tears.

"Take care, Danny, " said and opened my arms. I couldn't hug him, but he repeated his brother's move and brushed me against his cheek. I let him hold me there a few more seconds and then I said, "Gotta go, kid." He sniffed and then lowered me to the ground, slowly.

I jumped off of his hand and ran for the portal. I looked back, waved and dove into the light.

And I was back at the carnival. It was still going on? Wait, there were my friends, calling me. Oh, wow. No time had passed at all. My two weeks in the past had taken just a few seconds.

Hey, come try this, they called. I almost said no, but then remembered I had promised myself to apply the lessons my little mistake had taught me.

What the heck? I thought and ran to catch up with my friends.