The tiny teenby shrinkingman
Sixteen year old Brad Fullerton got out of bed, ready for another day. He walked into the bathroom, his head level with the doorknob, and walked past the sink, which was throat-high. Themedicine chest was far above it (to him); he would have needed a chair to get some aspirin down.
Brad got into the tub, took a quick shower, then dried off and got dressed. As he exited the bathroom, his 11-year old brother Troy was waiting to get in. Troy was nearly twice as tallas his sixteen year old brother-- Troy was just shy of 5 feet tall and weighed just over 100 pounds. Meanwhile Brad was only 2 foot 6, weighing 20 pounds or so. He was a dwarf who was used to living in a giant's world.
He did the best he could, though he was oftenstared at. People would look at him and think he was 2 or 3 years old, but somehow his face andbody proportions seemed like more of a high schooler. Which is what he was. He knew he couldn't grow any taller and he did his best tobe a teenager no bigger than a toddler.
Troy smiled down at his older brother and mussed up the tiny teen's hair. While Troy was only 11 years old, his hands, feet, and legs were all twice as big or long as those of his older brotherand he could easily lift Brad up. Troy was usually good-natured but oh, there were times when young Troy would play rough and what could Brad do? He was too small and weak to fight back.
After taking a brief shower himself, Troy got dressed and helped Brad with breakfast. He easily got cereal and milk out of the cabinet and fridge, respectively, and tiny Brad sat on a chair eating with a too-long spoon. Aw, that's cute, lil' Braddy's having his cereal, thoughtTroy. My lil' big brother!
Brad and Troy's parents walked in and joined their kids for breakfast, then Brad and Troy headed out to go to school. For Troy it was a matter of catching a schoolbus. For Brad, aclassmate stopped by with his car and gave hima lift to the high school. Brad, no taller than the actor who'd played "mini me", sat in thepassenger seat and dreamed of the day he could drive a car. Special pedals would be needed ofcourse, but would he be strong enough toturn the wheel? And what sort of special seatwould allow him to see over the dashboard?
It was off to school for 30 inch tall Brad Fullerton. He knew the toughest part of the day wouldn't be his classes. It would be the simple act of being accepted by his classmates. He knew he was no different from them; he just came in a smaller package.
The classmate who was giving Brad a lift was named Charles Coolidge (Brad nicknamed him"Cool"), a 17 year old who was kind of a loner.Charles was interested in giants or tiny people ever since he saw "The Wizard of Oz" on TV. Heovercame his shyness when he saw Brad, noticing how tiny Brad was...and he also figured Brad, like he, could use a friend.
Charles noticed that Brad was pretty worldly for a 16 year old...he was knowledgeable about politics, he wrote science fiction short stories, and, while most teens were into the currenttop 40 hits, Brad was interested in folk and blues music. Brad's uncle was a longtime collegeradio DJ who lent some of his CDs to him.
"Most of the kids in class think I'm just someshrimp who doesn't have a personality but they'rewrong," said Brad as Cool drove. "They don't even go up to me, unless it's to make fun of me."
"Yeah, pretty sad. And you know so much stuff.For the heck of it--who are the governors ofNew England?"
"Easy. Vermont? Howard Dean. New Hampshire? Jeanne Shaheen. And of course Jane Swift herein Massachusetts. Angus King in Maine..."
Cool laughed. "Yup, you know your politicalstuff! And you know you really are a coolwriter. You could be the next Stephen King orsomethin', or...who's the guy who does allthe lawyer books?"
"Well, I do what I can. I don't let my size limit me. I only wish people wouldn't treat me likesuch a freak."
"But you ain't no freak."
"Well, tell THEM that! They just see I'm 30 inches tall and all I ever hear is, 'ooh,it's Mini Me! Hey how's the weather down there?Must be cool to be the last to feel the rain!'"
Cool sighed. "Well, maybe once you get to collegeit won't be so bad. Aren't you thinkin' of goin'to that college your uncle went to?"
"Salem State? Yeah, maybe. I could be on thecollege radio station there, WMWM. Who knows."
They arrived at the school. Brad was glad thatCool could give him rides; the bus route waskind of far away, and Brad's parents worked inthe opposite direction from the school so givingBrad a ride to school would risk making themlate for work. Good thing Cool was around.
So it was another school day...another day forBrad in the Land of the Giants. Brad sometimes got help from people like Cool, who carried hisbooks to another class (books seemed huge toBrad). Brad's shorter legs and smaller feet meant it took him a bit longer to make it to classand he had to navigate crowded hallways of"giants". He was often stared down by his maleclassmates; they'd smirk at him as if to say"what are you doin' in high school, little boy?".
The girls were sometimes more understanding though they often just thought it was kinda cute seeing a fellow male classmate who was so tiny.There were a couple girls he'd love to go outwith but he knew they could never take himseriously. Oh why was it that they neverconsidered his personality? They just figuredhe's "just some midget" (to use a term littlepeople hated) who was of no worth.
But I AM worth something!, thought Brad.
Brad and Cool were both in a Creative Writing Class; they had to write a science fiction short story. Writing came easy for Brad, who was so imaginative. Despite having tiny hands, he had only a bit of trouble reaching all the keys as he typed. Time travel tale? Simple. A story of galaxy domination by the denizens of a brutish planet? No problem. This time, Brad'stale had to do with size: he imagined a man inventing a device that would shrink or grow people. A young kid finds the device, shrinks his family members to a few inches tall and then makes himself The Amazing Colossal Kid...as hisfamily, mouse-sized down on the floor, tries to find a way out of this mess.
Writing a sci fi tale wasn't so easy for Cool, though Brad gave him advice.He helped him hatch out a plot and advised him to take it easy and have funwith it. "Don't just rush to get an ending. Draw out the drama and when youhave your audience really involved--"
"End it then..."
"Yeah, or do like a false ending or something?" Brad heard someone clear his throat just behind him as he and Cool were in the computer room; way upbehind his chair was one of the taller and stronger kids (probably weighed at least 10 times as much as Brad!).
"I need this computer now, mini-me..."
"Well, I'm almost done--I'm just working on..."
The huge boy reached over and closed the window of the story he and Coolwere working on (before they had a chance to save the revisions). Then hereached down and picked up Brad as if he were a small baby, and nearlydropped him down onto the floor--but a computer room aide saw him and toldhim to put Brad down, and gently.
The boy looked down at Brad and smirked, "Shouldn't you be in kindergarten,little boy?" He set Brad down on the chair and glared over at the aide."Their time is up! I need this computer now."
"There are at least three other computers you can use. Stop pestering them!"
The bully looked down at Brad. "Well, I guess you'll just have to help mewith MY story, then, Poindexter! In fact, you can write it for me."
"I can help you with your story, but I won't ghost-write it.""Huh?"
"Ghost-write...you know, write it and have you get the credit for it."
"Yeah, do that."
Brad sighed and got out of his chair but in doing so he slipped and fell down onto the floor, right next to the bully's gargantuan sneakered feet and he felt even smaller than he was.
Cool tried to push the bully away-- "Just leave him alone, OK? Just because he's a lil' guy, you shouldn't treat him like that."
The bully laughed. "If he was a fish I'd have to throw him back--too small!"He pushed back at Cool, who was fairly tall and strong but no match for the bully.
"Hey, we don't need this...let's go," said Brad, and he and Cool casuallymade their way out of the room. Meanwhile, the computer room aide ordered the bully to go to the Principal's office.
Brad sighed as they ate lunch together. "I can't do anything about being so tiny. I can't change the way I was made...And stuff like what happened this morning? I can't do anything about jerks like that. Sometimes it's so frustrating."
"Yeah...you try to talk it out with him and he won't listen-- he thinks just 'cause he's so much bigger than you..."
"Well, everyone's bigger than me, but he's probably the biggest. But I thinkI've got more brains and 'heart' in my tiny body than he could ever have inhis big body."
Cool nodded. He could identify with Brad in the sense of being the outsider,the shy one who got picked on. But he could never know what it was like tobe picked on because of one's size. Even though Cool got a kick out of reading about little people, he knew their lot in life was not easy.
"Well, at least you can help me out...reaching some stuff I can't, or carrying some books. I can do some stuff by myself but it's nice to have help."
"Yeah, no problem. I kinda need someone to talk to, and it's cool that youlisten to me. Most people don't. They could care less."
"Well, never mind 'em...Just high school, like I said...once we get to college it won't be so bad."
They started talking about the stuff they saw on the internet about some people who liked cartoons with animals-- "furries". There would be a furry convention soon in their town and Cool suggested that Brad get into a custom-maderaccoon suit. "You'd be the perfect size...since you're not much bigger thana real raccoon."
"Yeah! Always wanted to be an actor. Of course, if I did do that, I'd onlyget certain roles."
"Yeah. 'Hey, Brad, we need someone to play a space alien. Or one of Santa'selves.' Or be a stunt double for a baby. They'd never look past my sizeand cast me because of my acting ability."
"But you haven't done any acting yet-- 'least not in this school."
"Well, they're doing 'Little Shop of Horrors' here soon. Maybe I could beSeymour, the nerd who falls in love with Audrey..."
"...and hey, maybe I could play Audrey II, the big man-eating plant!"
"But they might think I'm still way too small to play the part..."
Nevertheless, Brad and Cool put their names in to audition for those partsand Brad started practicing his singing parts: "Suddenly Seymour", "Mushnickand Son", "Skid Row" and more.
One day Brad's younger brother Troy brought one of his classmates home with him--12 year old David, who, like Brad, enjoyed writing short stories on the Net.
"Dave, this is my brother Brad. He's 16."
"No way--he can't be! He's barely up to my waist, not 6 feet tall!"
"Well, he's a dwarf...He's 5 years older than me but I can't remember being smaller than him."
Brad reached up and shook David's hand. Dave was about 5'2" and weighed 120 pounds--over twice as tall, and five times as heavy. "Hey, must be weird to be so small."
"Well, it's all I've ever known. The doctors say I may grow another 6 inches or so in the next couple years, but I doubt it. I try to make the best of it, though."
"Yeah, I help him out," said Troy. "If some kid tries to beat him up, I defend him...unless it's a high school kid who's bigger than me."
"Well, just about every high school kid would be bigger than you," said Brad. "But I'm glad you're around to help me out."
David took delight in comparing their foot and hand sizes--Brad could have gotten both his feet into one of Dave's sneakers, and Brad's hand was smaller than Brad's palm! "Hey, if I saw someone givin' you a hard time, I'd help you out," said David. He stood up straight and strong: "Because I'm Super David, twice as tall as a high schooler!"
"Well, twice as tall as ONE high schooler!," laughed Brad. He told David he liked to write stuff on the Net and told him he could help him out with his own writing.
Well, the drama teacher made his decisions on the casting for "Little Shop of Horrors"; Cool didn't get Audrey II but he did get the role of Mr. Mushnick. And believe it or not, Brad DID get the role of Seymour!
One of Brad's classmates bellyached about the role of Seymour going to a dwarf (since the classmate had wanted it himself) but the drama teacher said, "Brad got it fair and square. He can sing and remember his lines quite well. The old saying goes, 'remember your lines and don't bump into the furniture'!"
Marcie Bell, who got the role of Seymour's girlfriend, Audrey, agreed. "You really have a great future in acting...and you're cute, too!," she said, taking Brad's hand and leading him up to the head of the class.
Brad blushed. "Thanks Marcie!" She was a lovely and talented brunette who someday could also be in show business. "You're talented too...and you look lovely."
"Oooh!" exclaimed the class. Were Marcie and Brad practicing for their roles as the timid-yet-dedicated lovers of Skid Row? Nope. They MEANT it... Brad had found a girl who wasn't just saying "oh, how cute..." Somehow he knew she was being serious.
The following week was the furry convention, and, just as he'd hinted, Brad wound up getting into a custom-made raccoon suit and he took part in a puppet show. He looked like a real masked bandit, walking on hind legs (only HE could talk!) and wasn't much bigger than an actual raccoon, as it was! He got up into the puppet playhouse and reacted with animal puppets that "furries" operated.
In the audience (unbeknownst to them) was a producer for a local TV station. She smiled and thought to herself, "I have a great idea for a children's TV show...and this actor would be just perfect."
Billy Barty and Josh Ryan Evans, move over. A new dwarf actor was about to become a star.
He could sense morning had come and he swung his legs around the edge of the bed, then stood up. To his amazement, Brad felt like he was just over six feet tall-- the room seemed to have shrunk overnight! He reached down (for a change) to open the door and walked into the hall leading to the bathroom, and he spotted his father heading into that room...only his dad was now two and a half feet tall!
His dad now seemed so puny--and so did his mom, who crossed over to the kitchen, with 11 year old Troy following (Troy seemed barely over twofeet tall.) "Help us get breakfast," Brad heard his mom say and Bradstarted making scrambled eggs for his parents and younger brother, whoclimbed up on their chairs and awaited the food. What happened? Suddenly hewas a giant--well, he was now over twice as tall as he'd been, and his parents and brother were now the size he had been.
He was not used to this. He wasn't used to seeing himself in the bathroom mirror, or to be able to reach just about everything in the kitchen. Suddenly he was--
He awoke with a start; the moonlight (it was 4 am) drifted through his window and showed that he was still in bed (it had been a dream) and he was still30 inches tall. Just out of curiosity, he peeked in his parent's room. Theystill seemed huge. He did the same with his brother's room. Yup, stilljust shy of 5 feet tall.
As he climbed back into bed and drifted back to sleep a thought came to him,maybe an explanation for the dream:
Later that day, Troy walked into the house to show his new sneakers off toBrad. "A bit too big for ya, huh?," boasted Troy.
Troy started stomping the floor with his new sneaks on...and getting a bit too close to Brad. "C'mon, stop that," said Brad, but Troy was too much intoit. Suddenly Troy slipped and the mass of his body fell upon his older,smaller brother. "OWWWW!" A 100-pound 11 year old fell upon his 20-pound,16-year old brother...and Brad winced in pain.
"Ah--sorry, man...you OK? I didn't mean it, Braddy, I just slipped an'...you OK?"
Brad got up slowly, as if he were a baseball catcher who had just collidedwith a runner trying to score. "It's OK..." The pain didn't last long. "Yeah, I'm OK, Troy." Troy apologized once again and Brad reminded him thathow small and fragile he was; Troy promised to be more careful. Just thenCool showed up at the house; as big as Troy seemed to Brad, Cool was evenmore huge--nearly 6 feet tall and about 160 pounds. Cool and Brad headed offtoward practice for the play.
Brad was used to it--used to the risk of being flattened by an 11 year oldbrother; used to being as tall as the computer desk in his room; used toseeing how gigantic everyone seemed. Here he was, 16 years old, and in a veryoutsized world. He could jump up and down all he wanted but was far tooshort to reach the lightswitch in the hall. Anything over 3 or 4 feet offthe ground was out of reach. He could sit in someone's lap easily as if hewere a tiny baby. Adults were giants. Middle school kids were giants.Even four year olds were giants.
Pens and pencils seemed far too big inhis three-inch-long hands, and his feet (some four-and-a-half inches long)paled in comparison to those of just about anyone. But he was used to allthat. And it didn't matter.
Practice ended and Marcie invited Brad and Cool over to her house; theyordered pizza, which they washed down with Pepsi and iced tea. For awhile theywatched an episode of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" and Cool joked thathe could do a spoof of it for the school variety show-- "Brad can playCrow or Tom Servo!," he said, referring to the show's puppets.
Brad sat on Marcie's lap and smiled up at her. "What do you want Santa to bring you, little boy?," giggled Marcie. She patted him gently on the headand belly.
"We were great tonight. I can't wait for the play to start!," said Brad. Sheheld him closer.
"Uh, well if you two want to be alone..." said Cool.
"Naw, that's OK," said Brad. "Stick around." He looked up at Marcie. "Ifpeople were more like you, the world would be a better place."
"Really? How so?," asked Marcie.
"You like me as a person, and you treat me well. You're not one of the girlswho laughs at me or ignores me. We got a lot in common and I think thisjust may work out!"
"I hope so too, hon'. Y'know that's just the way I am. I like being nice topeople...especially someone like you."
"My size never entered into it with you....You aren't afraid you'll be madefun of? 'Oh, there's Marcie...the only boyfriend she could find was a midget!'."
"No, I don't think people will say that about us! And if they do they'd just be ignorant." She thought up that line in an old Go-Gos song: "Pay no mind to what they say/ It doesn't matter anyway...Our lips are sealed."
Cool got up. "Well, again, if you two want to be alone..."
"Hmm, maybe we do wanna be alone," said Brad, smiling to Marcie. "But youwill get invited to the wedding."
Marcie laughed. "Getting ahead of ourselves, are we!". She smiled and lookedup at Cool. "Who knows...we could do fine, Brad and me. We'd help each otherout, like at the supermarket. I could reach the things on the high shelvesfor him..."
"...and I could reach stuff on the low shelves for her!," smiled Brad.
Cool bid them farewell after Marcie promised she'd walk Brad home afterwards.
The play was indeed a rousing success; a local newspaper had a review whichmentioned the "star power" of Brad and Marcie. "Some may be startled to seeSeymour being played by a 30-inch actor, but Fullerton pulls it off. And wordhas it a local TV station is interested in him, too..."
Indeed they were. "Brad's Treehouse" premiered a few months later. Bradsat in a mock treehouse and reacted with raccoon, squirrel, and fox puppetsthat were about his size (Marcie even did some of the puppetry herself). Brad wrote his own dialogue and came up withall sorts of ideas. He made public appearances and met kids who loved theshow (kids who were amazed how tiny the host was!).
The Tiny Teen was getting big, all right.
END! Dedicated to real life "little people" and their dreams.Also to the furry "pawpeteers" at www.pawpet.org.