From This Day Forth - Chapter 8: With Little Fierceness (03.12.2017)

Heya, I’ve been meaning to write something, but since it’s been a long time since I tried my hand at something original, I hope it turns out well. If there’s anything you don’t like, be open about it. I intend to get better as time goes on. :slight_smile:

From This Day Forth
by Frostwyrm
Part 1
Leslie Audet Is A Wishmaker


Chapter 1
Wishmaker

It was a few minutes before 6 AM and Leslie Audet could feel that it was just another cold november morning. The windows to her apartment were closed, but she was positive that it was frosty even in here. She groaned, still half-asleep, and tried to bury her head beneath the sheets. It was slightly warmer, but not by that much of a margin. She needed new sheets, some which actually did their job during this most joyous of seasons. The woman knew that, but also knew that she wouldn’t get to buy any this month or the next, or probably ever. Unless she got a raise, which was of course doubtful.

She stayed beneath the sheets, closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep again. It was something she’d done quite often in her college days, where she’d managed to get more sleep when at any other time in her life. Those days were over, as her alarm clock decided to remind her. Its horrible noise shattered the peace of mind she established and made the woman jump up and storm across the floor, every step a painful reminder of how cold it was in here. She slammed her hand down on the damn thing and then there was only silence.

Leslie remained there for a moment. The city’s lights managed to penetrate those old curtains of hers with ease and covered her bedroom in a dim luminescence. It was, like the rest of her apartment, entirely unremarkable. An unremarkable wardrobe, an unremarkable cabinet, and an unremarkable bed with slightly stained sheets. Leslie would have lied if she said she liked how it looked.

A noise came from above, she heard the ceiling creak as someone moved. She heard a loud voice, screaming obscenities, which was soon added by more voices complaining about the rising noise levels. Leslie let out a sigh as she stared down on her alarm clock. The worst part about sunday mornings was always when it woke up the guy above her, as he was one of those cholerics who went into a frenzy whenever anything happened. Leslie hated that guy as much as this apartment, but after five years of this, it was pretty much a part of her routine.

As the complaining died down and everybody presumably receded to their beds again, Leslie, with another sigh, went for the door and into the biggest room of her apartment. Flipping on the light switch, she casually glanced over an unremarkable couch, an unremarkable table and unremarkable boxes piling up along the wall. Ignoring it all, she went straight for the bathroom and used the chance to glance directly into the mirror.

“Still a gorgeous baby girl,” Leslie remarked through clenched teeth.

Needless to say, she hated how she looked. It wasn’t the fact that she was thirty-nine or that her red hair decided that now was the right time to start getting grey. It wasn’t that she was particularly unhappy with those small breasts that pushed against the fabric of her nightdress, nor the wrinkles, which looked like they were becoming more and more prominent, day after day. Neither was it her many freckles. No, it was the nightdress itself. A cute, pink thing with frills and her name stitched onto the right breast. She’d gotten it for a discount after befriending a skilled tailor in university, but that had been more than a decade ago.

She hated looking at herself, a woman that looked almost too eager to grow old, in clothing that made her feel so childish. Leslie sighed and proceeded to lift the dress up, so that her underwear became visible. She stared at it for a moment. The legs truly didn’t belong to a young girl anymore and the diaper almost looked like it fit perfectly to her new, granny-sort of look.

Another sigh escaped her as she let the dress fall. At least her continence was still in tact, as her bladder made itself noticed rather quickly, but she didn’t care about the pressure and just let herself go in the diaper. It was a process she was used to, by this point, but standing in the mirror, knowing the diaper was getting soaked beneath that frilly dress, it actually brought a smile on her face.

“Still a gorgeous baby girl,” Leslie told herself with a bit more confidence.

She couldn’t be a real child, so she’d have to settle for dressing like one. How old she got didn’t matter, Leslie told herself and turned to walk away from the bathroom. She turned the light off behind her and quietly walked into her living room, seating herself on the couch and staring at the TV monitor and the console below. Five games remained, the rest of her once so vast collection she’d pawned off.

This room looked dull, too, so Leslie decided to kick back and just stared at the ceiling. The slight crinkle of the diaper was her only respite, as every sunday morning. She missed having a computer, but the internet wasn’t for her, not after Clara had messed her life up in a most ridiculous manner. Well, it hadn’t exactly been Clara’s fault. Forming friendships at work was different than at college and Leslie had been far too idealistic concerning that horrible woman.

Time crawled along in the slowest pace imaginable and the artificial illumination gave way for the natural light of the sun. Leslie, as always, only barely noticed, as she never bothered to move her curtains. The woman in the apartment on the opposite side of the road was a rather prominent person in the district. While it was clear that she suffered from some sort of mental illness, she was apparently deemed safe enough to live on her own. So she took to stalking people or staring at them from her apartment window. Leslie had made the mistake of befriending her five years ago, much like she had tried to do with everyone back then.

The results had left her with a distrust towards law enforcement and a rather jaded opinion of lawyers.

Her grumbling stomach ripped Leslie away from her thoughts. She was thankful for the timely intervention of her body, lest she’d go down another bad road and rose up immediately, only to be interrupted by the ringtone of her mobile phone. She turned to the door, where her jacket hang and hurried over there, picking up her phone from a pocket.

The number spelled out on it belonged to a friend of hers, one who only ever called these days to whine about her life.

Another sigh escaped Leslie as she pressed a button and answered the phone. “Heya, Annie,” she said with as little enthusiasm as possible.

She expected to hear the noise of someone crying, some gurgle of meaningless words crashing against her delicate eardrums, but none of that was found. “Yo, Leslie, you wanna meet up today?”

The voice sounded both happy and sober, two states of mind Leslie thought impossible to coexist within Annie at this point, so she just remained silent for a second too long.

“You still there?”

She shook her head. “Wha? Yeah, of course I’m still here. You sound lively, did something happen?”

“I’ll tell you when you get over here,” the voice said over the phone.

Leslie rolled her eyes but looked around her home. She didn’t really feel like spending the rest of her sunday in this rotten place. “Sure,” she answered, trying for a smile.

“Cool, when can I expect you?”

“Somewhere around ten, if that’s alright with you.”

“Sure. Do hurry up, though. Weatherman said there’s gonna be heavy snowfall today.”

“Kay, bye,” Leslie answered and closed the call before Annie could answer.

She remained standing for a moment more, feeling the padding press against her legs and her bottom, so soft and comfortable. Considering she only just wet it, she wondered whether she could keep it on and just get some pants, but decided against it. She went into the bathroom once more, took off the diaper, rolled it up and threw it into the bin she kept for them. After that she wiped her privates with some toilet paper.

It took her about half-an-hour more to put on makeup and dress herself but forewent breakfast, as she did almost every single day. Today she opted for unremarkable pants, a sweater and the thickest jacket she had. Then she got her scarf, a woolen hat and mittens.

Everything was ready and then she went out into the stairway. The floors looked as rustic as the apartments, yet it seemed more of a charm point here than inside. She ignored it, told herself that it was just her home being horrible and then locked the door.

As she walked down she saw the landlord by the door. He was an arab-looking man in his mid-thirties, who was slightly overweight, sharply dressed and had one of those large beards which had gotten trendy at some point or another. Leslie put on her best smile as she walked down the stairs.

“Hello, Asad,” she said, keeping to the first name basis they’d established over the years.

“Morning, Leslie,” he said, not even looking at her, as he checked his mail. “I’ve gotten complaints about your alarm clock, again. Most people want to sleep in on sundays, so could you make my life easier and do the same?”

She halted in her tracks as he said that, felt a shiver run down her spine. For some weird reason, people telling her off made her feel almost a child again, mischevious and small. But Asad was like the rest of the world and he wasn’t part of her littlespace. Of course, she knew that there were complaints, since the house was pretty clairaudient. So, Leslie nodded. “I’ll turn it off on sundays, then. That should get everybody off your back.”

He looked at her with a soft smile. Once, Leslie had considered him attractive, but that had been before he’d grown himself that horrid beard. “Thanks, Leslie,” he said, before he turned his eyes back to the letters.

And with that she vanished out into the open city.

The district she lived in was worn-down, dirty, but at least wasn’t filled with as many criminals as one might expect. There were some people Leslie would’ve described as ill of mind, at least one drug dealer and she was also certain that the boss of the chinese restaurant was involved with the mafia, but that was everybody she could think of. Yes, this district might be among the worst in the city, but she could still tolerate it. The worst part living here was the weather anyway.

If it wasn’t raining, it was cloudy and if it wasn’t cloudy, there was fog. Even today the sky was colored in a grim grey-ish tone that would soon give way to snow. Honestly, she wasn’t sure how happy she should be about this, but decided to not care. Instead, she walked along the streets of her home and watched how the city came more and more to life as she walked out of that broken down district.

There weren’t that many people on their way, so she was happy to take the subway to her friend’s place. Some personnel checked the tickets, some homeless lady tried to sell her a paper she didn’t want to buy and, of course, some creepy guy in a long coat leered at her. At least he got out a station before her, so that was a plus point.

Annie lived ten stations away from Leslie, on the edge of the city, where the air smelled of salt and the rushing of waves could be heard in the distance. It was a green place during the summers, with lots of trees by the wayside, expensive hotels and shops. The residents had said it was a victim of gentrification, rent spiked, many people from five years ago were gone. Leslie knew that the few people who spent their lives here were either already looking for a new home or trying to fight a hopeless fight against the new city the politicians were creating. Of course, Annie was neither of those.

Annie lived close to the daycare where she used to work, before she had her emotional breakdown. Paranoia, drug addiction, anancasms, it had all sent her down a steep cliff. Nowadays, the woman kept to herself, spent her days hiding away, drinking booze, crying how miserable her life was and failing to get proper treatment for her mental illnesses. Once upon a time, Leslie had liked her, but as she approached the house Annie lived in, she couldn’t help but feel the want to turn right back around.

She rang the doorbell, which was answered by a ring of the door, signalling her to open it. Inside, the house was of a much better quality than her place. The ceiling didn’t look cracked, the stairs were freshly painted, the smell of chemicals was in the air as the housekeeper had clearly gone over the floor recently.

Annie lived on the third floor, where she occupied a two room apartment much like Leslie’s, except, of course, much better decorated. And more filled with trash last she checked in. Annie had become sort of a hoarder ever since she started to fear her neighbours. Leslie prepared herself for a horrid smell to drift into her nostrils, but as the door opened, she was greeted by the soft smell of scented candles and a warm smile by her friend.

“Leslie,” Annie said and put her arms around the other woman. “You came!”

“Yeah, of course I did,” she answered, awkwardly putting her arms around Annie’s back.

The other woman loosened her grip. “Come in. Come in,” she said and gestured for Leslie to follow her. So she did, closing the door behind her.

Annie Sherman was a grotesquely fat woman of fifty years with a pig nose and hair she dyed a different color every month. This time it was a shade of red mixed in with streaks of blue. Leslie thought it looked ugly, but admitted to herself that she was just worried that there would be less grey in Annie’s hair than her own. Annie also managed to dress in unflattering clothing, but Leslie knew that she’d simply stopped caring at one point or another.

They walked into the woman’s living room, which reeked of cigarettes and alcohol, though there were some trash bags scattered across the floor. Old food was rotting away on the table, right beside a fresh bag of potato chips. She spotted four candles burning behind them, all vanilla scented and the windows were open, too. Still, the different odors mixed together in a sickly sweet smell. Leslie hated it immediately.

“So, you’re still the same, huh?” She asked, kicking a trash bag that lay in her way.

Annie cleaned some magazines off the couch and gestured Leslie to sit down, though she herself only moved away after putting the magazines down the couch again and lifting them up again. She did that four times and finally receded to the wall by the window. “Yeah,” she said with an awkward smile. “I got in touch with another doc, though. So I hope that goes well.”

Leslie shrugged and finally settled down, looking at the old food. She wasn’t sure what it was, but once upon a time, probably a soup. She looked at it and then couldn’t bear it anymore, taking it and walking into Annie’s kitchen. Her friend quietly watched, as if she was trying evaluate what was happening. Leslie figured it some new fear, some new compulsion and didn’t really care. She cleaned the bowl with her hands, since Annie had no dishwasher.

The fat woman walked up to the kitchen door, still looking at her. “You don’t need to do that, you know?”

Once more, Leslie shrugged. “I like work, helps me not think about my own shit.”

Annie folded her arms and leaned against the door, it creaked ever so slightly. “Still trouble with that Clara woman?”

“Everybody started ignoring me ever since the new boss showed up. He cares about how we treat each other, mostly because he doesn’t want any drama at work. Clara just tries to be subtle about it, as always and when he’s not there … I guess I should find a new job.”

“You’ve been saying that for two years now,” Annie said, her gaze piercing through Leslie.

She smiled at that. Leslie didn’t intend to get another job. She’d considered suicide more seriously than that. It wasn’t just moving away from the city. She had no coin, no family, no idea how to even start a new life somewhere else. Somewhere along the line, she’d lost the spunk of her youth and just wanted to remain in an endless cycle of daily work. That was the adult thing to do, after all.

“I’m just complaining, it’s not really as bad as I make it out to be,” Leslie said, water flowing through her finger, an empty smile on her lips.

“Rick said Clara’s a high functioning sociopath, your co-workers are all sheep and your boss is blind to anything that doesn’t concern whatever your company does,” Annie said.

Rick was another man she knew, an old love that remained at least a steady friendship. He was also far too open about other people’s problems, which left Leslie exasperated. “She’s not a sociopath, my co-workers got their own lives to deal with and my boss cares about the company. Rick just knows what I told him at my worst, seriously. Don’t take his word over mine. Can we talk about something else now?”

Annie shrugged. “I just wanted to make conversation, geeze.”

Then make it without digging into open wounds, you idiot, Leslie thought, rolling her eyes. Thinking of another topic was hard. Of course, she could’ve complained to Annie about Annie, but that seemed hardly appropriate. So she just quietly finished up with the bowl, before she went back to the couch in the living room and sat down.

“What did you want to talk about anyway?”

“Actually,” Annie said and went for her pockets, took out her mobile phone. “I wanted to talk to you about something that might interest you.”

She sat down beside Leslie, typing wildly on her phone. Her fingers were thick and clumsy, how she managed to work a phone with them was far beyond Leslie. Either way, she was happy that this wasn’t going to end up in a whine-a-thon like almost every other meeting they had these days. At least, she thought so at first, but then she noticed how Annie clicked her tongue while she typed, a clear sign that she just got caught up in another compulsion. Leslie looked at her, impatiently drumming her fingers on her knees.

The only thing that made her stay now was that she didn’t want to go home. Now that people were awake, she knew that the sounds would be unbearable. She hated it and Asad wasn’t helping, since he only ever talked about the noises she made, all while dismissing her own complaints.

“Is the price of this place still good?”

“My landlord spent the last two months raising the rent. It’s still affordable, but not for much longer, why?”

“Because I hate my place,” Leslie answered truthfully.

“I don’t think you want to live together with me. I know I’m wearing you out.”

“You already did,” Leslie said and gave her friend a smile to take the edge off her words.

It worked, it always did, as Annie gave her a small smile back. “Are you searching for a new place?”

“Not in earnest. I’ve got the cheapest apartment in the city, or close to it anyway, and my job won’t pay enough for a bigger one.”

Annie nodded. “Maybe you should look for another one. You’re smart, I’m sure you find something.”

She sighed. “I’m working for a company that spent the past few years growing. Everyday I’m expecting a raise, since everybody knows how much I’m helping out with everything.”

“Those are just excuses, though.”

Leslie let out a bitter laugh. “Maybe, maybe not. I won’t stake my whole livelihood on the off chance that I might find better work, though.”

Annie’s fingers danced across the phone and the woman exhaled loudly, shaking her head. “You’re just wasting away, though.”

That much was true, Leslie had to admit, but in the same vain, she simply shrugged. “We all do.”

Annie’s eyes fell and she looked at the phone for a solid minute. The quiet was welcome, since Leslie could take the chance to not think about her life, but rather something, anything else. They only got older and with every year that passed, Leslie wanted to think about what she’d done until now less and less. In a way, she knew that Annie felt the same way, but she blamed it on her illnesses, that she’d lived happily before. Maybe it was true, maybe not. Leslie couldn’t find an answer.

“I’ve got it, take a look.”

Leslie leaned over to catch a glimpse at whatever it was that Annie offered her. A website, with a simple blue design and in its middle was a window where one could type their name. She raised an eyebrow, “So you found a shady website on the internet? Color me impressed,” she said sarcastically.

“No, sheesh. Rick told me about it. It’s a weird site. You type in your name and then it just asks a few questions.”

“Still sounds shady, though.”

Leslie looked at her friend who handed her the phone. “Try typing in your name. You’ll see what I mean with weird.”

The woman sighed and did as she was told. Leslie Audet, she typed and suddenly a question flashed up before her.

>>Do you want your wishes to come true?

She stared at the window for a moment. Should she ask Annie, or just answer the question? A shiver ran down her spine, like bug crawling down and covering her in ice, and as it went, she stopped wondering and just started typing her answer. She hit Enter and then looked at the phone as the site vanished and gave way to Annie’s social network profile, where the mother texted her daughter rather viciously. Leslie ignored it and looked at Annie.

“The fuck was that?”

Annie shrugged. “Rick told me about it, it seemed fun, so I shared it with you.”

Yet Leslie couldn’t quite follow that train of thoughts. “It was just a question. I don’t even know what just happened with it. Who programs a site to ask a dumb question? Are they trying to be ominous?”

“It’s more like a game. You get a message later on where they explain the rules. It’s creepy at first, but you get used to the questions. I wanted to tell you because the messages indicate that some big event is happening on monday.”

The vagueness of those sentences made Leslie weary. “Why would you want to share a game with me?”

Annie offered her a sad smile. “You’ll see. It asks you if you have a wish, a desire you want to have fulfilled. I said that I want to leave my fears behind. I want to walk the outside world again, get back to work and life and everything I left behind. It said that on monday, I would find myself in a world where my wishes would come true. I don’t think it’s true, but a part of me does. I don’t know, but I thought, considering how much you’ve been there for me the past few years, it might be some fun for you, too.”

She felt her head hurting and rubbed her temples. “Really? You called me over for this dumb shit?”

Leslie shook her head and gave the phone back to her friend. “You do know I’ve got better things to do, right?”

“Leslie, I–”

Leslie rose up. “Stuff, Annie. I’ve got stuff to do!”

Before her friend could answer, she went for the door, happy that she kept the coat and shoes on. She closed the door without even saying goodbye and left the house without further notice. Outside, snow was falling and she stared up at the sky. Countless snowflakes fell down from the sky and Leslie could only hope that it wouldn’t end up like last winter. She hated to go to work through ice and snow. Either way, the sunday was hers now and she still needed to stay away from her home. And Annie, too, since this was pretty much the biggest waste of time she’d ever sent Leslie on.

The question from the site still lingered on her mind, though, and she reached for her own. It was a prize she’d gotten from Rick last christmas, one of the few gifts she could truly use. She turned it on and found it ringing with a message, though it came from noone she knew.

>>If You Want That Wish To Come True, Just Hit Enter.

She stared for a moment, then looked back at Annie’s apartment. There was a second part to this? Leslie groaned, but hit enter nonetheless. If it was a virus, she didn’t care. There was no vital information on that phone and she could do well without the ability of getting calls.

Instead of a virus, she received another message, however.

>>To Write Out One True Desire Is All It Needs To Set You On The Path Where All Your Wishes Come True:

There was an empty box beneath the message for her to write in, she looked at it and then up at the sky again. It wasn’t like she had anything better to do, so as she started to walk back to the train station she started to think on her answer.

She didn’t think it was true, either. Of course she didn’t think that. The city was dull and grey and boring, but it was her life and she knew that there was no more way to change it. She’d robbed herself of that hope. Her legs were hurting, there was an aching to her back and she felt a hundred years older than she was.

On whim, she decided to answer. “To have a young body again.”

But she didn’t hit enter, instead let the answer stand there. Leslie stopped in her walk, wondered how a world might look where this might work, where this would send her to a younger body. What would she even do with it? What sort did she want?

She’d read some stories about alternate dimensions, about regressing into a younger body. It was a fantasy she liked, something she loved to happen to her. Half-heartedly she also remembered some roleplaying she’d done in the past, the ages her characters had been. Always children, innocent and unspoiled by the rotten world.

“To have a body of ten years again,” she corrected the writing and sent the message to wherever.

Then she put the phone away again, sighing heavily. Monday morning, 6 AM was when her long road to death continued and in truth, wishful thinking wouldn’t be of any help then. Knowing that, she decided to take the train to the very last station, where she could at least take a walk and enjoy some unspoiled nature.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 1: Wishmaker (24.12.15)

For someone who hasn’t written in a long time, this is pretty good. I like it, and I didn’t notice any mistakes when in “casual reader mode”. Which is a pretty big accomplishment, actually. I haven’t read an online story where I didn’t notice any mistakes in over a year at least.

Plot is good, albeit a bit far fetched. I don’t mind that, though, because hard to believe or not, I’m hooked. I’m legitimately impressed by the quality here.

Keep up the good work, and if you get better over time like you said, then I’ll definitely be there to comment on the improvement.

Also, I just noticed I’m the first one to comment. That’s kinda cool.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 1: Wishmaker (24.12.15)

It has the potential to be one of the rare gems of the genre. It’s too early for me to tell where exactly its tone is headed, it has hinted at several different things so far.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 1: Wishmaker (24.12.15)

Chapter 2
Hopes And Dreams

She regretted her decision to come out here. It was already past noon and her foregoing breakfast turned out to be one of the worst decisions of this day, aside from every other she’d made. Of course, Leslie knew that going out on a sunday was idiotic in and of itself, but to do it without any food in the stomach bordered on insanity. Still, she pressed on.

By the time she’d gotten off the train her stomach was roaring and as she made her way past the houses of more people who were richer than her, she found that the only respite she got was from the falling snow. As she was completely alone on the road, she took to making snowballs and throwing them as far as she could, just to see how far her reach went. It was very far, but just being able to play for a bit filled her with an ember of happiness. Leslie held that inner child of hers back, that inner she that wanted to come out and play.

Shutting away the self that wanted to fool around, Leslie continued on in silence. As she reached the final house, she chose to turn around and have a look at this place she called home, an ever-growing city bordering on the vast ocean. Tall skyscrapers rose up in the center, she even spotted the one belonging to her company. They were a trading business, though Leslie had the horrible luck of working in a department that was just there to crunch numbers. It was a miserable thought, because she was the one cog that the company could do without and she figured that the only reason she was still allowed to work there was by the grace of the chief himself.

Beyond the town spread out a vast conifer forest, the pride of the region, and she decided to enter it in hopes that would make the thoughts of work and home go away. They sort of did as the evergreen trees wrapped themselves around the old paths that led through the forest. A thick web of branches darkened the woods and she saw not a single person on the path she treaded on.

Here, nobody cared about the falling snow and it already lay in a thick layer, almost drowning her feet. She regretted her choice of not taking any gloves with her, so instead she buried her hands deep in her pockets. While Leslie was used to the cold, she wasn’t fond of the idea of frostburn.

Neither was her body fond of her continuous walking, as her stomach made itself heard through the quiet of the woods. Aside from the crunching sound the snow made beneath her shoes, there was hardly any noise. There was no wind, no people, just her and hunger walking down a lonely path.

She grumbled, walked onwards with her teeth clenched, until she spotted a crossroads ahead of her, where light pierced through the clouds and the branches. There, she found someone else walking down another path, a figure she knew. She halted as they turned to look at her and then they halted too.

“Rick?” she asked with a loud, clear voice, her breath turning to a cloud of smoke before her eyes.

“Les?” He asked back with disbelief. “Since when do you take sunday walks?”

“I don’t know,” she answered, half-wanting to smile, and started moving towards him. “Since when do you take your walks through the damn woods?”

Rick Goldschmied was a dark-skinned man in his mid-thirties, tall, scrawny, with a crooked nose and an easy smile on his thick lips. He wore a black hat to cover his bald dome of a head, while his body was wrapped up in a long, woolen coat. As she approached he walked towards her and stretched his hand out. She saw that he wore black woolen gloves and grumbled quietly in response to his weather appropriate clothing.

She took his hand and shook it as quickly as she could manage before allowing her hand to retreat back into the warm sanctuary that was her right pocket. Leslie tried to look friendly, but she really didn’t want to talk to anyone right now.

“It’s been too long,” he said, his grey eyes fixated on her. There was laughter in them too. “We haven’t heard of each other for a few months at least.”

She nodded. “Yeah, work keeps me busy and I tried to cut back on social contacts. I found that they drive me to drink a lot more than I really like.” It was an obvious cut, but after Annie, she didn’t want to deal with another friend of hers.

Judging from his smile, she was too subtle for him. “Come on, we’re not that bad,” he said, trying to make it sound like a self-depreciating joke. She sniggered half-heartedly in response.

“Last time we were out together I was so shit-faced the fucking barkeep had to throw me out. I don’t know what I said or did, but he can’t stand the sight of me anymore.”

Rick looked at her slightly uncomfortable, and for a moment she thought he’d finally shed some light on the night she was talking about, but then realized that it was just her language. As much as he liked the sound of his own voice, swear words weren’t for Rick.

For her however, they were one of the few leftovers from her childhood and all she remembered from her father was his unending swearing. Nevertheless, she decided to use this chance to change the topic, if they were going to talk, it wouldn’t be about herself.

“But really, why’re you in the woods?”

“I assume for the same reason you are,” he answered and looked at the path from whence she came, “I needed a breath of fresh air and this is pretty much the only place for that.”

“We have a park near the center, though,” she stated matter-of-factly, wondering why she hadn’t gone there.

“I don’t like it that much. Too many parents with their children, too many teenagers and too many other people. When I want to take a walk, I don’t want to meet half the city, you know what I mean?”

She did, and that finally managed to bring a smile to her face. He was the only one who ever managed to lighten her mood like that. It was one of the reasons why they had started dating some four years ago and it was the reason they were still friends. It was easy to continue to walk with some company now.

They started to walk together, he offered her a bit of chocolate when he heard her stomach rile up again, and thereafter the both of them talked about how their lives went. Or rather, Leslie checked up on his without saying a word about her own. Rick still was a cashier in one supermarket and then another. Sometimes he worked in a car wash, other times for a restaurant. He was drifting through life without purpose, and admitted that much, but he seemed happy with his lot. Even his eyes smiled at her through his tellings. It made her feel just strangely uncomfortable.

The snow never stopped falling and after a while Leslie figured that she could as well use this chance to discuss something more important with him.

“Rick,” she said grimly, “You talked with Annie about Carla.”

Of course, he just sighed. “Well, after the both of us broke up she did force herself into my life. You have to excuse me for thinking she completely bonkers.”

Leslie rubbed her temples at that. It was an excuse just like him and she immediately regretted bringing the topic up. Nevertheless, now it was done and she needed to finish it.

“Well, call the cops on her if she messes with you. Annie’s got her own shit to deal with and I don’t like the idea of her also getting all up in mine.”

He hesitated for a second. “Can you ever not talk in such profanities?”

Leslie shrugged. “Make me.”

He turned around to have a look at whether anyone else was on the path, but found it empty. For a moment, Leslie wondered why, but then he sidestepped and suddenly his fingers were beneath her jacket, tickling her sides.

Woah,” and “Shit!” were all the words she could offer before she erupted in laughter and tried to wiggle herself free.

Rick stood much taller than she was, but he wasn’t all that strong, so she managed to free herself quickly, went down for the snow and threw some at his face. “Have at thee!” she said, feeling her left knee ache.

“You want it? You got it!”

Leslie found herself Little rejoicing as they had themselves a good old-fashioned snowball battle in the heart of the forest, though it didn’t last very long. Leslie found herself realizing pretty quickly that not working out in any shape or form finally took its toll and just after a few minutes of throwing snow and running around, they were standing on the path again, breathing heavily.

“Why did we do that?” Leslie asked, knowing the exact answer.

“It’s fine to have a bit of fun, you’ve grown way too bitter,” Rick answered, his teeth flashing in a bright smile.

She felt her knee hurt worse now and how her muscles ached from the exhaustion. Her body was too eager to grow old, she knew, but her mind urged her to keep on playing, to keep on running. It was a bitter taste and it would only grow worse as the years continued, she was sure of it.

“Yeah, sure. Sports ruined my joints, though.”

It was half a lie. While she was playing sports back in university, her left knee had gone bad due to all the heavy lifting she’d done during her first years at work. It was a reminder that people as open-minded as Rick were a rarity.

“Is it that bad?”

She grimaced. “I’m growing old, Rick.”

He knew her feelings about old age and his opinions on the matter differed quite from hers. Of course they did, he was a guy, he wasn’t slave to his looks. None of them ever were. Well, not really, she knew that, but thirty-nine, in her head, was old for a woman.

“Well, you just need to accept that your body may wane but your heart remains the same. You really are far too pessimistic on that end.” He snipped with his fingers. “Which gets me to think, did Annie tell you about a site I showed her?”

“She told me. I answered their dumb questions, too,” she answered coldly, not sure what he was getting at.

He gave her a smile. “That’s surprising. I hadn’t thought she would give the address to anyone.” He sounded more pleased than anything.

“Yeah? You don’t sound surprised though.”

His answer was a shrug, leaving her to continue on with a question; “How’d you come upon it anyway?”

“Pop-up ad.”

“Pop-up ad?” She asked, incredulous.

He nodded and gestured her to follow, continuing to talk all the while. “It wasn’t a warlock that helped me find it, if that’s what you wanted to hear. I happened on it while browsing some imageboards, as you do. As far as I know it isn’t harmful and it did make me think. I told Annie about it so that we could have a nice conversation about it.”

“You went to a depressed, paranoid woman with some creepy-ass website because you wanted to talk about it?”

He cringed at her choice of words. “You make me sound like a bad person, but it’s true.I find the ideas of genies and monkey paws intriguing, so the site was right up my alley. Talking about it is quite an intriguing affair, too. What would a person wish for if they got just one chance for it? Aren’t you thinking it’s amazing?”

She didn’t, or at least a more mature part of her didn’t. Of course there was another part, one that was intrigued, one that wanted it to be true. Leslie knew why she thought that way, but she rolled her eyes at his explanation anyway.

“If it’s all so exciting, then what did you wish for, then?”

Rick looked up at the sky, snow fell down on his face. His nose wasn’t a pretty sight from the side, like a hook it went forth from his face. The sight always annoyed her ever so slightly, but she took it as positive that she didn’t find him attractive anymore. Her love for him had been a distraction anyway.

“Well, I thought of the possibilities first. I mean, if you had one wish, wouldn’t it be prudent to wish for world peace? Money that never runs out? I thought that I kind of needed to wish for something big, something that would advance everybody, but then I thought about you.”

She almost felt compelled to halt, to turn around and just walk away before he said another word. Instead, she lifted an eyebrow and carefully tried to assemble a proper answer in her head. “Please don’t tell me you wished that we date again.”

He smirked at that comment, and she smirked right back at him, but not a word was said. What his smile meant, she couldn’t quite say, but she hoped it was his way of sarcastically answering her, “Suuure.”

“I thought of you confessing your infantilism-thingy to me, actually. Dressing up, playing pretend.”

That wasn’t exactly what she expected, but she felt heat coming to her head and averted her eyes. “You thought I was a freak.”

“At first, right? If I remember correctly I let you pretend to be a child at least once. I was thinking of that specifically, actually.”

That had happened, she remembered, though since she didn’t think much of their relationship anymore, the memory was left in a bin somewhere in the back of her brain. It had been in the early days of their relationship and it’d been the first time someone had shown any interest in her littlespace. It hadn’t been something Rick was into, but at the time, he looked like he enjoyed it as much as she did.

“I think I was always jealous of how honest you could be with yourself,” he continued as the dark path twisted and turned before them, branches preventing all but the snow from reaching through. “It said that one true wish would be needed to set me on the path or something, so I decided to be honest with myself. Did I want world peace? Yeah, sure, but I don’t even believe it can happen. Do I want a lot of money? I’m happy where I am moneywise. I get to live and die by my own rules, so I’ve got nothing to complain about.”

“You found yourself a happy man, then?” Leslie asked, the thought a twisting knife in her mood.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Rick answered her, “but I am a satisfied man, for the most part. The thing that would bring me happiness isn’t so much that I want to make people happy with my wish, I wanted something else.”

The woods parted before them and they found themselves standing close to a beach. The sea’s waves crashed against the sandy shore and seagulls were caw-ing above them. Leslie stared at it with little affection. The sea was a common sight for her and after all these years there was little splendor left to it. Rick extended his arm and pumped his fist into the air.

“I wished for the determination to always do the right thing. As a child I always wanted to be a hero, but I was always painfully aware that reality and the comics I read were two vastly different entities. I thought that if I could be at least a little more determined, then maybe I could help at least those around me and probably make this city a much better place than the run down heap of trash that it became.”

His smile was a hopeful one, one that told her that he really wanted this wish to come true. She’d thought him a nice person, a talkative person, but she hadn’t thought he’d be an idealist to such an extent.

“You don’t really think the wish can come true, do you?” Leslie asked as he finally put his hand down.

“That’s the thing. I kind of do. As you said, the site is strange. I can’t even tell you the address, and I’ve been there multiple times. There’s nothing on the internet about it, no hint that it even exists. I’ve read enough stories and seen enough movies to know where this should go…”

She sighed, sure that he was overthinking it, but the moment she tried to think of the site’s web address, she couldn’t quite pin down the letters. For whatever reason, she was sure she could reach the site on her phone, but couldn’t say how she would do so. As that realization hit, she felt something cold crawling down her spine.

“That doesn’t sound like a good weird, though,” she told him quietly, but he just shrugged it off.

“You might think that, Les. Did you have a wish, too?” He asked and she nodded. “Oh? Could I take a guess at it?”

Leslie looked at her friend, who smiled at her eagerly. He was sure to be able to tell what sort of wish she had, an easy confidence that came with having known each other ever since she first stepped into this city. “Go ahead,” she answered him.

He giggled. “This is easy. Knowing you, you wished to be able to prance about, diapered and wearing the cutest dresses and everybody telling you what a cute little kid you are.”

She blinked, then touched her chin with two cold fingers. It was a good thought, Leslie found. Every ABDL wanted to be able to go out without fear of persecution, she’d always figured, but with the wish she might’ve made it happen. In a way, what she typed now seemed a waste, but she was also sure that if she hadn’t thought of it, it wasn’t a “true desire”.

“Actually, I wished to have a child’s body.”

“Oh,” he answered flatly. “So you want to be a toddler, is that wise?”

Her Little was somewhat of a toddler, though she’d never pinned down the age. “No, that be worse. Just a child again, that’d be nice. I loved life when I was young and that was in part because I knew I was young.”

He wanted to say something, but then no words came out of his mouth. Silence followed and she was thankful for it. The crash had taken her parents, the fire had done away with her home. She had outgrown it all, but everything aside from a blazing red was a haze of wishful thinking, old hopes and childish dreams.

After a while, he spoke up again.

“You know what? If it’s a hoax, we’ll wake up tomorrow as always and get to work. I’m not staking my hopes and dreams on a website I found while browsing for cat pictures. If it does work? I think that’d be interesting, Les.”

She doubted it, but a small part of her wanted to believe, to be relieved of this rotting body. Leslie looked at her right hand, as it shook in the cold. She could spot the veins on its back, obvious little things that pressed blood towards her freezing fingers.

“So, how about we make a deal?”

“A deal?” she repeated, tilting her head, while her hands retreated into her pockets once more.

“Yeah. If tomorrow, everything’s the same as always, I’ll take you out next saturday. You can pretend to be a child for a whole day. If our wishes do come true, how about you call me and we help each other settle into the changes?”

She looked at him queerly. “Why would I want to come and play at your house?”

His smile was a wonderful sight, Leslie had to admit. “Simple, because you look tired and I guess you need to unwind at one point or another. I don’t care whether you be nine months or ninety within my domain, we’re friends and we should hang out more.”

And her smile came easier to her than before, Leslie figured. “How cute, you just want to hang out with me.”

“Deal?” He asked, stretching out his hand again.

“I’ll take the deal, but I won’t shake your hand on account of my hands freezing, alright?”

He laughed and ruffled her hair. “It’ll be fun, Les.”

They parted ways there. She went on along the harbor, back to the city, while he walked back to the forest. Leslie was glad that she met him, now that she thought about it. Otherwise, she would’ve just spent her afternoon brooding, which was a pain, if truth be told. Now her head wasn’t hurting anymore and she could spend the rest of her day slowly getting back home.

And slow she intended to take it. When she reached the train station on the edge of the district she was in, it was already past 4 PM. Leslie didn’t have much money with her, but she bought a ticket that would allow her to ride around like an idiot for two hours. Stalling at its finest.

Not many people rode with her. An older man sat quietly, two teenage boys talked about video games opposite to him, and a group of men and women was laughing it up by the next door. She seated herself distant from them all and go out her phone, checking whether she could truly access the wish making site.

Her fingers danced on the plastiglass of her phone, hitting buttons and writing out an address she didn’t know and by the time they were done and she was there, Leslie wasn’t even sure what just happened.

The site itself was different. The words “PLEASE WAIT” stood huge and bold in the center of a black backdrop, but Leslie noticed that she could scroll down. With a flick of a finger she found herself staring at more text.

“There are rules on the path you chose. If you do not fail the first challenge, the chance will never have appeared to you in the first place and your life will go on or not, depending on your will,” she read out loud.

That’s rather morbid, she thought and her mouth twisted a little. This site really was creeping her out.

“The first rule is to always stay true to the path you chose. Do that and your quest will yield the rewards you seek and more,” Is this an RPG?, “but fail and the consequences will swallow you and all you hold dear.”

She thought of the shiver she felt back in the forest and wondered whether it already left her, because she kind of thought that it was still there, softly running its fingers down her back.

“The second rule is to only wish for the hopes and dreams you held close to your heart the most. False ideals and lofty desires will only show you for the coward you are. The path you chose is one of your making, but once you forsake it and yourself the consequences will swallow you and all you hold dear.”

Two rules, that was it. She found the second one a bit more ominous, but it was pretty much in line with the first one. Be yourself, get booty. Don’t be yourself, the consequences will swallow you and all you hold dear. Was this whole thing about loving oneself? Leslie rolled her eyes.

As she turned her phone off and put it into the pocket of her jacket, her thoughts drifted to Rick. He’d never once told her that it was fine to play. He smiled at her once as she dressed up and was herself just for him, but nevermore. A part of her was angry, another was relieved. She didn’t know what to make of his deal with her, but if he stood true to his word, then she would have a chance to be Little with someone accepting her.

In a way, that was already a wish come true.

It didn’t fill her with as much happiness as it should have. Tomorrow was monday and then came another gruesome week of work. She felt a tinge of fear in the back of her head and hoped that Carla was sick. That or fired, Leslie would take either gladly.

Yet she couldn’t know how the morrow would look, aside from bleak and horrible, and so she decided to just let her thoughts drift for a while.

From the edge of town to where she lived, it took a train about an hour, so she spent the rest of the time getting on another train and then another, riding in circles around her home district. After that, she got out at a station farther removed from her home than originally intended, so the walk there took her another hour.

It was already 7 PM when she got home, her stomach telling her to finally grab something proper to eat. So she prepared a dull meal in a dull kitchen and ate it on that couch she hated so much. After that, she took a shower. Though the water was warm she felt a cold in her as her heart viciously beat against her chest. She felt like could throw up.

It was just like every sunday evening, Leslie figured bitterly.

Wrapped in a towel, she walked over to her bedroom where she opened her cabinet in hopes of finding proper sleepwear. On the top shelf rested four more diapers. They were too few and the end of the month was too far away, so Leslie grumbled. She needed to recalculate how much money she could spend, since the diapers kept her at least somewhat afloat when she felt down on her luck.

For tonight, she didn’t take one, even though she wanted nothing more than feel the safe embrace of crinkling plastic and soft padding against her skin. Instead, she opted for a simple shirt and pants.

She closed the cabinet, tossed the towel into a corner and went to get her phone, looking at it one final time before she put it down on her couch.

“Fat chance,” she grumbled and went off to bed, where she would lie for a few hours, dreading the morning to come. As the clock struck midnight, she finally managed to drift off to sleep. She thought to hear her phone in the distance, but dismissed it.

There were no dreams that night and the morning came against all hopes.

Leslie woke long before her alarm clock made itself noticed. Her eyes opened themselves, while only the city’s lights provided some illumination to her bedroom. Still half-asleep, she felt a bit weird, as if her clothing pants had come loose and so she kicked them off before they could annoy her too much.

Then, after staring at the ceiling for a while, she finally managed to rise up and slipped her legs past the edge of the bed. That was when she noticed the second strange thing. She wasn’t touching the ground. Instead her feet sort of dangled there for a second.

And her room was looking awfully big, too.

Leslie Audet blinked and then she heard the sound of her phone in the distance, as it rang with the melody of a song she didn’t particularly like. “Who Wants To Live Forever,” had always been her least favorite Queen song.

As she let herself drop down from the bed, she felt strange on her feet, as if they were much shorter than usual. She didn’t quite get it, but moved forward nonetheless.

“Don’t tell me I got a fucking cold,” she muttered, not knowing whether she should be angry or joyful.

As she stood before the door she looked at the handle, how much closer it was to her eye level. For a second she stared at it, while the song played from the mobile phone. For a second her thoughts were vanishing in a river of nothingness and then a clear thought appeared within her and her eyes widened in shock.

“You have to be kidding me!

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 1: Wishmaker (24.12.15)

First off, I like the story. I definitely feel like I have an understanding of Leslie and the listless, quasi-schizoid world she lives in. It definitely rings true how she can barely stand even her friends. Everyone is damaged in some way, and her feelings of boredom, frustration depict that quite well.
As simple as this sounds, I really appreciate your chapter length, especially when chapters are released back to back. I wonder how much you actually have written?

Anyway, there were a few minor convention issues I noticed right at the beginning of the second chapter, but as far as readability goes this is exceptional work. So, here are the nits I have picked.

I’m not sure if it’s really a textbook example, but “more people richer than her” is essentially a double comparative. I think I understand what you’re trying to communicate, that Leslie is essentially at the tail end of the economic food chain, but there could be clearer ways to say this.

Most writers would capitalize Sunday, but if you don’t want to, it’s fine.

Also, while it doesn’t violate anything specific that I can think of, the phrase “in and of itself” doesn’t carry much meaning; I think you could get the point across with “anyway”.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 1: Wishmaker (24.12.15)

Nope. It’s awkward in its presentation, but it’s not a double comparative. She made her way past the houses of more people. They were also richer than her, just like the people in the previous houses she passed.

It could have been written differently for clarity, but it’s not technically grammatically incorrect. :wink:

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 2: Hopes And Dreams (25.12.15)

When Rick says he doesn’t want to meet half the city when going for a walk, “half the city” should not be hyphenated. That’s the main mistake I noticed, though there were a couple awkward wordings that people already mentioned.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 2: Hopes And Dreams (25.12.15)

It’s fun to write a character as bitter as Leslie and I’m glad I got her relationship with her friends right. I pondered whether I should make her at least look at Rick more favorably, but that wouldn’t have fit the character.

Yeah, that was a weird mistake, don’t even know how I made it. I corrected it and some of the others pointed out, so thanks for the tips, guys. Awkward wording is one of my key problems. English is only my second language and I haven’t been able to get my sentences straight for the better part of a decade. I still haven’t given up hope though.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 2: Hopes And Dreams (25.12.15)

For someone who learned English second, you’re doing remarkably well. I’m pretty sure you’re one of the absolute best foreign authors I’ve seen try to write in English, ABDL or not.

Frankly, I have more mistakes per chapter than you, and I’m a savant in English (savant because I suck at pretty much everything else, but I’m better than everyone I know at this one thing) who learned it as my first language. Although to be fair, almost all of mine are typos and I usually don’t edit my own stuff before posting it.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 2: Hopes And Dreams (25.12.15)

If countless hours of reading creepypastas has taught me anything it’s that a website with an unspeakable address can only lead to good things.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 2: Hopes And Dreams (25.12.15)

This one was hard to write and it probably shows. Next chapter will have more stuff happening, so that’s going to be awesome. Anyway, have the next installment of this weird thing I’m writing.

Chapter 3
A Fast Morning

Her heartbeat was the worst part. With every step she took through her apartment she felt the pounding within her chest. Her hands trembled, and not from the cold. Leslie found herself hurrying towards the kitchen where she grabbed one of the two chairs she owned. As she did that, Leslie cursed herself and the bathroom mirror, because she was sure it was too small and hung too far up for her now.

Worst of all, she was shrunken. Leslie knew that much, but whether it was because of that wish she’d given on the site or for some other reason, she couldn’t say. Back in the bedroom, once she turned on the lights she found her legs and arms skinny, her hands small and the veins that were so obviously placed before were hidden beneath the skin now. The freckles that ran past her shoulders far more overt than before too and there was also less hair on her body. Still, she decided to doubt her wish had come true, even though no reason came to mind what else could have happened.

“And on a fucking monday morning too,” she grumbled as she dragged the chair into the bathroom and climbed on it.

It was an unsteady affair and she had to keep one hand on the chair’s back to keep her balance, but at least she got the chance to finally have a look at her face. Her own, brown eyes stared right back at herself, a reflection of youthful awe on her face as her doubts were washed away in wave of indisputability. Her hair was a wild mess that came ever so close to touching her shoulder and together with that round face of hers, she found herself looking almost boyish.

The best part was her freckles, though. They were plastered on her face like someone had emptied a pepper caster on it. She looked like her child-self, down to the hair and the small stature. Ten was about a year before puberty reared its head, she remembered, and a year before she started growing into an average individual with absolutely no excelling qualities.

There were no words to describe what she saw, really, or at least she could find none to describe what she felt at the sight of herself. Leslie just gazed in a mirror, clad in a turquoise–and boring looking–nightshirt where the neck of it dropped down her shoulder. “I’m so tiny,” she stated with more glee than she originally intended, her grin almost too wide.

She was stricken by the thought that this was her wish come true, that she wasn’t old anymore. “Jesus fucking Christ in heaven,” she noted, poking at her cheeks.

This was something good, right? Leslie noted how she felt better looking at herself, and yet the moment she made that observation, another thought creeped up on her. If her pajamas were too big for her, wouldn’t that also stay true for the rest of her wardrobe?

“Oh fuck no,” she told to her mirror-self, who looked just as shocked at the thought.

She jumped off the chair and landed with a cat’s grace. Her knees bent, but she only noticed the absence of pain. Once more, a smile flashed across her face as she tried to quietly hurry through her apartment and into her bedroom. There, she opened her wardrobe. Her two business suits, her arrangement of pants and shirts, her jackets and even her damn socks and underwear, they were all still the same size as before.

Suddenly she felt the confidence spilling from her like water from a bottle filled with holes.

Her breath halted and she took a moment to look at the clock. It spelled out that it was still only half past 5, although she heard the neighbours to the right stir and grumble and make coffee. She had time until 7 to figure out what to do, considering she needed to be at work today. What options did she have? Even if she could miraculously arrange her clothes in a way that would fit her now, nobody at work would recognize her. Unless she shifted all of reality with her wish, which she didn’t even want to test out. And if she didn’t come? Her boss would fire her, her co-workers would gossip like the hens they were and Clara. …

Leslie shook her head, even calling in would be weird. At best, she could pretend to be her own daughter, which was already a horrible lie, but it would drag attention towards her. The police might come, her boss would fire her, she’d lose her home and would, if she didn’t change back soon, presumably end up in an orphanage or the like.

“I’m proper fucked,” she said, listening to her high-pitched voice, staring at the finely laid out clothing before her.

Maybe she could still try to call. If Lara or Joanne were on the other end, she could probably just tell them it was the flu that made her voice sound so high. They were idiots, after all, but if it was Yoon or that other woman, then they’d catch on immediately.

Even if she somehow managed to deal with work, she would still need clothing. She couldn’t go out like this. What would Asad say? He knew that all her relatives had long since passed on, god bless none of them. How would she explain that little, redheaded girl who came from her apartment. Even worse, how would she explain that she had no bloody clothing?

Suddenly, this situation was becoming less and less ideal. And it was cold.

Leslie grumbled and walked over to the radiator, touching it and feeling what little warmth it offered. Some days she wondered if the only way to heat her room properly would be to start a fire, but decided that instead of doing that, she could just grab her blanket and move back to the couch. There, she could think on what she could do next.

Her mobile phone lay on the couch. As Leslie spotted it, she remembered that somebody had attempted to call her just as she woke up. After seating herself, she curled herself up beneath the blanket and made a grab for her phone. Someone left her two messages and she’d gotten one call from the same number, though, despite looking at it, she couldn’t make out any numbers.

That alone was reason enough to not call them back, Leslie figured. She knew it had to do with the site and whatever was going on, she doubted that immediately jumping further into this mess would lead to the betterment on the her situation. So instead she checked up on her messages.

The first one had arrived at midnight, right as the clock had struck twelve. She couldn’t make out the number again, but decided to check it out anyway. As long as she didn’t answer anymore questions for now, she should be fine, right?

She opened the message and it offered a simple text.

>>Congratulations, Leslie Audet. Your Desire Struck True And You Are One Of The Seven Who Won. When You Are Ready, Return To The Site And Start Shaping The Path You Chose.

There was a link beneath the message. Don’t click it, she thought, her tiny body shaking beneath the now large shirt. So she just swiped it away and looked at the next message. This one came from Rick.

>>Please do not call on this day, my phone does not work. I will talk to you once I have acquired a new one.

She looked at the message, her fingers subconsciously rubbing her left temple.

“Motherfucker,” she mumbled and leaned back.

She didn’t know whether his wish had been fulfilled, but then again, how would he be able to tell the difference? Something like a burst of determination wasn’t that wondrous, even for him, and vastly different from changing into a kid. Calling him had been an option she hadn’t considered before, but it was moot anyway. As far as answers to her predicament were concerned, there was only one way left.

“Start shaping your path, huh,” she mumbled, eyes on the ceiling.

Leslie bit her lip, thought about what could happen. There were multiple options, on one hand, she could get an explanation of how to deal with this situation and on the other, she presumed the worst case scenario to be that she needed to sell her soul to the devil. Not that she was a believer, but she did just wake up as a kid. At this point, anything could be considered fair game.

The house around her slowly resounded with the people waking up one by one. She heard steps above, peppered with silent curses about “that bitch and her alarm clock” downstairs. Somewhere down the corridor, somebody’s shower was turned on and it crashed against the ceramic. Worst of all, she was running out of time.

Her hands were shaking, so she folded them, clutching the phone tightly. Maybe she should just get it over with. There had been something written about consequences to the wishes and maybe this was just one. First up was finding out more about what exactly had transpired, then she could figure out what to do next.

Yes, that sounded good, Leslie thought, wiggling her toes. They were so bloody small now, too.

She opened up the message from the unknown number. The light of the phone flashed up in her face and for a moment she cursed herself for needing to do this at such an early time.

The site came open once more, yet it looked completely different from before. It was dyed in a soft pink hue, with hearts and flowers on the borders and a red headed cartoon girl holding up a series of colored blocks that spelled out:

Welcome

The girl wore her hair in the same shaggy manner Leslie did and to that, blue shortalls together with two knee socks, one striped blue, the other striped pink. Beneath her stood the words: “Leslie Audet, A Child Again, Started On Her Path”

Nothing more, however, and so Leslie found herself scrolling down and down and down and down again. She found naught but a void of pink with cute border designs. It took her some thirty seconds until she reached another piece of text, written in an elaborate font that seemed almost like actual handwriting.

“Dear Leslie,” she read it out loud, “The path you chose leads you down whatever road you want to take, but the You that was created tonight cannot be changed anymore. What you saw in the mirror,” she stopped for a moment, there was something crawling down her spine, it had a thousand tiny legs. She shuddered, then kept on reading. “What you saw in the mirror was your truest wish and you will re-shape the world with it.”

What that meant, she couldn’t say, but this wasn’t the end of the site. She scrolled further, past more emptiness. It was almost relaxing to look at it. After a bit she started to think that this site, for all its horrible design choices, was almost hypnotic.

“Dear Leslie,” she spoke loudly as she hit the next batch of text. “From this day forth you have left your old life behind. You are a wishmaker. If you truly desire that, don’t stop.”

Emptiness. It felt like home, like herself. The site was a garish color, flowers turned to toys and toys turned to an empty black field. The site became nothing but a dark void with only three simple things to tell her.

“Your phone will allow you to write out a wish once every sunday, tuesday and thursday eve. The wishes will always come true on the next morrow. They will last for seven days. All except the very first one. That one set you on your path.”

“The wishes are needed to be written out as follows: From This Day Forth … Formulate around that. The wishes need to be centered around you and need to be true to the path you chose.”

“The path you chose and the power invested in you may grant you what you desire most, but know that all wishes hold consequences. If you do fail on your path, or do not the conviction to press on through. …”

A black void came up for a few second. Leslie’s mouth twisted, the pause seemed unnecessary.

“You Will Be Left Here And The Consequences Will Swallow You And All You Hold Dear.”

She stared at that for but a moment, giggling at the attempted suspense and then found the button beneath it. It read: “Download Wishmaker application”.

So this was what was going on. Through luck or whatever she’d gotten the chance to turn her life around with three text messages a week. Leslie blinked, not quite believing what she just read. She looked at the rules again and then flicked her finger so that the site would scroll up once more.

This time, she immediately found herself at the very start again, with the young girl holding colored blocks, smiling at her brightly. “Started on her path,” she said out loud.

Leslie threw off the covers to look at herself again. So tiny, so fragile looking. It was a strange sensation, but it felt better than her adult body had. There wasn’t any pain to it, and no more wrinkles. She doubted her period was going to happen anytime soon, either.

She looked like a child again, she could smile at her own reflection again and if she had more wishes, she could also make more changes. Whatever life she wanted before, now it was within her reach. After all, the first wish had already come true. It was cold, but sweat was running down her brows. She grimaced. It’s fine.

Leslie pressed the button, even though her fingers trembled. A second later she rationalized it further. As the app hit the first percent, she told herself that it was necessary, as it hit two, she told herself she could be whomever she wanted to be with this chance.

Yet her internet was slow and Leslie soon found herself walking around the room, her phone lying on the couch. The wooden floor creaked beneath her feet, while she felt the cold growing evermore. She bit her lip again, wondering what she could do. The idea came as sudden as a lightning strike.

She hadn’t told Asad everything about her life, right? He knew that she had lots of friends in her college years, had been romantically involved with quite a few men. He didn’t know everything, right? Maybe she could go down the stairs, talk to him.

She frowned. Small kid in an adult’s nightshirt complaining about heating, that seemed more like a sure-fire way to be the house’s topic of conversation for days to come. Yet, she needed to do something. Staying here for two days wasn’t an option, somebody would notice.

“What the fuck am I doing?” she asked aloud.

No, really, what was she doing? Pacing up and down in her apartment until that download would finish wasn’t going to solve her immediate problem. She was probably just overthinking how much she’d talked about her life, or how much Asad ever listened to any of her shit. Plus, from what she knew about him, he was well-stocked in clothing, because people from his extended family often came to stay at his place for a longer period of time. He’d said something about a niece twice-removed that should’ve been about the age Leslie thought her body to be.

And if she was going to remain a child, he’d find out about her presence sooner or later. “Might as well make it on my terms,” she said, her teeth started to chatter.

Strange how cold it’d gotten.

Ignoring that, she went for the door, fully aware that she wore naught but a shirt. It didn’t matter, she could just come up with something on the fly. She was good at making up stuff on the fly.

Maybe.

A moment later she made a grab for her secondary key, which she kept in a boot she never used anyway. After that, without really thinking about it, she left the safety of her home and stood in the middle of the battered floor. Someone upstairs was using the shower, though it sounded more like they tried to crack open their floor. Honestly, it was a wonder that the house still stood.

Everybody else was probably still within their own apartments and Leslie was thankful for it. That way, she could just quietly go down the stairs with nobody commenting on that weird, half-dressed child.

As she took the turn on the floor beneath hers she heard Asad’s voice down below. “… threatening me?”

She stopped as she heard that, blinked. What?

“All I’m sayin’ is that you gotta be careful, you know?” A stranger’s voice sounded from below.

Leslie bit her lip and took another step, then one more. Quiet as a cat she moved down, taking all steps until the stairs winded, there, she went down to her knees and took a peek at who was standing there.

Asad stood in the door of his apartment, wearing an expensive looking bathrobe over his pajamas. He stared angrily at a lean, blonde man with a mustache that seemed misplaced on his face. To that, he wore a white suit with a bright green shirt underneath, a white tie and a pair of shoes that looked both really expensive and really ugly. With the blonde man stood a taller, more muscular bald guy who tried his hardest to look intimidating.

“Why would I do business with Moore if all he can do is send empty threats? Go back to him and give him my regards.” Asad said, his fist trembling with anger.

The blonde man looked down, a nervous smile on his lips and then he simply shrugged. “Alright, if that’s how you want to play. But this entire district is going to be remodelled soon enough, you might stand the tide better if you chose your friends well.”

“Give him. My regards,” was all Asad said to that, his voice like ice.

The blonde man sighed and then turned his head, his eyes finding Leslie, who, caught in the moment, hid herself around the corner.

“Right, then. A good day to you, Mister Faqir.”

His eyes had been green and the smile on his lips died long before it reached them. Loan Sharks? Perhaps, but maybe something even worse. Not that it mattered, not to her, she needed to move now.

Leslie took one deep breath and then she got up and started to move down the stairs. Asad, who was still eyeing the blonde guy and his friend, heard her. He turned around, for a moment attempting a smile to play down his discomfort, but then he saw what came down the staircase.

It must’ve been quite the sight, considering how his eyes widened for a moment. The question was clear, since he knew every person in this house. Who was she? Then, whose was she? If he found an answer, he shook his head in disbelief at it.

“Morning,” she said as she stepped onto the floor, the cold air from the opened front door reaching her legs.

“Morning, kid. Who sneaked you in here?”

“Mom,” Leslie answered immediately and with that she knew what sort of story she could spin.

Asad tried to not react, tried not to eye her suspiciously. He failed. “Who’s your mom, then?” His voice was stern.

She stayed quiet for a moment, looked down at her feet. Her legs were shaking ever so slightly. “Leslie Audet,” she said then.

Now he was surprised. “Ah, that so? Didn’t she had one.”

“Mom was surprised, too,” she said with a grin, her eyes only going up to his chest. “But dad insisted that I could come. So she relented.”

He gave a nod, but his entire expression was that of a man who didn’t understand the sight of it. “Well, good for you, kid. What’re you doing out here, wearing one of her shirts?”

She found her feet again, but only for a second, before she looked up again. “I didn’t have my pjs, so mom lent me hers. It’s almost like a dress,” she said, spreading out her arms as if to present herself.

“Kind of,” he answered with a strange twist to his mouth. “But then why are you walking around with your pajamas?”

She shrugged. “Mom left with them.”

“What? Why?”

She shrugged again.

Asad stared at her for a moment, clearly not knowing what to do. “When did she leave?”

Another shrug. “I woke up and she was gone. She wrote that she’d be back, but I don’t know when.”

There was a quiet moment between them and then he looked up at the ceiling. Leslie wondered whether he was asking Allah for guidance, even though she’d never taken him for someone religious. Then he sighed. “How about I lend you some clothes. I’ve got some from a relative of mine.”

Leslie couldn’t help but smile. A part of her felt bad for lying, but this was for the best and he was as trusting as she’d hoped. One day, she’d pay him back for this. “Would that be alright?” she asked, however. As much as she hoped, there was no reason to be rude.

“Yes, it’s perfectly fine,” he answered and showed her in. “I’m Asad Faqir and you?”

“Lee King,” she answered, thinking Robert the most likely candidate for any affair that involved an illegitimate child.

Asad’s apartment looked far better than any other part of the house, or at least better than her own. The walls were filled with pictures of people and places Leslie didn’t know, the carpet in the living room was made by an uncle who’d taken his business to france after running from his distant home. The furniture looked old and, in Leslie’s opinion, kind of stylish. As she entered she noticed the whole place smelled of vanilla.

“Come on,” he said and she followed him to the room which he kept for family.

It was probably a large room, were it not for the four different wardrobes and the two beds stuffed in there. What room remained was little enough to walk and open the drawers. Yet she noticed how neatly the beds were done. The sheets were fresh and not a single speck of dust had settled here. Asad really cared for how tidy his place looked, more so than Leslie ever did.

He pointed at one of the wardrobes. “I’ll let you borrow the stuff from within. Take what you need today, but I’ll expect it back tomorrow. Clean,” he said, his voice offering no hint at what he thought about this whole situation.

Leslie nodded. “Thank you,” she said, “Mister Rafiq.”

He gave her a small smile as he squeezed past her, his belly touching against her nose. The man was in honest need of a work out.

At least he was comfortable enough to let her stay without supervision. It made her wonder whether it was because she claimed to be Leslie’s daughter? Did he have any faith left in her? They hadn’t talked often over the past year or so, after all.

She shook her head and went for the drawers, going through the clothing. She picked out two striped articles of underwear, a pair of jeans that fit her well enough with a belt, a pair of socks, and a plain, yellow shirt with long sleeves. Most other articles weren’t appropriate for the season, but Leslie wasn’t going to complain. Every article was put on with care, though the shirt’s sleeves and the pants’ legs seemed a bit too long, but the latter she simply rolled up a bit, while the former were really just optimal for the cold.

She did not need a mirror, Leslie figured as she looked down, because she was surely rocking this style anyway. Take away the grey in my hair and I can fit into everything, she thought with a smile.

The girl closed the wardrobe and turned around again, spotting a picture on the wall behind her. On it was a prepubescent girl, standing together with her family in a different house. She recognized Asad, though he look a bit younger, his expression lifeless.

There were other people. She recognized a few of them, from a dinner Asad had invited her to, some four years ago. Another horrible experience she didn’t want to remember.

So she instead moved out of that room and found Asad standing in the hallway that connected everything in the apartment. He leant against the wall in an attempt not to look awkward, but he probably was.

“So, you found something to your liking?” He said, scanning her slowly, his expression softening as he did.

“Yeah,” she said. “Thanks again. It’s much more comfy if you got socks on.”

Leslie wiggled her toes, she was happy to feel them again.

“I bet. Well, I would invite you for a hot cocoa, but business calls me and you should probably head back up. Your mom’ll be worried sick if you aren’t there.”

She smiled. “Yes, you’re right. Thanks again, Mister Rafiq.”

He smiled in return. “Faqir, like the people who sleep on beds of nails, kiddo.”

They exchanged their goodbyes and moments later, Leslie found herself walking up the stairs again, her smile not vanishing. In fact, it was growing. “It worked,” she mumbled, feeling the cloth of the shirt against her skin.

She got inside her apartment, closed the door behind her and then broke out in laughter. “He didn’t recognize me. My fucking god, this is brilliant.”

She would’ve loved to raise her voice, but she heard someone walking up above, and that someone was talking, too. Well, it wasn’t like anybody would care. Even Asad believed her story, so why shouldn’t all the other people who lived here? In fact, she could probably go outside now.

Of course, she didn’t have either boots or a jacket now.

Her laughter died immediately as the realization sunk in. She couldn’t just stay here now. Leslie needed a solution.

“Can’t go and ask him for help on that. So, another way.”

She looked at the pairs of shoes that waited by the door. None of them would fit her feet, her tiny, kiddy feet.

Just at that moment, her alarm clock went off. She heard the annoying beep-ing of it and jumped up immediately, rushing across the room to shut it off. With a curse she hit it and knew that her time was up. Should she call in at work?

“No,” she decided immediately. “I’ll do that later, when I’ve got the rest of my situation figured out.”

The rest meant clothing, for the most part, and some food. She needed a jacket, needed shoes. So maybe a trip to the shopping mall would help her think, maybe it would present her with new opportunities. Either way, this body was much like a new car in that she wanted to take it out on a test drive and the mall at the town center was perfect for that.

She went for her own wardrobe and grabbed the smallest jacket she could find, rolling the sleeves up so that they better fit her. It wasn’t much, but at least she would only look a bit ridiculous. Next she grabbed her phone from the couch and looked a bit around for her purse, finding it in the pocket of the pants she wore yesterday.

One pair of boots fit her at least well enough to walk in them, she found after trying each pair out. Right now, that was the best she could hope for. Yet, as she found herself standing in shoes much too big for her, Leslie couldn’t help but look at her apartment with a sense of distance.

“Shit,” she told herself as she thought how quick she was to accept this mess. “I hate this place.”

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 3: A Fast Morning (04.01.16)

This chapter, despite not changing the setting at all did quite a bit to advance the plot and characters. Good job!

It was really good how pragmatic she’s being. She’s got to talk herself out of an impossible situation. Instead of going straight to elated fantasy land, she’s still grounded in her real life, even though her wish has been granted.

There are a couple of nice touches, like how she gets Asad’s name wrong on purpose, or how we hear the noises her neighbors are making.

Asad is now a much more interesting character. He’s got all this family that he’s left behind, hopefully it’ll become a bit clearer what happened that might’ve driven him to live alone in a crummy apartment building. He’s also under pressure from these mob guys. Not sure what they’re trying to make him do, and I sort of hope it stays as a B plot… but it’s nice to see his integrity on display.

Lastly, not sure if this is something you were really thinking of, but it’s really appropriate to have her fresh start come right around New Year’s Day.

Really looking forward to more.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 3: A Fast Morning (04.01.16)

it appears to me that the ‘Mob Guys’ are working on behalf of some real estate tycoon trying to buy out the city, with Assad standing in their way. I’ll be interested in how that thread ties into the story, keep up the good work.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 3: A Fast Morning (04.01.16)

Your writing style is phenomenal, I love it! You give details to all the right things, your sentence structuring is easy to read, and you very fluidly go from scene to scene. I have high hopes for this story, and pray you get the recognition I believe this story deserves.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 3: A Fast Morning (04.01.16)

This is a good story so far I’m wait to see more of it. Keep up the writing u r pretty good at it

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 3: A Fast Morning (04.01.16)

Chapter 4
The Place Where Their Paths Converge

She could hear the song from the boy’s mp3-player, some strange sort of electronica that was more noise than music. The youth himself attempted to sleep through the train ride, his school bag rested between his feet. Usually, she wouldn’t have paid much attention to another passenger, but usually she would just stand by the door and wait for the train to reach her station. Leslie found today different, however, if only for reasons that weren’t entirely in her comfort zone.

People noticed the kid wearing both a jacket and shoes that were too large for her size and every time the train halted, new people would come in and look at her as if she was the strangest thing they’d ever seen. It only ever lasted a few seconds, then they decided to not be bothered any further. That was the glory of a large city, she figured, nobody really cared about all the things that didn’t directly involve them.

The walk to the train had made two things abundantly clear to her: Shorter legs were a bit of a pain and too large shoes were even worse. Even now her legs were dangling from the edge of the seat and the boots felt so close to slipping off. She half-wondered how tall she was, but somewhere around 4 feet something was a possibility. I forgot how tiny I was at ten, she thought with a bitter twist to her mouth. At least it provided a mild entertainment for all those people around her.

There were two more teenagers who’d strategically placed themselves opposite to her, holding hands and exchanging giggles. They appeared shy in their love, but the ability to make fun of a stranger brought them closer, as was evident by them kissing each other after a few jokes that were probably at Leslie’s expense. It left a bad taste in her mouth, but teens would be teens and she could hardly challenge them for having a bit of fun.

Instead, she decided to do it as her seat neighbour and just threw her head back. The ceiling lights felt like a fire to her eyes, but closing them helped. All that remained was a white tinted nothingness and the sounds of morning train ride.

Someone was calling another person on the phone, they talked about how horrible mondays were, but followed that up with a laugh. Another person read a newspaper, she knew, close to the two lovers opposite to her, and another sat close by, looking at the articles from the side. Leslie turned her head slightly, opened one eye and watched a woman who looked at her wristwatch. She wore makeup and a business suit, even her hair was done neatly. Leslie couldn’t help but smile at that.

It might’ve been a meeting she was headed to, or maybe an interview. She looked young, so maybe this was her first. Leslie didn’t know how she felt about that. Don’t think about tomorrow, try to stay in the now.

She turned her head back and stared at the ceiling again. Time went by and nothing happened. Some people got off, some new got in. A man on a phone loudly talked about “them” being “all up in his ass”, a young girl and her father halted by the door, talking about what they would do after the visit to the doctor was done.

Had this city always been so lively?

The doors swung open again, people left, people came. It wasn’t something she usually took note of, but now the girl couldn’t help but look at all these strangers, how their lives converged on this ride. Some people laughed, fewer smiled, most didn’t show any emotion at all. Usually, a redheaded woman stood by the door, watching the stations go by one by one, without ever looking anywhere but where she needed to go.

She looked at her hands and saw how clearly they belonged to a child. If she was completely honest with herself, the weirdest part was how it didn’t feel strange. They were her hands, more so than before. The missing ache in her knee, how huge the world looked now compared to before, it all seemed natural to her. Once more she thought of how the messages had referred to this as her path. Was that why she felt so comfortable now?

Leslie Audet, much like anyone in a similar position such as her, had thought thought often and hard about why it all appealed to her; the cute dresses, frilly socks, bath toys, pacifiers and diapers. Her childhood was a blur where the most poignant moment was clad in a red blaze and smelled of burning flesh. At one point or another she figured that her Little had nothing to do with that past, or rather, it wanted nothing to do with it. It was an idealized child.

Was her “path” like that, too?

She got her phone out again and checked the download. While it was done there were no hints about a file, no .exe or any new buttons to press. Leslie didn’t quite know what to make of that, so she decided to instead just go back to the site, not that she expected to reach it, what with her being in the subway and all.

Of course, the moment her fingers moved as if guided by some knowledge that only they had, she figured that the connection would probably not be a problem. A second later she found herself staring at that cartoon version of herself. She felt a smile creep up on her face again as she looked at it.

An idealized childhood, or rather one where she wasn’t supervised by peers who either tried their hardest to set her back or just plainly didn’t care, that wasn’t so bad. She just needed this to work.

“Next stop: Starstone Street,” came the automated voice and a moment later the train slowly came to a halt.

It was her station, so she got up and awkwardly walked to the door, earning more curious looks from strangers she would never recognize on the street again. The station was below the earth and so she took the stairs up to where the world was covered in a thick layer of snow. The cold air brushed against her cheeks and buried her hands in pockets that had never seemed as deep before.

The jacket was almost a coat for her new body, which, for once, was a blessing. Yet every step felt strange and she cursed herself for never buying shoes in kid’s sizes. Not that it would’ve made much sense, but she needed to complain anyway. It made her feel better.

Starstone Street was called that way ever since a meteorite had fallen down here in the nineteen twenties or thirties. The story had it that it tore open the old road, forcing the legislation to renew it after putting it off for many years. There were many stories about what happened to the “Starstone” after its fall. Some said that it disappeared into the air before anyone could find it, others talked about how it was taken by a local group of children. Urban legends surrounded the street and even more so, they surrounded the mall.

The Starstone Mall was the modern center of the city. The best cafés and restaurants could be found there, as well as shops for almost anything the world had to offer. An old lady offered local fish as well as more expensive export food from warmer southern nations, another shop was filled to the brim with all sorts of music instruments. There were guitars, drums, pianos, she even saw a pungi in there. There was a bookstore that seemed too ancient for the building itself and an ice cream vendor who came up with the strangest flavors.

There was more to it than the shops though, there were stories. Everyone in the story knew one or two about this place and hardly any matched up save for a few details. Some said that strange apparitions roamed the mall in the night, chained to the place by regret and bitter wrath at deeds that remained unaccomplished; or of how a child could sometimes be heard weeping as it looked for the remnants of the Starstone.

Truth was, it was another thing she hadn’t really considered before. She hardly ever came here, there was a supermarket in her district and what clothing she had was close to ten years old. The last time she’d been in the mall was already half a year gone, though she still remembered the singular day she spent here, once upon a time.

A silent curse was on her lips as she made her way to the next traffic light, from where she crossed the streets, wary eyes following her every step. She wasn’t quite sure why so many people took an interest, but figured that everybody expected children to walk to school around this time and not to the mall. Nobody halted her, nobody talked to her, she was perfectly aware of how little they actually cared and so she could take her steps with a confidence that came almost easy.

Most shops inside opened at around 8 AM, most of them except for some few that were only open in the night and one café which offered breakfast from 6 to 10. As such, she entered the gateway and went into the mall without stopping even once. Yet she spotted only four other people. Two went past her on their way, one was looking at the map close to the entrance and another sat before the fountain.

The Starstone Mall was built like a crossroads, shops to all sides, packed into multiple floors. At the center was the fountain. Truth be told, it was older than the mall, having been built way before the twentieth century. Back when this had been a marketplace, it had been the heart, but now it only served as a worn-out looking decor that didn’t quite fit in the modern exterior.

She walked towards it, intending to sit down there, at least for now. Her eyes were on the person who already sat on the fountain’s edge, twiddling with his thumbs as he presumably waited for the same event as Leslie. Yet the shops wouldn’t open for a while longer.

Leslie sat down a bit away from him, her feet not even touching the ground. She kind of hoped that her new size would at least mean the shoes would be affordable. Water fell from the figures carved out of stone. The faces they once bore were lost already, some had lost their arms, others were but silhouettes that only roughly reminded her of people. The fountain was considered a piece of the city’s culture. She wondered if that was the reason why the voices for renewal were so loud. This culture was so damn old.

“The one with the beard’s Poseidon,” her neighbour suddenly said, looking at her with eyes as black as coal.

She turned her eyes to him. At least she figured him male on first sight, though his face had a softer, almost feminine vibe to it. She didn’t consider him much older than twenty, though he was one of those asians from the farthest east. Age wasn’t something read on the skin with those types, she figured. He wasn’t all that tall, but compared to how she looked he might’ve well been a giant. His clothes were as casual as they could get, a sweater and tracksuit pants, and a coat laid beside him too. The one strange thing about him was that his haircolor was the same as hers, a bright red, though he wore it in a much shorter fashion.

Those moments of looking at him suspiciously she also used to figure out her answer. She knew that it was Poseidon, she even still remembered that he’d been a god, a roman one if she was to guess at the moment. Mythology had never been something that interested her.

“I know. The romans worshipped him,” she gave as an answer, together with a sly smile.

She wasn’t quite so sure why she was starting a conversation, either, but after all those stares, someone actually opening their mouth and acting like she existed was a welcome change.

He shrugged. “Close enough. The romans called him Neptune, in their own fashion. Poseidon was actually his greek name.”

Leslie found herself looking at the statue he meant. An old man, standing in sea shells, baring an empty fist at the heavens. “But it’s still the same guy,” she then stated.

The boy nodded. “In a way, yeah, though the romans viewed him differently than the greeks and the people who built the fountain viewed even more different.”

“How’d they view him?” She asked, turning her eyes back at him.

“Apparently some dude who would look awesome as the centerpiece of their artwork.”

A slight giggle escaped her, it made him smile too. “I think he looks cool,” she told the boy, noticing how childish the statement sounded just by being said by a child. “But also a bit boring. He’s just an old guy.”

“The statue had muscles once, and a crown, and a trident. Time wasn’t to kind to him though, or Poseidon did some smiting because he wasn’t pleased with the figure. Not enough goat sacrifices I presume,” he told her light-heartedly.

Once more she giggled and then looked to the ground. One of the boots was slipping off again, damn the bloody thing. Still, she found talking easier on herself. My own voice isn’t as annoying as it was, so that’s a good thing. Not only that, this also was a good test, whether she could keep up the facade, not that she expected any complications. If she acted too mature, she would simply be labelled as a creepy sort of kid and then he’d be done with her, if she acted too immature, she figured he’d assume her to be weird.

“Anyway,” he said after a while. “Why’re you alone at the mall and that so early in the morning?”

“Cause I need new shoes,” she answered, again opting for the easy truth.

He looked at the ones she wore and could only nod. “They do seem a bit big for you.”

“They’re my mom’s,” she answered again and his eyes went from her shoes to her eyes and then back again. She giggled and hearing her voice sounding like that filled her with a sort of glee. “I played too much. I broke one pair of shoes and lost another. Mom sent me here with hers, said it was a punishment.”

“That’s a weird way to punish a child,” he noted.

She smiled at him and then pulled the boot that was about to fall off from her feet, placed it between them to show how large it was compared to her feet. His astounded look made her laugh. “I feel bigger when I walk in them. Sort of like a big, boot-wearing monster. A Boonster, or Bootser, I guess.”

“A Boonster?”

“Yeah. It’s Boot and Monster combined. It’s the cleverest pun!”

She made fists with her hands to emphasize how awesome this was, an action which lead to him stifling a laugh. “You’re a weird kid.”

“I’m a boonster, though.”

The young man went by the name John and Leslie also gave him her first name. He was here to get some clothes too, as it turned out, because his girlfriend didn’t like what he usually wore. After she found out that detail, they went back to talking about greek mythology, or rather him teaching her about it.

Time passed quickly like that and soon the shops, one after the other started opening up. The lone pharmacist loudly proclaimed that he’d gotten the requested pills for the worker who opened the gates for the local supermarket, which was then followed by a comment how they would come and get them, but they just didn’t feel like it. It was probably meant as a jest about depression, but nobody laughed, which was probably the real joke. The dynamic duo, thin Selma and fat Julia, opened their lingerie business together, both examining the state of the mall with faces painted in disgust. Honestly, they were quite nice inside the shop, but the moment they left, they made an effort to look like the most evil witches this side of hell.

People didn’t swarm in, but rather walked in drop by drop. Students who had time to kill, businessmen and -women who would soon head to new destinations, people who just didn’t need to go to work today, quite a few old people, mothers and/or fathers walking with babies on their hips started to fill the halls. As they all came walking in, John rose from his seat. “Alright. You know where you can get shoes, I assume?”

She nodded.

“That’s one important step towards adulthood. Do yourself a favor and don’t waste your money on toys. It might seem like a good idea, but your mother’ll do worse to you than just let you walk around town with her shoes,” he said.

“Don’t worry. I’m the incarceration of responsibility,” she said, immediately noticing that she’d gotten the word wrong. Damn brain.

“I’m not going to correct that,” he said before she could correct herself. “That statement is perfect in its own right. Either way, good luck with the shoes and have a nice day, Leslie.”

“Bye, Johnny,” she answered and waved as he left.

She put the shoe back on and got up herself, though her stomach immediately roiled up in an ugly display of hunger and her bladder made it known that it wanted to be emptied sometime soon. Leslie frowned, but decided to get to a cash point first, then the shoes and only then would she deal with the public toilets.

As she started to walk again, she found that the people stared at her queerly again. This time, it wasn’t uncomfortable for her. No, it hadn’t been that bad from the beginning. She was a moment in their lives and it did amuse her how shocked they were at the sight of her. I really must look like a boonster, whatever the hell that is.

Getting money was easy, even though the machine wasn’t build for people her height, which she considered ableist, if only because it impeded her. Yet she managed to get some paper money off her account, even though it stung seeing how tight her budget was.

The shoe shop was on the first floor and was just that, a shop that offered naught but shoes. She knew exactly where the children’s shoes were, as luck would have it. The few times she’d walked into the mall she found herself wandering to that specific corner to gaze at whatever the kids today wore, only to leave with her mood soured. Today was different. Today she walked in with her big boots, walked right up to the measurement tool for her feet and then got down to business.

The business wasn’t so good, though, as the prizes for most shoes were still horrifying, so limiting the choices she could make. In the end, she settled for a pair of black winter boots with pink floral motives that made them somewhat good looking. To that order, she added thick socks for the journey home. White with pale blue snowflakes and evergreen trees for pictures.

The cashier was professional enough and didn’t question where the kid got the money from, or at least supported Leslie’s cause for appropriately sized shoes. Either way, she got out as quickly as she got in, new shoes in a bag and her stomach rebelling against the lack of food, while her bladder acted like the stock-market before a financial crisis. Nevertheless, she first used the chance to put on her new shoes, revelling in the feeling of tiny shoes matching her tiny feet. This would enhance her running speed by a bit, so once Leslie had put the other boots in the bag she made to go on a search for the toilets, only to find her eyes staring at the pharmacy for a moment.

A thought rose up within her, and even though she knew that she should probably hurry, she decided to not immediately go for the toilets. Instead she walked through the crowds, where the people found her far less interesting now, and downstairs to the pharmacy.

Upon entering, the pharmacist tried to give her a smile, but didn’t really manage to get his muscles to work. So instead, he just kind of awkwardly stared at her from behind a bushy moustache. Leslie walked through the aisles, staring at the different medications and wares they had here.

Finally, she got to the aisle which offered what she was looking for. Wipes, baby food, bottles, it was like they packed everything they could in here. Those were not the things she was here for. No, what she looked for lay by the diapers. It never occurred to her before, but now that she looked the way she did it seemed like an odd choice. There were diapers for newborns, training pants for toddlers and, as they called them, pyjama pants for kids and teens. A parent probably didn’t think anything when shopping for these, but she had to wonder whether a child ever found it weird that their incontinence product, which were totally different from what babies wore (duh!) were nestled finely between diapers for said babies.

“It’s probably marketing,” she told herself, not really knowing if that even made sense.

It didn’t matter, either way, her bladder was starting to annoy her and she only wore borrowed clothing. There was no time to be embarrassed, she thought and grabbed a package of pull-ons in the smaller of two sizes. She quickly walked over to the cashier and now he smiled in a bit of a condescending way.

“Hello, young lady,” he said as she gave him the package so he could do his thing.

“Hi,” she said, grinding her teeth and shuffling awkwardly as the pressure caused a spasm of pain to go through her.

He took how she looked for embarrassment, clearly, and just continued to smile in such a way that she really wanted to punch him. She didn’t and instead just responded with an awkward smile at him.

There was a demand for money, she practically threw it at him and after she got her change back she just grabbed the package and made a run for it. She ran to the very center of the mall, turned in a circle once, and then again, the bag in one hand, and hugging the package with the other. What a sight she must’ve been, she figured while crossing her legs and praying to whatever gods heard her that the toilet sign would just pop up, but it didn’t.

So she made the next best move. Nobody knew her, nobody cared for her. Telling herself that, she walked up to a woman and announced herself. “Uhm, sorry, lady?”

The woman turned around, smiling like she just found the cutest little kitten she’d ever seen. “Yes, darling.”

“Could you tell me where the fucking toilet is?” She asked, loudly screaming Fuck! at herself in the far corners of her mind for using the f-word like that.

At least the smile vanished off the woman’s face. “You shouldn’t use such language.”

“Yeah, yeah,” she answered bitterly, dancing on her toes. “I’m having a bit of an emergency, so forgive me?”

The woman sighed and pointed to the western end of the mall. “You’ll find the toilets there,” she said.

Leslie nodded and hurried towards the direction, only to turn around again and take a bow. “Thank you, you’re a lifesaver!”

She didn’t wait for an answer, however. No, Leslie just ran until she reached the very end of the Starstone Mall, where the toilets were placed in some far off corner no sane person would ever notice. Honestly, who were the architects and what drugs had they taken?

That she needed to pay a fifty cents fee didn’t help matters, but after some fumbling through her wallet she managed to conquer that trial as well and with a ring she got a ticket to the sweet relief she was looking for. Honestly, if anything deserved to be put into a mythos it was this run for the toilet, for the last meters were the most epic yet, with every step feeling like it could be her last before the stock market dropped and the panties of Asad’s niece would be forever stained by her own inability to hold it in.

She found an empty stall, dropped her pants like a pro and a second later felt a bless she hadn’t known for many years. That moment was then followed by her looking down and checking whether her pants were still fine. They were, her underwear however, not so much. She found a dark patch on it and bit her lip. Leslie knew that she had to wash them anyway, but she hadn’t expected to overestimate her bladder like that. Smaller body, less able to do anything, except bend, I guess.

There was a lesson to be learned from this, but the important thing was that she didn’t want to wear damp underwear. So her eyes turned towards the package of pull-ons, with that picture of a girl hugging a pillow, a smile on her face. I wonder how many are disappointed by how little these things hold? she wondered, but knew that she wasn’t exactly in a position to judge. There was a fundamental difference between how she used diapers and someone suffering from enuresis did. Either way, she made a grab for it.

The package crinkled against the silence of the stall. If she opened it slowly, if someone else was in here, it would only attract unnecessary attention. Should she look for a changing station? No, that would have the same effect.

So, with a deep breath and one swift movement, the package ripped open loudly and she found herself staring at the cute little fairy and butterfly designs. She felt how the room got slightly warmer, her cheeks flushed.

Then came the steps, the steps and the sound of music. Another person with an mp3-player, she figured, listening to the so familiar work of AC/DC. Highway to hell? Leslie wondered as the person sat down in the stall next to her. “The fuck?” she asked as Brian Johnson’s voice reached her ears.

“Can you hear me?” she asked, but nobody answered.

This was perfect. With the noise, nobody would notice anything. “And nobody will know about the accident,” she told herself in a hushed voice, because now she felt daring enough for it.

She wiped and flushed quickly, before taking off her shoes, her pants and finally the panties. It felt weird to do it with someone in the stall right next to her, but she decided to continue on despite her gut feeling. She took one of the pull-ons out, unfolded it, stared at it for a second and then put it on as quickly as she could.

It wasn’t exactly thick, but again, there was a difference to how it felt compared to when she was an adult. Being tiny had its plusses, too. Either way, she looked at it for a moment, then nodded and put her pants back on. Once that was done and she was back in her shoes, she put the package in the bag, put on the jacket and moved away from the stall, only then noticing how the music had stopped playing. Since when she didn’t know, but it didn’t matter.

Leslie walked up to the sinks and soaked her hands with water. It ran through her fingers and fell unto white ceramic, rushing into the depth from there. Leslie stared at the drain as she rubbed her hands with soap. The entire world looked different now, she had been able to communicate with at least one person without wanting to break their nose and she felt the padding between her thighs, like a soft shield protecting her from all the bad things in the universe. Leslie felt small and in that, she found herself smiling at her mirror image, before looking at her hands again.

The person who listened to the AC/DC track flushed her toilet and then walked out, but Leslie didn’t feel like making eye contact. She heard the heels of the person’s shoes on the floor, they made a loud noise with every single step and she felt the presence of the pull-on evermore.

In the corner of her eye she saw how the person turned on the water tab.

“Say,” she said, her voice like steel wrapped in silk, “aren’t you a little too old to be having potty problems?”

There was the hint of a scottish accent to it, a hint that Leslie knew all too well. It stirred an anger within her, the thought of all the insults, all the petty little stabs at her ego over the past five years, but also a fear, because now, this person was an adult and she an actual child. This was the worst person she could’ve met here.

The water spilled from the woman’s hands and she gave Leslie the same smile as the pharmacist and the woman she asked for directions, like she was talking to some toddler. Her eyes, steel blue things that didn’t bother to hide her malice, were fixed on Leslie and made her feel even smaller.

“Nervous? Don’t be. At least you didn’t ruin your little pants, so that’s half a gold star, I imagine.”

Clara Sanchez olive skin looked as flawless as ever, one might hardly think that she was near her forties already. She had long, black hair that was, of course, perfectly done; an hourglass build with ample breasts and a fashion sense that allowed her to always accentuate her rear. Makeup, lipstick, even the perfume all worked to make her look even better and, as Leslie noticed now that she looked at her, made her seem quite intimidating, too. If there was one fault to her, then it was that she was tall and even that was more of an advantage. She was close to 6 foot, which made her seem gigantic from Leslie’s newfound position. Worst of all, Leslie’s arms were so scrawny that if she hit Clara in the groin, she probably wouldn’t notice, and that was just unfortunate.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 4: The Place Where Their Paths Converge (06.01.16)

Good chapter, a couple of small word choice issues that you should consider changing.

While it can be used to refer to winter clothing, the word mantle would be more often used to refer to a fancy robe or cape, particularly something fur-lined. Also, a place over your fireplace where you put pictures, or a thick, partially molten layer of the Earth. Those too.

A hole in your sink is not a sinkhole. It’s a drain. If you find a sinkhole in your sink, you need a new sink, and probably a new house too.

Also, not really anything wrong with it, but “Starstone Mall” sounds like the kind of derivative ‘word + word’ naming scheme I would normally associate with a Pokemon game. In general, I don’t know why the mall backstory is supposed to be important. Does the mall have special meteorite powers? If this meteorite was such a big deal to the community, why’d they build over the place it fell in the first place?

Anyway, sorry if I am coming off as a hard case, but the story is so good that odd little things like these jump out at me a lot more than they would in an inferior work.

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 4: The Place Where Their Paths Converge (06.01.16)

I’ve been reading this from the very start and I’m liking it, though I do feel the need to ask if it hasn’t been answered yet: how is it that Leslie doesn’t have any family?

To Chicken dinner: Just to share, star stones are also a variety of power source and possibly treasure in a cartoon I watched as a kid called “The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers”; they look like gold, but require special care to prevent them from becoming unstable and either exploding or disintegrating.

Just a thought: if Leslie can fit into bedtime pants, she might be able to fit into the largest size baby diapers produced, though that’s more of an observation than anything really.

MORE PLEASE!

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 4: The Place Where Their Paths Converge (06.01.16)

Thanks for pointing out the mistakes, I’ll do my best to avoid 'em in the future. And if not, you may direct all of your angry words at me directly. I’ll try my best not be personally offended and hunt down you and your ilk. :wink:

Don’t worry, I’ve got my reasons why I named it that and why I wrote so extensively about it. Long term plans and such.

We’ve got approximately 30+ chapters to go. While there’s some hints already planted, I want to wait with the details until we go a bit in. Dropping an exposition dump about that at this point would seem unnecessary and out of character for Leslie.

I had a thought like that too, but I’ll keep her in pullups for a bit longer, at least until diapers become necessary. :slight_smile:

Re: From This Day Forth - Chapter 4: The Place Where Their Paths Converge (06.01.16)

Notations acknowledged, THX Frostwyrm :wink: