So I got in a mood tonight and this happened. Yes, I am still working on Harmony Hills and Omutsu Crystal. This is just a fun side project (yes, a second side project) that can be taken less seriously but also I can use to stretch my creative muscles a bit. If Harmony Hills is my young readers series parody and Omutsu Crystal is a magical girl tokusatsu parody, consider this… Uhm…. artsy french film parody?
Canal et harmonie
La Maison de la Chameleon
The House of the Chameleon
I liked the way it felt. When the breeze passed through my short hair. With the top down our convertible was like a boat gliding along the long, narrow sea. The surface was a thick strip of old brick, but only I knew the truth. The road was an ocean, it was my secret that I shared with the earth.
This was a special day. Not just because we were moving, I knew that was coming for a few weeks. The special part of it was the surprise, when my mom said I could sit up front next to her. I had never been permitted to do so before.
I threw what few things I was carrying into the trunk and hopped into the backseat, but she said, “Charlie, come up and sit next to me.”
I smiled and didn’t hesitate. Even as a little kid I remembered sitting up front when we weren’t driving. I wasn’t behind the wheel, pretending to be the one in control like many little boys did.
I was happy enough to sit side by side with my mom.
As we left the big city and followed the moving truck out into the country, buildings became few and trees became many. The road, my ocean, was changing all around me.
I was excited, almost too excited.
“You okay?” my mom asked, glancing down at me for a second.
I smiled and nodded, but still squeezed my legs tight as my feet began to shake.
“We’re almost there,” she said.
Our new life was about to start. We would be in a new place, where no one knew who we were or what we were like. I could tell people things about my life and they would just have to believe me. Nothing too big, nothing ridiculous. I’d tried lying before and things did not go well.
I couldn’t make up stuff unless I made them true. Nobody ever called me Charlie until I started introducing myself as Charlie. Maybe I could shorten it more to just Char? Or create a new nickname for myself? “People at my old school called me Frankenstein,” I would say to them. And they would say, “There goes Frankenstein,” when I walked by.
But I liked being called Charlie. It was simple and no one questioned it. If I told people to call me Frankenstein, they may ask for a story behind the name. I could craft something real quick, about my above average grades in science or how I used to play with dead bugs and try to put them back together.
By the time we arrived, I felt the all too familiar feeling of dampness in my shorts. It was not visible, as my mom did not mention it or rush me inside to the bathroom. She gave me a box and told me to take it in, where the movers were already at work.
With each step I became more and more aware of the fact that my underwear was definitely wet, but luckily my basketball shorts were black and no one would be able to tell.
I examined the seat of our convertible as I got up. Nothing visible. Nothing that would leave a stain, nothing that wouldn’t dry before lunch time.
Just a small leak. I ignored it and looked up at our new home. It was an old fashioned house, surrounded by trees and made of old wood that seemed to be growing vines. In addition to the standard roof, a circular tower sprung from the site, with a pointed roof on top.
It looked like a wizard’s hat.
I carried my personal items up to my room. It was a vast, empty arrangement of walls and a floor. A few windows let light in from one side. None of my stuff was there, not even my bed.
I set the box down and opened it. The breeze was nice while in the car, but now it was hot out. I replaced my t-shirt, which was already too big on me, with a smaller tank top to match my basketball shorts and tennis shoes.
I stopped in the bathroom to make sure my leak was invisible. It did not occur to me to finish my business while I was in there.
I went downstairs, planning to ask my mom if she needed any help. I found her sitting on the one couch that had been brought in, enjoying a bottled tea she had grabbed at the convenience store on the way out of town. I had already finished my sports drink during the drive.
“The movers are handling things,” my mom said. “You can go and explore outside if you want. I think I saw a basketball hoop somewhere.”
I went out into the backyard. There was a stone path from the back door out into a nice patio area. Aside from a small garden that had overgrown, the backyard was empty. The patio furniture was in the back of the truck.
I walked to the front, passing a wooden swing on the porch, and out beyond the driveway.
The neighborhood was enclosed in a nice cul-de-sac, no cars would be coming or going that often. It was a safe place to play out on the street during summer days like this one.
I found the basketball hoop mom spoke of, it was in use by three boys about my age.
“Hey,” one of them said as I walked up. “Did you just move here? I’m Luke.”
I nodded and said, “I’m Charlie.” Luke was a bit taller than me and had black hair and dressed mostly in blue and white. I later found out those were the school colors.
“This is Joe,” Luke said of a blond kid wearing glasses. “And that’s Danny.” Danny was the shortest of the four of us. He had brown hair longer than mine and was kinda funny looking. I don’t know how to explain that, he was just funny looking.
“Wanna shoot some hoops?” Luke asked.
I joined in on their game and instantly realized I had missed my chance to identify myself by the name of a famous mad scientist. I guess I’d need to reinvent myself some other way.
“What grade are you in?” Joe asked. “Are you going to Oak Wood or Green Tree?”
“Are those schools?” I asked.
“Oak Wood is the public school,” Luke explained, “And Green Tree is a private school.”
“Me and Joe go to Oak Wood,” Danny said (he talked funny too.) “But Luke goes to Green Tree.”
“Oh,” I said. It made more sense now. “I think I’m going to Green Tree? Fifth grade.”
“You’ll be in my class then,” Luke said. “It’s a small class, there’s only like ten boys and only four of us play basketball, so we play on the Oak Wood team in their league. Are you gonna play basketball? You’re pretty good.”
I was good, and I was letting them in on that secret. I hated being good at sports, it got me unwanted attention. And now they knew my age and what school I was going to. I was running out of things I could change. Pretty soon I would end up just being me.
I’ve already been myself, normal Charlie. I wanted to be something different.
“If you join, we’d have a chance to beat the girls,” Luke said. “You see, even though we have a small number of boys who play basketball at Green Tree, all of the girls play. So even if we play on the Oak Wood team, we have to play against our own schools.”
“We wouldn’t have to play against girls at all,” Joe said, “But there aren’t enough teams in the league as it is.”
And that’s when it dawned on me. I had walked right into the ultimate plan. A plan to change myself and be someone else. I didn’t even have to say anything, they just assumed it all on their own.
I smiled. They took my excitement was an agreement to join the basketball team, which they began celebrating with cheers. I was simply celebrating that I had already achieved a new identity and it wasn’t even lunch time.
My small puddle in the car probably wasn’t even dry yet.
As soon as I reminded myself about my near accident on the ride here, the bladder tied itself in a knot and I felt my underwear getting wet and warm.
“Hey, I gotta go,” I quickly tossed the ball their way and headed off, “Still got a lot of unpacking and stuff,” I said from afar.
I was in a full speed run within seconds, they probably thought it was strange, but I felt like I sold it well. I was thankful once again that my shorts were black and loose. If we were just sitting in the grass, I probably could’ve let it out and not get caught. But if I stood there any longer they would’ve seen my obvious accident.
By the time I made it to the front door, my bladder was empty and my shorts were thoroughly soaked with invisible shame that only I could feel. Even my socks escaped wetness.
I moved passed the movers, each one looking up and sniffing with their noses as I ran by, and headed back into my room.
A few things had been set in my room, making it look smaller. My dresser, my bed, one of my two nightstands. All of the drawers were empty, so I went to that small box I had brought up from the car.
I dug through it and found what I was looking for: an open and half empty package of Goodnites. It was embarrassing, but better than nothing at the moment. I took one out and went into the bathroom.
I removed my socks and shoes, then tossed my shorts into a corner, followed by my underwear. I slid the Goodnite up my legs and secured it in place. I looked at myself again in the mirror. While it made them look more like baby diapers, I was glad they were the solid white, generic kind and not the ones with ridiculous, gendered designs on them.
I dashed back into my room and put on another pair of dark shorts from the box just before one of the movers came in.
“Got another one for you,” he said as he set the box down right in front of me, with the label in big bold letters staring directly at me. “Pretty name you got there.,” he said as he left.
“Pretty?” I mumbled under my breath. I sighed as I saw the name that was written on the box.
I preferred to wear comfortable clothes like basketball shorts. I preferred to keep my hair short rather than long. But most of all, I preferred to be called Charlie over Charlotte.