The front hall of the house shook with how the force that slammed the door shut. Loud, hard stomps thundered across the wooden floors without regard, steadily coming closer to the living room.
“I’m home.” A pouty female voice called shortly after she entered.
“Welcome home sweetie.” Caroline casually greeted from her seat like she hadn’t heard the obvious slamming of the door or the stomps. “Have a good day at school?”
The girl huffed. She was a petite little thing who looked barely older than fifteen. Thin, mid length brown hair bobbed at the end, and a cute but simple, poufy school dress on. A proper example of a girl her age, were it not for the intense scowl on her face. “Yes. Everything’s fine Mom.” She said in a voice that made it obvious it was in fact not fine. One of her loafers tapped impatiently on the floor. “I’ll be in my room if you need me.” The little brunette was quick to try and step towards the back of the house.
“Not so fast Annabelle.” Caroline’s genial expression remained unwavering. “What’s wrong? Tell your dear old mother.” She stood from the table, towering a full head above her daughter with an expectant look in her eyes.
There was a gentle but nonetheless commanding tone in Caroline’s voice that made the young girl stop dead in her tracks. Anna looked away, clearly not wanting to speak up. She looked back to her awaiting parent, and away again. They repeated this several more times with her mother not faltering in the slightest. It was only a matter of time before Anna sighed in defeat. “It’s no big deal. Some of my friends were just teasing me a bit. Okay?” She grumbled.
“Tease you? Why would they ever do that?” Caroline took a step closer, her expression a touch more concerned now. There wasn’t a lot that could phase that middle aged face, but when it came to her daughter all bets were off. “Was it that Harley girl across the street again? I swear, if I have to have another talk with her mother this time I’ll-“
“No no no.” Before her mother could enter a full tirade Annabelle quickly shook her head. “It’s nothing like that. It’s just…”
“It’s just what?”
Now she acted awkward again, her gaze trailing down to the floor and as far away from her mother as possible. Anna’s lips opened, whispering something inaudible under her breath. Both of her eyes flocked to the unacknowledged third person in the room, seated right at the table her mother was sitting at moments ago: her brother Luke.
He just sat there, pretending to read while they talked. The act was rather obvious given that his eyes weren’t moving. As Annabelle’s older sibling he was a tall young man with similar features, only instead of a school dress he wore a simple pair of jeans and a t-shirt. This entire time he’d said nary a word, perhaps knowing better than to speak up when the women were talking. But now that his sister’s eyes were upon him he gulped nervously. “Do I need to leave?” Luke asked awkwardly.
“Nonsense, you’re fine.” Caroline dismissed the question with a wave of her hand, leaning forward towards her daughter. “Don’t mind him. Go ahead Annabelle, what’s wrong?”
Anna’s knees rubbed together and she bit her lip. Despite how much of a show she made of not wanting to say it, especially with Luke right there, Caroline didn’t relent in the slightest. “Fine!” The brunette huffed. “Kaylee’s Mom got her a boy to crush, so now I’m the only girl in class who hasn’t had my first crush yet!” She said it all in a flustered hurry and panted as the sentence hung in the air.
“You first crush?” Caroline blinked. “Goodness, you kids are doing that stuff already?”
Nearby Luke looked back to his book, doing his best to ignore this conversation effective immediately.
“Yeah, and they found out they all laughed at me because I haven’t had my first crush yet!” Now that it was out there Anna had no problem speaking her mind. In spite of her bravado her cheeks were flushed a deep red; as if she expected her own mother to now mock her. Or worse yet, her meek brother.
“Oh Annabelle, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.” Caroline chuckled, a hint of relief in her tone. “Why, I was seventeen before I got my first crush. I remember it like it was just yesterday.” Her eyes glazed over, Caroline biting her lips ever so slightly as she recollected.
“Gee, if you liked crushing him so much why didn’t you just marry him?” Anna rolled her eyes with a weary groan.
That warranted another chuckle, Caroline simply shaking her head at the absurd notion. A lull came over their conversation, with neither of them speaking up for a long while. “Does it really bother you sweetie?” She soon broke the silence.
“Yeah. I mean, well…” The young girl puffed her cheeks and furrowed her brow. “I don’t really care if I’m being real honest Mom. I mean they’re just boys. But I don’t like my friends teasing me about it.” She confessed. “It does sound kinda fun though. I’ve always wondered what it was like. They make it look so fun on TV.”
“I see.” Caroline held her chin thoughtfully. Her hazel eyes were locked right onto Annabelle, almost like they were looking right through her. “If that’s the case, then let’s shut those little ninnies up Anna.” The mother relaxed and returned to her regular smile.
Annabelle perked up, nearly jumping for joy on the spot. Her eyes widened into the most eager look she’d had in weeks. “You mean…?”
“Yay! You’re the best Mom!” Anna suddenly wrapped her arms around the woman in a bear hug. “I love you!”
Taken aback, Caroline could only gently pat her daughter’s head at first. “I was saving him for your first crush when you were older, but I won’t have my little girl be the only one without their first crush. Maybe you’re mature enough to handle it after all.” Her lips pressed against Anna’s head softly. “Only the best for my little angel.”
The younger brunette stepped back, tilting her head. “Saving?”
Luke glanced up from his book, visibly nervous at where this conversation was going.
Instead of explaining herself, Caroline simply smiled knowingly. “Luke! Come here sweetie!”
“You don’t mean…” Annabelle looked stunned, and then she began to gain the biggest grin of her life.
Luke knew better than to disobey. Maybe he just misunderstood the situation, and they weren’t about to do what he thought they were. The tension in his face was palpable as he rose to his feet. ”What do you need Mom?” The young man asked innocently, looking back and forth between his family’s smirks with growing concern.
“I just need you to help your sister sweetie.” Caroline gestured for Luke to come closer. As a male he naturally stood above both his sister and mother, coming a few inches over Caroline even with her heels on. “Good boy.” Caroline smirked once he hesitantly stepped up. Her eyes gained something of a mischievous glow as suddenly, Luke began to shrink.
It was by no means an unusual process. But the immediate look of pure elation on Annabelle’s face and the shocked terror on Luke’s would’ve made anyone think otherwise. One second Luke was a grand six feet tall, and the next he was four. Then the next he was a paltry two. The downsizing happened rapidly, with the statuesque young man soon joining the bugs of the world at a measly inch tall. All in less than ten seconds no less.
“Wow~” Annabelle bent over to get a better look at her brother. All her life he towered over her as a relative giant, now it was she who was the giant. Rightfully so.
“M-Mom!” Luke’s deep voice sounded so shrill and pathetic now that it came from such a small body. Simply hearing it alone made Anna giggle. “Why?! I’ve been a good son haven’t I?”
Caroline’s smile didn’t waver. “You have, and now I need you to be a good boy one last time to help your sister.” Her voice carried the slightest hint of condescension, like she was explaining herself to a child. Her expression, while upbeat and innocent, was also serious.
Luke had always known. As a boy how could he not? The stigma that came with being a male in a woman’s world. To be a being the world saw as universally inferior; someone who could be shrunken down on a whim. Someone who people felt should have been shrunken down. He’d gone through all nineteen years of his life always knowing that, seeing all his friends slowly shrink and get crushed or enslaved one by one over the years until only he remained. He liked to dream his mother thought more of him than a bug, and that was why he was spared from that hell. So he aimed to make her proud, be one of the few men to go to college and get a degree. He had his whole life charted ahead of him, but he knew. Somewhere deep down he always did. This was how it was going to end one way or another.
Even so, no amount of preparation or mental readiness could have prepared him for when Caroline’s giant heel stomped mere inches away from his body. The ground trembled beneath his feet and knocked him off balance as an ear shattering crash brought sweltering pain to his ears. His mother hadn’t even stepped on him and he recoiled in pain, winced eyes looking up to the woman he’d admired since he was a child.
Caroline always had something of an intimidating presence; it kind of came with being a mother. But this was just…awe rendering. She looked the same as she always did. Short, wavy hair and a warm, motherly smile set into a slightly wrinkled face. Today she even had on her favorite floral kitchen dress with her favorite half apron tied around her waist, complete with a couple of her favorite accessories like her pearl earrings and her silver necklace. She was the picture perfect Mom, and she was terrifying now that she loomed so effortlessly over him. Luke barely stood above the toe of her heels.
“No buts mister.” Caroline’s voice rumbled in the sky. She wagged a finger overhead, shaking her head disapprovingly. “I raised you better than that. Now be a good boy and sit still for a bit okay? It’ll be over soon. I promise.”
“I get to crush my brother?!” Anna sounded positively giddy with excitement, grinning down at Luke like a shark that found its prey. Before he could even begin to comprehend what was happening her loafer raised over his body and began to lower.
“No!” He raised his arms to shield himself, knowing full well it was a futile gesture.
“Ah ah ah~” With surprising deftness Caroline’s hand snaked down and grabbed Annabelle’s knee, stopping her foot in its tracks. “Not yet Annabelle.” She now turned her wagging finger to her daughter.
“Why not?” The girl’s cheeks puffed out again. “You said I could crush him didn’t you?”
“Patience dear.” Caroline laughed. “This is your first crush and your brother no less. We’ve got to make it special. Now Luke…” She turned her head back to the bug boy at their feet, but he was already gone. “Why do they always think they can run?” She queried with a weary sigh. “Silly men. Well, no matter. Let me show you how you catch a bug Anna.” Her daughter nodded, watching her mother intently.
It didn’t take her but a moment before Caroline spotted Luke. At his meager size even with a head start he’d barely made it three feet out from his giant family members. He fled with all the speed his little legs could offer. Whereas his Mom was in no such hurry; instead she seemed more focused on pulling her heels off. One hand held the wall for balance as she explained. “If you really want to make them last long you’ve got to do it either bare foot or in socks. If you use shoes it’s too easy to break them. Plus it lets you feel them squirm when they’re underfoot where they belong.”
She maintained a very casual stride towards her shrunken son, eyes never losing sight of him. It only took a handful of footsteps before Caroline caught up and stomped a bare foot in Luke’s way. His path cut off, the young man was unable to do much aside from look up and meet his maker. Which, in this case, was the mature sole of his dear mother. It hovered just above him, large, worn, and ready to crush him into paste. “Now this is important Annabelle. Do not put all of your weight on him. If you do he’ll pop instantly. You want to apply your weight slowly and make sure you really appreciate every detail. Like so.”
Annabelle could only watch, too entranced by the scene before her to even speak. Every word, every juicy detail had her utmost attention. Never in all her life did she ever dream this would happen. To see her brother at his proper place looking up to them, caught beneath the incoming foot of their mother. His frantic yelps and attempts at begging for mercy titillated her, yet Caroline didn’t seem to so much as bat an eye. Her foot, refreshed from finally being free from her heel, gently smushed into him. Anna gasped as Luke vanished beneath her mother’s foot. Even though she saw it she could scarce believe he was under it now.
Caroline turned to grin at her. “See? Your old Mom’s still got it. I can feel him struggling under there. For whatever reason boys always think they can stop you if they struggle. I don’t get it.” She shrugged. “But, with a little bit of pressure.” Caroline leaned forward ever so slightly, knee rising as she put weight behind her foot. From under her sole came a faint pop, then she eased up. “And now he’s stopped struggling like a good boy. I think that was his arm. Whatever it was he’s really whimpering in pain down there.”
“Wow~” Was all Anna could manage to say. She was at a loss for words. Who knew her Mom was such an expert when it came to dealing with pests?
“Oh stop, you’ll make me blush. This is just stuff you pick up as you get older.” Her Mom said dismissively. “You think you got it?”
“I think so.”
Caroline nodded, turning her attention back to her foot. “This’ll be the last time we see each other Luke. Go ahead and give Mommy a goodbye kiss.” After a moment the woman frowned and ground her bare sole into the floor. A couple seconds were all it took before she seemed to get what she wanted. “Good boy.” Her foot finally rose off of him and she stepped back. “All yours Anna.”
One look at Luke and Annabelle knew he was hurting. Instead of running, or protesting, or begging, he was just lying there, quietly whimpering to himself. One of his arms seemed notably flatter than the other now. Anna’s heart begin to throb in anticipation, her thoughts going haywire. Her hands slid to her loafers and began removing them. Should she do this with her tube socks on or off? After a brief moment she decided it was better to go bare foot. It was important that she felt every little bit of this. Next thing she knew she was standing before him: her former big brother, now just an injured bug before her feet.
“Remember, not all your weight at once.” Caroline cautioned from the side.
“Right, not all at once.” Anna nodded, feeling a little nervous now that it was actually time. Her foot rose awkwardly and hovered over Luke for a long while. Then, with a deep breath, it lowered. Annabelle nearly yelped when she first felt him hit her foot. It was…different then she imagined, but somehow it felt right. Like something about her relationship with her brother was off until this very moment. Like…Like they both found their proper roles at long last.
“Sorry!” She eased her foot the second she felt that pop. Was that his other arm? His head? No, she could still feel his breath along her sole so it wasn’t his head. Anna took another breath, simply letting her foot gently smother Luke.
“How’s it feel?” Caroline asked, stepping up beside her fellow brunette.
Annabelle slowly turned, taking great care not to let her foot put too much weight onto the young man beneath it. “Amazing.”
Her mother smiled. “I’m glad to hear it sweetie. I’ve been saving him up for you for years. Just for this moment.” She glanced down at her daughter’s petite foot. “Brother or not, he’s just a bug after all. I had to come up with something for him.”
“A bug.” Anna repeated, looking back to her foot. She’d always known Luke was inferior to her, but to finally feel it, to actually be crushing him like a bug. Words could never have conveyed this feeling welling in her chest. “A bug.” The young girl nodded, grinning. “You hear that Luke? You’re just a bug!” The pressure her foot was applying intensified. Not enough to crush anything. Just enough to bring some pained sounds from underfoot.
With that statement finally said any pretenses of awkwardness vanished in Annabelle’s performance. She was in full swing now that she was sneering down at her bug-sized brother. “You’re right where you belong Bro. Under me. Her bare sole twisted mercilessly into the ground, causing another pop but she didn’t seem to care. “Hope you don’t mind if my foot’s a little sweaty. I was at school doing important big people things. What about you?” Her foot pulled off of Luke for just a moment. The young man was gasping for air, unable to even say anything before his sister’s dainty foot smacked into him again. “Oh, that’s right. It doesn’t matter. Because you’re a bug!”
Annabelle’s foot was relentless. Such a cute, little thing was now causing newfound levels of torment for her brother. He squished nicely against her sole, unable to so much as struggle as she rubbed him into the dusty floor. He truly was her plaything now, helpless to do anything but go along with her whims. She made sure to take her time, experimenting with different techniques like rolling Luke along the floor or grinding her heel into him. It seemed she took Caroline’s lesson to heart; since save for a couple errant pops, there weren’t any more accidents.
How many minutes had passed since she started? She was having so much fun that she lost track. Eventually her foot pulled back however, and Annabelle’s small toes parted so she could see her pathetic brother one last time.
He was a mess, both physically and emotionally. Luke’s body was hopelessly battered. His clothes were torn from all the repeated abuse, exposing a myriad of dark bruises and bloody sections across his entire body. His arms were practically flat, with one leg facing the complete wrong direction and his torso caved in. And his face was a blubbering mess of tears, any semblance of the handsome young man now crushed into a ruined mess.
“Ready Bro?” Anna grinned.
Coughing up a clump of blood, Luke stared weakly up at his little sister. “Sis….Please…”
Her grin widened. “You hear that Mom? He’s begging me to crush him. Well, if you insist little brother.” Her toes wiggled again as her foot adjusted, bringing her big toe close to her shrunken brother. “Dying under my feet is almost too good for you, but I’ll be nice since you’re family.” Annabelle giggled once more and sent her foot down with all her might. Her big toe slammed into Luke, crushing him into a splatter of gore instantly.
“Oh man.” She bit her lip, unable to help but grind her toe in her brother’s remains. “Thank you Mom. This was the best gift ever.”
Caroline nodded, smiling sweetly at Anna. “Like I said darling. Only the best for my little angel.”
Annabelle smiled, raising her foot up to see the damage she did. All that remained of her brother was an unrecognizable red mess along her toes. “How’d I do?”
“You got a little carried away towards the end with all the banter.” Her mother teased. “But otherwise you did very well. I’m proud of you.” Her eyes briefly glanced at the splattered remnants of her other child, not an ounce of pity in them. “Go ahead and wash that mess off your feet while I clean this up okay sweetie?”
“Okay!” Annabelle nodded emphatically and hurried to the bathroom. “I can’t wait to rub this in Kaylee’s smug face!” She gloated.
Caroline quickly turned to her daughter. “And don’t run through the house! You’ll track blood every…where…“ She sighed. Anna was already out of sight. “Silly girl.” She let out a soft chuckle and grabbed a napkin from the nearby table. “Oh to be young again. Right Luke?” With two swipes any trace of her son was now gone forever.