“ . .How . .fast was that?” Ingrid asked, resting her hands on her knees regaining her breath.
“ 10 laps around the backyard in . .1 minute 50 seconds.” Tanner answered after taking a quick look at the stopwatch next to him.
Ingrid grimaced with disapproval. “ What!? I thought I made 90 seconds for sure!” She took fast swing of water before smirking down at her 3 ½ inch tall brother. “ You sure your little hands were able to tap the stop button fast enough to get my real time?”
“ Oh har har. How many small, tiny, pipsqueak, half pint, jokes do you have?” Tanner listed, holding up a finger for each wise crack he commonly received.
“ You forgot teeny.” She added.
“ Pardon me.” Tanner responded, holding up his last remaining digit on his left hand mockingly. “ Maybe you're not as fast as you thought.”
Ingrid's face soured at that comment, but she took it in good fun. “ Watch it, little bro.” She said, lightly dragging the knuckle of her index finger across Tanner's messy dark brown hair, the equivalent to a noogie for someone of his stature.
“ Sorry, sorry. Still how ready can you possibly get?”
“ I could train for the next 10 years and I still wouldn't feel ready. I'm just going to go all out until the big day. I'm pretty sure you're sick of hearing about it by now, but winning this game will take my team straight to the finals of the play off.”
Tanner let a half hearted laugh to mask that he was indeed sick of hearing about it. Soccer has been Ingrid's passion as soon as she learned how to kick a ball across a field. From there she lived it, breathed it, and slept it. There were times where he could look away for all of 5 minutes and the next thing he knew Ingrid would be off practicing.
“ Still, even world class athletes need breaks. You went right at it after coming home from practice at school. It doesn't take a sports therapist to see you're exhausted.”
“ You . . .MAY have a point there.” Ingrid admitted.
“ Thank you, now can you please take a step back. I feel like I need an umbrella with you standing so close and perspiring, I'm afraid a wayward drop of sweat may rain on me.”
“ Is that right?” An idea popped into her mind as she wiped her forehead with the towel she had sat in the patio chair. Tanner didn't think anything of it until he saw her hovering the towel above the very patio table that he was standing on.
“ Whoa, whoa! Lets not be too grotesque now!” Tanner said, instinctively backing away looking for safety, but the entire surface area was no man's land.
“ Aw, come on you don't you want to hold the towel for your tired big sis? You're supposed to love me unconditionally sweat and all.” She teased.
“ That maybe true, however I will love you even more unconditionally after you take a shower.”
Ingrid laughed and returned her towel to her shoulder. “ Fine, that's enough for today.” She reasoned, removing the scrunchie keeping her shoulder length honey brown hair in check.
“ What are you kids doing?” There mother Ivory asked, coming out the backdoor just now.
“ Wrapping up some drills.”
“ You're always at it aren't you? Did you really need to bring Tanner outside though?”
Ingrid sighed, knowing that Ivory was about to go into overly protective mode. “ It's not like I put him on the roof or something, he's fine on the patio table. Safe and secure.”
“ All it'd take though is a strong gust of a wind to knock him off or a bird flying in out of nowhere and he'd be dinner.”
“ Don't I have enough to be afraid of.” Tanner thought as Ivory explained two oddly specific scenarios that may leave him either injured or dead.
Ivory then turned her focus down to Tanner. “ Since you have time to help your sister, I expect you've finished all your school modules today?” She asked.
“ 100%.” He boredly replied. After focusing beyond the initial lethargy of Ivory's nagging he took a good look at who in many regards was the mirror image of her daughter barring a couple of discrepancies. Ivory's skin was a bit fairer comparatively given that her daughter was always out and about on the soccer field, and her hair longer given that she didn't partake in sports where it could be a hindrance.
Right now though the most pressing matter was Ivory's attire. Compared to that of Ingrid who had just finished hours worth of training, Ivory was made up nicely, dressed in a one piece black dress with a white sash in the center and cardigan.
“ Far be it from me to dissuade you from looking nice of your own will, but what are you so dolled up for?” He asked.
Ivory's posture stiffened up, having almost forgotten the primary reason she came outside. “ About that, well the thing is . . . . I have a date.”
“ DATE!?” Ingrid exclaimed, pressing both her hands onto the patio table.
An instinctive response from her led to immediate action from Tanner who had to shift over or be flattened under her palm.
“ What she said!” He added once he moved himself to safety.
Whereas Tanner was fumbling over his words looking to provide proper follow up questions, Ingrid was rapid firing.
“ When did this happen!? When did you meet!? Scratch that, how did you meet!? More importantly who is the guy, what kind of work does he do!? And um . . .Anything to add Tanner?”
“ Er, nope. I think that summarizes it nicely.”
Ivory rubbed her temples, she foresaw this reaction coming a mile away not that it made it any easier to deal with. She took a seat in the nearby patio chair and asked Ingrid to do the same.
“ Bleh, stuck between titans.” Tanner said under his breath who was in the middle.
“ His name is Richard , he does film work, he's the same age as me, and I met him online.” She explained briefly.
“ Online dating sites? Are you sure that's safe?” Tanner asked. “ Who knows who might be on the other side of that monitor. A criminal, weirdo, or a 12 year troll for all you know.”
“ We've gotten on webcam before, and it's not like we just met two days ago we've been talking back and forth for a month. As shocking as it sounds you don't know every last detail that goes on in my life.”
“ Wait hold on a second.” Ingrid jumped back into the mix. “ Did you say tonight? But I was planning to go over to Blake's house tonight.”
Ivory raised an eyebrow“ That's left field news for me.”
“ I guess I assumed you were going to be home tonight and so we're not beating around the bush the million dollar question now is about Tanner.”
Ivory and Ingrid both shared resolute stares, knowing all to well what the others argument will be. They both would agree under 99.9% of circumstances they couldn't leave him alone for extended periods of time. If something were to happen to the house to him there absolutely most be someone there to make sure he's safe.
“ I mean, I could always take Tanner with me.” Ingrid suggested, though she hardly expected Ivory to go for that.
“ Ha! Not a chance, look I like Blake but she's a very . . . . rambunctious girl.” Ivory paused looking to find the right adjective to describe her. “ If Tanner is going anywhere out of the house, I'm going to be there with him.”
“ Fine, whatever. I'll call her to reschedule.” Ingrid resigned. In spite of her stubborn nature she wasn't going to fight a battle that she knew she'd lose.
Both Tanner and Ivory were mutually surprised to see her let it go that easily.
“ That's pretty mature of you.” Ivory praised.
“ Someones gotta look after the little guy I guess.” Ingrid shrugged. “ Just so there's no misunderstandings you kno-”
“ Your big game is next Saturday I know.” Ivory finished, having heard the same neurotic spiels that Tanner has been subjected to. “ I left money on the counter for you to order some food in, I shouldn't be any later than 11:00.” She concluded. “ Thank you Ingrid.” She said, giving her daughter a hug.
“ And behave yourself Tanner.” She added, rubbing the top of his head with the tip of her finger before leaving.
“ Sorry about your plans. .” Tanner said in earnest.
“ Don't worry about it.”
Tanner's Reminiscence I : Birth to age 10
How could I not worry about it? I really wanted to say something to help Ingrid out, but what could I do when I'm 3 ½ inches tall? If trouble were to happen I'd always need to rely on someone else and not myself.
Doctors kept a close eye on my development noticing I was born quite small and I'm not going to bother trying to recite the exact scientific terminology they used, but essentially after keeping tabs on my growth they concluded that I was born with some weird genetic defect that caused me to gradually shrink throughout my life. It acted in a tug-o-war of sorts with my genes that were supposed to make me grow so in the long run it was practically 1 step forward 2 steps back in terms of my growth. They were positive that it'd eventually stabilize, as for when they didn't know.
Unfortunately for me my biological parents were a couple of junkies (which may or may not have had any bearing on my condition) who were deemed unfit to raise me so the large majority of my early years was spent in the foster systems. Being a naive kid I didn't think all that much of being smaller than the other kids at the time, but year after year as I noticed them getting bigger while I lagged behind it became apparent something was wrong with me.
It wasn't until I was 10 that the loving and recently widowed Ivory adopted me into her household. I never had the gall to ask too much into it, but the bare bones of it was her husband dying in a car accident by some intoxicated idiot operating a semi-trailer truck. Before adopting me they were sure to inform Ivory of all the details of my condition and all the challenges I may face growing up, but she was ecstatic to meet the challenge and I got an older sister out of the ordeal.
“ Do I have a new baby brother?” A curiously ecstatic Ingrid asked. I could've explained it to her a thousand times over, she was hearing none of it.
“ There's no way we're the same age, you're too short.” She took a few paces closer to make out the exact difference in height, and yeah in hindsight it was laughable for me to try to assert myself when the top of my head only reached her collarbone. Ivory had the hardest time explaining to her my ordeal. who assumed I was way younger than I was. As expected there was an adjustment period and we went through our. . . .rough patches. Still they both did everything in there power to make me feel welcome and like part of the family.
Over the course of the last 6 years the doctors were right in my shrinking stabilizing, only that point happened at 3 ½ inches, and yes it maybe petty but that half inch means a lot to me. To normal folks it may as well be omitted, but as minuscule as I am it's a huge difference. All and all, I guess things could be worse.