Natalie Beaumont was frustrated. Her two homeschooled twins were not understanding the Algebra lesson. No matter how many times she had explained it, they just didn’t seem to grasp the information and it was driving her crazy. Natalie sighed loudly and let her arms drop on the dining room table in exasperation, causing an earthquake to the two tiny students.
“I’m sorry mom,” said one of the twins, looking up at their gigantic mom, “you’re just not explaining it good.”
“...‘Well’…,” the titanic woman emphasized, “you are not explaining it ‘well’, Thomas, that is how you say it correctly.” Shaking her head, she looked at the two tiny twins on the table before her.
“WELL…, this isn’t English class, mom,” the tiny boy scoffed sarcastically.
“Sorry mom,” said the other twin, interceding on her brother’s behalf, “but I think I got it, let me just finish the last part,” Julia paused briefly, “my parenthesis and…,” the tiny girl did some math in her head, “solve for x, and x is six!”, she shouted, excitedly.
“No, no, no!” Natalie slammed her colossal palm down on the table in frustration. “You forgot the exponents, I swear to God, they’re right there on the printed page!”
“I’m sorry mom!” Julie spat, “I can’t see that far on the page. I’m only an inch tall, remember?”
“Yes, Julia, I remember,” Natalie sighed, rubbing her temples with her fingers. “I’m reminded of that burden every… single… day… It’s absolutely impossible for me to escape!”
“Whoa mom,” Thomas spoke up, “calm down. It’s not like it’s any picnic for us either. Don’t act all high and mighty with us, like you’re the one who is put out, when you’re not the one with the shrinking virus.”
“Knock off the attitude right now, mister,” Natalie said sharply, “unless you want to end up in my slipper for time-out again.”
Thomas immediately choked up, remembering the many occasions he had been subjected to his mom’s giant slippers for punishment. Both he and his twin sister had endured that fate before and it wasn’t a fun experience. Although, to the tiny teens, it felt like it was more of a way for her to vent her frustration with the situation.
“What is wrong with you guys?” Natalie threw her hands in the air. “I’m busting my ass for you guys and it’s like you’re not even trying! What do I have to do to get you to take this stuff seriously? Do I have to think of more creative ways to punish you?”
Thomas and Julia remained silent as their colossal mom vented above them. Saying anything would have just made it worse. In the year since they succumbed to the shrinking virus, they had learned how to live with her. And provoking her, even a perceived provocation, never ended well for either of the tiny twins.
“If you can’t even get through your Junior year of high-school, how will you ever survive in this world? Go to college, get a good job? How can you ever expect to make it on your own?” Natalie continued to prattle.
“We kind of thought that we’d live here with you and dad,” answered Thomas. That comment struck a nerve with his giant mom.
“You can’t live here for the rest of your life. What would you even do here?” asked the giantess, looming overhead. “You need to go out and make a life for yourselves! See the world, meet new people, start a family. Don’t you want that?”
“No,” replied Thomas, “you want that for us. Just admit it mom, you don’t want us living here. You don’t like us now that we’ve shrunk."
“Thomas, that is not true,” Natalie sighed, “I love you guys, it’s just so hard. Things are just not the way I imagined them."
“Things aren’t how I imagined they would be either mom!” Thomas said, looking up at his colossal mom. “You don’t think I want those things? Of course I do!” Thomas paused, his whole demeanor changing, “Or at least, I did... when I was big, when I was normal. A tiny person like me can’t just go see the world, move out and make a name for myself, or even start a family. That ship has sailed and I need to be realistic.”
“And so your plan is just to live here?” his giant mom boomed overhead.
“Well, dad’s business is growing, and they’ve actually even started designing habitats for us tinies in addition to all the other transportation stuff they make. I was thinking we could live there,” Thomas said, pointing toward the prototype dwelling in the corner of the room that their dad had designed for them. “And who knows, maybe I could meet another shrinkie to start a family with. But I can’t do that out in the real world, that would be way too dangerous.”
“Do you think that’s what I want, Thomas?” Natalie quipped. “To be weighed down with taking care of you for the rest of my life?”
“And THAT right there is your problem, mom,” Thomas shook his head. “You are selfish and you only think about yourself. Like I said, ever since we shrunk, you don’t like us anymore, it’s obvious. It’s almost like you resent us or something. But like it or not, we are shrunk, and you need to be realistic.”
“No,” Natalie stood to her full height, towering over the tiny boy and girl on the dining room table, “you need to be realistic! It’s just as dangerous here in this house as it is in the outside world.” Her earrings glistened with sunlight as they swayed with her gigantic movements. She folded her arms and sauntered over to the tiny habitat on the floor. It came up to her ankles and was about two square ft big.
“So you think this prototype is your future Thomas?” she asked. “Well, what happens when you want a family and it’s not big enough? Are you just going to ask your father to build a bigger one and expect him to spend exorbitant amounts of money and whip one up?”
Thomas started to panic and ran down the stairs that his father had built for him and his sister that extended from the table to the floor. He ran across the hardwood floor in order to reach his home that he and his sister had been living in for the past two months. Once he and Julia had shrunk, it took their father almost ten months to design and build it for them and they couldn’t imagine life without it now. The idea living in crude shoe boxes with makeshift beds and amenities seemed like such a long time ago, they couldn’t go back to that.
“And if you do have a family, do you expect us to take care of them as well as you? Don’t you think that is a little unfair, Thomas?” Natalie said, slowly circling the dwelling.
The closer Thomas got to his tiny habitat, the more powerful his mom’s footsteps became. Step after agonizing step, her slippers paraded before his tiny home. These weren’t her usual slippers, the black ones he often found himself being ‘punished’ inside. Instead, these slippers were gray and had no heel, which revealed his mom’s powerful bare heels as she walked around.
“What happens if you have a family and someone accidentally steps on them?” the titanic woman said, stopping in front of the prototype as her tiny son came between her slippered feet and the tiny structure.
“Mom, what are you doing?” said Thomas. He could read the writing on the wall and didn’t like where this was going. “Don’t do this, please! You’ve made your point! Now let’s just continue our lesson! Please?” The titanic slippers stretched as her toes flexed and wiggled within. The vast size of his mom’s feet was something he hadn’t gotten used to yet and he didn’t think he ever would.
“Not yet, I haven’t,” the giant woman smirked, “but I’ll make my point soon enough.”
Natalie’s giant form loomed overhead with her hands on her hips, smiling arrogantly. She lifted one foot up in the air and hovered it over the structure, making sure she was far enough away from her tiny son. She brought it down on the prototype, which creaked and groaned under the initial weight. She applied more pressure as the structure began to snap and break. Sparks flew through the air as the electrical components were crushed and flattened beneath her foot.
“Oops!” the giant woman cooed, “I accidentally stepped on your home! Sorry about that!”
Thomas watched as the other titanic slipper before him rose into the air and came down on another part of his home. Entire rooms collapsed from his mom’s callous footstep.
“Oh no!” his titanic mother mockingly cried, “Now I’m afraid I stepped on your wife and kids too! I’m just so clumsy!”
The rage Thomas felt within himself was nothing new, he had felt it a handful of times since shrinking. The walls of his house collapsed behind him as his mother destroyed his home, stomp after terrifying stomp, systematically crushing everything. All of he and his sister’s belongings were still inside, their clothes, books, and movies. It didn’t matter, it was all crushed beneath her slippers. He watched in anger as her gigantic heels came down, again and again, over and over, crushing every last piece of his home into rubble.
“What’s this?” the colossal woman said from high above, “It looks like I’ve stepped on my tiny son too! What a horrible tragedy this has been!” Thomas just stood there, unable to take his eyes off the destruction before him. “Oh wait, here he is!” she laughed, “All safe and sound.” She reached down to grab him; Thomas looked up to see his mom’s titanic hand reaching for him. Her palm eclipsed him and her fingers surrounded him like tree trunks as they scooped him up into her palm.
Natalie sauntered back over to the dining room table and set her hand down, palm up, on the table. But rather than letting Thomas get off on his own, she tilted her hand until he tumbled onto the math textbook next to his sister who had watched, in horror, everything that had just happened.
“NOW I have made my point,” she said, looking down upon her tiny children. “This place is just as much of a danger as any other. You can’t live your life being scared. You’re going to have to grow up.”
Natalie let out a huge sigh, as if coming down from an emotional high. “Now, let’s get back to our math lesson so that never has to happen to my son of his tiny family in my own home,” the titanic woman said sitting down again, regaining her composure.
“You just had to antagonize her, didn’t you!” Julia snapped with tears in her eyes.
“I didn’t know she was going to freak out like that,” Thomas said despondently.
Natalie paused and reflected on the situation. Seeing her children tear up tugged at her heart strings and she felt a little bad about what she had just said and done.
“Listen,” said Natalie, looking down at her children just inches below her, “I’m sorry I had to do that. But it’s just that I just couldn’t think of any other way to get you to take your schooling seriously. I know I destroyed something you love. But please know that I only did it because I love you. I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary.”
“Well to be honest,” Thomas chided, “you really don’t seem to love us more than anything in the world when you’re punishing us in your slippers.”
Natalie snapped back an irritated look. “Keep it up and you’ll end up in them before the day is over, mister.”
“Mom, I’m just making the point that-” Thomas was interrupted by the sound of the front door opening, taking everyone’s attention off the increasingly tense situation. They heard the sounds of footsteps approaching and then saw the form of their gigantic beautiful older sister come around the corner.
“Hey everyone!” she smiled sweetly waving her hand. “Look who’s back home!”
“Aubreigh, honey, how are you?” Natalie cheerfully responded. “How was your trip with your friends?”
“It was great!” Aubreigh said excitedly. “We got to see the museum I wanted to go to. There were a bunch of great restaurants. And we got to tour the campus. We saw the classrooms well as the dorms, which aren’t too bad by the way, and there are a bunch of on campus amenities that I never expected. I’m really looking forward to school this fall!”
“I’m so happy for you, Aub!” Natalie said, giving her daughter a hug. “And you’re still dead set on your majors? Are you sure that’s what you want to do?”
“Absolutely, without a doubt,” Aubreigh stood back from her mom’s hug and looked her in the eyes. “I know mom, I know you think there isn’t much to do with Tinies Studies, but it’s not like that anymore. There are a lot of opportunities; our two societies are quickly integrating and there is a lot of demand for people who have skills with them. This might even open some doors for me to get into politics! Who knows?”
Natalie smiled, “Regardless, I’m so proud of you, Aubreigh.”
“Besides,” Aubreigh went over to the table where her tiny siblings were, “I have two of the biggest reasons for becoming a ‘tinies’ advocate right here! How are my favorite little brother and sister doing?"
Thomas and Julia looked up at their big sister’s refreshing smile. They were still so heartbroken over what had happened to their home, but they could still muster up a meager ‘hello’. Aubreigh could sense something was off.
“Aw, what’s wrong guys? Aren’t you excited for family vacation tomorrow?” she asked, wondering why their tones were so somber.
“Yeah, of course,” said Julia, “we were just going over our math lesson, and it was just a little harder than I remembered.”
“You guys are still doing school?” Aubreigh asked. “Wasn’t this supposed to be finished a few days ago? Didn’t the school year finish?”
“Well we couldn’t all finish early like you, Aub!” Julia smiled. She was starting to feel better now that her sister was back home.
Aubreigh laughed and shook her head, “I graduated silly! There is a slight difference, ya know!”
Natalie stepped forward, “Yeah, they are a little behind,” she said. “But don’t worry, I’m cracking the whip and making sure they get it done.”
Then the front door opened, accompanied by the sound of the kids’ father and Natalie’s husband, Andrew, walking in the house.
“Hey hey!” he said, coming into the room with the rest of the family, “I heard my girl was back home! Come here, give me a big hug!”
“Hey dad,” Aubreigh smiled and hugged her dad.
“It’s so good to see you pumpkin,” he said. “I’m glad you’re home safe.” He paused to look at Aubreigh, smiling ear to ear. Then he looked at his wife who looked like she had a huge headache. He looked over at the twins on the table and saw the textbook still open. “Hey kiddos,” he said, “how’s the school work coming along? Gonna be all finished by tomorrow?”
“Maybe if they put their nose to the grindstone they could,” Natalie sneered. But before Andrew could even respond to his wife’s comment, he noticed the smashed up prototype house on the floor across the room.
“What the hell happened to the prototype?” he asked in complete shock.
“Oh…, that,” Natalie sighed. “Well you see, I wasn’t paying attention and I tripped and, uh, I fell on it.”
“Babe, you have to be careful!” Andrew said, examining the wreckage. “This stuff is expensive.”
“I know,” said Natalie, “I’m so sorry.”
“Well, not to worry,” Andrew said, smiling again. “We just finished the final design on a completely redesigned habitat for tinies. It was approved today, and they’ll be finished building it in a few days. You kids will have a new house by the time you guys get back from your Florida vacation. It’s gonna be even bigger and better than the old one!” Their father smiled at them very proudly.
“We are?” shouted the twins in unison.
“Yep, sure are. And we’ll make sure to put it someplace your mother doesn’t trip on it,” he said, looking at his wife with a disappointed look on his face. “Isn’t that right, honey?”
“Yeah, uhm,” Natalie pursed her lips, “what, exactly, did you mean by ‘you guys’ and ‘your vacation’? Don’t you mean us? Aren’t you coming?”
“Yeah,” Andrew cleared his throat nervously, “about that. Can I talk to you in the other room?”
Natalie stared at Andrew in disbelief, she couldn’t believe he was bailing on her again. The tension was super thick and all three kids felt super awkward. Aubreigh decided to break the tension.
“You guys go talk,” she laughed nervously, “and I’ll help these two finish up their school work.”
“Thank you, Aubreigh,” her father said. Natalie slowly nodded her head and followed Andrew into the kitchen, leaving Aubreigh with her tiny twin siblings on the dining room table.
“Well that was awkward,” Aubreigh laughed above her tiny siblings. Sitting down at the table with them.
“I don’t want to go on vacation with mom,” Thomas said, crossing his arms.
“Yeah?” Aubreigh cocked an eyebrow, “Why not?”
“Mom’s just been acting differently since you left,” Julia explained. “And in the month you've been gone, she’s been getting worse with her punishments.”
Aubreigh grimaced, “Her slippers again? She told me she was going to stop doing that.”
“Yeah…, well she hasn’t,” said Thomas. “It’s only gotten worse. Now she’s even worn them with me in them sometimes and it sucks!”
“Oh my god… mom,” Aubreigh said, dropping her head and rubbing her forehead. “With you in them? I’m really sorry guys, I’ll talk to her about it again.” Aubreigh propped her face up with her hands and looked at her defenseless brother and sister. “You know mom’s always been a ball buster, but that’s really taking it a step too far.”
“Thanks Aub,” said Julia, “I know Thomas would really appreciate it, he ends up in her slippers way more than I do.” Julia laughed a little, looking at her twin, trying to cheer him up a bit.
Thomas smirked in response. “But like Aubreigh said, mom has always been a ball buster, what are we going to do when Aubreigh leaves for college this fall? No one will be here to protect us from mom.”
“May I pick you up, Thomas?” Aubreigh asked.
Thomas nodded his head and Aubreigh laid down her hand next to him. Thomas crawled into his sister’s giant hand. It was warm, soft, and oddly comforting. She brought her hand to her face and examined Thomas with a sad expression that conveyed how sorry she felt for him.
“Can’t we just talk to dad about it?” asked Aubreigh. “I know you guys don’t want to say anything to him, but maybe it’s time you do.”
“Again Aubreigh,” said Thomas, looking up to his sister’s titanic eyes, “that’s not a good idea. She told us that if we thought her punishments were bad now, just wait until we told dad.”
Aubreigh rolled her eyes, “Oh my god, mom. She’s so dramatic. What does she think she’s going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Thomas clenched his teeth, “but I don’t really want to find out.”
“Well, I will respect your wishes, but just know I’ll support you if you do,” she said, smiling sweetly.
“Thanks Aub, I really appreciate that, but honestly, it would just be a big help if you could just help us finish up these homework assignments so we can submit them.”
“Of course!” Aubreigh said, gently setting her hand down so Thomas could climb back out. “Let’s focus on this until we find out what’s going on with our family vacation. And don’t worry guys, I’ll be there. Everything will be fine.”
Aubreigh smiled warmly at her little brother and sister. For the first time in weeks, the tiny twins felt safe.