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The sun had long since peaked over the horizon, informing New York it was time to wake up and begin its business.† Some say that New York never sleeps, but Becca was one such exception to the popular expression.† The hustle and bustle on the street outside her upstairs bedroom window is what brought her reluctantly to consciousness.† She was already securely surrounded by her polka-dotted blanket, the top tucked under the back of her head and the bottom tucked under her feet just the way she liked it.† It was her last-ditch effort to extend her slumber, and she realized the battle was over.††

The blanket came down over her face, pulling a few strands of messy brown brown hair along, and Becca felt cool air flood in.† The sensation would not last though, as the temperature was actually quite warm...uncharacteristic but not uncommon for the last week of September. Her eyes fluttered open and adjusted to the room, brightened by the sun sneaking in through the drawn curtains. She sighed as she swung her bare legs out from under the cozy blanket.† The cool sensation felt nice and Becca deliberately avoided the carpet, instead opting for her bare soles to contact the cold hardwood.†

Her hands met behind her back and her chest puffed out as her arms stretched back.† The sleepy teenager looked at her unicorn clock.††

September 29th

11:17AM

She let out a yawn, accenting the end of it with a feminine yip and began to stand.† The strong muscles in her legs tensed and the sleepy girl rose, her toes wiggling as they once again became familiar with supporting and balancing her weight.† This was not the first time she had slept so late.† In fact, it had unfortunately become commonplace.††

Becca had left her parents' house in Colorado a year ago for Pratt Institute in New York City.† Starry eyed and wonderfully naive, she convinced her parents that she was meant to be an artist, and they agreed to send her.† Becca’s parents were science-minded and skeptical at best about a career in the arts, but they decided they would foot the bill. Still, her parents were calculated and logical…they were the kind of parents that maintained a financial separation between themselves and their children.† This meant that Becca's parents would pay for each semester, for books, and any supplies she may have needed.† She could still hear their voices practically in unison:†

“We mean it, Becca.† Not a single drop of alcohol. We WILL be checking the transaction histories!”.†

The only catch: all that money they had sent her off with and were gradually funneling into a joint bank account..she would be expected to pay it back once she graduated and started working.† All of it.

No interest of course; God, they weren't monsters!††

But they made sure there was no confusion:† this was NOT a gift..it was an investment in their little girl's future.††

School started off okay.† The freshly 18 year old art major attended classes with optimism and excitement.† Becca wasn’t sure if it was her long, thick chestnut brown hair or her long-thick thighs and wide hips, but she attracted a fair amount of attention from boys.† The teen liked to think it was the former, as her long hair was something in which she took much pride in, actually dedicating time and effort into its upkeep and appearance.† There wasn’t much upkeep in having wide hips and a big, round butt…although her first friend at University, Krystal Matthews, would correct her on that.††

“Yeah sure, we’ve both got junk in the trunk..” Krystal would say, “..but at least you actually go to the gym and try to get it all firm and stuff.”††

Becca would respond with a giggle, “Keyword there is TRY!”

Becca and Krystal had been paired together as lab partners on the first day of classes and they’d basically become BFF’s by the end of the period.† The girls had several classes together and for each class, they would always sit next to one another. Becca enjoyed Krystal’s outgoing personality and boy, was she a flirt!† She was very attractive and accented her pretty face with vibrant eyeshadow.† She often played into the attention she received from boys and was even discretely reprimanded on occasion by the professors for passing notes and talking.

All that attention from boys might have been difficult to balance with studying, but Becca was used to it from back in Colorado so it wasn’t all that distracting.† She studied history, completed her assignments, purchased supplies, and made a few friends here and there.† She even happened upon an INCREDIBLE deal on an apartment on Skillman St. which was within walking distance of campus.† However, things started to turn sour toward the end of her first year.† She fell behind on her assignments and was beginning to feel like she'd made a mistake.† The true mistake–not one particular instant, but rather an accruing count of bad choices–started innocently enough but accumulated over the course of several months.† She just...stopped going.††

She remembered the first day she didn’t go.† Becca had a final exam for art history that she just wasn’t at all ready for.† She could see Mrs. Jensen’s disapproving scorn in her mind’s eye.† She could feel the panic she’d already grown familiar with…of turning that page in the packet to the first question of the exam, knowing that time has started and it all may as well be another language.† The older, heavy-set woman had a permanent frown tattooed to her sour face and Becca strongly disliked her. Mrs. Jensen would surely wear that frown as she corrected the papers, the unsightly fat on her exposed pale triceps jiggling angrily as she ran the tip of her red marker over so much whitespace.† She would surely wear that frown as she turned the exam back to her, practically painted red with corrections and mistake pointouts.† Krystal would probably get an A like she always did, and then she’d lean over and see Becca’s score and say something like “Whoa! What happened, dude?” and Becca would be thoroughly embarrassed.

She was seeing it all…painted on the insides of her eyelids as her alarm clock annoyingly told her to get up.††

Or….she could just avoid all of that.† She could just tuck her sock clad feet up under the warm, thick covers and turn off her irksome alarm.† She could just fall back asleep and allow her comfy twin bed to swallow her.†

That’s exactly what she did…and it felt so, so good.††

The first time was the hardest on her conscience, but each progressive class ditch became easier and easier until she just stopped setting her alarm.

She was done.† Was it the material?† Had she chosen the wrong major?††

Was she not smart enough?†

Was she not driven enough?††

Was she not good enough?††

She didn’t know the answers..but she knew she was done.††

Done with school.††

Done with art.††

Done with New York.††

The biggest problem was that she could not bring herself to go back to Colorado.† What would her friends think?† What would her parents think?† Better yet, what would they do?† She had already charged several thousand dollars for the semesters back when she was actually still trying, and several more on those that she didn't bother to attend.† She would have canceled the classes but Becca feared her vigilant parents would see..so she figured staying registered would be best for them, and not going would be best for her.† It's not as if her parents could see the attendance sheets. She considered getting a job as a cashier or waitress to make some extra money, but she feared the blazing embarrassment of encountering a former fellow-student or worse..one of her former professors.

While staying enrolled seemed like a good idea at the time, Becca was just putting herself in more trouble. It was like shoveling dirt…seeing the movement of earth and thinking that it indicates some sort of progress, but you don't realize the hole you're standing in is very slowly getting deeper.††

Becca yawned again and stepped forward toward the bathroom, groggily tugging at the back of her yellow nylon shorts which had gotten bunched up in her sleep.† She didn't like the sound or the feeling of her bare soles gently sticking to the hardwood.† She would have been wearing socks to bed and to rise as was her preference had it not been such a hot day for September.† She crossed the hardwood to the area rug, and then the tiled floor of her bathroom, and then onto a thick fuzzy rug where her feet had changed their minds and wanted to be warm. She brushed her teeth and was completing her morning evolution when she heard her phone chirp.††

Her heart jumped a little as she approached it, fearing it might be one of her parents.† She wasn't in the mood to lie to them today.† Or worse..what if it was a bill collector?† She had grown nervous spending her parents' money on luxury items, so she opened her own credit card.† Time would tell..no...scream how big a mistake that had been.† Her nervous fingers reached out and lifted the bright screen to her chocolate brown eyes.† Her parents had bought her the Motorola Razr V3 for Christmas last year in 2004.† It hadn’t even been a full year yet and Becca had already clumsily cracked the screen.††

Becca squinted and scrolled around the spider cracks on the screen to make out what the notification was.† Luckily, it wasn’t her parents or the dean or her landlord.† It was just a message from her friend Krystal.† Not one, not too, but several messages blinked on her screen and Becca scrolled through them one by one:

""Hey, my last class lets out at 3pm.† Meet me at the pub; the one with that hot server guy from last week."

30 seconds later...

"Also, remind me to tell you about the number i found"

3 minutes later...

"hey"

10 minutes later...

"Dude, wake up!"

...and Becca smirked as she read the most recent, most dramatic message.†

"Friendship over

Becca’s fingers performed a quick, elegant T9 dance over the phone’s number pad and when the dance was over, she abruptly tossed the phone into her purse and finished getting ready to head out.

It took a second for Becca’s eyes to adjust as she walked through the front door of the pub.† It was always hard walking into one of these places during the day, but once your eyes adjusted it felt totally normal.† When they finally did adjust, Becca spotted who she was there to meet.† She raised a waving hand to Krystal, who was seated in one of the booths with a drink.† Krystal seemed to be embracing the persisting but fading grip of warm weather, dressed in flip-flops, a pair of short rose-pink athletic shorts, and a white spaghetti strap shirt showing off enough cleavage to make Becca just a little bit jealous.†

Becca loved flip-flop season, but she also liked the cold.† Her anticipation was evident in the attire she’d chosen: a tight pair of trendy faded denim blue jeans, white sneakers, and a small dark green sweatshirt.† The material of the sweater was too thin to hold much warmth, but perhaps the appearance of winter attire would be enough to trick Mother Nature into bringing in that cold weather.

“Dude. You’re not just waking up are you?” Krystal questioned, sipping some of her beverage.† Becca sat down and slid in…soft, worn denim gliding against the plush cushion of the bench.†

“Yes, Mom.” Becca rolled her eyes as she removed and replaced her ponytail to correct the disorder caused by the wind.† The teenager pulled her ridden-up green sweatshirt back down over her back and got comfortable.

Kystal's eyes lifted from the menu and a cute smile crept upon her face as the waiter approached.† He was a young man, about their age.† Handsome.† Probably a student.† He was the one they’d seen last week and despite Krystal’s borderline obnoxious flirting after a few drinks, it didn't seem like he remembered them.††

"Good afternoon! I'll be your server today." He said with a smile.† He brought Krystal another diet coke and took their orders, promising a short wait time.††

Once the boy walked away, Krystal began chatting with Becca.† Not anything in particular, mind you.† She herself was also a student and despite poking fun at Becca for dropping out and deceiving her parents, Krystal was supportive and quick to give advice and stand up for her.† The conversation went on for a bit, circling around the classes Krystal was taking, which brought on a bit of envy from Becca.† They talked about Becca's parents and how many excuses she had come up with to keep them from visiting.† Favorite TV shows, boys, mature-yet-handsome professors.† Money problems..mostly Becca's but what college girl didn't have money problems?† The conversations were dying down when Becca suddenly remembered to remind Krystal about the number she’d found.†

"Oh! Oh!" Krystal's light brown eyes lit up as she remembered.††

"Okay..so..like all great stories..." she says with a smile, lifting her hands as if to command silence and attention from everyone.††

At this time, “everyone” would have been Becca, the woman behind the bar at the other end of the bar, and an older couple seated at the restaurant far on the other side.† All were well out of ear’s reach.†

"...the story of ‘The Number I Found’ begins in the ladies room."

Becca groaned and rolled her eyes, and both girls began giggling at the silliness of the premise.††

"I know I know...it sounds terrible but hear me out!† So I see this phone number written on the wall of one of the stalls and snap a picture of it...and then I forget about it. Like...completely.† And then fast-forward to the next day…I'm posting pics to MySpace and I see it.† I get curious about who it is…and I make a bet to myself that some girl got cheated on by some douche and she wrote his number on the stall, cause there was a huge paragraph above it. Probably trashing him, telling girls to send pizzas to his house, bla bla bla.† Anyway, I was late for class so when I took the picture, I figured I could read it all later but…” Krystal reached into her cleavage and pulled out her cell phone. Becca noticed her friend’s rose-pink shorts were too small for even that tiny LG phone.††

Krystal continued as she slid up the screen, “...when I got home later and tried to read what the paragraph said…I realized the picture was too blurry.† I couldn’t make out the words."††

"It's probably just your crappy phone" Becca jeered and Krystal grumbled, navigating several menus.†

A few moments later, Becca's phone vibrated from her pocket† with the picture that Krystal just texted her.† Becca squinted at the image, trying to discern the text in the paragraph.† It was true; the text was just way too small to read.

"All done, smartypants?" Krystal sings and continues.††

Becca was done. Krystal continued.

"...So I called the number and it was some research lab down in North Carolina.”

“A research lab?” Becca inquired.† “That’s weird.† So they told you what the paragraph said?”

Krystal continued, “No, but apparently the number was for people that might be interested in volunteering for some experiment.† And when I tell you what they're doing, you're gonna ‘WTF’ all up and down this pub…”

The waiter approached the girls about a half hour later; he must have noticed that the girls’ plates were half-empty and their drinks contained nothing but ice

“How is everything?† Do you need a refill?” The waiter asked Becca, motioning to her cup containing only ice.††

Becca wiped the “WTF” look off of her face and told the waiter she was fine, and when he walked away, she put the face right back on.

"Okay...so let me get this straight.." Becca said, trying to keep a straight face and speaking just a little louder than Krystal would have wanted her to.††

"...so you're saying this research lab down in North Carolina is shrinking boys…and then they’re putting them in girls' butts?"†

Becca liked using the word "boy" instead of "man".† Sure, man was a better word to describe her peers, but referring to them as boys just felt more cute. Still, that was a sentence that Becca had never thought she'd say, and surely Krystal had never thought she'd hear it. † A hand rushed to cover the budding grin on Krystal's face,†

"Well I didn't put it quite as elegantly as you just did, but…yeah!” Krystal giggled.† “...and that's not the craziest part.† Apparently, the head-doctor-lady who is in charge of the whole experiment thing… she is like....dead serious about this.† Like...I think that she thinks that it should just...be that way."

Becca tilted her head.† "Be that way?† What do you mean?"† Becca read the expression on her face and cautiously said "You mean...like...all boys should just--"††

"--live there!"† Krystal proclaimed with a giggle, “Can you believe that?† I mean…it's insane.† How could someone live in someone else's butt?† And more importantly...why?† Like...why the frig?† Haha. I mean...it just makes zero sense.”

“Yeah…” Becca agreed, nervously sipping at the ice ever-so-slowly melting in her cup.† “...like…I know boys like butts and all, but wouldn’t that be really gross for them?† And wouldn’t it get uncomfortable for the girl?”

Krystal shrugged her shoulders.† “Anyway, I had so many questions about the process…and I also wasn't even fully convinced it wasn't some kind of joke...in fact, I’m still not totally convinced…to be honest.† Though the girl on the phone was convincing and more than happy to answer my questions...until…well I'll get to that...but even though she was just an intern she knew a lot about what was going on."

"So what was some of the stuff you asked her?" Becca asked, leaning onto her elbows in interest.

"Well...I asked what kind of people they were looking for, and she said women of ages 18 to 65 and of almost all body types...I guess for a wide variety.† They said--"

"--ALMOST all body types?” Becca interrupted with a raised eyebrow.

Becca was, as her first boyfriend put it, ‘thick where it counted and thin everywhere else’.† She had always been in good shape, and only someone crazy or out of insults would resort to calling her fat, but it deeply bothered her when boys at her college would tease and exclude the overweight girls from parties and get-togethers.†

"No no, its not like what you’re thinking.” Krystal said. “Not at all.† In fact, she even said that a full range of volunteers would include really heavy girls too.”

“So even Mrs. Jensen?” Becca said like a giggling school girl as she pictured the art history teacher.††

“Oh god, Mrs. Jensen.† Can you imagine the poor boy that would end up in her butt? I bet if he had a choice between her butt or her lectures, he’d pick her butt every time!!” Krystal giggled. “Yeah, funnily enough I think she’d actually meet all their criteria.”

Krystal tried stifling her laughter.† “In fact, pretty much one of the only disqualifiers...is not having a big enough butt."††

Becca tried to empty her laughter into her cupped hands but it overflows and spills, filling the pub and disturbing the one or two people that had sat on the other side of the restaurant since their bizarre conversation began.† She regained most of her composure.††

"They specifically want girls with big butts? I guess that makes sense if a boy is going to be inside of it.† How..teehee..big does it have to be?" She asked, lifting her hands up and separating them, palms facing themselves in the way someone might show how big a fish they caught, and then began moving her palms apart by several feet.††

"It doesn’t HAVE to be that big, weirdo...but they don’t seem to think any butt is too big so don’t worry, I’m sure you’re okay." Krystal teased as Becca squinted her nose in mild discord and stuck out her tongue.† Krystal was very attractive and well endowed, but in the same way Becca envied her large breasts, Becca suspected and even hoped that Krystal was jealous of her ample derriere.

Krystal stopped giggling and gained her composure. "No..its not like the minimum is some crazy size like Mrs. Jensen’s although I really did get the impression that they’re okay with that too”, Krystal continued, “it just needs to be...oh god how did she word it...it was hilarious..."†

Krystal thought for a few more moments in silence and then she remembered.† She quoted the intern, her eyes looking up at the script inside her mind,†

"The buttocks must be at a size and softness such that the subject is entirely encased and not visible when wedged between them, particularly when the woman is standing and ideally, even when her lower half is nude."

The cute waiter had to actually ask the girls to keep it down that time, and they did their best to comply, giggling a whole different song...eyes on the boy as he walked away.

“Okay, so they want to wedge the boys between their butt cheeks I guess?† Not like…all the way up there?” Becca sipped at the water produced by the ice in her drink.††

“Your guess is as good as mine.” Krystal said with a giggle.

"So did you sign up then?" Becca asked with amusement on her face.††

"I couldn't.” Krystal said with regret but still with a smile, “She started asking me questions like...are you between 18 and 65.† Umm…yes.† Are you morally troubled by the uninformed or lack of consent? Umm…no.”

‘What?’ Becca thought, ‘who’s not informed?’

Krystal continued. “Do you have a big butt?” She leaned over and slapped her own lifted left ass cheek.†

“Umm...it's no ‘Becca Booty’ but…yes?!" Krystal sang, turning Becca’s briefly troubled and inquisitive frown right on upside down.†

"So it sounds like you meet their goofy requirements.† Why couldn't you do it?"† Becca questioned.

"Remember how I'm going to Japan for that sculpting class next week?”

“Yeah, October 3rd..and you’re getting to go back regularly…..jealous..” Becca grumbled.††

“Well yeah, but that’s apparently a deal breaker for them.† They want all their people to stay in the country…in fact I don't think the girls who participate are even allowed to fly.† I mean...imagine the look on the TSA agent's face when he looks at an xray of a skeleton girl and sees a tiny little skeleton boy down at her hips.”

“Maybe they’d just think he’s your baby.” Becca joked and Krystal nearly shot diet coke out of her nose.††

“Maybe…” Krystal said, dabbing her nose with a napkin, “...or imagine if the screener started patting me down and asked ‘Are you bringing any fruits or vegetables into the country?’ and they’d find him in my crack and I’d have to be all like ‘No sir.† No fruits or vegetables but I am bringing a shrunken guy; don’t worry though cause he’s staying between my butt cheeks the whole time.’"

"Oh, well thats too bad."† Becca says, half sincere.†

It was a funny story but there was still just way too much that, even if it was believable, which was a big ‘if’, there just didn't seem like any good reason to shrink someone and put them between a girl's butt cheeks: logically and maybe even morally as well.† That's why she laughed and reflexively got up from her seat, jeans once again sliding against the cushion in the opposite direction, when Krystal suggested that Becca give them a call.† Becca had only made it a few steps before the words coming out of Krystal's mouth floated to her ears.†

"They pay, Becca...they pay A LOT."† Becca stopped dead in her tracks.† As she stood there, absorbing what she'd just heard, she was very interested in something she had only just now noticed.††

Had she ever noticed this before?††

She thought not.††

Her mind had tuned in to the bouncing sensation that was currently halfway finished its resonation through her tightly-packed denim-clad cheeks.† She monitored it until the bouncing subsided, and the flesh of her sizable rump became completely stationary.† It took a few seconds.†

Becca slowly turned back to face her friend and looked around self-consciously to see if anyone else was listening. Becca sat back down with Krystal, suddenly much more aware of the way her ample rear compressed into the cushion.

Becca struggled to take this seriously, not wanting to put herself too far out there.† If this wasn’t just a weird, tasteless joke coming from her BFF, it could still be a mean-spirited joke from someone on campus.† Still…what if it wasn’t?† What if it was real?† What if they really did pay alot?

“So…you’re suggesting I keep a boy in my butt?” Becca said with a playful but self-conscious smirk.

“Well…” Krystal raised an eyebrow and sighed, grabbing Becca’s phone. She started programming a new phone number into Becca’s contact list.† It was the phone number scribbled on the woman’s stall from the picture that Krystal had sent earlier. She named the new contact ‘RR’.††

Krystal set her elbows on the table and rested her chin on her palms.† With a playful giggle, she smiled and said “I’m just suggesting you give them a call and see what’s up.”

††~†


Chapter End Notes:

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