“Wish I could forget and let the years go by
Wish I could escape from my dreams of you.”
―Katzenjammer, “To the Sea”
Alison Daily’s new housemate loomed on the threshold like a tree with no one to shade.
“Oh,” said Alison, first stepping back, then, embarrassed by her timidity, forward. “Hello, Tracy.”
“Hey, Alison,” the visitor replied.
Alison stood aside and closed the door behind the woman who entered with her head ducked to avoid smacking it against the doorframe. A sports bag almost as large as Alison swung on Tracy’s shoulder.
“I see you travelled light,” said Alison.
“I’ve never had much,” said Tracy. She surveyed the living room, admired the dining room’s crystal chandelier swaying and scintillating above her head. She stood by the sofa – about long enough to fit her – and stretched one arm up. “High ceilings. I like this place already.”
“Do most of your clothes fit you this badly?” Alison tugged at the hem of Tracy’s shirt, a myrtle green tee stretched thin over the woman’s bulk; her minor tug tormented the collar to the breaking point and shredded it down to Tracy’s sternum.
“No. Just the old stuff.” Tracy looked everywhere around the house except down, at Alison. I, uh,”—she rubbed the back of her neck—“wore it ‘cause I thought you might like it.”
Alison took her in from breast height. “I do,” she said. “I like it a lot.” She pressed Tracy’s stomach—God, she marveled, she really does have a six-pack—with both hands. Tracy stood there in silent confusion until, feeling dumb, she realized the smaller woman’s intentions and sat down on the couch. Alison kissed her. She kissed Tracy as hard as she could and let herself fall into her arms, the larger of the two laying across the couch and pulling Alison into her embrace.
“You’re just as wonderful in person,” Alison whispered into Tracy’s ear.
If Tracy had been unfamiliar with the world of online dating before she met Alison, even more so had she been with the oxymoronic principle of remote intimacy, of love kindled in sound waves and anonymous blocks of text and crystallized in pixelated real-time images so far from the actual, warm thing. Now she held Alison’s head against her chest like a beautiful little egg in her hands, and she felt that there was work to do, that the past of year of knowing and longing had evaporated in Alison’s presence. Face-to-face, things were so—
Alison jerked her head up. “What is?”
“Yeah. It’s nice, though, isn’t it? I loved this place growing up, I always thought Craftsman architecture—”
“With you, I mean.” Tracy sat up. She turned Alison onto her back and began to rub her stomach. She had worried on the way there, briefly, that their size disparity would make contact with Alison feel like molesting a child, but reality was so much sweeter; her little frame had such full breasts, such wide hips, her pretty little oblong face had such pouty lips, bespectacled eyes such a lovely green. She made Tracy feel ungainly by comparison, elephantine and slow, a curveless pillar of muscle. “How well do I know you?”
“Better than most people do when they decide to move in together,” said Alison. She kissed Tracy’s head (smiling at how the huge woman blushed) and slipped off her lap. “Trust me, I’ve heard some horror stories. People reluctant to admit how little they have in common moving into one another’s homes to cement relationships and, without even realizing, sort of speeding them toward the end.”
“Always so positive,” Tracy laughed.
“Not every couple has our chemistry,” Alison called from the kitchen, rooting through the pantry. “What do you want to eat? Probably starving from the bus ride.”
“Starving, yeah. Didn’t take the bus.”
“Are you joking?” Alison ducked her head in from the kitchen. “That’s dangerous!”
Tracy leaned over the sofa, raised an eyebrow, and folded her arms in such a way as to threaten her shirtsleeves with the same fate as her collar. “Compared to prison?”
“Fair enough.” She disappeared into a renewed clangor of pots and pans. “I’ve always meant to ask you, but I wasn’t sure—I always thought it might be indelicate, or too early…”
“Yeah?” Tracy was pacing around the living room, then out into the hallway that curved through the right side of the house, around the kitchen, leading into a bathroom and two bedrooms facing each other. She was looking at the pictures on the white walls, looking for old stuff. Most of them were college pictures from just a few years ago. Alison had always been embarrassed to show her stuff from when she was a kid, but there had to be adorable, juicy stuff in a frame somewhere in the Daily house, hanging or on a bureau. Tracy was peering innocuously around the bathroom when slender arms wrapped around her waist.
“Did you have any prison wives?” Alison murmured into Tracy’s back.
Tracy spun around and scooped her off the ground and Alison squealed with delight.
“None as pretty as you,” Tracy said in-between raspberries on her love’s belly.
“Bet you went through half a dozen over three years.”
“Haha, at least.” Tracy started toward what she assumed was Alison’s room (it looked enough, through the partly-closed door, like the backdrop she recognized from so many Skype calls and profile pictures) when Alison said, “Wait.”
“Let’s eat first,” Alison continued, “then fool around.”
“Sounds good to me.” Tracy set Alison down. “But believe me”—she crouched and grabbed the redhead’s derriere with enough force to elicit a gasp—“I won’t be fooling around.”
Tracy felt it in the living room. Like electricity raising her neck hairs, like the numb, slow prelude to a heart attack. The moments came so rarely ever since men in black had given her over to men and women in white coats, after she and the huge exsanguinated corpse of her partner-in-crime had been spirited away to God-Knows-Where, to be, respectively, cured and dissected. “Cured” being a word earned only after so much needling and cutting and soaking and spraying with a hundred thousand different aerosol hurricanes of various scents and sensations (few pleasant), after a week-long diminution from several stories high to a mere seven feet and with her white-coated wardens none the wiser as to how she defied the Square Cube Law and survived.
These Opportunities crept up on Tracy like jackals in tall grass, but less and less throughout her sentence. She distracted herself with exercise, tightening her new body into something forbidding and powerful, something she could for once love. It must have been the final imprint of the gas, the scientists had thought, that she could so easily replace the flabbiness of her frame with hard muscle. In under half a year she had traded her muffin top for a washboard, and the rest of Tracy Skaid followed suit.
And here was another Opportunity.
Best to get this out of the way quickly.
“Alison,” Tracy said. Alison came from the kitchen, nervous at the way her name had been called the way things are said when the speaker needs to deliver distasteful news, and then doubly nervous at the way Tracy was standing, as if she had frozen in place from a sudden pain.
“Listen,” Tracy continued, removing her jeans, panties, and shoes with quick, mechanical movements, leaving on only the torn t-shirt and her socks, “I need you to see something. If you don’t like it—if it frightens you—I’ll leave. I’m glad I can do this before I’m unpacked.”
“Trace,” Alison said, laughing nervously, starting toward the half-naked woman, “what are you talking about?”
The worn socks wore themselves, finally, to death against the wooden floor, stretching to transparency and the shreds without the feet inside actually moving. The myrtle green tee gave a last futile protest as the tanned chest and arms within pushed inexorably free of their confines, as atoms flew into the expanding molecular cloud that was Tracy Skaid, drawn in by processes mysterious and alien in their mechanics (and sensual to behold), forming more and more new cells, new muscle, new flesh, without the orderliness of the burgeoning human body ever distorting.
Tracy’s head bumped the twelve-foot ceiling and ended it. Her mousy hair now hung down to her shoulders. She hated it long nowadays. She shook it away from her face, then saw Alison, and remembered where she was and what she had just done.
“I don’t let that happen a lot,” she whispered. She lowered herself slowly to a cross-legged position on the floor, letting her nervous system get back to work, feeling her body become once again completely solid, thoughts and electrical impulses returning to normal speed. The cool wood soothed her; the growth always generated a ton of heat, and it made for a lousy delayed reaction.
She still had not made eye contact with Alison.
Alison had not moved since she saw the shirt tear away from Tracy’s rippling arms. She stepped forward, tin-soldier deliberate, and stopped immediately in front of the downcast eyes of the giantess.
Tracy’s head jolted up at the tone of Alison’s voice. Was it chiding? Even stranger, her eyes: there was recognition in them. Of what, Tracy couldn’t tell, but it flashed through them as the little woman’s head nodded.
“You thought that would frighten me?” Alison asked, with a disbelieving smile.
“Um, well, yeah.”
Alison beckoned Tracy forward. She removed her glasses and embraced the great chiseled rectangular face and kissed its lips and ran her fingers over its jawline.
“It takes a great deal more than that, Big Girl. Will you be back to normal by the time I’ve got the chicken ready?”
“I… yeah, are we just talking now? After I turned into a giant and I’m naked in your living room? You’re taking this really well. Unreasonably well.”
Alison rolled her eyes and fell against the kitchen portico, one arm raised to her forehead, petrified in Fay Wray mock-terror. “Oh,” she said in the brassy gasp of a B-movie bombshell, “please, don’t come any closer—”
Tracy grinned and stretched out a predatory finger. She pushed her voice to the lowest extreme of its register; at twelve feet, somewhere in the range of an alligator’s bellow. “Mmm, me want.” She tickled her damsel until the little redhead was collapsed with helpless giggles and pleas to stop, and Tracy joined in, laughing hand-on-knees belly laughter, until her forehead touched the floor and her eyes were wet.
“I’ll shrink fast,” she said. “I’ll be hungry when I’m little again.”
“‘Little’,” Alison echoed with wide-eyed sarcasm. “Uh-huh, it’ll just be little old normal Tracy eating me out of house and home.”
With Alison busy with the oven and with raw poultry, Tracy had a moment to contextualize her current position: almost twice her normal height and naked in the house of her Internet girlfriend who was entirely unastonished at witnessing her growth to the aforementioned abnormal size.
There’s got to be a reason she took that so well, Tracy thought. Love? That was one thing. But the gleam (or perhaps the shadow) of recognition in Alison’s eyes, the slow nod of her head as if she was seeing something unusual for the second time, had been unmistakable.
Tracy thought, and shrank, as the sunlight waned.
“You get these for free?” Tracy asked, fastening the Wonderbra around her chest.
“Well, discounted,” said Alison. “I’ve only been with Wonder Fashion for so long. Once I’ve got my own line, that’s another story.”
Alison had bought some large ladies’ wear for Tracy as a surprise for when she arrived. After Tracy had shrunk and they ate, Alison had her try on some of the new stuff in her bedroom.
“I know you will,” said Tracy, “your design portfolio is really nice.”
“You’re just saying that.”
“Well,” said Alison, “I showed you my design sketches. Now it’s your turn to show me something.”
“Oh.” Tracy unhooked the bra and began to slide off her panties, wiggling her hips, looking over her shoulder at Alison through half-lidded eyes and biting her bottom lip.
“I’ve already seen that,” Alison laughed. “I meant the pictures you have from when you were younger.”
Tracy frowned, mock-irritated, slingshotted her underwear at her girlfriend’s head, and began rifling through her bag.
“Used to scrapbook,” Tracy said. “Not well, but I did. Only reason these aren’t digital. And does this mean I get to see you as a cute little kid?”
“But I’m showing you—”
“I showed you the new portfolio, this is the trade-off.”
Tracy stuck her tongue out as she fished the small album from underneath her folded clothes.
“Oh my God.” Alison brought a hand to her mouth and flipped through the album with the other. “Tracy, you were adorable!”
“Ugh, age seven: when I started the ‘chubby and awkward’ stage that didn’t really end like a stage is supposed to.”
Tracy sat on the bed with Alison and shook her head at the grins, grimaces, and glowers frozen on celluloid, her grainy childhood, her adolescence (so few others in those pictures, fewer whose names she could remember, parents disappeared entirely), and her washed-out early adulthood.
Then she was there. Sitting on Tracy’s left side on the hood of a Cadillac (stolen, Tracy had learned a month after the photo had been taken), t-shirt and jeans both torn, arm around Tracy’s shoulders, both of them caught at the start of laughter.
Alison must have felt her stiffen.
“Is that… your friend?” she asked
“No,” said Tracy.
“Well, I guess she wasn’t really a friend…”
“No, she was. At first. But—she just… It’s late. I’ll let you finish looking. I’m going to sleep.”
“Wait,” Alison said, grabbing Tracy’s arm, “I’m sorry. You probably feel weird about it since she died.” She pulled Tracy back toward the bed. “But… could you tell me about your condition?”
“So you are curious.” Tracy folded her arms. “Why were you so cool about it?”
“It didn’t remind you of—”
“What, has it happened to you?”
Tracy’s brain skipped from one confusion to another and left her face petrified in numb stupefaction.
“I mean, not exactly,” Alison added quickly. She talked with her hands, Tracy noticed, when she was embarrassed. “I had this hallucinogenic episode years ago, when I took a tour of the Wonder Fashions Research and Design Headquarters, I had taken some allergy medication, and I believe I was exposed to some chemical vapors—basically, between the drugs and the chemicals I had this trippy, Lewis Carroll-esque fever dream. It can remember it with surprising clarity, I ate some cake and shot up about six feet—my clothes all stayed on besides my underpants, for some reason—and there was this whole world under the facility, with creepy, wide-faced little fairies tending these (oh Jesus) phallic-looking fruit, and I sucked out some of the juice to get unstuck from between some trees. My tits broke the trees, and… it’s not really important, the rest of it, and I woke up later, missed a bunch of the tour, could have sued Wonder Fashions, to be honest, but I wanted to work there so I figured, What’s the point?”
Alison remembered to breathe. “Anyway, when you grew, it just reminded me of that fucking bizarre dream. Minus the ballooning tits.”
“Why,” Tracy said, slowly, “was I not told this story when we were talking online?”
“Can you imagine how weird it would have been for me to even see that crazy nonsense typed out?”
Tracy fished her toiletries from her bag and went into the hallway bathroom to brush her teeth. “Hey,” she called to Alison with a mouthful of toothpaste, “should I sleep in the next bedroom? I’m gonna take up most of the bed at my size, and my bag takes up a ton of space; maybe I should make that my area? I’ll stay in your bed when we, y’know, fuck.”
“I don’t mind sharing the bed,” said Alison. “I really don’t. Besides, I’m certain you’ll be great to sleep on.”
Tracy came back in for her bag and tousled Alison’s hair on the way.
“Don’t,” said Alison.
Tracy recoiled. That was the sort of dead tone of voice she had used when she was younger, when someone did something she didn’t like. Typically Loyce. You developed that tone when the person never stopped.
“No big deal,” said Alison. She chuckled to break the tension. “You couldn’t have known. I should have mentioned it at some point. Just a pet peeve, happens a bit much when you grow up as short as I am.”
“Eh, five-two isn’t that bad.”
Tracy threw her bag onto the bed in the room across from Alison’s. It didn’t feel like a guest room. Its layout mirrored Alison’s, though any evidence of a previous inhabitant had been stripped away. Tracy checked the dresser drawers: empty. She opened the top drawer of the night stand and was rewarded: two pictures.
In the first were two girls, no older than thirteen. They were standing on a green field, captured in ethereal brightness by sunlight reflected in the camera. One of the girls, the much taller, wore a soccer uniform, and stood with her left foot planted on the ball, left hand in a fist on her hip, right arm encircling the other girl. What a smile: glad, victorious, challenging. Her dark hair, not even shoulder-length, had (Tracy could just make them out) purple highlights.
She did not yet know how or why the purple in the girl’s hair seemed familiar.
The shorter of the two had to be Alison; same auburn hair, definitely her face, albeit younger and without glasses. Her smile revealed the gleam of braces. Her left arm was around the waist of the other girl, and in her right she carried a gold trophy. Tracy couldn’t see the name on the plaque.
She turned over the picture. On the back, written in permanent marker: “Alison after Big Sis’s tournament win.”
Alison had a sister and never once mentioned her to Tracy.
Fair enough, Tracy thought, maybe they’re estranged. Maybe she’s dead, like her parents.
The second photo: “Big Sis” quite a bit older, perhaps 17. Her figure had developed, the cuteness eroded from her oval face. Adulthood had suited her. Faded jean jacket and dark pants, hands in pockets. The camera looked at her from the side. No smile here; she was annoyed, or sad, perhaps both. She was on the side of the road, sky dominated by a threatening nimbus, browning grass laid flat by wind. Her hair had, left of her face, a prominent streak of mauve.
Tracy was almost sick before she turned over the photo and read the caption in Alison’s handwriting: “Last sighting of the elusive Megan Small.”
Tracy recalled watching that face, purple-streaked hair blowing high against helicopter gusts, on the news for what seemed like an eternity after her return from the desert. Heard the stories of her growth and rampage at a different prison within the same week she had killed Loyce in the prison yard, and the following catfight between similarly-affected women not even two days later. And then that face, dominating the 24-hour news cycle; smiling with satisfaction; eyes shut, mouth open in a moan of pleasure; bottom lip bitten, eyebrows wiggling, an expression so cartoonishly devious one was tempted to laugh, until the footage cut back to the wreckage of San Diego, the great bleeding chunk torn from America’s West Coast; head high, prideful, eyes wild with malice as that ordinary young woman in the picture strode naked and gargantuan down city streets increasingly too narrow for her to navigate, after bursting from the courthouse, violating and destroying everyone inside. The audio of her voice, amplified to godlike thunderclap volume, taunting the National Guard, roaring with anger, crying out in orgasm after the cure dispensed by the jets failed and her growth peaked and she pleasured herself with the bridge; always that clip, and the cars tumbling from so, so high up, falling past the buildings already ruined, the streets and tanks already flattened, screams drowned out by the shameless moaning and panting, by the almost comical exhibition of the massive aroused woman caressing herself, aggressively probing her vagina, groping her own swollen breasts.
Calling down to her victims. Calling herself “the new law.”
Tracy clutched the pictures very, very, tightly between her fingers as she walked back to Alison’s room. A short distance over slow steps.
The teary testimonials from relatives of victims, computer simulations of how different structures succumbed to the damage she wrought, speculation on how it happened, how it was possible, what it meant, how could a human being even do something like this? The President’s address to the nation, the UN restoration effort, the charities and benefit concerts.
The suppositions about the Giant’s fate: after having her way with the bridge, she was just falling asleep before she started in a panic and shrank more rapidly than she had grown. She disappeared into the ruins. Officials had appeared on television to reassure the world that she was presumed dead, drowned in the Pacific, or crushed in the rubble she had created, or burned to death in one of the fires she had started. Dead of a heart attack, a stroke, some failure of her body due to the immense stress of her size-changing. Or, more fancifully, shrunken away to nothingness. Still, there were the conspiracy theories, ominous and persistent, that the government was holding her in captivity, waiting to re-release her and install the New World Order. Or, worse (depending on who you asked), she had simply escaped. She was hiding somewhere.
Just biding her time.
Tracy’s girlfriend had just turned out the lights and was under the covers, glasses off, hair a mess. Tracy turned on the bedside lamp and placed the photos in its light. Alison put her glasses back on and looked, and removed her glasses when she looked back at Tracy. She did not want to see Tracy’s face.
“I…” Alison hugged her knees. She shook her head. “I thought I had remembered to—to put them away, somewhere. I-I thought.”
Alison was taking quick, shallow breaths. Tracy shut the door and sat on the bed.
“We have some more sharing to do,” she said.
– Hey. Hey, c’mon, frickin’ answer, Meg.
– Yeah, what is it?
– Hey, where are you right now?
– Hiding under a fucking storm drain, planning a route east, why’d you call?
– You oughta come back to your old place.
– Which ‘old place’ are you talking about?
– Like, where you grew up.
– Are you on some fucking drugs, Nikki?
– No no listen, alright, you wanna hear this.
– Oh yeah?
– Yeah, remember that chick you told me about from the first time you were—
– Keep your fucking voice down when you mention that shit, someone might hear you.
– Right, sorry, I’ll whisper. The first time you were huge and they took you to that place? That chick you mentioned that they were looking at before-and-after pictures of, the one that had been huge too? They sent her back to another jail after they shrank her. And you said she started off kinda chunky but in the newer pics she looked like Gina Carano or some shit?
– Yeah, yeah, and so what?
– She’s moved in with your sister.
– Megan you there?
– Are you sure?
– Huh? Yeah, big buff bitch, got dropped off at Ali’s house earlier in the afternoon.
– Oh my God, that’s fucking perfect! We’re going to get the team together at my old house.
– Really? That’s Pennsylvania, Meg, why not Kansas or something, not so far from the place you—
– No, Jami’s up in Maine, it’ll be easier for her to meet us there without worrying about her doing some crazy shit to get arrested on the way to the Midwest. Make sure Joan knows what’s up.
– Yeah, sure, do I need to go get you or something?
– Are you crazy? If they catch you bringing me across state lines we’re both fucked, and anyway I need you there keeping an eye on baby sis and her big girlfriend. See if they leave or something.
– How much longer are you gonna be?
– Not much. I can get pretty far in a day. Hell, I might get there before you see the sun come up.
– I guess I’ll wait up for you.
– Don’t bother, Scarface; you’ll need a good night’s sleep. I plan on paying baby sis a surprise visit before I let you know I’m there.
– Holy shit that’s evil.
– The fuck was that, Meg?
– My ride home. I left some construction nails on the shoulder of the road, lemme take a look—yep, guy’s got a spare tire, and gas in the back. My lucky day. I’ll be seeing you, Nikki.
– Yeah Meg, sure thing.