My Little Aunt (c) 2006
"She not even blood related. " 17-year-old James Frost ranted to the family lawyer, Mr. Edwards.
"Yes I know, but your decease mother left in her will and stated very clearly; that you are to be in her care till you’re old enough to care for yourself in case of her unlikely death." Mr. Edwards calmly spoke to young teen boy sitting in front of his desk.
"I’ll turn 18-years-old in a few months." James said with protest.
"Just for a year at the most. One more year and you’ll be free to do whatever you what and live wherever you want." Mr. Edwards said quietly. Thinking how sad it was to see such a little family fall apart before his eyes over the years.
Mr. Edwards thought about the boy’s father and how it was shame no one knew where he was. The father had ran off and left the family before his son even turned 10-years-old, then his mother’s car accident just a month ago, combined with a coma till it was only the machines that was keeping her alive.
"I heard mom talk about her when they got together years ago and I just don’t think we’ll get along." James said then thought about how mom used to talk about her now nudist friend who still in loved the 60s era, a woman known to be a bit reckless in her younger days. James was more a serious type like his mom and wondered how his mom ever got mixed up with a hippie girl when she was a teenager.
"Miss Vance is a fine woman who is known to drink a little too much only on social events, but has been a great asset to her town. Recently, she had become a hermit in her house and sees no one. I kept in contact by writing letters to her." Mr. Edwards explained and pulled a small stack out of his desk.
"Is she crazy?" James said trying his best to sound innocence.
"Perhaps or just tired of the public eyes always on her. You shouldn’t be so judgmental on a woman that is nearly 50-years-old. She has already written back that she’ll be more then happy to take you in as long you like. She has expressed the joy just to see you and politely ask to follow a few simple rules at her house. " Mr. Edwards said pushing the stack across his desk to James’s side.
"What kind of rules?" James said with a note of rejection in his voice.
"She didn’t say." Mr. Edwards replied motioning with his hand to the letters.
"I guess you want me to read these on my way there." James said stuffing them into his traveling bag.
"If you like. Your mother’s choice of a guardian has already paid for the plane and bus ticket to get there." Mr. Edwards handing over a seal envelope.
"I’ll be writing in a few days to check up on you and you’re free to call me with any questions or concerns." Mr. Edwards said getting up slowly due to his own old age.
James stood up and realized as they shook hands that he had no real logical choice. His family home was sold to pay for bills and his things including his mother’s things were already there at his foster aunt’s house. Anything of real value was sold to pay for due medical bills then funeral costs.
"You should get to know her before you pass your final judgment. I’ve been her lawyer as well for years since your mother had referred her to me. Goodbye and good luck." Mr. Edwards said with a little smile.
"I’ll try, I guess." James said and left with his bag to catch a cab to the airport. His final idea to talk to the lawyer one last time had failed.
On the plane ride, he skimmed through the letters. Writing was large as if she was going blind and crudely done in some places. To make it look even worse, it was all done by hand in simple print.
James’s impression she’d be a woman with graying hair, thick glasses and short in height. He imagined most of this when he saw a small smudge of a small fingerprint on one of the letters. His own thumb print was bigger.
James had read every copy of Sherlock Holmes’s book around he knew and picked up a few tricks, so he thought.
James was only guessing on the hair color completely, but pretty sure on his theories about his new aunt.
James found it easy to catch his bus since he’d done a little bit of traveling with his mother and knew the basics already.
The Bus ride was terrible long as they left the city for the country side. From his stop and the bus’s very last stop, he discovered by talking to a local store owner he would have to hike up a hill.
Exhausted and little stressed from the bus trip, he reached the house at last.
The house looked to be an old manor house out of a haunted house movie. Made of brick and looking fairly modern it looked like a small apartment complex then a house to James’s eyes.
James couldn’t help, but wonder how many rooms there were in this two story house. He even wondered if it had a ceiling or a finished basement. Then he noticed the black painted gates with a key lock. Below the lock was an envelope with his name on it.
As he felt the envelope he knew it couldn’t have been there very long. It wasn’t even wet from the morning dew.
James looked inside the envelope and found a small key and note.
"Use the side door to your left." James muttered out loud as he read.
James looked and saw a metal side door with no lock. He moved away from the gates that were large enough for a truck to use if they were opened.
James opened the side door and saw a very small room with another door just ahead and it had a lock. As James step in, he noticed a camera high in the corner and voice box built into the wall by the door.
Deciding to hit the button like a doorbell he said hello very loudly.
"No, need to shout." A distorted female’s voice said above him and James jumped in fright and looked upward to see a speaker in the ceiling.
"Sorry, I’m James.." James started to say his full name then was cut off.
"No need for introductions. I know who you are and I can see your mother’s face in yours." The speaker announced somewhat sharply to him.
James thought he heard something like sadness in the voice, but with so much distortion he wasn’t sure. It was higher pitch then he expected.
Thinking darkly how rude it was to cut him short, he unlocked the door with the key and walked through. The driveway wasn’t very long and had nice high hedges between the sidewalk and driveway.
The front door was unlocked and James knocked as he opened it.
No one was in the hallway or in the first room he entered. The room was like a sitting room for someone to wait. A letter with his name was laying open on the table in the center of the room.
James picked it up and read it in a whisper:
"Sorry, I’m unable to greet you today, but I have a condition and unable to have any outside contact with anyone. As your mother’s son, I know you’re old enough and trustworthy enough to look after yourself. First level of the house and half of the basement are yours to explore and use till 11:00 O’clock curfew. I’m sure you’ll clean up after yourself and help your new aunt with a few tasks as well. Since you’re the only man of the house, I’ve decided to let you shoulder some real responsibility; Picking up the mail, making your own meals and washing your own clothes. Please feel free to use the intercom system to chat and look into the camera placed just above in a corner near each intercom."
PS In your bedroom I’ve left some money for school supplies plus other expenses and I’ve setup everything with the school. You’ll start at your new school in two days. The enrollment papers are on the bed as well with the classes you’ll be taking.
Your dear Aunt Helen
James stuffed this letter and walked around the house. He felt guilty walking around in a house with nobody around that he could see. Here and there he saw intercoms and cameras, most in the hallways and one in the kitchen.
High book shelves and tables had a neglected look to them. So his Aunt didn’t dust much or read that often, he thought quietly to himself.
His bedroom was nice and the size of just about anybody’s living room. Shocking him more then the room size was the amount of money left for him. There was enough for enough supplies for ten kids and a handy little note with suggested items to get. One listed item was including a computer with DSL connection.
James smiled as he realized he had so much to spend. He looked and saw a spot where the DSL line could be plug-in.
"So my Aunt likes to have her house pretty modern." James said out loud.
James placed the money and letters into a drawer near his bed and laid down for a second. A minute later, he had fallen asleep and didn’t wake till early next morning. Sunlight came in through the window by his bed.
Startled by the strange bedroom and utter silence, it took him a moment to realize where he was. The door to his room was shut and he knew he had left it open before he fell asleep.
Looking around he saw the room was pretty bare. An old writing desk and clothes drawer with a closet was only things in this room. To his other side he had his own private full bathroom. Looking at the walls he saw bare spots where pictures had been.
So my new aunt wants me to make this my room. James thought as he got up. Creaking noise upstairs caught his attention next.
"You’re up early too." James said in a whisper to the ceiling.
Changing out his dirty clothes and catching a shower, he briefly wondered about more cameras. Maybe hidden ones and then thought it was dumb to be so paranoid.
James was welcomed with a good morning as he walked halfway down the hallway, now fully dressed and clean.
Pressing the talk button at the nearest intercom he returned the greeting.
"Morning and thank you." James said weakly not wanting to show he had really been grateful.
"Your welcome. I’ve left a list of things I need. The list is in the kitchen." His foster aunt’s voice came over the speaker a moment later.
James entered the kitchen saw a small list with a little more money waiting for him on the table.
James skipped breakfast to do his aunt’s shopping. He had been eager to explore the town then his new home. He found the walk easy enough down the hill, but a lot harder as he walked up now with bags in his hands. The local store had everything he needed for now. Later he would use the school’s Internet connection to order his own computer.
With one bag of food and the other filled with supplies, he felt maybe this new life wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
James ate a quick breakfast once he was back into his new strange home then he explored the house. Each room was about the same. There was an old style feel to the place, but with modern appliances everywhere made the place feel comfortable. His aunt even had a flat screen TVs in some rooms.
James mapped the rooms in his head and didn’t bother trying any of the doors that were at the top of stairs. James counted three stairways leading up. First by the hallway leading to the front door while second one was close to the kitchen and the last one by the back door which lead to the gardens.
James had to admire the back yard and gardens hidden by the house. To no surprise, he saw the same brick wall surrounding the house.
James took a walk through the pathways and was amazed by the trees and flowers. It looked like it been a month since anyone did any weed pulling.
Making his way back, he went back to his room and made it more like his old room.
James heard more footsteps and wondered briefly what his aunt did up there all the time. James then wondered how anyone to ill to see other people could move around so much.
James spent most of the last free day he had preparing and making his room ready. Before he wanted it to happen, it was night time already. Double checking his packed bag, he was ready for the first day at school.
He was greeted by silence when he first stepped onto the bus and more when he got to his classes. Figuring this is how they treat the new kid, James didn’t think much about it. He had classes to listen too and books to catch up on since he came into the middle of the school year.
Wasn’t till lunch time did someone finally talk to him.
"I’m Kelly." A fairly attractive girl said as she sat next to him.
"James." James said feeling out of place.
"Is it true you’re living with old crazy Helen Singer?" Kelly asked as she sat down and lean over the table.
"Yeah, she is my aunt I’d guess." James replied.
"How is that? I’ve always heard she never had any family left in the world and never married." Kelly said quietly.
"Well, my mom passed away and according to her last will, I have to stay with her till I’m old enough." James said wishing he could skip the questions about his parents with everyone.
"I’m sorry." Kelly said in a whisper and then not wanting to meet his eyes.
"It’s okay. I’ve gotten over it." James said wanting her to feel better about it.
"If you don’t mind me asking about your aunt, is it true that no one ever sees her?" Kelly asked getting back on her original question.
"Guess so. I’ve only been there for two days and haven’t seen her yet." James said and wondered what his aunt look like for the hundredth time.
"I think that is cool. I love to get away from everybody once in a while." Kelly said with a small tone of excitement in her voice.
"I’d do just about everything in the house now, chores and cleaning." James said feeling a little more relaxed.
"That’s sweet of you. I’ve heard my dad saying once she was getting up there in age." Kelly said then looked over as someone shouted her name.
James looked as well and followed her line of sight.
A whole table of girls was just a few yards away and they seemed to be doing their best to get Kelly’s attention.
"I’m sorry. I have to go, but we’ll talk again soon." Kelly said then got up with her tray of food.
James watched from the corner of eye and could tell they were discussing him as soon as she sat down.
Over the next week, James was the main topic at his new school. Everyone seemed to think he knew more about his foster aunt then anyone in the town. Once it was clear he didn’t, the questions stopped.
James had to admit the sudden attention was interesting for a while, but got tired of it soon after.
James started to become curious of his foster aunt. Twice that week, he thought he heard her downstairs in the kitchen or moving about in other rooms. Any noise he made in the other room and he would hear her going up the stairs, with the quick steps of a younger woman half her age.
James wondered if his foster aunt was ugly or so sick looking that she was scared to let anyone see her. James began to form a plan in his mind to catch a glimpse of her before another week would be over.
Hallway cameras made it impossible to hide or sneak out to wait. Then it came to him. The window by his bed was easy enough to open.
Leaving it open and making sure his bedroom light was off he climb out quietly. He was so curious to get a look at his aunt, he hardly thought about his wildly beating heart.
Sneaking around, he looked into the kitchen by the back door. Deciding it be a while, he sat on a bench nearby and waited. James looked everywhere, but the house. He mostly stared up into the stars and blessed the warm night and unzipped his light jacket.
Nearly an hour passed before a light came on in the kitchen. With the stairway by the back door, James saw, not a old woman, but a young girl pass the window.
Confused and even more curious, James got up and looked in carefully.
There by the open fridge on the other side of counter, wearing a small child’s shirt, was a girl about 9 or 8-years-old, frail little thing as pale of as a ghost.
James decided to act. Opening the backdoor, he stepped in and asked "Who are you and what are you doing in my aunt’s house?"
The girl screamed and turned around in shock. Her escape was cut off and the other door was too far to run for it.
James stood ready to block any escape out of the room.
"James." She said and gave him a scared look.
"How do you know my name?" James asked now feeling little shocked himself.
"I’m Helen Singer. Your aunt and decease mother’s best friend." The girl admitted and looked very serious.
"Sure you are. You’re suppose to be 50-years-old." James said not believing a single word.
"I’m 48." The red hair girl said sharply.
James was caught off guard by this remark. It was almost a bratty response from this red headed girl.
"There’s some spare paper in the den. I can prove it by my hand writing and explain everything if you’ll listen. We’ll even go up to my room if you must." The girl said after the moment of silence.
"Okay, but no funny business." James said and relaxed his body, looked briefly toward the other door toward the hallway.
"One small problem." She whispered.
"What?" James said in a mocking tone.
"I’m not wearing anything below waist level." She said stepping a little closer to the counter for cover.
James thought this was a trick at first. Then realized he noticed her half nudity due to the counter’s height and fridge door.
"Here." James said taking off his light jacket and slid it across the counter.
She took it and wrapped it around her waist like a skirt. Then she slowly walked toward the door. James hurried a few steps and was right behind her. Expecting her to run or dash suddenly, he was alert to her every move.
Wasn’t till they entered the den together did she look back at him. Then she opened a drawer in a desk and pulled out a paper and pencil.
Walking over to reclining chair, she sat and started to write.
James watched from over her shoulder with amazement as she wrote and made a copy of the list of items she needed last week then almost an exact copy of notes she left for him.
"It’s a long story, but I’ll give you the short version. I lied about my age. I’m much older." Young Helen said handing him the papers to look at more closely.
James sat opposite of her and looked at the letters. Handwriting was just as crude and simple as the notes and letters he had gotten before. The flow of her writing was the same.
James then thought her being some kind of midget or genetic mistake that made her look so young.
"My dad was what you could call a moon shiner during the Prohibition era. He was a good man and only wished to make a little extra money for his family. His only weakness was he liked to sample his own drink. Well, one night he went out to get indigents and was very drunk that night. One of the indigents he got had something that affected the aging process. His next batch of liquor was something unlike anything he made. After half a bottle, he was a teenager again. My Mother also had a bottle to join her husband." Helen explained and paused to see James’s reaction to this.
"Okay, let’s say I’m starting to believe you." James said now sitting back a little.
"My dad got pretty scare after that. Having the fountain of youth in a bottle was a terrible strain on him. The worse part was there was no way of returning to his normal age. He was stuck being a teen and would have to grow old again. I was about 12-years-old at the time. It was strange for me to have parents looking barely older then me. We did sell one bottle to make a small fortune and moved with our little supply. If strangers asked, I referred them as my older sister and her husband. We moved around a bit till we settled here. Years later, when I was about your age my parents died because of a fever. I lived in this house till I finally decided to attend college. "
"And you use the age regressing moon shine to become a teenager again?" James asked as she took a moment to catch her breath.
"I never let myself get old enough to be an adult. Back then, you were considered an adult at a younger age. People think that I was my mother back then and the woman who died because of fever was my grandmother." Helen said getting little bashful.
"It’s interesting when men flirt with you for almost thirty years and I’ve been on a lot of dates." Helen said if she was admitting to a crime.
James remained quiet for more of the story.
"I meet your mother in college and she never knew about me. Even convinced her to help with the peace movement and were like sisters. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to grow older then a teenager. I’ve been so scared to get older. Every few years, I look up your mom and we get together. Me and your mom lost touch and by the time I looked her up again, she was already in that damn coma." Helen said and a silent tear drop from her face.
James felt something like pity in his stomach.
"It seems all the people I ever love were dead or had grandchildren of their own now. I was heartbroken and decided to shut myself away. The basement is part wine cellar and hidden down there is the unique moon shine. I accidentally had one to many and woke up like this." Helen said with a guilty look.
"You got drunk and got into the moon shine bottle by mistake." James said scoffing.
"It was no fun being 9-years-old with a hang over. I cried for hours over it and your mother’s death. It didn’t matter to me. I lost so many people I cared about, my own body meant very little. Then when I checked the mail one morning, I saw you were to be in my care." Helen said a hopeful tone in her voice.
"You thought you could pull this off. Kept me and everyone else from seeing you?" James said shocked a little hurt.
"Well, till I could explain everything. This isn’t how I planned it out." Helen said defensively.
"Going to buy me with money and a nice house." James said accusing.
"NO, I wanted you to care about me." Helen said and closed her eyes tight stopping herself from crying.
"I didn’t mean it." James said quickly getting up to comfort her and his hand was slapped away then she looked fearful.
"I know, but it’s been so long since I’ve had seen and talked to someone directly. Your mother was so close to me and I thought we could be like family." Helen said with her eyes still a bit watery.
"Well, I don’t know if you can be my guardian. If the truth ever got out I’ll be in foster home like that." Helen said snapping her fingers.
"Since I don’t want to be anywhere else, I think we’ll keep our pretense going till I’m old enough to be your guardian. I wonder what it be like to have an aunt as a little sister? " James said questioning.
"Oh, James." Helen said jumping up to hug him and not noticing his jacket fell away from her waist.
"Helen!?" James said tensely.
"Yeah." Helen said breaking away a little. She noticed James was keeping his hands outward and away from her body.
"Your skirt fell off." James said looking toward the ceiling now.
"Oh well. Didn’t your mom tell you? I was an active nudist for years and I’m going back to bed. We have the whole weekend for chatting ." Helen said walking half naked out of the room.
James thought he never get over this night. James went off to bed with dreams of copper stills and worst yet being the same size as his aunt with no clothes on his own body.
Waking up late on Saturday, he saw the doors at the top of the steps open now. Noise from a TV was coming from the den. James followed the noise to see little child Helen curled up like a cat watching a show being broadcast by satellite.
Thankfully she was fully dress in little girl’s pajamas and looking content.
"How did you get those clothes by the way?" James asked just one of hundred questions he had for her.
"I can order anything by the Internet. New technology is so strange to me, but very useful. I was raised using candles and lanterns where we lived when I was truly this age." Helen said getting up into a sitting position.
"So that’s how you have been doing it. Ordering stuff by the Internet or by order forms." James said guessing.
"My motor skills took a nose dive. It’s a lot harder to write and reaching for stuff I need. I’m little clumsy now of days. Scraped my knees and knocked stuff over so much I don’t even cry about it. " Helen said sounding she wanted to explain her life to him.
"Don’t you have to sign for some stuff ?" James asked a second later.
"Sure, but I have them slip it through the door mail slot on the front door. I can open the gates from the house and use the voice box to talk to them." Helen said sounding like she had thought this out a long time ago.
"And food?" James asked eager for this answer.
"Local boys come around often in hopes of getting a view of the crazy old lady in the house on the hill. I did pay them to get me food from the store." Helen said smiling.
"Guess that’s my job now." James said sitting in a chair beside her.
"Be a dear and help your old auntie won’t you or you’ll be in trouble." Helen said in croaking voice.
"I could put you over my knee instead. " James said joking and Helen giggled. It had been the only humor he let out since his mother’s death.
James smiled as he felt a real happy feeling come over him. Helen was adorable and had a cute face that went well with her red hair.
James found it very hard to think of her as an old woman or the young woman he remembered visiting his mom years ago when he was a little boy.
"What is for breakfast?" Helen asked as a growl came from her stomach.
"I don’t know how to cook. I have been eating lunch at school and cold cuts here. I wasn’t allowed near the stove when I was younger." James said feeling odd at the reverse roles.
"No problem. I’m little short to reach the stove or the pots and pans, but if you follow my words to the exact letter I’ll make a chief out of you yet." Helen said jumping from her spot and almost falling over.
"Short legs take a while to get use too." Helen said as she steady herself against the table she nearly fallen into.
James having little choice, did as his little aunt told him to do. After burning the eggs only a little and the toast a little less, he had fixed his real first hot meal in ages.
James found himself staring at the way Helen acted, he wondered if he could detect that she was affected mentally as well. Granted she knocked over the orange juice and swung her legs because they didn’t touch the floor anymore when she sat. There was nothing suggesting that she was a truly a child again.
"I’m that strange to look at?" Helen asked catching his eyes when she felt him staring at her.
"Curious to know if you were affected mentally." James said if suggesting this as an idea.
Helen laughed a little at this comment.
"First week I was little girl again I ordered some dolls along with my clothes. Barbie I think they were called. I was bored out of my mind in the first hour of playing. It’s no fun when you’re alone." Helen said grinning a little.
"So no desires to act like a little girl at all?" James asked sitting down at last to enjoy his breakfast.
"Well, It’s kind of relief to be this young. No shaving, monthly periods to worry about, and very little concern of about being modest. It’s gets drafty upstairs so sometimes I put on a shirt. " Helen said openly.
"You forgot pimples." James said seriously.
"Don’t like to talk about those. Twenty something years of them and that gets too gross to mention." Helen said as a look of disgust crossed her face.
"Your current modesty is just for me." James said giving his eggs his full attention.
"Well, until we get use to each other. I’m still a nudist at heart and nothing can change that. Besides, there’s nothing to see on me anymore. If you’re embarrassed, I’ll try to wear more clothes. " Helen said with a accusing tone.
"Not at all." James lied not wanting to give any hint she had any more power over him then she did now. James decided to draw some lines somewhere.
"Good. I’ll try to stay out of sight. I know you want to bring your friends over sometime. A few are bound to worm their way into your trust. After breakfast let me show you the upstairs rooms." Helen said with a little teasing look in her eyes.
James did indeed get the tour and even saw the room with his mother’s things in it. Helen had made it into a shine to her memory. The room felt like the inside of a church. Even the photo albums were like a collection of bibles.
The last room to visit was Helen’s room. The master sized bedroom with TV and computer nearby on a desk. Clothes and toys littered the floor. The toys looked brand new and untouched for a while. Helen pushed all the toys into one corner as if this was part of the decor.
Helen went even so far to order a dozen step ladders and had most of them placed around her room and bathroom.
James wonder about the extra wide TV screen mounted on the wall and turned it on.
A dozen square images in black and white popped up showing almost every hallway and room in the lower half of the house.
No one could sneak inside without being seen by someone watching these screens.
"That’s how I knew when it was safe to come downstairs. I didn’t think to put any outside the doors. As you can see, I got one facing toward the gate." Helen said at his side as she tidy up a little.
The room had a real lived in feeling to it from James’s eyes.
James, being a neat freak, spent nearly the rest of day cleaning the upper part of the house. Helen was helping out wherever she could although sometimes getting in the way, more then anything breaking stuff.
By sunset, they walked together in the garden, Helen still wearing her pajamas and looking happy. James felt guilty when she slowly reached up and grabbed his hand and stay by his side the entire time.
He didn’t grip her hand, but she held on as if she was in danger of losing him. It was like she was scared of losing him when she was outside the walls of the house.
Back inside the hallway just beyond the kitchen, James mentioned bath and bed time then had to advert his eyes for a second as Helen stripped and walked naked up the stairs and thankfully out of view to her private bathroom.
It was too weird for James to even think about.
Sunday was a normal day as possible. James sat in the den watching TV then doing homework and finally listening to stories Helen just had to share. Most were amusing and almost funny to listen to coming from a little girl.
Weather outside was gloomy looking and only had a slight chance of rain.
How many years as it been since you had a real friend, he often wondered when he looked at Helen.
"I feel guilty leaving you tomorrow when I’m off at school." James said looking into that little girl’s face of hers.
"It’ll be a little dull and boring for me to go to school with you." Helen said almost laughing.
"If you get hurt, it might be hours before I’m home." James said thinking it through.
"I survived for an entire month before you came. I think a few hours a day won’t be all that stressing" Helen said sounding even more childish somehow.
"Okay." James said and trusting his little foster aunt more then normal.
"James." Helen said quietly.
"Yes?" James said and thinking what now. Helen could be a little demanding sometimes.
"I want to go outside and do something sometime. See the town again and maybe the park. You can say I’m your cousin or something like that visiting from out of town." Helen said looking at the window and hopeful the sun would suddenly appear.
"Maybe after school or the weekend. I still have a lot catching up to do." James said wearily and repacked his school things. The den was more relaxing spot to do his homework lately.
James went off to the school the next day like any other normal day. When he got home, he found Helen waiting for him in the sitting room dressed in a outfit a decade or two off.
"Where did you get that?" James said referring to her outfit.
Looking down at her little sun dress outfit, which showed her boney knees well, to her flat black shoes with lacy socks she seemed not to notice anything. Her bight red hair was done in pig tails.
"I look fine." Helen said promptly.
"I’m pretty sure little girls don’t dress like that anymore." James said almost laughing.
"Okay, what do they dress like then?" Helen said looking frustrated.
"Let’s see what you have to work with." James said a little tired from the Monday classes.
Upstairs James picked out a more suited outfit. When he turned, he adverted his eyes again, Helen had stripped down to her underwear which was only her panties.
"Geezzz, James. You might as well get use to sight of me. You’re free to look and besides there’s nothing you hadn’t already seen in a health book." Helen said teasing and giggling again at him.
"Just not right to look." James said still not looking.
"James, look at me." Helen said serious.
James did look down at her.
"No person should ever be a shame of looking at a nude body or semi nude. It’s beautiful form of art and as long as you have no bad intentions, there is nothing wrong with looking. Just give me a few years and I’ll make a nudist out of you." Helen said ending with a little grin on her face.
"In the meantime let’s get you dressed. You’re just a poor little girl who needs help." James said grabbing the clothes he picked and helping her dress. Helen sat on the bed thankful she didn’t have to do much.
"Some things never change. They still put the buttons on the back of the dresses." Helen said looking down at her new outfit and seeing the skirt part went much further down. Then over her shoulder to see if James was done buttoning her up.
Helen smiled as she watched him lace up her newly purchased tennis shoes.
"I feel silly." Helen said looking at herself in a mirror.
"You look like an average normal little girl to me." James said standing back to judge his look. Something still wasn’t right.
"Your hair is a little off. " James said and fixing into a quick pony tail.
Helen started to giggle wildly.
"What?" James asked.
"Back in my day, only boys did this. We girls put our hair into a tight bun instead." Helen explained and admired how her long hair swished through the air as she turned.
"You spent over thirty years as a teenage never change your hair into a pony tail?" James asked wondering wildly.
"It was easy to let it grow long and let it down to my waist." Helen said eager now to leave.
James noticed her glancing to the door and led the way out.
Together they walked out through the side door where James had to get the key out of his pocket then proceed without any further delay.
Helen seemed to be at awe. Looking around at everything, she had tripped and nearly fallen over a few times.
"Everything is bigger then I thought it’d be." Helen said quietly as she stumbled for the 3rd time.
James just smiled and watched as she looked in every direction to take in everything. At the park, she ran forward and stopped at the edge of the pond.
"No ducks." Helen said a moment later after James caught up with her.
"How does it feel to be free from that house?" James asked in a whisper.
"Great. Better then strolling about the gardens and knowing there was no risk. Out here we are taking a risk and it feels wonderful. " Helen said in a low tone.
Distant laugher and squeals caught their attention next. Far to the left was the park playground.
"You know, that wasn’t there back in my day." Helen said wisely and looking with amusement at it.
"Perhaps we should have a closer look at it. You could even test it out." James said then walking toward it.
"I couldn’t." Helen said catching up with him.
"So you plan to live out your 2nd childhood with no friends your own age." James said mockingly.
"I guess there’s no harm in pretending." Helen said eyeing the jungle gym with an eager hunger in her eyes.
As James sat on near by bench, he heard his name and looked up to see Kelly.
"Hey James, what are you doing here? " Kelly asked as she came down the opposite way of the path.
"Just resting." James said amazed how different she looked not carrying around her books or a school bag.
"I was starting to think your aunt locked you inside as soon you got home. I never have seen you outside school before." Kelly joked and sat beside him.
Expecting more questions, James readied himself to answer.
"Love this spot. When I was young, I used to play here all the time. Got into a lot trouble for sneaking away sometimes." Kelly said now looking at the playground in front of them.
"I liked the monkey bars at my old middle school. Even if I did bust my nose once on it " James said and wondered where this was leading.
"Looks fine to me. It’s so unfair that we have to take a test on Thursday just because Friday is a holiday. I just was wondering if I could come by after school and see you. You know maybe get some studying done." Kelly said sounding hopeful as she took her eyes off his nose to his eyes.
"I have to talk to my aunt first." James said sheepishly.
"I don’t think she’ll mind, James." A young girl’s voice piped just a few feet away.
"Who’s this?" Kelly said looking at Helen.
"I’m his Cousin, Helen" Helen said not waiting for James to answer.
"That’s cute. You’re named just like your aunt, but I thought she didn’t have any blood related family." Kelly said wondering.
"She’s my step aunt." Helen answered quickly.
"James, you never mention you had a step cousin." Kelly said in accusing tone, but smiling at him to show she wasn’t being serious.
"He is my favorite cousin." Helen said then sat right next to James on the other side.
"So you really think your aunt won’t mind if I come over?" Kelly asked Helen then briefly looking at James.
"She doesn’t mind guests as they are invited by someone living under her roof." Helen saying as a matter of fact.
"Yeah, she wouldn’t care too much." James said jumping into the conversation with a somewhat frustrated look in his eyes.
"Thinking Wednesday night. We have a big test Thursday." Kelly said getting up and standing in front of them.
"Sure." James said weakly and waved a goodbye as Kelly said a quick "See you later"
"What do you think you’re doing?" James said careful not to shout, but in angry tone.
"Giving you that extra nudge." Helen said seeing his face with a little fear in her face.
"I don’t need your help with girls." James said looking hurt now.
"I don’t see the problem." Helen said getting up and away from James.
"You completely took over our conversation. I could have done it on my own." James said letting his angry go and calming himself.
"I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude. I just saw you talking to her and I decided to act." Helen said her eyes tearing up.
"Don’t start crying. I know you were just trying to help me out, but I didn’t need your help that’s all." James said keeping his voice low.
"I’m okay. Just too much excitement is all." Helen said and turned away to go back to the jungle gym.
James didn’t see her come out of the jungle gym and knew she was somewhere inside sulking or crying. Deciding to wait her out rather then find her, he sat until she came out on her own some twenty minutes later.
James looked to see if she had been crying and feeling less guilty he saw no redden eyes or tear stained face. So she had stayed in there to sulk and to think it over.
"Perhaps we should have some ground rules for our next time out. " James offered as they walked back out of the park.
"Yeah, like keep our noses out of each other’s business." Helen said her tone sounding uplifting.
"Deal." James said chuckling a bit as they walked back home.
Tuesday seemed to fly by in a haze of memories and by Wednesday, James was doing the flight of bumblebee around the house making sure everything looked in order.
"Don’t worry about me. I’ll just stay upstairs out of the way" Helen said from the top of stairs already dressed in a night shirt as James made his last check.
"You don’t have too." James said feeling the butterflies in his stomach getting worse as guilt began to nag at him.
"It’s Okay. In a few years, I’ll have boys over here. I can trust you won’t interfere too much." Helen said with a grin.
"We’ll see." James said grinning back feeling more relax now.
Sound of bell ringing echoed through the house the very next moment.
"That’s the gate doorbell. Use the intercom to let her know your coming and go fetch her." Helen said then disappeared behind her upstairs door.
"Thanks." James muttered out before the door had completely shut.
Kelly was impressed by the look of the house, judging from her face, James guessed.
James even had given her a quick tour before they settled down in the den to study. They laughed and talk about school rumors in between asking each other questions that might be on the test.
At one point, they were sitting very close and James leaned in and they kissed. Kelly looked just as surprised as he felt and blushed afterwards.
"It’s getting late." Kelly said looking at the clock as it chimed.
"I’ll walk you to the door." James said and took her by the hand all the way to the side door by the gate. All in silence they only looked at each other as Kelly left.
James had little trouble going to bed that night. James didn’t see Kelly until lunch and they talked very little. Once the test was over in the one class they had together, everything seemed be so much better.
James had even talked to her after class for plans to see a movie that night in celebration. Friday being a no school day, James had very little to worry about.
James was able to catch an early movie with her and even kissed Kelly again before he was forced to walk home before it got to dark to see.
As James came to the gate, he was suddenly filled with dread. Under the front lights of house was a white car with the words Dr. Thomas on the side, parked right in front of the house past the gates.
James got inside the house, dropping his school bag by the door as he ran in. His mind was racing on what might of happened to Helen.
Heading straight for her bedroom, he found her there in bed with an elderly man besides her, almost like grandfather looking after granddaughter.
"This must be your new nephew." The doctor said amused.
"Yes, he’s a good boy." Helen said sounding very sick.
Perhaps he was his white face or the worried look that tipped them both off. James was feeling very scared.
"Just a little bug that’s all. She’ll be fit to leave her bed in a few days. I suspect she has been running around again with little to no clothing on. You know that weakens the body to fight off viruses. " Dr. Thomas said accusing looking between them.
"Don’t look so scared James. Dr. Thomas knows everything and he is the best for miles around. I wasn’t feeling too good this morning and didn’t want to worry you." Helen said explaining everything in that child’s voice of hers.
"To think a woman of her age running around in the nude. What are you now 97-years-old." Dr. Thomas said looking at the little 9-year-old girl in front of him.
"Think so. It’s been a while since I’ve done the math." Helen said looking little annoyed by the doctor.
"My son is the pediatrician in the family. I’ll be sure to let him know as always in strict trust of your new condition. I don’t deal with wild squirming children." Dr. Thomas chuckled and packed his medical bag.
"Don’t look so worried, James." Helen said looking at him with her redden eyes.
"Make sure she stays in bed a while. Trips to bathroom are okay. " Dr. Thomas muttered as he passed James.
"I think I’ll like some hot soup later." Helen suggested as she watched James move closer.
"How many people know about you? The true you." James asked as he sat on the far edge of bed.
"At the moment I say three others. You’re the latest, then the doctor and his son. He is a trustworthy man and his doctor’s oath will take my secret to the grave. I helped him through medical school with his studies and financed his business. He promised me free house calls for the rest of my life. No matter if I out lived him, his son or daughter will look after me." Helen said her voice going horse.
"There is just so much I don’t know about you and for a minute I thought the worst." James admitted and knew he had come to like her like as a family member.
"I know. My mind and soul may be old, but my body is just that of sick child. Children have a better chance of recovering then a weak elderly woman." Helen said in whisper not daring to lose her voice.
"Chicken soup from the can okay? I know how to make that now. " James said half joking.
Helen nodded then moved her head down on the pillow and closed her eyes to sleep.
"Sleep tight." James said and quietly left the room after watching the gates on the video monitor automatically opening for the Doctor’s car to leave.
James knew he would have to give up his weekend for Helen. Calling Kelly and telling her that little Helen was sick and he be busy taking care of her was hard to do. Kelly seemed to sound more in love with him by the end of phone conversation.
Days later, James discovered that was the easy part as he looked back on it in his memories.
Helen had fever the next day and had a constant thirst. Running downstairs and upstairs often put a painful stab in the side of his chest. James phoned the doctor and gotten the how to care for her directions he needed.
For a while James had his little moments of doubts. She had muttered a great deal in her fever sleep, sometimes calling for her parents or even him to come. There were other names that he assumed to be long dead people she must have thought as close friends. She even needed help feeding herself and bathing which James performed with a professional manner.
James had fallen asleep in the chair beside her bed, both as a watchdog or quick aid if needed.
"James." He heard his name in his dream then he awoke with a jump.
"Helen." He said and a face of relief appearing on his tired face.
Helen, her hair slightly soaked in sweat, was looking pale and sitting up looking at him with a smile.
"You’re okay." James said feeling free from worrying.
"Just another set of bad fuzzy memories now. I think I’ll just stay here all day if you go get me some ice cream, before you head off to school." Helen said stretching her arms and noticing she was in her nightgown. Apparently she didn’t remember having any help when she took a bath.
"I can’t leave you just yet." James said standing up to look at her closely . His eyes were tired and the room was still very dim.
"Don’t fuss about me. I’m fine now thanks to you and if I need help, all I have to do is phone the good doctor." Helen said waving her hand toward the phone by her bed. Her voice was still very weak.
"Okay." James said after thinking it all over first. He had become a little protective, but he figured that was normal.
James was exhausted at school and managed to get a nap in during study hall. He had made an A minus on the big test and saw that Kelly seemed to be looking at him more often.
James could hardly stay awake for the praise she gave him during lunch.
By the time he gotten home, James was worn out and only got some sleep after checking on Helen. She was sitting up in bed watching the TV when he looked in on her.
Waking up in the middle of night was a first for James in a long time. Thunder outside helped him wake up faster.
Next sound he heard was the pounding of rain. James decided to get up and head for the den. It was a comfortable room to lay down in and watch some TV.
Minutes later a small figure came and cuddled up next to him.
"Why does thunder have to be so loud? " Helen asked.
"I don’t know." James answered and was aware he wasn’t feeling uncomfortable with Helen laying on the side of his body, like a child would for comfort of a parent.
"Feels so cold being out of bed. To think I felt on fire the last two days." Helen said her words muffled a little because her head was against James’s chest.
"I’ll grab a blanket then." James said and shifted a little to get up.
"Not yet. I’ll get one in a few minutes. You can get me some more soup. I’m starving." Helen said and gurgle noise came from her stomach.
"Sure." James said as he put his hand on her back.
"Thank you for looking after me. Saves the doctor a lot trouble and shows me how much you care about me." Helen said in a grateful way.
"I’m just happy you didn’t start throwing up." James said seriously.
"Me too." Helen said and fell silent. Noise of the rain over the TV was so relaxing.
Sleepy, James noticed that Helen looked different. Smaller in size as if she had gotten a little younger.
"Helen, you’re younger." James said getting up and having no trouble gently pushing the even younger Helen off.
"Well, I wanted to get better so I took a little sip. Then I decided in hiding under the covers later so you’d never notice." Helen admitted.
James rubbed his eyes to get a better look at her. He noticed how thin and pale she looked now, but figured that was because she was sick.
"Don’t worry. I’ve only set myself back two years or three at the most. The way I see it I’m better off. My clothes still fit even if they are little loose fitting and I feel so much better." Helen said sitting up and James saw how much she had lost.
Maturing face was no longer there. She was cuter now or more adorable now. Her nose was more upturned and her teeth had wider gaps. Her eyes were looking bigger and more innocent. Then there was her hair looking thinner and little shorter. She took on a more baby doll like face.
"I was so tired I didn’t notice." James said sitting in a chair and putting his hand to his head.
"I might have been sick all week or longer. I can’t let you ruin your school record or social life for me. As long as I stay old enough not to need a wet nurse, I’m happy. I really hate being sick any ways. Reminds me of my parents too much." Helen explained.
"Little extreme, don’t you think." James scoffed.
"Not the first time I taken a sip to avoid being sick." Helen winked and stood up, her nightgown going down to her ankles where before they stopped just at her knees.
James looked on in guilty horror at her younger body.
"James, I’m happier then before and much better off." Helen said putting her now smaller hand on his arm.
"Maybe I do worry about things too much. You are cuter." James said being taken in by her more innocent features.
"Only downside’s been, I’ve gotten more clumsy and reaching too low for stuff." Helen sounding as if it was no big loss.
"You’ll be easier to carry." James said acting on impulse to carry her over his left shoulder.
Helen had screamed with delight and then laughter.
"Time for breakfast." James said carrying her into the kitchen. He was careful in setting her gentle down on her feet, her gown accidentally moving up showing her underwear as he did. Helen quickly adjusted her gown down.
"I think I like this. Been a long time since I had this much fun." Helen said taking a seat and having a hard time climbing into the seat. Her little legs didn’t even come close in touching the floor now.
"What is two years to someone nearly hundred? " James said in a low mutter while fixing breakfast.
"You know it’s not polite to discuss a woman’s age." Helen said sounding annoyed and brushing back her red hair out of her eyes.
"You could use a hair cut too." James said looking at her.
"It’s fine." Helen leaning her head back to make be sure all her hair was out of the way.
"Your hair only got a little shorter. Looks so silly on you now. Just trim it back to the shoulders." James said as a suggestion.
Helen seemed to be thinking it over. James could tell she always liked having long hair most likely since the 1960s.
"You think I should ?" Helen asked as the plate of scramble eggs was placed in front of her.
"You look a bit like a wild child." James said in response.
Helen grinned one of her devilish smiles and started eating.
James glanced up at the clock and knew he would have get dressed soon for school.
James felt once again uneasy leaving her alone. She was in a younger weaker body and a little shorter now. He only eased his guilt when he thought about the house with it’s fortress like design. Besides, she could call Dr. Thomas’s son if anything went wrong. The gates motion sensors only worked from the inside.
Best part of his wasted weekend came the following days later. Kelly seemed to admire him a great deal more and they made big plans to see a movie the coming Friday.
James got home to see packages and boxes waiting inside the room just beyond the side door. His computer had come at last, being on back order for some time and Helen had ordered some more clothes.
Making a few trips back and forth he had clear the side room by the gate.
To his surprise Helen had opened some of packages then put on some of the clothes while he was busy getting his new computer ready. Helen never bothered with dressing all the way before. It was always a night gown or just a very long shirt with shorts. Shoes were a rare thing to see on her feet.
James went back to the sitting room to see Helen trying on a smaller pair of shoes. She had already dressed in little girl’s shirt and jeans. Her hair was done in a pony tail again. A discarded night gown was on the floor by the door. It was strange sight to see her dressed like a little girl.
"Think you have time to take me down to the beauty shop by the barber’s place? " Helen asked standing up and walking around with her new shoes on.
"Sure." James said amused by the fully dressed Helen in front of him.
"How do I look?" Helen asked looking at James.
"Like a normal little girl. Which is pretty odd to me." James said grinning a little.
"I think you need a haircut as well." Helen said giving him a hard look over which James supposed to take as a stern look.
"Okay." James said giving in more to the cute face then the stern look.
Women at the beauty shop were excited and overjoyed to have Helen.
James had a moment of embarrassment when the ladies said "It was cute that her brother to bring her. "
Girls nearly laughed when he asked if they could watch her while he got his hair cut.
"This is the girl’s hang out. You go join the men next door." One of female employees said giggling.
James did so and noticed how funny it was there was not a single woman or girl in the barber’s place. Even little girls were sent over from next door with little money in their pocket while guys talked or joked next door.
James decided on a trim cut and didn’t stay that long after paying.
James met Helen as he was stepping out of the barber shop. Helen looked like she was all done up for a party. From her red hair in shoulder length curls, to her nails polished and trimmed, she ready to go somewhere.
"Let’s stay out a bit longer. We could walk to the movie theater." Helen suggested before he could say anything.
"Okay. I know how eager you are to get out of the house and stay out as long as possible." James said in a low tone and with Helen at his side, he started to walk.
"Just a touch of Cabin fever." Helen said with a serious face.
James said nothing the rest of the way and only could imagine how it felt to be trapped inside the walls. At least she could go out to the garden. The stone walls were great protection from curious eyes.
Almost all the way there, as they walked, there was a long silence.
"I had to get out soon. I’ve been having nightmares about being trapped in rooms I don’t know or lost in endless hallways." Helen said these words coming out in a confession like tone.
"You know we have to see a kid’s movie." James said as they now stood in front of the theater.
"I’m up for anything." Helen said brightly.
James paying for one adult and child’s ticket stood in line for the children’s movie.
"James." Kelly said not so far away.
As James looked he saw Kelly stepping from the group of girls she was always hanging out with to chat with him. At the same moment he felt Helen’s hand wrap around his wrist.
"Hey, didn’t expect see you." Kelly said looking at him then noticing for the first time Helen by his side holding his hand.
"You know just taking little Helen out for some fresh air and a movie." James said and wishing she take her eyes off Helen. Kelly now had a puzzled face.
"Can’t be Helen, can it? She looks different." Kelly asked then turning away to look at James.
"I know. She looks smaller doesn’t she. A few days of soup takes a lot weight off." James said quickly thinking this was as close to the truth as he needed to go.
"Yeah, but she looks so much better. So cute for you to look after her so much." Kelly said looking at him with starry eyes.
"Kelly!, The line is moving inside" Another teen’s girl called in a whining way from behind Kelly’s back.
"Catch you Friday." Kelly said waving a quick goodbye to James.
James felt he could fly or walk on air. She hadn’t been the least bit jealous.
Helen didn’t say a word to James and only laughed at the movie they saw that night.
James had a few more carefree weeks after his last date with Kelly. The next incident that happened was while James had been doing his night time check before he’d go to sleep.
Sound of muttering distress caught his ears as he walked upstairs. Walking quickly to the hall way, he heard Helen calling out for help. No doubt in her sleep again, having some terrible nightmare.
Just as he reached the door, a floor shaking thump came from the room. James rushed in to find Helen had rolled off the bed down to the hardwood floor below. Flat on her stomach and face down she groaned with pain.
"Helen, you okay?" James said rushing to her side.
Tears flowing down her face and sitting up slowly she was clutching her wrist gently.
"My wrist hurts." Helen said wincing from pain.
"Think it is broke." James said reaching up for the phone. The doctor’s number on speed dial.
"I think so. I felt something when my body fell on top of it." Helen said looking back at her bed with hated stare.
"I’m calling the doctor now." James said as he dialed.
A short car trip later in the doctor’s car, and a few hours later, Helen had been x-ray and her hand put into a wrist cast.
"I hate these things. Make me itch." Helen said looking at the pink cast.
"A few weeks and it should heal right up. I’ll give you a ride back. I suggest you sleep in a lower bed or one with better side guards." Dr. Thomas Jr. said in a tired tone. He look tired, not use to night calls.
Helen didn’t want or need any help over the next few days, being independent as ever. What did surprise James was a delivery truck pulling out of the gates as he walked home from school.
Walking inside and seeing a huge box with a 2-in-1 bed inside by the steps. The bed could be a deluxe size crib for babies or changed into a good size bed for one child with a guard rail. The guards on the sides were to prevent falling out of bed.
"I saw you coming on the monitors and thought how perfect your timing is." Helen said coming down the steps carefully.
"That room between the den and kitchen is going to be my new temporary bedroom. It’s a little scary going up and down steps with this bad wrist." Helen said now finally at the bottom and looking at the box with joy.
"Not thinking about using the crib are you? " James said and wondered how far she might go to get out of the cast.
"Lord, no. I’ll never be that desperate to go back to diapers just to get out of a cast." Helen said as she caught James’s eyes on the cast.
"I just wanted the guard rails at the very least." Helen went on.
"Well, as long you don’t start ordering diapers." James said with a chuckle. He noticed that Helen was not looking at him when he mentioned diapers.
"Helen." James said accusing.
"If you must know, they are not really diapers, just in case I can’t make it to the bathroom. Like I said, I’m clumsier then before. My bladder is a lot smaller." Helen said the tension rising in her voice.
"Bed wetting underwear." James said quietly to show his concern.
"Yeah, a few close calls and it got harder with this cast. Don’t worry I didn’t have any accidents yet." Helen said looking back at him.
"The room just past the den, across from the bathroom and close to the food. Good choice." James said pushing the box toward the room.
An hour later, James was finished putting the bed together. A nice girl version of the bed, it was bright pink with baby animals on it. The bed stood just high enough to let the guard rail down to the floor.
Helen was being a very good assistant and with James help moved most of her more childish stuff downstairs.
By the night’s end, the room looked like a little girl’s room then a normal guest room.
"Perfect cover for visiting guests." Helen said admiring the room.
"Yeah, I guess I can’t keep Kelly from visiting more often." James said looking around the room.
At first glance nothing looked out of the ordinary. A closer look and the clothes were too clean and toys almost brand new.
James had even setup her very own little TV before he started on his homework.
James heard Helen calling out in her nightmares sometimes at night, but didn’t bother to check. With the rails up she was no danger of further harm. The nightmares were less now and Helen got better sleep. Helen could be a bit too high and mighty about being treated like a child.
James thought the change of rooms and knowledge everything was a short walk away rather down a flight of stairs was the reason. Helen didn’t say it out loud, but she felt more at ease with James so close.
He had been there again and again in the past. Her protector and foster father figure Helen had come to love.
"An older brother I never had." Helen thought quietly.
The following weeks came with more tests to pass and more dull high school days to get through.
James had a bit of shock when he realized his birthday and very soon after the school year was going to be over with.
James spent his days at school with Kelly and his evenings with Helen and sometimes nights when it rained so loud neither of them could sleep.
James had hardly noticed the drifter couple as he walked Kelly back to his home that day. His mind was on what to do after high school.
"I know that look." Kelly said looking if she could read minds.
"What?" James said trying his best to sound innocent.
"James, I know it’s your birthday soon and you think all you want on what I might get you." Kelly said as they turned the corner.
"Just thinking about what to do after high school." James said hopeful to get some ideas from Kelly as they climbed the hill.
"Yeah, my mom wants me to go to her old college." Kelly said as a matter of fact, then saving her breath a little once at the top.
"I hated coming to this place at first, but now I can’t imagine leaving it." James said as they passed the gates almost to the side door.
"You must feel guilty leaving your old aunt alone. Your cousin will have to go back to her parents soon won’t she? She spent months with you and your aunt." Kelly said as they passed through the locked door James just unlocked.
"Who’s car is that?" Kelly said looking up toward the front of the house. There in the driveway, parked in front of the house, was a new car.
"I don’t know." James said almost running for a better look. He noticed a note taped to the bottom part of the driver’s window.
James pulled it off and read it and had to re-read it.
"What does it say? " Kelly asked trying to see it.
"Happy Birthday from your Aunt. No payments required." James said passing the note to Kelly.
For a whole minute, neither of them moved. Kelly had a shocked face.
"I hadn’t driven a car since my mom passed away." James said opening the driver’s door. Kelly went over the passenger’s side and got in.
Fresh smell of a new car was the only thing anyone could smell once inside.
"Wow. Wish I had a rich aunt." Kelly said looking at the dash and the clean seats as James sat down.
"Keys are right here." James said noticing them.
"Turn it silly and let’s hear it roar." Kelly said joking.
James did. Engine started and sounded so quiet. Kelly started to fool with the radio. Nice R&B; song started over the speakers.
James thought he go deaf before Kelly could adjust the volume.
"James, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll like to go home now. I prefer not to walk." Kelly said seriously and leaned back in her seat.
Nervous, James took the car out of park and slowly let the car roll forward. Once at the gates the motion sensors kicked in. It opened the gates slowly inward.
Once the car was outside, the gates shut with a clang.
"You have no idea how lucky you are James." Kelly said looking into the mirrors.
"Fully paid cars and it’s all yours. Most kids I know have to share the car with the family." Kelly said in impress tone.
James could hardly say a word. It was an amazing gift, a lot to give to teenage boy. Too soon James had driven them to her house.
After a long kiss in the car, Kelly left walking backwards to watch him drive away.
As James pulled to park the car in front of the gates, they opened for him. Looking up at the top part of the house he saw a faint light on. Helen had waited and watched for him on the video cameras.
James parked the car and got out to see Helen at the front door now, dressed in her jeans and shirt looking ready to go out.
"How did you pull this off?" James asked still in a state of shock.
"Wasn’t easy. Few e-mails and a lot planning pulled it off nicely. " Helen said walking toward James.
James bent his knees and stretched his hands and Helen was ready for the hug.
"Just don’t know how to say thank you enough." said James breaking away from the hug as he stood up.
"Well, I have a remote gate button here in my pocket. We could go for a ride." Helen said given him a sly grin she saved just for him.
Helen had to crane her head to see anything, but enjoyed the quick trip around town. Once it started getting dark, they drove back home. James was taking great care with his driving.
James was ready to settle in for another homework assignment and quick dinner.
As James walked past Helen’s new room that night on his way to bed, Helen had called his name.
Walking back, he saw her sitting Indian style on the bed and clicking the TV off with a remote. He stood in the doorway at full attention.
"When your birthday and last day of school comes and is gone. I want you to pick a college and go." Helen said seriously.
"I can’t do that. You’ll be all alone with no one around." James said instantly.
"I’ll hire someone I can trust with my secret. It is a risk I’ll take. You need to move on with your own life. Marry Kelly if she is the right one. Start a family and a life of your own." Helen said commanding tone.
"I can’t do that. What if the person you hire turns on you." James said walking toward he edge of bed.
"LISTEN TO ME. I’ve had decades to have a family of my own and I wasted those years. I barely managed a life and even that has become my prisoner in my own home. Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Leave me to whatever fate that was intended for me. Don’t be scared of growing old either. I cheated death long time ago and suffer a great deal with memories of people I loved who are now dead. It’s a cruel twist to out live everyone you ever cared about. I only hold you back." Helen ranted standing up on her bed her eyes tearing.
"If you love somebody you set them free." Helen said calming herself down.
"Maybe you should hire Doctor Thomas’s son. His family could move right in. I could come back after a few years for visits." James said thinking it over fast.
"I’ll think about that idea James. Good night." Helen said wiping her eyes and sitting back down.
James walked out feeling guilty. His Aunt had planned this from the start. She even provided the means to get out of this town.
James felt bad about using the car and saved it for quick trips to the store or dates with Kelly.
Finally James’s 18th birthday came at last.
The birthday party was small to say the least. Kelly, Thomas’s family and Helen were the only ones in that kitchen, the wives of the Thomas family unable to attend due to work. James was amused to find out that Dr. Thomas was father of a little girl a good head taller then Helen. The girls had slipped away after cake and ice cream to play in Helen’s room.
"Shame your aunt couldn’t come down." Kelly said at the table and looking upwards.
"Well, she can hardly get out of her bed." Thomas Sr. answered.
"No, worry. She can look in to see us." Thomas Jr. said glancing at the video camera in the corner.
James almost smirked at the thought no one was upstairs to see anything.
"It’s been great meeting you, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Thomas. I promised my mom I’d be home before dark." Kelly said getting up.
"I’ll walk." Kelly said seeing James starting to get up.
Quick kiss on the check and she was gone.
Few minutes later, James quietly mentioned the subject Helen’s requested then his idea for Helen.
"It would be difficult to say the least. Even if we were to stay here, I’m not sure I could handle it." Thomas Jr. said looking scared by the idea.
"I’d do it, but I’m too old. My son would have to discuss with his wife and daughter. Have to understand it would be a burden and the risks involved are high. Helen would have to go back to school and act like a little girl. Do you really think she can pull that off?" Thomas Sr. said with regret.
"Few years at least. I’ll come back after college and start my family here. I can adopt Helen." James said quickly
"It’s possible. I’ll work out the paper work and leave a few things blank on the adoption idea. Give us a few weeks on the idea of living here." Younger Thomas spoke thinking it over.
"I’m in no hurry to leave this town. I think I’ll stay a few months after I’m out of high school under the pretense of looking for a college." James said quietly.
"We should be going as well, Family business to run." Thomas Sr. said importantly and stood to shake James’s hand.
"Your a man now and have hard choices to make." Dr. Thomas said in a serious tone.
"Good night." James said sitting back down, his unwrapped presents off to the side.
He heard them calling for Tina and minutes later all was quiet.
"What did they say?" Helen asked as she came in.
"They needed a few weeks to think it over." James said getting up to put everything away.
"Okay." Helen said helping with the dishes then left for bed.
James saw her door closed as he walked to his bed.
Weeks passed with no word from the Thomas’s family. Helen voiced she didn’t want to push the issue.
Last day of school was filled with a ton of excitement. James and Kelly had arranged to meet at James’s house.
James had made it a habit of checking the video monitors that night. Finally he saw Kelly in the side room after the doorbell went off.
As James open the side door on the inner part of the wall. Kelly came flying out. Stunned and catching her before she hit the ground. James saw she had been pushed through the door.
Old man with saw off shotgun and an old woman with a pistol step inside.
"Told you it’d be easy." The old man said to the woman.
"We don’t want to hurt anyone." The old woman said and looked reasonable.
"We know who your aunt really is and waited a long time for this. " The old man said in a guff tone.
At gun point, James and Kelly were forced to go inside the house. Helen had been walking down the hallway to see this strange hold-up. Too late to hide, she stood frozen.
"We want the bottles with its special contents. Don’t get any funny ideas in your head." The old man said and forced the point of the gun harder into the back of James’s head.
"Please, I’ll give you all bottles. Don’t hurt them." Helen said taking all this in.
Helen was in the lead with James and Kelly right after the couple. They were coming into the kitchen then down the steps to the wine cellar. James had only seen this room once before when he first came to the house.
"Okay, dear auntie Helen. Where are they?" The old man asked once they were all in the room.
Kelly face was confused, but didn’t want to say anything with a gun pointed at her back.
"Here is the room. First of all, may I asked who you are and how do you know?" Helen asked and did her best to straighten out her little girl outfit.
"Why not." The old man said with an amused laugh.
Really begins with our fathers. Yours was a moon shiner and my old man a servant. Your father had come to the house where my father worked. Under orders he was to spy from a cracked doorway." The old man said seeing the look on Helen face go whiter still.
"My father saw what happen to a person when they took a drink. The old woman he served for many years was now younger when she took a measure drink. After paying your father a huge sum of money she bought the bottle from him. She was under the impression there was only one. My father thought different, but first he wanted the old woman’s bottle first." The old man said her voice straining a little.
"He had come home and told us everything. My mother who was a maid discovered my dad was telling the truth the next day. Together one night, they were going to steal the bottle and sell it for a better life. They were caught and there was an accident with the bottle. My parent’s clothes and a smashed drinking glass were the only things the police found. The old woman was now a young woman. I realized my parents been drenched in the bottle contents. The old woman had done it in hopes they become children or babies. In her panic she didn’t do the math. Later on, she foolishly adopted me to fill in my father’s job. I learned all I could of the moon shiner and killed that woman afterwards. I used what was left in that bottle to live long enough to find you." The old voice sound more like ranting.
"She is stalling. Let’s get the bottles and go." The old woman said waving her pistol between Kelly and James. Kelly looked scared to be in company of these mad dangerous people.
"They are over there, in the back shelf." Helen said pointing to the side cabinet.
"You better get them then." The old man said raising his gun higher to make his point. Helen obeyed and pulled them out.
The old bottles were of different sizes and shapes and all held in a wire basket a milk man would use a few decades ago. Each bottle James could see was sealed with wax and a cork. All of them were sealed, but one seal was broken and the cork lightly put in place.
"I think you should give us a toast, Helen. Maybe I get to watch you disappear." The old man said in nasty tone.
"Don’t." James said and then feeling a painful kick forcing him down to his knees.
"Do anything foolish but take a drink and I’ll pull this trigger." The old man said coldly.
"James, I’m sorry." Helen said uncorking the bottle taking the slowest possible drink.
James watched and out of the corner of his eye he saw Kelly’s mouth drop open.
Little girl’s face becoming rounder and chubby with baby fat. Her hair was much thinner and her limbs were getting smaller as she shrank. She was breathing deeply which showed on her new toddler belly under the shirt, sticking out slightly. James saw her wince once she caught sight of her own hands. Helen would need diapers if she lived and she really hated that idea.
Her body seemed to melt into more innocent features. Helen was a toddler now. The little girl was now gone with a toddler in place playing dress up in her clothes. Her shirt and pants were barely staying on her body.
"One more should finish her off I think." Old man said grinning in a mad way.
James gritted his teeth and saw Helen rising the glass to her lips. A dark wet spot was now appearing on her shirt and pants. Helen was so scared; she was letting her bladder go, fear of disappearing forever. Her pink arm cast falling to the ground with a clatter.
Helen drained the bottle which was close to being empty anyway.
Toddler Helen cried and fell backwards onto her butt then back. Laying on the ground, her body contracted into a small helpless form of a baby girl. Not even old enough to crawl, rollover, or even hold her head up. Her head was sticking out of the top of shirt as she kicked and frail her little arms. Her red hair was just a bit of a fluff patch on top of her head, dark and almost wet looking.
"Ha, she’ll be no trouble for a while." The old woman said moving forward and grabbing the wire basket with the rest of the bottles.
"Wait, we can’t leave them so old. We need to make it so they’ll be no trouble as well." The old man said as the old woman was by the steps.
"You said you weren’t going to harm them. They’re just kids unlike that old woman over there." The old woman said waving her gun vaguely over in baby Helen’s direction.
Baby wails becoming less in volume as she calmed down.
"Give them a bottle and let them share it between them. Once they’re helpless toddlers, we will leave." The old man said in that same cold tone.
"No, I rather save the bottles for myself, dear husband. In fact I think I’ll just leave you here while I disappear with these." The old woman said backing away toward the steps. James saw the pistol now pointed at the old man’s head.
"You double crossing selfish bitch." The old man said turning around to aim his double barrel shotgun at her. James just having enough sense pulled Kelly down against the floor. There were gun pops then a bang that was very loud to the ears following by breaking glass.
Looking up slowly James raised his head to see a horrible sight. The old woman’s body was by the steps with her head nearly gone. Dark wet spots in a shadow corner told him where the rest of her was.
A gurgle noise of the man caught James attention next. The old man was still alive, but with bullet wounds in his arm and another in his chest. James stood up for a better look.
"No, the bottles." The old man rasped and was looking over toward the wire basket. James was sure to take the shotgun out of his hands and grab the pistol to point at the injured man.
James looked to see all of bottles had shattered and the contents running into a drain. The blast of the shotgun and combination of dropping basket shattered every bottle. The contents lost forever to the pipes under the house.
Kelly had crawl over to Helen now. The teenager had dirt on her hands and knees, but wiped them off before picking the baby up.
"Is there an antidote?" Kelly asked and holding Helen in her arms gently. James was surprised she took this shock series of events very well.
"No, take her upstairs to her room and I’ll call Dr. Thomas for this thief and murderer." James said backing away toward the steps.
James locked the cellar door and put the weapons on the kitchen table near by before calling the doctor. The doctor said he’d phone the police and get Helen out of sight.
Walking into Helen’s newer bedroom he found Kelly holding Helen in her lap talking in a consoling way. A pink blanket wrap around them both.
"I think she’s still herself. She hasn’t cried one bit since we got out of there." Kelly said holding baby Helen up a little to show her to James.
Eyes were innocent looking, but she grinned and kicked in an excited way once she saw his face. Her little naked body was looking so helpless in Kelly’s arms.
"That’s her I think or she thinks I’m her daddy." James said smiling a little at her grin.
"Kelly, go upstairs to the master bedroom. You’ll find it at the end of the hall up those steps. Wait for me and watch the video cameras to let anyone in. The buttons are all labeled and I’ll stay down here for the police." James said wanting to get her as far away as possible from this mess.
"Okay. I’ll get us to safety. Helen does need to be in more then a blanket." Kelly said smiling at James in reassuring way and leaving the room.
Younger Dr. Thomas’s car showed up with his father’s car right behind him. James watched as the gates open. Happy to know Kelly and possible Helen were up there watching everything.
James was told to wait in the kitchen as older Dr. Thomas went to the master bedroom then downstairs to the wine cellar. Younger doctor went upstairs to check on Kelly and Helen again.
Minutes later, the doctor came back up carrying Helen’s old child’s clothes and pink arm cast.
"Gruesome to say the least to what happen to his partner. He is still alive and I got him stable for now. I left my medical bag and gloves for the police. James I have a plan, but first stick these in wash and come back here to hear me out." Dr. Thomas Sr. said handing the clothes to James.
By the time James came back, both doctors were in the kitchen. The older doctor was on the phone with police then the hospital.
Younger doctor motion for James to sit.
"Listen up." Older Doctor Thomas said hanging up the phone.
"To the world your aunt must be dead, James. You and Kelly were force by gun point by a bugler into the cellar. Your aunt had stored some very valuable wine down there and he was intended to steal it. Your dear old beloved aunt came down the steps with that pistol. Shots were fired and your aunt lost her life in turn injuring the would be robber." Older Doctor Thomas said and briefly pointed to the gun still on the table.
"I understand." James said and looking into the doctor’s eyes.
"You then called us in panic for help and we rushed over to see everything was all right. I stayed with you and Kelly while my father went downstairs to check on the murderer." Dr. Thomas Jr. said next.
"If the baby Helen is discovered, say she is a kid Helen was baby-sitting. I’d say it’s my child if need be." Dr. Thomas Jr. said in a rush.
"Police are sure to be here soon and my son will tell Kelly our story. Lucky, I know the sheriff personally and your aunt WAS a close friend to him once. The police will over look anything odd, besides the truth is too strange for belief." Older Thomas said looking sad. He had dashed up the steps to see what became of Helen when he first arrived.
"Don’t worry, James. I’ll tell them Kelly is in state of shocked and needed to rest. A sleeping teenager under drug sleep, is hard to question. They can get her story later." Younger Doctor said and going up the steps out of sight.
Police cars and a ambulance van showed up minutes later. Thomas Sr. directed the local police and medical people down the steps, calling most of them by their first names.
A van showed up to take what everyone else thought was Aunt Helen’s Body away. Sheriff himself sat in the den with James, in a consoling manner, telling him over and over nothing was his fault.
With the door shut, it was easier for James to cry a little and answer any questions the sheriff had. He felt as if he’d lost yet another person he cared about, a little sister with a big heart. His childlike aunt.
"Don’t concern yourself with funeral arrangements. Old Doc said he’d take care of that. Doctors are used to dealing with death better. Don’t you worry about her murderer either or think about revenge. I’ll make sure he is locked up for good in jail or the loony bin." Sheriff said standing up and left James alone in the room.
Everything was done in a remarkable pace. The murderer was found to be slightly mad, but sane enough to be put on trial and later sent to death roll for previous murders he had done in past. The shotgun was found to be used in number of murders for money. His partner in crime and wife was no where to be found. Police assumed she escaped to another town.
Tips and answers to question from the local town folk lead police to an abandoned house not far from the murder scene. Once inside it was clear they had been living there for almost two months between robing local stores at night. Some cash was recovered with the mad man’s journal which sounded more like ranting then writing down clues. More guns were found which lead to other lesser crimes. It was very clear James wouldn’t have to worry about his safety or the safety of others.
The funeral was held soon after the events of that day. Dr. Thomas confirmed the identity of the body as Helen Singer to the public and police.
The funeral was grand with more then normal crowd of people. A closed casket and with a faded photo on top.
With Miss Singer’s untimely death, a will was discovered that her adopted nephew would inherit everything. Soon after an article appeared in the local paper saying the young James Frost had adopted a baby girl in honor of his Aunt’s death, even naming her after his decease aunt.
Most people assumed he adopted the baby to fill the void in his life the death had made. While others thought it was an odd thing to do in someone’s honor.
Months later, it was announced that the young Mr. Frost was to be married in a couple of weeks. The local newspaper giving his aunt’s death and his coming marriage the front cover each time.
"Finally, we can put this mess behind us." Kelly said after James read the paper out loud to her about their wedding. Kelly was bouncing a diapered baby girl on her knee in a playful manner, getting giggles out of her as a reward.
Helen could now say simple words and with a sly grin she had started calling James dada and referring Kelly as mama.
"Just wish I could get her to wear clothes more often. Fall is coming and she’ll have to wear warmer outfits." Kelly said and stopped moving her knees to stare into Helen’s little eyes.
Helen had been more then clever to removing her clothes and diapers as she got older. Her fingers and arms learning very fast to obey her mind.
"Helen never really liked wearing clothes all that much. I imagine you’ll be chasing after a naked toddler in a year or two." James said then seeing baby Helen turning her attention to look at him with another sly smile.
"Hey, I got to go. My mom is freaking that I’m moving out to live here. I reminded her that someone will have to take care of Helen while we are away." Kelly said handing the baby girl to James. She was clinging so tight to James; there was no chance of anyone, but James pulling her off.
"You’re a natural father." Kelly said then winked as she left in her own car, a gift from James as an early wedding present to her.
"You don’t have to pretend to be a happy baby all the time. I know it’s been hard." James said sitting down with baby Helen in his lap.
Helen’s face fell a little bit; she looked to listen with full attention.
"I got past the awkward baths, diaper changes and dressing you, almost doing it like second nature. You can crawl and almost stand on your own." James said finishing in a impressed tone.
"The months have flown by and in a few more years you’ll be able to do everything yourself with very little help from mommy and daddy." James said feeling silly saying it. He always thought of himself as baby sitter or big brother stuck with his baby sister.
Little Helen showed every sign she understood and crawled a little to hug James around the neck.
"I’m just glad I have pair of doctors and understanding girl friend to help me out." James said then smelled a dirty diaper.
"Helen." James said then holding her underneath her arms seeing her giggle.
"Its bath time for you any way." James said getting up and holding Helen away from his body at arm’s length. James knew he would have a handful with just Helen not to mention his own kids that would be Helen’s little sister and brothers in the future.
One thing James would make sure of, Helen would be one of the happiest little baby girls in the world, even if it meant convincing Kelly to let Helen dress or not to dress and let her play however she wanted. James would try his best to imagine for Helen what it was like and did everything he could to make her second babyhood a little easier.