Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday the 1st of June

I just discovered SocNoc http://kiwiwriters.org/content/southern-cross-novel-challenge
and serendipitously, I had started this story! I have no idea what is going to happen, both to the writing of it, and to the story. But, let's find out.



On Tuesday the 1st of June, I became an old man. My hair was grey, my bones creaked, my face wrinkled and my height shrivelled. I was an old man, no doubt about it. What was odd was that they day before, I had been a twelve year old boy. I had put on my astronaut pyjamas, as usual, gone to bed, as usual, pulled up the covers, as usual, and the next morning, I woke up feeling very tired. Had I not had enough sleep? I leant over to pick up my watch on the floor, and saw a wizened old hand creep over me. I leaped and squirmed away from it as the hand was pulled quickly away again. I stared around, but saw not intruder. Then I saw my hands. I couldn't breath, what was happening to me? I stared at them, willing them to not be true, and then pulled back the covers and looked at my feet. Old. Wrinkled. Slightly smelly. I ran to the mirror. Old wrinkled and... me. My eyes, my nose, my eyebrows, albeit bushy like an overgrown hedge, and grey. I ran out into the kitchen where mum was, cooking toast in her pink dressing gown and reading a book. She looked up at me startled.
"Look! I'm old!" My voice scares me, it's deeper despite the panic and crackling like an old gramophone. I hold my hands to my throat and gasp, making little notes of sound.
Mum looked worried. She'd put down her book and the toast had popped up forgotten.
"George, are you ok?"
I stared at her. Has she not noticed that her son had turned into some kind of geriatric? Maybe she couldn't see... like some kind of magic spell. I started to breath again. Magic spells can be fixed. Magic spells can be un-spelled.
"Your not that old," she says uncertainly. "And those pyjamas at least take a few years off.."
I look down at my astronaut pyjamas.
"They're cool," I say automatically. This isn't a new conversation. I look back at her again, trying to see any kind of reaction. But she's turning back to her toast and starting to butter it.
"Well.." I start, and then trail off. I walk back to my room. My room. How can I be an old man and still live in the same room? Wearing the same pyjamas? How old am I? Did she see? I rush back to mum, now standing eating her toast, with book in the other.
"How old am I?"
She looks startled, then smiles as if some kind of joke, before seeing that I'm serious and wrinkled in concentration.
"Um, 82 Isn't it?"
Oh. No. Oh No.
"82.." I mumbled, the breath gone from my voice again, staring into nothingness. I look back at mum. "Uh. Just checking." I dissapear into my room and stare at the reflection in the mirror. Is this real? I remembered from the movies that people usually pinched themselves to confirm that they were really awake. I did, and it hurt. Awake then, apparently. And I'm pretty sure magic was already established as a fact in Howl's Moving Castle, so that was out too. What then? If this is real... Who is mum? And who am I too her?
What if I was an 82 year old man? What if... what if being twelve had been a dream?
But everything was the same. My desk, my bed, my books, my glass of water... I was sure I had put it there last night, in case I woke up thirsty. It still had the water in it. I closed my eyes and ran a hand through my hair. It was thinning. But my name was still George. Mum, or who ever she was, said that. And how can I have memories of being twelve in the twenty-first century, and then being here, at 82, in the same decade of the same century. Wait. I check the date. No, definitely same decade same century. Something must have happened. But what.. I could hear mum calling form the other side of the door.
"George, do you want some eggs for breakfast?"
Since when had I started liking eggs?
"Ah.." I clear my throat again, un-used to my voice. "Just Coco-Pops, Thanks."
She pauses. "Ok," and walks back to the kitchen.
"Better get dressed then," I mutter to myself.
I look in my draws and gasp. These were not my clothes! What had happened to my clothes? And what kind of underpants do you call these? I pull out a large pair of whites and hold them uncertainly. And... where those plaid trousers?

I appear in the kitchen, looking around uncertainly. Mum looks up from where she is preparing the eggs.
"Feeling better?"
"Yes." I said.
"Lost your suspenders?"
"No?"
"Oh, ok," and she turns back to the eggs. I sit at the table, where the newspaper is laid out. I check the date again. 1 June, 2010. Same year as yesterday. Then I hear the most familliar sound, at once both calming and anoying
"Muuuuum," it trails. "What are you cooookingg?"
My sister, Frayer, nine years old, wanders into the room still asleep.
"Eggs," mum says.
"Oh. Yuck."
"Oh, George, here are your Coco-Pops." She leans over the bench offering me a bowl of delicious brown goop.
"Muuuum can I have Coco-Pops too?"
"No, you can have some porridge though. Do you want a nice bowl of porridge?"
Frayer is wrinkling her nose and poking out her tongue before mum had even finished the sentence. She then frumps, and scowls at my bowl as I eat them. It was very weird, to not be being abused by my sister at this point.
"Can I have toast?" She counters.
"Yes, with peanut butter or marmite," says mum
"Peanut butter please." She then sits down at the table too and looks at the newspaper in front of me.
"George, can I have the TV section?"
I look at her. Does she not recognise me?
"The TV section," she repeats, as if I might not have heard.
"Oh. Oh! The TV section. Sorry." I thumb through and give it to her, which she takes and flips to the children's page at the back, where the comics and puzzles are.

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