Everything Looks Better in Black and White

by: sumner | Complete Story | Last updated Nov 27, 2005

Chapter 3
Part 3

Chapter Description: Christmas.


By the next morning, the house seemed queerly composed. Small alterations dotted the walls, moved pictures (specifically ones bearing older photos of Catherine and Neal) and slightly rearranged furniture gave the house a changed ambiance. The clanging of forks and knives on breakfast plates reverberated from the kitchen and down the hallways. Neal awoke to an alarm clock, apparently set by his mother the night before. Grudgingly lifting the heavy quilted covers, he yawned, the taste of morning in his mouth, and sat up. Last night’s events seemed dreamlike now. Maybe he’d slept more soundly, secure in the knowledge that his tumble back to childhood was, at least, complete. He reached to scratch his head and felt nothing but material.

"Huh?" His sleeve had once again enveloped his hand overnight. “But, but...” He unbuttoned and peeled off the jumbo pajama shirt in shock, and found his torso was smaller yet. Rolls of baby fat had crept up all over his face, arms, and legs. With his pants barely hanging on, Neal crawled to the end of his bed, and dug through some random toiletries until he picked out a small mirror, and held it up to his face.

Not more, no! Cheeks puffed out like a squirrel, Neal knew he’d been robbed of another couple years. A row of miniature baby teeth, minus a few on the top, gave him the inimitable mug of a boy only months out of toddlerhood.

"Catherine," he murmured. "The video."

In her room at the end of the hall, Neal found his sister asleep, curled up, and still wearing last night’s clothes, though they had swallowed her whole. By the looks of it, she’d regressed further in the night just as he had. Her t-shirt crumpled into a mess of creases, Neal couldn’t tell how unkind the night had been, but clearly, his parents, or maybe grandparents, wanted them younger still.

"Catherine, wake up," Neal said, nudging his sister, "Wake up!" His infantile voice seemed to die away into the air of the room. Now that he’d traded his deep masculine voice for that of a chipmunk, he commanded little power in the way of speaking.

"Mom..." Catherine’s eyes blinked open. "When can we go... the mall..."

"Catherine, it’s me," Neal shook his sister’s left leg harder. "Wake up!"

Eventually, she regained herself and reviewed her surroundings, her vision finally landing on her brother, now half-naked and holding his pants up by the drawstring.

"Neal! Oh my god, what have they done to you?" Catherine hopped out from under the sheets and crouched down to his height. She instantly remembered last evening’s incident, and the older videos her family had been so enthused about. Right away, she realized her body hadn’t escaped their parents’ rampant thoughts either. Deep beneath her commodious clothing, she knew the tiny swellings left for her breasts had receded into her chest. Her frame felt less significant and weaker than before.

"Why do they want us this way?" she gasped for air. "Look at you. You’re almost a baby! What can I do?"

"What about the tape? Do you have it?"

"Mom wants to take me to the mall today, and I think I can get away long enough to get it," Catherine said. "But what if it doesn’t work?"

"I don’t know..." Neal confessed, feeling tiny and disorientated. Catherine’s room had become so large, and Catherine, though only a kid herself, seemed to loom over him like the grown up big sister that she was. No longer did their heights equal each other; now she had to be looked up to in the literal sense. Perspectives had tumbled out of balance in more ways than one.

"I’ll find some cloths and go downstairs, all right? Don’t worry. I’ll get the video for us somehow," Catherine confidently reassured the four-year-old in front of her.


"Well, Catherine, what are you doing up so early? You know you can sleep in since there’s no school today," Alice cheerfully reminded Catherine.

"Where’s Mom?" Catherine cut to the chase.

"Well, I’m right here, sweetie," she clucked, sipping a cup of fresh Foldgers.

"No, where is Mom? My mom," Catherine repeated, only more animated.

"Mommy is right here, darling. Is there something you need to tell me? Come over and sit on my lap, and talk to me," Alice said with a motherly inflection. Her snow white hair appeared dyed in the sunlight pouring through the kitchen skylight.

"Mom! Where’s the keys to the car?" a young woman no older than twenty said, storming into the kitchen with a raised voice.

Catherine’s jaw dropped open.

"Deborah, now, I told you to be careful with those. You’re always leaving them lying around the house..." Alice reprimanded the whiney college student.

"Found them yet?" an upright, clean-shaven young man followed behind Deborah.

Catherine immediately recognized her parents, though the loss of a decade had transformed them into effervescent young people, free of crow’s feet, gray hair, and bald spots. Deborah’s hair shined like a cat’s under the kitchen lighting, and Greg’s gut had evaporated, leaving a skinny but fit stomach. Both of them carried an aura of vivacious youth unlike anything Catherine had ever experienced before; she couldn’t believe the care-free souls standing in the kitchen were Greg and Deborah Postley, a conservative software engineer and a retired librarian housewife from Idaho.

Suddenly Catherine remembered her mission. "Deborah," she addressed the pert brunette searching endlessly for her keys, "remember you said you’d take me to the mall today?"

Deborah kept hunting for the long lost keys. "The mall? Why would I take you to the mall, squirt?"

"You said, we could..." Catherine dithered for a moment. "... shop for... training bras and-"

Pausing in her search, Deborah smiled in her direction then erupted into a spasm of giggles. "Catherine, baby," she said. "Slow down. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you have to have boobs before you need a training bra, OK?"

"Honey, you’re just not old enough yet," Alice explained in a caring, maternal tone. "Deborah, be nice. You were in her shoes not so long ago, if I recall. Cathy just needs time. And she’ll be old enough before you know it. Then I’m sure Deborah will be the jealous one, right Cathy?"

Catherine’s eyes welled up like geysers preparing to burst open.

"Oh, honey, don’t cry," Alice said. "Deborah didn’t mean anything by it. You’re a big girl, and everyone knows it. I’ll take you to the mall, all right? We’ll start looking at some bras, even if it’s just to try them on. It’ll be fun. Maybe we can get you some ice cream while we’re at the food court. Does that sound good, honey? Some fudge ripple topped with sprinkles. How’s that sound?"

"I’m splitting," Deborah announced, after locating her purse with the car keys. "See you guys later. Have fun at the mall." She could be heard laughing with Greg on the way out the garage.

Beaten and pathetic, Catherine walked up to her grandmother and leaned her head against her shoulder. "I need to go to the mall."

"Well, get your shoes on, and we’ll go in just a minute," Alice said, speedily sipping the last of her morning coffee. "I’ll have Daddy look after your little brother..."


The mall smelled like Christmas, with red and green sugar cookies baking at the Cookie Palace, scented candles and holiday ornaments hung everywhere, proudly ringing in the yuletide season. The isles packed with shoppers carrying weighty bags of gifts and toys, the mall seethed with life. A churning dull roar accompanied the frenzied customers, all waiting for the perfect affordable idea to dawn on them. Mall employees dressed as various Christmas characters traipsed down the clustered walkways, greeting little kids and handing out cheap Rudolph suckers to anyone who looked like a believer.

"Oh, look," Alice said, pointing towards the jolly elf, or at least the unlucky man trying desperately to breathe inside the jolly elf suit. "Santa Claus is sitting over there. Would you like to go see him?"

Catherine shook her head.

"Don’t be a scrooge. Let’s go see him..." Alice towed Catherine into line by her hooded jacket. It didn’t take long before her turn arrived and she was shoved up toward the almost menacing Kris Kringle.

"Ho, ho, ho," he began creatively, "what does this beautiful little girl want for Christmas, hmm?"

Catherine actually found herself considering the question for a second.

"I want to be grown up," she said plainly.

"But you are grown up, young lady. You’re quite the big girl. Why, you’re probably in the third grade already I’ll bet," the bearded man replied.

"No, I’m sposed to be big and so is my brother, but we’re not. We keep getting’ littler all the time..."

"Well, that’s enough, now. I’ll see what I can do, young lady. You have a merry Christmas! And don’t forget to pick up your picture right over there by the cash register," said the cost effective Santa.

The experience scarcely left Catherine enchanted. The Nostalgia Network was only fifty feet away, but she knew Alice wouldn’t let her go anywhere unattended, much less into a digital media store that offered nothing of interest to a nine-year-old girl. The sales floors crowded to the max, Catherine wondered if she might be able to make a break for it, and then claim she saw something she wanted to buy for a Christmas present. As Alice paid for the obligatory Santa picture, Catherine broke into a blinding run, weaving in and out of shoppers, benches, Christmas displays, and strollers.

Stumbling into the Nostalgia Network, she prayed a different clerk might be waiting behind the counter, but her luck ran out at the door. As she approached the main desk, the same polished clerk with the same urbane haircut and genteel smile welcomed her.

"My, my," he said, "such a hurry. What seems to be the problem, miss?"

"I’m supposed to pick up..." Catherine wheezed, "a DVD for my mom."

"Are you with someone? Did someone else order it for you?"

"I ordered-um, yeah. They just sent me in to pick it up for them."

"Who is them?"

"My... aunt and uncle," Catherine coughed out.

"Are they waiting outside for you?"

Catherine pointed toward a randomly chosen couple window shopping outside that seemed about the right age. "That’s them."

"Oh, I see," the clerk said, his lips curling into a knowing, devilish smirk. "And what might be the last name?"

"Postley," Catherine replied quickly, her heart beating a thousand times a minute. Did he recognize me? The clerk said nothing to indicate any conspiracy and yet Catherine felt sure he knew her. Something about his slow, premeditated swagger seemed to capture her imagination. The glassy look in his eye hinted at some complicity, some collusion with dark rooms and shady exchanges, but she wasn’t sure exactly what. Though the entire enterprise appeared professional enough, still an atmosphere of wrongness pervaded it, down to the not-quite-square memo pads littering the counters.

Returning with a newly packaged DVD labeled simply "Postley Home Video," the clerk observed Catherine every step of the way. She could feel his piercing eyes digging into her.

"Here’s you order, miss. Would you like a bag?"

"No, that’s all right-er, yes, I would like one," Catherine revised her statement having seen Alice cup her hands and gaze into Nostalgia Network. "Please. Hurry."

"Why such a fuss?" the clerk said, leisurely placing the disc into a plain white sack.

"Nevermind," Catherine said, snatching the bag away, and rejoining the crowd outside. The clerk waved goodbye, though he knew she wasn’t looking.

"Bye bye, Catherine Postley."


In the Postley living room, Sue Ann, George, and Bill ate a simple lunch of hot dogs and Lays potato chips. Spinning in the DVD player was another recording of the good ol’ days, restored to video perfection. This time, a catalogue of shots from Greg’s first month, the lengthy hospital stay, and his first days at home, graced the television screen. The world of 1958 came alive on the screen, it seemed, and the three of them allowed themselves to be sucked into the past. They admired all the paraphernalia of days gone by, the old fashioned hospital bed, the outdated nurses’ outfits, and huge clunking American cars made of solid metal.

A little finger tapped on Bill’s shoulder.

"Oh, hi there, Neal," Bill said, in a mock childish voice. "What can I do for you?"

"Where is Caffawinn?" Neal sputtered.

"Cathy went out with your mommy to the mall."

"When will dey be back?"

"Oh, I bet I know why you need Mommy. Alice told me this might happen," Bill said, excusing himself from the living room party. He grabbed little Neal under his arms and craned him up to his shoulders. "Don’t you worry about a thing. Alice told me all about it."

With labored but sure steps, Bill carried Neal upstairs and into the bathroom. Sitting him down next to the toilet, Bill gingerly prepared the seat and folded sheets of toilet paper into tiny squares.

"Alice told me how you’re just starting to do big boy things, but you still need a little help, right?" Bill smiled a warm uncle-like smile. "Are you ready?" He scooted a plastic potty step up to the rim and signaled for Neal to drop his drawers.

Neal’s perception of time was fast losing its grip. Having been reduced to potty training age, where something commonplace like a simple bowel movement had become a major event, Neal had begun slipping into another frame of mind. Without much vacillation, he slid his pants and briefs down to the floor. A cool, snapping chill drifted under his legs and the pointy nub that remained of his penis.

Bill aided his steps up the potty stool and made sure he was comfortable on top of the commode. Feeling pressured, he tried, but hardly anything came of his adventure.

"That’s OK," Bill comforted him. "Maybe next time."


That afternoon, in Deborah’s station wagon, the music boomed loud enough to be heard two cars over. Greg had his window open and his seat fully reclined.

"What are you going to do about your parents?" Greg asked, staring wonderingly at the ceiling of the car.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it’s obvious they don’t want us fooling around unless we get married or something, and I don’t know if I dig that. I mean, we just turned eighteen, you know?"

"They’re no more controlling than your parents, Greg. Your mother never liked me. I figured that out the first time she saw us kiss."

"Nah, she likes you just fine," Greg answered, as the car made a sharp right turn onto a gravel road. "Where are you going?"

"Just... the gorge," she said, nodding her head at him.

"But it’s only afternoon," Greg said.

"I know a spot," Deborah assured him.

After several winding roads and some rough turns, she pulled the car to a stop. Greg raised his seat and looked out. Seated on the edge of a gorgeous ravine, filled with snow-covered trees below, the car sat alone with not another soul around. Deborah unbuckled her seat belt and turned to face Greg, her face rejuvenated and smooth. She rested her chin in one hand and ran the other over Greg’s chest.

"You know how I feel about you," she started, running her fingers down the side of Greg’s face, drawing a little smiley face on his nose.

"Are you sure?"

"Sure as I am sure of you," she said. They leaned closer and touched their lips. With that, Greg reached his hand up the back of Deborah’s shirt, feeling around for her bra strap. Unhooking it, he lunged closer, and they embraced. With passionate kisses all up and down her neck, Deborah let out a sigh and pulled Greg’s shirt above his head. Reclining his seat once again, he and Deborah slid clumsily into the middle seat, while climbing on top of each other. In the natural light, Deborah looked even younger and lustful, while Greg’s muscles tensed with renewed strength.

"Oh, Debby," Greg said, as she squirmed out of her sweater, leaving only a loose bra between them. He began kissing her midriff and slowly worked his way up to her breasts. The bra soon slid off, and Deborah’s chest lay bare, her nipples standing erect and ready. She could feel him become excited as their bare skin rubbed together.

"I love you."

"I love you too."


Alice slapped Catherine again on the arm. "You don’t run off into the crowd like that, Catherine Renee Postley! I was about to call security just to find you. You scared the wits out of me, you hear?"

"Yes, Mom," Catherine replied, hoping the DVD stashed under her jacket didn’t slip and fall.

"Christmastime, all these people, I’m lucky I found you at all!" Alice dug her nails into Catherine’s wrist as she plowed through the horde of cut-throat holiday shoppers. "I don’t appreciate you playing games. You don’t know these people. One of them might have snatched you up, and I wouldn’t have known the difference."

"Sorry, Mom," Catherine played the part of the repentant youngster, all the while thinking back a few days ago. She spotted a fussy young girl with curly brown hair also being dragged somewhere amongst the bustling crowd, and imagined, for a second, that Rachel Morris walked the mall in the same embarrassing predicament. All the same, the wall of people seemed to grow around her as her view became shorter. The men and women, and other children to whom she only came shoulder height, intertwined and zigzagged in a maze around her. The world stood taller now.

"You can forget about the ice cream, young lady. I think we should just head home," Alice suggested as they finally emerged from the masses. Outside, the air smelled fresher and the momentary claustrophobia ceased. A seven-year-old Catherine let out a funny sigh of relief. At least I have the video.


Heaving and sweating, Greg sent his hands into the backside of Deborah’s panties. The emotions aroused by naked flesh overtook them both. Greg massaged and kissed Deborah’s lean breasts, which stood up firm even as she rested on her back. Consumed in the infatuation of making love, he hardly noticed how much smaller they had become. Deborah’s facial expressions began looking less like the satisfied faces of a woman having sex and more like the face of an innocent teen getting in deeper than she intended. Her bangs twisted in ringlets over her forehead, and Greg thought briefly how childlike Deborah appeared.

He examined his own chest and learned that only a few sparse patches of hair circling his belly button and nipples remained. What’s happening to us? He drew in a heavy breath.

"What’s the matter, Greg?" Deborah said, still writhing on the seat.

"I... I don’t know," he said, taking a closer look at his girlfriend.

"Not your first time, is it?" She winked at her puzzled lover.

Greg resisted, but the physical evidence lay before him. He continued to fondle Deborah’s contracting boobs, but with a growing sense of disgust, as if he were violating some natural law all of the sudden. He felt his penis going flaccid.

"What’s wrong?" she questioned him, with a voice that sounded closer to fifteen than eighteen. "Don’t tell me you’re not ready."

He tried once again to touch her open, bare body. She looked more beautiful than before, but Greg felt a strange, unsettling sensation when he saw her. Those eyes, surrounded by those velvety strands of hair, seemed to grow more ingenuous and innocent with each second. Deborah’s awareness slowly caught up to his, as she peered down at herself, and her straight, proud breasts. They did seem smaller. And her head no longer touched the door of the car.

Greg’s thick forearms had thinned slightly, as had his pubic hair. His shoulders took on a less defined, amateurish look, while his ribs became more visible. His face had developed into a more boyish one, looking not unlike a college sophomore about to round third base for the first time.

"Greg, you don’t look yourself," Deborah uttered, now convinced something had gone terribly wrong.

"You don’t either," he said timorously, "I think we should get home."


The unending ride home from the mall had Catherine’s pulse on the rise. She felt the DVD tucked under her armpit become slick with sweat, and come dangerously close to slipping out. Alice’s frustration lingered and she said hardly a word the entire trip back. Catherine’s jacket had grown another size too large in the past few hours, and the shoulders dangled down her arms. The dashboard seemed higher than before and her view became increasingly low angled. At this stage, shopping for bras would have been as superfluous as trying on wedding gowns.

Pulling in the Postley driveway, the house showed no hints of anything gone awry. In fact, this Monday afternoon appeared on the surface as standard and habitual as any Monday morning. Alice continued with her silent treatment as the entered. Without a word, Catherine darted upstairs and, seeing Neal’s door ajar, she invited herself in to inform Neal that she’d effectively acquired the Nostalgia Network video. First she heard the TV practically blaring, and soon, she rounded the corner and found Bill.

"Well, looky here," Bill said in a sing-song voice. "Looks like we have a visitor, Neal. Is that your big sis?" In Bill’s arms rested a baby boy with spiffy blonde hair dusting the top of his head. Wearing only a cloth diaper and a baffled expression, the two-year-old tried to speak, but only mangled sounds came out. Looney Tunes graced the TV.

Oh, Neal, Catherine groaned, the recent success fading away into renewed fear. She approached her regressed brother and touched his chubby miniature hand; he grabbed a hold of her finger for an instant and then released it. Watching his eyes and wide open pupils, she hunted for any slight, or seemingly innocuous, sign that sixteen-year-old Neal still existed. Oh god, I’ve lost him. This diaper-clad infant was Neal, or what remained of his former glory.

"You want your sister to take you?" Bill asked the speechless tot, as he handed Neal to Catherine. "Be careful with him," he warned, placing the baby into her arms, so that Neal could wrap his arms around her.

"Now that’s just as cute as it can be," Bill said. "I think I’ll go get the camera from your mother." He hurried downstairs.

"Neal, Neal," Catherine whispered into her little brother’s ear, "What am I supposed to do now?" She shifted Neal’s weight to her other side. The brother she’d called "short man" all throughout middle school lay draped around her neck, the same fat toddler he’d been so many years ago.

As promised, Bill returned equipped with Alice’s Canon 5200. "Smile!" he said, sending a flash into Catherine’s eyes. "Neal’s been so well-behaved while you were gone. He didn’t cry once, I don’t believe."

"Could I play with him a little longer?" Catherine asked, bouncing him in her arms. "Maybe here on the floor?"

"Sure, you can, Cathy," Bill said, glowing like a satisfied father, "I’ll be right downstairs if you need anything, all right? Play easy with him, remember..." Bill closed the door and rejoined Alice, George, and Sue Ann in the den. The phone rang, but she heard someone receive it downstairs.

Catherine spread out a blanket on the floor and placed her brother in the center. Heart racing like drum beat, she pulled the DVD out from under her winter coat. She unwrapped it anxiously, popped the disc from the case, set the TV/DVD controller, and waited for the Nostalgia Network logos to finish.

"Cathy." George’s head appeared at the door. Catherine scrambled to shut off the TV. "The phone call is for you, honey," he said, offering the cordless phone to Catherine. To her chagrin, George remained hovering in the doorway as she talked.


"Catherine?" an unsure, self-conscious voice replied.

"Yes, this is Catherine," she said, smiling at her eavesdropping grandfather. Initially, she didn’t recognize to whom she was speaking.

"Catherine, I tried... I did, but," the voice continued, obviously shaken, "you know everything you said about getting younger? I can’t help you because..."

"Jeremy, is that you?"

"I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s getting worse," a teenaged Jeremy stuttered. In the background, Catherine could hear an older woman telling him to get off the phone.

"What’s happening?" Catherine asked, bobbing her head as if the call were a friendly, everyday call to say hi. "Jeremy?"

"Everyone is acting like I’m fourteen!" he said, exasperated. "I-Mom’s making get off the phone."

"But Jeremy-"


George took back the receiver, and eyed Catherine suspiciously. "One of your little friends?" he asked nonchalantly.

"Yeah, just a friend."

"Why don’t you come downstairs and enjoy some company?" George suggested, as he stooped down to collect Neal.



As Catherine descended the stairs, an argument could be heard bleeding through the thin walls of the stairwell. Raised voices ricocheted down the hall, and Catherine tuned in, trying to discern who was shouting at whom. Finding the voices unfamiliar, she hesitated to take another step. The exchanges were punctuated every few seconds by an emphatic "Mom!!"

As Catherine and George turned the corner at the end of the hallway, she witnessed two kids dressed in baggy clothing, tearing into Alice and Sue Ann with a vengeance.

"Look at us, Mom!" the young girl exclaimed, eyes watering and infuriated. "You’ve got to be kidding? You’re just messing with us, right? Right??"

Catherine took little time to identify the upset pre-teen as her mother, now reduced to a short, red-faced girl. Undoubtedly, the gawky boy standing beside her must be Dad. Their jackets and shirts well exceeded their heights, flowing past their waists and onto their legs.

"I’m telling you, nothing is wrong, kids," Sue Ann preached. "You’re going crazy for no reason. Let’s sit down and talk about what’s bothering you..."

Deborah vibrated with resentment and incredulity. "All I know is I’m eighteen years old and you guys are treating me like I’m twelve! This isn’t funny." Catherine noticed Deborah’s bra strap dangling futilely on her right shoulder, the cups having slid to her stomach below her already sizeable sweater.

"Deborah, calm down," Alice entreated. "Whatever it is we can work it out, all right?"

Catherine understood immediately. Her parents had finally reached their own breaking points, no longer wishing to be younger anymore. She could see all of Deborah’s bad junior high memories come pouring back into her psyche, as she found herself no longer old enough to even drive her car. Catherine observed the scene in astonishment. Her mother had been prettier than she imagined, but definitely unendowed, just as Deborah had mentioned. Catherine saw echoes of her own face in her rejuvenated mother, shadows of what she had been, and was again.

Greg had suffered the most as time moved in reverse. Only suggestions of facial hair remained, and his Wally Cleaver nose was rapidly reemerging. As with most boys beginning puberty, his limbs had fallen out of proportion with the rest of him, turning him into an ungainly specimen. Only a pair of thick-rimmed glasses would have topped it off.

Flapping her humongous sleeves at her sides, Deborah pouted. "Why are you doing this? Mom, look at me and tell me I’m eighteen!"

"You’re twelve, honey."

"I’m a senior at Branford High!" Greg hollered, vocal chords working overtime. "I’m in love with Deborah and we’re going to get married!"

"Stop saying nonsense, boy," George said, all the while pacifying little Neal with the occasional jiggle. "You’re only in the fifth grade, son."

Another unexpected chill coursed through Greg’s upper body; he felt himself shrinking further toward the floor. I was eleven in the fifth grade, not twelve, Greg realized. The fluorescent lights above him shined brighter, blurring his vision. An intense itch stretched over his stomach. His khakis plummeted to the kitchen floor like a sack of rice and puddled at his feet. His voice moved from the fractured squeaks of an adolescent to the constant high note of childhood.

"Stop this right now! Whatever you’re doing!" Deborah motioned to her mother. "We’re not little kids anymore! Don’t you get it?"

"Deborah, you’re scaring us, honey," Alice said, looking genuinely concerned about her daughter’s welfare. "Lots of kids want to grow up fast. We understand."

"No, you don’t!"

"Debby," Bill pleaded, "We’re glad you want to take on more responsibilities, and we’re glad you found a friend, but you’re getting way ahead of yourself. You’re still a little girl, and that’s OK..."

"No, it’s not OK!" Deborah raged, her features sinking slowly back in time to the days of elementary school and food fights.

"Maybe you need to see a counselor, Debby."

"Don’t call me Debby! You haven’t called me that for years, Dad. What are you thinking?"

Alice attempted to close in on her daughter and put a hand on her shoulder. "It’s just a matter of time, Deborah. You’re a growing girl and Greg here is a growing boy. Now I don’t know where you got all these silly ideas about falling in love, but darling, you can’t fall in love in the third grade."

"We’re not in the third grade!" a nine-year-old Greg bellowed, tears streaking his cheeks. All indications of his adulthood had died out and gone extinct. Deborah suffered the same fate, hardly tall enough to stand chest high to her mother. She gazed at Alice through bloodshot eyes, sniffling like a child with a busted lip. Her breasts no longer presented even small lumps on the front of her sweater, and her pants and panties rested in a messy pile below her.

"But Mom!" Deborah repeated. "I don’t want to be in the third grade! I want to be a big girl! I am a big girl!"

"Of course, you are, Debby."

"But-" The two gradeschoolers started to break down.

You need to get a hold of yourselves," Alice instructed. "I don’t know what they feed you at school, but this has got to stop. You two will march upstairs right now. On the double."

The overpowered duo dropped their heads and grudgingly walked down the hall, leaving heaps of clothing behind them. Catherine didn’t know what to think, what to say, or even what to feel. Neal sucked his thumb. Alice sighed.

"The kids these days," one of them said. "They were so much easier to take care of when they were younger."

"I’m sorry you had to see that," Sue Ann told a beleaguered Catherine. "Sometimes people just do things for no reason. You’re brother and sister need to grow up a little. That’s all."

Catherine nodded.

"But that doesn’t mean it all won’t be better tomorrow morning, eh? You know, it’s only three days until Christmas! Then you can have all the chocolate you want. And we’ll open presents. Doesn’t that sound like fun?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Catherine sighed. "But what’s gonna happen to Debby and Greg?"


Later that night, wide awake and still petrified, Catherine tried to fall asleep after the strangest day of her life. The muffled voices of her parents could be heard below. The wind howled like a lost wolf outside her window. She could feel her heart splash in her chest. Beneath her, Alice disciplined her former parents, and the replies began sounding more and more childish, and the voices higher and higher.

She pictured her mother, a mother of two, gyrating and carrying on in front of Alice, saying things like, "You’re not the boss of me," and "I am to big." What if Mom is even younger than me now? Catherine wondered, as she slid one hand down her pajama bottoms and felt of her bald vagina for the ninth time. Maybe Deborah was only a five-year-old brat now, finicky and spoiled, her body a boyish, sexless thing. She listened intently.

But in the quiet, Catherine was finally hit with the gravity of her circumstances. In the confusion, she’d blotted out all thoughts about her body, mostly out of denial. But now, in the stillness of her room, she confronted them. Gathering the strength, she flipped on the lights and stood upright before her old mirror, the same one that had seen her model her breasts a thousand times. Now, a kindergarten age girl stared into it. She’d never dreamed of having a boob reduction, but now she had.

Sadly, she removed her pajama top. Nothing but her pink round belly protruded. She had another four years before even nubs would start to form on her chest. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at what she’d become; her parents liked her better this way-harmless, pretty, and safe. In their hearts, they thought of her this way, and now it had come true. No bras. No thongs. No low riders. No tampons. No birth control. Just a simple little girl without a care in the world. Sans boobs, bush, and butt.

She pulled her pajamas back on, and climbed into bed, just in time to hear the sound of babies crying below.


Catherine sat beneath the tree, surrounded by relatives and siblings, and yet, she found herself alone. Her grandparents-cum-parents lined the living room floor, relaxing in the uplifting mood that always accompanied the morning of December 25th, their faces lit with the luminous love of parents for their babies. Festooned with garland, tiny lights, and home-made ornaments, the Christmas tree emanated a warm, pastel glow into the living room. With presents piled as high as the fireplace, the room would be the picture of happiness for any kid with an ounce of wonder.

"Do you want to open the first one, Cathy?" Alice asked.

"OK," Catherine reluctantly ripped into the closest present addressed to her.

While everyone in the room drank punch and chewed the fat, Catherine, now the oldest child in the family, tried hard to take pleasure in the best morning of the year. Trapping inside a six-year-old body, she could do little but abandon the hopes of a woman and, at best, embrace what life had handed her. She’d fairer better than Neal and her parents, who now knew nothing but the simple world of eat, sleep, and cry. Oh sure, Deborah could walk around, barely, and say a few words, but with the presence of mind given to any two-year-old toddler.

Meanwhile, Bill and Alice, who had stabilized in their early thirties, oversaw the whole presentation, filling George and Sue Ann’s glasses and providing refreshments. George and Sue Ann, apparently more nostalgic for their late twenties, just let the show play out before them. Both couples delighted endlessly in their sweet, adorable children, and doted on their new additions, Neal and Cathy.

"Well, I need to excuse myself," Sue Ann said, picking herself up from the couch.

"We’ll be right here," Bill joked.

Finding the downstairs bathroom occupied, Sue Ann trekked upstairs. After going to the bathroom, she noticed Neal’s door standing halfway open. Closing the door, she caught a fleeting glimpse of a DVD box resting on top of the television. Interested, she ejected the nondescript disc from the player, and headed downstairs with her discovery.

"Has anybody seen this before?" she inquired.

"Nope, not here," George answered.

"Doesn’t look familiar," Alice added.

"Why don’t you stick it in?" Bill said.

Catherine’s eyes became as round as beach balls. She had forgotten. Sue Ann held the remnants of their final effort to reverse the effects of the Nostalgia Network, the last gasp of their plans. Do the images even exist anymore? she wondered.

"Well, it says ’Postley Home Video,’ so I assume it’s nothing inappropriate," Sue Ann reasoned.

"Pop it in then," Bill insisted.

The screen went blue. Sue Ann inserted the disc and pressed play. The Nostalgia Network logo blazed across the screen with its trademark backward-spinning clocks. Bypassing the menu, the DVD went straight to the featured attraction. Catherine held her breath as the opening VideoHome credits rolled up the screen, listing all the copyright information and featuring, of course, another short ad for the Nostalgia Network. The first shot faded in from black.

The room went deathly quiet as everyone watched the opening frames. There, in shiny 2002, a teenage Neal and a twenty-one-year-old Catherine splashed water into each other’s faces. Again, Neal could be seen diving in the deep end and showing off his muscles for the camera. Catherine watched herself, a full grown woman on the screen, clad in her old sexy two piece swimsuit.

All the adults were static, frozen in their seats, and bearing confused expressions. They looked like a group of astonished audience members trying to figure out the method behind an impossible magic trick. No one moved an inch while the aged images of Catherine and Neal danced across the screen. No one said a word.

Catherine waited... and waited. Only silence.

The screen turned to fuzz for a moment. Then, out of the noise, another image appeared onscreen.

No. Please god, no. What else was on that tape?? They hadn’t checked.

The pictures, undoubtedly long forgotten, showed a long hallway at Parkville Memorial Hospital. The camera panned to a glassed-in room. A nurse entered, carrying a white bundle, which she placed inside a crib.

"Isn’t she just a little angel?"

The adults in the room smiled the same longing smile, and Catherine felt a distinctive icy chill.


Three Years Later...

In the Postley’s front yard, a group of kids played tag in the heat of a summer sun. Deborah, now almost five, trotted around the giant oak at the side of the house, her shiny brown hair gathered into two pig tails. Her dress, a flowery design picked out by Alice, flapped in the gentle wind. Neal and Greg, both just celebrating their fourth birthday, tripped and fell over each other in the shade of the garage. Calling each other "It!" over and over again, they tagged one another, running back and forth across the driveway like hellions. They looked nearly identical, with downy blonde, almost white, hair covering their rounded heads. Neal played a little too rough sometimes, but was, for the most part, a sweet kid. Greg proved to be more subdued, but he showed a real fondness for Deborah, sometimes precociously offering her a handful of dandelions he picked from the backyard.

"They really get along well, don’t they?" Marcia said, standing alongside Bill and Alice on the front porch. "So, it’s all of you in the one house?"

"Yes, we needed help taking care of the four kids. I guess you could say we’re one big family anyway," Alice chuckled. "It’s just easier to live in the same together; that way we can all enjoy them."

"How is school going so far?" Marcia asked.

"Well, Neal will start next August. Deborah has taken to preschool pretty well. Catherine came home from daycare yesterday saying she’d made a friend... some little boy named Jeremy. They’re just so cute at this age, aren’t they?"

"No, you’re it!" Neal yelled, pulling himself away from Greg’s grip. After which Greg started to bawl, waving his arms like mad and tearing at his clothes.

"Well, it’s never perfect," Alice conceded, walking over to see what was the matter. "Neal? What did you do to your brother now?"

"He started it," Neal used the standard childish comeback. Alice hoisted Greg up into her arms and tried to calm him down with a sucker she produced from her pocket.

Bill and Marcia looked over the freshly-cut lawn and sighed. An ideal day, they both decided. The sun, the breeze, the echoes of children all combined to form a picturesque Rockwell painting. Suburbia didn’t get any better.

By the sidewalk, next to the street, a four-year-old Ryan toddled in pursuit of little Catherine with his lips pursed in an exaggerated fashion, obviously after a kiss. Catherine, decked out in a petite pink sweatsuit and a pony tail, wanted nothing to do with it, however. She ran as fast as her tiny legs would take her, bearing an expression of frustration only a three-year-old can muster.

"Ryan won’t weave me alone," she pouted as she skipped toward Bill and Marcia. With freckles all over her face and an unmatched cuteness, she tugged at Bill’s pantleg, adopting her best puppy dog face.

The front door opened and George came out holding a mini-camcorder which looked to be newly purchased. "Where did you get that?" Alice asked.

"Well, I saw a commercial for Tech Warehouse last night and they had these badboys on sale... going cheap," he said, "so I figured why not. It’s digital and comes with a two year warranty." George kneeled down and began fiddling with the buttons.

Neal glanced up from the driveway. Before anyone knew it, he jumped to his feet and started charging toward the gathering of adults. He tripped, but got up and continued in George’s direction, running like a bull at a matador’s cape. He reached out and tried to grab the camcorder away from George, kicking and screaming like Bill and Alice had never seen.

"Neal Micheal Postley, you stop that, now!" Alice scolded him, as she put her arms around Neal and picked him up. "What’s gotten into you?"

He kept on fighting her, but his strength wasn’t enough and he gave in, but not without crying and letting out some unintelligible protest, yelling, "No! I don’t wanna... Don’t-I don’t wanna... No!" Alice and Marcia exchanged looks of bewilderment.

"Oh well... kids," Marcia said. "You never know what’s going on in their little heads."

Neal’s lower lip jutted out.

"Aw, come on, Neal. You’re no fun," George said as he stood up and aimed the camera at Neal. "Don’t you want something to remember us by?"



End Chapter 3

Everything Looks Better in Black and White

by: sumner | Complete Story | Last updated Nov 27, 2005


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vended · Jan 19, 2023

Still the best AR story I've ever read, even after all these years. Thanks a lot Sumner for writting and sharing this little gem !

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Juan Lopez · Apr 14, 2024

Best Age regression i've read. Love the steady regression of both siblings as they slowly lose more and more of their maturity and independence in the eyes of their parents.

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Juan Lopez · Apr 14, 2024

Best Age regression i've read. Love the steady regression of both siblings as they slowly lose more and more of their maturity and independence in the eyes of their parents.

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