Lessons in Age


EgARednu_Sphinx & Tabula Rasa

Mike didn't notice anything unusual when he first woke up. Of course, he was, as always, only half-awake, so he probably wouldn’t have noticed an explosion. And besides, who's to say there was anything to notice, soearly?

He went through his usual morning routine, which consisted largely of fighting with the sleep button on his alarm for 20 minutes, and then, having wasted too much time to have breakfast, rushing to a shower. It was after his shower, when he went to brush his teeth, that he finally thought there might be something amiss, namely that a small child was staring back at him in the mirror. Even in his semi-conscious state, Mike could tell that this was wrong. He blinked. Twice. The child remained. Mike looked down at himself, and saw nothing unusual. He was the same 19 year old he had gone to sleep at the night before. And yet the mirror...but when he looked back, there was nothing unusual. He chalked it up to sleep deprivation, brushed his teeth, got dressed, and biked to class.

If nothing else had happened, he would have forgotten it by the afternoon. But when he entered his first class, something similar happened. Somehow, the college level calculus class he had attended all semester seemed to have been replaced by an elementary school class. And, while he couldn't say he remembered it, Mike couldn't help feeling that it looked vaguely familiar. Indeed, even though many of the seats (not the chairs with desks on the arms that he was used to, but the full desk chairs he remembered once using) were empty, he knew immediately which one was his. Sitting down at it, he opened it up to reveal a text book with his name on it. And then, looking up, everything was back to normal. Differential equations. Just like the day before.

What was going on?

Still he got through Diff EQ with any more problems then usual, just the usual spinning head he got from the professors thick accent. His next class was history. Useless, as far as his major was concerned, but an easy 'A' none the less. He walked into the lecture hall and was relieved to see a lecture hall full of college students. He pulled out his book and waited for class to start. His professor started on the hour exactly, as usual. 'Today class,' he began, 'we are going to study the explorations of Christopher Columbus. Please repeat after me. /In fourteen hundred ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue/'. Mike looked up, amazed that a professor would use a preschool rhyme to teach his class. But then he looked around... the elementary school class room was back. He looked at himself, and saw a striped t-shirt and a pair of overalls. Then, just as suddenly, it was all gone. Except for one thing…

It was the t-shirt that gave it away. Of course, he had been wearing a t-shirt and jeans before. And he was wearing a t-shirt and jeans now. But it had been a different t-shirt. Mike didn't even own a striped t-shirt, and probably hadn't for several years. And yet, he was definitely wearing one.

As soon as class was over, he raced back to his dorm. He was not entirely surprised, or perhaps not at all, when he walked into a room decorated with soccer ball sheets on both bunks and an alphabet chart on the walls. And there was a boy, who looked a great deal like the one he had seen earlier, wearing overalls and sitting at a desk, and...

He blinked, and it was gone. His dorm room was back, and nothing was amiss. Well, except for his striped t-shirt. And his roommate's t-shirt. Striped t-shirts aren't especially common in a college, but they don't look especially out of place. And in a large college like the one they attended, nothing seems really out of place.

Mike pulled out his Palm Pilot and started to go over his homework assignments. There was a physics test coming up that he really needed to study for, so he grabbed the book off the shelf and sat down at his desk. He took his wallet out of his pocket and set it on the desk. He opened the book to chapter four and began to go over the equations he needed to know. One of the examples involved the motion of a baseball, and when Mike saw that he peeked out the window...after all, he thought, 'Mom won't know if I don't finish it all today.' So he went to the closet and got out his baseball glove. For a moment he thought about changing clothes to something more appropriate, but then, he thought, jeans are jeans...with or without grass stains. He walked outside, and suddenly realized he was nowhere near his yard. It was just campus, and he had a baseball cap on backwards. Along with the shirt, he was starting to attract some stares. Then he felt his pocket and realized he'd left his access card back in his room.

He went to the phone, and called his roommate. Fred picked up and Mike said, to both their surprise, 'Hey Freddie, can I come play at your house today?'

Fred hesitated for a long, odd moment, before responding 'Yeah, I'll let you in.'

When Fred opened the door he was dressed normally. Well, except for the striped t-shirt. Mike reflected that the day before, he would have been surprised to see Fred in overalls, but now he was almost surprised that Fred wasn't.

They both walked down the hall to their room, but when Fred opened the door, neither was really surprised that it was a child's room again. And, sure enough, they were both wearing overalls. Mike opened his mouth to ask Fred what was going on, and heard himself say 'Wanna play video games?'

And, despite knowing that this didn't make sense, Mike found himself playing Super Mario Kart, and having a great time. He knew this didn't make sense, and yet, college was beginning to seem so foreign...and then, things were back to normal. Or at least, closer to it.

They were in their dorm room, sitting at their desks, studying. But the t-shirts were still there, and, even stranger, the overalls. Taking a deep breath, Mike decided to take control. He stood up and went over to his dresser, planning to change into something normal. And then he regretted it, because it wasn't just the clothes he was wearing that had changed.

No longer was the dresser a little 3 drawer college space saving thing. It was a full dresser, and the drawers were full of...well, he thought, let's categorize:

Top Drawer: He knew it had been full of underwear and socks. Mike looked at it and was surprised. He dug around a bit. His boxers were gone, replaced by pairs of colorful briefs. Even his socks seemed to have more color. Still, he thought, no one had to see those.

Middle Drawer: This had his t-shirts in it. He winced as he looked through. Stripes, more stripes, some shapes, and a cartoon character here and there. His flipped on of the tags up. Adult XL? But the shirt still had Barney on it...

Middle Drawer: This had held his shorts, but they were gone, replaced by several pairs of overalls. They too were sized for a college age boy.

Middle Drawer: Shorts and pants seemed to have moved here. Most bore witness to close contact with grass. Stains, holey knees, and frayed seams. These were the clothes that a boy younger then Mike might live in. Except he knew they were his.

Bottom Drawer: It was full of - suddenly Fred interrupted. 'Mike? I can't find my pajamas!'

'Oh, come'ere you little pain.' he said, without thinking. Mike knew what was gong on. His little brother, Freddie wanted to wear his pj's so he could feel grown up.

And, grabbing his own Barney pajamas out of the bottom drawer, he undressed Freddie and put him in one set of Barney pajamas, and then pulled out his favorites. They were all purple with green ribbing and had a big green stomach. But something wasn't right. The pjs seemed to fit Freddie better than they should. And Freddie didn't seem any shorter than he was.

And then everything was back to normal. Mike was 19. A college student. In his dorm room. His roommate looked perfectly normal in his pajamas, even though they did belong to Mike. He just sat at his desk working. Mike steeled himself, and looked down at his clothing. He breathed a sigh of relief. It was perfectly normal, the sort of clothing you normally expect to see around a college campus. Just his favorite Barney pajamas like he'd wear any other day.

Mike sat down at his desk, and looked at his work. Perfectly normal. All he had to do was write twenty more words about whales.

And then, one more glance at Freddie reminded him that something was still wrong. Freddie should have been shorter than he was.

'Freddie, could you come here for a second?' Standing back to back, it was clear that they were the same height. Dreading what he would see, he walked over to the mirror, and to his horror, although not surprise, he say the face of his five year old brother Freddie looking back. He was eight! How could he look like Freddie?

And why had he thought it was normal to wear Barney pajamas? He was much too old for those. He began trying to piece together what was going on. The weird events, the clothing, the...


Freddy's shout destroyed his concentration. He jumped, turned around, and tried to tackle his twin brother. By the time he went to bed, he'd completely forgotten that anything strange had been going on. He was just a normal five year old boy, the younger of two twins, holding his teddy bear close to his Barney pajamas as he drifted off to sleep.


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