Once upon a time there was a boy. He wasn’t the most popular kid in class. He also wasn’t the least popular kid in class. One day, for no particular reason that he could discern, he started to shrink. For some reason no one seemed to notice, but him and the worst thing was how much more effort it seemed to take for him to get back and forth to school. After all, each step was proportionately smaller, the smaller he grew. It seemed like he was spending a ton of energy just trying to get to class or move the pencil across the page.
It got bad enough that he was taking shortcuts by riding in a friend’s backpack. For some reason though, everyone just went on as if the world were normal. They all seemed to be moving slower and slower and sounded seemed to be deeper than before, but as far as he could tell, he was moving just as much less through time as he was through space.
By the time school let out on Friday, he was no taller than the length of my index finger, right here. He didn’t feel well and time seemed to drag on as he trudged home to the safety of his room. On the way there were so many inconsiderate people. Meteors of cigarette ash as he passed the area where teachers smoked after school, lakes of puddles from the morning’s rain and a morass of mud where it met the trampled soil of the shortcut across Mr. Jorgensen’s yard. By the time he got home, he was covered in mud and horribly tired. So much effort and nothing to show for it. How was he supposed to go through the rest of his life so small? Even his toys were too big for him.
Using the last of his energy, he managed to climb the bed and make the treacherous leap to his bedside table where his mother had left him a sandwich. Thankful, he ate his fill, barely making a visible dent in this mammoth meal before lying down on his pillow to take a rest.
The next morning, he woke up about half as large as his usual self, and though it wasn’t quite the same as usual he was feeling a bit more like himself. When the boy went downstairs he noticed a slight change with each step… no. Not with each step. He made a slight change with each noise. It was the squeaks and then, the light… the bright sunlight was making him shrink faster again as if all of the stimulus from the environment was making him shrink. Quickly, he ran back to the bathroom and shut the door. The shrinking stopped.
Worried, he hugged himself tightly and noticed that the security he felt not only stopped the shrinking, but also seemed to help him return (a bit) in the direction of his normal size. After a few minutes, he felt large enough to reach the spigot on the shower and turned on the water. The sounds of water had always been soothing for him and so he reasoned that this water would help him to return to his size.
Probably just wrung out, he thought with a smile. He took off his pajamas and folded them conscientiously before stepping into the warm soothing water. The boy stayed under the water for a while until banging on the door from his little sister and a cry of “Mo-om! He’s still in the shower.” Took a few inches off of his height and snapped his attention back to the world.
“I’m coming out,” he said and turned off the water. This is not a good deal. For some reason, this is happening and I don’t know why, but it seems like things that are comforting help me return to norma and things that are discomfortable? Uncomfortable? Un… yeah, uncomfortable are making me shrink.
His sister banged on the door again and was about to yell to their mother, when he threw open the door and said “It’s all yours,” but the energy of the false cheer seemed to make him shrink more than his sister’s yelling.
The shrinking wasn’t so bad of course, after all, he got an interesting new perspective on the world. It was just how much more energy everything took when he “got small” that frustrated him. Heck, if it wasn’t such a hassle, he wouldn’t mind staying small full-time. Sure he couldn’t reach anything and everyone seemed to take FOREVER to say anything, but hey, at least he was saving a bundle on food.
Eventually a few people in his life noticed that he was getting small, and they had different reactions. Some asked him why he didn’t just toughen up, others asked why he wanted to be small and still others (the ones who really matter) told him they’d be there for him no matter what size he was and they’d do their best to help him around.
Of course, there were some things he could do to keep from getting too small too quickly; exercise helped, as did eating healthy, and getting enough sleep. Eventually the boy would go on to other adventures having learned a lot about who he was and realizing that no matter how big or small he was, it was how he reacted to the situation that determined if it was good or bad. Crossing a forest of grass (that he’d been unable to get mowed on account of his size) was horrible, sure- but finding a way to surf on the back of the behemoth push mower not only helped him to grow back to size, but also could be quite fun when he picked up inertia.
Eventually, he learned that inertia might be a sometimes solution to the problem of his growing and shrinking. It did seem true that whenever he shrank, he seemed to shrink more until he was totally shrunk. It was also true that when he started to grow, he seemed to find it easier to keep growing until he was the right size. Sometimes, he would even get too big if things were going really well. In those times he had to be careful not to overpower his friends, as the littlest bit of effort and excitement might send them flying.
All through his life, the boy dealt with the difficulties and challenges presented by his body’s decision to randomly make things harder or easier by size. Whether he thought this was such a bad thing would be hard to say, as it taught him to make friends with people who would help support him and made him better at supporting his other friends who had their own idiosyncratic problems to deal with.