By Simon Barget
In the morning I am small, barely a shadow of my former self. I haven’t had a chance to grow. In the morning I can hardly even recognise me. I look different, raggedy, I don’t even look like a person. Something in my face doesn’t feel right, when I look in the mirror. I look drawn, even gaunt. I look like I could do with a kick in the bum. I feel like if people could see me now, they would laugh or be abhorred, one of the two. They wouldn’t have imagined that this person before them is actually me, such is the difference in how I look.
Although people will never see me in the morning. How would they? They won’t come round to my house at that time. I won’t go over to them either. They will never know that I look so small, so withdrawn. A little bare. Blackness under the eyes. They would not understand it was me. They’d look right through me. Perhaps they’d take me for a hospital patient or a prisoner, a shut-in, someone on the brink of mental instability. Even if they were to see me, they would be confused.
And as the day goes on I grow. My head bulges, my legs extend, my arms grow a little longer. I might put on a little make-up, but you’d never know. My belly becomes full of food which often has no place to go. I often put on a suit and see and feel how my body expands into it, how my neck widens, how the breath fills to capacity in my lungs, how my trunk pleasingly stretches the fabric, I will ply my shoes on with a shoe-horn, and in that resistance to the foot at first going in, in that sensation of it only just being able to fit, I will feel reassured that I’m coming back to my normal size.
Every so often I will just stand and put my hands in my pockets, mentally assessing my size. I might feel for my thigh. I might crack my fingers or my neck to check they’re still there. Sometimes I will just stand in any old random spot and try and feel my great weight coming down onto my ankles. Then, I might not notice you’re there. When I’m checking for myself I tend to lose sight of the others.
Even if I feel a little heavy by lunchtime, this I know is me. I cannot say much more than that. My body functions have returned to regularity, my systems restored. An even blood flow. Even if I, say, cough by this time, the cough is something different to the cough I’d cough at 8:30. The cough is no longer a tentative pre-cursor to something else, no longer a test cough to see if I can still cough, or as if I am producing a cough for an imaginary audience, no, this is a cough that reasserts the very act of coughing. It is a cough that can wipe away anything else. When my big burly body coughs at mid-morning, I’ve seen people look up and take notice, as if the cough was alerting them to something quite real.
I would not say that I’m the largest person in the world. So many people are much bigger. All I know is that I cannot, I dare not, ever be as small as I am in the morning. I am thankful therefore for the growth process. I am thankful to being able to fill out, put on weight, gain in stature, all of these things I am very grateful for. But I need not be concerned that they’re not going to happen. Countless days I’ve woken up almost as small as a flea, something barely visible, something you wouldn’t believe until you saw it, countless days, it just happens, and I can’t say when and how it does, there is no moment I can point to at which I can say I’m getting bigger, I never witness it, but I do get bigger, it is indisputable, because by about lunchtime I am very big indeed and able to hold my own with most if not all of the men.
As the day goes on, my weight sort of stagnates. I don’t grow. I don’t fill out. There could even be a loosening of the material in my trousers, a certain slackness, and that is when I fear the most that I could somehow suddenly pop like a balloon. I think it could catch me off-guard at some moment just after lunch when then food has gone through, when the somnolence has passed, I become very slightly invigorated and then I start to wonder what will happen to me and my body. What this ‘it’ is, I have no idea. It could be some strange force wanting to draw me down, suck me in. I don’t believe in forces but I somehow fear them. I want to know I can live out the day without getting small, without looking ridiculous and faint, like I’m not prepared for the world around me.
When I get home, I am safe. I could get smaller if I wanted to, it wouldn’t matter. If I catch myself in a mirror, I will either be proud of my stature, or if I perceive a slight tendency towards shrinking, I will bemoan this a bit, but be thankful one way or another that it happened at a time when no one could see me. I am smaller but not really if I don’t see myself against the other.
When I’m in bed, I cannot worry about it. Perhaps I will become very small again, ashamedly so, but how can I prevent it? I suspect there are people who keep themselves awake for this purpose. They hate so much to be small, they’ll do anything to avoid it. But as much as I despise it myself, I won’t mess with my sleep, besides I have tried and I soon fall asleep anyway.
I wake up with a bang every morning. I am small again. Will I get bigger? Will this be the day that I just do not grow? Well I don’t really believe that, from somewhere the conviction comes, that’s real faith, I mean I don’t need the conviction for it to happen, if anything the opposite, that is to say I could be fully convinced I’d stay completely tiny, and I’d still start to grow.
Image: Wikimedia Commons