He sat in the hot car across the street from her house, watching her do yard work. Every once in a while he’d take a swig of vodka straight from the bottle—his lips numb as he licked them—and practiced what he would say. Every time, the words changed. He watched her as sweat dripped from his face, and soaked through his back into the fabric of his seat. He should have bought a waterproof cover. His bowels felt loose every time he saw her dig a hole, and plant a bulb. October. It was too hot for this time of year. The trees should have been nearing peak time, and instead they kept blooming, confused into Summer behavior. He was confused too. He had thought he wanted to kill her.
Instead, he watched her and felt his heartbeat step in time with her trowel, and her hands, and the way her hair broke free from her ponytail. Instead of looking at the gun he had brought, he looked at the way her jeans covered her rear, and remembered how it felt to be in one of those back pockets, sometimes for a whole afternoon. He should have hated her. He drank again, and coughed. An old man walking his dog was startled by the sound, and looked at his tinted window, and seeing nothing through it, stared at the entire car, making a point to glance at his license plate. Good luck; it was a rental. But he remembered how people were in this neighborhood. Everyone knew each other, though no one truly knew her, did they? Had they ever known she shrank men and kept them as sex toys for years, to then throw them away without explanation?
He cracked the passenger window again, rather than start the car and turn on the a/c. He’d done that for hours until she finally emerged from the house, gardening tools in that giant plastic bucket that was no longer giant; her head protected by the same pink hat that was one half inch (one foot and a half to him then) too small for her. It would be too small for him now, when before he had lain flat on the rim and sunbathed for minutes until she declared he’d had enough. Before, when he was her little sex toy. Before she returned him without a word.
He screwed the white cap back on the bottle, and willed his drunkenness away, knowing he would have to wait a while before he could walk a straight line up the steps to her front yard. How long, he didn’t know. He had not had a single drop of alcohol after she’d dropped off his unconscious body back where he had lived before she took him. Where he had lived before she shrank him. He had bought the bottle of clear liquid thinking it would help him hold the weapon, and face her. What a stupid fool he was. He peeled his eyes off her flexing curves and looked down at the gun. It wasn’t even loaded. He had never bought bullets. All that thinking about “killing her”. How idiotic. She was his owner. A man doesn’t kill his owner. A toy doesn’t kill its owner.
Hours passed. She moved from bulbs to broken branches and twigs, gathering them in the large green bin that was emptied every Wednesday morning. It was Tuesday. He thought back on their Tuesdays routine, always the same. That was the thing about living with her, being owned by her: the firm adherence to schedule, and her constant need for sex. Tuesday mornings saw him waking up to being grabbed by her giant hand, and rubbed between her legs until they both screamed. Or he did. He always ended up screaming. Every day for ten years, he screamed. She didn’t seem to mind; in fact she craved those sounds from his tiny throat, and she did whatever it took to produce them. Now he sat there and wondered where the PTSD was; where the tears were. The only tears had come when he woke up and realized he wasn’t with her anymore; when he woke up a six-foot-tall man, and looked at the stranger that had been his wife, and realized there would never be a giant hand grabbing him anymore.
He watched her grab a bottle of Gatorade and drink it in long swigs. She used to put vodka in those half-empty bottles some nights, and made him swim in the foul mixture until he was half dead and numb. That’s when she did her worst and put him in places no man should ever penetrate. Not with his entire body, anyway. That’s when he screamed the loudest and begged the hardest for her to return him to his old size. There hadn’t been a single day he didn’t ask her to take him back to his wife, his children, his life. She had always ignored his pleas. Why didn’t she know when they had become empty? Why hadn’t she known he didn’t mean them anymore? Why hadn’t she seen how much he loved his life with her? Why did she grow him back? He watched her finish her drink, and blinked away a few tears. They rolled down his cheeks as she hauled a bag of mulch and cut it open. He lowered the passenger window a bit more, and inhaled deeply until he caught the scent of bark, and let it inundate his lungs.
She always finished doing yard work when it began to get dark and mosquitoes were the hungriest. He watched her gather her tools, dry her forehead with a graceful swipe of her forearm, and go around the house, to the backdoor he remembered being hundreds of feet in length. Not anymore. He waited. He’d wait until he knew she was done with her shower, and had changed into something clean and comfortable. Tuesday night. What was it they used to do on Tuesday nights? They watched TV. And kissed. He wanted that again. He waited. He was going to beg her to shrink him again, and this time he wasn’t going to fuck it up.