The second #KinkyScribble story I’ve written. As before let me present the numbers on this one:
Writing: 4 hours
Editing Time: ~1 hour
Much thanks to the very awesome Elle Largesse for starting the #KinkyScribble idea, whose stories and website can be found at this link.
For those interested in more #KinkyScribble stories, I suggest following the hashtag on Twitter, as some amazing stories have come from this.
The idea for this one came about after a particularly harrowing phone call in which I, the dutiful employee who didn’t rock boats, had to sit and converse with one of the most unpleasant people I’ve ever had to speak with. I am usually pretty sympathetic to others’ plight, but this person was highly aggressive, combative, and insinuated several things that I sadly can’t report them for.
It’s something of a byproduct of the work I do, or at least the work culture I currently am. Fortunately, this kind of interaction is a rarity, but it doesn’t always take a poor interaction with someone to instigate that feeling hopelessness in me. Even a mild conversation where my brain latches on to some minor imperfection or fault in me can spark panic.
This story is something of a parable of how someone in my life helped me through one of these moments, hence the 1st person POV. That said, I’ve tried to remove as many mentions to narrator’s gender as possible, in hopes of making it more accessible.
I still get panic attacks, they’re absolutely debilitating and I utterly loathe them. My transcription of the panic attack as my best approximation as to how they feel for me, not necessarily anyone else.
Please mind the content warnings and tags below, as while it is a gentle SFW story, there are themes which may be triggering to some readers.
Content Warning: sfw, panic attacks, F/nb, established relationship, sizeshifting, mentions of non-sexual nudity, shrinking
Estimated Reading Time: 20 minutes
I keep my hand still and motionless against the desk. There’s a coiling, hissing, angry thing rousing in my gut and it’s taking everything I have not to bolt from my chair.
“Do you understand?” says the voice in my headset. I almost don’t recognize him. I just feel the oil and poison of their words slither down my spine like a rotten egg.
“Of course,” I answer. My voice is straining—shit shit shit—but they don’t notice. Or maybe they do and they just don’t care.
My vision blurs as I move my mouse over to the office chat, hover over my avatar, right-click and—fuck!—have to stop because I can’t read the menu lettering.
“Then tell me, what are you going to do?” the voice on the other end of the call says. Not a voice. He. He says.
I can’t even remember. Something’s crushing my spirit with mortar and pestle and every passing second is like tinfoil in the microwave, all sparks and flickers and dancing closer and closer to the edge of a cliff.
“I’ll take care of it right away, sir. I’ll make sure of it,” I say instead. The broken glass comes all too naturally, and I hate it. They can’t even tell I’m smiling, so why am I doing it?
“I’ll let Nolan know about our conversation, of course.”
The voice hacks and coughs and then comes back, rasping like a middle-aged nicotine addiction in human flesh. “When does Frederico come back?”
“Mr. Marcone has actually left the company. He’s now an—”
“Shame,” interrupts the voice. “I liked him.”
The ‘I don’t like you’ is left silent, because he’s nothing if not about the appearance of professionalism. Looking busy, meaningless updates, talking about their golf game with the many replaceable background faces in a company that claims to pride itself on its diversity.
“Is there anything else I can do for you today?” I try. Please say no.
“Just your job,” the voice replies.
I chuckle nervously and close my eyes. The room is spinning and I don’t want to throw up on my desk, at least not while I’m still on the phone call. My gut is hot and uncomfortable, as if I’ve swallowed curdled milk that had something living in it. The iron jammed in my limbs keeping me in place is melting and I can feel the shakes taking over. My button down hangs on me, empty and vast and heavy and even moving the mouse to keep the computer screen alive feels different.
“I hope you have a pleasant day, sir.”
He scoffs. The line cuts out. I give it a full minute of silence, just in case they feel like calling me back to let me know what else I colossally fucked up on and deserve lambasting for.
When nothing happens, I carefully and deliberately take the headset off, pulling at my tie to loosen the knot.
I still can’t see much. My sight skews like the surface of the sea when someone massive and ancient comes up for air, and it’s everything I can do just to keep inhaling and exhaling in steady, measured breaths.
One two three. Four five six. Seven eight fuckup.
No. No, stop it.
I can almost hear him now, his voice in my head like some middle-management encore from hell.
You suck. You cocked it up now, didn’t you? Oh boy oh fuck, wait till Nolan hear’s ‘bout this!
It was just a mistake.
It hurts to keep my eyes open like this.
The tears pool and blur my vision further, and I can’t remember how long it takes to breathe. Two seconds, five minutes, ten hours? I try to move my fingers, to click on that menu button that’ll free me from my desk, and it takes far too much effort to even do that. I hear the ding of a notification go off, letting me know someone’s trying to talk to me, right as I take my impromptu break.
And then another. And another.
I push back from the desk, slamming against the keyboard and I hear something, some plastic button that’s been threatening to break off for weeks if not months, snap clean. The sound is small and imperceptible in the cacophonous silence of my home office and I feel it reverberate in my mouth as I stand.
Snap. Snap snap. Snap snap snaaaaaa—
I can’t control it anymore. My shirt which started the day snug and comfortable just weighs me down, a draping coat atop my dwindling shoulders. The collar rises around my head as I fall without moving, creeping along my neck like quicksand and as the edge of it overtakes first my chin, my mouth, my nose and finally my eyes I’m treated to the familiar surroundings of the inside of my clothing.
There’s a rank stench of sweat and myself in this space and I cry out, throwing my arms up, hoping to throw my shirt off, but I’m falling, crying, turning smaller and smaller with every passing breath that comes in fast and heavy, socking me in the lungs like professional fastballs.
I take a step forward, or try to, and fail. My shoes are too big to lift, sized for someone who isn’t two feet tall and shrinking, someone normal and not such a colossal fuckup. The lip of my shoes hold my feet in place like cement boots, and I accidentally throw myself forward, collapsing, falling face first and incandescent pain bursts along my lower lip as I bite down in reflex.
Do your job. Do your job. Do your fucking job.
I lay there, prone and useless in my own clothing as I shrink down and down. Moaning, clutching at my head, my face, my lip which I frantically feel and dab it, hoping to god I’m not bleeding because I have a video conference later today and I can’t fuck this up too—
“I’m sorry,” I whisper. “I’m sorry, so sorry. I’m sorry.”
My head is full of fuzz, on fire, and that thing in my gut from earlier is laughing, hissing, slithering, cooing like some venomous comfort. Its hold on me is absolute and incontrovertible as the phone call clarions back to my attention.
Everything I did wrong, all I could have done right. How idiotic and stupid I am being right now as I lay there, writhing like some wretch, trembling and—
The floor shakes. The vibrations burrow underneath my shirt, my prison, and reach up through the surface, traveling along my body. Footsteps. They increase in pace, and I can hear something, some voice out there calling.
At first I think it’s me, my monster made manifest, come to claim its prize, and then I think it’s that man from the call, and that is worse.
My vision is still shit and I’m scrabbling, half-blind, as the footsteps gain power and traction and it’s a vicious battering ram against my psyche. Foundations of panic teeter and totter faster than it can rebuild and I’m left raw and miniscule as my body falls into the undercurrent of seismic strength.
The voice out there calls for something again. Through my mad state I can make out syllables and string them together.
My name. They’re saying my name.
And like that, I hear her open the door. The turn and click of the door is a gong, reverberating through the room.
“Honey? It’s me,” she says, stepping into the empty room. I know this, because her footsteps reach me like the precursor quake of something truly epic. “I heard something fall downstairs, are you okay?”
I don’t respond.
She probably hasn’t turned the corner and seen the piles of clothes yet. It’s not uncommon for a bout of sizeshifting to hit me in the middle of work, and I have asked her not to come in before. I’m usually more in control of myself.
Usually. When I’m not being a colossal fuckup.
The press and punt of panic seeps in again, a second wind well underway, and I can’t help the keening sound that leaves me. It’s not a human sound, just something small and pathetic and useless, exactly like how I’m feeling.
“Honey?!” I hear the door open fully, handle slamming against the stopper on the wall. Quick explosions of sound and thumps against the hardwood floor throb along my body with every step of hers, and then the creak and cry as she kneels. “Honey, are you in there?”
Her voice is strained and concerned and dammit, I didn’t mean for this. I didn’t mean to worry her.
She hasn’t touched the clothes yet.
“Can you hear me?”
Maybe if I don’t answer she’ll leave.
Maybe. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
“How small are you right now?” Nessa whispers. The air around me takes on a charged feeling. I can tell she’s suppressing the urge to burrow through my clothing, to grab me and hold me tight, envelope me in her comfort, but she’s holding back. “I…should I move? Can you see me?”
I can see the corona of light beyond a shadow larger than any building I’ve chanced getting close to. Something about extremes, real or imaginary, tweek the dials and knobs of my already tenuous control over my shifting into overdrive and she’s always been the largest being I could let myself be near.
But even through the material of the shirt, I can see her blonde hair drape over her face as she looks down at the pile of clothing. That’s what I am now, a pile of clothing, a thing playing at being a functional human being.
I’ve stopped shrinking, I already know that, but I can’t help the rush of blood in my ears, cupping my head, suppressing my voice, my self, all so it would just stop! Here, trapped in my business clothes as I am, my breaths turn shallower. First, I gasp. Then I pant. My panting transforms into wheezing and then within seconds I’m full-on hyperventilating and the comparatively light fabric material of the shirt grows heavier and the darkness creeping in along the edges of my blurry sight begins to encroach and invade and—
Artificial light pierces through that darkness. I roll as my world twists and turns and I realize it’s her, flipping my shirt around and unbuttoning each fasten like lightning. Cool, mild air assaults my senses like a hurricane, but instead of overpowering it’s like diving into a lake: a brief moment of sensory overload, followed by a stillness of something deep and ancient.
She hovers above me, hands planted on both sides, pinning the arms of my shirt as if it were some dangerous creature, and the smile she has is wobbly and nervous and beautiful.
“Hey there,” she says.
I stare, stunned. I gape at her freckles, at the split ends she secretly dislikes, at the minor marks along her upper lip where she bites when she’s nervous. Her heart-shaped I can’t forget, but am always astounded by when I’m so small.
“Sorry,” she continues, “I heard you crying and I couldn’t just leave you. Um. Sorry.”
She looks so nervous I can’t help but chuckle. The sound is harsh and grating and it hurts my throat but it seems to ease her nerves just a tad and for that, I’m grateful.
“May I?” she says, gesturing down to me with an open hand.
I say nothing, I just turn my head to the side, that same ugly thing from before rises in my chest. It wraps around my heart, squeezing once with every pulse pounding second. Shame and guilt gnaw, ravenous vermin that they are.
Fingers the size of tree trunks scoop me into a palm bigger than a basketball court. The contrast between the floor of my office and her hand is incomparable and I shudder in the heat of her hand, closing my eyes against the quilt of her scent. I am bare, naked in every meaning of the word, but still I try to hide my shame by covering my face with my hands. My cheeks feel blotchy and swollen with tears and that just sprouts a fresh wave of them.
“Hey, hey,” she whispers. Nessa always whispers when I’m small. I’ve told her time and time again that I’m durable, that I can handle far more danger when I’m like this than mere burst eardrums. She still whispers. “What’s up, love? What’s got you feeling tiny?”
She doesn’t mean it as an insult. At this size, at the threshold of my sizeshifting, calling me anything else would be disingenuous.
“It’s nothing,” I say. It’s an effort to speak.
“I don’t think it’s nothing,” she says. She’s less arguing, and more asserting. “It’s clearly important to you to make you feel like this. Your feelings aren’t nothing.”
I peek through my fingers to see she’s still looking at me. She hasn’t moved one iota since she’s picked me up. I just see her face, filling my sight and beyond.
“Just a work thing,” I muster to reply. My breathing hitches thinking about it. My computer is blowing up with pings and notifications, a consecutive series of cattle prods that scrape at the inner lining of my mind. “It’s stupid. I shouldn’t have reacted like this.”
“Nothing about how you feel is stupid,” she says. Her breath washes over my prone body like spring bloom and I clutch at my face, helpless before her immensity. “It’s okay to not be okay.”
I do know. In some part of me. In some buried, sunken place, inaccessible to me in my state, I know this. It’s all stuff that we’ve gone over before, and I feel so goddamn stupid for making her come up here and take care of me while we’re both in the middle of a workday.
My chest hurts, it hurts like I’ve run through a thicket of thorns and each one’s left its mark on me.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” I say, through my hands. I swallow the stone lodged in my throat. My insides feel hollow, empty, yet still I shake. “I don’t even know why I…it’s just this thing at work. I was on a call and I thought it was going to be okay but it turns out it’s not and he got so angry.” I hiccup, tears afresh as I blubber, “I fucked up this time, Nessa. I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to come up here and check on me.”
“You say that as if checking in on you is ever an inconvenience.” The bumps and crevices of her palm crease ever so slightly as she curls her hand closer in an approximation of a hug. I feel the winding skin tighten. “Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Yes. No. Maybe.” My lip flares with pain where my hand touches it, and I muffle the reflexive groan. “I don’t know. I’m sorry.”
My breathing is harsh, tense, dry. I want to curl up in her palm and ask to just be held, but something stops me. The room is alien now, immense and vast in a way that transforms even the mundane cerulean hues of the wall paint into something eldritch and hungry. I could drown in this room, on the hardwood floor panels and in my business attire, formerly filled by someone so much more.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” Her giant face shifts, morphing from anxious concern to something softer. “You’re doing great honey, I promise.”
I’m not doing anything, I want to tell her. The dread is back and vengeful in spirit. It widens the pit inside me until I feel like I’m going to collapse inwards, just fall apart and shake myself into pieces.
“Let’s try focusing on something else,” she says. Asks? No, says. “Remember when I tried making dinner last week? Remember how silly I looked when you walked in the room?” She swallows thickly, yet still she remains steady. “I had pasta sauce in my hair. You called me a goober.”
She did. I had. The memory sparks something in me, forcing an uncontrollable little grin, before it too sinks to the bottom.
“Breathe with me,” she says. Beneath the veneer of calm and peace I can tell she’s concerned but nothing else shows. She’s here, holding me, and that’s everything and more. “Come on, honey, breathe with me. One.”
I try to follow suit. My chest hacks and hurts, and I want to cry more, but my tears are either gone or dried up.
Her exhale comes in like the tide, a warm haze that serves to relax only my extremities.
“You’re doing good,” she says. “Let’s go again. Two.”
I try again, focusing, lingering on the scent of her hand and mouth. This time, I manage something longer. Something more deserving than the whiff.
She exhales on me again, and I finally pull my hands away from my face.
“Good job. I’m proud of you.” The pulse and pound of her circulatory system drums beneath me. I can feel her pulse surrounding me, like one long hug from her core. “One more. Three.”
It continues like that, individual counts stretching through seconds into something interminable. With every pounding breath a little more poison leaves, and a little more me returns. I don’t grow back, but I don’t feel like the herald of something ominous and unavoidable is looking out from behind my eyes anymore either.
My body shakes, but it’s me in control now. I can lift my hand, spread my fingers, and wonder at the magnificence of this world without feeling like I’m turning into something meaningless anymore.
Nessa’s face is still the same, calm, with a sheen of sweat trailing down from her temple to her jawline. Her palms are steadier than any stone, any vehicle I’ve ever ridden.
I have a voicemail now. Maybe several. A few emails, most likely. I have a video conference to attend today, and the thought of it makes me want to close my eyes and sleep. Fatigue hounds my limbs now, sister to panic, and I rebel against it by lurching into a sitting position.
I watch Nessa. The way her mouth curves with every noise. The almost imperceptible gulp as she takes her last counting breath.
I close my eyes and let her exhale over me, filling me, rejuvenating me like a northern wind.
“…thank you,” I say at last, trying to fill everything into those two words. I’m too tired to talk too much. It’s a soul-fueled jet lag that hangs over in my mind.
“Of course,” she says, accepting it as if what she’d done for me wasn’t priceless. “Anything for you.”
“You didn’t have to,” I muster up. It feels wrong to let it be like that.
“You’ve done the same for me.” Nessa’s glance turns furtive, shy. “I’m not a shifter but, sometimes I panic too. And you help. A lot.” She looks down at me fondly and tentatively pats my whole body with her finger. It’s like getting hugged by a mountain, but still, I can sense her care for me. “How are you feeling now?”
“Tired,” is the first thing that escapes me. “Worn out.”
Nessa makes an appreciative noise. She still hasn’t looked away from me, nor has he risen from her kneeling position on the floor, despite how much it must be aching. “You want me to let them know you need to log off?”
I look over at my computer, blowing up with notifications that would send me even at my normal size into a frenzy. At my shrunken size, the entire setup feels several degrees removed from what I can handle. The desk is a kind of ancient temple to be dug up and discovered by archaeologists ages from now.
“I shouldn’t,” I say, but even I can tell it’s half-hearted. “I’ve got a meeting.”
Nessa’s expression flickers between concern and visible disapproval at the computer. She doesn’t know much about what caused me to panic like this, but she’s never been a fan of how certain clients have treated me. It’s probably a good thing she wasn’t a shifter herself, otherwise I’m sure we’d have to install taller doorways.
“If you say so,” she says obliquely. “Want me to at least stay up here for the day? I’ll stay out of view.”
“I want them to fuck off,” I blurt out, because my brain filter is in hibernation.
She blinks, taken aback, and then lets out a weary laugh.
“So that’s a no then?” she says. The care with which she transfers me to her other hand is immeasurable. She puts her free hand on the desk and pulls herself to her feet, and the whole motion is smooth and as peaceful as a swaying hammock.
“Just let Nolan know I’m…taking a personal day,” I say with a yawn.
I fall back against her palm, stretching and luxuriating in her enormous presence.
A quick few clacks and taps of buttons as she enters my password and types out the message pass by.
“There,” she says, sounding satisfied. “I sent it.”
She sighs. Nessa’s got a pretty mouth. Even her sighs are pretty.
My head feels heavy as I try to look up. Some part of me is aware I’m crashing, coming down from a terrifying high that no one should go through, but I can’t help the giggle-snort that escapes me as I think about how comfortable everything is.
“Hey there, sleepy bear.” Aquamarine eyes move into view as she lifts her palm up to eye level. She’s breathtaking even at this angle. “How are you doing?”
“Sleepy,” I manage to utter.
“Want me to hold you while you do?”
Yes. I try to vocalize this one word, but my mouth feels funny now that I’m on the other side of that valley of fear and panic. It hangs and lolls, my eyelids are heavier than anchors.
“I got you,” she says. I think she’s moving. Walking. Leaving my home office behind her. I hear doors open and shut, and the thump thump thump of stairs as she goes descends them.
Cinnamon. That’s what she smells of. Like fresh cookies, still warm from the oven.
“I feel like an afternoon nap myself.” Something darkens behind my eyelids, the blinds drawing close. “Remember, honey, in and out. Breathe with me, one… two…”
I drift off into sleep before the three ever arrives.