“Yes!” Natalie exclaimed excitedly, watching glassy eyed as the shrunken rabbit in front of her finished growing back to its original size. “It works! My God, it actually works!” Natalie clenched her fists and pulled her hands close to her body, doing her best to contain her jubilation so as not to draw the attention of the lab techs working just a few feet outside her closed office door. Up until that point, it had been a long, frustrating week: On Sunday, Natalie received the shock of her life when she discovered her son, Tim, only an inch tall, desperately clinging to her toe as she sat at the kitchen table. After taking a few minutes to process what had happened and frantically calling her sister for help, Natalie hurried to her lab, spending the rest of the day bustling about, frantically preparing and running samples of the shrinking formula through various pieces of equipment, hoping that some combination of all the analyses would shed some light on its exact, chemical makeup. There were a lot of tests, but with no one there to bother her, Natalie was able to get a lot of preliminary work done and catch up on all her missed emails while she was away. Monday, however, was a different story. Her entire day was spent checking in, cataloging, and analyzing all the other samples from her trip. Despite having an entire team of lab techs at her disposal, she still had to finish catching up on all the work she missed while she was on her trip. If that weren’t bad enough, Natalie was informed by her boss of an impromptu board meeting the next day where she was expected to give a presentation on her trip which needed to include a research outline, and had to spend the rest of the afternoon putting everything together. By the end of the day, she barely had any time to get any additional work on analyzing the shrinking formula. Thankfully, Tuesday went surprisingly well. With all her prep work the day prior, Natalie’s board presentation went off without a hitch, and by the end of it, the board members were so excited with her research prospects that they promised a big bonus and all the extra funding she’d need for the next year, including new equipment and hiring more help. Natalie also found a way to sneak the last of the analyses she needed to finish on the shrinking formula into her lab techs’ work; with all their rushing around to analyze all the other samples she’d brought back, no one suspected anything out of the ordinary. With all of the test data in hand, Natalie took all her paperwork home that afternoon, planning to spend the evening combing through her results and hopefully find the answers she needed to start work on an antidote first thing Wednesday morning… …That was, until the whole laundry incident. The ordeal left Natalie so afraid for her son’s safety that she couldn’t concentrate on analyzing her data, and was constantly looking up from her paperwork to make sure Tim was still alive. She was so thankful that her sister offered to stay with her through the end of the week; Natalie was already stressed and at her wits end, and needed help keeping the last of her sanity. Wednesday was a busy day. Natalie’s lab techs kept her preoccupied with dozens of questions about the test results they were getting from all their work, and she didn’t really get the bulk of her work done until everyone had gone home for the day. By the time she’d left work herself, Natalie only had a couple things left to go over paperwork wise. Unfortunately, those turned out to be the hardest of them all. Her entire trip home and throughout most of the evening, Natalie pondered and poured through her data trying to figure out the last unidentified component of the shrinking formula. Given everything else she’d identified, she surmised it had to be the active ingredient, but with her all the databases she had at her disposal as yet unable to properly identify it, Natalie knew she’d have quite the puzzle on her hands. As the evening wore on, Natalie’s concerns and insecurities about the situation had taken their toll on her mental state, and she became increasingly worried that even if she figured out the final component, she might be stuck with an inch-tall son for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, her sister calmed her anxieties and reassured Natalie that no matter the outcome, she would always be supportive. With newfound hope, a positive attitude, and iron will, Natalie went into her lab on Thursday morning executing her well-thought-out plan of action: she immediately went to work isolating the active ingredient of the shrinking formula, and conducting a complex series of tests to determine its molecular structure. It was a long, arduous process requiring several different pieces of equipment, numerous mathematical calculations, tedious hours of combing through data, and a lot of tribal knowledge, but by the early evening, Natalie was sighing with accomplishment as she stared at a picture of an organic molecule on her computer monitor. Her spirits were lifted, and Natalie immediately went to work jotting down ideas for various chemical mixtures and enzyme combinations, and by the end of the day had put together ideas for three, separate antidote solutions, hoping that at least one would be able to neutralize the original shrinking formula and grow one of the two test rabbits she’d shrunk down during the day back to its original size. Friday was the big day. When Natalie arrived at work, her enzyme mixtures were tempered and ready; she immediately she began been testing the antidotes on the two rabbits she’d shrunk down. Unfortunately, the first two protein mixtures showed little promise: even after several hours of waiting for any kind of change, neither one had any significant effect on altering the size of its respective rabbit, and that included the one she’d synthesized from the original formula. Natalie grew increasingly nervous; she’d already implemented her best ideas, and thought for sure she had the solution. Given the apparent failures, she began questioning her work, and was losing confidence she’d ever be able to synthesize a cure for her tiny son, not to mention the added stress and difficulty of delivering the minuscule doses of the antidotes to two, tiny rabbits. All her hopes and hard work came down to the last mixture. Natalie carefully gave the dose to one of the shrunken rabbits and held her breath… Success! Within a minute, the rabbit had miraculously returned to its normal size. Profoundly enthusiastic with the results, Natalie quickly gave another dose to the second rabbit: just like his brother, the rabbit grew back to its original size as well. Natalie was ecstatic! She still didn’t know exactly if it was the third formula alone, or the result of a combination of the mixtures; but ultimately, it didn’t matter: the rabbits were back to normal—at long last, Natalie found a cure! It was outstanding news! Her tiny son was as good as back to normal, and her nightmare of a week would soon be over. Wanting to know for sure whether it was a single mixture or a combination thereof, Natalie acquired a fresh test rabbit from the veterinary lab and fed it a new batch of shrinking formula she’d managed to replicate from her structural analysis and the various samples she’d brought back from her trip. She waited a few hours for the new test subject to equilibrate to its shrunken size, then administered her newfound antidote; by mid-afternoon, she’d confirmed her results: the third antidote was the genuine cure! At that point, Natalie knew it was time to call her sister at home and tell her the good news. Julia was sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a healthy portion of the tuna casserole Sandra had brought over earlier that afternoon. She’d worked up quite the appetite from vacuuming and searching the house for her tiny nephew that morning, and Julia figured she deserved a little rest along with an afternoon cup of coffee. As Julia enjoyed her late lunch and browsed through her social media, her phone suddenly indicated she was getting a call from Natalie. Julia grinned and gleefully accepted the call: “Hey sis,” Julia answered. “What’s up?” “Jules?!” Natalie responded in an excited state. “Jules, it worked. I’ve done it!” “‘Calm down, Nat,” Julia replied, playing coy. “‘Done’ what?” “I’ve found an antidote, sis,” Natalie sighed, with a lighthearted chortle. “I’ve found a cure for Tim!” “Really?!” Julia exclaimed, sitting up a bit. “Are you sure?!” “Of course I’m sure. I’m looking at all three of my test rabbits right now. They’re all back to their normal size, with no signs of any side effects so far. They seem to be stable.” “Wow, sis, that’s…” Julie hesitated for a brief moment, “…that’s great! So….how long do you think until you can mix up a batch for Tim?” “Well, I still have enough of the antidote leftover from all my testing, and I’m synthesizing more as we speak just to be on the safe side. I’ll bring it home with me later on this evening.” “So….that’s it? It’s over?” “Well, the whole spiel of having an inch tall son is gonna be over,” Natalie replied softly. “Now, I can finally start working on all the other things I need to do, like putting together my preliminary reports and preparing my research grants.” “Right,” Julia chortled. “Sounds like you’re going to have your hands full at work for a while.” “Yeah,” Natalie chortled back. “Anyway, how’s Tim?” “Oh, he’s fine,” Julia replied, lounging back in her chair and crossing her legs seductively. “Just, uh…a little indisposed at the moment.” “Wh-what do ya mean ‘indisposed’?” Natalie asked, growing concerned. “Did something happen? Is…Is he okay?” “Oh, he’s fine, sis,” Julia replied casually, bouncing her right calf muscle on her left knee, “Don’t worry. He just got a little restless while I was cleaning today, that’s all.” “Restless?!” Natalie recoiled, suddenly remembering Julia and her’s discussion from that morning. “From what: your vacuuming? Being in his cage?!” “Well…no,” Julia replied hesitantly. “Not…not exactly.” “Well, then what?” Natalie pressed anxiously. “What happened, sis? Tell me.” “Oh, it’s nothing big; it’s just…” Julia’s voice trailed off. “‘It’s just’…what?” Natalie inquired nervously. “Come on, Jules. You gotta tell me!” Julia bit her lip anxiously, realizing she’d already said too much. Knowing she couldn’t avoid her sister’s question Julia took a deep breath, and thought over her next words very carefully before answering: “…OK…so, we kinda had an unexpected visit from your neighbors late this morning.” “What?!” Natalie shrieked. “Which neighbors?!” “Uh…Sandra Peterson, from next door. She and her daughter, McKenzie, kinda…. showed up unannounced.” “Wha—Wait what do ya mean she just ‘kinda showed up unannounced’?!” “Well, apparently she came by to drop off a casserole she made for us.” “Casserole?!…Wait, why would she even come over in the first place?! She knows I work during the day.” “Well…actually, I think she came over because of me…” Julia explained hesitantly, “…because of….what I might’ve told her yesterday.” “What exactly did you tell her?” Natalie enunciated slowly, “A-And how’d the two of you even meet, anyway?” “Well, we met yesterday when I was taking the recycling out to the curb,” Julia explained. “…And you told her about Tim?!” Natalie inquired hysterically. “No!” Julia asserted, “All I told her was that Tim was sick, and that I staying with you guys to help take care of him, but that’s all I said. I swear!” “Jules, tell me she didn’t see Tim when she came over today,” Natalie implored. “…Unfortunately…yes—” “JULES?!” “Nat, I’m sorry, but there was nothing I could do,” Julia tried explaining. “She caught me completely off-guard.” “Jules!” Natalie exclaimed, trying to lower her voice. “You were supposed to help me keep all this quiet. How could you let her see him?!” “Nat, it was only for a second, I swear! I snatched Tim up and got him out of there as quickly as I could.” “Oh my, God!” Natalie lamented, collapsing in her office chair. “Jules, tell me this isn’t happening!“ “Nat, look, let’s not panic, okay?” Julia said trying to maintain her composure. “Look, I was able to convince them that all they saw was a bug, OK?…Well, I was able to convince Sandra, anyway. McKenzie might be another story…” “Oh, that’s just great, Jules!” Natalie barked sarcastically. “And what happens if one of them comes around and starts asking questions?” “Nat, would you please, calm down?! Look, all you have to do is just stick to the story that all either of them saw was just a bug, and we should be able to keep a lid on all this.” “…Of course, you might want to have a little talk with Tim when you get home and make sure he keeps his mouth shut about everything,” Julia added, “you know, before.…unshrinking him.” “Okay…okay…” Natalie repeated aloud, sitting up in her chair and trying to compose yourself. “Alright, look, I think I might have Sandra’s number in my phone. If I do, I’ll give her a call in a little bit and see if I can’t smooth things over.” “Nat, are you sure that’s wise?” Julia inquired. “I mean, like I said, I think I was able to convince her that Tim was just a bug. Why chance it and, you know, poke the proverbial bear, if we don’t have to?” “We can’t afford to take any chances, Jules. Look, I’ll try to give her a call later on this afternoon, if I can find her number, that is; if not, I’ll try to swing by over there when I get home. For now, just make sure Tim stays out of sight. You know, just in case we get any more unexpected visitors.” “Can do, sis,” Julia acknowledged. “Good…Oh, and would you let Tim know about the antidote? I’m sure he’s been dying for some good news.” “Oh, of course, Nat,” Julia smiled, “I have no doubt he’ll most definitely be thrilled to hear it.” “Alright, I’ve gotta finish up some work on a few things around here, and then I’ll head out; I’ll be home as soon as I can. Just hold the fort ‘til I get there.” “OK, sis,” Julia chuckled, “but take your time. There’s no hurry. I’ve got everything well in hand around here.” “Alright,” Natalie chortled back. “Oh, and if Sandra happens to come by…” Natalie paused and sighed heavily. “…just handle it, okay?” “Okay, sis,” Julia chortled. “Don’t worry. I’ll handle it if it comes up.” “Alright, talk to you later.” “OK, Nat. Bye.” “Bye.” Julia ended the call and set her phone facedown on the table. “Well, maybe ‘in hand’ wasn’t exactly the right phrase…” Julia commented smugly, slowly sliding her right leg up her left until the side of her foot was resting comfortably over her knee, revealing a tiny pair of legs sticking out from in between her big and second toes, “…I suppose I should’ve said ‘foot’…or ‘toes’ if you wanna get technical.” Julia chuckled playfully as she watched Tim’s tiny legs kick wildly between her clenched toes. She reached down with her finger and playfully tickled Tim’s feet, giggling as his tiny legs kicked even more wildly as the tiny teenager struggled futilely to free the rest of his tiny body form between her clenched toes. “Whelp, looks like your mom was able to make an antidote for you after all, Tiny Tim.” She cooed, pouting her lips. “Aw, such a pity; I was so looking forward to spending another few days with you like this. I’ve really enjoyed all the time we’ve spent together so far… “But don’t worry, little guy,” she continued, gently stroking the side of her foot with her index finger, “there’s still plenty of time for us to have fun this afternoon before your mom gets home. Besides, you’ve still got a lot of making up to do for that little stunt you pulled this morning. “Hm, I wonder if I could do my yoga with you stuck between my toes.” Julia pondered aloud. “That might be fun.” She cackled maniacally as she watched Tim’s tiny legs kicking wildly again. If this was going to be her last afternoon with a shrunken nephew, she was going to make sure it would be an enjoyable one.