“I hate public speaking! I barely passed in college and not much has changed since then,” pouted Bri as she lay sprawled across the ottoman in Khia’s living room. She lay on her stomach with her head hanging over the edge so that her hair fell in a curtain over her face. Khia continued watering plants on the other side of the room. She was used to the anxiety induced tantrums that her sister would throw. Public speaking, wasps, rain, crowds—just about anything you could think of would send Bri over the edge.
“Well, don’t do it, ” Khia responded. “If you’re that nervous pass it off on a coworker.”
“I can’t just pass it off. Burnham would never go for it. You know he’s a monster,” Bri whined.
“I honestly don’t know what else to tell you. Maybe you could get together with a couple of your coworkers and turn it into a group presentation. That way you won’t be up there all alone and you will have the collective knowledge of your collegues.”
Bri considered this option that may, or may not, spare her from public humiliation. For as long as she could remember she had been terrified of speaking in public. She also hated calling in food orders, making any other important phone calls and asking for help in unfamiliar places. Her mother had labled her as “extremely shy”, but she knew that the fear she experienced was abnormal.
“Here,” said Khia. “Try this tea. It’s a new brew that I came across at the corner store. Taman said that it helps calm the nerves.”
“Taman recommended this? The thug that owns the corner store? Is it laced with something? I’m certain that the reason he’s always so calm has absolutely nothing to do with tea. It’s probably definitely green, though.”
“Not nice,” Khia responded. “Just try the tea. I’ll give you some to go, too. I want you to drink it before you leave for work tomorrow. You will be relaxed and ace that presentation.”
Bri holds the mug with both hands as she sips the warm, earthy mixture. Hints of honey and chamomile tickle her taste buds. She watches her best friend move about the kitchen and wonders how anyone could be so sure of themselves. Khia was a few inches shorter than Bri, but what she lacked in height she made up for in courage. Khia moved quickly and efficiently no matter what she was doing. She made prepping tea look like an intensely important task. Bri knew that she would never have that kind of confidence.
“I wish I could just shrink,” Bri whispered to herself as she sipped her tea. “This stuff is pretty good! What is it again?”
“I’ll send you home with some. It’s ‘guava-gana-somethingoranother’. Just let it work.”
Bri went home, ran a hot bubble bath and turned on some music. She poured a cup of tea to sip as she relaxed in the tub. She allowed the warmth of the bath to surround her while the scent of her lavender bubble bath filled her nostrils while the fizzing bath bomb tickled her feet. Her worries about the next day’s meeting melted away into the tub. She let the music take her away to another universe where she didn’t let her anxiety rule over her entire life. Her current position had initially seemed appealing to her because it did not involve direct sales or face to face talks with clients. Had she known that she would be required to lead meetings she probably would’ve passed on the job. Once her water grew cold, Bri threw on her favorite white night gown with martini glasses on the front. It looked a little longer than she remembered. Maybe it she’d bleached it too much whenever she washed it and it stretched. She wan’t exactly a domestic goddess and had ruined her fair share of clothes since moving out on her own. Bri forgot about the length change as she climbed into bed and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning Bri was awakened by the alarm on her cell phone. It seemed much louder than normal. She could feel the wave of each “beep” pass through her chest. She felt as if the weight of the covers was crushing her. Why couldn’t she find her way out. How did she manage to slide this far down in the bed? After a brief struggle with her bed linens, Bri finally made her way out of the darkness and could see her phone just sticking out from beneath her pillow. It was a lot bigger than it had been the night before. It was then Bri realized that she was standing up in her bed, but she was smaller than everything around her. She ran over to the pone and jumped on the “dismiss” button to cancel the alarm.
“Ok,” Bri thought to herself. “This is just a weird dream. I’m just going to lie back down and when I get up everything will be back to normal.” Her phone began to ring as she stood on the screen. The vibrations felt like an earthquake. It was Khia calling. Bri stepped on the ‘answer’ button.
“Khia, I think I’m losing my mind,” she yelled.
“What’s wrong? Did the tea not work?” Khia asked.
“Oh, it worked. It just didn’t create the calming effect that you promised. I need you to come over as soon as possible and bring some doll clothes.”
“Doll clothes? What are we, 12?” Khia exclaimed.
“You’ll see when you get here, Khia. Bring the spare key I gave you. I can’t reach the lock on the door,” said Bri.
“Ok…I’ll be there in 10,” Khia answered.
After hanging up with Khia, Bri decided that her best option would be to call in from work. Five minutes had barely lapsed when her coworker, Brian, called her in full panic.
“What do you mean you can’t come in?!” he yelled into the phone. “Did you forget about our presentation? What are we supposed to do?”
“No, I didn’t forget. I’m emailing you everything I have right now. I’m just—a little under the weather. I don’t want to risk infecting the entire office.” Although Bri had been nervous about the presentation, she would have never considered calling in to get out of it. The only thing she hated more than public speaking was feeling as though she was inconveniencing others. The sound of the front door opening drew Bri from her thoughts.
“Hey, I hope I didn’t take too lon—Oh. My. God! Bri, you’re like, six inches tall! What happened?! I honestly thought you’d lost your mind when you asked for the doll clothes.”
“I was hoping you could tell me what happened. What’s in that tea you gave me?”
“I don’t really know. He just said it you help me relax. I haven’t tried it yet. I thought you could use it more than me,” Khia replied.
“Well, it looks like we need to find Mr. Taman,” said Bri.
Bri put on one of the tiny dresses. It was a little big on her, so they tied a piece of yarn around her middle.