Oliver's body tries to keep up with his mind.
| Oliver looked like every other typical eleven year old. Cropped brown hair, a few freckles, dirt behind his ears and a cell phone perpetually in his left hand. Being somewhat tall for his age, he did stick out in class pictures and while standing in line, wherever he happened to be standing in line. But the one thing different about Oliver was his memory. He remembered literally everything. What he ate for lunch on Sept 14, 2011. The price of bread last December when he went shopping with his mother. How many people were in line at the bank last Thursday, the color of their hair and shoes. He remembered it all. Fortunately for Oliver, he had learned to organize his memories. Being constantly flooded with input, he learned to, not overlook some data, for it was all “right there”, but categorize, label and classify it all. It was the only way that he could remain sane. Which is a really odd thing to say about the mental processes of what looked to be a very normal eleven year old.
So Oliver went about his days, observing, categorizing and learning, just about everything. And he couldn’t make it go away. The information was there, always there. He tried his best to keep it to himself, but occasionally, the information simply snuck out of his mouth and, more often times than not, he left just about everyone around him speechless. Of course, that is merely a figure of speech, for when Oliver spoke, typically those within earshot would say things like, “What kind of eleven year old talks like that?” or “How could that grubby little kid know that?” or worse yet, “Quit trying to show off, that’s not true and you know it.” Usually, Oliver would simply swallow his pride and clam up. Knowing full well that whatever it was that he just spoke, was true. It had to be true, for Oliver remembered every single little detail and how they all tied together.
Then puberty hit. Oliver was standing in the grocery store, noticing that there were exactly 1723 grapes on display, when he turned to ask his mother if they could purchase some. But what came out instead started out sounding like a choir boy and ended up sounding like Vin Diesel. His mother’s attention was certainly “got” and all she could respond with was, “I’m sorry Oliver, could you say that again?” Oliver cleared his throat, gave it another try and this time sounded like himself. His mother said no.
He was particularly quiet on the drive home, as he knew full well what was to happen next. First, his voice would continue to crack, then hair would start growing in odd places and his clothes would cease fitting him properly. His feet would begin to stink and his appetite would increase by ten-fold. “Ugh,” he thought to himself, “I don’t need that kind of stress.” Pulling into the driveway, Oliver grabbed two bags of groceries and hurried into the house, plop them on the kitchen counter and then hurried upstairs.
The next morning, Oliver noticed that things had gotten strangely small over night. His feet hung over the end of the bed, the heels of his socks no longer reached his own heels, but somehow stopped at mid-arch. Leaving his bedroom, the bristles of hair on top of his head, brushed the door frame. That was the one that got him. He sat on the first step of the staircase going to the main floor and recalled everything that he had ever heard about puberty. Frighteningly enough, none of this sort of business was in his stockpile of memories. Something was odd.
Sitting at the kitchen table, eating his oatmeal, Oliver read “Oliver Twist”. The 300 page novel typically took him twelve and a half minutes to read, assuming that no one interrupted him. As he read, he heard a “uhh, hey, who...uhh.” “That’s an odd morning greeting,” Oliver thought to himself. Turning around to look, though he knew full well who it was, his mother, for her footstep pattern, breathing patterns and voice pitch and inflections was immediately recognizable, even in the face of non-English vocabulary. “Oliver, good heavens,” she said. “You grew overnight.” “Yes, mother, I certainly did. I’m wondering if my body is trying to catch up with my mind. In one sense, I certainly hope not, for I’m afraid, I would become much too large, for just about any situation.” The image of his mother collapsing in a heap and being completely incognizant by the time she hit the floor was a combination of funny and troubling. Oliver knew exactly what had happened to her and didn’t respond with any sort of panic or alarm. He knew, of course, that her lack of consciousness would protect her from actually hurting anything as she hit the floor. Like a drunkard in a car crash, she was completely relaxed at the moment of impact. He simply stood up, scooped her up like a rag doll (for his head, by this time was close to ceiling and his physical frame was a proportional match), carried her to the living room and laid her on the couch. Returning to the kitchen for a glass of water, Oliver timed her unconsciousness, knowing full well that by the time he returned, she would be awake and a cool glass of water would help calm her nerves.
Proceeding as he knew things would, he returned to the living room, glass in hand, but this time, slouching, as his head was brushing the ceiling. Sitting on the floor, next to the couch, his mother’s eyes fluttered open and seeing Oliver, at close to eye level, smiled and thanked him. “Are you okay, Oliver?” she asked. “Yes, mother, I’m fine, as are you as well. Your collapse was quite graceful and I carried you to the couch. But before you try to rise, I ought to warn you that I did grow overnight, to an extreme degree and the process seems to be accelerating at a rapid pace, exponentially, if I calculate correctly.” His mother simply looked at him and blinked. Twice. “Oh, dear,” she said. “In fact, mother, I believe I had better exit the house, for fear that if I remain much longer, I won’t be able to get out the door.” And with that, he crawled, on his hands and knees to the front door, out from under the eves and into the front yard, where he stood up.
It has been said, by a fairly large number of people, both educated and not, that those situations in which the impossible seems to be taking place, probably is not, probably have never driven a 1985 Buick down Maple St., past the Johnson’s home to see a fifteen foot boy with closely cropped hair standing in the front yard. But this is exactly what happened to Gord Swinski, age 57. Gord, having begrudgingly agreed to go to the corner store to retrieve some milk for his wife, Mildred, drove past the Johnson home and, not one to be exceptionally attentive, couldn’t but help to see the very tall boy, simply standing there. Gord slowed his car down, to just about a crawl and simply stared. Oliver looked at Gord and recognizing him from his paper route, waved and smiled. Gord, on the other hand, just stared. He thought he might recognize this kid, but he couldn’t be sure. Eventually, after running over the Smith’s garbage can, Gord moved his car back into his own lane and accelerated, probably a little too quickly and continued his journey to the corner store.
“I just saw the strangest thing,” Gord said to Habib, the checker at Front Street Grocery. “I swear there was a giant standing in the front yard of a house, just a few blocks down around the corner.” Habib looked at Gord and opened his mouth, but then closed it again. Trying again, he opened it again and said, “Have you been drinking, Gord? It’s only 7:30 in the morning.” Gord sat the quart of milk on the counter and looking at Habib, somewhat perturbed, simply said, “No.” Paying for his milk, he quickly returned to his car, leaving his milk on the counter and raced back to Maple St. But instead of seeing a fifteen foot tall boy, outstanding in his yard, he only saw Mrs. Tew, 97 years old, buck naked and heading south on the sidewalk with her walker. With a shiver, Gord said to himself, “I think I prefer a giant over that.”
Of course, Gord did see a fifteen foot tall boy, but that boy, Oliver, had moved on. Oliver felt quite awkward, standing in the front yard, fully aware of the responses he would elicit for such existence, so he headed toward the lake. He figured that he could, at least, hide somewhat. He hoped that the water wouldn’t be too cold. He too, had to take off all of his clothes, for closing in on twenty feet tall, rendered all but his socks useless, with the risk of cutting off circulation if he kept anything on. So into the lake he went, wearing only his socks. He walked in up to his neck and waited. It wasn’t but a few minutes and his chest was again exposed out of the water, so he simply took a few more steps forward, bringing his chin back down to surface level. He continued this procedure for the next hour but eventually ran out of lake. Feeling incredibly hungry, a situation that Oliver understood to be completely reasonable, he thought, “All of this body has to come from somewhere.”. Eyeing a bed sheet on a clothesline at a nearby house, Oliver made a run for it. A mere ten feet from the clothesline, Mrs. Swinski emerged from her back door, holding her cat, Mittens, and scolding him for clawing the furniture.
Then she saw him. A very brief scream emerged from her flaccid and corpulent throat, followed by another rather comical collapse. Oliver saw her go down but his concern was for Mittens, rather than for Mrs. Swinski, for it appeared that Mittens took the full force of her saggy and toneless body on top of himself. Oliver grabbed the sheet and headed north again, this time for the police station. It was a thought that came to him as he watched the woman land on top of her cat. Somehow the imagery directed his thought process to the local constabulary. “I am really at a loss,” he told himself. “If I don’t know what’s happening, I cannot fabricate a solution.” So to the police station he went.
After two weeks of examination, poking and prodding, the local medical experts, the federal government and even the religious leaders of the area had no answer. Oliver’s body was simply matching his intellect.