Charlie lay in her bed, her fingers idly tracing patterns on her gravid belly as she watched TV in her bedroom. She felt a twitch and her belly dropped flat like a rapidly deflating balloon. She frowned in slight disappointment and reached over for the stop-watch and digital audio recorder on her nightstand. After turning the TV off, she started the recorder and stopped the watch. "October 22, Friday. Bedroom. Time is 10:37pm. Belly's gone back to normal, start time was 4:03pm for time of..." She pursed her lips in concentration as she mentally calculated, "Six hours, thirty-four minutes." She lay her hand on the bare skin of her stomach, "As normal, no signs that anything ever happened, no stretchmarks, no swelling, nothing."
She rolled on to her side and grabbed a notebook from the nightstand with a series of start and stop times, adding in the latest entry. "Okay, with this one, average time is..." she scribbled some math out on the margin, "Average time is eight hours, fifteen minutes. Maximum time is ten hours twenty-two minutes, minimum time is newly set to six hours, thirty-four minutes." She had a momentarily concern that the times were growing shorter and double checked her notes, confirming that's not the case. "Times seem random, jumps up and down for no real reason I can see." She paused the recording and contemplated things. Gathering her thoughts, she continued. "Mrs. Robbin is due in about a week, I'm not going to be able to tap her soon."
That was annoying, having had the hat only a week and she was no longer going to have a conveniently nearby and pregnant neighbor. She started to smile again as she thought about what she had planned. "I've got a rough idea of how long it lasts, so tomorrow, it's time to figure out if I can take more than one." She rolled on to her back and put the recorder aside, a huge grin on her face as she lay her hands on her middle. She stared up at the ceiling and imagined it, her mind giddy with the prospect of twins, triplets, maybe more? An involuntary giggle rolled up and she fidgeted in the bed as a chill ran up her spine at the thought. She looked over to where her wool cap hung on the bedpost. "You hear that? Get some rest, you're going to be busy tomorrow." She laughed at herself and lay back, clapping her hands to turn off the lights. Her head swam with thoughts of her belly growing enormous as she drifted off to sleep.
"October 23, Saturday. Stone Rivers Mall, approximately..." Charlie turned her wrist to see the time, "...2:30pm." She stood behind some potted plants near the ice cream shop on one end of the food court talking into a audio recorder as she surveyed the area. "This sucks, it's pretty dead, I haven't seen anyone. Food court is dry, I'm gonna go swing back around to the baby clothing shop." She clicked stop on the recorder and set about moving on to her next stake out zone.
By 'pretty dead' she referred specifically to the lack of anyone pregnant coming through. That wasn't actually wholly true, Charlie had seen a couple come through, but in her opinion they weren't pregnant enough. Charlie clicked on the recorder again and spoke into the mic. "Sheesh, what is it today? I can't find a decent one. If I can just find one I'll head home and get Mrs. Robbin's too." She drew a breath with frustration. "I'd rather get two here, just in case Mrs. R is out or something." She stopped suddenly and looked through the crowd far ahead of her. "Is she...YES." Charlie's 'preg sense' was something she was proud of. Even scanning a crowd at a distance, she had an uncanny ability to zero in on the clues of someone being pregnant. She figured it was something about the way they moved that alerted her, even if she couldn't get a look at their belly. And sure enough, some hundred feet ahead of her, she got a glimpse of a woman with the distinctive gait, and when the crowd parted for a moment, she managed to confirm it.
"I'm in pursuit, looks like late term, she's pretty big." As was her habit, Charlie started rattling off details as she moved up to a fast walk bordering on a jog and weaved through the throngs of shoppers. "Probably mid thirties, nice tan, brown hair. Wow, she really is carrying big! She's kind of short so really sticks out." She slung her backpack around and zipped it open still keeping her eyes locked on her target, pulling the cap out. She slung the pack around to her back and continued her notes as she slipped her cap on. "She's wearing this yellow sundress with white polka dots, really compliments her size. She's got good taste." In her final preparations before nabbing polka dot dress's pregnancy, Charlie lowered the waistband of her jeans slightly and adjusted her black sweater, the stretchiest thing she had available for her optimistic plans. "Note to self, I need to get one of those, really does look cute." With that she clicked the recorder off, shoved it into her pocket and moved in for the theft.
The woman stopped at a bench and gingerly sat herself down. She let out a deep breath and ran her hand over her belly. It was so fatiguing, having to lug around the extra weight. "Just a couple minutes to rest and I'm heading for the car, I'm so tired." she muttered to herself. She closed her eyes for a moment then stood up, feeling a fresh spring in her step. She stretched happily, feeling renewed. "You know, on second thought, I think I can get the rest of my shopping done." she thought, smoothing over the loose flaps of the sundress. She briefly wondered why she wore the floppy thing, it always made her look pregnant. She laid her hand on her middle and for a split second she looked down confused at her flat stomach then shook her head. "Okay, right, need to pick up some shoes for Jim..."
Charlie watched from nearby, looking from behind a column as the woman got up from the bench and walked away unconcerned with her vanished pregnancy. Charlie giggled quietly to herself and looked down at her middle, now swollen out and stretching her sweater. She pulled the sweater down where it had pulled up and exposed the bottom of portion of her belly and patted it with both hands. Remembering procedure, she fished out the recorder and hit record, looking at her watch. "2:56pm, success!" She leaned back against the pillar and lay one hand across the top of her tummy and looked at it lovingly. "Probably 8 or 9 months, active little guy." She felt a fluttering kick again, the baby seemed to be excited about it's excursion. "I'm figuring I'm going to head back to catch the bus now..." her voice trailed out. Finally having found one after waiting for the better portion of the day, her confidence had been renewed. She quickly did some figures in her head. Anywhere between five to forty minutes to wait for the bus, another twenty or so ride back home, she did have plenty of time working on the assumption that six and a half hours was the shortest time she'd hold on to the pregnancy "...but I guess a little more looking can't hurt." she added gleefully.
Her perseverance was rewarded quickly. No sooner had she set out that she spotted another on the lower level from the railing she was scanning the crowd from. The trick was moving in to intercept since she needed to get within about twenty feet or so of her. Her target was moving roughly in the direction of the escalators, which were packed with people. Charlie moved as swiftly as she could, huffing and puffing through the crowd cradling her stolen belly protectively.
"Excuse me, excuse me." Charlie distractedly mumbled as she stepped around people.
Two women watched her pass by, stopping for a moment and staring. They turned to each other and shared a smile, both laughing. "Restroom." they both said together, laughing more as they remembered their own experiences with pregnancy.
Tracking her quarry, Charlie rushed along the edge of the balcony. The woman would be passing beneath her before she got the escalator which let out in the opposite direction the woman was moving. Charlie cursed her luck, with the amount of shoppers at the mall today, there was a very real possibility she would lose her in the crowd. Still, she pressed on determined. She was locked on to her target till she lost sight of her as the woman passed beneath the second story walkway. Charlie doubled her pace and kept the image of the woman's appearance in her mind. Early twenties, Hispanic perhaps, curly black hair. She was wearing a long one piece sweater/dress thing which Charlie wasn't particularly fond of but it dig hug the contours of the swell that was Charlie's ultimate target. She was nearing the escalators when Charlie stagger suddenly, her center of balance suddenly thrown forward as her belly ballooned instantly with a new arrival.
"Oof!" She caught her balance on the railing and gripped her middle. Her hand pressed against the tautly swollen skin of her stomach, stretched to the point of having a fine sheen. She winced as she felt both the babies in her womb roll and kick, both equally confused about their new companion. Catching her breath she looked down at the huge swell jutting forward, her sweater slid over the top and under shirt pulled tight to near tearing and only about mid way down her bump. She lay both hands along the side and hefted it, feeling the thumps and bumps settle down beneath. She broke out of her reverie and pulled her recorder. Working on pulling her shirt and sweater back over it as best she could, she hit record after checking her watch. "3:12pm. This day rocks." She looked down and thumped appreciatively. "Blah blah, some woman, anyways, twins are a go." She moved her hand along to the front. "I can just get my hand around to the front." She looked around and wish she could find a mirror. "I look awesome." she proudly declared anyway. "And they were kicking up a storm, they've settled down now, but still moving around. It's crazy weird." She started to head back to the exit, satisfied with the mission accomplished. "Oh, and seems that knowing exactly where they are isn't important. I think I just have to be focused on them and be close enough. Heading back to base, lates."
Jovially she twirled the recorder and stuck it back in her pocket, freeing the hand up to join the other exploring her greatly enlarged middle. Finding a bench away from the main traffic of shoppers, she carefully sat down and took a few minutes to catch her breath. Testing to see if she was right, her hands just managed to touch at the furthest point, just beneath the middle of her belly. She felt the babies push out here and there and she pushed back in response, turning it into a game. Her belly itched where the sweater had reached further than the underlying t-shirt, rubbing the course fabric against the tight surface of her stomach.
"That sundress is starting to look like a better idea, eh guys?" she patted atop the sphere. She leaned back with the other arm for support and craned her head around. "Probably be a good idea to buy something a bit stretchier." She found the maternity wear store as she suspected not far away. Her eyes darted down from the sign as something caught her attention in her peripheral.
She only caught a very quick peek she wasn't sure of but with the woman's back turned to her the sway told Charlie all she needed to know. Everything in her mind swept away, she rocked to her feet and set after her as quickly as she could manage, which wasn't very, but her quarry wasn't exactly spry either and was in no rush.
Passing the store front, she had closed in with her newest target nearly to the prerequisite range. She still hadn't managed to get a good look at her, only managing to get fleeting glimpses of the woman's belly when she turned slightly in one direction or the other so couldn't confirm her size, but she figured that she must be fairly large from the way she walked. Charlie had thought about and rejected the idea of borrowing the woman's pregnancy if the woman was earlier in her term than the two others Charlie was currently hosting. Being the youngest of 6 children and the only girl, she had always been the runt of the pack in the fierce infighting between her siblings, she didn't want to subject a low term baby to the same treatment during it's visit. Now within range, and having the woman in sight, she stopped and steadied herself, preparing for the shift in weight. She concentrated...
...and fell on her ass. She was stunned by the impact and her vision spun, leaving her heaving for breath. There was a rip that woke her out of her stupor and she looked down to see the pinkish surface of her belly exposed from the torn fabric of both her sweater and t-shirt, ripped along the side seams up to just below her chest. And it was enormous.
Passerbys murmured concern and approached to her, one older woman stepping forward. "Are you alright?"
Charlie stammered and turned, using the wall to help lift herself up and to also turn away from facing the woman. She wasn't so much concerned with the woman seeing her pregnant as she was feeling embarrassed by the clothes ripping. "Yeah, I'm fine...my...shirt, it got caught on this...thing."
"Are you sure you're okay? I could call an ambulance."
"That's a bit of an overreaction?" Charlie thought to herself. She was sure the hat somehow hid the fact that she was pregnant from her experiences with her mother and Mrs. Robbin. Neither one ever reacted to her being pregnant in their presence. Hell, Mrs. Robbin and even Mr. Robbin a couple of times, were pointblank witness's to her committing the swap and never batted an eye. "Really, thanks, I'm fine ma'am, just got my cloth's caught on something and tripped. I'm good." Charlie managed to rise to her feet and keep her back to the few people who had stopped in curiosity and were even now dispersing.
"Okay dear, just be more careful."
Charlie waved a hand over her shoulder, "Will do ma'am, thank you." Charlie waited watching the woman out of the corner of her eye turn and walk away. Being not too far from the entrance of the maternity store, she started shuffling slowly sideways, holding the wall for support and trying to keep her embarrassing situation as low key as possible.
Away a few steps, the woman turned around watching the young woman trying to hide up against the wall move slowly away. She frowned and shook her head. A man stepped beside her. "She's okay?"
"I guess Charles, she says she is. But did you see the size of her?" She looked up to her husband who just raised his eyebrows and nodded an agreement. "That poor dear, it's got to be twins at least right? And her clothing, that's not proper for her condition." She shook her head again. "And that ratty knit cap, poor dear must homeless."
Now away from the rubberneckers and making progress towards the store entrance she took a minute to assess her situation. She both felt concern and giddy excitement at what had happened. Still moving she probed at her middle and examined it. "Holy crap!" It wasn't just the way it had busted out of her clothing and now was just barely covered by the scraps of their remains, although it certainly did enhance the effect, but her belly itself was simply massive, far past what she had thought she should have grown. She ran hand over the surface along one side. She could barely reach around to the front and knew that unlike before she would not be able to touch fingers at the furthest point. As the previous time, the new arrival had caused a stir and sent all three of them into a fit of activity. "No...wait." Charlie stopped and felt her belly with both hands, moving from spot to spot and pressing firmly where she felt the convulsions from beneath the surface. "One...two....three....AND four!"
Gripping the wall to hold herself up as she still hadn't adjusted the doubling of weight and further handicapped balance she fished out her recorder. "3:23pm, I have committed a tactical blunder." She gripped the sides of her middle as a ripple of feet and elbows worked it's way around her middle. "Ow, quit it you guys." She whispered under breath as she continued to the store. "I didn't get a good look at who I was taking from, turns out she had twins too. What are the odds?" She gave a wry smile. "So I got a little excited when I saw that lady and kinda forgot that my cloths were on the verge of busting." She half felt ready to bust too. "So mistakes were made and there's no reason lay blame. I'm getting a new shirt." she paused for a moment then brought the recorder back up. "P.S. It totally rocks."
However, how she was going to handle purchasing the shirt was a good question. Certain in her own mind that the saleswoman would not see her as pregnant at all, and Charlie was not one to be embarrassed about going into a maternity store in the slightest as she often did with some manufactured excuse or another anyways, it was going in to a store to buy clothing to replace highly destroyed clothes you were currently wearing that made her flinch. Thinking for a moment, she decided there was nothing she could do to lessen the blow to her dignity, gathered her courage and quickly darted in to the front counter in a half crouch.
The saleswoman looked on in befuddlement at Charlie ducked down so just her head was over the counter. "Yeah, hi. I.."
The saleswoman interrupted, "A shirt, yeah, I noticed. Go ahead and wait in the changing room, I'll bring you something."
"Yeah, if you can make it kind of big..." Charlie trailed off.
The woman nodded and rushed off as Charlie semi-rushed into one of the dressing booths. Now in the blessed sanctuary of somewhat privacy she had the time to thoroughly examine herself. She looked up slowly to her reflection in the full length mirror opposite the door and dropped her jaw. She straightened up, gripping a handy bar for assistance and turned sideways. It seemed to her that her belly swelled out at least 2 feet from its original shape forward, and was just a bit wider than her waist across at it's widest point. It sloped out dramatically from beneath her breasts and rounded so far out her hands could just barely reach out to where it turned towards the front. Her eyes following along the path of her hands, she followed the swell to where it swept back in to her the top of her pants, the waist line painfully digging into the bottom of the monstrous belly. She turned a bit to examine her navel, which was pulled smooth and had just a hint of poking out. The skin was pulled tightly to a slick sheen and a fine network of veins were just visible. She turned slowly from side to side carefully examining herself. She nodded in approval as she noted not a single stretch mark as usual, though she didn't know if her immensity had changed that. She didn't know if it was the magic of the hat or not, but she never noticed any other of the effects of the stolen pregnancies she'd done the last week. It was safe to assume that was the case. She heard someone coming outside and came to the door, standing to one side.
The saleswoman moved over to her stall and passed a bundle of striped fabric over the top of the door. "I think this will work. It's on sale too actually."
"Thank you ma'am." Charlie called back. She felt a sudden twang to cover for herself and blurted out, "You're a life saver. I wouldn't normally come in here, but this was the closest place when my shirt ripped."
"Oh, sure honey, don't worry." There was something odd about the way the woman said it that Charlie found odd. "I'll be at the register when you're ready."
Charlie shrugged and unfolded the shirt out with a quick flip of the wrist. She raised an eyebrow and put the shirt before her, looking at the mirror. "Really?"
She looked at the reflected image, an orange and white horizontally stripped shirt. She rolled her eyes and discarded her ruined clothes, slipping on the long sleeve shirt, which thankfully managed to go all the way over her belly and hang just a bit off the edge. She struggled beneath it and unclasped the button of her jeans and sighed in relief, slumping back against the wall. "I love you, seriously, but you're kind of a pain." She rubbed a slow circle atop her belly and thumped it once for emphasis. Everything else on the shirt was a bit too large. The sleeves went past her finger tips, and above her belly everything was loose. It wasn't uncomfortable but was it just the only size they had left? Still, her belly fit and ultimately that was the biggest concerned. She slid the sleeves up and made sure they weren't going to come back down over her wrists by flailing her arms around to test and checked the mirror again.
"Great, I'm Juno." She turned sideways, pantomiming the stance from the movie poster and felt great delight on how much bigger she was than the character. "SUPAH JUNO!" strutting out her middle then quickly slapping her hand over her mouth against her sudden outburst. She looked her watch and let out a small 'eep!' as she saw the time. "If I hurry I can catch the next bus back home." She set about quickly as she could gathering up her ruined clothing, having to use every surface available in the stall for support to do it then spent a few turns going around in circles trying to pull the tag off of the side hem of the shirt having lost a lot of her flexibility. Tag in hand and belongings shoved into her backpack she hustled, well, waddled to the register already with a handful of bills fished out. The saleswoman rang her out and thanked her for her patronage asking her to come again and Charlie left.
Inside, the saleswoman covered her face and leaned against the counter as one of her coworkers came out from the back stockroom where she had been watching through a slightly cracked door. She was giggling as she came to the counter.
"Oh my god Janet."
"Yeah, I know." Janet started laughing. "Did you see the size of her?"
Janet's co-worker snorted a laugh and started shaking her head. "Yeah, but we shouldn't laugh, that's not nice. But really the Juno shirt?"
Janet laughed harder and dropped her face into her hands, elbows on the counter. "I know, I know, I'm terrible, I don't know what happened, it was like I walked by the display and that one just jumped out at me.
Charlie made it out the mall entrance just in time to see the bus rounding the corner and heading for the stop on the far end of the parking lot. "Ah crap!" Charlie exclaimed as she waddled at flank speed. The bus was slowing to a stop as she was halfway. "Oh god, I'm not going to make it...HEY!!" She waved her hand in vain. The city transit seemed to get a perverse pleasure in pulling away when they saw someone hurrying for the stop so her chances were remarkably low that getting the attention of the driver was going to help at all. Sure enough, everyone boarded while she was still short of of the stop and it started to lurch forward. Just as Charlie was ready to wail in despair the bus suddenly halted and the door reopened. Flush with excitement she rushed there as quickly as she could, heaving for breath by the time she got there and clumsily displayed her bus pass to the driver.
"Young lady, you didn't have to run like that." his tone was uncharacteristically concerned, but Charlie's vision was spinning from the exertion and she just waved dismissively, climbing the steps hunched over and scanning down the length of the bus for a seat. She didn't question why half a dozen people in the first seats got up and offered her their seat, she simply headed for the first one and plopped down, barely squeezing out a thank you between breaths.
By the time she had regained her breath enough that she didn't feel like she was going to pass out, everyone had stopped staring and she was half way home. She glanced down at her watch, it was just after 4pm. "Good, still got a few hours at least." She drummed her fingers across her gravid middle. It did bring up a question though, how long did she actually have? She thought, looking off to the side. How would the time run out, would they go back as individual secret timers chimed on each or does the whole group go at once? If all at once, what would be the basis of the time limit, from the first one, last one, average? She wrapped her hands around it and hugged it up against herself. "Interesting, going to be a lot of fun figuring that out."
The front door into the Powers' residence opened and Charlie waddled in, supporting her huge belly, staggering for the stairs. "Okay, maybe Mrs. Robbin was a mistake." She felt like she was going to burst, the combined weight of her guests threatening to pitch her forward onto her face. While she had no intention of doing it, running across Mrs. Robbin out in her front yard had made Charlie once again do something impulsive that she -almost- regretted.
"Charlie sweetie, is that you?" Her mother called from the kitchen.
"Yeah momma." Charlie shouted back. Her progress was stymied at the stairs as she puzzled on how she would ascend.
Her mother walked out the kitchen, drying a kitchen knife with a towel. "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes hun. Pot roast."
Charlie gave up on going forward up the steps. No matter how much she tried, she couldn't find an angle to stand that let her both see the steps and keep from from leaning too far forward and falling. Instead she decided to try assaulting the steps sideways in a crablike fashion. It wasn't working. "Thanks momma but I think I'm going to skip dinner."
Her mother tsked. "Now Charlie, I really think you should eat something, I bet you haven't eaten all day.
One arm against the wall and another on the banister, her lateral locomotion had now evolved into a reverse maneuver. Left foot up, right foot up then shuffle both hands. It was slow and awkward, but she had made it up three steps. "Really, not hungry." Charlie huffed up another step.
"I'm saving you some, you better eat before you go to bed." Her mother started to turn then stifled a giggle. "You are a growing girl."
"Yeah, heh." it startled her for a moment, but it was something her mother commented on frequently. She felt a wave of relief. Her mother always told her she was too skinny. "How ironic" she thought to herself.
Her mother started to turn to go back into the kitchen again but stopped once more, turning back around with a quizzical expression. "Charlie?"
Charlie had struggled her way up another few steps before her mother had interrupted her concentration. "Yah 'ma?" Charlie wheezed out, sitting on the step and panting for breath.
"I was just thinking, did you ever find out what they were?"
Charlie froze and slowly turned her head to her mom. Her mother just looked back with her head cocked slightly to one side waiting for a response. ".....wuh?" was all that stumbled out of Charlie's mouth.
"What they are?" her mother repeated. "The babies, what sex are they?" her mother rolled her eyes in exasperation pointing at Charlie's greatly rounded middle.
Charlie's face drain of color. She shivered and gulped quietly, shaking her head slowly from left to right. "No." she quietly said.
Her mother huffed and shrugged. "Well I was just thinking, you should really find out. We need to get some names picked out and pull out some of the old baby stuff from the attic from you and your brothers."
After what seemed like eternity Charlie finally managed to get a response out "Yeah, k." Her mother had no look of concern on her face. It was surreal. Her mother clearly could see her for what she was: very much very pregnant. On top of that, knowing that it was more than one. She looked down at herself. "Okay, that's an easy guess." she thought to herself. She watched as her mother turned and walked into the kitchen after one final bright smile.
It was like any other day from the way her mother had acted. She would had expected a far different tone when asking your pregnant with multiples teenage daughter a question regarding said pregnancy. Instead it was as if they had just had a conversation about what flavor jam was better. Not wanting to question her good fortune any further, nor test her luck on a conversation with her father, she rolled over and started climbing the stairs in a crawl. One hand tucked under the enormous mound bulging from beneath to help support it. "Screw dignity."
Up in her room, Charlie turned on her webcam and sat on the edge of the bed then fell back, her belly and legs the only thing visible on the screen. "Video log, October 23," her arm became visible from around her the edge of her belly as she lifted it up and brought her wrist to her unseen face. Her arm flopped back to her side. "4:35pm." She twisted and turned and eventually managed to shimmy her way back into a sitting stance, her massively prominent midriff sitting on her her lap. "So uh, obviously multiples test worked." She held up all five digits on one hand pulled up her shirt with the other, exposing the bare skin which she stroked proudly with a smirk. "Quints, I feel like I'm going to burst at any moment." She massaged with both hands, passing her palm over spots where its occupants struggled in the constricted space to soothe them. "I'm pretty sure this is my limit." She shifted uncomfortably, "At any rate, I think I'd either hurt myself, them or both if I went any more." She gripped the sides and looked down at it for a moment. "At any rate, I'm practically a turtle on it's back as it is."
With great effort and more than a little clever gymnastics she managed to change out to something more comfortable, one of her eldest brother's t-shirts which she used as sleepwear and a set of gym trunks since even that shirt only managed to just tent over the edge of her belly. She was pleasantly exploring the huge roundness when she started at a knock on the door. "Yes?"
"Hun, I brought you up some food." Her mother of course.
With and exasperated sigh she started to swing her feet over the edge of the bed and slowly craned up to her feet. She shuffled her bare feet as she walked to the door, pausing for a moment before the computer to pose for the camera, arching her back out with one hand resting across the top and blowing a kiss to herself with the other. "Coming!" she called out to her mom. She stood to one side and pulled the door open, her smiling mom holding out a tray out to her. "Whoa momma, that's a lot of food."
Her mom grinned and handed her the tray. "Big dinner for my big girl." she responded pinching Charlie's cheek to her annoyance. Again, that wasn't something too unusual for her mom to say, but given her current condition, it took a whole different meaning. "Leave it outside when you're done, I'll bring it down." That was unusual and got Charlie thinking after she thanked her mom and headed to her bed. While eating up in her room was allowed, her mom never offered to bring the dishes down unless she was sick. So again the hat was not covering that she appeared pregnant. She placed the tray down on the bed and tried to reach the tray, sitting cross-legged before it. That didn't work so she shrugged and picked it up, balancing it atop her middle. She didn't realize it but she was hungry. "Dinner guys." she munched on the pot roast and mashed potatoes her mother had piled up, more than usual and again in response to her daughter's pregnancy.
Charlie looked to the camera before her. "Note. It's weird. My mom sees me how I look but treats it like there's nothing wrong." She thought back throughout the day and the responses she was getting from people. "I think it's the same for other people. I don't know how it does it but it does" referring to her hat atop it's usual perch on the bed post. "Magic, go figure." she shrugged. "It's strange though, where'd it come from? Not that I really care, it's super awesome for me." She slurped up some soup and wiped her lips. "But really, why the hell would someone make something like this?" She thought for a moment, "Beats me. Anyways, I'm going to stay up to see what happens as the time runs out." She finished her meal and burped, patting her belly with satisfaction. She looked over at the empty dishes then back down, then to the trays again. "Momma! Can you get me seconds?" she yelled out.
She leaned back against the head board and held her belly. "Sweet."
A bit after midnight Charlie's view of the TV became suddenly unobstructed as her belly fell back to normal, the shirt flopping down. She frowned and yawned, half a sleep and looked at the time. All of them had gone at once and depending on where she marked the time, she had them somewhere between about 9 hours to 8 hours. "October 23, no wait 24, 12:14 am. They're all gone in one swoop. I figure the time at 7 hours and 56 minutes to about 9 hours even, depending if I count from Mrs. Robbin at the end or polka dots from the mall at the beginning." She mused. "I'm not sure, but I think the timer resets with each new one, but it's hard to tell since everything kind of happened all at once. I'll have to check again but space out when I grab each one to test that." That would present problems, Charlie needed to go through her notes from her sighting expeditions to see what places would be good. "It's late, I'm going to bed now. Notes for tomorrow, need to figure out what my mom was thinking when she was seeing me. I have no clue how to go about that."
The next morning, Charlie paused before entering into the kitchen, but went in as she saw the usual morning routine. She gave her dad a kiss on the cheek before taking a seat next to him at the kitchen table. Her mom was sitting across from him already eating breakfast. She felt a bit uncomfortable bringing it up in front of her dad but..."Hey momma, did I seem a bit weird to you yesterday."
"Well of course you did hun." She responded.
"I mean more than usual." Charlie amended sarcastically eliciting a chuckle from her dad from behind his newspaper.
Her mom chewed on a strip of bacon and shrugged. "I guess not?"
Feeling some relief, Charlie picked up the orange juice and took a long drink. Apparently her mother didn't remember.
"Oh, that does remind me, don't forget we're going up to the attic for the clothes today we were talking about."
An orange cone of spray arced out across the table and Charlie started gagging.
Both her father and mother sprang from the table, her mother grabbing a napkin and dabbing up the orange juice while her father raised her arms and patted her on the back. "Whoa, easy kiddo!"
"What on earth Charlie?" Her mother asked with some concern and also some annoyance
"Wrong. Pipe." she managed to croak as a reply.
"Well be more careful."
"Yeah kiddo, haste makes waste." Her mother gave her dad questioning look and he shrugged, unable to think of any better sage advice.
"Anyway, when you're done cleaning up this mess, we can go up and get some of your brothers' clothes down."
Clearing her throat with a cough, "What?"
"Seriously Charlie, if you're head wasn't screwed on. We were going up to get you some new clothes? We were talking about it when you came home yesterday." Her mother paused to drink some coffee and added, "Oh, and I liked that striped thing you got, it's like that Juno movie you're so crazy about isn't it? It seemed a little big on you though."
"Yeah...it was on sale, only one they had left."
"Oh, well I guess if you don't care, but really looked way too big."
"Yeah." Charlie looked at her mom curiously. "Do you remember us talking about figuring out baby names?"
Her mom stopped to think and nodded, "Oh yes, I'll have to ask Mrs. Robbin about that. She hasn't told you had she? You've been going over there every day to check up on her haven't you?"
"Which is very nice of you kiddo, keep up the good work!" her dad chimed in from behind his fortress of newsprint.
"Nah, she hadn't said." They finished their breakfast in silence, and afterward she headed up to record what she had found out. "October 24, 10:13 am. So it seems that the question of what happens after the pregnancy goes away is answered. My mom seems to remember the conversation, but it was twisted to not be about me." She tapped a finger against her lips in deep thought. "It still doesn't explain what she's thinking during, but I don't want to push it. I don't know how flexible the magic is." That of course made her giggle inanely to herself, "Seems to make me flexible enough." She stood and paced, it was already 10am and she had plans. "Next on the agenda, figuring how this whole timer thing goes when it comes to more than one."
She ran her hand over her stomach, resting her palm just beneath her navel. "Here's to hoping I can report again soon."