To add to my list of joys, the snow from the day before hadn't lessened in the least. I think it might actually have snowed that night, too. I slogged through it half-heartedly while Zeke kept ahead of me, moving by leaping from self-created hole to a new patch of snow, where he promptly formed a new hole. We went like that for about a mile before I realized that I had no clue where the town was. I was relying on Zeke for that information. That didn't feel too safe.
"Zeke, why are we going to the town?" I complained as I felt yet another lump of snow slide down into Zeke's less than waterproof boots. Zeke turned around, his cheeks bright red with cold and his childish grin infectious. It was actually kind of little-kid cute. Good Lord, was I getting attached to him in my body? Ick, ick, ick.
"Because I wanna see the shops!" he exclaimed, clapping his hands and leaping in the air.
"And why are shops so fascinating?" I asked, starting the trek again. Zeke's answer, distorted by direction and snow, was something along the lines of 'because it's fun'. "Zeke, do you really want to see the stupid shops, or do you have some other weird plan in mind?"
"The shops!" Zeke shouted, grinning at me innocently.
"Turning me into you was completely pointless, then. You could just go as yourself," I pointed out.
"Who's that?" Zeke asked irritably, still jumping like a rabbit.
"You know what…never mind," I sighed, looking down at my overly-long legs pushing through the drifts of snow.
'The town' turned out to be a collection of mismatched buildings, half of which were the shops. I couldn't understand what the abundance of shops would be for, because it didn't seem like a tourist trap or anything. Actually, I still don't get it. Recently, Zeke said something about there being no towns close enough to import from and something else about self-sufficiency, but half the stuff he says is complete nonsense, so I'm not sure that's true. Back to the earlier past.
Thankfully, the streets were plowed. Or…shoveled. Whatever. They were clear of snow, anyways. When Zeke blundered out of the snow banks onto the street, it was almost comical. He half-fell, half-jumped, and when he stood up, he was soaked to the bone.
"You look like a wet rat," I cackled. He gave me a sour look, his vain nature insulted.
"No, you look like a wet rat." He stalked off in one direction, and I followed, thinking. Had I really just forgotten...well, no, not forgotten. Had I really just ignored the fact that he was posing as me? Was I starting to loose my feelings of possession for that body? That was really confusing and way too unsettling of a thought, so I abandoned it.
"Food!" Zeke shrieked (yes, that sounds awesome, doesn't it?). I turned the corner that he had just run past to find him with his face plastered against a bakery window. "Caaake," Zeke drooled. I walked up behind him, staring at my reflection in the window. It seemed so…unimportant. Unattached. Zeke whirled around.
"Zeeeke, can I have some money?" he pleaded me. I was momentarily thrown off by the wrong name.
"I don't have any money," I told him blankly. Zeke flopped down in the snow and gave me a pleading face. "My god," I moaned, putting a hand to my face and leaning against the outside of the bakery, "And you're the adult." I glare at him. "You're the one who wanted to come see the shops, so you should have brought the money." Zeke continued his silence, his beseeching face slowly fading away. "I think that you just didn't want to teach me anything today, Zeke."
"Maaybe," Zeke hummed in a sing-song voice, popping back up onto his feet, "Let's go to the bookstore, then. You can read books without paying for them!" With that, he dashed off in another direction. I took a few steps after him before I realized I didn't care.
"I don't have to go along with this," I informed myself, leaning back against the brick wall, "He'll eventually have to come back, right?" I realized he wouldn't. He could just morph into something or someone I wouldn't recognize and go straight past me. Then I remembered Uncle and decided that if Zeke didn't come back, someone would save me.
A while later, Zeke came bounding back, a huge book in his arms. "Are you a thief?" I asked him incredulously.
"Nah, I bought this," Zeke answered me, wavering under the weight.
"You don't have-" I started, but then realized that yeah, he might have had money. He might have just wanted to antagonize me. "Zeke, I think you have issues."
"Really?" Zeke asked in an interested tone, trying to maneuver the book onto his head for some reason.
"Are you just trying to act like a kid to weird me out, or because you never really were a kid?" I demanded. Zeke lowered the book from his head.
"What, are you a psychologist now? Duh, weird you out," Zeke answered frankly. I couldn't think of a good reply for this, so I just stood there, at a loss. Zeke shoved the book into my arms.
"Here. I found this in the back clearance section reserved for junk books." I made a face at him.
"Sure, thanks." I looked down at the huge tome, whose title was written in letters so spidery I hoped strongly that someone else had written the inside. "Switching Faces: The Guide to Morphing," I read dubiously.
"See, this trip had a point," Zeke said brightly.
"You could have just told me," I muttered, flipping to the title page and finding more hard-to-decipher writing.
"You wouldn't have come if I hadn't changed you into me and not told you what we were going to do," Zeke answered matter-of-factly. I gave him a half-disgusted, half-perplexed look.
"That- is so convoluted and untrue, only you could have thought of it." Zeke beamed at me. "And I suppose your disgusting show of childishness was all a part of your great plan to get me here to buy this stupid book?"
"Nope. I was just yanking your chain there," Zeke replied, giving the book a couple pats. "Anyways, this is your book now. It'll help in your training." There was a soft thud behind me, and someone grabbed me by the ear.
"Zeke, I told you you're not allowed in the town anymore, not after-" It was Uncle's voice, but I could barely hear it over the ringing pain in my ear. I swatted at the hand, and it immediately let go. "Zeke?" Uncle's hand on my shoulder turned me around and I looked at him blankly, rubbing my ear, which was still smarting.
Uncle looked from me to Zeke and back again. "Zeke!" he shouted, focusing on the me that was Zeke, "You irresponsible-" He moved forwards, and for a second I thought he was just going to point accusingly at Zeke, but instead he just poked him on the shoulder. With a short shout, Zeke became a monarch butterfly. Uncle's hand shot forwards and pinched the two wings together near the place they connected to the black body. I stared in amazement at my annoying teacher, now a mere insect. Uncle sighed, pulling an envelope out of his pocket.
"I was going to use this to mail something with, but now-" He took Zeke the butterfly and slid him into the envelope, folding the paper gently around him. I was still staring. Uncle looked at me and sighed in frustration again. "I should have made him a worm, but I didn't want-" Uncle shook his head, "No, I shouldn't have done that at all." He looked abashedly at me. "Look what a great role model I am," he said.
"That was awesome!" I told him, looking at the small shufflings of Zeke inside the envelope.
"He's going to be useless as a teacher in this form," Uncle informed me.
"In this form?" I laughed. Uncle smiled thinly at me and looked at the envelope again.
"He might be stuck like this for a little while. I was pretty mad, so- his power might be hard to reach." Uncle set his hand on my head, and- okay, seriously, it was like that one egg trick people do with their hands. They pretend to crack an egg over your head, right? Uncle's power just trickled down from my head to the rest of my body like the insides of an egg. I shrunk down to regular me-size.
"That's better," I said with a grin, looking at my smaller hands. Uncle frowned at the envelope, paying little attention to me.
"Since I already forced him into this shape, I might as well force him back, hm?" Uncle was musing to himself. I looked at the envelope and thought about how I would like being a butterfly. Yeah, compassion is one of those 'Awww' things, I know. But to tell the truth, the next thing I thought of was how painful forces had been on me, which made me grin from ear to ear.
"Yeah." Uncle pulled Zeke out of the envelope, with his six black legs writhing in the air. He had kind of an ugly pattern on his wings; the murky green of his shirt and the navy blue of his pants twisted in a grotesque kaleidoscope.
The first thing out of Zeke's mouth when he was back to human form: "I hate flowers!"