GiantJuly19: First Date results and my entry, “It Springs Eternal”

The official results for Size Riot’s GiantJuly19: First Date have been announced! The overall winner was Rob Classact with “Common Ground.” Rob is also the creator of #ordinarygirls and you can read a previous interview with him at the following link: https://thereshegrows.net/2019/07/18/interview-with-rob-classact-creator-of-ordinarygirls/

All of the GiantJuly19 stories can be found here and the detailed results are here. Additionally, sign-ups for the next contest, Cocktober19, begin tomorrow on 1 September!

My submission, “It Springs Eternal,” did not place, but I received positive feedback and overall I’m happy with it. You can read it in full below:

Seven months ago, a man’s DNA burst violently and then reformed. The scrambling of his genes should have killed him, but a one-in-a-billion fluke transformed him into a giant instead. Afterward, the FBI was directed to “protect the public from this unprecedented menace.” The bureau formed a special task force to deal with the situation.

Renee Carlson was the newest addition to the task force, joining the scientists and support staff. She was sent three weeks ago from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her role was to solve engineering challenges.

Tonight, Renee wore a sparkly red dress with matching high heels. The armed sentries waved her through the gate with only a cursory glance, and she walked into the repurposed tan-colored gymnasium. She spotted her date immediately; he was impossible not to notice.

“You look beautiful.” Jake told her. He wore a black suit jacket and dress pants along with a green neck tie.

“Thank you. You look handsome. Getting a suit must have been difficult.”

He smiled. “Yeah, no trip to a men’s clothing store for me, unfortunately. Mara was a life-saver, she bought an entire bolt of black fabric and sewed this outfit. Mara makes dresses for her little girls and volunteered to help. I owe her a lot.”

“I wanted to dress up. It’s like ZZ Top said ‘every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man.’ ” Jake flashed a toothy grin.

She returned his smile, then pointed at the spectacles he wore.

“How are they working out?”

“Great. I love them! My vision always has been bad. Thought about getting laser eye surgery, but never got around to it.” He sighed. “Guess I missed my chance, not going to happen now.”

“It still can, a bit more complicated now. But never say never.”

“Our tables are over here.” Jake motioned to the left side. “I know it’s an unusual set-up, but two tables of different heights seemed the best approach.”

“I’m sure it’s fine.”

On the smaller table, sat a porcelain plate with a T-bone steak and a baked potato. On the larger table was a similar arrangement, only with an oven tray holding four large cuts of meat and an equal number of potatoes.

They sat down to eat. Her table was a standard affair, finished and painted. His was a rough arrangement, cut from plain plywood and unpainted. No furniture could accommodate his stature, thus circumstances called for custom built. The government was his host, but it was not willing to buy niceties. Accordingly, his living quarters was populated with unadorned rough creations. Jake’s father would not approve of the shabby craftsmanship.

“I’ve worn glasses ever since I was seven years old. But my regular pair was broken during the incident, and spares no longer fit of course. These past months were the longest I’ve ever gone without. Hated not being able to read.”

“I made a desk and have a magnifying glasses with lamp. It’s not big enough, but I make it work. Way better setup than before, when I couldn’t read anything. Funny, the desk is the only thing I ever built. My Dad’s a carpenter, but I never learned the trade.”

“What does he think of your woodwork?”

“Don’t know, haven’t seen my folks since the accident.”

“Really? Your parents didn’t visit to make sure you’re okay? That’s horrible!”

“Not their fault, I’m not allowed visitors. None of my family is aware of my condition.”

“That’s messed up! You should have been rewarded, not punished for your actions. What you did, it was brave. I’ve read about soldiers throwing themselves on hand grenades to save their platoon, and parents jumping into lion cages to save a child, but I never met anyone that courageous in person.”

“Anyone else would have done the same. I couldn’t stand by and watch someone get hurt. ”

“I’m not sure that’s true. I mean, I don’t think that most people would jump into a gamma ray chamber to save their co-worker.”

They sat quietly for a moment.

“So, why did you become an engineer?” Jack asked her.

“Always liked building things, and wanted to help people by making useful stuff.”

“You helped me for sure. I appreciate it.”

“It’s my pleasure. I’ve been so busy working, trying to pay off student loans, pushing for a better position at the university, etc. that I forgot why I first chose this career. Speaking of which, I could make a better magnifying lens, something larger to make it easier to read.”

“I’d like that, thank you.”

“Cruz made potatoes and steaks. Oh, I didn’t think to ask if you were vegetarian! Is this dinner okay?” He asked her.

“It’s better than okay, I love steak.”

“Good, I eventually managed to request access to my money after I convinced everyone that I was still a human being. The institute is still my employer, and it owes me back pay. Supposedly, I’m getting my pay checks, but it’s not like I can check my account.” He wiggled his oversized fingers. “Can’t do online banking or use an ATM with these. But anyway, Agent Whitehurst agreed to withdraw money on my behalf. Cruz used that cash to buy supplies and offered to cook dinner for our date.”

“You made good friends, Cruz and Mara.”

“They’ve been great, pulled me out of my slump.”

“So, what’s next? Continue your research? Can’t say I fully understood them, but read some of your papers. Groundbreaking experiments with the potential to free the world from fossil fuel dependency. You’re on the forefront in an important field.”

He frowned. “Was, you mean. I was.”

“What? No, you’re the leading expert! That hasn’t changed.”

“I can’t function like this, look at me! A fifteen foot tall researcher! How would that work? It’s a ridiculous idea!”

“Really? What about your mind? Did the accident affect your mind as well as your body?”

Jake shook his head.

“Dr. Suzuki thinks he’s a certified genius, and yet he took time out of his lecturing schedule to come here. Why? Because he wants to ask you questions. Suzuki acts like it’s a waste of his precious time to pass the salt during breakfast, because God knows he is too important to interact with us peons. Yet, that arrogant old geezer at least has the good sense to realize you’ve forgotten more about ionizing radiation than he’ll ever know.”

“Renee, I… I can’t push buttons, turn knobs, or write notes. My penmanship is big scribbles that look like a kindergartner’s first attempt. How can I operate machines? Or access data on a computer? No one has ever made a keyboard for a giant, not much call for input devices that fit a monster’s hands.”

“Look, any woman with half a brain can see that you’re no monster. You think Mara would’ve sewn that suit for a monster, or a mindless beast? Mara made it because you’re a nice person, and someone she likes. Cruz wanted to help because you treat him like an equal. Not like Agent Whitehurst or Suzuki, they only speak to Cruz to tell him what they want for their next meal. But you’re different, you ask Cruz about his son, and how he wants to be an Olympic swimmer someday. Whitehurst doesn’t know the first thing about Cruz or his family, or any of our families. However, you do.”

“Whitehurst thought this would be his big break. FBI Agent protects innocents from science experiment gone wrong. Only now he’s a glorified babysitter, with no accolades to be had and little chance for promotion in an indefinite assignment. Makes him grouchy I think.” Jake said.

“I think he’s a callous jerk.”

Jake chuckled.

“I can fabricate a properly sized mechanical keyboard with extra macro keys and RGB lighting if you want to look fancy.”

“Cool!” He replied, then pursed his lips for a moment.

“Do you really think, I could be a scientist again?”

“Not again, you’ve always been a scientist. This is a complication, that’s all. An… unplanned sabbatical.”

Jake took a deep breath.

“Why did you ask me out? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic when you did. You’re gorgeous and smart. But…” Jake took another deep breath. “I don’t want charity. What can I offer you?”

“Charity? I think you’re brave, handsome, and smart. Those are qualities I like in men. Is that so strange? Plus, I can tell my Mom about my date with a doctor. That’ll make her stop asking about my love life, for awhile at least.”

Jake laughed softly.

“Moms mean medical physicians when they hope their daughters date doctors.” He replied.

“A PhD is a PhD. I think a date with a world-class physicist is better than one with a physician. Heck, Mom would be happy if I dated a man with a pulse. She’s old-fashioned, wishes I’d have given her grandkids by now.”

He smiled, then looked down at the floor for a moment. That pause stretched out into a few minutes.

“Jake?”

“There’s no possibility I could give you a … how to say it, a real romantic relationship.”

“Anything is possible.”

“Seriously? You think we could actually date, like boyfriend and girlfriend?”

“Let’s take it step by step. Engineers think things through. We overthink things to be honest, all the time. So, I already ran the numbers and wouldn’t have asked you out if I didn’t think we could have something together.”

Jake blinked a few times. A small tear fell from his eye.

“God, I… wasn’t sure if I should dare to consider … returning to my old life and not being alone. Figured those ambitions went up in smoke.”

“I will never forget the cold steel cage they first threw me in, it had only bales of hay for bedding. Was over two weeks before I could take a shower or brush my teeth. More weeks passed before I was able to leave that damn filthy enclosure. A long time before I could sleep without being surrounded by bars. Then the countless pokes and prods from men who considered me a specimen, not a patient. The politicians who came here to look at me with fear, they saw me only as a potential threat.”

“You’re a good man Jake. The authorities gave into paranoia when they should have shown compassion. Those assholes were wrong to treat you inhumanely. But you can overcome their mistake. I can help, I’ll share your story with the world and pressure Whitehurst to end your isolation.”

“As a girl, my Mom would tell me ‘hope springs eternal.’ Her words are appropriate today; there’s still hope for you. You can follow your dreams.”

“Assumed I was going to be a freak on display for the rest of my life.” Jake replied. He glanced up at the ceiling and furrowed his brow. His chest shuddered. Jake then inhaled, long and deeply. “But if I could really live again; continue my life’s work and have a social life. That’s a beautiful thought.” The giant man’s deep voice cracked, and then he cried.

“God, now I’m weeping… this must be the worst first date ever. Sorry.”

“Don’t be. This isn’t my worst first date. My low point was with Jimmy Ferguson in 10th grade. Forgot his money so I paid for both our meals. He also failed to mention his food allergies and got sick afterward. Dad wasn’t happy about the mess in the Toyota. Poor Jimmy was looking a little green when he got home, but still had strength to ask if he could borrow my Calculus homework.”

“Jimmy messed up.” Jake dried his eyes. “If it had been me, I’d have secured a second date before I asked to copy your math assignment.”

“Well, in that case…” She smiled. “feel free to copy my Calculus.”

All Rights Reserved.

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