This story is rated PG for intense situations.

Disclaimer: Marc Brown owns the Arthur characters, as well as my immortal soul.


The last thing D.W. remembered was throwing a crying fit in Mr. Ratburn's class because she couldn't read what was written on the blackboard.

When she regained consciousness, she found that her arms, legs, and neck were bound to a cold surface. She was no longer wearing a skirt and sweater, but some sort of long gown. A bright light was shining in her eyes, and a few soft voices were muttering to each other.

"Mom?" D.W. called out.

"I'm right here, honey," came her mother's voice. D.W. tried to turn her head toward the sound, but padded restraints were holding it in place.

Mrs. Read was standing a few yards away, watching several men and women in doctor uniforms consult with each other. Next to her stood her four-year-old son Arthur, who wore glasses and blue trousers.

"Mommy, what are they gonna do to D.W.?" he asked, looking up at his mother.

"Don't worry, dear," Mrs. Read reassured him.

"Mom, where am I?" asked D.W., a hint of panic in her weak voice.

Then the smiling face of a monkey woman with a hair net appeared above her. "Hello there, D.W.," she said sweetly.

"Are you a doctor?" D.W. inquired. "Am I sick?"

"Yes, I'm a doctor," the woman replied, "and I'm going to make you all better. But first, I want to ask you a few questions. How old are you, D.W.?"

"I'm four."

The doctor shook her head condescendingly, then held up a filigreed sheet of paper for D.W. to see.

"What does it say?" asked the girl. "I can't read."

"This is your birth certificate." The monkey woman's voice grew sterner. "It says you were born eight years ago. You're not four, you're eight."

"But I'm not supposed to be eight," D.W. insisted. "I asked Nadine to go back in time on her time tricycle and change things so I would be older than Arthur. When I woke up the next morning, I was eight and Arthur was four."

"Who's Nadine?" asked the doctor.

"She's my friend," answered D.W. "Only I can see her."

The doctor briefy turned her face and murmured something to one of her associates, who jotted some words on a notepad he was holding. Then she spoke to D.W. again. "This may be hard for you to understand, but Nadine is not a real person."

"Yes, she is!" cried D.W. angrily. "Nadine! Nadine, where are you? I don't want to be older than Arthur anymore!"

Mrs. Read struggled to hold back tears as she led Arthur through the door and out of the hospital room.

"Nadine! Nadine!" shrieked D.W. as one of the doctors started to attach electrodes to her temples.