John was innocently sitting on the couch reading, when suddenly he couldn’t see. He pulled the…shirt? off his head. “Michelle!” He yelled. His older sister laughed.
“You should have seen your face! It looked like the sky had fallen,” she said. She snorted and laughed some more.
“That wasn’t very nice,” John said. He balled up the shirt and threw it back at her.
Michelle caught the shirt and threw it back at his head. “It’s a gift,” she said. “There, see, it was nice after all.”
John set his book down and smoothed out the shirt on his knees. “Did you tie-dye this? It looks like you messed up. The colors are muddy.”
“Yeah, some of the ties came loose. It’s a perfect shirt for you, though. You don’t care how you look,” Michelle said.
“I do, too,” John said.
“You have a ketchup stain right there,” Michelle said. She pointed and John looked down. She was right. He scowled and Michelle laughed again. “You’re welcome,” she said.
John looked down at the shirt again. It wasn’t so bad. It was kind of interesting looking, anyways. And right there in the center, it looked like there was a face. That was actually kind of cool. He’d wear it tomorrow.
The next day, John wore his face shirt. “You’re getting crumbs on me,” it said at breakfast. John jumped and looked around. Then he looked down. The face looked like it was frowning.
“Did you say something?” John asked.
“Yes. Eat more neatly,” the shirt said. The face didn’t move, but the voice seemed to be coming from the shirt. John looked around again. No one was there. Right. So, he now had a talking shirt.
“Are you any good at math?” he asked.
“What a silly question,” the shirt said. “I was born yesterday. You need to teach me math first. Then, of course I will be marvelous at math.”
Luckily the shirt was quiet at school. “Are you okay?” John whispered once.
“Shhhh. I’m listening,” the shirt whispered back.
It learned quickly. It was really good at checking John’s homework and telling him which things he’d gotten wrong. It wouldn’t tell him the answers though. “That’s cheating,” the shirt said.
The shirt’s favorite thing to do was look at photos of places around the world. “How are there so many different places and people? How is the world so big?” the shirt asked one day.
“I don’t know. It just is,” John said.
“Do you know anybody who lives far away somewhere?” The shirt asked.
“I have an aunt who lives in Hawaii,” John said.
The shirt shivered a little. It felt strange. “I must go and see it! Please send me there. Please! Please!” The shirt said.
It asked him everyday. Finally he did. He sent the shirt to his aunt with a note asking her to take the shirt around to see the sights in his place and send it back when she was done.
“Hey! You’re not carrying around that shirt I made,” Michelle said the next day. “Decided you don’t need a lovey anymore?” She laughed. “No, really, I’m flattered you liked it so much.”
John scowled and went to his room to read. He missed having a friend around to talk to. Hopefully the shirt wouldn’t be gone long.
Weeks later, John found a package on the counter from his aunt. He ripped it open. Inside was a fake flower lei, a package of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, a note from his aunt, and the shirt.
“I missed you,” John said.
“Shhh. I’m thinking about what I saw,” the shirt said.
John read the note from his aunt. She said that she thought it was a fun idea to take a virtual vacation. She also said she’d send the pictures she took of the shirt seeing the sights later to his mom’s email.
The shirt didn’t talk for a week. Finally, one morning at breakfast, the shirt spoke again. “John,” it said.
“Finally you say something,” John said. “Are you done thinking about Hawaii?”
“Yes,” the shirt said. “Do you know anyone in Paris?”