Chapter Description: Few people actually like baby showers. Now not only does Clark has to sit through one, but he has to be the baby.
I’m not a religious man. I can’t say that I’m an atheist either; nor an agnostic. Frankly, whether there’s a god or gods influencing the world in some intangible or unseen way is something I never gave much thought to. I had other...BIGGER things and people taking up my time and thought process. Depending on the circumstances, religion as a whole is either the last bastion of the desperate or the luxury of those with enough time to contemplate on such great mysteries.
When I was growing up, my mother, my REAL mom, once quipped that “If God exists, He must have a whole more creativity than sense.”
Living in a world where a thirty-something could be reduced to the status of an infant in not-quite twenty four hours due to his relative size; I was inclined to agree. I just didn’t think about any god that much, because I was spending so much time trying to avoid the result of such creativity. Caught standing there all but naked in front of the T.V. a small horde of Amazons parading into Janet’s living room, I mentally added that if there was a God they had a wicked and cruel sense of humor. Someone up (or down) there was surely laughing at me, in this moment.
Mrs. Springfield and Mr. Renner; fourth and fifth grade teachers respectively were there. I knew their names only because of a handful of faculty meetings where they’d saved me a seat. Less save, and more didn’t object to me climbing up next to them. The various therapists from the I.E.P. meeting; Bankhead, Skinner, Winters, and Sosa were right behind them. Skinner had the gall to wave at me, all bright eyed.
I did not wave back...
Mixed in were at least half a dozen faces whose names I didn’t know from around campus; and a few who I didn’t even know their faces. They might have been complete strangers or friends of Janet’s.
And I was stuck there. Hemmed in from all sides by giants wearing giddy smiles and holding gift wrapped boxes of various sides.
I froze. What did I do with my body? Did I try and hide? Cover my diaper with my hands? Stand defiantly and upright with my arms over my chest? I didn’t know. What about my voice? Did I scream and shout? Did I cry out? Did I play coy and make a vain attempt at dignity? I didn’t know.
My breath came out a small and trembling thing; shaking and involuntarily whimpering because of how much my chest was hurting. I hadn’t even realized that I wasn’t breathing for the good half a minute as more and more of Janet’s guests filtered in. I only breathed when Janet came in, practically arm and arm with the last guest: Melony Beouf.
All Amazons. No Tweeners. Good. I didn’t know if I could have stood seeing Tracy see me as I was just then. No Littles, either. I was the only “baby” in the room of infantilizing maniacs.
“SURPRIIIIIISE!” The assembled cadre of former coworkers and strangers cheered. My heart rate ticked up but it had nothing to do with excitement. My skin, still a bit pinkish burned a brighter shade of red as my breathing quickened from a wild mixer of fear, frustration, and embarrassment.
Janet’s friend, Jessica, trotted in from the side. Proudly in front of her she clutched a certain stuffed feline belonging to the genus Panthera. She’d gone snooping after disposing of my old diaper. “Ooooh! So this is Li-!”
“Janet, what the hell are you doing?!” I demanded. I had chosen to go with belligerent, apparently.
A few uncomfortable giggles and some murmurs of “Janet” was my reward.
Janet stepped forward, turned the T.V. off and picked me up. The T.V. off was a small mercy. I didn’t want another Monkeez commercial coming on. “I thought my Little boy might want some Little boy toys and clothes before he went back to school on Monday.” She forced her forehead against mine, nuzzling me. “And Mommy doesn’t have everything she needs to take care of you, yet.” She walked me back over to the couch and sat down right in the middle; a Queen on her thrown with me in her lap. Two of the guests moved the coffee table out of the way. “So, Mrs. Beouf contacted allllll of our friends and they chipped in to get us presents.”
Get us presents. That was a laugh. Never has a baby shower ever been about the baby. Never has any interaction involving Littles and Amazons really been about the Little’s wants and needs.
“Us...? Really...?” I meant to sound sarcastic. It didn’t take.
Jessica sat Lion on my lap, and pinched my cheek hard enough to hurt. “That’s right, cutie!” I caught sight of Skinner whispering something to Sosa; likely remarking about how it was she who’d first handed me the stupid stuffie.
“Jessica,” Janet waved her friend off. “You’re cosseting again.” That got a quiet round of chuckles.
“Sorry!” My newly christened ‘Auntie’ skittered away. “‘Scuse me, I gotta go get his present! Left it in the car!” The sea of Amazons parted awkwardly for her so she could go out the door and into her car.
“Now Clark,” Janet gave me a gentle squeeze. “These are our guests. And they all brought these things just for you. They were thinking of you when they got them, and only want to help start you and Mommy’s life together.” Her voice was calm, loving and patient; it wasn’t any kind of secret knowing that she thrilled in calling herself Mommy. But still had the warning cadence of an adult prepping a child to receive gifts.
I sighed. “Yes...Mo…..ma’a….” Nope. I couldn’t say it. Not then. “I understand, Janet.” There were no audible gasps, but looking at the faces of those gathered, I could tell that I’d made more than a few people squirmy. How DARE a Little call his Mommy by her first name.
The unfamiliar faces seemed a lot more startled than the people I’d actually shared a modicum of space with. Clark Gibson- may he rest in peace- had a certain reputation about him; a Little that had learned to pass as an adult. It made sense to those who had known him that Baby Clark Grange might have a little bit of Clark’s wit.
That’s what I told myself, anyways. It’s just as likely that my former colleagues expected me to be a little mouthier than those who didn’t regress Littles as part of their job. I hadn’t even had a full day of proper reconditioning.
Speaking of familiar faces, I noted that neither Forrest nor Brollish were in attendance. Thank whatever cruel god that put me in this position for that small delay in torment. The idea that Janet might invite either of those creeps would have made me resent...no...HATE her even more.
Her warning delivered, Janet kissed me on the top of my head and threw another curveball. “And everyone else,” she said, “please remember that Clark has gone through and is going through a lot right now. He might need help using his words productively, so we have to be patient.” Everyone nodded their understanding. Beouf was nodding in pride. This part had been rehearsed. Clearly, they’d been talking. “We’re the grown-ups, and he’s the ba...” I tensed. She stopped. “He’s my Little boy. Who’s first?”
No one moved. No one wanted to be first. Gift giving is kind of like a blind talent show. No one wants to be first and have their gift forgotten by the time a dozen or so are added to the pile, but no one wants to have to follow up a tough act.
It was Beouf who stepped up. In her hands were two boxes. One could have doubled as a life raft on me...that or a coffin. Leaning over, she adjusted her glasses and looked me in the eye.
“Hi Clark,” she said. Her tone was cheery, but neutral. A teacher greeting a new student. I didn’t respond, immediately. I bit down on my tongue instead to suppress a growl. If I was angry at Janet for adopting me I was deeply furious at Beouf.
I looked away. “Hi Mrs. Beouf…” I spat out her name. In that moment I wanted to let her know how angry I was at her. How I’d never forgive her. How I had used her last name before as a sign of respect and admiration and now viewed her as an oppressor; no better than Forrest or Brollish.
She set the first box besides Janet’s lap. “Do you want to open up your present?”
I did not. I must have shook my head a little bit.
“He must be feeling shy all of a sudden.” Janet gave me a squeeze. I couldn’t tell if it was one meant as comfort or a warning.
Slowly, Beouf started to peel open the paper. “It’s fine,” she said. “I’ll do it. It’ll give me time to explain.”
Explain? Explain what?
“I know you’re upset at me, Clark,” Beouf told the room. “And that’s okay. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, but it had to be done for your own good. You can be mad at me for as long as you need.” Good. Fuck her. I didn’t need permission to be mad at her, though. Fuck her.
Janet had been friends with me for a few months. Beouf had been my mentor in teaching for a decade and had turned on a dime; not even hesitating to strip me of my clothes and shove me into that nightmare hole that fried my follicles off.
Beouf must have been some kind of low level telepath. “Yesterday I got to thinking,” she told me as she undid the wrapping. “I took away your big boy clothes. It needed to be done, but I understand why that would be scary and no fun. So when I saw these on sale yesterday I knew they were for you!” She opened the box. Inside were toddler clothes; discount baby outfits. Nothing more than T-shirts and matching shorts in basic colors: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, and white.
Janet held up an outfit to me. The shirts were too short to cover all but the top of my diaper, and the shorts stopped at my knees. The elastic waistbands would make it far too easy for someone besides myself to pull them down and they didn’t look nearly baggy enough; but there were no stupid phrases like “Mommy’s Little Man” on the shirts, or “Little Stinker” on the shorts.
That was something, I supposed.
“You can mix and match them too, if you like.” That line was directed at Janet, obviously. As far as the assembled giants were concerned, my days of dressing myself were over. Around the room there were nods and murmurs of approval. A perfectly sensible, if unexciting gift. An ideal opening act that few people would feel bashful following.
“Thank you!” Janet said. I could hear the smile. It was a good gift...if I had been an actual baby. “What do we say, Clark?”
“Thank you…” I grumbled.
The first box of clothes went to the floor by Janet’s feet. Beouf took the second box, only slightly smaller. “This one’s from Mrs. Zoge,” Beouf said, using her teacher voice again. “She wanted to be here, but she couldn’t find a sitter for Ivy and didn’t want to draw attention away from you on your special day.”
Zoge not being present was a gift in of itself. Same with Ivy. I wouldn’t have been able to get away with as much with the perfect babied Little giggling and curtseying and calling her slaver “Mommy” to mine’s “Janet”.
Beouf opened the box. A new wave of coos became nails on a chalkboard as Janet clapped in excitement. Beouf held up the present for all to see. Baby sailor clothes. Lots of them: A three piece sailor suit -shorts, shirts, and a hat- with navy blue trim was the least humiliating of the set. The onesie with a rubber duck on the chest and the words “Poop Deck” along the bum made me want to keel over. The romper and the shortalls weren’t much better. The socks with blue anchors stitched in at the ankles was the frosting on a just awful cake.
I felt my temperature rivet up a notch. At one recent point in my life. Mrs. Zoge had been in tears and literally bowing to my adulthood. All it took was forty-eight hours for her to get back on the wagon. I had foolishly thought it meant that Amazons could change…
“I wanna see him in that one!”
I gulped. My throat became as dry as my fresh Monkeez. “THAT!” I pointed to the box of semi-dignified clothing by Janet’s feet! “I WANT THAT!”
Laughter all around. “AWWWWWWW!” Screw their laughter. This was quickly becoming a scenario where the only thing I could control was how badly I lost.
I looked up at my captor. My once-friend. “Pleeeeeeease! Mmmm…” Nope. Couldn’t do it. Not with all these people watching. “Janet? Please Janet!” I made myself shiver despite how my skin simmered with anger and embarrassment. “I’m getting cold.”
“Of course, sweetie,” Janet cooed. Gently, she slid me down to the floor and grabbed the purple shirt and shorts. Not my favorite, but I didn’t want to push my luck. “Let’s get some clothes on.”
What happened next was a kind of reverse strip tease. Janet popped open the purple pair and held them up for me. It might have been cruelty, or just a lack of perspective, but they were held just high enough to make it challenging. Still unused to moving around in bulky absorbent padding, I had to set the lion stuffie down so I could keep my balance.
There was clapping, literal clapping, as she pulled the shorts up over my hips. I spared a moment to look down. As suspected, the leggings stopped just above my knees; it wouldn’t take an eagle eye to see the padding; the top of the diaper’s waistband peeked out over the shorts’ and likely would peek out more if I so much as bent down. This was less an article of clothing and more of a diaper cover with chutes for the legs.
Better than a sailor onesie…
The shirt came on next, and I even humored Janet by reaching into the air and allowing her to guide my arms into the sleeves and pull it over my head. More clapping. At least my legs were no longer bare. At least I didn’t have to hug Lion to cover my nipples. As soon as I was settled back on Janet’s lap, I looked Beouf in the eye. “Thank you…” There was the tiniest mote of sincerity that one time.
“Someone’s trying to be teacher’s pet,” Bankhead joked. I was the only one who didn’t giggle at that. Typical Bankhead; she always was a mood ruiner.
Beouf took her place among the assembled guests. Renner, in the minority amongst all the Amazon ladies, came forward. If I haven’t talked much about Renner up to this point, it’s because he wasn’t particularly important in my life. He was just sorta...there. School too. Came in, clocked in, supposedly taught, clocked out.
Real laid back, for an Amazon. Under different circumstances we might’ve been friends; probably not, but maybe.
In Renner’s arms was a jumbo box of Monkeez with a ribbon taped onto the top. “I didn’t know what to get,” he said, sounding bashful and embarrassed, “so I decided to get something practical.” He turned it around in his arms before setting it down, allowing me to catch a glimpse of the whole package. A baby model grinning on one side; a Little on the other.
“Oh Steven,” Mrs. Springfield groaned. “Really?”
Mumblings of “such a guy…” could be heard in the living room and combined with knowing but disapproving headshakes. He was lazy and got a pass because he was a dude. An Amazon dude.
His bit of farce wasn’t done yet.
“Thank you, Steven,” Janet said. “These will definitely come in handy.” I looked down at the Little on the box and squirmed a bit. Janet bobbed me up on her knee, but didn’t do anything else. At least she wasn’t prompting me to thank him for the diapers…
“Oh, and almost forgot,” Renner said, digging into his jeans pocket. He pulled out a not-quite stuffie; same material, but far too small. It had a fox’s face attached to a soft cloth strap. It wasn’t wrapped; kinda frayed around the edges, too. “My nephew likes these,” he said, scratching the back of his shaved head awkwardly as Janet took it from him.
Janet wrapped the used baby toy around my wrist, securing it with velcro. “It’s a wrist rattle,” Janet said. “Go on. Give it a try.”
I rolled my eyes, held the baby toy to my ear, jiggled my right arm…
And almost fell over the other side of her lap.
Amazon giggles and cooing noises started up again as Janet caught me and sat me upright. My face flushed; my breathing slowed then quickened; my head buzzed and I felt a faint and fleeting sense of euphoria as my equilibrium shifted off key. It was like I’d taken a triple shot of tequila and it had just hit me.
It was a rush. A guy could get to like this. “Did you guys hear that?!” I asked. There were more quiet chuckles, and shakes of “no”. I turned my wrist over and saw the King Fisher Logo. I’d seen something about this a few months ago online...
The Amazons couldn’t hear it, I felt slightly drunk, and Mr Renner’s “nephew” clearly wasn’t an actual child. “Thank you,” I rasped, “But I prefer lions…” I peeled off the velcro and tried to offer what had to be a sloppily re-gifted brainwashing device back. If only diapers had velcro tabs so that Littles would have an easier time taking them off...
“Clark,” Janet scoffed. “Be nice.”
I was already starting to sober up, as it were; adrenaline overcoming the fading buzz. “It’s very nice,” I lied, “I just like lions…”
Mr. Renner took it back graciously enough and repocketed it. “No problem, Lil’ guy,” he said. “It was kind of a last minute thing anyways.” Last minute was underselling it. It’s probably something he had laying around his house for when he had to ‘babysit’ his poor ‘nephew’. I reached over and grabbed Lion, clutching him like a murderer clutches an alibi. The I.E.P. team was totally tickled.
Mr. Renner backed to his place along the fringes of the gathering as more giants came forward to give their “gifts”. He’d done his part, and went back to glancing at his phone. I don’t know why, but this annoyed me. At least the other Amazons were committed to this tyrannical farce...
From there the dance went on in earnest. A guest would come up and give a present. Janet would tell everyone (and me) what it was even though most of it was pretty obvious. She would thank them and I would mumble noncommittally. It went on and on for at least an hour like that.
Chandra Skinner gave Janet a baby monitor. “Top of the line,” she said. A King Fisher Series 669. “This is both a great safety tool, and a great educational tool,” she promised. I huffed. What would Skinner know about education? Furthermore, how did she manage to teach kids to pronounce words without them developing her own hick accent?
Bankhead gave Janet a board book entitled “I DON’T HAVE TO GROW UP!” More propaganda. Like the Monkeez commercial, the Little Voices pamphlets, and the Muffet Littles, I was positive it was more for her benefit than mine. The diapered Little on the cover looked up from the illustrated bathroom floor in a pool of toilet paper.
“I recommend that all new parents read this to their Little ones,” she told Janet. “It does them both a lot of good.” She looked down at me and booped me on the nose. “And the best part is it’s chewable.” I would not be chewing that book, but I would be furiously rubbing her nasty ass perfume off the tip of my schnoz. Janet bounced me more on her knee as Bankhead finished her sales pitch.
“These mittens will help encourage him to bottle, spoon feed or breastfeed,” Sosa said, distant but genial. “Maturosis sometimes manifests in tantrums over lost and deteriorating capabilities. Makes it easier on them if they don’t have a choice.” The whole room was bobbleheads.
Silently, I swore to whatever god there was that I’d find a way to make Sosa eat those words.
Speaking of God, Janet’s room had become a perverse kind of church, I realized. One that preached the Gospel of Maturosis and Developmental Plateau and read from the book of Little Voices.
Winters, the physical therapist’s contribution was fairly huge. Like Renner, hers wasn’t properly wrapped. Unlike him, there was a reason beyond laziness. “It’s a playground in a box!” she said. When she opened the lid, the entire box unfolded itself and expanded. Translucent tubes shot out and laid themselves around the rug. Ramps and slides reconfigured themselves and a hefty crash pad inflated itself. “And it’s got five different configurations!” With a turn of a knob the tubes, passageways, and obstacles transformed again and again and again until the push of a button packed itself up again into the relatively small crate.
Applause all around. The rest of the I.E.P. team had been glad to let the physical therapist go last. Amazon ingenuity at work. Critically I eyeballed the structure. Lots of tubes to shimmy around it, but not break line of sight. A slide with no steps. A bridge meant to weeble and wobble unsteadily; a rolling tunnel. Great. A funhouse that not-so-subtly encouraged me to crawl instead of walk. And it could take up the whole living room. “Just make sure to use it only under adult supervision.”
You ever get so upset that all you can do is huff and sigh at how messed up the world is? You feel so beaten down and helpless that the most you can do is just bear it? Not even grin? Just bear it. If you’re an Amazon, probably not… I reached that point about this time.
I honestly can’t remember most of what else was shoved in my face that day. Plenty of staff members and too many strangers to count. Blocks here. Plushies there, (which I graciously pretended to accept as long as they didn’t jangle). Fake musical instruments that I never intended to try out. Janet got a playpen along with a replacement car seat and diaper bag. No more pink.
Yay I guess?
Truthfully it only made me feel worse. Some stupid, desperate part of me thought that if Janet still had her Little girl wardrobe, she might have let me go should a more feminine candidate present themselves. I’m sorry for writing that, but I was genuinely at a point where it was better anyone but me.
As far as clothes went, Beouf’s were by far the most dignified and mature. The rest of my growing closet would be filled with things that snapped up at the crotch and the inseams, and decorated with cartoon animals. Pairs of otherwise normal pants were ruined with extra sewing just so a giant would have easier access to my plastic backed undies. All of my pajamas now had feet on them. Everything meant to cover me below the waist (and a few things that weren’t) had Amazon strength snaps that I couldn’t hope to undo by myself.
The only comfort I got there was that being already dressed, Janet didn’t want a fussy Little doll in front of her friends, so I was saved the monotony and embarrassment of being stripped and reclothed just so that every guest could see me in the special skin of humiliation they’d picked just for me.
“Hmmm?” Janet turned over the unopened pack of pacifiers and inspected the back. “Are these the gag kind?” Janet asked whatever friend or relative that had bought them.
“The bulbs inflate if you twist them, yes.”
Janet bounced me more on her lap. Her bobbing knee was starting to become a tell for her more than a signal for me to be quiet. The more she jiggled me like a fussy toddler, I’d learned, the less comfortable she was about the gift. If I was right, that at least meant that I wouldn’t be tasting any books any time soon. It also meant that I’d be wearing mittens at meal time sooner or later. “That’s very nice…”
“I’ve got the receipt in the bag in the case you want to trade them in for the regular kind.”
The lap stopped moving. “Oh! That’d be great! Thank you for thinking of that!”
Oh, so she could refuse gifts! The mighty double standard was in full swing! I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut, though.
Janet’s bestie was the last to present her so-called. Standing in front of Janet, like a ringmaster introducing the acrobats. “Janet,” she said, “You’ve got all these really neat gadgets and gizmos for your Little to play in. I’m sure he’ll be very happy.” She winked at me and then dashed out into the kitchen.
Guests chuckled at her enthusiasm and looked out the doorway, grinning as the low whir of an electronic engine signaled her return. If she were my size she’d have been snatched and had a Monkeez taped around her butt in an instant. “But what kind of Auntie would I be if I didn’t get you a little something something so that you two could play TOGETHER?!”
The mammoth stroller followed behind her on four gigantic wheels as she skipped around the living room. It stopped, started, and changed direction with her. “It can follow you if you walk in front of it.” She clicked a remote in her palm and the stroller heeled like a dog. “Or beside you if you want to hold your Little’s hand.” Wows and remarks of appreciation overlapped onto each other. “And oh yeah, I guess you can push it too.” That got some belly laughs.
Another wink was cast in my direction. “Oh, and I’m not supposed to show you this, Clark, but just in case you want to pedal around the backyard..?” Another click of the remote, and the bottom dropped out and detached itself. Ejecting from the front of the fancy stroller was a low riding vehicle with handlebars. Two pedals popped out the side “It’s also a scooter.”
Janet’s knee started earthquaking. “Don’t worry,” Jessica promised. “The remote still works on the scooter, too. It’s super safe.” The room stopped bouncing and the crinkles left my ears. The queen had been appeased.
I won’t lie. The stroller was my favorite gift I’d received. Not because I liked it, but because I saw possibilities.
A brown delivery box lay there on the floor. It had been ejected when my new stroller temporarily turned into a four wheeler. “Oh yeah,” Jessica said. “This was on your doorstep when I came back in.”
“Oh thank goodness!” Janet slid me off her lap and stood up. “It came!”
I had to roll to my knees so that I could stand up and watch Janet snatch away the cardboard rectangle. “What came?” I asked.
I saw that madness come over her again. This was bad. Just like all the guests had before, Janet approached me on the couch. The only difference was I wasn’t in anyone’s lap. I was the complete center of attention. Janet’s. Beouf’s. The I.E.P. Team’s. Jessica’s. Fuck, even Renner looked up from his phone.
This would not end well.
“I ordered this late Thursday night and I was afraid it wouldn’t get here in time,” Janet said. She started ripping the box open.
I felt confused and disoriented. It was like the wrist rattle but without the euphoria. “What got here in time?”
“I thought that since you’re going back to school on Monday,” Janet paused and nodded towards Mrs. Beouf. “That it might help to ease the transition if I got you a special outfit for your first day.”
I felt numb. “Special? Outfit?”
The ensemble she removed and presented before the assembled crowd was forged in the very fires of my own personal Hell. The pants were simple and khaki, neatly pressed and pleated with an elastic waistband and a belt sewn in for show. The collared button up shirt was a onesie with plenty of room in the front and back for an expanding diaper. The tie was a clip on at the top and a pacifier caddy on the other. The slippers were fluffy recreations of leather loafers.
“It kinda looks like what he used to wear when he was teaching!” Mrs. Springfield laughed.
They laughed. They all laughed. And laughed. And laughed. And laughed. Real funny. Super cleverl. Great gift...
“So Clark?” Janet asked. “What do you think?” What did I think? What did I think?! “Do you want to try it on?”
I stood there, glassy eyed, jaw trembling. Saying nothing.
“I think he’d look cute” Someone said. I don’t know who. My ears started ringing. My vision was narrowing.
“He always did!” Another distorted out of focus Amazon agreed.
“This is perfect! Just perfect!”
“I need to get one for my Little!”
“Clark?” Janet coaxed me. “Baby? Do you want to try it on?” She reached her hand out, beckoning me. “Come on. Let’s try it on.” I wasn’t breathing. “I think you’ll like it. You’ll look super mature and grown-up in this.”
I don’t have the skill to put into words the exact onomatopoeia that erupted out of me in that moment. I started screaming. I started roaring. I started crying. I was screaming and roaring and crying all at once.
I reached up to my head and started yanking at my unnaturally curled and reddened hair yelling incoherently as I tried to pull my own hair out like stubborn weeds. Face itching I started clawing at my cheeks praying to draw blood from myself. Only saline and snot coated my face, however. I so wished for blood.
I was crying. Ugly crying. And roaring. I couldn’t see clearly and I felt unsteady and I wanted to stomp even though my feet would make no noise on the cushy couch. If the coffee table hadn’t been moved back towards the T.V. I would have hurled myself off the sofa in an effort to crack my head open on it and splatter my brains all over the worn out coasters.
“FUCK YOU JANET!”
The Amazons gasped like I was a grotesque demon. But they didn’t move. They didn’t dare.
“FUCK YOOOOOOOOOOOU!” Still there was shocked silence. “WHAT?! IS THIS SOME KIND OF JOKE TO YOU? A-HA-HA! LOOK AT THE LITTLE! LET’S DRESS HIM UP LIKE A GROWN-UP WON’T THAT BE FUCKIN’ CUTE?!”
“YEAH! LET’S DRESS THE LITTLE FUCKIN’ BABY UP LIKE A GROWN-UP! HE WAS NEVER ONE OF US ANYWAYS AND NOW WE DON’T HAVE TO HUMOR HIM SO IT’S FUN WHEN HE WEARS SUITS AND TIES, BUT WE CAN’T LET HIM FORGET, CAN WE?” I turned on the crowd. “CAN WE?!”
“RENNER JUST HAS TO SHOW UP AND THAT’S GOOD ENOUGH! I BUST MY ASS AND NONE OF IT MATTERS! AND I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT WORK, I MEAN EVERYTHING!” Renner’s lip curled up in anger but didn’t say anything.
“AND I’M JUST THEEEEE FUCKIN’ BEST! I’M SO GOOD WITH KIDS!” I screamed at the I.E.P. team. I didn’t even have the self-control to make my voice go into a mocking falsetto. “I’M SOOOOO GOOD AT IMPLEMENTING THERAPIES AND CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS AND PARENTS AND FOLLOWING THROUGH IN THE CLASSROOM! GOOD LUCK DOING YOUR FUCKING JOBS WITHOUT ME!” I inhaled; out of breath. I wasn’t done. “NOW YOU’LL ACTUALLY HAVE TO DO YOUR JOBS! OR MAYBE NOT? MOST OF YOUR PATIENTS ARE LITTLES! YOU DON’T HAVE TO FIX LITTLES! YOU JUST HAVE TO BREAK THEM IN JUST THE RIGHT WAY!” The whole gaggle of witches looked distinctly uncomfortable. Good.
“Clark,” It was Beouf. “You’re feeling some really big feelings, right now-”
“GO FUCK YOURSELF, MELONY!” She stopped, but her expression was passive. “YOU THINK YOU’RE SO GOOD WITH KIDS? YOU DON’T ACTUALLY WORK WITH KIDS! AND IF YOU ARE SO GOOD WITH THEM, WHY IS YOUR DAUGHTER KNOCKED UP AND MOVING BACK IN WITH YOU?! YOU SURE SET HER UP FOR SUCCESS!”
Everyone else looked shocked, disgusted, and distinctly uncomfortable. Beouf took my tongue lashing on the chin. I might as well have just said baby babble to her.
“CLARK GRANGE!” Janet leered over me, abomination of an outfit still in hand. “YOU APOLOGIZE RIGHT THIS-!”
“FUCK YOU, JANET!” I stared right back at her, defiant. Her teacher glare had no effect, and maybe, just maybe I had a little bit of my old mojo back in that moment. I was crying and screaming and had absolutely no ability to modulate my voice, but it was the most powerful, the most in control I’d felt in...well...forever. For once the Amazons were listening to me, really listening. No more mincing words. Time to speak my truth. My angry, angry, truth.
“IF YOU WERE FIT TO BE A WIFE MAYBE HUBBIE WOULDN’T HAVE SCREWED AROUND ON YOU! IF YOU WERE FIT TO BE A MOTHER- A REAL MOTHER-MAYBE HE WOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN HIS NUTS SNIPPED! MAYBE HE KNEW SOMETHING YOU DIDN’T! MAYBE EVERYBODY HERE IS SO SUPPORTIVE OF YOU PRETENDING TO BE A MOTHER BECAUSE THEY ALLLLL KNO-!”
A blur. Impossible speed and I was taken off my feet. Impossible strength and I was laid out, belly side first, down over Janet’s lap. The infantile mock up of my old dress code was abandoned on the living room floor, the back of my purple shirt was lifted up and my purple shorts were hiked down to my ankles. I could feel the shadow of her palm preparing to strike me.
I had won. I had broken Janet, and gotten her to show her true, typical Amazon colors. And my reward, I knew, was going to be the public beating of my life. The first time I’d been spanked by an Amazon, the bitch had been just trying to get me to comply.
Janet? Janet was mad. Full fucking furious.
I started peeing, the second round of apple juice having more than caught up in my bladder. Even through the padding, I knew, this was going to be the most physically and emotionally traumatizing thing in my life. This was going to hurt more than the last spanking, more than the bug zapper, more than anything I could imagine. Too late, I found that my terror outweighed my own righteous fury.
“PLEASE MOMMY!” I begged. “DON’T SPANK ME! I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I WAS NAUGHTY MOMMY! I’M SORRY!” I was lying and I knew it. Janet probably knew it too. “I’LL BE A GOOD BABY! I’LL BE GOOOOOOOOOD!”
Everyone else knew I was lying too. Through my own blubbering I saw distasteful looks and murmurs of “gotta learn”, and “consequences” and “discipline”. Only Beouf seemed to be in the minority. She stood there front and center, her arms folded over her chest. Was she staring at me? Janet? Both of us?
A roar of Janet’s own came screaming out. “GrrrrrrAAAAAAH!” I flinched and braced myself. This was the end.
But Janet’s hand did not strike me; any part of me. “Excuse me!” The world went into fast motion. Janet was carrying me through the crowd out of the living room and into the side hallway.
Into the nursery I was carried, holding my breath. Was she going to beat me in private? Gag me? Torture me? I was on my back, strapped down to the changing table. She squeezed the front of my diaper roughly. “Wet,” she whispered. My shorts were still somewhere in the living room.
Was she going to double diaper me and leave me to fester and stew in my own mess? Give me an enema? A suppository?
She changed me. She just changed me. It was rougher, angrier, than the last few she’d given me, but it was just a diaper change. Just as quickly, she plopped me in the crib. I stared up at her through my tears and saw that she had a crop of her own dribbling down.
“You’ve hurt Mommy’s feelings, and she’s very upset right now!” she said. Then she said something that pissed me off even more. “But I still love youuu…” Her voice went up a note as she choked back sobs.
She left the room and locked the door.
In the immediate silence, and the stunned quiet of the house, I could hear her sobbing; her guests shushing her in comforting terms.
Good. Let her scream and bawl and shout and sob about how unfair everything was. That meant no one would be able to hear me do the same.
X O · Oct 6, 2021I have just finished binging the entirety of this story up to now over the course of several days and I can honestly say that it is the most captivating story of yours that I have read so far. I'm really glad this chapter existed at the time when I read the story because I needed the catharsis of Clark snapping and telling off all the Amazon's present for the physical and psychological torture they are subjecting him to. I legit had trouble sleeping the last few nights while reading the story, waiting for the other shoe to drop and for Clark to fly a little too close to the sun. And once it happened, I read the entire rest of the story, unable to get it out of my head long enough to sleep soundly. I woke back up at 5am and read the last five chapters in a row. I suspect Janet didn't spank Clark because she had been reading Little Voices advocacy info and is trying to resist the aspects of her Amazonian impulses that compel her to violence in the face of Clark's anger and disrespect. It feels similar to what I imagine many parents experienced when the scientific literature started rejecting the notion of Corpoal Punishment as an effective means of parenting. As a character, Clark is compelling, relatable, and tells all the parts of his story necessary for me to see him as an adult being forced into what is essentially a babified , state sanctioned, abduction. The scene with the hair removal and the trip to the salon were more akin to the body horror genre, as they likely should be perceived in other stories. I can feel Clark struggling to hold onto his identity in the face of such monumental gaslighting. You have managed a level of realism in your characters, especially Clark, that feels like it actively rejects some of the more prevalent "Little should have been better prepared" victim blaming plotlines or "Little learns to accept their new life" quasi-stockholm trope srories. I really feel Clark's pain as he suffers through this horrible experience and it legitimately makes me uncomfortable. The indignation of the condescension he is subject to is something that hits me viscerally and definitely triggers a level of anxiety in myself that I haven't experienced since I was a child myself being told that I just "didn't understand" something when my parents or another adult weren't willing to engage with me on the topic lest they have to acknowledge that I had a point. I love the introduction of the Little Voices advocacy group into the Amazon story universe. I think it is a believable evolution of the archetype, utilizing the same level of pseudoscience and confirmation bias that we have in real life. It reminded me strongly of the organization Autism Speaks to the point where I wonder if that was the inspiration. From things like Little Voices to the process of Clark getting a new Social Security Number and the implications behind that, the Little community in hiding and able to break apart at a moment's notice, and the Little dark web,, there are so many evolutions of the genre in this story alone. I have always been impressed with your writing since I discovered your work, but I feel like this piece is on a completely different level. This isn't a genre-piece made to fulfill a non-con fantasy. It doesn't read like erotica or wish fulfillment at all. This story has the level of character develoent and world building on par with the published authors whose works I read. Thank you for writing this story and I cannot wait for the next installment.