Chapter Description: Clark is taken to meet the rest of his new "classmates".
I felt the two fingers pull back my pants, checking my diaper. Last time this had happened, I had the instinct to be very still. To freeze. To blush and slam my eyes closed in shock. To be a good and scared Little Boy and hope the big bad Amazon didn’t see any skid marks in my undies.
Months later, my instinct was to slap the hand probing into the back of my pants as hard I could. To stand defiant and assert my authority as an adult. To again yell “EXCUSE ME! DO YOU MIND?!” and make the giant woman startle and stutter and cower because of how surprised she was.
It’s weird. Times like this make me think that there’s no such thing as “instinct” where people are concerned. “Instinct” is just whatever anger or fear or lust or gluttony screams in our brain at any given moment. This time I went with it.
This time, I listened to “instinct”. Immediately, I regretted it.
I pivoted on one foot. “EXCU-!”
A finger was wagging in my face. “No, no, no!” Mrs. Zoge interrupted me. “Don’t be naughty, Clark! We do not hit in this classroom!” She was leaning over me, looming. The fight or flight clashed with itself and I didn’t know what to do. “Turn around so I can check you.” She pointed to the ground and made a twirling gesture, as if I didn’t understand.
I should have turned around and complied; pretended to be a good Little Boy. I wanted Zoge to lean over just a bit more so I could slap the hairspray off her head. I knew doing so would be a bad idea. Not even half-an-hour in and I was already risking losing my chance to see Cassie come day’s end.
Damn. I really was an adrenaline junky.
What did I do? I froze. Not out of intentional defiance. Not even stubbornness. I was just too caught up in the moment to react one way or the other. When adults pause, they can say they’re processing or considering their options. When kids do it, they’re being rebellious and defiant. I wasn’t an adult anymore.
“Fine,” Zoge said. “Have it your way.”
Floor zooming away from me. Quick steps and then I was horizontal. Staring again at the floor. I was face down. Across Zoge’s lap. One arm against my back.
I inhaled and flashed back to the baby shower. Like an opera singer getting ready to perform I got ready to belt out a litany of excuses and apologies. The Adopted Little’s Greatest Hits: No! Please Don’t! I’m Sorry! I’ll Be Good! I Promise! I Was Just Joking! I’ll Never Do It Again If You Don’t Spank Me! (And Many More…!)
I never got a chance. Zoge’s free hand came down, but not to slap my bottom. For the second time, she pulled the back of my pants open and took a good long look inside. “Hmmmm…” she said. “You’re not messy.” She picked me up and rotated me on her knee and bounced me up and down for a few seconds. “You’re a little wet,” she said. “But you don’t need changing.”
“I…” I stuttered. “I...no? I…?”
She noticed my frustration. My fear too. “Don’t worry,” she told me. “I told you we don’t hit here. ‘We’ means everyone; grown-ups too.”
She moved me from her lap and sat me in a chair. It was a tiny wooden one, small enough for a Little or an Amazon Pre-Kindergartener to sit in and have our feet touch the floor. “This is how I check squirmy and fussy babies,” she said. “If you just let me check you next time, you’ll have more time to play.”
“I…” I flustered. “But…” Zoge was already standing up and going to her supposed daughter. As far as she was concerned, I’d been sorted out.
Bullet dodged. Correction: Gun not even loaded. Yet no wave of relief came to me. I was too busy fuming at her misdiagnosis. I was not wet! My pants were perfectly clean and dry! Rationally, it shouldn’t have been a big deal. I knew they wouldn’t let me use the toilet today. Between my increasingly tender guts and just being pumped full of liquids with no alternative, I WAS going to defile myself at least once before school ended today.
I just wanted it to be on my terms…
And for some reason having Zoge of all people- Zoge who I’d reduced to tears and had bowed before me last school year and in no uncertain terms acknowledged my adulthood- think that I was playing around and fussing in wet pants drove a nail straight through my brain! But what was I supposed to do? Demand she check me again? Tell her to not bounce me on her knee to see if I squished and squelched, but to grope me between the legs and really get in there?
That was futile. That was madness. So all I could do was cross my arms and huff as Zoge lifted up the back of Ivy’s dress and checked her. Ivy didn’t flinch. Like a good girl, she stayed still and sucked her thumb while her Mommy peeked down the back of her diaper and reached around to check the leg cuffs for wetness. “Good girl,” she told Ivy. “So mature!”
Another example of the double-sided standards by how Amazons used the word “mature”. Ivy was somehow more mature than me for letting someone else stick their hand in her underwear and tell her if she was wet or dry. I was the bad one for wanting to assert my own agency. “Mature” is really just a word that Amazons use to describe a Little who meets their expectations from moment to moment.
Ivy said something I couldn’t understand. Zoge replied. It was all gibberish to me. They were speaking Yamatoan. Yamatoa, where all Littles are diapered and babied by law. A stray thought jolted into me just then.
What must it be like to be taken to a foreign land where literally everyone your size was treated like a baby without exception? Where all the “adults” spoke a language you didn’t understand, and your own language could be ignored as “baby-talk”?
It was bad enough here; but at least people my size not drinking from bottles wasn’t a foreign concept. That type of immersion in a place like Yamatoa would be just as toxic and mindfucking as any hypnotic cartoon, and infinitely more insidious.
No wonder Ivy was so broken, so full-native. Here, Littles like me were closer and closer to exceptions to the rule. Ivy had been stolen away to a place where there were no exceptions and she’d literally had to be indoctrinated to communicate with people bigger than her.
Goodness help Littles everywhere if Yamatoan culture ever became typical.
My own reverie was interrupted by the sound of the first bell ringing. The buses were coming in. Teachers had to be ready to accept students into their classrooms. Beouf’s class and mine (they were still MY students) would be gathering at the bus loop to go to breakfast.
Ivy waddled up and took me by the hand. “Time to go, Clark.” That gave Zoge a good chuckle. She’d trained her slave well. She took Ivy’s other hand and started to lead us to the door.
“What were you just talking about?” I asked. “With your…” I swallowed, already hating the taste of the word before I’d said it, “Mommy?
“I wanted a new diaper,” she said, casually. “A pink one to match my dress. Mommy says I’m still clean and dry. I have to wait.” My stomach churned again, this time threatening to eject topside. Is that really what Littles like Ivy cared about?
A shadow went by the door, and I froze. A kid! A student! The first buses were already unloading and students were walking on campus to their classrooms! Right past Mrs. Beouf’s! If we walked to the bus, they’d see me! So many of them would see me!
Logically, this couldn’t be avoided. Logically, a man in the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks should just dunk his head and take a deep breath. Better to drown before getting eaten. Just get it over with. Logic has very little to do with how things work out. Sometimes you just gotta tread water and hope you can punch that Great White in the nose. That or try and make him choke as he swallows you.
I dug my heels in and leaned back. Right at the door, Zoge and Ivy stopped. I tensed as I saw another blur- maybe a second or third grader- go by. I felt their strength right then and there. Even Ivy felt like she could drag me along if she wanted to. They were stopping, but not because I was slowing them down at all. The two of them could crack me like a whip. Only simple courtesy kept me from being dragged along.
“Clark?” Mrs. Zoge asked. “What’s wrong honey?” I was still being given the benefit of the doubt. Time to use it.
“Um…” I looked around. Had to stall. Delay the inevitable. The more time I stayed inside, the fewer people would see me crinkling around in a sailor outfit. “Can you show me around the classroom?” I asked. “Give me a tour.”
Beouf’s assistant clicked her tongue. No dice. “You’ve been here enough times, Clark.” Her free hand went back to the handle.
“But I never really paid attention before…!” I lied. “I never needed to.”
Hand still on the handle, Zoge said, “Ivy can show you around if you want after we pick your classmates up and come back from breakfast.” She started to turn the handle.
“I’M WET!” I yelped. “REALLY WET!” It’s all I could think of to stall.
Zoge narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips. An adult trying to sus out if she was being lied to. “You’re fine.”
“I know you just checked me,” I said, “but I think I went pee-pee even more! I don’t wanna leak!” I pouted my lip out and made big saucers out of my eyes that a puppy dog would envy. “Pleeeeeeease!”
More hesitation. Her hand was off the handle. She was wrestling internally. She’d put Ivy in a fresh diaper just before going to the bus loop I don’t know how many times. If she really thought I was a baby, it’d be hard not to give me the same consideration. Amazons hated looking like hypocrites. I turned over my shoulder towards the bathroom. As usual, the door was wide open, the changing table in easy view. “The Little’s bus won’t even be here for another five minutes.” I said. “We’ve got time…” A bit of truth to add icing to the lie.
I could see it in her face. I was winning. Even then in the doorway I was winning. Every second I was concealed from the general campus was a Little victory. Add in the time it would take to change me- pants down, diaper open, frown because the diaper was clean all along (bonus!), diaper back on, pants up...maybe even a bit longer if she debated on whether or not to get a fresh diaper or hope that the adhesiveness of the old tapes would do the trick- and the bulk of students headed straight to class would have passed us by. Damn, I might actually be getting good at this.
Zoge took the third option. Releasing Ivy’s hand, she took a knee and wormed her hand up the baggy leg of my shorts. I locked my knees when she snuck her fingers past the leakguards of my diaper. My genitals wanted to retreat inside me when the back of her pointer brushed up against them. The fact that Ivy still held my hand firmly in her grasp didn’t help.
“Hmmm…” Zoge said. “You’re still dry.” She rubbed some baby powder from her fingers onto her thumb. “Completely dry.” She reached over and grabbed a wet wipe from the cubbies by the door and cleaned off her fingers. “I guess we both made a mistake, huh?”
Damn. I’d never figured Zoge for the “measure twice, cut once,” type. Or in this case, the phrase was “check twice, change once”.
Just my typical luck.
No more time was wasted. Door open. Fresh air. Full exposure. Nothing to do but be led around by a super-strong thirty year old toddler and her psychotic Mommy while pretending that the cement beneath my shoes was the most interesting thing in the world.
No eye contact was made. Bodies went by in a blur. My heartbeat was in my ears with every Amazon footfall. “No running!” I heard Mrs. Zoge call after some kids. At least she didn’t stop. I didn’t try to see any faces along the way. I couldn’t recognize any voices. Not even I could recognize someone by their shoes.
We reached the end of the building, and walked that terrible distance in the open to the bus loop. The majority of the buses were in the midst of unloading. The kids getting off and mingling and mixing on their way to class or the cafeteria. Their voices and conversations mixing into a high pitched garble that even a chipmunk had no hope of deciphering.
And still I heard everything...
“Is that Mr. Gibson?”
“He’s with one of the baby teachers!”
“Why is he dressed like that? Is he wearing a diaper?”
“I heard he always wore diapers. He just hid it good.”
“He pooped his pants last week! He’s a baby now!”
“Toldja he was a baby.”
“Every Little’s a baby.”
I heard it all...even though none of them actually said anything like that. Paranoia is a hell of a drug.
What I actually heard was the tired screeching of brakes as the last two buses pulled up. Mrs. Beouf walked up. “You go ahead and unload,” she told Zoge. “I’ll watch Ivy and Clark.”
Mrs. Zoge nodded. As always, she leaned over. “You be good.” This time, it was addressed to both Ivy and me.
I made no reply. No reply was good enough. Zoge went to the bus to unload the other prisoners; unbuckling them from harnesses and baby seats that none of them had a chance of undoing on their own.
My left hand still trapped in Ivy’s grip, I looked to my right and saw the Pre-school bus just behind the Little’s transport. Dressed up like she was coming into a job interview and just far enough away that I couldn’t hear what she was saying over the engines, a certain Tweener stood straight and tall.
It hurt to see Tracy like that: Not the school-marmish blouse and brown skirt combo, though that was still unusually formal for her. It was the way she stood there; waiting for the doors to the bus; not looking at me.
I could have stared holes in her. There was a deliberateness in how she ignored me, how she didn’t even shift her gaze over to Beouf. She was practically a soldier at attention, waiting for the bus doors to open. She knew what had happened last week. There was no way she didn’t. She knew I was standing there, looking like a resentful toddler; there was no way she didn’t.
She wouldn’t even look at me. I had expected to see something from her; anything. A look of guilt that she’d abandoned me to the giants. A sad and sympathetic smile, perhaps; to indicate that she hadn’t but there was nothing she could do to help. She didn’t even go along with the gaslighting and give me a cheery smile and a friendly wave.
It was like I didn’t exist to her.
That hurt. That really hurt.
My gaze shifted up. Standing behind Tracy was an Amazon; another teacher...my replacement, perhaps. She was heavy set, even for an Amazon, with middle-aged wrinkles and a piggish nose and multiple chins. She was dressed almost identically to Tracy; or more likely Tracy was dressed as a miniature version of her.
Janet wasn’t the only Amazon who liked matching her outfit to someone smaller than her.
The doors to the last bus opened, as just like the old routine we’d set in place, it was Tracy who climbed the stairs to escort our students off the bus. Routine, and perhaps the fact that the intruding teacher would have a hard time in those heels. Seriously...who wore heels when working with three and four year olds?
Something about her bothered me, and it wasn’t just her mean mug. Where had I seen her before? I scanned her carefully, wracking my brain. It was the purse! I’d seen that purse before!
The last time I’d seen this stranger, her purse had been filled with a rattle, a bottle of juice, and a diaper that had just barely managed to poke itself out. This was the woman who had tried to help Brollish set me up! I’d just been too sleep deprived and quietly terrified to take anything else about her sink in. And now it looked like she had my job...
Beouf squatted down in front of me, obstructing my view. “I talked with your Mommy, Clark.” I blinked and focused on her. “She told me that you’re getting a special treat at the end of today, but only if I tell her you were good. Do you understand?”
Sullenly, I nodded. Yeah. I understood. Beouf was in on the plan. If I pushed too hard, too fast, or made any big scenes today, I’d never get to see Cassie ever again. The pain still fresh, even the hope of seeing her was the thing keeping me afloat.
I made myself look away: Away from the pretender who’d taken my place. Away from the fair weather friend who refused to acknowledge me. Away from the two-faced traitor who had just been waiting for me to fail.
I had to keep calm. I had to keep my shit together.
Zoge came out with two Littles, one on each hip. The boy had a gray onesie with a cartoon cactus on it that complimented his eyes. “Free Hugs” it read. For some reason, his bare legs stood out even more because of the socks and sneakers on his feet. The girl’s nearly white blonde ringlets spilled over her face. Her checkered romper dress looked every bit the infantile mockery of the real thing as my own sailor suit. Unlike Ivy’s outfit, hers at least covered her diaper once Zoge set her down and pulled it straight.
“Billy, Annie,” Mrs. Beouf said to them, “link up.”
Billy took my hand. Annie took his. Now I was well and fully trapped. Cold comfort that I’d trapped Billy with me and Billy took Annie.
A double take. Billy looked at me and his mouth hung open slightly. He didn’t speak, but I saw him move his lips. “Gibson…”
I’d been made. Recognized. I saw the shock in his eyes. The anger. The hatred. The cold satisfaction. I felt a hard squeeze. Not painful. Just rough enough to let me know it could be.. I didn’t dare call out. Didn’t whine. Didn’t flinch.
Billy jerked his head away. Gave Annie’s hand a squeeze and jerked his head. Another double take. Another look of recognition. Shock. Anger. Hatred. Grim pleasure.
“Shauna. Mandy, link up.”
So the chain continued. In hushed whispers and hurried looks, every Little that had more than a week of experience in Beouf’s care was alerted to my presence.
“Jesse and Tommy. Link up.”
Some looked sad for me. Some seemed morbidly curious.
“Link up, Sandra Lynn.”
None of them seemed happy to see me. I wasn’t a new classmate. I was fresh meat.
Chaz came out last, still stroller bound and diaper uncovered. At least it didn’t look like he’d worn it overnight. “WHOAH!” he shouted. “DUDE! THEY GOT YOU, TOO?”
My face filled up with red pokers. I almost wanted a pacifier just then so I’d have something to bite into.
“Yes, Chaz,” Beouf said calmly and loud enough so that everyone- even the actual children right behind us- could hear. “We have a new classmate today. We’ll make introductions after breakfast, but I’m sure you’ll all get to be good friends together.”
“YAY!” Ivy, of course.
No one else said anything. The silence was answer enough. This was going to be a long day.
Zoge handed the stroller off to Beouf and took Ivy’s hand. “Okay, boys and girls,” she said; her voice still had that odd and irritating musicality to it. “Let’s go get some num-nums in our tum-tums.”
This was going to be a very, very long day...