Chapter Description: Clark spends a night with his new babysitter. Janet's best friend and his "Auntie", Jessica.
The television clicked off. The Muffets were on and Lita Coreno was about to do her famous rendition of ‘Fever’, arguably the bit that first made the show in Season 1. It was a classic, and something I felt I needed to watch right then.
I pounced up to my feet, letting the blanket slide off my bare legs. “Hey I was watching tha-!” I froze in embarrassment, realizing that I was in nothing but a diaper, again. The locking mittens over my hands didn’t count as clothes to me.
Jessica stifled a giggle. “You’ve only got another hour before bed,” she said. “Do you really want to spend the rest of your time watching T.V.?”
“Ask a silly question…”
That day had not been good to say the least. As opposed to the inspirational mischief I’d achieved on Tuesday, and the catharsis of Wednesday, Thursday had gone particularly poorly for yours truly. At first, I’d tried crying all day but couldn’t get it up to snuff quickly enough.
“Don’t start that again, Clark,” Beouf warned. “You’re just being silly.”
True enough. I’d come across enough fake criers in my time to know when I was trying to be one. Grieving is a process. Emotions come and go and one can’t force them. Best to just explore them while they’re happening, and they weren’t happening right then.
My second mistake was deciding that I’d ‘whoops’ all day. No, that had nothing to do with the state of my pants, though I was quickly finding out that the aftershocks of the training chocolate weren’t done with me. Holding it in for upwards of a minute was still next to impossible, I just got painful warnings before the explosions occurred.
‘Whoops’, in this instance, was my attempt at ‘painting the frog’ all day long: Grab a crayon and drop it. “Whoops!” Bottle ends up on the floor and rolling under the table. “Whoops”. Pacifier becomes unclipped. “Whoops”. Puzzles; “Whoops”; paper, “Whoops” me trying to ‘help’ by grabbing a whole stack of diapers from beneath Beouf’s changing table. “Whoops!”
On paper it should have been good. It was good...for a while. But one of many bad parts about legally being a baby is that eventually Grown-Ups can just decide to not put up with you anymore. That’s how my hands ended up in mittens, courtesy of Sosa the Occupational Therapist.
My present state of undress came during dinner when Jessica chose to disrobe me for ease of clean-up. She hadn’t bothered to give me back my pants, and offered me a blanket instead. At least I’d gotten to zone out and watch T.V.
“Come on!” Jessica tried to coax me. “Let’s play! Get some of that energy out!”
I’d just wanted to tune out my surroundings and drown in nostalgia until unconsciousness claimed me. This woman wanted to play. Which one of us was supposed to be the adult again?
“I don’t want to play,” I said as evenly as I could. “I just want to… I just want to…” I couldn’t say what I wanted to do. “Just please. Let me be. I’ve had a bad… everything.”
Jessica, skinny, flat chested, and unimpressive for an Amazon, but still several times my size strode up to me, sat down and crossed her legs. “Wanna tell Auntie Jessica about it?” She patted the nest she’d made with her thighs inviting me to sit in it.
“You’re not my aunt,” I said. “And Janet’s not my mother.” One full week of me being snatched up and my life turning upside down because of a shart; less than twenty-four hours after Janet made that heartfelt declaration of love for me; and she’d already decided she was stressed out and needed a night off from being a ‘parent’.
Jessica seemed to get defensive. “Janet, I mean your Mommy is doing her best to learn how to make you happy and you’re not making it any easier for her.”
“Easy?” I scoffed. “Easy? She thought taking a grown man and forcing him to be her baby was going to be easy?”
Now she scoffed. “It’s not her fault that you poopied right in front of everyone. She’s just trying to figure some stuff out. Most mothers have at least a couple of months to figure everything out.”
I opened my mouth to reply and came up short. Damn. She was right. Janet had benefited from my downfall, but I had no real reason to believe she’d caused it. Time to change the subject. “What does that make you, then?”
“Her best friend,” Jessica said plainly enough. “Her sister from another mister.” Then she dared, “Your Auntie.”
“You’re not my aunt.”
“Your babysitter then.”
I sighed. I knew where this was going. “Can I at least have my shorts back?”
“They’re only gonna come off when it’s time for bed, anyhow,” Jessica replied. She was still sitting down, hoping I’d come cuddle with her. Good luck with that...
“This diaper isn’t going to make it to bedtime either,” I retorted. “Does that mean I can walk around nude?”
“No, silly. Little babies need their diapers.” Like a cobra, two fingers had shot down past the leg cuff. “You’re a little wet, though. Do you want me to change you?”
Another no-win question. I’d gone underneath the blanket, anticipating a losing potty argument. I’d been right. Still...a question was an invitation to negotiation. Negotiation determined measures of control.
This Amazon was Janet’s best friend. Someone Janet had gossipped about me to and was determined to see me as Janet did and was even pushier about being called ‘Auntie’ than Janet was for ‘Mommy’. She’d probably be another one of Beouf’s disciples if she had a Little of her own.
She didn’t have a Little of her own, though. She had all of Janet’s cosseting, but no one to infantilize. No Clark to call her own. She had an Amazon crush on who she perceived me to be and absolutely zero experience with the real me.
Maybe I could use this...
“If I let you change me now, can I wear pajamas?” I asked.
A smirk. The recognition of a hint of a challenge. “When I change you,” she replied, “I’ll dress you up in your jammies, yes.”
Oh the power of language to assert control, demean, and subvert. A true Amazon. I could work with this, though. I really could.
“Can I get the mittens off, too?” I asked. “My hands are all hot and icky”
Her mouth cocked to the side. “I don’t know...Janet told me how you’d been acting up today.” Of course she had.
“Did my Mommy say I had to leave them on till tomorrow?” I asked.
Bingo. I knew I’d won as soon as I’d called Janet the M-word. “Well...she didn’t specifically say that...but I didn’t ask.”
“But she didn’t specifically say,” I grinned, hoping my smile came off as precocious or whatever people used to describe a child with charmingly adult-like qualities.
Jessica got up. “Okay. You got it, kiddo. Diaper change. Jammies. No more mittens.” Heh. Kiddo. Based on this exchange we were more similar than she’d ever want to admit. If shrinking rays were a thing she’d be more likely to pass as a classmate than as a babysitter. “Deal?”
Miracle of miracles, she reached down with one hand and left it there for me to shake.
I took it, grasping her palm like it was victory itself. “Deal.”
I lifted both arms up at an angle, and Jessica yanked me up by the armpits and onto her hip. Sad to say but I was already getting used to this sort of thing. “Let’s go get changed,” the sitter said.
Riding around Janet’s house was hardly a novel experience. Outside of my nursery, and the living room, everywhere else required me to travel on someone else’s hip. I’d never even seen the inside of Janet’s bedroom.
Jessica plopped me down on the changing table. I reached up and wiggled my wrists. “Mittens first, please.”
“Please is the magic word,” Jessica responded immediately. She reached over to my wrists and undid the latches with a grip much stronger than mine and fingers more dexterous than the mittens allowed me to be.
I wiggled my fingers as if it were the first time using them while Jessica’s hands went to undo the tapes on my Monkeez. I barely flinched. It’s strange how quickly I forgot to be embarrassed; actually forgot.
Jessica had never seen me dressed as an adult or otherwise known me as ‘Mr. Gibson’. We were alone with no one left in the entire house, with no one to witness my position. She was being good about not commenting or narrating anything as she wiped me down and such, possibly lost in her own head considering how much she’d wanted to change me at the shower. To top it all off, after the new diaper was on, something would come to cover it up. Best of a bad situation, really.
Speaking of that: “Whoah! Whoah! Whoah!” I called out just as Jessica was unfolding a super thick Nighttime Monkeyz. “Not that one!”
“Why not?” Jessica said. “You’re about to go into your jammies. Might as well have your night diaper on.”
“It’s really hard to move around in those things!” I said. “It’s almost like a pillow.”
So? So? Crap, I needed a reason to...to...idea! “How are we supposed to play if I can barely move?”
Laying down, completely naked, I shrugged. “Why not?” I quickly added, “My pajamas all have snaps in them. You can change me into one before you put me down for the night.”
That was enough. A regular daytime diaper took its place beneath me and I was powdered and taped in. The jammies I was buttoned into were sky blue, but at least the feet had tiny grips in the soles so that I could walk without sliding around too much.
“So what do you want to play, cutie?” I was back on her hip and being taken back to the living room. Jessica’s grin was almost identical to Janet’s that first day that she took me. If she hadn’t told me that she and Janet weren’t related, I might’ve assumed based on that look alone.
I looked around the room. I’d written a check to keep my thighs closer together. Now my ass had to cash it. “Um...I dunno.” I said.
The babysitter was more than willing to help. “Peekaboo?”
“I mean you ride on my back, not my knee“ the technically more adult of us said.
She looked over to the unfolding obstacle course. “We could…”
“You’re just full of ‘no’ all of a sudden, aren’t you Little guy?”
I exhaled and looked around the room. I was alone with a baby crazy Amazon that I’d just had some success at negotiating with. How could I turn this to my advantage?
Inspiration! “Hide and seek?” I asked. “Whole house?”
Jessica puckered her lips in thought. “I don’t know…”
The more I thought about it, the more I knew it was a good idea. What better way to get into every nook and cranny of this place than to pretend to be looking for a hiding spot? “Come on,” I goaded her. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
“You might try to run away.” Janet’s friend said quickly enough. She wasn’t cosseting on me so hard as to be completely oblivious to the fact that I was a Little and not regressed. It was only natural to assume that I’d book it.
I gestured to the kitchen where the nearest door was. “Come on!” I said. “All the doors are baby proofed with those special knob things.” I hated using words like baby in place of Little; I was just playing to my audience. “And look at me. Even if I do get away, where am I going to go dressed like this?”
“You could get hurt, and I won’t be there to save you.”
My arms fidgeted, and I had to use my willpower to keep them still instead of gesticulating wildly. “This is the suburbs! It’s not like a great beast is going to eat me or something!” Oh, the absurdity of it all!
“Yeah, but you might hurt yourself trying to hide from me or get out. You could get stuck, or crushed, or trapped.”
I exhaled. “Fair point. Okay. So...boundaries? Certain places where neither one of us is allowed to go.”
Come on Clark, I thought. You can do this. Control the conversation. Set the rules, even if you’re going to break them.
Jessica hemmed and hawed for a moment. “Alright. Let’s talk boundaries. No hiding in the oven.”
Yikes! Did she really think I was so…? I stopped myself. I could use this. “Okay. No oven. No refrigerator either. Cabinets are okay though.”
“That sounds safe enough,” Jessica. “No trying to get into the dryer or the washing machine, either.”
I made a show of thinking. “Can I hide in the garbage cans?” I had no desire to hide in the garbage cans. This was about getting concessions more than extra spots. Also extra options on her mind could only help me.
“Ewww!” Jessica’s nose wrinkled. “No way. You’ll get disgusting and I’m not giving you a bath so close to your bedtime.”
“Empty them first,” I said.
I kicked at the carpet a bit. “Okay, okay. What about laundry baskets and hampers?”
“That’s okay.” Jessica replied. She looked around the room. “Hiding under chairs and tables is okay, too, but no messing with the sofa. You could get hurt.”
The game within a game was getting me excited. “What about the bathtub? Under my crib?”
“All good,” she said. “Anything else?”
“Yeah,” I said. “No messing with the lights when you hide. No fair turning the lights off to make you harder to find.”
“Harder to find?” Jessica ran a hand through her short brown hair. “I’m not hiding. I’m seeking.”
I had anticipated this. “What? Where’s the fun in that? We take turns.” I’d been hiding from Amazons in some form or another my entire life. Why not change it up a bit? More importantly, the seeker had greater freedom of movement.
.Clearly she imagined herself leisurely walking through the house calling my name. ‘Wheeeere’s Clark?’ “I’m too big to hide in this house,” the Amazon chuckled
“So you think you’re gonna lose,” I goaded her. “That’s an interesting way to play it.”
She got that exact same look of iron willed competitiveness that I’d seen in Ivy Zoge’s face on Monday. Who says Amazons and Littles are that different? “If I chose to hide, kiddo, you’d never find me.”
“Oh really?” I said. “Care to make a bet?”
“What kind of a bet?” she asked.
“A simple bet,” I suggested. “We take turns. Every time I find you… I get a cookie.”
A look of understanding and recognition came across Jessica’s face. “Ooooooh! So that’s why you want to play hide and seek. You want a game you can win so that you can get a cookie!” More like I wanted to appear to be interested in something besides snooping around. I looked away trying to seem bashful. “Okay. What do I get when I find you?” she asked.
I thought. What did I have to offer her? What to get for the girl who might not have everything, but it doesn’t matter because you have no credit card? “You can...tickle me?”
Score! Again the hand came out, rather like an equal. “Deal!”
We shook. She took out her phone and played with it for a moment. “One minute to hide. Five minutes to look. If the alarm goes off first, hider wins.”
I didn’t like the time limit on snooping, but I knew where to push. “Deal.”
“Oh, and no going into your Mommy’s room. I just don’t think she’d like it.”
“What?” I whined. “We didn’t negotiate that.”
“Sorry, kiddo. Them’s the breaks.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m older than you!”
She didn’t seem too bothered by that fact. “Take it or leave it.”
I huffed. “Fine.” I was totally going into that room. If I wasn’t before, I was after that exchange.
Jessica showed me the app on her phone. A one minute timer on vibrate followed by a five minute timer on speaker. “You hide first. Ready! Set! Go!”
She put the phone down and covered her eyes. I started looking around for a place to hide. A bad one, too. I was planning pool shark tactics. Lure in my pursuer’s interest by lowering her expectations. Play just enough to give a feeling that I was doing it for real instead of biding time.
Even with no life left to live, the fantasy of escape kept coming back to me. I wouldn’t escape tonight, but I could at least get the information that would eventually lead to my escape.
Internally, I started counting to sixty. Memorize the doors, observe the windows. Nothing to it. There was the nursery, the guest bathroom, the greeting area, the living room, the kitchen, and Janet’s room.
A couple air conditioning vents made me pause and consider. It did not last long though. The vent was small, even for me. I couldn’t rip the tapes off a diaper; forget taking a grate off. No go on the grates.
“Ready or not! Here I come!”
I shuffled quickly into my nursery and hid behind the curtain. It was a bad hiding spot. The curtain didn’t even come down to my ankles. Nobody would be fooled by this. That was the point.
“Claaaaark?” Jessica called out. “Where arrrrrre yoooooou?! Wheeeeeeere’s Clark?!” Ha! Called it! Her footsteps were practically thunder in the house. “Wheeeere’s Clark?!”
I decided to speed up the inevitable and forced a childish giggle. “Hee-hee! Hee-heee!” I covered my own eyes and shuffled my feet in place. Maybe Amazons were secretly tuned into the crinkle? I didn’t know.
“THERE HE IS!” I felt the woosh of the curtain being pulled back. I heard Jessica stifle laughter. “Awwww, Clark! It doesn’t work like that.”
“I know,” I sighed.
“You know what that meeeeans?” Already, Jessica’s fingers were moving like spider’s legs. “Iiiit’s tickle time!”
I pressed myself up against the wall and let the panic fill my eyes. “Wait!” I called out. “If I find you, will I get a cookie right away?”
“Hmm?” Jessica grunted. She clearly hadn’t considered that. “No. I think if you get any cookies, you’ll have to wait till we’re done playing.” She started making like a cat that had cornered a mouse.
“Then how is it fair,” I asked, “that you tickle me every time you find me?”
The tickle monster stopped. “Fair enough,” she said. “But I’m gonna give you a really big tickle before bed then! It’ll be worth two or three tickles put together!”
“Good thing I’m wearing a diaper, then,” I replied. Those are seven words I never thought I’d say in that order.
The thought of somehow tickling me until I peed myself caused Jessica to bubble up. “Okay,” she said. “Your turn.” She grabbed my hand and led me back to the living room. She took her phone out and reset it. “Ready?”
She had no idea.
“Close your eyes.”
I inhaled and slowed my breathing; waiting the full minute until the phone vibrated. No sense in cheating. Not yet. Not like this. I didn’t actually want that cookie. I started to prowl through the house, doing my best to hope that the diaper wouldn’t give away my position. Neither did I call out Jessica’s name. I didn’t want her to know where I was. Now was the time to really hide.
Walking past a hall closet towards my nursery, I caught a hint of a shadow coming out from underneath a door. I didn’t hear words, but I heard the same giggling I’d heard moments before. Such a shame. She was totally going to win. No cookie for me. Oh well.
I about-faced and walked as quietly as I could across the house to Janet’s bedroom. I wasn’t supposed to go in there, and I had less than five minutes to snoop what I could before the alarm on Jessica’s phone went off.
The door was left open just a crack and I slid myself inside, making sure that I wouldn’t have to jump if I wanted to open the door back up. So this is what Janet’s room looked like! The room was painted a light, almost flamingo pink. Closer to rose petal, come to think of it. Oddly calming. The far side of the room had a computer desk and desktop, very similar to what I’d used...before.
Likewise, the master bathroom was connected to the bedroom, just like...before. The bathroom was smaller, mine was...had been nicer, but it did the trick, especially for a woman living on her own. A sink, a mirror, a medicine cabinet, a toilet, and a shower. Nothing fancy.
The shower had a screened in window, the kind with the warped distorted glass that would let sunlight in without anyone being able to see inside the shower. I fantasized a scenario in which I could somehow reach that high, toss a big enough brick to shatter it, crawl through the window and drop to the outside without breaking a leg.
Back in the bedroom proper a vanity mirror sat across the bed where I would’ve put a chest of drawers. Janet kept makeup and jewelry on the stand and I could just imagine her putting on her finishing touches each morning before coming to wake me up. The walk in closet made up for the relative smallness of the bathroom.
It was half the size of the Braun’s trailer...and just like that I made myself sad again. It was also very empty, only half full... and just like that I felt a bit of dark pleasure.
The real centerpiece of the room, however, was Janet’s bed. Incredibly big, even for Amazon furniture, it looked extremely messy; a mountain of mattress, pillows, and disheveled comforters. Janet had fallen out of the habit of making it, it seemed. More important was the headboard. Massive, to the point of being gaudy, the head of the bed was actually a thick set of glass cabinets holding china and silverware.
Someone liked breakfast in bed. Up at the very top were fancy glasses; champagne flutes, martini glasses, and the like. Someone liked more than just breakfast in bed. Mimosas perhaps? To the right of the headboard, just where an Amazon could easily reach if they were sitting up- or a Little might steal if he were standing on the mattress- was a dark black bottle. A cabinet with fine dishes to break was one thing. ‘Whoops!’ I was nothing if not spiteful.
The bottle is what really drew me in, however. There was something that I hadn’t been in a long time: drunk. Time to fix that.
I scurried up the mattress. My diaper was still dry and just thin enough that I could make a decent jump of it and pull myself the rest of the way up. The mattress didn’t squeak under my weight and I couldn’t hear the rustling of the soft plastic as I zipped and scrambled over pillows and bunched up sheets.
Not much time now. Any second the alarm would go off and I would lose. I wouldn’t get this opportunity again tonight. I leaned out and grabbed the handle of the unlocked liquor cabinet. It opened out from the bed.
Digging my fingers into another built-in cabinet I leaned out as far as I could and grasped at the bottle. Full! Very full! So full I almost dropped it! It was practically a baby in weight; a real one. Setting it down on the mattress, I rotated the bottle, looking for a label.
No name on the bottle; just a symbol. A white boney hand holding a red oblong shape. I squinted and mused. Did no name make it expensive? Was I about to waste really good booze? What was it? Vodka? Wine? Did I care?
Wedging the bottle between my legs, I held it in place with my knees while I unscrewed the lid. Sniffing at the bottle, my nose wrinkled at just a whiff! “Ooof!” I said involuntarily. This stuff was strong! It made sense that Amazons would have liquor this potent. They’d need it just to feel a slight buzz.
The sound of an alarm faintly going off in the distance made my ears prick up. Time! Out of time! “claaaark?” I heard the distant voice of Jessica echo on the other side of the house. “Claaaaark?” I was going to be in so much trouble!
“Whelp,” I whispered, gathering up my courage. “If I’m going to be in trouble, I might as well make it worth it.” I stood up on the mattress, opened my mouth as wide as it would go so as to fit around the bottle’s massive rim, gripped it with both hands and then tilted back as far as I could.
In that split second, I imagined the scene as Jessica might perceive it. Coming and looking for me and finding a ‘baby’ nursing on a very different kind of bottle. This was going to hurt, but it’d be worth it. Worst case scenario, I reckoned, I could plug it with my lips to stem the tide if the booze burned a bit too much.
Mistake! BIG MISTAKE!
FIRE! MY ENTIRE MOUTH WAS INSTANTLY ON FIRE! Inside the lips, tongue, back and the throat, everything burned! Cheeks! Gums! Uvula! Someone had taken a match to the inside of my fucking skull! It burned, and not just in the way that all alcohol burns!
The first three to four gulps had been just me chugging without thinking. I was not going to bed sober, no siree! I didn’t make it to a fifth swallow. My gag reflex was already fighting me. I exhaled and felt the burning, stinging, pain in my nostrils.
It hurt! So much! Pain! It was like an Amazon spanking to the inside of my face! Stupidly, I puckered my lips. That only made more of my face burn. “FUUUUUUUUUUU-!” I screamed, heaving the bottle to my side while I sat up.
Gasoline! I must have chugged a bottle of gasoline. I’d need my stomach pumped!
“AAAAAAAAH!” I was crying, my eyes tearing up while I screamed and wiped at my tongue in agony. Breathing? Breathing only made it worse! “MOTHER FUUUUUU-!” I rolled on the mattress, licking the comforter in a bizarre and futile attempt to make the hurting stop. I didn’t roll far enough, and soon my tongue touched upon a gasoline soaked bedsheet as the puddle spread on Janet’s bed, and the whole thing started over again.
Thunderous running over my howls of pain, but I still drowned them out with my own yelping. “OOOOOOOOOOW!”
The door slammed open.
“FUCK FUCK FUCK! GODDAMNIIIIIIT!” I stopped swallowing and started drooling. It didn’t help the hurt any. Might’ve even made it worse.
“Clark? Baby, what’s wrong!”
Gasping for breath I pointed to the spilled bottle with one hand while I stupidly wiped my mouth with the other. “WHY?” I felt like I was breathing fire. My eyes felt like they were shooting lasers out of them. “WHY DOES….?” Talking hurt. I didn’t want to talk. Staying still hurt. I didn’t want to stay still. I kept flailing my arms and pumping my legs on the mattress just to distract myself.
A thousand invisible ants had crawled into my throat and were biting me from the inside out. The tube! It was like the tube that Beouf had shoved me down into, only on the inside! IT BURNED!
Jessica picked up the bottle and looked at the logo. She gasped. I went to wipe my eyes. “Clark! No!”
Too late. The pain doubled in my eyes. I was no longer just crying because of how much everything below the nose hurt, now my eyes were on fire too.
I didn’t need to see to understand that I was being picked up and carried out of Janet’s room. “Shit shit shit shit shit shit!” Jessica cursed.
I also didn’t need to see to be able to scream. Which I did. A lot. “WHYYYYYYYYY?!” So many questions. Why did it hurt? Why did it hurt so much? Why wasn’t it stopping? Why was I so fucking stupid as to put something in my mouth if I didn’t know what it was? I had not a single answer to these questions just then, so a single syllable of “WHYYYYYYYY?!” had to do.
“Clark? Open your mouth for me.” Jessica had lost all of the cutesy inflections in her voice. “Open your mouth, baby.”
It hurt more to breathe through my nose than my mouth, so I didn’t put up much resistance. Not a second later, something cold and creamy squirted into my mouth. I latched onto the bottle without hesitation. “MMmm...Mmmmm..” The cold, fatty stuff, filled my mouth and glided down my throat and it still wasn’t enough. The fire inside was dying, but still too slowly for me to be comfortable.
It was a relief however. “Hold still,” Jessica said, her voice still with worry. I felt wipes, first wet then dry, drag across my face. “Keep drinking. Open your eyes if you can.” Gradually, I blinked open, more tears came out, but it was hurting less. My sockets were flushing themselves out.
My lips still felt on fire and I kept sucking them into my mouth. Jessica saw my face and took the bottle from me. “Close your mouth a second.“ I did, even though breathing through my nose still felt like I had nostrils filled with angry wasps. She squirted some milk directly onto my lips, and the pain started to go away one awful second at a time.
Greedily, I opened my mouth and accepted the nipple again. “That’s right,” she whispered to me. “Drink it up. There’s at least one more prepped in the fridge and at least a couple gallons more to pour in if you need it.”
Pathetically I nodded and kept suckling while she bobbed me lightly in her arms. I took the chance to test my throat when the bottle was empty. “What,” I gasped. “Was...that...shit…?”
My babysitter put the second bottle to my lips and waited for me to drink. “That was ghost pepper tequila. It’s spicy, even for Amazons. What did you think it was?”
I let up sucking long enough to answer. “Wine? Vodka?” I latched back on immediately. It still hurt to have an empty mouth. Jessica’s eyes brightened up. I got the same look when I wanted to laugh but didn’t dare for fear of hurting a child’s feelings. She’d laugh about this much much later, though. I could just tell.
“Honey, there aren’t any Little drinks in this house, I’m sure. All of your stuff is in the fridge where it belongs, not in your Mommy’s liquor cabinet by her bed.”
My mouth let go of the nipple. “Please...don’t...tell...Mommy.” I was beyond embarrassed at my situation. Using the M-word was a low blow meant to manipulate her emotions. No point in letting pride hold me back. The trick worked, just not how I thought it would.
“You think I’m gonna tell on myself?” she said. “No chance. Janet would never let me babysit you again if she found out what I let you do.”
Jessica carted me to my room. She put me down in my crib, but left the bottle. “Keep drinking, but slow down,” she ordered. “Swish it around. Maybe gargle. I’m going to Janet’s room to see if I can clean up your mess.”
This time she got no complaints from me. I sat there for several minutes, swishing milk around my mouth. My stomach gurgled a bit from what I’d just added to the concoction inside me. This stuff would probably hurt coming out tomorrow if not sooner.
I exhaled, sad, pathetic and defeated. How fucked up was it that this was my life now? Just then, I didn’t care. I just wanted the mouth pain to go away and for this awful, awful day to be over. Thursdays might be terrible for me for the rest of my life at this rate. The streak had held so far.
Hadn’t it been a Thursday when my date with Cassie had gone sideways?
Tears of continued grieving and existential dread were cut off by a sudden not quite dizzy feeling. Tipsy. My cheeks warmed up, but it felt good this time. My everything still sizzled inside but I suddenly cared less. The mattress of the crib seemed a lot more cozy just then. I kept working on the nipple of the now emptied bottle because it felt good.
Wow! I had been at least half-right. It wasn’t vodka, but it was some strong shit! Eyes at half mast, I laid back in my crib. Stupidly, feebly, I reached out for Lion and clutched the stuffed animal close to me, his synthetic fur lighting up my senses.
“Okay, I think I…” Jessica said coming in. “Clark?”
I let the bottle drop out of my mouth. “Oooooooh yeah...I’m really okay.” The room was starting to sway and spin a little. “Fanks for the milk.”
“Uh...no problem sweetie.” She took the bottle out of my mouth and I let out a groan while my lips puckered. “Here ya go.” My bottle was replaced with a pacifier. “Wow. You’re a real lightweight, aren’t you?”
I blinked to try and stay awake. “Well yeah,” I said. “I’mma...I’mma… Little... ain’t I?”
“Yeah,” Janet’s friend said. “I guess you are.” Quickly, she unbuttoned my pajamas and changed my diaper to an overnight. “Very Little.” Before turning off the lights, she reached down and rolled me over onto my stomach. “Let’s have you sleep on your tummy...just in case.”
“In cayshe what?” I mumbled from behind the pacifier.
“Just in case.” The lights went out around me and I could feel my brain gleefully shutting down. Time to rest. Back to the drawing board tomorrow. Live to fight another day.
“Hey hey!” I heard Janet whisper. The drowsiness and fatigue all but leapt out of me. My eyes remained closed but my mind started to race. How much did she know?
“Oh!” Jessica jumped. She lowered her voice back down. “You’re back!”
“Meeting got out earlier than I thought,” Janet said.
“What’s that in your hand?”
“Had time to go shopping, so I picked a special something up.” I heard the rustle of a plastic shopping bag. “How was he?”
“A little fussy at first,” Jessica lied. “But I managed to tucker him out. Was just about to close the door…”
“That’s great,” Janet said. “He hasn’t been sleeping very well. I knew you’d do well.”
“Well...you know…” Jessica was sounding less and less confident. I managed my breathing, sucking on the pacifier and cuddling Lion to control my pulse. “He called you Mommy a couple times…”
“Yeah,” I heard a tired heave from Janet. “Probably when he wanted something from you, am I right?” Jessica made no reply that I could hear. “They say it’s common at this stage. It’s still a step in the right direction.” It didn’t sound like she fully believed herself. “Glad you two had a good time, though.”
Had I wanted to, I still had the strength to push myself up, and shout out exactly what had happened. Even if I slurred every word, Janet might smell the liquor on my breath. I didn’t though. Jessica helped me out of a lot of pain and talked to me better than most. Still, I blamed it on the milk.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to write that letter of recommendation?” Janet asked. My eyebrows nearly lifted off my face. The Grown-Ups had moved onto other topics, apparently.
“I’m sure,” Jessica sighed. “I want to get that teaching position on my own.”
“And you will,” Janet softly murmured. “As soon as one opens up.”
There in the darkness, my eyes peeked open, adjusting instantly to the pale nightlights. Jessica was a teacher, too? And unemployed? And Janet had been trying to get her a job?!
Through blurry and drunken eyes, I peered out the bars of my crib. It was hard to tell from the angle, the darkness and the blood alcohol content, but if I hadn’t known any better I’d have said that Janet was holding a box of candy in the palm of her hand. Not just any kind of candy, either. From the outside, it looked like the kind for cream filled chocolate bon bons bought for fancy occasions, dates, presents, and the like; the kind that Rainne Forrest kept in her desk. And were I in a betting mood, I’d have said that the shopping bag had more than a few duplicates of the same.
Why did Janet have so many?
“Let me just give him a kiss goodnight…”