Chapter Description: Wally finds the source of his downward spiral...
Wally was having a relatively easy first week at Daycare. He crawled around on the floor in his socks and onesies, lightly crinkling with every movement of his back half and lightly jingling with every motion from his front. He barely noticed the sound of the rattle anymore unless he was consciously ringing it. It was just another component in the soundtrack of his life. The rattle gave him a constant light buzz that never completely went away. The sensation was akin to constantly sipping on fine wines and beer throughout the day; never quite drunk but never stone cold sober.
That, in part, made the whole of his day range from bearable to pleasant. Diaper changes, lap games, story time, naps, feedings and the like were all part of the daily norm for him now, too. Wally lacked control of his bladder, bowels, bathing habits, bottle contents, or bedtime. After a certain point, he realized he didn’t mind so much.
Being a baby was only bad if you thought you were supposed to be a big kid and Wally had officially outgrown any need or hope of thinking of himself in those terms. Upon reflection, Wally wondered why anyone would want to be a big kid. He’d lived his life in fear and now that fear was gone. Now he could just lay back and let everything happen. Who cared if he peed his pants? No one at home or daycare, that was for sure.
“Please!” Marjorie begged. “Don’t make me drink that! That’s gonna make me poop!”
The Amazon caregiver looked down at the Tweener condescendingly. “If you mean it’s going to keep you from getting constipated, then yes, dear, it will.”
Defiantly, quite pathetically actually, the ex-daycare worker slapped both hands over her mouth. From his position on the floor, Wally lifted up his wrist and shook the sunflower rattle as hard as he could.
The loud noise going off at ground zero made the Little boy burst into fits of giggles so hard that he fell over laughing and thrashing in hysterical fits as every pleasure center of his brain lit up simultaneously. He’d just taken a double shot of hundred proof whiskey straight to his brain.
He may or may not have wet himself again. Being already wet it was harder to tell. It was easy enough for the Tweener to tell, however. She let out a muffled giggled and gasped as her own diaper flooded.
Her hands shot down below her waist, past the yellow dress that barely covered the landing zone on her diaper. Tweener’s still had enough strength to take their diapers off so she wasn’t being trusted with any garment that might cover it up until she was a good baby.
“No!” She shrieked. “Not agai-!” That was enough of an opening for the bottle of delicious num-nums to make it into Marjorie’s mouth. The real Grown-Up pulled her in and held her by the chin with one hand to make.
“That’s right. Good baby. Drink it all up.”
Wally caught the Tweener lightly crying as she was scooped up and carried over to one of the rockers to finish her ba-ba. He was happier now that he’d given up on being a Grown-Up. She would be too. In his own way, Wally was just doing his part by hurrying it along. In just a couple of weeks, she’d get used to her diapers and need them as much as any of the other babies. She might never be a crawler because she was only half-Little but a toddler was still a baby.
Yet another crinkle signaled approach. Wally turned his head and saw another Little crawling up to him. Her auburn hair was done up in pigtails. In lieu of lipstick her mouth was stained red with juice. Someone had been trusted with a sippy cup that they weren’t quite ready for, developmentally speaking. Like him, she was in a onesie, hers rose colored compared to his sky blue.
She had a bit of a tummy and the curves of her face were rounding out, but Wally was developing a similar physique. Hard to get that cardio in when you were carried over half the time and crawling the rest of it Based on the swelling beneath her onesie, she was probably soaking too.
“I’m glad it was Marjorie instead of one of the other Tweener Grown-Ups,” she said. Wally almost melted hearing her voice. So soothing and expressive, like she was genuinely happy for the struggling Tweener. They’d all struggled at one point or another, he supposed.
“Why?” Wally asked. “Was she a meanie or somethin’?” He doubted that, based on his short time knowing Marjorie as an adult, but it was hard to tell, sometimes. He used to think his Mommy was mean or crazy when really she’d just wanted to help him after his accident. The reverse could very well be true.
“Naw.” The girl’s pigtails flopped in her face when she shook her head. “She was just really bad at changing me. Always missed spots. Forgot to use powder. I got a really bad rash my first week here. It made my Daddy super worried.”
“Oh.” Wally replied. “At least now she’s getting people to take care of her the right way now.”
It was so weird. He almost sounded like an Ama-...like a Grown-Up. That’s what Little kids did though; they copied what their Mommies and Daddies said, even if they didn’t really understand it. In a way he’d been doing it all along.
Marjorie was still trying to cover herself, as if anyone cared about her underwear beyond checking if she needed a fresh diaper. Becoming something of an expert at it himself, Wally guessed that she’d be good to go until at least before nap time. Maybe even through nap time, but the Grown-Ups hardly put them down without a clean diaper on their butts.
“But,” the girl spoke up, “Marjorie was really good at making up stories and playing pretend games. So maybe we can play house once she gets used to being a baby.”
“NOOOOOOOO!” Marjorie wailed. “I DON’T NEED TO BE-” A long belch thundered out from her.
“That’d be neat.” Wally chuckled. “Might be a while, though.”
“Took me a while, too,” his new friend said. “But she’ll get there. We all do.” There was something vaguely familiar about her that Wally couldn’t quite put his finger on. It had the same feeling of half-remembered nostalgia, but it had nothing to do with the smell of baby powder barely masking the wet padding. Most of his new friends at daycare that week smelled like that at one point or another. No. This nostalgia was coming from a completely different part of Wally’s brain, but he was feeling too self-conscious to come out and ask what he was wondering.
“Wanna play cup ball?” The girl asked.
The tension immediately dissipated. “Sure!” Then he realized something. “What’s cup ball?”
“It’s a game I invented. Here,” she said. “I’ll show you.”
Together they crawled to the other end of the play floor and started to play a game of rolling a red rubber ball into a tipped over plastic cup; bonus points if the ball hit the cup with enough force to make it stand straight up.
It was a fairly straightforward game, simple enough for babies like them to enjoy but it still required a measure of coordination and skill. It was very unlikely that the girl had invented it either, but he let her take the credit for it.
Once he’d gotten the hang of it and was working on shots from father back, the conversation turned to what Wally supposed most Littles in this place talked about at one point or another. “How’d you learn that you were really a baby?” the girl asked.
“I had an accident in my big boy pants,” he admitted. “Right in front of my Mommy. I was playing with a baby toy and I got so excited I went potty where big boys aren’t supposed to. So she took my big boy pants away and adopted me.” He patted between his legs and heard a satisfying report from both the thud and the jingling from his wrist.
The girl laughed, either because she was just as susceptible to the rattle or because she liked his story. Both? Maybe both. “Lucky,” she said.
“Lucky that your Mommy was there right when you had an accident.”
“Oh,” Wally frowned. “Yeah. What about you?”
“My Daddy knew that I was a baby just by looking at me. I didn’t have an accident in my panties, but that’s because Daddy knew best and put me in a diaper before it could happen.” The smallest hint of a grimace flickered on her face. “Then I started having accidents. Cept that they weren’t really accidents.”
“Cuz babies like us are supposed to use their diapers?”
“Yeah.” Her gaze went from him to the sunflower strapped to his wrist. “Yeah…”
“He must be really smart,” Wally supposed, partly oblivious.
Deep inside himself, Wally knew they were both lying to themselves and each other. But that lie gave comfort. Better and easier to just accept things as they were and let the Grown-Ups’ narrative stick.
Wally came up with his own smart idea. “What if we made this more challenging? Took some blocks and made some obstacles.”
“Obstacles?” The girl repeated.
“Yeah. Like archways to shoot through. Maybe we could make ramps or something?”
“I love that idea! Mini-golf was the last thing that I did bef-...” She cut herself off. “Nevermind. It’s been a while.”
Wally sought for the right words “How long have you uh been adopted?”
“Not long. A couple months. You?”
“About the same. Not even.”
It was surprisingly easy to talk to her, Wally was finding. That was another fun thing about being a baby; you could more or less say what you were thinking as long as you were polite about it. Making friends as an adult was always so hard. Babies could just crawl right up and ask each other if they wanted to play.
“So…more cup ball?”
“Yeah!” The girl pushed herself up to her knees, wobbling off balance for a second so that she could clap in excitement.
Their game would have to wait, however. One of the daycare workers bent over and snaked an arm around each of them. “Come along, Little Ones. Time for lunch.”
“Can we play after?” Wally asked despite knowing the answer. It didn’t take long to get used to the schedule.
The woman chuckled. “No, Wally,” she said. “Then it’ll be time for naps. But after your nap you can play.”
Each was seated in a highchair next to one another. It was harder to tell when they were both crawling, but Wally’s new playmate sat a few inches taller than him. She might have had a bit of Tweener in her family tree.
Lunch consisted of a jar of strained peas washed down with a helping of yummy peaches and some chocolate pudding for dessert. Both fully grown babies accepted their ba-bas.
“That’s right, Wally. Drink it all down. It’ll keep you from getting constipated and help you grow up big and strong. Good girl, Hilda!”
A bit of the ‘milk’ leaked out of Wally’s mouth. “Hildy?” One of the last adult things Walter had gotten to do was go on a date with another Little; a lady named Hilda. Could it be? How had he not noticed before? How had he not connected the dots? Had she?
The two both ended back up on the Grown-Up Amazon’s hip and on their way to the changing tables. “Ladies first,” the daycare worker said, plopping Wally down on the floor. He crawled up to the changing table and used it to pull up to a standing position and steady himself.
“Hmm?” The Amazon said, popping open the snaps between Hildy’s legs. “Wait your turn, Wally.” Feebly, Wally reached out and handed the Grown-Up a fresh diaper from the nearest shelf. “Oh? You’re helping? Okie dokie!”
The hollow jingle jangle from his wrist rattle still made him smile, but a bit of hope colored his expression beyond the delighted tipsy feeling. With an Amazon between them as well as several feet of table separating them vertically, Wally knew his new friend couldn’t really see him, but thought he saw her head turn and try to crane over when she heard the jingling noise. He felt a connection, some bit of kismet, beyond just being another kid at this daycare. He felt something else too, something that Little boys got from time to time, but only big boys were allowed to act on. It didn’t stop it from happening.
Wally turned his head away, blushing, watching the other babies pick up the toys before naptime. He might have been a baby now and overcome with curiosity and longing besides, but he was still a gentleman. A side benefit to being last to be fed and cleaned up was being last to pick up toys. At least he wasn’t having to put anything away.
“All done.” Hildy was lowered down to the floor and Wally was lifted up off it. “Almost time for nap Hildy.”
“Can I help, too?” Hildy sounded eager.
A reluctant sigh, followed by a kindly smile. “Sure, dear. Hand me that diaper.”
Another Grown-Up, this one a Tweener, half-jogged to the table. “Can I get some help with Marjorie? She’s being um…fussy about getting her diaper changed.”
“I QUIT! I QUIT! I QUIT! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY? YOU CAN’T PUT ME UP FOR ADOPTION BECAUSE I QUIT!.” It sounded like she was in full tantrum mode.
The Amazon rolled her eyes. “Fine, fine. Just let me get Wally and Hildy sorted out.”
She unsnapped the poppers on his onesie and opened Wally’s diaper. “Oh! Somebody likes this!” It had less to do with that than remembering a certain game of mini-golf…but it was nothing that a cold baby wipe couldn’t take care of.
Just like Mommy, the daycare lady didn’t miss a spot. She used lots of powder too. The cool dryness and the smell made Wally feel babyish enough to not get quite so excited after he was sat down on the floor. “Go to your nap mats, kids,” they were told. Each got a light pat on their bottom to speed them along. “Marjorie! You’re only making it harder on yourself!” She was right, Wally knew. No point in resisting, really. It was only a matter of time before one’s inner-child was teased out of them and brought to the forefront.
The pair of Littles found a couple of mats laid out next to each other and laid on them. Wally felt himself start to blush. “I think I might have a confession,” he said.
“Yeah,” Hildy agreed. “Me too.”
“Me first,” Wally said. “I think we used to date.” He immediately felt like choking on his words. “I mean we went on a date. I wanted to date you more. But…I guess you were here. Or on your way here. I hope…?” He let the last part linger, hoping he hadn’t screwed up. How oddly adult…
Hildy blushed. “Yeah. I remember you. It’s why I crawled up to you. I liked it. I liked you. Just…you know. I had more important things going on.” There was a moment of silence more and then, “I’m really glad to see you again. Even if it’s just like this. It’s good to have friends I knew from before. Makes me feel better.”
The relief was palpable. Wally felt like a ghost that had just settled unfinished business. Part of him could move on, now. “Is that what you wanted to tell me?”
Hildy looked away. “I used to have a rattle just like that,” she said just above a whisper. The rest came tumbling out. “My Daddy gave it to me as a present, but I was still being naughty and got him to make it too loose. I ditched it in a park.”
It was a miracle that Wally’s diaper remained clean and dry after hearing that. “This is the rattle I found when I had my accident.”
“I figured,” Hildy admitted. “You told me you lived around there.” She paused. “My Daddy just bought me another one. And another. And another. Now I’m a baby. You are too.” She looked like she was ready to start crying. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know another Little would pick it up.”
Wally leaned forward and draped his arm over his new friend. “What for?” he asked. “I’m a baby, too.” A disturbing thought intruded upon his thoughts. “You don’t want it back, do you?”
Meekly she averted her eyes. “No. I’ve got plenty.”
“Me too,” Wally said. “But this one’s my favorite.”
“You can keep it, then.”
“Thanks.” He leaned over, and just before the Grown-Ups turned off the lights signalling nap time, Wally gave her the innocent peck on the cheek that he’d wanted to give her when they both still thought they were Grown-Ups. “Thanks for everything.”
She smiled, not quite so sad now, and cuddled up next to them. Their mats were right next to each other and no Grown-Up would bother them as long as they lied still and kept quiet. It’s not like either of them could get their clothes off to do anything. “I’m glad it was you who found it.”
Together at last. Wally had started this whole crazy journey hoping for a second date with a beautiful Little girl. Now he was going to get as many dates as he wanted. It didn’t matter to him that they’d all be playdates under the watchful eye of his Mommy or her Daddy or another Grown-Up.
As Wally closed his eyes, he let out the faintest smile of contentment; this one having nothing to do with the jingling coming from his wrist.