This time, I didn’t push back in the slightest.
The moment Kate offered me the deal, I took her pinky and silently agreed to it. While I hated chugging, and knew full well what another two bottles would do to my already slightly full bladder, it wasn’t worth the fight. If I could just get through the totally unfair task, then we could pull over and I could relieve myself. Otherwise, I’d have to risk waiting an hour or so while sitting in discomfort the entire time.
After I took her pinky, Kate grinned. “Okay! You know where the cooler is.”
Under my seat. Not wanting to give her the satisfaction of hesitating or grimacing in the slightest, I bent forward to retrieve the stash of drinks. My pigtails both swished from the movement, a reminder of yet another embarrassing feature I had let Kate get away with. Retrieving both bottles at once, I glanced towards my sister with both curiosity and a faint blush. Drinking water would contradict the ‘pacifier for the rest of the drive’ rule, yet that wasn’t my fault. She was the one insisting on all these dares, and I was the one playing along.
“Here’s the deal, little Annie,” she said. Apparently reading my expression to some degree, Kate reached forward and took the pacifier. Rather than pulling it out immediately, however, she locked eyes with me and gave it a single tap, “I’m going to take out your pacifier, but the rules still apply. No talking, got it?”
I nodded my head, feeling demeaned not only from her words, but also from the limited form of communication available to me. Similar to the phrase ‘your pull-ups,’ I also wasn’t a fan of the way she was being possessive about the babyish accessory.
“This is your pacifier, isn’t it?” Kate asked. Even when I wasn’t trying to show anything with my face, I must have been more transparent than I thought.
Once again, I quietly nodded. Not worth the fight.
With a follow-up reminder that I wasn’t allowed to speak, Kate pulled the pacifier from my lips. Passing me one of the water bottles resting on the seat beside me with her other hand, she waited until my first sip before adding yet another condition: If the whole bottle wasn’t empty in 90 seconds, I would have to start over with a new one.
My eyes widened as she picked up her phone and casually set a timer. She commented that I should be grateful for the extra seconds she had given me at the beginning, but I barely registered the ‘kindness’ she was showing me. My efforts were already fully focused on downing the water. It really was the perfect amount of time to give me in order to induce the most stress. A minute or less would have caused me to bail immediately, as there’s no way I could pull that off. More time, and maybe I would have been more relaxed. But a minute and a half was in the realm of possibility, while still being quite the challenge.
Taking sip after sip, knocking the bottle back as quickly as I was able, I shot a worried glance towards Kate when I felt a small wave of pressure in my bladder. This was the exact opposite of what you were supposed to do when you needed the restroom, and my body was probably trying to tell me that. In response, Kate just turned her phone my way and showed me that I had 45 seconds left. I still had just over half the bottle left, and I slightly panicked when I realized that there was a good chance the same thing from earlier was going to happen. Chugging a whole bottle for nothing.
Renewing my efforts, I began drinking as quickly as possible. Ever the helpful sister, Kate kept the screen aimed towards me the entire time so I could see the seconds ticking away. Twelve, eleven, ten . . . I pushed myself to complete the task that was only getting more difficult as the cold water, fresh from the cooler, irritated my teeth and burned my throat. Closing my eyes for a moment, I sucked in the rest of the water before the clock hit zero.
Technically, I made it, because the bottle was empty. For a few seconds, however, I must have looked like a chipmunk. Cheeks full from how I had desperately drained the last of the bottle, threatening to spill out with one wrong move of my lips. Little by little, I swallowed the rest, ignoring Kate’s giggles.
While I was busy with that, she made herself useful by undoing the cap of the second bottle. And, the moment I let out a winded exhale from the first round, Kate put the new one to my lips. “Drink up, sis!” she said. Then she tilted the bottle upwards.
The only way to keep the water from cascading down my chin and all over my outfit was to do what she wanted. Instinctively parting my lips, I began drinking. Raising my hands to take the bottle, I was surprised when Kate didn’t pass it off to me this time. Instead, she kept the bottle elevated and poised so any wrong move from me would cause the whole thing to topple and soak me in the process.
Rather than being pushed to my limits from a time standpoint, I found myself racing against the speed at which the water was being poured into my mouth. Out of nowhere, I felt a stronger wave of pressure down below. My bladder was sending me pretty obvious signals, yet I was currently stuck doing the opposite of what would help.
Shifting in my seat, trying to press my legs together as Kate force fed me the water, my movements ended up causing an adverse effect. By disrupting my body’s position, a small squirt of urine released itself that was completely out of my control. The surprise, as well as the patch of warmth between my legs, caused another short stream to escape before I could wrestle control back.
That did NOT just happen! I just peed into pull-ups; the thing that I had only considered a joke or a teasing idea when Kate introduced the first round of waters a while ago. It’s not like I fully wet myself, but that no longer seemed outside the realm of possibilities. Just over halfway done with the second water bottle, I sat as rigidly as possible after learning my lesson from the first time. It was now an active effort to control my body’s urges; the pressure only built as I drank more, and the warmth between my legs certainly didn’t help.
As I finished the last drop of the water, my immediate instinct was to blurt out what I needed. Screw Kate’s games, and her stupid rules. I needed the bathroom, and I needed it now. However, she beat me to the punch. Before I could catch my breath from the nonstop chugging, she shoved the pacifier back into my mouth. “No talking, Annie.” She pushed the plastic lip guards forward, keeping the silicone teat firmly in my mouth. “I’m serious. Be a good little girl, or else.”
Letting go with another tiny push, she turned her attention to the front of the car. “Hey, guys? Little Annie wants to know if we can stop again. How close are we?”
At least she was sticking to her word. I just sat there silently, sucking on the pacifier. This was all so mortifying. At nineteen years old, I was in pull-ups and dangerously close to using them. I had no idea how to handle being spoken to like that by my younger sister. In my desperation, obedience felt like the best option. Anything to save myself from such an ultimate embarrassment.
“Just under forty minutes,” our mother said, “We’re almost there. What does Annelise need?”
“Another bathroom break,” Kate replied, with another amused giggle, “You know how she can be on road trips. Tiny girl, tiny bladder!”
“Kate, be appropriate.”
“Sorry, Mom. Anyway, what do you think?”
“Can she hold it? We’re still running a few minutes late.”
The two of them were having a conversation about me like I wasn’t even there. As the older girl, I was offended, until I remembered that I had already been seen sucking on the pink pacifier. With Kate talking for me, I was resigned to communicate the only way I could. Shaking my head ‘no’ with pleading eyes, I looked towards Kate for mercy. Honestly was my only option at this point, as pretending otherwise would cause us to keep driving. It already hurt to fight against the building pressure, and I was beyond skeptical about whether or not I could keep it up for forty minutes.
Kate shot me a wink. “Annie will be fine! She’s a big girl.”
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