I thought I had heard it all.
I thought I had done it all. My sister had pulled a lot of nonsense over the years, though this road trip was definitely the furthest she had ever strung me along. Somehow, I had resigned myself to quietly wetting myself instead of taking out the pacifier and yelling up to our parents that we needed to pull over. Partially my fault for being such a pushover and digging my own hole deeper? Maybe. As I sat in soaked pull-ups, however, it was a lot easier to blame her for everything instead.
But her latest suggestion was taking things too far. I had already taken off my padded bra. Subjected myself to pigtails, and freckles that came with all my make-up being removed. Sucking on a pacifier was the latest development that further demeaned me and amused my sister. Well, I guess wetting myself was technically the most recent. But that was on accident! I had tried my hardest to hold it, and I had wanted to pull over.
This, however, would be no accident. For starters, I didn’t even have to go. And if I did, it would be easy to hold it for another thirty minutes or whatever. So, to go on purpose? At my age? Fuck no. With the pacifier still in my mouth, however, all I could do was shake my head in protest. After everything, I still couldn’t bring myself to take out the babyish pink accessory. Breaking Kate’s rules now would land me in a world of trouble.
“You have to, sis. It’s not healthy to hold it in.” She reached over and pulled the pacifier from my lips. With a serious look, she continued, “Let’s talk, Annie. Why shouldn’t you? You have permission to speak.”
What kind of question was that?! It took me a second just to grapple with the fact that my younger sister was so boldly reminding me that she was in charge of my voice when it came to the drive and the pacifier. On top of that, I didn’t even know where to start. “I’m not doing that,” I hissed, lightly blushing at just the thought. There would be no coming back from such a mortifying task.
She just cocked her head and gave me a curious look. “You didn’t answer the question. And here I was, thinking that you were learning how to be a big girl. Now, Annie, let’s try this again. Why shouldn’t you use your pull-ups for their intended purpose?”
“They’re not-” I began, cutting myself off for a moment to both lower my voice and collect my thoughts. While we had already been over this once, I couldn’t help myself. “They’re not my pull-ups,” I said, less confident this time around now that I had actually used them. Which is why I moved on before Kate could call me out. “And pull-ups are for accidents. Not for anything, like, umm . . . on purpose.” Once again, the prospect of doing as she suggested brought on a new wave of heat to my cheeks and caused me to stumble over my words at the end.
“Accidents,” Kate repeated, “So you’re saying what just happened was an accident? You didn’t wet yourself on purpose?”
“Of course not!” I hissed. Neither answer was good, of course. There’s no way I’d ever do something like that intentionally, but my denial essentially implied that I had a daytime ‘accident’ as a nineteen year old. “I mean,” I said, trying to backpedal, “It wasn’t like- I told you we needed to stop, Kate!”
“Yeah, so you could change shirts,” she reminded me.
Shit. That was the lie I told her over text, wasn’t it? The conversation Kate had with our mother about my ‘tiny bladder’ made it sound like we were both on the same page, as did the fact that Kate had me drink more water in exchange for said conversation. She HAD to have known what I really wanted. Right?
“No, you said-”
“I thought teasing about you being the weak link was better than telling her that you spilled all over yourself. If you needed a potty break that badly, you should have said something.”
“I didn’t spill!”
“You didn’t spill. You didn’t have an accident. Sounds like you’re not taking responsibility for yourself, Annie. Not very mature of you.”
“Just admit it, sis. You had an accident. You wet your pull-ups.”
“It’s not like that! I didn’t-”
“Yes, you did. Mature girls are honest, Annie. Now say it.”
My head was spinning. That wasn’t anything new when it came to trying to argue with my sister, but this particular instance made the headache of it all so much worse. My current get-up. My soaked underwear. The nervousness of our parents being in the front seat, as well as our relatives we’d soon be greeting. I’d have to get through a minute or two of faking a smile and making small talk before being able to excuse myself to deal with this mess. With all that on my mind, I just didn’t have the mental strength to fight Kate on this.
Glancing away with a much deeper blush, I mumbled, “I wet my pull-ups . . .”
“You wet your pull-ups in the middle of the day,” Kate clarified. Pausing for a second to let that sink in, much like the warmth between my legs had thoroughly sunk into the padding beneath me and ballooned the innermost pull-up, she went on. “So, here’s what we can do. Since your little bladder clearly can’t be trusted, maybe you should wear pull-ups for the rest of the summer.”
The rest of the summer?! “Kate!” I exclaimed, before quickly clasping a hand over my mouth from both the unexpected volume and to hide the subsequent jaw drop. That would be MONTHS. Summer had barely begun. Plus this was just a one-time ‘accident’ that I still wanted to wholly blame on my sister instead of myself.
“Or,” she said, taking a turn of her own to glance towards the front of the minivan before continuing to speak more quietly than the music still playing, “You can be a big girl, right now. Finish up your business in your pull-ups. Then we can get you changed up at the house, okay?”
Surely those couldn’t be the only two options! I looked at my sister with pleading eyes, not happy with either of what she just offered me. A whole summer in babyish underwear, or degrading myself in the most disgusting way possible? If I were thinking more clearly, then I’d probably realize that there were dozens of other approaches to the current situation. But I was still mortified to be sitting on the soaked sponge underneath me and between my legs, and suddenly worried about my reputation beyond this weekend at the thought of continuously wearing pull-ups.
Kate must have seen my trepidation, because her stern gaze softened into a more casual expression complete with a smile. “Just answer hypothetically, sis. You don’t have to commit one way or the other.”
Hypothetically? Neither. “But-”
“You know, like ‘Would You Rather?’ Let’s try, Annie. Would you rather wear pull-ups all summer long, or use them for their intended purpose just once?”
Before I could stop myself, I quietly blurted out, “Just once.” To me, that would be the obvious answer if I was playing the game. Why suffer for a prolonged amount of time when you can just rip off the band-aid and get it over with?
“Good answer. You’re so fucking mature, Annelise! So, you’ll do it?”
Wait, I never said that!
Also, as badly as I wanted to be called by my full name when we were bickering about it back at the rest stop, it was actually a little weird to be addressed as such after hearing ‘Annie’ nonstop ever since we got back in the car. It threw me off for a moment, as did the sudden pressure to turn what was supposed to be a non-committal answer into reality.
“Kate, no. You said-”
“Annie. Are you a mature girl?” Kate’s stern gaze returned as she flatly asked that.
“Of course I am,” I huffed.
“Then prove it. Show me that you know how to use your pull-ups properly. I want to believe that you’re mature, Annie; I really do. But honestly, you haven’t been acting like it today. So, this is your last chance.”
But, that didn’t make sense! I wasn’t- I was the older sister, and she was the immature brat. “Kate-”
“Hush.” Quickly scooting over and putting a finger to my lips, she met my eyes with that unique intensity that I wasn’t used to dealing with. “Yes or no, Annie? Will you prove that you’re a mature girl?”
Feeling trapped in the confusing web of ‘logic,’ and particularly small from the way Kate was treating me, I quietly gave in without fully processing what I was agreeing to.
Meeting her eyes, feigning bravery and calmness against her intimidating stare, I nodded my head.
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