No?! I needed to change! Desperately.
Aside from the disgusting feeling as I attempted to sit very, very still to not make even more of a mess, there was the sheer knowledge of how unhygienic something like this was. And, how the smell would eventually escape the thick pull-ups and be more noticeable in the confined space of the car. I had babysat before, and I knew just how quickly you knew when a baby had an accident. I would never admit it, but I was suddenly very grateful for Kate’s insistence on a second pull-up earlier. That would buy me a little time. But only a little.
Before I could find the words, my bratty younger sister had more to say. “You’ve been a bad little girl, Annie. Now just sit there and be quiet. One more word out of you, and I’m going to tell our parents what you’ve done.”
The same threat as before, but worse. Way worse. Instead of a little prank that I had a slim chance of talking my way out of, this was actually something that I DID do. To myself. On purpose. I didn’t know what was worse; wetting myself because I actually lost control, or willingly giving up control in a more mortifying and damning way. We both knew that no excuse in the world would explain an ‘accident’ of this magnitude.
After putting the pacifier back in my mouth, which I regrettably accepted with no resistance whatsoever, she went on to explain in a way that smoothed out her harsh reaction with a bit of logic. Now that we were just under thirty minutes away from our destination, there would have to be a really good reason for our parents to pull over before then. And, according to Kate, this didn’t count as an emergency. I had already filled my pull-ups, so it’s not like a few more minutes was going to change the mess that I was in. Besides, it would be easier to change in a spacious, sanitary, and private bathroom, rather than rolling the dice at a rest stop or gas station.
As usual, I found myself falling victim to my sister’s logic, as well as my own irrational self preservation. Maybe Kate was right. If we stopped now, the annoyance of our parents would put a lot of time pressure on things. Could I really get myself cleaned up from a mess like this in a matter of minutes? It was one thing to change someone else, but I could only imagine how awkward it would be handling the task alone in a cramped and dirty gas station bathroom. Sighing to myself, I resigned to her point and went back to sitting still and nervously sucking on the pacifier as we took the next exit and made our way towards our cousins’ house.
I barely remembered the neighborhood. It had been a good twelve years since we had last been here, which was why we had been dragged on this trip in the first place. Our parents’ had a business conference nearby, and the proximity to our relatives was too convenient an opportunity to pass up. We could get to know our cousins for the first time in our adult lives, as well as have the chance to explore a new city. Partially a family reunion, partially a vacation.
As we made another turn, Kate reached over and gave the pacifier a single tap to get my attention. “You have shoes in your duffel bag, right?” she asked.
Committing to her rule about not talking, though ready to pop the thing out the moment we pulled into the driveway, I simply nodded my head. As hard as I tried to play it cool, I could feel a blush coming on simply from the way I had to nonverbally answer to my younger sister. Just a few more minutes, and this would all be over.
“Good,” Kate said, “You’re going to leave your current pair in the car. It’s false advertising, just like your bra.”
That wasn’t fair! I was so stupidly short compared to her, and my image was already so messed up at the moment thanks to the pigtails/freckles combination and total lack of chest now that Kate had convinced me to give up my bra. At least the tank top had dried from earlier, preventing my nipples from poking through the light cotton. But only barely. I was going to be stuck with my arms crossed just to avoid a potential shiver from an unfortunately placed vent or AC-filled room. My underwear troubles didn’t stop there, of course; for countless reasons, I was going to make a beeline for the bathroom the moment we made it inside.
Narrowing my eyes at Kate, I shook my head. The pigtails brushed my back from the movement, and it took a lot of strength just to keep meeting her eyes. I knew how ridiculous I looked, which was exactly why I wanted the extra height my casual lifts gave me. Also, speaking of my bra, we never actually had a discussion about how long that was supposed to remain off. It was still lying on the carpet below, casually resting between her ankle and the side of the car. The padding might have been long gone, but at least the nude number had the push-up design that would help me ever so slightly in the chest department.
How to bring it up? Putting a bra back on is a lot more difficult than taking it off when trying to discreetly do so under your top, even with something as open as a tank top. And if I was stuck sucking on the pacifier until the car was parked, there wouldn’t be any time to have a conversation about it and get it back without our parents overhearing things. Bra, or shoes? No, I shouldn’t have to decide. I deserved BOTH.
Frustrated about so many things, I met Kate’s eyes and tapped on the babyish accessory myself. ’Permission to take it out, and/or to speak?’
It was Kate’s turn to shake her head. “No, Annie. Take your shoes off and give them to me. Then we’ll talk.”
Unsure of just how many turns were left in the neighborhood before we arrived, I was quick to listen this time. I bent over to undo the straps, lightly gasping and subsequently cringing as I felt the mess shift underneath me. For a blissful moment, I had forgotten about the other problem. Immature on the outside, and a mortifying secret underneath. Suddenly more motivated to end Kate’s games and my own continued humiliation, I took off my shoes and haphazardly tossed them to her side of the car.
Taking a moment to slide them underneath her seat, Kate sat back up with an amused smile. “Good girl.” She reached over and gripped the pacifier, holding it in place rather than removing it. “Now, let’s talk. Physically, you’re my little sister, right?”
It was true, but I wasn’t in love with how she was saying it. Or where she might be going with it. Regardless, I reluctantly nodded my head.
“And your name is Annie?’
‘For the drive.’ Still voiceless, however, I could only nod while giving her a look.
“And are you the cutest little girl in the whole world?!”
‘Just take the fucking pacifier out!!’ Swayed by sunk cost fallacy yet again, and the limited time we had left in the car, I begrudgingly nodded my head.
At that, Kate giggled as she finally pulled the pink pacifier from my lips. “So vain, little sis. I mean, you are cute as a button, but it’s a great big world out there. I’m sure there’s somebody cuter. Now then, did you want to say something?”
Bra, or shoes? I knew that I wanted both, but there was only so much time. “Hand me my bra!” I whisper-shouted. For all the less than intelligent decisions I had made thus far, apparently my college brain was still capable of functioning. It would be easier to slip my shoes back on when the car was parked, so this order made the most sense.
“Annie, no,” Kate huffed. Crossing her arms, she looked at me with an annoyed expression. “We’ve been over this. You don’t have boobs, and a push-up bra is cheating. We can look through something more appropriate for your size later, okay?”
My jaw actually dropped. “You can’t-” I stammered, trying to find the words. “You can’t talk to me like that!” It didn’t matter that I was the smaller girl. Kate was my younger sister, and the blunt comment about my chest was both shocking and insulting. No girl should talk to another girl like that, much less my own sister. Her patronizing offer only made it worse.
“Yes I can,” Kate said, clearly unfazed, “I have boobs, and you don’t. That makes me the big sister. End of discussion.”
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