There was so much I wanted to say in response, but I never got the chance.
Before I could recover from the shock of Kate’s audacity, our parents were announcing our arrival as we pulled into the driveway. After nearly a decade, I couldn’t exactly tell the house apart from all the other cookie cutter suburban ones surrounding it. I didn’t doubt this was the place, however, which meant that I was out of time.
"Kate!” I hissed, “Give me my bra!” My image was messed up in so many ways thanks to my sister’s antics throughout the drive, but this was really the only one I could control at the moment. Years of enhancing my petite chest left me feeling beyond self conscious at the thought of our relatives seeing how small I really was. Maybe it would have been different if I was an only child, or visiting alone, but I was going to be standing next to Kate when the door opened. She was already so unfairly endowed, and this would just further exaggerate our size differences.
Meeting my eyes with a tiny smirk, she just said her recent word of choice. “No.”
“Kate, seriously! You-”
Once again, I was cut off, but not by my sister this time around. The car came to a full stop, as did the music, and our mother called back to us. “Let’s go, girls! Your father and I are running late as it is. Hop out and grab your things. Quickly, now.”
“You first, Annie,” Kate said. She had palmed the pacifier the moment the focus was on us from up front, and gestured to the slim aisle between the two middle seats.
It was obvious what she was doing. Since we were in a hurry, Kate wouldn’t be able to hold onto my bra and shoes on top of her other stuff without being noticed. But if I got out of the car before her, I wouldn’t have a chance to grab them, either. I tried to speak up about it, but didn’t get very far. “But-”
“NOW, Annie!” my sister exclaimed, “God, you’ve been acting like a brat all day.”
“Come on, Annelise,” our mother added on, “We don’t have time for this.”
Blushing, I did as I was told. There wasn’t time to argue, and I was still incredibly nervous about the bigger secret that I had done so much to keep hidden. This would be the definition of ‘tripping at the finish line’ if Kate were to blab about it right now. I would just have to cross my arms for a few minutes or tactically hold my duffel bag, and then I could throw on one of my other bras once I had a little privacy. That, and deal with the mortifying mess.
Mumbling a quiet apology, I unbuckled and began climbing out of the car. Just like when I first sat down after letting Kate convince me to use the pull-ups for their ‘intended purpose,’ I found myself wincing in awkwardness and regret as gravity took over as I moved. By the time I was standing on the driveway, I could feel a noticeable sag between my legs. For the second time, I found myself deeply grateful that my sister had insisted on the second layer. First, it had contained an accident that surely would have leaked on the seats in the car. Now, it was preventing the soaked and soiled pull-ups from hanging lower and potentially poking out of my skirt.
As I stood by the car and assessed the humiliating damage I had done to myself, in a way, Kate hopped out with a grin. “Have I mentioned how fucking cute you are, little sis?” With nearly a half foot on me now that I didn’t have any footwear, she towered over me as she stepped forward and placed her hands on my shoulders. Then, out of nowhere, she kissed my forehead.
“I-” I hesitated, not even knowing what to say. Not only was it thoroughly patronizing, but my sister and I had never really had a touchy-feely relationship.
“Stay right here, Annie,” she said. Stepping back as casually as she approached, Kate turned and sauntered away to get her things from the trunk. And my things, apparently. By the time I had recovered from both my underwear situation and my sister’s recent actions, she had thrown both of our duffel bags over her shoulders.
Finding my voice again at the sight, I said, “Kate, I can get my own.”
“Don’t be silly, little sis. You’re not that strong, and I don’t want you dropping and breaking anything.” After balancing the duffels on opposite shoulders, Kate also grabbed my backpack and her purse before closing up the car, “Good to go. And what do you say to your helpful older sister, Annie?”
“You’re not-” I began, but cut myself off. Just a few more minutes, and this would all be over. Clean underwear, no more ‘Annie,’ and whatever other damage control I could do without spending years in the bathroom. “Thank you, Kate,” I begrudgingly said. No rocking the boat, no tripping at the finish line. I could play nice for a little while longer, but then I was going to have a serious chat with my overbearing and insensitive sister once I was put together and had a clear head again.
Our parents didn’t even get out of the car, as walking us to the front door would result in small talk that they didn’t have time for. Instead, we said a brief ‘goodbye’ from the driveway, not that it would be for that long. They would be staying at the house with us in a day or two, but had decided to take advantage of the free hotel room offered with the conference for the first half of the long weekend. It was more convenient than commuting.
As we approached the house, Kate flicked one of my pigtails to get my attention.
“What do you want?” I muttered. Reluctantly stopping just before the first step leading up to the porch, suspecting that she had yet another awful idea in mind, I gave her an impatient look.
I was right, of course, yet still not prepared for what she said. “You can’t change out of your pull-ups, Annie. At least, not for a little while.” The words were blunt, but there was a hint of a smile to show that she wasn’t heartbroken about the idea.
There was so much that I wanted to say. How I preferred ‘Annelise,’ and how she better not use the childish nickname in front of our relatives after everything I had done to earn the opposite. How I was getting tired of her phrasing it like they were MY pull-ups. How she needed to keep her mouth shut in general. Not falling for any of my sister’s distracting tricks, however, I just got to the point. “Yes. I can,” I said. No nonsense.
“Can you?” Kate smirked. She was clearly loving every second of this, and seemed to be confident in her doubt. “We’re going to be reconnecting with family in a second. It doesn’t make sense to shower in the middle of the afternoon. And do you really think you can clean everything underneath your dirty pull-ups in a timely manner?”
“I-” I hesitated, for the hundredth time. Though Kate was saying it with a knowing smirk, and in the rudest way possible, the logic still broke through. “Yes . . .” I replied. The upward tick in my voice must have said everything. I had been so focused on taking the awful, used pull-ups OFF that I hadn’t exactly thought through the finer details. How my ass and crotch and upper thighs would be dirty, and how I would need to clean myself off quickly and quietly. And without leaving a trace behind.
That was Kate’s next point. “No, you can’t,” she giggled. Not even trying to hide her enjoyment any more at the fact that my misery was about to be prolonged. “Aunt Miranda and Uncle Rob don’t have a baby. What are you going to do without a diaper pail?” Kate asked, referencing our collecting babysitting experiences.
Shit. That’s why my smirking sister was so confident. Short of carrying the used pull-ups through the not particularly familiar house to find a bigger trash can, I was screwed. Even if I could manage to clean myself off efficiently and discreetly, there was no way that the bulky underwear would fit into some small bathroom trash can. Not without being noticed immediately by the next person who walked in. My hopes of getting out of the disgusting mess were quickly dashed as I realized all of the complications that would follow.
“The way I see it, you have two options,” Kate said, “You could somehow explain that you had a sizable accident in your pull-ups, and earn yourself some time to change right away.” She held up one finger for that idea. “Or, you can sit through some quality family time and ask your lovely sister for some help after dinner.” Her second finger lifted for the alternative option.
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