http://patreon.com/personalias Set in the Diaper Dimension, where Littles live under the constant threat of being adopted by Amazons and forcibly babied and mentally regressed. Clark is a Little who is doing pretty well for himself. He has a wife, a job, and a good home in a small town. All the trappings of adulthood that a Little could want. But as a teacher, his job is always walking a razor's edge for when Faculty and Staff might see him and think he deserves to go from teacher to less than a pre-k student. Read on to learn about Clark, his world and worldview, and how everything gets turned on its head.
Chapter Description: Afraid of losing yet another friend to the tyranny of Oakshire Elementary, Clark and Amy brainstorm on ways that he might be able to help given his current status as "baby".
I told Janet everything that had happened as soon as we were back in the car. I didn’t have much of a choice. I’d stopped crying by the time she came to get me but my eyes were still irritated. Janet didn’t have anything else to say beyond “I’m sorry, baby. Do you want to skip the meeting tonight? Stay home?”
I declined the offer. I still had work to do.
Just when I was getting ready to sow some seeds, Amy crawled up, yelled “Hi, Clark!”, asked me how I was, and I made the mistake of being honest with her. I wasted a good five minutes telling her about Tracy. I skipped the drama with the A.L.L. and how getting toileting rights back was turning into yet another bit of bait and switch against typical Amazon crazy.
“So yeah,” I huffed after I’d told Amy the bullet points. “That’s how it’s going. What do you think?”
“I think that Quarterly Summaries are Summers you get every quarter of the year cuz it helps break up the monotony if you pretend it’s summer and everything is better with snow cones and summer clothes we just wouldn’t appreciate it as much if you did it all the time it’s like vegetables without cheese and sour candy. You gotta take the bad with the good.”
I stared at her, more confused than annoyed that she hadn’t been listening. “What?”
“I asked my Mommy to tell me about her job again,” Amy said. “Then I realized she was making stuff up so I had to figure out what it really was.”
My eyes narrowed in incredulity. I could never tell when she was joking. “Why do you think she was lying?”
“Banking has to be more exciting than what she told me,” Amy said. “Why else would Grown-Ups do it if it wasn’t?”
“Did you try to be a zookeeper because it was fun?”
We were getting off track. Eyes closed in frustration and rubbing my temples, I rephrased my question. “What do you think about what I just told you?”
“Oh yeah, that totally sucks,” Amy agreed. “Are you gonna make your friend a goodbye card or something? Let her put it on her refrigerator so she can remember you?”
“No,” I scoffed. “Not at all.” Besides being absolutely childish, such a thing felt like giving up.
“That’s probably for the best,” Amy sighed. We’d both been sitting on the floor. She laid down and rolled over on her back so that I appeared upside down to her. “She might not be at your school on Monday. Don’t wanna waste good crayons. What’s your favorite flavor?”
“Amy…” I warned, “I am in no mood.”
“Okay, bud. Whatcha wanna talk about?”
“How to get Tracy to stay,” I crossed my arms. There was more to this. There was something I was missing. There had to be.
The gap toothed Little girl rolled her head to the side. All around us were perfectly gaslit and mindfucked Littles engaged in pockets of pretend and parallel play. “Do you want her to get Adopted or something? That’d stop her from leaving, kinda.”
That felt like a slap in the face. “No.” I sounded offended because I was. Also that wouldn’t have accomplished anything. I’d neglected to tell her about Tracy’s husband and her backup plan.
“Okay,” she said. “Then what are you going to do about it?”
“Write a letter to the school board,” I suggested. “Email it. Go over Brollish’s head.”
Amy rolled over to her stomach and propped her head up. “You’re a baby.”
“No I’m…!” I stopped when I saw her cocking an eyebrow. She wasn’t diagnosing me, she was predicting the reply. I was a baby as far as the school board was concerned. “I’ll get my Mommy to send it for me. She can sign it.”
“You’re a baby. She’s a teacher.”
Janet might not let me write it to begin with and an employee complaint might be taken less seriously. “I’ll make it anonymous.”
“You’re a baby or you don’t exist.”
“I still know most of my old students’ parents’ contact info,” I said. “We had a good rapport. Most of them are Amazons. What if they don’t all know what’s going on with Ambrose? I’ll tell them and they could complain for me.”
Good point. “What if I look over her contract? There’s gotta be some kind of loophole or something. Then I can tell Beouf to tell Tracy or…or…”
Amy’s mouth twisted to the side. “Listen,” she said. “You’re. A. Baby.”
“Then what am I supposed to do!” I was so angry and in denial that I had a powerful urge to wrap my hand around Amy’s neck and strangle her. Not that I would have, but the mental imagery was there.
My regressed friend pushed herself up back to fours. “I’m trying to tell you your options,” she said calmly. “You can do nothing, like a Grown-Up… orrrrrrr…” She paused.
We were not alone. Clemmons, the older balding man who usually ran the Little Voices meetings had drawn the short straw for Little sitting and diaper duty while the others swapped stories and tricks. Fair was fair, at least among the big people.
‘Scuse me, kids, ' he said. “Amy, you’re soaked. Let’s go get changed.”
“What about the song?” Amy asked.
The giant chuckled. “Right you are, baby, right you are. How quickly we forget!” He warbled out one of that night’s lap bouncing songs. It sounded vaguely like ‘Polly put the kettle on,’ but with very different lyrics.
“It’s time to get your diaper changed,
It’s time to get your diaper changed,
It’s time to get your diaper changed,
Let’s get. You. Changed.”
That night’s group instruction had focused on musical transitions as a way of reducing anxiety. There had been a clean up song, a bathtime song, a feeding song, a bedtime song, and a wake-up song, too. The irrational rationale was that if Amazons sang a cheap little ditty it would prepare their pretend children for the inevitable humiliating task they were about to endure.
As if there weren’t enough stupid songs in their repetoire! Even if the songs were fun, adding them into something pleasant was unnecessary and putting them into something awful just made the song awful by association. Like most things in Little Voices, the technique was just more window dressing to make Amazons feel better about themselves.
None of the other Littles looked up from their activities and gossip for more than a second. They’d sat through the same indoctrination. They were already numb inside. Broken. Full Native. The song wasn’t directed at them so they didn’t much care.
Amy was getting her snaps undone and chewing on a teething ring that I sincerely hoped was from her own diaper bag, when I decided to lay some groundwork for the night’s activity.
Time to get into character. I picked myself up, hiked my shorts back up- they’d been slipping- and waddled over to the boys who were constantly playing with the blocks. I clasped my hands behind my back and put some extra bass in my voice to sound more official and serious. “Gentlemen,” I said. “We need your help.” I spoke in the confident monotone of a leader prepping his men before an alien invasion or a meteor strike.
Rightfully suspicious but also curious, they looked at each other in silent conference and then to me. “We?”
I leaned forward, conspiratorially. “I don’t want to cause a panic, but we are in grave danger gentlemen. Top geological scientists have discovered a tectonic fault line beneath this very building. Based on extensive surveys one plate is about to slip over another which will cause a surge of molten rock to surge up right beneath us.” I should have taught upper elementary school. I never got to use this kind of vocabulary when teaching my students.
Their faces puzzled out what I was saying. “Like a volcano?”
“Yes, gentlemen,” I said. “A volcano. Forming right beneath us. All the way up to the floor. Can we depend on you to help save us by constructing improvised lava proof life rafts?”
Something clicked when I specifically said lava. They clicked their heels together and saluted. “Aye aye, sir!” Their block tower clattered to the ground and they started constructing and foraging for makeshift stepping stones.
“Danny!” I called out to the white haired kid.
“It’s…!” He did a double take. “Oh. Yeah. It is Danny.” He came to me like a puppy. Gaslight someone so they think you don’t remember their name, and when you finally do it’s a treat. “What’s up, Clark?”
“We’re about to have a disaster here.” I pointed down to the carpet. “We’ve got less than five minutes before a volcano erupts and this carpet is melting the feet of everyone on it. I need you to spread the word. Quietly, so as not to start a panic.”
Darwin was quicker on the uptake than the builder kids. “Got it.” The announcement of tonight’s hijinks would soon begin spreading like wildfire.
“Now as I was saying,” Amy said before she was done being set down on the floor. “You’ve got some options that you haven’t considered.”
A calloused Amazon finger pulled back my waistband. “Yeah? What’s that?” I asked.
“Not poopy,” the caretaker said.
“Accept that your friend will be leaving you and try to appreciate what time you may or may not have together. Maybe ask if she can babysit you sometimes or your Mommy will hang out with her more.”
I wasn’t going to like this, but I had to know. “Or…?”
My answer didn’t come right away. The Amazon man’s hand cupped the front of my diaper and gave it a squeeze. I didn’t flinch. “Still pretty wet.”
“Tell you when you get back.” Amy said
On cue I was lifted up and carried to the changing table at the front of the room. I groaned at the timing and looked the man in the eye. “No song, please.”
“Okay,” he chuckled. “No songs for you. To tell you the truth, my Little boy doesn’t like them either.” He laid me down and pulled the strap over my chest and started pulling down my shorts.
“Why do you sing them then?” I asked.
“Some Mommies and Daddies and their Littles love them,” he said. I lost sight of him for a moment when he reached down and plucked up my diaper bag from the floor. “It’s not a one size fits all thing, it’s about giving options.”
“Options…right…” He was no better than Beouf or Zoge or Janet. Options wasn’t the same as freedom.
I turned my head to the side so I wouldn’t have to watch him tear the tapes off of my Monkeez. Thankfully there were no mirrors in this place. “No two Littles are exactly alike. Same for Mommies and Daddies. It’s all about finding what works for you.”
“Except for potty training,” I groused right as the first wipe touched my penis.
“No no,” he chuckled. “Don’t worry. You don’t have to go potty anymore. Diapers are perfectly fine for you. For your Mommy too.”
Fucker missed my point entirely. Whether it was on purpose or not, I couldn’t say. I looked out at the Littles in the nursery. They were scurrying about like ants. The builders had recruited others to start making stepping stones and life rafts out of whatever was lying around. Danny was having people overturn toy plastic bins and hoisting the crawlers boost up on top.
The fresh diaper was taped on my hips, the strap was undone, and I was on my feet. Good thing I wasn’t planning hide and seek. The crinkling of a fresh diaper is a major handicap where stealth is concerned. While a sagging or bulging one impacted speed. Maybe I should keep putting myself through the frustrations of potty training diplomacy. I wouldn’t have any kind of trade off in big kid undies. Time might not be on my side for that, though.
“Alright champ. Go play.”
Oh, I’d play alright. Right by the changing table, which was right next to the mound of diaper bags, which was in turn a hop skip and a jump away from the door, I cupped my hands to my mouth and shouted. “ATTENTION EVERYONE! FIVE SECONDS AFTER THIS SENTENCE, THE FLOOR IS LAVA!”
The room burst out into excited giggles. Everyone, even Amy, scrambled onto blocks, stuffies, bins and boxes. Anything that could hold a Little’s weight without breaking or could act as a barrier was being utilized.
I jumped on the pile of diaper bags as an island. “FIVE! FOUR! THREE! TWO! ONE!”
We were still, but not quiet. Some Littles pointed at the floor, screaming ‘Lava’. Others were saying overly dramaticized goodbyes to each other or shouting calls for rescue.
“I love this game!”
I looked up and saw the Amazon was sitting cannonball style with his legs neatly tucked up on the changing table. The changing table was a wiry metal and hollow legs that one made for easy transport instead of something sturdier. The table wasn’t bending but it was groaning beneath his weight. “Mr. Clemmons?”
“Daddy?!” That was maybe the first time I ever heard that particular Little talk.
“Go on,” he waved at us. “Keep playing, kids.”
This time the coin had landed heads up for me in terms of rubes. Like so many Amazons he had more than a touch of that prideful competitive streak, but I wouldn’t need to coax or cajole his ego into playing along. He was either secure enough in his adulthood that he could lower himself to playing with us or the childlike wonder that he attributed to Littles was very much a projection. Some people had kids because it was the ‘next step’, others because it gave them a pretense to act childishly again.
The cause didn’t matter when I could use the symptoms. “ATTENTION EVERYONE!” I shouted. “TOP MEN HAVE REPORTED THAT IF WE CAN FIND A WAY TO LOWER THE BARS ON THAT CRIB OVER THERE,” I pointed all the way across the room to my preferred sulking and skulking spot, “THEN THAT WILL REDIRECT THE FLOW OF THE LAVA AND MAKE IT GO AWAY!”
“What men?” Amy called out. “What are their academic credentials? Who are they?”
I glared back at her, over seriously. “Top. Men.”
Mumbling and murmuring filled the room as a room full of people who lacked the strength to remove their own underwear tried to brainstorm a way to slam down a crib gate. Most of the suggestions involved strictly imaginary workarounds, like laser beams or dinosaurs. Meanwhile, I clutched my pacifier and twiddled it in my hands, hoping that I wouldn’t have to give any more hints.
“Psst,” the balding Amazon said. “Toss me up that diaper bag,” he pointed down into the pile. “The robin’s egg blue one.”
I fumbled and stumbled, shifting my weight and pouncing along the row of bags. I heaved the bag up to my chest and grunted. It was heavier than it looked. “What did you pack in here?”
The low groaning of the metal was like nails across a chalkboard to my ears. He leaned over and reached his arm out. “Hee-hee-hee. Just give it to me, Clark.” It would be so tempting to strand him there or have him tip the whole damn thing over. It would also be counter to my long term plans.
If I could impress upon the grand poobah of Oakshire’s Little Voices chapter that I was just a silly LIttle boy who liked to play silly games, that reputation would spread among the other Grown-Ups within a week. I needed that. I needed that badly. Tactically speaking, I needed that more than I needed Tracy to be in my life.
I kicked another bag as far as I dared and took a massive step onto it so I could be that much closer. The bag I was standing on was stuffed too and I would have fallen if I hadn’t been able to lean towards the nearest wall for balance. The older gentleman groaned louder than the steel supporting him and snatched the bag up by the strap.
“Got it!” he said. “Don’t worry, kids. “I’ll save you!”
He rummaged through the diaper bag and took out an entire stack of Monkeez. “Daddy!” his Little protested. “Those are mine!”
He unfolded them and started wrapping them around his shoes. “Don’t worry, bud. This is for a good cause.” Very quickly he coated his left foot until it was entirely swaddled in plastic and pulp. “Darn,” I heard him say. “Not enough for two.”
He slid down off the changing table, but kept his right foot up in the air like a flamingo. He wobbled slightly, gaining his balance. It wasn’t until he started comically going “WHOAH WHOAH WHOAH!” Eliciting giggles that I knew he had it. Theatrically he lowered his right foot down to the floor, big toe pointed down.
“OW! OW! OW! OW!” He shrieked the instant his right toe grazed the floor. “HOT HOT HOT HOT!” He jerked his leg back up and grabbed his foot, hopping around in a circle and trying to blow on his toe. “HOT!”
All eyes were on him. I suppressed a snarl seeing what he was up to. Damn it. I should have said something like ‘clothes don’t count’ when the game started. I wanted him to be preoccupied and hopping from obstacle to obstacle having to plan out his route like a chess match. This wouldn’t take him a minute.
I could have objected, but he had everyone eating out of the palm of his hands. The idea of a Grown-Up hopping around in a diaper shoe was too funny for most of them to complain. I would have been overruled in the court of public opinion.
“HOT! LAVA! HOT! LAVA! HOT! LAVA!” He bounced and huffed and puffed his way across the room to the crib while cradling his ‘injured’ toe. “Good thing I got this shoe covering.” He threw in a wink and elicited the desired response of hoots, giggles and claps.
I politely applauded myself, the way one does when watching a particularly skillful shot in a game of golf. Well played, old man. Well played. I’d have guessed he would have tried to find a way to the lone rocking chair and try to scoot across the floor using that for a good five or ten minutes. He’d played this game before.
“TA-DAAAA!” He said to thunderous applause and took a bow. He huffed and puffed a little and wiped his brow. “Let’s not do that again,” he said. “Heh. Not for a while.” The others dismounted from their stands and rafts and play resumed as normal.
We met each other halfway. “Good game,” I offered my hand up to him. He took my hand in both of his and shook it gently.
“Thank you very much,” Clemmons said. “Been playing that one since I was just a bit bigger than you.”
“Can we play again next time you’re taking care of us?” I asked.
“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll see.”
We parted ways with the gears going in my head. That hadn’t gone according to expectations, but the goal wasn’t to win, it was to engage. On that front, Operation: The Floor is Lava was a massive success. This morning notwithstanding, my grip on the Thursday Night Littles was getting almost as strong as it was with some of my classmates.
Twice! Twice in one night she’s gotten the drop on me!
“You’ve gotta teach me how to do that, Amy.” I said, slumping back down.
“The key is enunciation,” Amy replied. “You really want to open your throat when you say ‘Hi Clark’ and project from your diaphragm. Consider buying a parrot to practice and name him Clark.“
“Nevermind,” I sighed. “Where were we? I mean what were we talking about?”
Amy looked disappointed that she didn’t get to purposefully misunderstand my question. “We were talking about how you were a baby.”
“We were talking about how to keep my Tweener friend from getting picked on by Amazons.”
“Besides letting her find a new job.”
“Yes,” I said. “Besides that.” Enough horrible things had happened to me and my loved ones. I couldn’t let another injustice stand. I just couldn’t. I wasn’t ready to let go. If Tracy left, who would take care of my students? Ambrose would get another aide that would likely actively help her in turning them into a generation of spiteful pricks.
Amy ran her tongue between her teeth again, and moved her eyes from side to side and all around. “One of my friends, Morgan, didn’t like what a Grown-Up was doing and hit them in the face.”
“I can’t hit Ambrose or Brollish.”
“Sure you can,” she said. “Grown-Ups are tall but if you get a boost or they bend over, all you gotta do is…” she pantomimed by balling up her fist and punching the air. She clicked her tongue when she swung and made a little bop sound. “It’s easy.”
My eyes were begging me to look at the inside of my skull. My companion was in rare form tonight. “I mean I shouldn’t.”
Because I wanted to. Because I would enjoy it too much and had been fantasizing about it ever since poor sweet Elmer had been dragged into Beouf’s room bawling his precious eyes out. Because I’d have more to lose than Ambrose or Brollish if I got violent. “Violence is never the answer.”
“Does your Mommy not read you bedtime stories?”
“Adults don’t use violence.” I was being stubborn and trying to reason with the unreasonable.
“You’re a….” she paused and looked at me expectantly. “Say it with me now. It starts with a ‘bay’...” When she saw I wasn’t going to budge, she took a deep breath and said, “Calls for peaceful protest and civility are a tool of the oppressors.”
If I hadn’t been already looking at her I may have broken my neck from whiplash turning it so fast. “What?!”
“You’re a baby.”
“Maybe I could find a way to make Ambrose look like a baby,” I mused. “That’d give her hell. Tracy could get some training chocolate and plant it in her coffee.” Wait. “Does Ambrose even drink coffee?”
Amy shrugged. “I dunno.”
My hopes and dreams were seeming more and more just that. The odds were stacked against us even more than usual, and any plan of revenge I had relied on enemies being forced to play fair. If events stayed contained solely within the microcosm that was Oakshire Elementary, there wasn’t much I could do. And as Amy had pointed out multiple times, there wasn’t much I could do outside of Oakshire either. To anyone who might give a damn I was just a baby.
“Can we talk about what I wanna talk about now?” Amy asked.
“Sure, friend.” I sighed. “Sure. What do you wanna talk about?”
“Amortization is when you fall in love when you thought you had given up love to pursue your career as a hotshot financier and business lady. Then find love in a small town in Vermont. Compound Interest adds into this. That’s a love triangle or some other many sided shape I totally know the name of.”
“Vermont only exists in those sappy made for T.V. movies,” I said.
Amy pointed at her heart. “It exists in here, sir! It exists in here!”
“Mmmhmmm.” I would have laughed but I couldn’t shake the feeling of oncoming loss hovering over me like a raincloud charging up a lightning bolt just for me.
A few minutes later, we were ‘treated’ to a clean up song that Mr. Clemmons refused to stop singing until everything was put away. Again, well played old man.
Janet and Helena came in together laughing. “That sounds like such a great costume idea,” Helena said. “I can’t wait to see it tomorrow.”
“I can’t wait to see yours,” Janet replied. She looked down at me and tilted her head. “Clark? Where are your pants?”
The group leader came forward with two diaper bags on his shoulders. “I slid ‘em off when I changed him,” he said. “Easier to do when they don’t have snaps. I was gonna have him step back in, but then the floor turned to lava. Darndest thing.” He chuckled. “They’re in the bag.”
“So he wasn’t naughty or anything?”
The bald man let out a full belly laugh. “Goodness no! Good as gold and then some!”
My entire being felt numb. Everything stated had been true. I’d had my diaper changed up at the front of the room and had crinkled around bare legged and not even taken note. Not because I wasn’t aware of it, but I genuinely hadn’t cared. I’d been too busy thinking about Tracy and orchestrating another round of full room play to be bothered. I’d continued trying to have a conversation with Amy while somebody else was checking my diaper!
What was happening to me?