The minivan eased into a parking space in the covered parking lot outside the Westfield Tri-City Mall. Sara turned the car off, finally ending the incessant repetition of the nursery rhymes. Rachel readied herself to grab the book, but wasn’t sure if she should un-strap herself from the seat. She didn’t want to get in trouble. She decided to wait for Sara to let her out.
Brian’s Mama slid the door open and immediately gave her boy a tickle on his tummy. “Well weren’t you a good little passenger today!” she praised. “You and Rachel were so good, Mama will get you a special treat for lunch.”
Sara leant drew out a collapsed stroller from the floor behind their seats, popping it open to reveal it was a double-seat one. It had two navy seats with little waist belts to strap them in and foot rests just above the small grey wheels. The back had pouches for Mama to fit their diaper bags, baby-wipes and toys into. The stroller was as big as a small couch once it was assembled, easily big enough to fit two adults.
Sara undid Brian’s seat-belts and swept him into her arms without giving him a second to attempt to grab the book from the floor. In one motion she had him sat in the stroller and was doing up the belt around his waist. As she did this Rachel decided she couldn’t wait any longer. She pressed down on the red button at the centre of her tummy, releasing the belts. Shoving them over her head she scooted forward out of the backwards angled seat and dropped onto her knees on the car floor. With a squeal of success she pulled the round-edged toddler book into her arms and held it tight against her body.
“How did you get out of your seat?” Sara asked as she ducked back into the car.
“Took off da belt. Me hewp. I big guwl,” Rachel told her, trying to sound cute and innocent.
“Well thank you honey, but I think it’s safer if you let a grown-up undo your belt from now on.”
“’Kay!” Rachel agreed, happy she wasn’t in any trouble.
Sara nodded and lifted Rachel by her armpits, swinging her through the air. She felt her bottom slipping into the new stroller seat after the dizzying spin. Then as Sara did up her waist-belt the grown-up noticed the book in her hands.
“What you got there sweetie?” she inquired.
“My book,” Rachel insisted, hugging it tighter.
“Oh, are you going to read that to your little brother?”
Rachel nodded sheepishly, unwilling to admit she couldn’t read a word.
“Well I think I’d better hang onto it now so it isn’t lost in the mall,” Sara declared, reaching out for the book.
Rachel shook her head vigorously and held onto it tightly. “No! Mine!” she yelled.
“Rachel, don’t be naughty. Let me have the book. You don’t want it to get hurt do you?” Sara asked, grasping the exposed edge of the book.
Rachel’s heart was pounding. After all she’d gone through she couldn’t just let it go. The book was her only link to the life she’d once had, perhaps her only means of returning to it. She wanted to explain all that to the woman but her mind was racing in panic and she couldn’t put her words together. “Mine! Need it!” was all she could manage to yell.
But Rachel was no match for the woman. Despite being no bigger than the girl she seemed infinitely stronger. She pried open the girl’s arms and slipped the book from her grasp. Rachel was reduced to squalling with anger, tears dripping down her cheeks as she kicked her feet on the footrest and wailed. Brian seemed frightened by her loss of control and he tried to comfort her, rubbing her arm and whispering that she had to calm down.
Sara placed the book back in her bag and swung that over her shoulder. She simply ignored Rachel’s tantrum, hoping it would stop when it didn’t gain her any attention. Instead she lifted Meggy out of her seat and onto her hip, carrying the now calm binkie-sucking girl through the parking lot.
As the stroller neared the entry to the mall Rachel forced herself to get control. She couldn’t be seen having a tantrum, she just couldn’t! It was hard to stop though. Her emotions felt overwhelming. How did the woman not understand how important that book was to her? Sure to a grown-up it was just some silly baby book, but it meant the world to Rachel. She’d had it right there in her arms and now it was gone! How could she not cry after losing it?
The strolled rolled through the automatic doors, a cool air-conditioned breeze blowing across their faces. As the wheels jostled over the entry mat and then onto the smooth faux-granite floor Rachel finally managed to dry her tears and confine her cries to a few sniffles. Brian touched her arm again, giving her a sympathetic look. “You okay?” he asked.
Rachel gave him a little nod, afraid to open her mouth to speak lest a wail come out instead.
“We get it ‘gain” he assured her.
Rachel wanted to believe that, but she still felt lost.
The mall was filled with people. The first thing she saw was a group of half a dozen 30-ish people wearing hoodies and baggy calf-length jean shorts, iPods in their ears, texting on cell phones as they went from store to store. They looked like the junior high aged mall rats she usually saw in this place, except now the boys were six feet tall and balding and the girls actually needed make-up to cover the first signs of wrinkles on their foreheads.
A man and woman of about fifty passed the bubble-gum chewing gaggle of thirty year olds, towing two twenty-something men by their hands. These towering young fellows were each about six-foot three or four. One was dressed in a Spiderman t-shirt, baggy jean shorts and light-up black sandals. The other wore a tank-top, gaudy bright swim trunks and yellow SpongeBob flip-flops. Spiderman boy was pointing at a candy shop, begging to get some sugary treats while the clearly younger boy was busy picking his nose with his free hand. Mom and Dad just led them out of the mall, ignoring the little one’s pleas.
The further their stroller pushed into the mall the busier it became and the more self-conscious Rachel and Brian felt about their getup and mode of transport. There only comfort was that there were others who appeared worse off. Like the woman who appeared a year or two older than them and was being led through the food-court by an older man by a harness strapped around her shoulders. The man pulled the leash to keep her toddling along whenever she spotted something shiny or pretty and tried to wander off to touch it. Or the young man about the same age as her who was being led skipping barefoot though the mall in just his t-shirt and Bob the Builder underoos, probably having wet his pants earlier.
Rather than head directly for Gymboree Sara pushed their stroller into the food-court, heading for McDonald’s. As they waited in line Brian began to squirm. At first he wasn’t sure why he felt so antsy. He thought maybe it was because he was being confined to a stroller instead of being able to walk. But it was more than that. He felt pressure building up, he needed to pee-pee. Brian adjusted his position, trying to hold it in. He’d wet himself in his sleep but not yet while awake. He recalled the disgust on Rachel’s face when she used her diaper the night before. It was clearly an awful experience.
Sara reached the front of the line and ordered a burger for herself and juice for the babies. Looking down at her little boy she saw him squirming in his seat.
“What’s the matter baby?” she asked, giving him a light tickle on his tummy again.
That was the last thing Brian needed. The tickle was the final straw. He giggled involuntarily and his immature bladder let go. He felt the rush of warmth down his penis and then the eruption of liquid in his diaper. Nerve endings danced with pleasure as he let go. Even though the urge had only hit him moments ago, it felt as though he’d being holding it in for an eternity. It was a massive relief to get it out and Brian couldn’t help but sigh. The warmth of the pee swirling around his diaper and cupping his crotch was nothing short of pleasurable. He even smiled it felt so nice.
Mama knew exactly what the squirming, the sigh and the smile meant too. “Uh-oh!” she declared jokingly. “I think someone just made wee-wee. Is that true Bri?”
Brian’s smile was gone, his cheeks pink. He nodded furtively, not really wanting to admit what he’d done but unable to deny it. At least it wasn’t poopy, he thought. That was a small comfort, but it was something. He felt Mama’s hand caressing his cheek, mussing up his hair. “That’s okay honey, Mama will get you changed in just a second,” she crooned.
With her meal in hand Mama turned the stroller around and headed out of the food-court and into the main mall. She checked her watch and declared, “We don’t have much time honey, so mama will have to get you changed fast.”
She rolled not towards the restrooms but to the centre of the mall, stopping next to a maroon padded bench backing onto a row of fake-looking plants. She undid Brian’s belt and lifted him out, juggling him and Meggy for a second before slipping the girl into the empty stroller seat and setting him on the bench and pushing him onto his back. Up to that point he’d been confused by what she was doing, but then it hit him exactly what was happening. Brian shook his head and tried to sit back up.
“Brian, be still for mama,” she ordered.
He continued to struggle, squirming and trying to sit up again, banging his heels on the padded bench. “No, not change here, go bat’ woom!” he demanded.
“Honey there isn’t time. Now don’t be silly, you can’t stay in a wet diaper. Mama needs to get you all clean and dry.”
Brian twisted away from her but she was so much stronger than him now. He couldn’t tell if it was he who’d become weak or she who had become super-strong, but the result was the same. She pinned him down and began to undo the snaps on his romper’s crotch. “Pop, pop, pop,” they went, slowly revealing his diaper.
Rachel and Meggy had front-row seats to his diaper change. Rachel was at least nice enough to deliberately look away, but Meggy seemed quite entertained and kept up a running commentary. “Him pee-pee baby! Pee-pee diapee! Mama pee-pee bye-bye,” she babbled loudly.
The snaps undone Mama pushed the romper up to reveal the whole diaper, then undid the tabs and opened it up. Sure enough it was quite soaked, urine still glistening on his penis. Mama slipped the diaper out from under him, balling it up and disposing of it. Looking around she rolled her eyes and declared, “Whoops, forgot to get a fresh one. Now stay still baby, Mama doesn’t want to have to chase any more mall jaybirds.”
Brian had no intention of going anywhere stripped like this. He was left lying on the bench with his whole crotch exposed, his pee-pee dangling there for every passerby to see. The cool breeze across it seemed to sting him. He didn’t cry because he couldn’t afford to draw any more attention to his situation. As it turned out, it didn’t matter.
A young woman appeared at the end of the bench, smiling down at Brian and his exposed privates. She had big innocent blue eyes, short blonde hair in messy pig-tails and a goofy gap-toothed grin that told him she didn’t have much going on between her ears anymore.
“Mommy lookit da baby gettin’ changed!” she announced loudly enough to turn the heads of every passing shopper.
Brian cringed and a shiver of shame ran from his head to his bared toes. The girl’s mother appeared at her side and Brian hoped she would lead the girl away and tell her off for embarrassing him so. But the woman just beamed at her daughter and nodded. She had no intention of reprimanding the girl, after all why would anything she’d said actually embarrass Brian, he was just a dumb little baby who didn’t know any better, right?
“Yes sweetie, the baby is getting a new diapie,” she agreed.
“Him gotta a pee-pee diapee. I don’ needa diapie no more cuz I’m a big gi’l!” the woman told everyone in earshot.
There was nowhere to hide. He could see the shoppers turning their heads, looking down at his wet penis, seeing that he was nothing more than a diaper-wetting infant. He just prayed Mama would hurry up with her rifling through the diaper bag, pull one out and cover him up again.
“He needs a diapie cuz he just a siwwy widdle baby!” the woman continued, clearly proud of herself.
Her mother just patted her head and agreed that she was a big girl and that she was very proud of her toileting abilities. Then Sara joined them, new diaper in her hand at last. Only she wasn’t immediately pinning it on him. Instead she’d stopped to chat with the damned rubberneckers.
“I see Brian has a little audience,” she chuckled.
“Yes, my Cindy is just fascinated with babies who still need diapers I’m afraid. I hope you don’t mind?” the other mother said.
Brian rolled his eyes at the woman asking Mama if she minded when it was he who was being put on display!
“No problem at all. It must be nice to have your baby out of diapers,” Sara told the woman.
“Nota baby!” Cindy piped up. “Baby gotta wear diapees. Me go pee-pee in da potty an’ got big guwl pannies see!” she declared, yanking down her shorts to reveal her Tinkerbelle print pull-ups.
“Cindy, big girls don’t show people their undies!” her mother reminded her, pulling the girl’s shorts back up.
“Sowwy mommy,” she pouted.
“Oh it’s okay, I can see she’s just very proud to be a big girl,” Sara assured.
“Thanks, but she needs to learn not to go around flashing people.”
“Oh well, kids will be kids. She’s much too little to have a sense of modesty yet.”
The mothers shared a knowing nod and Cindy was finally led away, waving bye-bye to the baby.
Mama then turned her attention back to her boy, slipping the new diaper under him and praising his good behaviour. “Thank you for staying put dear, you’ve been a very good baby.”
Once his penis was wiped clean and he was well powdered the diaper was finally closed up and the romper snapped shut again. Then it was he who was lifted onto Mama’s hip while Meggy rode in the stroller.