“Heeeeere comes the airplane!” Marie said, making the plastic spoon dip and dive. She might’ve gone for a loop-de-loop if she could have. “Time to open the hangar!”
Lynnie opened her mouth, part in following Marie’s directions and part from enchanted cooing amusement. The spoonful of Spaghett-O’s came zooming in, depositing its payload on her tongue before taking off again.
From her highchair, Lynnie swallowed, and clapped. Sabrina giggled and clapped too, imitating the bigger girl. “Your turn!” Lynnie told Sabrina. Tiny bits of microwaved pasta dribbled out of her mouth and onto her bib. Okay, so maybe Lynnie hadn’t swallowed as much as she’d thought.
Marie leaned forward and carefully wiped Lynnie’s mouth with the bib. “Lynnie,” she teased, “you’re supposed to be setting a good example of Sabrina.”
Lynnie blushed a bit, loving the teasing. “I am.” Lynnie defended herself. “It’s just sometimes babies get excited and forget to swallow everything.”
Marie smiled politely and looked down at Sabrina. “Your turn.” She picked up the spoon and gave Sabrina a bite. Lynnie leaned forward, trying to get a better view of Marie’s technique- she really was quite good- but the restraints on her highchair stopped her. It had been decided that since Sabrina was too small to fit inside the highchair, Lynnie would sit in it, and the real child would be lap fed. In return, since babies learned best by watching, Lynnie would serve as a good example.
Big baby and little baby.
It was working like a charm. Sabrina watched her usual babysitter with careful studying eyes, and then would copy Lynnie to a tee. At least when she wasn’t gazing up at Marie. The tot clearly adored her. She clearly was happy about having Lynnie, but something was...different.
Lynnie felt more than a little jealous. It was only a one day thing, though, she told herself. After today, she’d put her big girl panties back on, and be back to changing diapers instead of wearing them.
Speaking of which, Lynnie felt a grumble in her stomach, one that was becoming increasingly familiar. She had to poop. And for once, she didn’t want to do it in her pants, (not that she was wearing any). “Um...Marie,” Lynnie said from her highchair.
“Just a second.” Carrying Sabrina, Marie went over the fridge and got out two bottles of milk, one much bigger than the other. “Here you go. Almost forgot.” The little toddler started nursing on the bottle immediately. Lynnie’s stayed upright on her highchair’s tray. “Drink up.”
“Can you let me out of this?” Lynnie asked.
“When you’re done with your sketti and ba-ba.” Marie replied. Then she added, “Like a good girl.”
“I have to go to the potty,” Lynnie said. A sharp pain in her tongue mirrored the on in her guts. Potty? Why had she said that? “I have to go to the toilet.”
Marie blinked as if Lynn had just spoken in a foreign tongue. “Um...no? You’re not potty trained, sweetie. You’re not ready for it, yet.”
“What?” Lynn’s snarl was both of disgust and pain. “Yes I am! Let me out. I gotta poop!”
Lynn’s friend sniffed the air. “I don’t smell anything.”
Lynn’s voice went up in a kind of squeal. “I haven’t yet! I HAVE to poop! Let me out!”
Marie sighed and continued feeding their shared charge. “Okay, now you’re just being fussy. Are you tired? I bet you’re tired. Let’s finish your lunch and then you can go down for a nice nap in your room.”
“No! No nap!” Lynn slammed her fists on the tray, sending the bottle of milk tumbling to the kitchen floor.
Marie bent over and calmly placed the bottle back on the tray. “You’re not being a very good example for Sabrina, right now. Big baby might help take care of the little baby, but you’re still a baby.” Marie. “Be a good baby and finish your lunch.”
Lynn gripped the sides of her tray and leaned forward as far as the buckles would allow. “I’m! Not! A! Ba-!” She shouldn’t have done that. The young woman realized it too late. In leaning forward, she’d lifted her bottom off the hard seat. The bullet was already in the chamber. Sitting down had been the only thing keeping the mess in.
Her body going on autopilot, Lynn froze- mouth open- as the massive load exited her and into the waiting seat of her Luvs. It was worse than either of the previous times. Her onesie kept her diaper more in place, kept it from sagging away from her and taking some of the mess with it. The fact that she definitely hadn’t meant to let loose was just extra salt in an already gushing wound.
“Heeeere comes the airplane!” Maire took the opening, and Lynn’s stunned silence to scoop more microwaved pasta into the girl’s mouth. Still pushing, Lynn let some of the sauce spill out over her lip. “Uh-uh-uh. Swallow it.” A light tap under her chin caused Lynn to close her mouth and swallow.
Not half a second later, Lynn finished soiling herself and collapsed back into her seat, spreading the mess and, sending her into howling fits.
Marie ignored it and continued to feed the actual charge, while her classmate bawled. “You’re being such a good girl, Sabrina,” she cooed. “Maybe you should be the big baby for a while and Lynnie can be the little baby.”
“NOOOOOOOOO!” Lynn howled. “I’M THE BIG BABY! I’M THE BIG...I’M NOT A…” She stopped herself and buried her head in her hands.
Marie didn’t so much as remark on it. She just kept feeding Sabrina and cooing at her. Ignore the bad behavior, and praise the good ones in front of the misbehaving child. Classic child psychology. And in the back of her mind, all Lynn could do was wonder why it was working on her.
Yikes! Why was she thinking of herself as a child?!
“Sabrina’s all done!” Marie said. “Would you like a nap-nap?
The girl yawned. “Nap-nap…”
“Okay, let’s see if we can find a place to lay you down.” She turned to Lynn. “Be right back Lynnie. If you’re clean when I get back, I’ll set you on the potty for a few minutes before naptime.”
This didn’t help Lynn’s mood at all. She’d already lost. Marie just hadn’t smelled it yet. She pulled back Marie’s Huggies and peeked inside. Then again...
Lynn sat there, trapped in her highchair and messy-diaper, trying to control her crying and failing. She could only watch and Marie walked out of the kitchen and into the living room. The bespectacled woman scraped her foot on Lynn’s diaper bag, still strewn about the living room and looked down at it.
“Hmmm,” Lynn heard her say. “I wonder…maybe there’s something in Lynnie’s diaper bag. A folded up nap mat or something.” She bent over and shouldered the bag. “Unlikely but…” Like Mary Poppins pulling a potted tree out of her carpet bag, Marie reached down and pulled out a full sized daycare kinder-mat: Compact enough to stuff into a child’s backpack (with the top still poking out) maybe, but nowhere near small enough to fit into a diaper bag. “Ah-ha!”
Lynn watched, mouth agape, as her best friend reacted to the miracle as though it were merely a convenience. “Let’s go unfold this in Lynnie’s Mommy’s room.” she said. “That should be quiet enough.”
She lowered the bag back down to the carpet, just barely within Lynn’s line of sight, to go put Sabrina down for a nap.
Eyes narrowed, Lynn stared at the magic bag just over the kitchen threshold. Something was different about it. The golden symbols at the top of the bag! They’d moved. No longer near the very rim of the bag, the shimmering glyphs had floated down the aquamarine fabric and now made themselves plainly seen on the side of the bag.
Plainly seen, and spelling something. The symbols had arranged themselves, twisted into shapes that vaguely resembled letters.“L-Y-N-N-I-E” read. She drew in a gasp that threatened to become a scream if it hadn’t gotten caught in her throat.
Her name! Her name had become stenciled in the side! A grim realization came over Lynn:Caregivers didn’t have their names stenciled into diaper bags...babies did. It didn’t belong to Lynn the babysitter anymore, but it held everything that baby Lynnie might need.
Marie walked back into the kitchen and grabbed the spoon. “Sabrina’s down,” Marie said. “Now I can give you all the attention and help you finish your lunch.”
“Marie!” Lynn tried to explain. “I’m not really a baby-” Her sentence was paused as another helping of Spaghetti-O’s was shoveled into her mouth. “It’s my diaper bag! It’s magic!”
“Oh really?” Marie asked, spooning up another serving and giving it to Lynn.
Lynn swallowed. “Yes! I’m not really a baby! Just a couple of days ago I was a babysitter!”
Marie grinned. “Interesting! Tell me about it.”
And so she did. She told Marie all about the strange old shop and the magical diaper bag. How it could make toys and clothes and accessories for children that were any size, but it was always babyish or immature in nature. How the magic affected people and make them think there was nothing wrong; that that’s how she managed to play in broad daylight yesterday dressed like a toddler.
Marie listened patiently, feeding Lynn bits of pasta along the way “So your diaper bag is where all your clothes come from?” Marie asked, thoughtfully. “I guess that makes sense. Diapers would come from a diaper bag.”
“Not all of my clothes,” Lynn said.
“Take a drink,” Marie handed Lynn the bottle. “The only thing worse than cold Spaghetti-O’s is room temperature milk.”
Lynn took a few tugs on the rubber nipple and gulped down a quarter of the giant baby bottle. “Like I was saying, not all my clothes. My onesie used to be a t-shirt, but after you changed my diaper it turned into one. I think the magic is getting stronger. Out of control. I think it might have turned my panties into diapers.”
“Your panties are diapers,” Marie giggled.
“I KNEW IT!”
Marie held the bottle up and Lynn started drinking again. “You could be a writer one day, you’re so creative!”
Lynn almost choked on the milk. A white deluge practically erupted out of her mouth, dribbling down her chin, taking to the air, and splattering on her tray, and splashing on her onesie in places not even the bib covered.
“YOU THINK I’M MAKING THINGS UP?!”
Marie didn’t seem to hear her. “Oh baby! Are you okay? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to give you that much milk! Too much too fast!” Lynn found her mouth being peppered with paper towels before she had anything. “Let’s get you cleaned up and ready for a nap.”
“I DON’T NEED A NAP!”
Marie took the tray out of the highchair and moved it over to the sink. “I’ll rinse that off in a second…” she said more to herself than to Lynn. Lynn started going for her buckles, trying to undo them but the darn things wouldn’t budge.
They budged for Marie though.
“MARIE! I’M NOT A BABY!” Lynnie found herself being carried, the mush in her Luvs being smushed up against her as she wrapped her legs around Marie’s waist, being toted around as if she were barely twenty pounds all told.
Marie stopped long enough to pick up the diaper bag off the floor.
Marie mumbled something under her breath and reached into one of the bag’s pockets. “Shhhh,” she whispered. “Sabrina’s napping.”
Lynnie didn’t care if that dumb baby was napping. No way was she going to be stuck like this! “I-!” A rubber bulb stuck between her lips, and she began sucking. And sucking. And sucking. She couldn’t stop. She couldn’t stop! “Mmmmph!” she mumbled behind the shield while her lips continued to suck on the pacifier despite her! She wanted to spit it out, she NEEDED to spit it out, but her mouth wouldn’t obey her.
“Much better,” Marie cooed gently. “Some babies just need a pacifier to keep quiet. Let’s get you ready for nap-nap.”
In some ways, it was a good thing for Lynnie that she couldn’t spit out the pacifier. It made the scream that much softer when she was carried into her room. It wasn’t her room anymore: It was her nursery.
Her dresser was gone, replaced by a changing table, fully stocked with wipes and diapers- all Size 8, no doubt. Marie laid her down, and she went to roll off; but found that her body wouldn’t cooperate. It was as if her spine was made of iron and there was a high powered magnet on the padded surface: she would wiggle and wriggle, but Lynnie couldn’t actually move.
Marie had no problem moving her, though. She unbuttoned the onesie and slid it off Lynnie’s hips and over up over her head with ease, leaving her naked save for the soiled Luvs. “Can’t have you covered in old milk.”
Lynnie could not scream because of the pacifier, and her arms would not cooperate; would not slap at her babysitter’s hands as they undid the tabs on her diaper. She could only lay there as Marie changed her like she might any other baby.
“Heh,” Marie commented as she broke out the wipes. “So much for being potty trained. Heh. Potty training. As if.” She shook her head and smiled more to herself. Even with a pacifier stuck betwixt her lips, Lynnie was able to manage a sorrowful whine at the indignity of it all. “Don’t worry,” Marie said. “You’ll be ready to be a big girl someday. Until then, just keep your diapers on and enjoy it.”
Enjoy it? Enjoy it?! She HAD been enjoying it; a whole lot in fact. But that was before this strange turn in events of the last few minutes. Being a baby never seems so bad when growing up is literally right around the corner. Now though…?
Her thoughts were interrupted as Marie continued to change her. Using the front of her diaper to scrape off the bulk of the mess, Marie then continued to. The wipes felt so much colder than they had yesterday, and it was just that the public bathroom hadn’t had air conditioning.
It was as if Lynnie’s adulthood was being wiped away, balled up and tossed in the diaper genie. She was getting everything she had wanted, but losing everything she’d already had. All she had now was a fresh coat of perfumed powder and a clean diaper.
“So much better,” Marie cooed. Lynnie would have disagreed, but her lips wouldn’t spit out the pacifier long enough to say anything.
Lynnie’s bed was no longer a bed, because of course it wasn’t. From the changing table all the way over to the crib, but was stuck as a ragdoll up until the moment Marie dumped her inside. Instantly she was on her knees and grabbing at the bars. Even with the extra puff of a big baby diaper, Lynnie was fairly sure she could get over the railing, but her body wouldn’t let her get up off her knees?
Was she a crawler, now? Or was it just some magic in the crib keeping her from escaping it? Whatever it was, it was magic. That same magic made Marie’s promise of being a big girl someday sound so completely empty.
All the books on her shelf appeared to be made of chewable cardboard. Her rolling desk chair was now a bouncer. The only bit of furniture that had been unchanged was her mirror, and Lynnie didn’t like what she saw there one bit.
Wait, why was she thinking of herself as “Lynnie?” Lynnie was a little girl’s name. A baby’s name! She was Lynn Gilligan, darn it!
“G’night, Lynnie” Marie gave her a kiss on the forehead. “Sleep tight. By the time you wake up, your Mommy should be home.” Sleep tight? Fat chance, Lynn thought.
As soon as the door to her bedroom closed and the lights were out, Lynn reached for the pacifier. She had to spit it out. Her fingers found purchase on the plastic shield but her mouth would not release it. “Mmmmm!” She groaned. The smooth rubber nipple might as well have been a barbed arrow. Nothing short of surgery would do it, and even then, magic beat medicine.
While her arms were trying to extricate the magical dummy, her bladder started. The milk was already starting to catch up to her. Lynn almost wet herself out of half-formed habits, but doing so would have been like admitting defeat right then and there. She KNEW the diaper would hold but she didn’t WANT it to. She wanted to prove that she didn’t need the Luvs, even though she was being given no alternative and no tools.
Was this what Bradley had felt like? From her pacifier, her hands shot down for the tabs on her extra large Luvs. Her fingers just barely gripped onto the tabs, but neither they, nor the Velcro fasteners would budge.
Just like little Bradley, had, Lynn yanked and tugged at the front, but nothing would happen. Same for the back. She tried to dig her hands into the waistband, or to shimmy them off her hips like they were panties. All she caught was the slightest shifting, just enough to crinkle, and then no more. She was stuck...
The magic of the bag was getting stronger! Too strong! No one had specified that this batch of diapers be unremovable, but Lynn couldn’t get undressed for the life of her. Maybe it was because Marie had instructed her to keep her diapers on...
For a solid fifteen minutes Lynn did her best to get rid of any of the babyish. She wriggled on her back and belly. She tried to rip the rainbow bunny bedsheets off the crib mattress. She tried to create a rattling ruckus by shaking the crib bars. Nothing worked.
If she really tried, she found, she could stand, but it was always unsteadily and never for very long. Her balance was off, and her legs didn’t feel nearly as strong as they had been.
Her body exhausted, Lynn collapsed in the crib, exhaling her frustration. Frustration gave way to fatigue. The mattress seemed sooooo soft and comfortable, even without a pillow...and her body suddenly felt very heavy...very tired. The adrenaline was wearing off and quick.
So tired. So very tired.
Slowly, Lynn eased herself onto the mattress, fighting, and losing, to keep her eyes open. One thing that wasn’t going away was her need to pee. With a final defiant groan, the girl admitted defeat and relaxed her bladder. She wasn’t even going to be able to go to sleep in a dry diaper. Denied an alternative, the warm wetness didn’t feel nearly as good as it had before. Being forced to do something felt a lot different than getting away with the same act.
Lynn closed her eyes.
Lynnie passed out. Only then did the pacifier fall out of her mouth.
Maybe when she opened her eyes again, things would be back to normal…
But like the chalky aftertaste in a powdered chocolate milk, she could just barely taste the lie.