“Wakey wakey,” Mom’s familiar, comforting voice broke the silence. “Time to get up, baby girl.” Soft hands brushed Lynn’s. “Mommy’s home.”
Lynn yawned. “Mom?” For a second, the babysitter had forgotten that she was all but naked and in a crib. The vertical bars and the crinkle when she sat up quickly reminded her. “Where’s Marie? Sabrina?”
Mom picked Lynn up as if she weighed nothing and took her back over to the changing table. “I got off of work early. Sabrina just went home with her daddy. Marie had big girl things to do, but said she loved babysitting you. Said you were a very good example for Sabrina.”
Lynn felt an inch of insanity starting to creep up on her. Was this going to be her new normal? “Mommy,” Lynn said, “Mom...I’m not a baby.”
“Of course you're not.” Mom didn’t sound at all convinced. She was just humoring her daughter. “Oh wow, you’re soaked.” Eyes still on Lynn, she dug under the changing table. “I think Huggies might work better. Better for moving around in. More baby shaped.” Sure enough, she withdrew an adult sided Huggies. Mickey Mouse would be taking the spot of honor on Lynn’s bum, replacing the purple monkey.
Just like before her nap, Lynn was stuck on the changing table like a fly on sticky paper. She was powerless, yet again, to stop her personal space from being violated. Unlike last time though, she could use her mouth.
“Mom!” Lynn cried out. “Snap out of it! I’m not a baby! I’m nineteen!”
Mom didn’t stop. The tabs came off with two quick scritch-scratches. “I know you are. Just turned nineteen two months ago.”
In the midst of changing, the naked girl felt her face go numb. “What?”
Mom was busy wiping. “I should hope I know my own baby’s birthdate.” She then rattled off Lynn’s birthday, year included. “I was there, too, y’know.”
“But Marie is the same age as me!” Lynn said, still not fully grasping what she was hearing. “Her birthday is three weeks after mine!”
Mom unfolded the new diaper, lifted Lynn’s legs and slid it under her. “Uh-huh. That’s right.” She went for the powder.
For the first time, the perfumed powder smelled bitter to Lynn. “But she doesn’t have to wear diapers, or sleep in a crib.”
“She’s not a baby, though.”
“Neither am I!”
“Of course not.” That didn’t stop Mom from finishing up and tossing the old diaper. “Some people grow up faster than others. Some people stop being babies around three or four or five. Others take a little longer.” Lynn got a kiss on the forehead. “You look kind of chilly. Do you want something else to wear?”
Lynn looked down at her breasts. Her nipples were broadcasting just how cold her bedroom was at the moment. “Yes…”
She knew this from when she was actually a little girl. “Yes, please.”
To match Mickey Mouse, Mommy came back with a white and red polka dot dress with frills on the hem and sleeves that Minnie would love to be sporting. The magic keeping her in place was released enough so that Lynn could be pulled into the sitting position, and her arms guided through the sleeves. After it was pulled over her head, Lynn decided that calling it a “dress” was generous. Dresses generally covered up underwear.
A flashback to yesterday when her dress hadn’t covered up much more: All of those people! She’d assumed something about the bag’s enchantment had made the passerby see a little girl of no more than two.
That’s not what happened all, Lynn realized. All those strangers...maybe even not-so-strangers...had seen her as she really was, waddling around in shortalls and shorter hemmed dresses. They’d seen a skinny college girl acting the fool, wetting herself, and needing to have her butt wiped for her. Her face turned burning hot just thinking about it.
Oblivious to her daughter’s embarrassment, Lynn’s Mom picked her up and carried her over. “Let’s play some more. You’ve I don’t want you oversleeping and then staying up all night.”
The living room had been almost completely transformed over the course of her nap. Only the television and Mom’s favorite easy chair remained for the adult-inclined. Everything else had been clearly crafted with an adult sized infant in mind.
The foam play mat was still in the middle of the floor, but it was far from the only thing that screamed “toddler”. The wooden alphabet blocks she’d conjured up were now in a clear plastic bin, along with some other colorful odds and ends.
Clear plastic bins lined the walls, in each of them were different toys: At a glance, she was able to make out simple wooden puzzles and latch boards, a play kitchen with a bin of plastic food beside it, and various other colorful plastic doo-dads. A few stray dollies and stuffed animals littered the floor, but nothing that couldn’t be picked up given two minutes’ time. It looked lived in but not cluttered. Had she been the babysitter, instead of the tot, Lynn might have approved.
Mom stepped over a baby gate, not even a particularly large one and set Lynn down. “Go ahead,” she said. “Have fun.”
While her mother sat down in the recliner and switched the T.V. over to the news, Lynn looked around and picked up a rattle. It was the same aquamarine color as her diaper bag and speckled gold. She gave it a little shake and heard the beads snapple gently inside.
She smiled lightly. Such a simple thing, and yet there were possibilities. What was a rattle if not a baby maraca. Carefully, she shook it again, keeping her wrist straight.
Shicka-shicka, shicka-shicka, shicka, shicka. Kind of like the rhythm of a choo-choo train slowly going down the tracks. Shicka-shicka, shicka-, shicka- shicka. Yeah, that was it! Then, in a fit of whimsy she shook the rattle as fast as she could.
Shicka-shicka-shicka-shicka-shicka-shickaaaaaaaaaaa! Clearly, the choo-choo had crashed.
“Hee-hee-hee-hee!” she giggled. Awkwardly, she clapped; sending her closed fist into her open palm, building into a crescendo until the rattle slipped out of her hand and onto the floor.
“Whoops!” Mommy said from the recliner. “Careful, sweetie. Don’t break your toys.”
“Okay, Mommy.” Lynnie nodded. She barely noticed or felt the sound of the padding behind her as she crawled to retrieve her ra-....
WHAT WAS SHE DOING?!
Lynn leaned back on her heels and bit down on her tongue. The fudge was wrong with her?!
Goodie two shoes that she was, Lynn had only been drunk once in her life: It had happened when she was twelve and her mother had accidentally bought Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Turns out people could make regular beer taste a whole heckuva lot like rootbeer and Mom had neither red the label while shopping nor put two and two together when she had found rootbeer that wasn’t in the soda aisle.
Twelve-year-old Lynn had gotten sick, but before that she’d learned why people get drunk to begin with. Being drunk lowered one’s inhibitions. It made you okay with doing and saying silly things that you normally wouldn’t do. Yeah, you still had that voice in your head telling you that this was a bad idea or that you shouldn’t be doing this thing, but it was so much easier to ignore that voice and decide that you were going to sleep in your bathing suit or that six Jell-0 cups made a good lunch no matter how many times your parents warned you that you’d puke, (and even after you puked, it seemed okay).
Just then with the rattle was the closest she’d gotten to being drunk since that accidental incident years ago. Her head wasn’t as buzzy fuzzy and her mouth didn’t feel at all numb, but it was the same on so many other levels.
Deep down, she knew exactly what she’d been doing. Lynn didn’t think of herself as a baby; that fact was never in question. No memories of her education or life had been stolen from her. (The mitochondria was the powerhouse of the cell...yup, checked out. That’d be on top of the list for things to forget.)
Part of her still wanted to play along with this charade, and the magic of the bag was making it so much easier to do so. She had to get that damn bag!
The girl leaned forward on her hands and gathered her legs up underneath her. Her but shot up and out into the air above her head while she unbent and locked her knees. Then with a mighty push she heaved her torso up until she was standing.
Standing! She was standing! She could still walk. She took a step. Two steps! On the third, (closer to two-and-a-half) her arms flailed out like a high wire novice struggling for balance.
Okay. Okay. She could walk. Just not very well; and it had nothing to do with how thick her disposable underwear was. Yet another overlap on the diagram between intoxication and enchantment. Like an early toddler, crawling would still be her fastest option for covering ground. Bipedal movement would just give her a higher viewpoint. Speaking of height, her new stance did give her at least one advantage: There, hanging on a coat rack by the front door, in all of its eldritch glory, was the bag! And all she had to do was get past that baby gate.
Making sure to swallow so that she didn’t drool, (just in case), Lynn took three awkward bowlegged steps towards the gate, almost losing balance each time one foot planted. This would be easy. Even with her impaired gait it’d be next to nothing to get past the security measure designed for actual children. If she had to, Lynn could lean herself in the doorway and manually pick each foot up and place it over the threshold.
On the fourth step, something happened: An invisible force; gentle but irresistible pushed the girl back, and it was coming from the baby gate. Lynn lost balance and tumbled down onto her backside, going so far to as to skid backwards across the floor. “Ooof!”
Okay. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as easy as she thought.
WIth the same awkward lumbering determination, Lynn shot her bum into the air and stood up.
Magnets again! Just the changing table, except the changing table drew her to it. The baby gate repulsed her. Everytime the knee-high barricade came within arms’ reach, Lynn found herself knocked ever-so-gently back on her butt.
She did not get a fourth attempt. As she was pushed backward, a new force dragged her back. That force was the arms of her mother. Try as she might to resist, Lynnie couldn’t help but be dragged back onto the play mat, now in her mother’s lap.
“I”m sorry, baby girl,” her mother said. “Mommy didn’t mean to ignore you, she’s just been tired lately. Not been sleeping well.”
“Mom,” Lynn said, trying her best to keep her composure. “I need to get to the diaper bag over there.” All that got her was a diaper check. “No, not like that!”
“Lynnie, there’s no reason to get your bag. I emptied it out silly.” That explained a lot. “How about we sing Little Bunny Foo Foo?”
Mommy didn’t wait. “LIttle Bunny Foo Foo, hopping through the forest.”
Lynnie sat in her mother’s lap, letting Mommy move her hands in the air and make tiny field mice and Little Bunny Foo Foo and boppin’ them on the head. By verse two she was singing along.
All the way through verse ten. When Mommy played the good fairy, Bunny Foo Foo got an inordinate amount of second chances to clean up her act. “Mommy,” Lynnie said, “I mean Mom, I wanna get the bag! I need to show you something!” If she could just get her hands on it, she could...she didn’t know, destroy it or something and turn back into her regular self.
Mommy laughed at the urgency in Lynn’s voice. “Sweetie, it’s just a bag.”
“Noooo,” Lynn whined. “It’s a MAGIC bag!”
“Such an imagination.” The kiss and the hug did not help. The brief tickle made her laugh, but it didn’t make her feel any better. Then, Mom gave her an opening. “Your diaper bag isn’t a toy,” she said. “We only take it with us when we go out.”
It would cost her the last bits of her dignity, but Lynn knew what she had to do. “Mommy?” she said, leaning into her mother. “Can we get some fresh air? Go for a walk?”
“Mommy was working all morning,” Mom yawned. “I don’t think she has the energy to push you down the slide or chase you around the playground.”
“I don’t wanna go to the playground.” Lynn allowed herself a silly giggle. The better to seem innocent.
“Oh yeah? Where would we be going then, little lady?”
“Downtown…?” Lynn let the thought linger before charging in. “We could go for a walk. Enjoy the scenery of town square. Get some fresh air. You could push me in my stroller...and we could window shop.” Lynn didn’t know for a fact whether or not she had a stroller, but it was a safe bet.
“Hmmm..” Mom said. “Maybe we could do some window shopping…”