Chapter Description: With their date night over, Clark and Cassie have a very uncomfortable meeting with a graduate of Mrs. Beouf's class...and her Mommy
The bus pulled up with a screech, and thunder threatened rain from the night air up above. Great. And us with no umbrellas. Great. Just great. Typical. The driver, a middle aged Amazon man with a pot belly, looked down at us. He was scanning up and around for any Amazons; our ‘Mommies or Daddies’. “Coming up, or do you need help?”
“Just a moment,” Cassie said. We climbed up onto the bus. Not an easy feat, but one we were practiced at. It was something we’d worked out in college. I’d cup my hands and boost Cassie up a step. Then she’d bend over and help yank me up. Rinse and repeat for three easy steps. It was how we worked public transportation in Oakshire, the only difference being that Cassie had to make sure to hold onto our box of leftovers from dinner. That was Cassie’s lunch tomorrow.
The driver looked down at us and checked our bus passes. “Nice!” he said, sounding genuinely impressed. “Very ingenuitive.”
“Thanks,” Cassie said and then threw me a look. Ingenuitive. There was a backhanded compliment. Littles didn’t make it to our age in this part of the world without learning a few tricks to adapt. At least he didn’t say ‘Mature’, or ‘Grown-Up’.
The bus was relatively empty, only a few Amazons and a couple of Tweeners sitting in the middle back. Still, Cassie and I stayed standing near the front, grabbing onto a vertical pole for balance. Sitting Littles were sitting ducks.
I had to pee, badly, and was starting to fidget. That’s what it was called when Amazons did it anyways. It was the “the potty dance” when Littles were discomforted by a full bladder. I hoped the moving and shaking of the bus over bumpy roads would obfuscate it.
We started moving. The hum of the moving vehicle was interrupted only by the occasional squealing brakes at a stoplight, or the low warning of thunder. Cassie leaned over and gave me a peck on the cheek. Nothing major. Nervous habit. “What do you think she did?” she asked me in a quiet voice.
“Who?” I asked.
“That lady in the restaurant,” Cassie said. “How do you think she got taken?”
I wanted to say ‘who?’. I wanted to play dumb. But I knew who my wife was talking about. It hadn’t even been ten minutes. “She was a realtor,” I said. “Probably got snatched showing the wrong couple a house.”
“Yeah,” Cassie whispered. “Was probably trying to look cute or something to sell the house. Ended up getting sold herself.”
I blanched and drew back. Threw Cassie a look. “Yikes!” I hissed. “Victim blame, much?”
Cassie got this sour look on her face. “Morally? No. Tactically? Yes.”
“So you think she wore something just a little too cute and that it’s her fault that that happened to her?” I didn’t even know why I was asking. I kind of agreed.
My wife reached over and tugged on my goatee a bit. “Isn’t that why you have this?” Dang it.
“I thought it was because I looked good with it.”
“You do look good with it,” she said. “But that’s not the only reason.”
I gave up. “You know me too well, my love.” We kissed each other again. Just a little peck. Just enough to remind ourselves (and any giants watching) that we were two Littles who were madly in love, and not constantly in danger of being ‘adopted’.
We stood in silence for another minute, vainly staring out the windows for a view, but the windows were so high and we were at a bad angle. It was all street lights.
Both of us went white knuckled for a moment as the bus jumped a bit. “Sorry folks!” The driver called back. Then more softly, he said to us. “Sorry you two.” Apparently, we weren’t grouped in with ‘folks’. Typical.
We quieted down for a bus stop. Just long enough so that the hum of the engine would cover up our conversation.
“She’s a wife, too.” I said, looking over to Cassie. “What do you think happened to her husband?”
My wife kept looking straight ahead. “If he’s smart, he’s probably taking their kids and running out of town.” She must have seen the hurt in my eyes. “Would you want to see me all dolled up and diapered like that? Sucking on a paci and calling somebody ‘Daddy’?”
“I’d want to rescue you,” I said. “Run away with you. There’d be an off chance you’d go into Beouf’s room. I’d spring you from there and we’d fade away into the sunset.”
Cassie’s face took on a shade of condescension. “More likely we’d end up as ‘twins’. They’d just say we were from ‘similar backgrounds’, or something.” Then she added, “The only time we’d see each other naked is changes or bathtime.”
“So you wouldn’t want me to try and rescue you?” I asked. Feeling just the slightest bit hurt.
Cassie just shook her head. “No. I’d want you to take our kid and run.”
“She said she was a mother, remember?”
I clamped my jaw for a second. “Yeah. Yeah I remember.” I paused. “But wouldn’t you want me to rescue you even more, then? So the kid could have a mother?”
“That lady was far too gone,” Cassie replied. “Kid can get a new mother.”
I scoffed at that. I’d never known my Uncle Thomas, but an uncle and a parent were leagues away from each other. “She couldn’t have been that far gone,” I said. “She was still embarrassed to get changed in a bathroom.”
“She was calling her kidnapper ‘Daddy’.”
“I’ve seen a lot worse.”
One hand on the pole, Cassie tucked her other one and the box of leftovers into her armpit. It was the closest she could manage to crossing her arms. I bet you’ve seen a lot worse. She didn’t say it outloud. She didn’t have to. I felt like such a tool just then. Such a good Little Helper.
I looked away. We got quiet again. Too quiet.
The humming of the bus filled in the void of our conversation. I pretended that there was something on the floor that looked absolutely enthralling. Eye contact was painful just then.
And so it went for two stops.
A gentle poke at my shoulder. “Hey.” Cassie’s voice was soft and sympathetic.
I looked up. “Hey.”
She mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.”
I mouthed back. “I’m sorry, too.”
Her forehead nuzzled against mine. I could still smell the barbecue sauce on her breath. Felt the light glistening of sweat on her skin. “We’re all just doing what we can to get by.”
I nodded, feeling her kind of nod with me in the same way that two gears make each other turn. We completed each other. “Yeah,” I agreed. “It’s all we can do.”
“And I think you’re doing a good thing.”
“Yeah. My students are good kids. I hope they grow into good adults.”
“I meant with Beouf,” Cassie whispered. “You’ve told me the stories about Littles in your time out corner. You’re kinda like one of those counselors for people with terminal cancer.”
That left a sour taste in my mouth. Sad part was, I know Cassie was trying to be supportive. “I help how I can,” I whispered. Better for a Little to keep their sense of self than to end up a mindless Doll.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing. If it makes you happy, and keeps us free, I support you.”
Each of us still holding onto the same pole, we wrapped our free arms around each other and held on tight just in time for another speed bump. “I love you,” we both said.
A shadow fell over us. A figure was blocking the passing street lights. A very tall figure. “Excuse me,” the Amazon said politely enough, “but do you happen to work at Oakshire Elementary?” I immediately lost any remaining discomfort in my bladder. I still had to pee like a racehorse, but adrenaline can do strange things to one’s pain tolerance.
A full bladder was nothing compared to being in the shadow of an Amazon...especially one that thinks they know you.
I looked up. Cassie broke off our hug, but she slid her hand over mine and gave it a squeeze. Riding on the giant woman’s hip, I saw a Little. “Yes ma’am,” I said, giving my best bit of congeniality. “What can I do for you?” The Little was probably one of Mrs. Beouf’s students, though I couldn’t place her right away.
A massive hand came down and stopped just in front of my chest. “Helena Madra,” she said. “Pleased to meet you, sir.” She was offering to shake my hand. This? This was different…I took her hand gingerly, grasping the tips of four fingers in my palm and shook it up and down.
“Clark Gibson,” I said.
She released her grip and stood back up. “You probably don’t remember me, but my Amy used to go to Mrs. Beouf’s class a few years ago.” She bounced the Little on her hip a bit more upon mentioning the girl’s name.
I nodded and smiled. Time to lie. “Amy? Amy, oh yes! Sure!” Fun fact friends: Teachers; whether Little, Tweener, or Amazon; don’t always remember your kids years after the fact. Especially if they weren’t your kids’ teachers. Doubly so if just looking at them made them fear for their very freedom and made them feel like complete and total hypocrites.
“Mommeeee!” the Little girl squealed. “I want down!”
The Amazon looked at her captive riding on her hip. “You’re only going to want uppies again in a few minutes, sweet girl.” I stole a look at Cassie. She wasn’t making eye contact, with me or anyone. She was eyeing the bus driver, looking for a way out, just in case.
We were on a moving bus with automatic doors. We weren’t getting out that way. Had to play it cool. Had to talk our way out. Don’t trigger the crazy. Don’t give Helen Marda or whatever her name was a reason to think her ‘baby’ could use a ‘sibling’ or two.
Oblivious to our panic, the conversation above Cassie and my heads continued. “Mommee! Pleeeeease?!”
“I never could say no to you,” the Amazon lady said. What a crock that was. I’m pretty sure she had said no to a lot of things. No toileting. No big kid clothes. No independence. No freedom. Anyways, she put her Little kid/captive down, and the girl plopped down on her padded behind almost as soon as her feet touched the floor, the way that one-year olds who weren’t quite comfortable with walking sometimes did. That tracked.
Now that the girl...lady...I really should refer to her as a lady...now that the Little lady was down near my eye level, I could get a better look at her. Maybe get a few gears in my memory to start spinning. I didn’t want not remembering this diapered lady to be blown out of proportion as some kind of mental defect on my part. You never know with Amazons.
The lady, Amy, was about my height, though was closer to Cassie’s build. Skinny. Maybe even petite. Today, it seemed, she’d been forced into a lavender colored dress with a built in onesie that didn’t quite cover the leakguards of her bulky, and very likely soaked diaper. A matching headband with a ridiculously sized bow on top kept her long brown hair out of her face. Speaking of face, her cheeks were dotted with freckles and I had no way of knowing if those came naturally or were dotted in at a Little’s Salon after she was captured.
What had to have been done after her capture was the removal of her front teeth. It was a common enough practice to Littles who were forced to breastfeed.
Still didn’t recognize her. Her ‘Mommy’ didn’t seem to notice. “I remember when Amy first came into my life. I was at the zoo and I rescued her from a giant ostrich-”
“It was an emu, Mommy,” Amy chirped. “I was feedin’ it. Rawr!”
“Of course you were,” the giantess cooed down and patted the Little on the head. “Rawr? Is that the sound that big birdies make?” I felt Cassie dig her nails into my free hand.
Amy giggled. “Nope! But they should!”
Emu? Feeding? That rang a bell! It had been four or five years since I’d seen her, but things were coming into place. There had been a student named Amy in Beouf’s class back then. Only her hair had started out bright red, the kind that you only got out of a bottle. I’d heard her story. She’d been a veterinarian in a zoo. She’d been crying in my time out corner and then I’d given her one of my talks, just like I’d given to Chaz a few days ago.
“I adopted her right away, poor thing,” the Amazon continued, “but she was so unhappy about it. Her Maturosis had clearly gone into full effect, but she hadn’t reached her developmental plateau; not that I knew those terms at the time.”
I felt numb all over. “Uh-huh.” My skin felt dead, but my insides were boiling and burbling. Amy was busy sucking her on her fingers, staring at her knuckles as though they contained the secrets of the universe. My head felt like it might explode.
“The regular daycares wouldn’t take her, she was so fussy. So I had her enrolled in Mrs. Beouf’s class at Oakshire elementary.”
“Uh-huh.” Cassie’s nails were digging in tighter as I nodded.
“And everything started to fall into place after that. Didn’t it, Amy?”
Amy popped her fingers out of her mouth. “Uh-huh!”
I made a mental note then and there to never say ‘Uh-huh’ to an Amazon ever again. I looked at Amy, looked her right in the eye, and asked in my best adult voice. “And where do you go to school now, Amy? New Beginnings?”
Amy shook her head and giggled. “Nope nope nope. I go to Daycare!”
She paused. “I dunno.”
“I’d never take my Amy to New Beginnings.” Amy’s Mommy said. “Not after everything I’ve learned since. Mrs. Beouf’s class is so much better. No hypnosis. No drugs. No pain punishments. Just lots of love, therapy, and positive reinforcement.” She ticked those off on her fingers, like she was reciting a mantra. “And that goes both ways, for Littles and their parents. I only withdrew her because I wanted to open up a spot for some other Little baby in need. Amy was so lucky to meet you and Mrs. Beouf.”
“I don’t work with Mrs. Beouf,” I said. “Not directly. We’re just classroom neighbors.”
Amy’s Mommy nodded. “I know,” she said. “But I think you being there helped her adjustment.” My throat went dry. “Just seeing a grown-up Little, like you, helped her realize that she wasn’t one. She told me a bit about your time outs. It was a really big help.”
I rocked back, catching myself. It wasn’t a speed bump that made me lose my balance. “Help?”
Pulling up on the Amazon’s leg, Amy hoisted herself to her feet. Her legs splayed out and her hands went wild for balance. I’d seen enough diapered Littles to know that it wasn’t the bulk between her legs throwing off her balance. Maybe it was something in her shoes. Maybe her legs had been messed with like her teeth. Maybe she just wasn’t used to walking by herself anymore. “Oh! Someone wants a hug!”
Amy grasped the Amazon’s hand for balance and toddled, literally toddled across the bus aisle to me. She leaned into me and wrapped her arms around my chest, laying her head into my shoulder. “Fankyoo,” she whispered to me. Then she wobbled back and sat on the floor.
I helped? Thankyou? I felt wobbly. I felt sick. Don’t faint. Don’t throw up. Don’t cry. For the love of God don’t cry. Cassie must have seen me losing it because she spoke up for the first time. “So, Miss Madra,” Cassie said. “What brings you and your Little girl out this late. My husband and I were just on a dinner date.”
Smart, Cassie. Smart. Reinforcing the notion that we were adults without sounding too resentful. Guiding the conversation away from mind-fuckery. Thanks Cass. I shot her a look of thanks. Subtly she nodded. She’d take over a bit.
Amazons don’t give us Littles enough credit for our ability at subterfuge. They see only what they want to see. Miss Madra took the bait. “Oh, we were just heading home from the Little Voices meeting. Amy doesn’t really pay attention, but she loves to play. Some of the other parents bring their babies, but not this time, right Amy?”
“Nuh-uh.” Amy wasn’t even looking up now. Something else had caught her attention.
“But she was perfectly happy to just crawl around on the floor while the grown-ups talked.”
“Little Voices,” Cassie said. “I’m afraid I’m unfamiliar with that organization. It is an organization, correct?”
I wasn’t looking, but I heard the tone shift in Amy’s Mommy’s voice. Cassie had just asked the street preacher to peddle their religion by the sound of it. “Oh yes, it’s a wonderful thing! It’s an advocacy group for-”
I tuned the Amazon out and followed the diapered Littles gaze to the floor. There, underneath the nearest front facing seat, was a wad of pre-chewed gum. Pink. Asymmetrical. Hard. Bits of hair, poking up out of it. Or maybe that was lint.
As Cassie chatted up the Amazon, I could only stare in horror as Amy took to all fours, the hem of her onesie dress just barely skirting the floor, and crawled over to the gum. I watched as she picked at it and peeled at the base.
She got it off the floor and held a huge hard chunk in between her thumb and forefinger.
Oh no no…
In it went. Straight into the mouth. A.B.C. gum. And from the look on the diapered Little’s eyes, it was pure delight.
“Um...ma’am!” I did my best to speak up without sounding panicked. “Um...Amy has something in her mouth, I think..”
A note of panic went into the Amazon’s voice “What?!” She bent over and picked her prisoner up. It took less than a second for her to take the seat that the gum had been under and start probing the Little’s mouth. “Don’t swallow. Don’t swallow. Oh...oh...got it!” She took out the bit of gum. I didn’t have the heart or the nerve to mention that it looked smaller than it had been when Amy had popped it in.
“It’s strawberry flavored!” Amy proclaimed. I looked back at Cassie. She looked as horrified as I felt, just then. Her lips weren’t moving but her eyes were screaming.
Amy’s Mommy started bouncing her on her lap. “Amy? Again?!”
“What?!” Amy said, sounding actually indignant for the first time. I recognized that tone of voice. Hauntingly familiar, now. “Somebody left it there for me to get. I was jus’ smart enough to notice it and take!”
The Amazon let out a tired laugh. “I’m just glad that you didn’t choke on it this time.” THIS TIME?! Not a doll. No one would mind fuck program a Little to risk killing themselves. “Oh, baby girl. What am I ever going to do with you?”
“No ice cream. Not tonight.”
“Okay. Cuddles.” And the two leaned into each other, eyes closed. If they had been cats, they would have been purring.
Meanwhile, Cassie and I stared at each other in disbelief. It was like we were the only two dinosaurs that saw the falling meteor and knew what it meant…
“I’m sorry about that, ma’am,” I offered. “I would have acted myself but it wasn’t an emergency and I didn’t want to put my hands on your baby.” I felt nauseous just saying that. Had to cover myself though.
Amy lifted her head off of her Mommy’s giant breast. “I am a baby!” This time five years ago, I could have sworn I heard that same voice scream that she wasn’t...
“Think nothing of it, sir,” the Amazon said. “Amy does this sort of thing all the time. Don’t you sweetie?”
The Little nodded. “Uh-huh! I’m mischievous!”
“Oh do you even know what that means?”
The diapered Little just grinned softly, her mouth closed, and shrugged. “I use ta hadda a..a...hamster named Mischief. An’ he liked to run on a tiny wheel. He went rawr!” She giggled at her own non-joke. This...this woman wasn’t a doll. No way was she a doll. Eating used gum is not something that would be put into a brainwashing algorithm. Neither would back talk or whining or wandering. And there was still that same mischievous spark behind her eyes. The spark of someone who knew exactly what they were doing and loved doing it, even if she literally didn’t know the meaning of the word.
But that could only mean…
I didn’t want to think about what that could mean.
“This is our stop!” Helena Madra called out, pressing the signal. The bus came to another whining, screeching halt as faulty breaks kicked in.
This was their stop. Ours too. It was the stop right by our neighborhood. This woman...these women...could very well be our neighbors. Amy went right back on Helena’s hip and they walked to the front of the bus. Cassie and I stayed put. We’d wait. We’d wait until the bus circled back, no matter how badly I needed to pee just then. I’d hold it.
There was no way we were going to let the giant or her pet Little that had gone full native know where we lived. “Wonderful to run into you,” she said before stepping off. We waved. All big fake toothy grins.
A clap of thunder and the doors slamming shut signaled their exit. The rain started coming down in earnest a minute later just as our neighborhood disappeared. It looked like we’d have to do a mad dash home if it didn’t let up.
One way or another, we were getting wet.
Cassie started grumbling to herself as she climbed up into one of the seats. Might as well. We had a long ride ahead of us. I stayed standing to keep the pressure off my bladder.
It wasn’t fair. But it’s how our world was.