Chapter Description: Clark and Janet end their friendship.
“What are you doing with this?” I asked, flapping the Little Voices pamphlet up at my co-worker.
Janet sighed. “Clark, maybe you should sit down.”
“No thank you,” I said. My tone was harsh and stern, even if my words were courteous.
Janet looked away, avoiding eye contact. “Mind if I sit down?”
I really did mind her sitting down. But sitting down made her less likely- less able- to snatch me up. “Go ahead.”
Three giant steps later she was sitting at a student’s desk. Not as far away as her own on the opposite side of the entrance. In that moment I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the same desk she’d sat in when we were all grading essays a couple months ago. I missed that time. “I’m looking into adopting a Little,” she said.
“Yeah,” I said. “I figured.” Neither of us said anything.
I kept looking down at the pamphlet: “Adopting a Little- What to Expect The First Year.” This shit was insidious. The phrasing was a perverse blend of delegitimizing pseudoscience and stuff that someone might give an expectant mother at a baby shower. “Digestive health” was paired with resources on “Comfort in Cribs: How to get your Little to sleep through the night.” A website about “Breastfeeding=Bonding” was right above a plug for a book called “But I USED to be a grown-up!”
One of my few Amazon friends, the one I thought I’d had the most in common with, had been taken in by propaganda. Or maybe she hadn’t. Maybe she’d always believed this and just found the right literature to echo back her own beliefs at her.
I looked up at her. Even sitting down I had to crane my neck so as not to be making eye contact with her knees. “So was it true?”
“Was what true?”
“What that Amazon said in the restroom? Were you just saving me for yourself?”
She didn’t laugh like I was expecting her too. She didn’t wave it away. If anything she looked kind of insulted. Kind of hurt. “Clark. I would never adopt you. You’re a fully functioning, mature Little. You’re my friend.”
“And friends don’t adopt friends?” I spat. “Is that it?”
“No!” she said. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”
I dared to place the two pieces of the pamphlet up on the desk, even as I had to stand on my tiptoes. When I had backed up to a safe distance. “I’m not sure what I know, anymore.”
Janet rubbed her forehead. She was frowning. The gears were turning in her head. “Is this about the carseat thing?”
“That’s part of it,” I said. It had started with the carseat. It might just end with this pamphlet.
“The carseat thing was stupid of me,” Janet said. “I did get it because I was considering adoption. But I wasn’t going to take you or anything.”
I dug my hands into the sides of my legs to stop myself from screaming or rolling my eyes. “Then why did you invite me out?”
“Because I genuinely wanted to hang out with you,” she said. I didn’t reply. I just kept staring at her. Sometimes silence can be more effective than any rebuttal. “Okay. And I wanted to maybe um... borrow you.”
So much for silence. “BORROW ME?!”
She held out her hand, palm facing me, to show that she wasn’t done. “Not like that! Not like that! Sorry!” She took a breath. “I mean, I was thinking of making sure I got the sizing right.” Again, she exhaled. “That was stupid and tone deaf of me. I’m sorry.”
Not sorry enough for my liking. “Let me get this straight,” I said, feeling braver than I should have. “You don’t think I’m immature. But you wanted to use me...to make sure that another Little might fit...you wanted to use me like a...like a doll.”
Janet’s eyes lit up like I’d just accused her of a crime. She started backpedaling. “I know what that word means!” she said. Apparently, Little Voices was also educating its audience on Little Slang, too. “And no. That’s not what I meant at all! I just didn’t…I’m sorry...”
“How do I know you weren’t trying to take me?” I repeated.
“Clark,” Janet said. “A couple of hours ago, I had you. We were alone. In a bathroom. And you were stuck in a diaper that you needed my help to get off. If I had wanted to, I could have taken you. Do you think Brollish would have objected?”
I didn’t have an answer to that. I didn’t want to hear it. So I gave no reply, just then.
That didn’t stop Janet. “If it makes you feel any better, I’m thinking of adopting a Little girl.”
I couldn’t help it: Images of Cassie, diapered and in some pink frilly tutu dress riding on Janet’s hip seared themselves into my brain. My blood ran cold. “It really doesn’t.”
“I’d never adopt a Little who’s Maturosis hasn’t expressed itself,” she promised. “I’d only adopt a Little that needed my help.”
“WE DON’T NEED YOUR HELP! THAT’S NOT HELPING! YOU’RE STEALING US! YOU’RE TORTURING US! YOU’RE RUINING US!”
That’s what I wanted to yell. That’s what I really wanted to do. Instead I asked, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?!” All of the clever little talking points I’d practiced or read about online had left me. I only had anger and fear and a sense of betrayal; none of which was making me feel terribly persuasive.
“Just ‘why?’,” I said. “Why would you ever want to do this?”
Something filled up inside of Janet. “Because I want to be a mother,” she told me. “I always have. It’s why I got into teaching. It’s why I got married.” Her voice rose a bit and she sat up straighter. She was getting a far off look in her eye. “I’ve been trying to fill up this part of myself. I’ve always had this instinct, this desire, this need. And so much of my life up till now has been trying to fill this void.”
“You’re a teacher,” I said. “A role model.”
Janet missed the point. “And that’s not enough,” she said. “I don’t want to just help somebody else’s kid. I want one of my own. The divorce helped me realize it. I need to mother someone.”
“You need to baby someone.” I didn’t even remember saying it. The words seemed to come from outside of me.
Janet cocked an eyebrow. “What’s the difference?”
I just started shaking my head and couldn’t stop. I was feeling a strange blend of fear, righteous fury, and even pity. Janet- my friend Janet who had helped save me not once, but twice. Who respected me as a person, and geeked out about a silly T.V. show with me and had become a growing part of my professional and personal life- really was just a typical Amazon. And in that moment I kind of hated her for it.
“It’s wrong,” I said. “It’s just wrong. And I don’t know how to explain it any better than that.”
Her arms crossed over her chest. “Mature Littles deserve all the responsibilities of everyone else,” she told me. “I buy from Mature Littles online all the time. At least twice a month!”
“Wow.” I said, finding my voice. “Just wow. Mature Littles deserve all the responsibilities of everyone else. You keep track of how often you patronize us online. Do you know how that sounds? Do you?!” I wasn’t shouting, but I was damn near close.
“You just communicated to me that you have three types of people. Littles, so-called Immature Littles, and everyone else. How many Amazons do you buy from? How many Tweeners?”
“Do you know how that sounds?! How...how…” I cut myself off. “And this whole Maturosis thing! Do you hear yourself?! You say that my ‘Maturosis hasn’t expressed itself’?!”
“It hasn’t, has i-?”
“So I’m not a permanent baby yet, but I could turn into one?”
“Not all Littles-”
“Or if I never turn into one, you think I could pass it on if I ever had kids?” I hadn’t even realized it but I was pacing, and pulling at my hair. I was ranting. “It was bad enough when I was growing up when Littles were adopted because they couldn’t conform to some bullshit idea of being an adult!” I was definitely ranting. I didn’t care. “We were still blamed whenever we ended up caught and diapered, but at least Amazons pretended to be fair about it. NOW WITH THIS MATUROSIS HORSESHIT IT’S NOT A MATTER OF ‘IF’, IT’S A MATTER OF ‘WHEN’, AND IT CAN NEVER HAPPEN TO AMAZONS BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE THE IMAGINARY DISEASE! IT’S NOT FAIR!” I even stomped my foot at the last word.
“Clark,” Janet sounded offended. Good. “Don’t say that kind of stuff.”
“Or what?!” I snapped. I lowered my voice down to a growl. “What are you gonna do? Put me in time out? Spank me?”
Janet stood up and I flinched. Actually flinched. “I think you should go.”
I was shaking. “I think I should too.”
I turned around and reached up for the knob. “Wait,” she said. “One question.”
I whipped my head around. “What?” The fire was burning inside of me but I had regained some measure of control.
“If you hate Amazons adopting Littles so much,” Janet asked, looking down at me. “Why are you here?”
I wanted to tell her what I’d told Cassie time and time again. That I was here to make a difference. That I wanted to teach Amazons that Littles didn’t deserve to be babied. That I was making a slow change and positive impact in my community, if not the world. Somehow, those practiced lines all felt hollow in my head. “What choice do I have?”
“You want to know what I think?”
I didn’t. “What?”
“You get a thrill out of it.” Janet said. “You get a rush out of outwitting the Raine Forrests of the world. You're a good teacher, but you just love showing off how clever you are by messing with the Amazons. Or how brave you are by drinking Beouf’s coffee. Or how patient you can be teaching next to the Little’s classroom. Or how fierce you can be when you make Zoge cry. Or how hip you can be when you hang out and make jokes with Tracy.”
I stood there. Shocked. Speechless.
She kept going. “Everyday you come to school you’re jumping out of an airplane. And every time, the idea that your chute might not open gets you just a tad bit excited. And everytime it does open, you’re just a tiny bit disappointed. If Amazons are as bad as you seem to think, you’d have never taken this job if you had an inch of common sense.”
Janet might’ve expected me to concede her point. To say, “Maybe not all Amazons are that bad.” What I said instead was, “I guess I don’t have an inch of common sense, then.”
Janet blinked. “Clark, I like you. But I don’t think you and I can be friends right now.”
“You can go, now.”
So I did.
There are many different kinds of sex; and no I’m not referring to position, number of partners, genitals, or holes. There’s making love where your partner or partners are so enraptured by each other that the entire world ceases to exist for however long. There’s anger sex, where your body gets so confused with all the signals it’s receiving that it forgets the reason why the blood is pumping so hard. Baby making is just where you’re trying to have a kid, and you’re doing your due diligence while having a good time, even though you’re trying to make something that will severely stimmy your sex drive. There’s boredom sex when nothing is on T.V., and makeup sex when you’ve forgiven each other and breakup sex when you want that one last sweet memory (or to confirm why you’re breaking up to begin with).
Then there’s guilt sex. When you feel guilty, because you’ve wronged someone, and you want to forget about it and apologize without admitting that you’ve done anything wrong. Unlike many of the above listed variations on the theme, guilt sex only requires one party to be feeling guilty. If Cassie knew how I was feeling just then and knew why, it wouldn’t have been guilt sex. It would have been makeup sex, anger sex, or possibly even breakup sex.
But she didn’t. She just knew it was sex. It helped that there was nothing on T.V.
We had guilt sex because after my almost abduction/adoption and my conversation with Janet things had reached a damn near boiling point. And if I had an inch of common sense, I would have quit my job and we would have moved into Misty Brook, at least temporarily. We could have sold the house while we rebounded and I could have figured out what else to do with my life.
I guess I didn’t have an inch of common sense.
(End of Part 2)