Between the sheets...and into the mind [Ch1-Ch35]

Chapter 15

Lesley was sat in a client meeting, doing her best to concentrate and remain professional, however she was on pins for the first 20 minutes. Kenzie’s call had come just as she’d been on her way to reception to meet the clients, meaning she was left all flustered and couldn’t quite maintain her focus. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, her phone screen had flashed to life bearing a message from home, confirming that all was well. She couldn’t quite stifle an audible sigh of relief, causing a raised eyebrow from the client and an enquiring look from her own manager who was also in the meeting and which she felt left her having to apologise and justify her distractedness thus far.

“Sorry folks, bit of a family emergency was unfolding, but seems it’s been taken care of now and no harm done. You now have my undivided attention once more.”

Whilst her manager was presenting some numbers, she took the opportunity to tap out a quick reply to her daughter, so that she wouldn’t be waiting on her call, and then returned her attention to the task at hand.

“Thanks love, I was worried but glad you’re ok. In a meeting, speak when I get home. Hope your friends ok too? x “

Having enjoyed a leisurely cup of tea and another couple of rounds of toast, making the most of the unexpected delay to the start of her day, McKenzie finally popped her crockery into the dishwasher and retrieved her college bag, fishing out her laptop and a folder containing the project she was currently working on and heading upstairs, planning to make good on her promise to herself that she’d spend the day working whilst snuggled up on bed, what could be better?

It was only as she stepped through her open bedroom door and took in the sight that greeted her, that reality struck. Of course she couldn’t spend the day cozy and warm in her bed, because she’d pissed in it the night before like a little baby. Not just in her bed, but all over the floor too. She was momentarily furious with herself, before breaking down in silent tears…why did it always have to be like this? Why couldn’t she just be a normal teenager? She was 19 FFS, supposed to be an adult, why couldn’t she act like it? Even collapsing onto her bed didn’t help, the crinkling of the plastic cover grating on her already fractured nerves and causing even more tears to fall. What a mess she was, how was she ever going to live her life like this?

The anger and sadness passed as quickly as it had descended, as it so often did, and soon Kenzie was beating herself up about being so silly. Of course it wasn’t her fault, she didn’t do it on purpose and she wasn’t even awake when it happened (last night being the exception, in part), it was a medical condition and was outside of her control, something she just needed to learn to live with for the moment and get on with her life as best she could, as she very well knew. Wiping her face and dusting herself down, she decided to make the best of a bad situation and, scooping up her computer and books once more she strode purposefully from the room, into her Mums, and snuggled herself down in there instead. She was at work, she’d never know, and heck she’d invited her to share that very bed only the previous night so it almost certainly wouldn’t be a problem! And, if it was? Well, it was easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, she chuckled to herself.

Laptop fired up, books spread open, McKenzie made a productive start and in truth probably got through more work in the first hour or so than she would have all day at college, plus she was warm and comfy, so it really was a win-win. Moving on to her next task, she set about reading a couple of chapters of the set text she was analysing. Alas it wasn’t the most captivating of storylines (a bit like this one I dare say :wink: ) and it didn’t take long before her disturbed night’s sleep caught up with her and she dropped off, snug and warm, and fast asleep in her Mum’s bed again.

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Chapter 17

McKenzie snoozed for more than an hour, eventually disturbing as she heard the mail arriving downstairs with a rattle of the letterbox and a loud thud on the doormat. Disoriented, it took her a few moments to find her bearings and remember where she was, and why. Panicked instinct caused her first to check under the covers, relieved to find everything dry and as it should be, and then her phone - startled to see that not only had she not just been dozing for a few minutes as she expected but more than an hour had passed, but also that there were a number of messages that she’d not heard come through.

She began thumbing through the messages, finding nothing important and mostly just silliness from her college friends, many of whom were also enjoying an impromptu day at home (although a couple weren’t so fortunate, as the saltiness of their messages confirmed!). Satisfied that she’d not missed out on anything major, and refreshed after her hour in bed, McKenzie extricated herself from the covers in which she was cocooned and decided to do something productive, for staring at the disinteresting old prose had only sent her to sleep and whilst she could quite happily while away the rest of the day snoring, it seemed such a waste. It was as she stood that she felt a prickling from her midsection, a timely reminder from her bladder that having drank late night hot chocolate and then what felt like several gallons of coffee so far this morning, she really should nip and use the loo. How strange, she thought to herself not for the first time over the years, that I can have been fast asleep and clearly desperate for a wee and not wet the bed, yet other times I can barely drink and use the toilet immediately before closing my eyes, only to wake up to a flood! It just makes no sense whatsoever.

She mused over this seemingly nonsensical problem as she visited the bathroom and relieved herself, taking the opportunity whilst washing her hands to give her face a splash with cold water which quickly shook the reminder of the sleep from her and left her feeling wide awake and raring to go, if she was being honest with herself probably for the first time in a very, very long time.

Ablutions taken care of, and noting there were still a couple of hours left of her normal college day, Kenzie grabbed her laptop and file from where they lay discarded in her mum’s bedroom, and descended the stairs to the kitchen table where she hoped she’d be able to regain her earlier productivity. She laid out her project work across the table, and began collating the information and putting it into some kind of meaningful order. It took the remainder of the afternoon, but she was quite satisfied by what she’d managed to achieve, feeling confident that her project was at least half way towards being ready for submission.

Across town, Lesley was working diligently in the hope of an early dart, knowing that she had to make it to the launderette before Maureen left for the day if Kenzie was to have fresh bedding and she, in turn, was to have her bed to herself again tonight. She’d got most of her days workload taken care of by 4pm, and eventually decided that the last couple of documents she needed to review and sign off could go home with her, to be completed over a glass of that delicious wine from last night. The clients didn’t need them until morning, and it would make her journey home so much less stressful if she wasn’t rushing.

Maureen was just bringing in the outdoor pavement signs and giving the shop a last quick lick with the mop when Lesley arrived, perfect timing with just 15 minutes left before closing.

“Twice in one day, and after so long” the owner chuckled as she ducked under the counter to retrieve the laundered bedding.

“Haha, Hi, Maureen. Yeah I had to make sure I got here in time so Kenzie had her thick quilt back for tonight, I’m far to used to my own bed to have her sharing with me again!”

The two ladies exchanged a look, and in that moment Maureen understood who’s soiled bedding she’d just washed, and Lesley realised she’d well and truly put her foot in it and exposed poor McKenzie’s secret to a virtual stranger. She hurriedly began stumbling over her words, trying to explain praying for discretion.

“I,…b…but…I mean, I…” she fumbled and stammered, horrified that she’d let something like that slip and completely unable to put together a coherent sentence.

“Lesley, relax!” Maureen interjected “Honestly, in this job I’ve seen everything, and I really do mean everything. They’re certainly not the first damp bedsheets I’ve been asked to wash, and I bet they won’t even be the last this week! What happens in the launderette stays in the launderette, and all that. I figured they must be your daughters, isn’t she what college age now? Experimenting with drink no doubt…well, I bet she doesn’t do that again in a hurry eh.”

Still struck dumb, but immensely relieved that Maureen hadn’t seemed disgusted, or even really shocked, Lesley merely nodded, eventually managing to mumble something about wine being involved, at which the older woman rolled her eyes and laughed.

Having settled the bill, and keen to get out of what was still a pretty uncomfortable situation, Lesley then thanked Maureen for taking care of things so quickly, discreetly asked her to “keep it to herself” although she knew that was probably completely unnecessary, and then bade her goodbyes she loaded the fluffy duvet and neatly folded sheets and covers into the boot of her car once more, before taping out a quick text to Kenzie.

“Hiya love, just on my way home, be about 15 mins. Pop the kettle on would ya? x “

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Chapter 18

Focussed on her work, McKenzie hadn’t heard her phone ping as the message arrived, so she jumped a little as she heard keys in the front door, announcing her Mum’s earlier than expected arrival home.

“Hi Mum, you’re early” she called cheerfully from the kitchen, where she was still pouring over the various documents and worksheets she had spread across the table.

“Hiya sweetie, yeah I text, didn’t you see it? Does that mean I’ll have to make my own cuppa then?” Lesley put on a mock scolding voice, chuckling at the look of indignation on her daughters face as she walked into the kitchen and gave her a hug, taking in the mass of work spread out.

“Honestly McKenzie, you make a mess wherever you go!” this delivered with a wide smile, for she couldn’t get angry over college work, and she half wished as much interest and diligence had been shown in the earlier years of her education, but Kenzie had been so distracted by everything else going on that school work often came distant second in her priorities.

The pair continued to exchange banter as Lesley filled the kettle and prepared two mugs of steaming hot coffee for them, and Kenzie tidied away her work, although not before her mum took a rare opportunity to have a look over some of it and praise her daughter for the excellent standard, causing a blush.

The table clear once more, Lesley set down the mugs and added a plate containing a slice of cake each, a little afternoon treat for whilst they caught up on each other’s day.

“So Kenz, love, whatever was all that about on the phone earlier? I heard about the crash in work, it effected loads of people, but why didn’t you have your key? And what on earth was going on with your friend?”

“Ahh, so sorry for worrying you when I phoned Mum! I’d swapped coats this morning, if you remember? And my keys were still in my denim that I had on yesterday - it wouldn’t have been much of a problem if the bus had turned up, I’d just have stayed later at college until I knew you were home, but with the crash and the buses being cancelled I had to come home, and that’s when I realised! It’s a good job you’d thought to hide that spare key, other wise I don’t know what we’d have done!”

“I’m actually surprised that’s the first time in what, 6 years or so that you’ve been making your own way home from school and now college that you’ve needed to use it, surprised but quite impressed. That key’s been there since you turned 13…and, hands up, I’ve had to use it myself a couple of times before now. Anyway, you said you don’t know what ‘we’ would have done, who’s the we? I didn’t recognise that voice in the background earlier.”

Realising that this was going to take some explaining, Kenzie took a slurp of her coffee and a generous bite of cake before beginning.

“Her name’s Charlotte, and I only actually met her today. When the bus was so late, I got talking to a couple of girls from my college who get the same bus - Emily and Chloe - about what we should do. There are loads of kids that catch school buses from there, too, and Charlotte heard us talking about it so she came to ask what was happening. She’s 16 and in Year 11 at St Aelred’s. After we’d spoken to college, she called her school and they said she could stay at home too and spend the day doing revision, but she lives right the way over on the other side of the estate next to the ring road, and after waiting so long for the bus in the cold she was bursting for a wee, so I offered to let her come and use our loo before walking home, I hope that was ok?”

Relieved to hear that what had sounded like a real cause for panic on the phone turned out to be little more than a couple of teenagers making a mountain out of a molehill, Lesley smiled warmly “Of course it’s ok, honestly Kenz It’s your home too, you can always bring friends here you know that. Well done you for helping out somebody in need, too, I bet she’d have been really uncomfortable if you’d not offered and she’d had to walk home.”

Nodding in agreement, Kenzie added “Yeah, she was in a pretty bad way Mum. That’s why I rang you in a panic, I thought she was going to have an accident right out there on our front step when I told her I didn’t have my key. There’s no way she’d have made it all the way home without having an accident, and I could tell she was really embarrassed which is why I wanted to help.

“Well, good for you.”

“Charlotte went straight home after that, she had to log in to do her school work remotely, and I think she felt a bit awkward after everything, but I’ll hopefully see her again at the bus stop in the morning so I’ll make sure she’s ok. After she’d gone, I basically spent the day caching up on my coursework, and that’s about it really until you got home.” McKenzie conveniently left out the bit about falling back to sleep for an hour, reasoning that she’d still achieved far more work than she would have done in college, so her Mum really didn’t need to know about that little indiscretion.

Lesley briefly filled Kenzie in on her day, uneventful and lacking in excitement as it had been, and then after rinsing their dishes announced that she was going to unload the car, and that she’d leave the fresh bedding upstairs for her, as she wanted to go and run herself a long, hot bath and have a soak.

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Chapter 19

The reminder about her bedding situation was not a welcome one for Kenzie, but in a way she was quite looking forward to freshly laundered sheets, and a fluffy duvet that had been fluffed up in the tumble dryer. It wasn’t of course any consolation for what had happened, but if it meant she could be extra comfy tonight then she’d take that and enjoy it. Following her mum up the stairs, she found the sheets and duvet had been left neatly on the floor in her bedroom, and set to work making her bed, doing as she’d always being taught and layering the mattress with a second waterproof cover over the bottom sheet, and a final sheet atop that, so that in the rare event she did wake up after an accident (and her duvet hadn’t taken collateral damage, unlike last night!) she could just strip a layer off, get herself changed and hop back into bed, taking care of the rest in the morning. It didn’t happen very often for she usually only woke in the morning, cold and miserable, but when it did it meant her night was less disturbed than it otherwise would be if she’d had to fully strip and remake the bed in the early hours.

Whilst McKenzie was sorting out her bed, Lesley had busied herself putting her own laundry away and then set to work arranging herself a bath, drawing steaming hot water and even lighting a couple of candles, thinking she may just ask Kenzie if she could borrow her bluetooth speaker and play a few tunes in the background to help her unwind. Browsing the shelf filled with lotions and potions, she selected a bottle of lavender bubble bath which had just a drop left in, shaking it vigorously into the running water, and then rinsing under the tap both to extract the remnants and also so that the bottle could be easily recycled. Satisfied, she turned to toss it into the bin, and that’s when a strange sight caught her eye. What was that?

The bathroom bin was of the pedal variety for hygiene reasons, as nobody wants to be handling a bin lid if they can avoid it, so typically they just stepped on the pedal, dropped whatever rubbish they needed to into the bag inside, and then let the lid fall as they stepped away. This time, however, Lesley bent close to the bin as she opened it, keen to get a closer look at whatever it was that was poking out of the side - what appeared to be a piece of two tone grey fabric. At first she wondered whether it was one of her hand towels or face cloths which may have somehow fallen in accidentally, but as she looked more closely she could see that wasn’t the case. She still wasn’t certain, and she was somewhat apprehensive about touching something which had been languishing in the bin for who knows how long, and with whatever other nasties were hidden within, but it appeared to be a much larger piece of material, and the colouration suggested it was partly damp. How odd.

Biting the bullet, she took hold of the fabric - grabbing the light grey part which she presumed to be dry, as this would surely be the safer bet - and lifted it out of the bin so that she could see exactly what it was she was dealing with. It was definitely an article of clothing, but not something her or McKenzie owned so far as she could make out. Eventually she realised that it was a pair of grey woollen tights, with underwear wound inside them, and they were indeed saturated from the crotch right the way down both legs. Lesley was somewhat bemused, for she knew for certain that they did not belong to her, and as far as she could recall McKenzie hadn’t worn tights like these since she’d been in primary school, her high school favouring sheer tights or trousers. It was then that it clicked…the poor, poor girl! They must belong to that friend Kenzie had brought home earlier to use the loo, and judging by the evidence it seems she’d been caught short after all. Oh bless her, how humiliating that must have been, and no wonder she’d not stuck around after having that happen to her.

Now Lesley was torn, what should she do, and did she or didn’t she say anything to her daughter? Part of her wanted to just shove them back into the bin and forget all about them, she didn’t know the poor unfortunate young girl after all. At the same time, she wondered whether Kenzie should know what had happened, so that she could try to talk to her new friend and reassure her - it could be that, Charlotte wasn’t it? was sat at home worrying about whether anybody knew and stressing unnecessarily about it.

With the soiled garment in her hand, Lesley stepped backwards and sat herself down on the closed toilet lid, calling through to McKenzie in her bedroom.

“Kenz, could you come here a minute please? I need to talk to you about something really quickly. I’m in the bathroom…don’t worry, I’m decent.”

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Chapter 20

Having made her bed, and enjoying the fluffiness that only comes from a freshly laundered and tumble dried quilt, Kenzie had collapsed on top and was lay scrolling through social media on her phone, noting new friend requests which had popped up from Emily, Chloe and even Charlotte who she’d met earlier. At first she wondered how they’d found her, but then again McKenzie wasn’t a particularly common name. Reasoning that she’d all shared something that morning, her and Charlotte in particular, and she was pleased that the young girl had taken the time to track her down despite her rather hasty retreat after using the bathroom, she accepted all of the requests, and sent them all a quick “Hey” by way of acknowledgement.

She was just having a quick browse on each of their profiles, keen to learn a bit more about who they were, when she heard her mum call her from the bathroom, and wondered what on earth was so urgent that having a chat couldn’t wait until after she’d had her bath.

“Coming, Mum. One sec.”

Finding the bathroom door closed, despite her mums comment that she was decent Kenzie still knocked out of politeness and respect for her privacy, waiting to be invited into the room before turning the handle and pushing the door open.

“Hey Mum, what’s up?”

Lesley was still perched on top of the toilet when her daughter entered the room, and looking up she smiled and motioned for the girl to take a seat herself on the edge of the bath or the wooden laundry hamper.

“Hey sweetie, look this is a little awkward and I don’t quite know how to bring this up, so I’m sorry in advance if I put my foot in my mouth and just blurt it out - I don’t even know why I’m talking to you about it really, but I guess it’s something you need to know, and then what you do with that knowledge is entirely up to you - I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.”

McKenzie was completely perplexed by this statement, and didn’t quite know what to make of it. She was 19, so they’d clearly had the ‘birds and bees’ talk a very long time ago, she was pretty confident that she’d not done anything ‘wrong’ or which her mum may not approve of, and her own personal problems were hardly a new topic of conversation, ongoing as they had been for more than half of her life, so what on earth was eating away at her mum so badly?

“Well, I’ll say firstly that I know these aren’t mine, and I’m almost certain that they’re not yours - although if they are, and I’ve got completely the wrong end of the stick here then please stop me before I make even more of a fool of myself - which makes me presume they must belong to the girl you brought here to help this morning, Charlotte you said didn’t you? and if that’s the case then perhaps she may need a few words of support and encouragement. You of all people are probably best placed to be understanding, given your situation and history, and I know that if I’m right in what I think happened then you’ll want to try and help again if you can.”

Lesley then held up the wet tights she’d found stuffed in the bathroom bin, causing McKenzie to gasp loudly and cover her mouth in shock.

“Oh! Oh, poor Charlotte. Yes, yes Mum I’m sure they are hers. In fact, that makes a lot of sense all of a sudden. When she came down from using the loo, I knew something was different but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just assumed she was different in how she was acting perhaps, her mannerisms and such, but now I can see it was her appearance that had changed - she’d been wearing tights at the bus stop, and she wasn’t when she left here. Oh the poor girl, I knew she was so very desperate and so close to having an accident, but I just assumed she’d made it ok.”

Kenzie felt mortified on her new friends behalf, and Lesley too felt the embarrassment which was almost palpable.

“They were in the bathroom bin love, I only spotted them by chance.”

Again something clicked in Kenzie’s brain, as if the pieces of the puzzle had started to slot together and form a more complete picture. Charlotte had left her school bag in the hallway as she’d struggled up the stairs to the bathroom, so she’d have had nowhere to hide her wet things, and presumably throwing them in the bin had been the only option for had she kept them on it would have been glaringly obviously to both Kenzie and anybody else she’d met on her way home that she’d had an accident, which would have been humiliating in the extreme for a 16 year old.

Her head was spinning as she tried to think of how on earth she could broach this with Charlotte, without upsetting or embarrassing her. She knew that she couldn’t not say something, as then the poor girl would be left worrying about whether they knew, and if they did what they thought, and she also knew that if she’d ever suffered such an embarrassing misfortune she’d really appreciate an understanding voice and some comfort, just as her own mum had always offered her as she’d struggled with her bedwetting, but how?

Lesley interrupted her internal monologue “I’m going to hop in the bath now Kenz, could you bring me your speaker through please? Shall I throw these in the wash with my things?”

“Of course Mum, I’ll go and grab it for you now. You remember how to use it, yeah? Haha” Lesley had never been great with technology, and Kenzie had showed her countless times how to connect to the speaker, so it was a bit of a running joke now every time the subject came up. “And yeah I guess so, I mean I’m not quite sure what to do with them, but give them a wash and then I’ll try to talk to Charlotte. I really hope she’s ok, she must be feeling bloody awful after having that happen to her at a strangers house, I know I would.”

“And that’s why I needed to tell you love, as I knew that you’d want to try and help. Thank you for being you, I’m proud of you.” And with that, she pulled McKenzie into a tight hug, feeling immense proud of her daughter and the caring young woman she had grown to be.

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Chapter 21

Having set up the bluetooth speaker for her Mum, showing her for what felt like the millionth time how to pair it to her phone and select the music she wanted to play, McKenzie retreated back to her bedroom, leaving Lesley to enjoy her soak.

Collapsing back onto her bed, and shaking her head slightly at the woeful, karaoke-esque wailing now emanating from across the landing, Kenzie quickly lost herself in her own thoughts. How on earth should she broach this with Charlotte? Should she even bring it up, or will that just embarrass the poor girl even more? But then, she’d hate to think that Charlotte had an idea she knew what had happened, but was too disgusted to say anything or something like that. Deep down she just wanted to reach out and help, offer some comfort, maybe even let her know that she wasn’t alone and that accidents whilst embarrassing really weren’t all that big of a deal. But how?

PING

Before she could dwell on the problem any longer, a message popped up at the top of her phone screen…from, of all people, Charlotte!

📨 “Hey McKenzie, thanks for this morning, you’re a lifesaver! There’s no way I could have waited until I got home, especially not in that cold. :cold_face: Sorry for dashing off, hope you’ve had a good day? I’m bored of revision :joy:. x”

Well, that’s my in, Kenzie thought to herself. At least she’s not totally mortified, and still wants to talk to me. Quickly jotting out a reply, she thought she’d take her lead from the younger girl and see whether it felt ‘right’ to bring up what had happened, or perhaps leave it for another day, although that risked making it even moire awkward. Hmm.

📨 “Hey Charlotte! Oh yeah, tell me about it, I was freezing when we got back here. Tell you the truth, I got in bed for a bit whilst I was doing my work, trying to warm up…but then fell asleep. :speak_no_evil: Still, better than being in college I guess. No worries at all, glad I could help. Hope you’re ok? x”

A little cryptic? Perhaps! But, Kenzie reasoned, it gave Charlotte the opportunity to ‘come clean’ if she wanted, and if not then it gave her a way of bringing the subject up without it being really creepy. Truth be told, a girl she barely knew wetting herself was hardly a subject she wanted to discuss, but she felt it needed to be done and out of the day, and then hopefully they’d both feel better about it and could get on with either getting to know each other, or not and at least go back to standing at the same bus stop and occasionally smiling, but either way there was a soggy, grey elephant in the room which really did need addressing first.

Across town, Charlotte had been worrying herself silly about her little accident all day. She’d had to run out of McKenzie’s house and get herself around the corner quickly, before she burst into tears. She’d never been so embarrassed in all of her life…16 years old, and she’d just wet herself like a toddler, in a strangers house! She’d fretted for hours about whether McKenzie knew - had she seen anything as she ran up the stairs, had she noticed the missing tights when she came back down, or, even worse, could she have found the tights and pants shoved in the bathroom bin? It had been awful having to leave them there, but after stupidly abandoning her schoolbag downstairs in her haste to try and make it to the toilet, she’d been left with no other choice.

Eventually she worked up the courage to find her on social media and send over a friend request, and was delighted that it was accepted straight away. Now she had to find a way to message her without either giving the game away herself, or coming across as really weird, but that would reveal whether the secret was out or not. If she’d got away with it, she’d still be mortified, but at least she’d be able to show her face in public again. If not, well, she hoped that wasn’t a bridge she’d have to cross.

It took a while, but eventually Charlotte managed to word something she was happy with, and pinged it across, waiting with bated breath for a reply and hoping more than anything that it wasn’t going to be one that ridiculed her. McKenzie had seemed a really nice girl, so she was sure she didn’t have anything to worry about even if the worst came to the worst, but that didn’t help her to feel any less anxious.

Eventually the reply came though, but it didn’t give much away. Just a basic reply to her own comments about the cold and schoolwork, but the last sentence ‘hope you’re ok?’ Left her wondering, was that fishing or was it sincere? Should she bite the bullet now and face her demons head on, or try to skirt around it and see whether McKenzie would bring it up? Would that be even more embarrassing? Argh!

📨 “I mean, It was great to have a day off school I guess, but I’ve had better days all in all. Lucky you getting to go back to bed! Mum would have killed me if I’d done that. That was really awkward this morning, I’m really sorry… x “

Kenzie had distracted herself from the difficult conversation by watching some more videos she’d been sent by Chyna, the ridiculous humour helping to lighten her mood a little, and one prank in particular causing her to roar with laughter. She was almost tempted to forward them on to Charlotte, feeling sure that she could do with a good laugh too after the day she’d just had, but then before she had a chance another reply had popped up. Now Kenzie was certain that she was being prompted, it was as if Charlotte knew that she knew the truth, and wanted to talk about it, but was too embarrassed to raise it herself. Perhaps she just couldn’t come to terms with what had happened? Understandable!

📨 “Charlotte, can you talk if I call? It’s ok, I know. It really doesn’t matter, but let’s talk eh? I promise it doesn’t matter. x x “

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Having missed a few days, here’s another longish one. 😉

Chapter 22

Charlotte had set her phone aside on her desk as she continued trying to study, although she was so distracted that she could barely concentrate o anything, and found herself reading the same paragraph from her biology revision guide three times in a row. She felt a little sick, worrying that she’d given too much away in her message and that, if McKenzie had even the slightest inkling of what had happened that morning, she’d now all but confirmed it. She doubted she’d hear anything back now, and she’d brace herself for the ridicule at the bus stop and in school the following day, she’d brought it on herself after all.

PING

She read the message. Then cried. Then read the message again. McKenzie knew! Oh my God, she didn’t even know what to think or feel any more. Part of her was immensely relieved that she didn’t have to try and keep up the pretence any longer - she’d always been an awful liar, and she hated doing it - but at the same time there was this sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that this older girl, who she really didn’t know from Adam, knew that she’d wet her pants. Heck, not only that, she must know that she’d wet her pants whilst in HER house. The mortification was unbearable, and she found herself crying again, frantically trying to blink away the tears so she could try to reply. But, again, what could she say? Did she want to actually talk about this, would she even be able to?

If it had been somebody she knew, a friend or relative, or even somebody who went to the same school as her then she didn’t think she’d be able to face it, but perhaps McKenzie being a relative unknown made it slightly easier. What’s the worst that could happen? If it came to it, she’d just get a different bus so their paths didn’t have to cross again. If she already knew then talking about it couldn’t made things any worse, could it? Maybe, just maybe, it would help somehow. She doubted it, but she had to try. Nothing could make her feel any worse than she did right now.

📨 “I can talk. I’m so, so sorry. x “

Kenzie had half expected no reply, or for Charlotte to say that she couldn’t or didn’t want to talk, so the immediate reply took her by surprise. Now she had to figure out what she was going to say. Deciding that honesty was the best policy, she figured she’d have to complete clean to Charlotte about how she knew what had happened, and that her Mum had been the one to make the discovery, but she was keen to reassure the poor girl, and even thought that she may make reference to her owl problem, historically of course, as a way of helping to reassure her that accidents could happen to anybody and weren’t anything to be ashamed of or embarrassed about - although she’d play that by ear, and if she could avoid bringing it up then she would. Nobody outside of their household knew about it, and she really had planned on always keeping it that way.

She thought about a video call, it’s what her and her friends always did whenever they called (although it was almost always messages anyway!) but realised that seeing each other face to face whilst talking about something so sensitive may make it even more difficult. Grabbing her phone, she clicked through to the contact screen and then listened to the gentle ring in her ear.

☎️​​​​​​​ “Hullo?” Charlotte’s voice was low, husky and sounded strained.

“Charlotte, it’s Kenzie. Are you ok? Your messages worried me.”

“I…I…I’m…” and, with that, Charlotte burst into tears, her loud racking sobs tearing at McKenzie’s heart on the other end of the line. She didn’t even know this girl, yet she just wanted to put her arms around her.

“Oh Charlotte, honestly, it’s nothing to be getting yourself so upset over. Come on now, these things happen, it’s not the end of the world. I know it probably feels like it now, but really I meant it when I said it doesn’t matter.”

With Charlotte’s upset showing no signs of subsiding, and understanding just how mortified the poor girl must been feeling, she gave her a few moments to let it all out, making encouraging sounds and continuing to reassure her that it was fine, that she wasn’t going to make fun or tell anybody what had happened, and that she’d do anything and everything she could to help in any way possible.

Eventually Charlotte managed to compose herself a little, excusing herself briefly to turn away from the phone and blow her nose particularly loudly and causing McKenzie to snort with laughter, which helped to break the ice a little.

Before long, the awkwardness had passed and they were chatting quite openly, with Charlotte still feeling horrified by what had happened but greatly reassured by her new friends caring approach. She took time to explain what had happened to lead up to such a catastrophic accident - how she’d been running late at home because she couldn’t find a piece of homework, so didn’t have time to stop for a wee before running out of the door to catch the bus; then the horrific wait in the cold at the bus stop had wreaked havoc on her bladder and, she admitted, even if the bus had been on time she knew she’d have been absolutely bursting by the time she got to school; the agonising walk back to McKenzie’s home, feeling certain she was leaking with every step and absolutely petrified that she was going to disgrace herself right there and then by having an accident in the middle of the street.

Then, finally the horror of Kenzie not having her key, and the frantic phone call to her Mum as they tried to get into the house. Charlotte confessed that it was at this point she began wetting herself, more than just the odd leak, and she’d been contemplating just running away so that Kenzie wouldn’t see what was happening, until the spare key was found and she was able to dah up the stairs. By the time she’d reached the landing she could feel that her tights were soaked down past her knees, and knew that there would be absolutely no way of hiding her shame, it had probably been 10 years or more since she’d had an accident in public like that, and she still wasn’t entirely sure how she’d managed not to break down in tears. Making it to the bathroom finally, albeit seconds too late, she’d lifted her skirt out of the way and thrown herself down on the toilet without even bothering to remove her tights and pants, for by that point they were beyond saving. As she relieved her poor, aching bladder, unleashing a torrent through her clothes she’d glanced down and seen the true horror displayed for all to see on her tights, there could be no mistaking what had happened and there was absolutely no way she could go back downstairs, or out into the world, looking like that.

She’d planned to take them off and stuff them in her bag to deal with once she was home, hoping to sneak them into the wash whilst her parents were still out at work, but then realised that she’d foolishly left her bag downstairs with McKenzie. With no other options, and worrying about spending too long in the bathroom lest the older girl should come looking for her, she quickly balled up the wet garments and shoved them into the bathroom bin, wishing that it was bigger and there had been other rubbish with which to hide her shame. She did her best to cover them over with toilet paper, and reasoned that normally people didn’t go digging around in bins, especially in bathrooms, so she felt as sure as she could that her secret would be safe. Figuring that there was less chance of Kenzie noticing her missing tights, and also worried that she would likely burst into tears at any minute, she had decided the best course of action was to make her excuses and get away as quickly as she could, so that’s what she had done. She knew it had probably been really weird, perhaps even come across as incredibly rude, but she’d bid the kindly girl a quick goodbye and then fled from the house, barely making it into the next street before she’d dissolved into tears.

“Oh Charlotte…” was all Kenzie could say, totally lost for words at the emotional outpouring, and feeling devastated that the girl had endured so much.

“So, your turn Kenz, how did you figure out what had happened?”

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Chapter 23

“Charlotte, honestly, after all you’ve just told me I just want to give you a hug. What an awful ordeal, I’m so sorry that you had to go through all of that.”

Kenzie was surprised that the younger girl had bared her soul quite so openly, but realised that the release must have been needed. It had no doubt been building up in her all day, the stress and worry eating away at her, and sometimes the only way to come to terms with a trauma like that was to talk it through - although something quite so mortifying probably wouldn’t be top of her list to chat to her parents, or even her friends about. Kenzie, being an unknown quantity but having shared at least some of the experience with her, would probably have been the best option, the only option. Appreciating her candidness and honesty, it felt old fair that she gave the same in return. Well, partly anyway. Now the meltdown had been overcome, she hoped she could keep her own secrets private, and just deal in sympathy rather than empathy.

“Well done for being able to tell me all that, I hope it’s helped a little to get it off your chest?

So yeah, if I’m being really honest it wasn’t me that figured it out. No, no, before you start panicking I’ve not talked to anybody else or told anybody, so don’t stress. I knew you were in a bad way, of course, especially when we got to the front door and couldn’t get in, and at one point I really thought you were going to have an accident right there. When you made it into the house though, I thought everything was fine.

When you came down from the bathroom, I knew something was different, but couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, assuming it was just how you were acting and talking now that you weren’t bursting for a wee! Of course, now I realise that you had taken your tights off, and that’s almost certainly what I was picking up on, although at the time I had no idea. I did wonder, too, about you dashing off so quickly, but again just put it down to embarrassment - you didn’t even know me, yet you’d just done a pretty spectacular potty dance right in front of me, and I knew I’d have been mortified if that had been me. So, yeah, I actually didn’t think any more of it, and was just going to ask you in the morning how you were if I’d spotted you at the bus stop.”

Charlotte was a little perplexed, wondering just what it was that had given it all away, when it seems that up to leaving her house Kenzie had no idea.

“So, go on the, spill the beans. If I’d done such a good job of hiding it, how did you figure it out?” She really, really hoped that this strange older girl hadn’t just tricked her into spilling her deepest secrets, and was perhaps a little sharp with her tone as she worried once more.

“Sorry Charlotte, I’m getting to it…it was your tights. No, not that you’d taken them off, I’d obviously picked up on that but hadn’t realised what or why, no it was actually my Mum, she found them in the bathroom bin! Don’t ask me why she was rummaging through the rubbish, I didn’t ask because I’m not entirely sure I want to know the answer either, but she called me into the bathroom and asked me about them - she knew they weren’t hers, or mine, and had kinda put 2+2 together after I’d explained about you coming here this morning to use the loo.”

Charlotte was absolutely aghast! “What?! So your Mum knows I wet myself like a little baby too? Oh My God, this just gets worse, I’m never going to be able to show my face in public again after this. 16 years old and pissing myself in somebody else’s house, leaving my soaked tights for them to find, what a mess I am. Your mum must think I’m such a baby!”

“No, no, honestly she doesn’t think anything like that. Look, my Mum’s really supportive, I think she only told me because she wanted me to be able to make sure that you were ok. She wouldn’t have wanted to think of you sitting at home fretting about it, like you’ve told me you were, and she knew you may have needed somebody to talk to. You may not want them, of course, but she’s going to wash your things - I thought it maybe better if you had them back, so you didn’t have to worry about explaining to your Mum and Dad where they’d gone.”

Feeling a little pensive as she mulled over all that Kenzie had just said, Charlotte’s mood began to lighten and she felt the shame-turned-anger beginning to slowly melt away. She was actually quite touched that this pair, daughter who she barely knew and mum who she’d never even met (but who she’d already sworn down the phone at…something she’d really have to apologise for at some point!) had cared so much about her that they’d put themselves to all of this trouble.

“Wait, so you’re telling me that your Mum actually washed my wet pants? Wow. I mean, not many people who I know would do something like that, never mind somebody I’ve never even met.” Her speech now much softer, much more gentle, she’d worn herself out with all of the upset and now felt both physically and emotionally exhausted, but tinged with a warm glow at the care and compassion being shown to her.

“U-huh, yeah she’s really good like that. As I said, she’s so supportive. Look Charlotte, there’s more I want to talk to you about, I think. But not here, not right now. I don’t suppose you’ll want me to give you your tights and pants back at the school bus stop, that’d be REALLY weird, so how about we meet up one day after school and college, and have a proper chat, if you’d like?” McKenzie had come so close, but despite Charlotte pouring her heart out, she just couldn’t quite bring herself to tell all herself. Not quite yet, anyway, although she sensed that she might, she didn’t know what it was about this girl but there was a wholesome rawness and a strange understanding and honesty between them. Perhaps her being able to listen and empathise with Charlotte’s story would be enough of a catalyst to be able to bring her own out into the open, which she knew would be an enormous weight lifted. Maybe, just maybe.

“That’s what I mean, that right there Kenz. Nobody else would even think to worry about giving my stuff back in private like that. Honestly, you’re something else, and not in a bad way at all. Yeah, I’d love to meet up, how about we head to that Costa near Victoria Park? My shout, you’ve done more than enough for me! You in college tomorrow? I’ve got a revision class after school, but could meet you there say 4.30pm?”

“Sounds like a plan, and I’ll hold you to that, caramel frappe with the works, and a Jammie dodger blondie should just about cover it. Probably see you at the bus stop in the morning too…let’s hope it turns up this time, eh? Don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could cope with a re-run of today!”

Both girls laughed as they ended the call, what a very strange day indeed.

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Chapter 24

After almost falling asleep in her bath, still feeling the effects of her disturbed sleep the previous night, Lesley eventually hauled herself out, heart set on a hot drink and an early night. Dressed in her own cozy winter pyjamas, and wrapped in an oversized fluffy dressing gown, she knocked gently on her daughter’s bedroom door, keen to find out whether she’d decided what to do about Charlotte. She had a bundle of her own clothes tucked under her arm, with the damp tights and pants she’d discovered hidden in the bin wrapped up in them, destined for the washer.

‘C’min Mum” Kenzie yawned from her bed, where she’d remained after her long and emotional chat with Charlotte, catching up on yet more social media rubbish and trying not to think too much.

“Hey sweetie, ooh I needed that soak! Here’s your speaker back, thanks. Have you had a chance to think about what we were talking about earlier?”

McKenzie looked thoughtful for a moment, pausing before she responded. “Yeah, I have. Actually I’ve spoken to Charlotte on the phone whilst you were in the bath, I had to make sure she was ok. I didn’t know whether I was doing the right thing, or if I’d make things worse, but I couldn’t settle for worrying about her.”

“Oh bless you love, you really are such a caring soul, and I’m proud to call you my daughter. That was very brave, and I know it can’t have been easy. So, what do you think, was it the right thing to do?”

“It was Mum, definitely. You’re right that it wasn’t easy, and poor Charlotte was really upset which I really kinda get, you know, with everything I’ve had to deal with too. I want to talk to you about something actually…do you think we could have a hot choccy again and a chat?”

Lesley beamed, her little girl may be all grown up now, but it meant so much to her that she was still wanted and needed in times of crisis. It was a relationship she’d never shared with her own parents, something she deeply regretted now, so she was glad that Kenzie felt able to open up and talk to her when needed.

“Of course love, that sounds lovely. Tell you what, I’ll go and pop the kettle on whilst I put the washing in, and how about you make yourself comfy - your bed or mine, I really don’t mind - and we can have a snuggle and a chat. You’re in your own when its time to sleep though, deal?”

Chuckling, Kenzie agreed. “Deal!”

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Chapter 25

Lesley felt a slight pang as she loaded the washing machine with her work clothes, her eyes falling on the tights and pants belonging to the poor, unfortunate Charlotte who she’d never met but felt deep sympathy for after the difficult and embarrassing day she’d endured. Knowing how much McKenzie had struggled and suffered with her bedwetting over the years, despite that always being kept strictly private, she couldn’t begin to imagine how a girl of her age must have felt having an accident in public like that. She’d meant what she’d said to Kenzie, though, about how very proud of the compassionate young woman she was growing into, and hoped very much that her daughters words of comfort had helped Charlotte even if only in some small way.

Laundry underway, she set about fixing them two steaming mugs of hot chocolate once more, again accompanied by a couple of biscuits, a decision she’d no doubt regret if, as she suspect, Kenz had chosen her bed for them to lay in and chat, as there would inevitably be crumbs everywhere! Ah well, it was a rare treat, to hell with the crunchy consequences.

From her place snuggled down under the duvet, McKenzie heard the creaking of the stairs as Lesley made her way up with their drinks, and called out “I’m in your room, mum” in a muffled voice.

With a wry smile, the older woman carried the tray through into her own bedroom, where she was greeted with the sight of just Kenzie’s hair barely visible on the pillow, the covers pulled up so high that the rest of her was completely hidden.

“I had a feeling I’d find you in here, young lady. Come on, shove up and make some room for your old Mum. And I meant what I said, it’ll be back in your own bed when we’ve drank these and had a natter, ok?”

Kenzie popped her head out and gave an impish grin as she shuffled over to one side of the bed, looking much younger than her 19 years for just a moment, propelling Lesley back to when they’d so often shared intimate chats in her bed as she’d been growing up. Precious memories indeed,

“So then, missy, what’s eating away at you, or did you think that you could just trick me into a cuddle and a cheeky hot chocolate, eh?”

Now McKenzie’s face took on a serious look, and suddenly she looked much older, the transformation was startling and caught Lesley a little off guard, worrying her slightly. Whatever was the matter?

“Well, Mum, I kinda got thinking earlier when I was talking to Charlotte, partly about how upset she was after her accident and how much it had shaken her, and how talking about it seemed to help her. And then, partly about everything that’s been happening with me for all those years, back to when bedwetting was a distant memory and through to now, 19 years old and not even able to have a sleepover for more than half of my life in case I humiliate myself. It’s been such a journey, and other than you and the doctors I feel like I’ve never been able to share it with anybody, never had anybody to turn to and talk about it all.

When I was on the phone to Charlotte, when she poured her heart out to me like she did, I very nearly told her my secret, I came so close, but I still couldn’t quite do it. I’ve spent so long hiding it from everybody, so long covering up my accidents, so long making excuses for time off from school, and now college, for medical appointments. So many stupid reasons for missing sleepovers, or school trips, or camps, I just couldn’t bring myself to say those words have it all come out after so long. But, hearing the relief as I comforted her, feeling the difference in her as she didn’t have to hide away any more, I craved that so much for myself, too. I don’t want to be lonely anymore, Mum, and I don’t want to feel that I have to hide who I am.”

A single tear fell silently down Kenzie’s cheek as she spoke unnoticed by her, but immediately picked up by Lesley who felt her own heart break in two at the powerful emotion in her little girls words.

“I’m meeting Charlotte tomorrow after college so that I can give her back her things that she left here, and I’ve said that I want to talk to her. I don’t know why, mum, but I think I’m going to tell her about me, about everything that’s happened. I think maybe it’ll help her to come to terms with her accident and perhaps understand why I empathised with her in the way I did, but more than that I think maybe it will help me to come to terms with my own problem, to better understand what I’m going through myself, and maybe even help me to overcome what has kept me down for all of these years. I hope I’m right, and I really hope I’ve got the guts do go through with it, but I just wanted to tell you first, Mum, and to see what you think?”

More silent tears, this time coursing down not Kenzie’s face, but Lesley’s. Her heart ached for the poor girl and all she’d suffered over so many years, and she only wished she’d been able to take this pain and burden away, even to endure it herself so that her daughter didn’t have to. The love she felt for McKenzie knew no bounds, the love of a mother for her daughter must be the most powerful, most magical feeling and force in the world.

Wordlessly she set down her mug and enveloped Kenzie in the tightest hug, able to express her feelings so much more easily through warmth and contact than any words she could have mustered.

“Thank you for confiding in me, Kenz. You really are the bravest girl I’ve ever known. You’ve been through so much, you’re still going through so much, yet your first thought is always for others. I’m so, so proud. You be you, do what you think is best for you, and know that I’ll always have your back whatever happens. I actually think you’re right, I think it’ll be the best thing you’ll ever do opening up to somebody, especially somebody who may share and understand your feeling even if only in a small way, and I think perhaps it’ll make things easier for you moving forward. Remember, always, how special you are Kenzie. I love you. “

“I love you too, Mum. Thank you, I’m going to do it, I want to do it, I need to do it. I really do love you.”

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Chapter 26

The following morning, whilst disappointed although not in any way surprised to awaken to wet sheets, McKenzie was at least relieved that there hadn’t been a repeat of the previous nights disaster. Wetting her bed she’d just about got her head around and knew how to deal with, even if emotionally she was struggling, but wetting her bed, then her pants, then the carpets, and then making an unholy mess all over the bathroom, that wasn’t something she ever wanted to experience again!

Going through her usual morning routine, so practised that she could literally (and often did) carry it out with her eyes closed, Kenzie stripped the soggy linen from her bed and piled it close to her bedroom door ready for laundering after her shower, then picked out fresh clothes for the day, settling on a leggings and skirt combo that’d go well with her DMs, and multiple tops to layer up against the cold. The cold, damp bottoms of her pyjamas were clinging unpleasantly to her legs by this stage, causing her to shiver and walk a little bow legged…almost as if, well…as if she’d had an accident…across the landing to the bathroom, where she closed the door behind her and eagerly stripped off, glad to be free of the wet fabric.

Showered and dressed for the day, and washing machine set, Kenzie grabbed a quick breakfast and plenty of coffee, before heading out of the door to catch her bus, shouting little more than “Goodbye” to her mum as she went. Lesley had an appointment that morning, so whilst she was up and about already, she wasn’t yet ready to leave and was looking forward to a more leisurely start to her day, jumping in the bathroom as McKenzie had left it and taking her time over her morning ablutions.

Whilst waking up wet was never a pleasant experience, Kenzie had learned to appreciate one benefit from it which was that on those days she was always up bright and early, meaning less rushing around and no danger of being late. It was a stretch, she admitted quite openly to herself, that waking up early because you’d wet the bed was in any way a good thing, but if it meant she had time for breakfast and coffee, and was much less likely to find herself in college with clothes on back to front or inside out because she’d been half asleep as she’d frantically dragged them on, then she’d call that a win.

“Morning Kenzie” came a call from across the road, startling the girl slightly from her daydreams.

Turning to find the source of the voice, McKenzie’s eyes fell on the two girls from her college she’d been chatting to yesterday morning when all of the bus drama had kicked off, Emily and Chloe.

“Ahh, Hiya! Reckon the bus is going to turn up today? Haha”

The two girls grinned, and crossed over the road to walk the rest of the way to the bus stop with McKenzie, chatting idly as they did so about their respective days at home, how cold it had been, and how they secretly hoped the bus didn’t turn up again today so they could have another easy one.

“Was that girl who you took home with you ok Kenzie? She looked in a pretty bad way” Emily asked, sounding genuinely concerned.

McKenzie blushed a little at the enquiry, little did the others know what had actually gone on after they’d departed yesterday, and of course they had no idea at all that she’d spoken to Charlotte later on in the evening either, nor that the pair were meeting that very afternoon to talk. Nevertheless, she protected her friends secret, wording her reply carefully in the hope that it would dissuade further questions.

“Oh, Charlotte? Yeah she was fine I think, just the cold got to her. We’ve all been there I’m sure, but yeah she came to mine, used the loo and then headed off home herself. We’ll probably see her again at the bus stop today.”

Emily and Chloe both nodded, but as Kenzie had hoped they didn’t probe further, and she very much hoped they’d drop the subject and not bring it up around Charlotte, who she figured may not be quite so able to cover.

As she’d predicted, rounding the corner to the bus stop they spotted the usual large group of school kids waiting for their own buses to arrive, with Charlotte stood slightly apart from the main body chatting to a couple of other girls who looked to be a similar age.

“Hey Charlotte” Kenzie called, with an enthusiastic wave, and she notice both Chloe and Emily also raised their hands in acknowledgement.

“Oh, hey Kenz, hi girls” Charlotte returned the greeting with a warm smile, but didn’t make any move to join the group, staying with her own friends which was perfectly normal - the school kids very rarely mixed with the older students, despite there being little difference in age between some of them. Kenzie respected the boundaries, and didn’t attempt to encroach on Charlotte’s space, as they’d have plenty of time to chat properly later.

For the first time ever, some of the younger school children actually whooped and cheered as their bus pulled up. Kenzie caught Charlotte’s eye briefly as she joined the queue to board, each of them rolling their eyes and giggling, unnoticed by their respective groups of friends.

Shortly afterwards, the public bus which McKenzie, Emily and Chloe caught to college arrived, and whilst they were equally glad not to face another long wait in the cold, they managed to be a little more restrained in their reactions. Glad to have somebody else to share the monotony of the journey with after a couple of months of sitting alone with just their earphones for company, the 3 girls sat together at the back of the bus and chatted freely, getting to know a little more about each other and sharing anecdotes about their college experiences so far. Once the bus reached their campus, they bid each other goodbye and headed for the days lessons, just another normal day after the drama of the one before.

1 Like

Chapter 27

“Who was that?” Chyna asked in greeting, nodding towards Chloe, who had turned down a different corridor.

“Hey Chyna! Ah, yeah, bit of a long story…that’s Chloe, she’s on one of the vocational courses. I met her and a couple of others in the bus chaos yesterday, and we just got chatting. She seems alright.” McKenzie smiled.

“Haha, yeah how was your day off? Skiver!” Her friend taunted, in good humour, returning the smile and causing Kenzie to chuckle.

“Day off?! Haha, yeah I wish! After freezing at the bus stop for hours, I spent the rest of the day getting my English portfolio in order I’ll have you know. Although, yeah, ok I did go back to bed for an hour, just to warm myself up though.”

“I KNEW IT! Haha!! Don’t blame you though, wish I lived further away so I could have gotten away with it too. Ah well, it was peaceful in lessons without you nagging away at least!” Chyna’s grin widened and her eyes danced mischievously, she loved winding Kenz up, it was her favourite pastime, well apart from eyeing up the hot lads who played on the college rugby team at any rate.

The banter continued as they went about their day, with McKenzie only noticing a message on her phone as they sat down for a coffee at lunchtime. It had been sent earlier that morning, from Charlotte.

📨 “Thanks for not saying anything then Kenzie, I really appreciate it”

Immediately feeling rude for not replying sooner, and concerned that the younger girl may be offended, or worse worrying about whether she’d changed her mind about keeping the secret and meeting up to chat later, she hurriedly tapped out a quick reply, hoping that Charlotte wasn’t in class or at least had her phone set to silent, as she’d hate to get her in any kind of trouble - she remembered how strict her old high school teachers had been about mobile phones!

📨 “So sorry Charl, busy day at college and only just seen this. Of course I’d never say anything! A promise is a promise and a secret stays secret between friends. Looking forward to catching up later x”

📨​​​​​​​ “x”

As the afternoon progressed, McKenzie felt herself becoming more nervous about her planned rendezvous with Charlotte, not because she wasn’t quite looking forward to meeting up with the girl who she found she got on so well with, despite the age gap, but because of the enormity of what she planned to do, what she planned to tell her, and the butterflies in her stomach room had her feeling quite queasy. Of course, she knew that she didn’t have to do or say anything, they could just meet up for a chat over coffee and nothing more, but she’d meant what she’d said to her Mum the previous night, sometimes she really did feel trapped by her problem and almost alone in dealing with it. Because of the stigma associated with bedwetting even at a much younger age, she’d never felt able to confide in anybody before and it meant that the pressures often ate away at her and brought her down, so this really did feel like her one chance to break free from that, and despite the apprehension she was determined to see it through.

With their daily lessons drawing to a close, Kenzie once more bid farewell to Chyna who walked home, before making her way to the bus stops. This time, however, rather than joining the queue for her regular bus home, she instead hopped aboard the waiting number 38, which headed into the town centre. It seemed daft to go all the way home, just to drop her bag off before going straight back out again to catch another bus, so she’d figured that nipping into town would give the chance to do a bit of shopping, before taking the short walk up to Vicky park where the Costa Coffee was. She didn’t want to get there too early and be sitting around on her own, but she knew she only had an hour or so before Charlotte would be there, and nor did she want to leave the poor girl in the same position, so a whistle-stop tour of the shops for the cosmetics and toiletries she needed, and then she’d go and grab a table - hopefully hidden away in the corner, lest anybody she knew overheard their conversation.

As it happened, Charlotte managed to get out of her revision class a little earlier than expected, meaning she caught the earlier bus into town herself, and was at the park by a little after 4.15pm. She thought about calling McKenzie, but then remembered her promise to treat her new friend after all of the help and support she’d given the previous day and so decided to go and order their drinks and snacks first, in an effort to avoid the awkward “I insist…no, I insist…” argument that ALWAYS seemed to happen when friends met up for food or drinks.

Large caramel frappe and jammie dodger blondie for Kenzie, and a vanilla white mocha with a linzer biscuit for herself bought, and trying not to balk at the bill which came to over a tenner for just 2 drinks and 2 small biscuits, Charlotte shared her friends concerns about being overheard and so chose the comfy sofa in the corner-window of the coffee shop, probably the most private space, although she was pleased that whilst other customers were around the place was far from packed which meant some privacy was all but assured.

She’d just taken out her phone to grab an instagram photo, and to message McKenzie to let her know where she was sat, when she saw her familiar face walking past the window clutching a Superdrug carrier bag, both girls having clearly thought alike in terms of getting here early, and waved enthusiastically.

“Hey Kenz! I’m glad you came, I did wonder…”

“Hiya Charl, of course I came! Hope you’ve not been waiting long? Of course I came, just had to grab a few things in town.” Kenzie proffered the bag by way of explanation, before dropping it and her heavy college rucksack on the floor and flopping down on the sofa theatrically. “Ooh, my favourites, you remembered! Thanks, what do I owe you?”

Charlotte rolled her eyes in response. “Nothing! Honestly, I told you it was my treat after everything you did for me yesterday…although, if you want another, we’ll have to go dutch I’m afraid as this lot all but bankrupt me, haha.”

Taking a few moments to savour their drinks, neither girl said much, just exchanging pleasantries and general chit chat about how their days had gone so far. Then Charlotte’s face took on a serious look, as she turned to look McKenzie straight in the eyes before speaking in a low voice.

“Did you mean what you said in your text, Kenz, about secrets staying secret between friends? I want to trust you, I really do, but I’ve been so so worried, after what happened. If that ever got out, I’d be finished…”

Kenzie set her glass down on the table, and took the younger girls hand in her own as she replied softly, but with equal seriousness and sincerity to her words, her voice shaking slightly as she spoke “Of course I meant it, every word. A secret is a secret, and I promise never to share it. But…and it’s a big, big but Charl, that works both ways, yeah? There’s some things I think I want to tell ya, but it’ll only work if you promise never to tell another soul.”

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Chapter 28

(Note - this chapter contains a description of a memory of a younger teenager having an accident. Whilst not a child, and not in any way detailed, you may prefer to skip past - you won’t miss anything from the storyline by doing so. )

Charlotte agreed, besides after her accident, and with McKenzie knowing all of the gory and humiliating details, she couldn’t imagine there being anything this older, more mature girl could tell her which could be even close to being as bad. She’d never break a confidence, of course, but surely Kenzie had the ultimate insurance - if she blabbed then the whole world would know she’d wet herself like a toddler, and she was NEVER going to let that happen.

McKenzie steeled herself, deciding to ease in gently and judge how Charlotte reacted if she gave her just a glimpse into her world, before going any further. Like her young friend, she had never felt so nervous in all of her life. She’d literally spent a decade keeping this secret, keeping everybody at arms length to protect her dignity and ensure her shame never became known to another person, and here she was about to volunteer the very information she’d always held closest to her chest. What on earth was she doing?

“Honestly, Kenz, whatever it is you’ve got to say, at least you didn’t piss yourself! I mean, its not like I do it all the time or anything, I was being honest when I said the last time it happened was probably nearly 10 years ago - and, its not quite so weird for a 6 year old, right? - but still, I think I’ve got the upper hand when it comes to humiliation here, so whatever’s nagging you can’t be that bad, I’m sure?”

Biting the bullet, Kenzie began to pour out her soul.

“I mean it Charl, if this goes any further then I’ll know where it’s come from, because nobody else has ever heard a word of what I’m telling you here today.

So, you say nothing can be as bad as wetting yourself at 16? Well, it was a few years ago now, so granted I was a couple of years younger than you are, but still many, many years older than 6. I had to go for a hospital appointment, and it was a day when I was in school, so Mum had come to collect me early. They wanted to do a scan on me, an ultrasound or something I think it was, so I’d been given strict instructions to drink as much as I could throughout the day, and I wasn’t allowed to use the loo so that I had a full bladder and they could see everything they needed to on their scans. Well, I’m sure you can guess where this is going…they were running behind schedule, as always seem to be the case in the NHS, so my 2pm appointment rolled on to 3pm, and then nearly 3.30pm, causing my mum to curse about how I’d missed an afternoon of school for no reason, and me to jump around the waiting area making quite a spectacle of myself and doing a potty dance much more befitting a 3 year old than a 13 year old! Honestly, Charl, you thought you were bad yesterday morning, but I was literally grabbing myself and bouncing around the room, not caring who could see me, or my knickers!

By this point, even if they’d called me through to the scan room at that very moment there was no way I’d have been able to lie still, and I’d almost certainly have wee’d all over the examination table, and probably the doctors too. Mum realised it was a lost cause, and with no sign of my name being called her frustration was growing, as this would inevitably mean another appointment and a rerun of the whole debacle. I was starting to cry I needed to go so badly, which was the final straw for my Mum. She told me to go to the toilet, whilst she went to the desk to explain that we (well, I) couldn’t wait any longer and that if they needed to do the scan with a full bladder then we’d need to reschedule for another day, hopefully one when they could keep to the promised appointment time. Mum was furious, I’ve rarely seen her so angry.

Alas whilst Mum engaged in a heated exchange with the receptionist, I hobbled painfully to the toilet door only to find the single stall occupied! Not very well thought through at all, it seems this one bathroom served not only the waiting room but also those who’s scans had concluded, although I guess now thinking back on it the theory was that nobody waiting to be seen should be using the facilities anyway, but that logic was lost on me as I stood pounding on the door, writhing in agony and with both hands pressing my grey school skirt up against my crotch. Then…well, then it was all over, and I wailed as my poor, tired and aching bladder gave out and betrayed me, wee spilling out spectacularly like a waterfall, splashing audibly against the hard polished floor and creating a puddle which must have spread a metre around me. I was devastated, beyond mortified, my tights were soaked and, worse, because of how I’d been holding myself my skirt was saturated, leaving nobody in any doubt as to how I’d disgraced myself. The humiliation was palpable, and I had to walk back through that damned waiting room, sobbing my heart out, to tell my Mum what had happened.

So, Charlotte, I’ve been there, and I really do know from painfully embarrassing personal experience that accidents can happen to anybody. At least only me and my Mum know what happened to you, and it was in private in my bathroom, not in front of dozens of people in a hospital waiting room. Oh, the shame.”

Kenzie’s tongue had rather run away from her, spluttering and stuttering as she stumbled over her words, rushing to get them out before she changed her mind. But now it was done, and she felt the heat rising in her face as she raised her head to look across at Charlotte, hoping that she’d judged it right. How would the girls react? What would she say? What would she do?

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Chapter 29

Charlotte was speechless. Hearing of McKenzie’s ordeal certainly helped to put her own experience into perspective, and Kenz had been right, hers was, for the most part at least, a secret. Oh how her heart went to to her, she couldn’t even begin to imagine the shame of having such a massive accident in public, she’d no idea how she’d react or how she’d ever be able to show her face in public again after something like that. Yesterday, despite being in the relative privacy of a locked bathroom, she’d felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights as the realisation of what she’d done had dawned on her, so the idea of having to face that with dozens of people watching on genuinely filled her with dread and caused her to give an involuntary shudder. For all the colour had risen in Kenzie’s face, she could feel it draining away from her own as she felt cold, clammy and she knew she must look in shock.

No matter how hard she tried, no words would come to her that would do any justice to what she’d just heard, and she felt that those she could think of would sound shallow, hollow and empty. Instead, she merely set down her own empty mug, shuffled across the sofa to where Kenzie was sat, and wrapped her arms around her in a hug. No words were spoken, no words were needed, the shared understanding in that gesture was clear.

After she’d finished her monologue, Kenzie had scanned Charlotte’s face for any sign of reaction, for any emotion for any indication of what she thought. Her expression was set, and for a fleeting moment the girl panicked that she’d done the wrong thing, worried that she’d just exposed herself to ridicule, and her fight or flight instinct kicked in. She was all set to scoop up her bags and flee the shop, not caring where she went so long as she was alone. And then, something changed, Charlotte’s expression softened and, wordlessly, she’d moved over and held her. McKenzie felt the stress and worry melt away from her in an instant, she knew at once it was alright, she knew without words that Charlotte understood, that they could and would support each other, and she knew right then that she’d be able to talk to her about anything. About everything. The weight lifting from her shoulders was immense, the dark clouds in her mind parted and, for the first time in years, she felt a sense of relief, of positivity, of…hope?

Recovering first, Charlotte finally found her voice. “Kenzie, that sounds truly awful! What a horrific thing to have to go through. You know, I get it now. Last night I had no idea why you seemed so understanding, I kept looking for the catch, for the ulterior motive, wondering just what you were getting out of being nice to me. Now I understand, now I can see why you understand. Thank you, thank you so much for being honest with me, Kenz. I know now the I can trust you with my secret, and not just because I know yours too, but because it’s more than just a shared secret, isn’t it? It’s almost like a strange kind of bond, even though neither of actually shared the experience, we kinda do have a shared experience, almost a trauma, I dunno? But whatever it is, just like you said to me, a secret always remains a secret between friends. I promise you that, Kenz.”

“Charl, I couldn’t agree more. I feel bad now for testing you, but I had to know that I could trust you. I’ve never been able to talk openly with anybody like this before, never felt I could really be my true self, I’ve always had to hide, always had to pretend, always felt ashamed and embarrassed. Look, everything I’ve just told you is true, I wouldn’t lie to you, especially not about something like that. But, that’s not all, heck that’s not the half of it, not even really the beginning. Tell you what, how about I grab us another drink, maybe we get this one to go and take a walk around the park with it? I feel that if I don’t do this now, if I don’t tell you now then I’ll never be able to tell anybody, but I’ve never needed to tell somebody anything more than right now. Is that ok?”

Now Charlotte was worried, what on earth could McKenzie need to tell her so desperately? But, of course, wherever it was she was determined to be there for the friend who’d been there for her, the friend who’d had her back when she’d needed it, whatever it was she’d help Kenzie to deal with it.

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This is an excelent story so far, I’m really looking forward for more. Very well written, and considering diapers haven’t even made an appearance, that shows how good it’s going to be.

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Chapter 30

McKenzie wasn’t quite sure what had promoted her to suggest going for a walk, perhaps she thought it may be easier to say what she needed to if they were walking side by side rather than looking directly at each other? That’s something her mum had always done with her when she was younger and they needed to have a difficult conversation, they’d always gone for a drive somewhere and it seemed to make it easier. Or maybe the idea of spilling her darkest, lifelong secrets in such a public place was just too much? Telling about an accident she’d had years ago, in circumstances which could have left anybody with wet pants, was one thing, but admitting to having wet her bed for a decade? That was something else entirely! She knew that she needed to to it though, she needed that release, and she had no idea why, but she knew that Charlotte was the one she could trust.

Both girls settled on a bottled soft drink this time, and, once Kenzie had settled the bill they made their way out into the frosty winter evening where the daylight had already faded. Neither spoke as they crossed the road and entered the park through the closest gate, taking a moment alone with their thoughts and almost steeling themselves for what was to come.

It was Charlotte who broke the reverie first. “Thank you Kenz, thank you for trusting me with that. I don’t know what else there is, but I hope you now know that you can tell me anything. I won’t judge, I won’t laugh, but I’ll be here for you and I’ll do anything at all I can to help.”

“Oh Charlotte, I know. I don’t know how I know, or why I know, but I trust you like I’ve never been able to trust anybody else my whole life, which is crazy considering we’ve only known each other for a day!

I didn’t think I’d ever be able to talk to anybody about this stuff. Look, Charl, everything I told you in there was true it all happened and it really was horrific, but that wasn’t the half of it. I told you that I’d had to go to hospital for a scan, but what I didn’t say was that it was one of many, many scans and tests. Dozens, maybe even hundreds by now, some so invasive that I’ve blanked out the memories of them, others totally humiliating. On that day, it was an ultrasound scan, and they wanted to look at my bladder, that’s why I hadn’t been allowed to use the loo before, and why I had to drink so much. They didn’t just want to see my bladder, they wanted me to stretch it, they wanted to know how much it could hold, they wanted to know what happened when I emptied it, did it empty properly? Was it working as it should?

You see, Charl, what I’ve never told you, what I’ve never told anybody, ever, in over 10 years, is that….is that I wet the bed, almost every single night. I don’t know why, they don’t know why, nobody know why! The only person who knows, well I guess other than you now, is my Mum. I’m a 19 year old bedwetter, Charlotte, and I absolutely hate it.“

McKenzie fought hard to hold back the sob that tried to escape, but she couldn’t stop the tears from falling. That was it, she’d done it. Emotionally she was a wreck, physically she was shaking, but she’d actually done it, she’d told her secret, and it was as if a weight had lifted from her shoulders as she uttered the words. She wasn’t alone now, for the first time in more than half of her life she didn’t feel like she was facing her problems on her own, and it felt incredible.

Charlotte caught hold of Kenzie’s sleeve and spun the girl around to face her with look of understanding but, Kenzie noted, edged with something else…annoyance? No, it couldn’t be that, she prayed. Frustration? Not pity, she couldn’t bare to be pitied? What was it? She looked straight into Charlotte’s misty eyes, searching for answers.

“Bloody hell Kenz, the way you were talking I thought you were going to tell me you were dying of some awful disease! Honestly I was welling up and getting ready to say my goodbyes. Look, I’m absolutely not trying to minimise what you’ve been going through, It must be absolutely mortifying and I can’t begin to imagine how you’ve dealt with that, or even how on earth you’ve kept it secret for such a long time, but honestly Kenz I’ve never been so relieved. You bloody idiot, you really had me going there! Look, what’s a few soggy sheets between friends, eh? Now don’t you EVER worry me like that again, got it?”

Astounded, that wasn’t at all the reaction Kenzie had expected, not in a million years. It took her a moment to process what she’d just heard, and then she caught Charlotte’s eye again and both girls burst out laughing, pulling one another into a hug as they did so, each shaking their heads at the other’s expression.

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Chapter 31

The awkwardness now passed, broken by the fit of laughter that had overcome them both, McKenzie indicated the nearby playground and motioned for them to take a seat on the swings whilst they continued chatting. Given the coldness of the evening, and the shadowy darkness which had descended, the families and young kids who would normally be enjoying the park had long since made their way home.

“You really thought I was going to tell you I was seriously ill, or even dying?”

Charlotte nodded. “Well, the way you built up to it, honestly if you’d said the word cancer I think I’d have broken down right there. You’ve certainly got a way of building suspense, Kenz, I’ll give you that - let me guess, are you planning a career as a writer by any chance?”

This caused McKenzie to splutter and nearly choke on her drink. She was the least creative person she knew, and had zero aptitude for creative writing according to her high school teachers and college lecturers.

“Yeah right, I wish! Honestly though, it’s been such a big deal for me all these years that I guess it has felt like some awful disease, always having a hold over me and controlling what I can do, always there lingering in the back of my mind. I guess it’s difficult to accept that it’s really not all that bad. But yeah, when you put it like you did like there…what was it you said ‘what’s a few soggy sheets between friends?’…that really tickled me. You’re right too, although it’s not the ‘soggy sheets’ that have changed, it’s the ‘friends’. Never having had anybody to share it with, I’ve always kept everything bottled up and tried to work it out in my own head. I mean, it’s not like I’ve never had friends, even best friends, I’m lucky to know some awesome people, but there’s never been anybody I’ve felt comfortable enough with to share, well, that. What is it about you, Charlotte? Why are you so different?”

Holding out her hands and turning them over, Charlotte gave a little shrug. “ I dunno Kenz, I’m nothing special. Maybe peeing all over your bathroom was the icebreaker? I guess there are some experiences you can’t share without forming a kinda bond, and it looks like being 16 years old and hiding your wee soaked tights in a strangers bathroom bin is definitely one of them.” Which set them both off giggling again…

“You know, yesterday morning when you were limping up my stairs and standing weeing all down your legs in my bathroom, do you know what the one thing I was worrying about was? It wasn’t about whether you’d make it, I didn’t even question that. It wasn’t even about the awkwardness of the situation. What I was stressing about was that I’d had the most spectacularly horrific accident the night before, my bed had been stripped down to its waterproof plastic sheet with all of the bedding shipped off to the launderette, and you were about to walk past my open bedroom door and see it all, I was petrified you were going to find out and I very nearly followed you up the stairs to slam the door shut.”

“Well, Kenzie, you know what I was worrying about? It certainly wasn’t the state of your bed…it was the puddle I was about to make on your landing carpet, and how on earth I was going to hide my wet tights!”

The giggles now turned to belly laughs once more, both red faced and roaring, tears once more coursing down their faces but this time tears of mirth and not sadness.

“Ooh, Charlotte, don’t make me laugh like that or it’ll be me having to worry about trickles running down my legs! Ahhh it feels so good to laugh, I know my problem hasn’t gone away, far from it, but it suddenly doesn’t feel like such a big deal anymore, you know? Thank you, just for listening, for laughing with me, just for being here and being you.”

The pair continued to talk in earnest, first as they swung and then, feeling cold and realising they probably needed to make their way back towards the bus stops if they weren’t to be left with a long trek home, as they walked back around the perimeter of the park. Kenzie filled her friend in with the details of the “spectacularly horrific” accident earlier in the week which had caused her so much distress over the state of her mattress, whilst Charlotte confided in her about the handful of times she’d found herself in need of fresh sheets over the years, hoping it further helped the older girl to accept that she wasn’t alone. It did, in a way, although whilst she didn’t pass comment McKenzie was quick to pick up on the fact that, other than one freak accident, Charlotte’s occasional bedwetting had pretty much ended before the age when her own had started, and had therefore likely been little more than the normal process of growing up. Still, after a decade of never mentioning the subject, it was like a tonic to her being able to discuss it so openly, and it certainly acted to break the taboo.

As they reached the bus stop, conversation had turned back to Kenzie’s struggles, and she’d just begun to explain about the hospital letter that had arrived, her progression on from CCBBS to the adult urology programme and the appointment which was scheduled for the following week, when Charlotte’s bus pulled in.

“Look, we’ll have to talk about it later Kenz, but this time you won’t have to face it alone, I promise.”

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I can’t wait for more! Beautiful story!

Chapter 32

McKenzie was exhausted, sat slumped against the wall of the bus as it rumbled across town in the direction of her home. Physically, mentally and emotionally worn out. She couldn’t remember a time when she’d cried as much as she had the past couple of days, but nor could she recall a time when she’d laughed quite so much, either. The relief she felt at finally sharing her secret was palpable, but she just didn’t have the energy to properly enjoy it, craving nothing more than to curl up in her bed and sleep for a week. It was all she could do to keep her eyes open, and sat as she was in her trance-like state she still very nearly missed her stop, noticing the familiar houses at the very last second and pummelling the bell.

Arriving home, this time with her front door key which she’d remembered to transfer into her winter coat pocket, Kenzie let herself in and quickly stripped off her outer layers against the homely warmth that met her in the hallway.

“Hi Kenzie!” Lesley called from the living room, where she was sat flicking through the local newspaper. “How was your day?”

“Hey Mum, yeah good thanks.” She fought, and failed, to stifle a yawn. “Just shattered, it’s been a looooong day.”

Collapsing onto the sofa next to her Mum, Kenzie let out a deep sigh and closed her eyes, she really was feeling the effects of such an emotionally challenging day but, for the first time in as long as she could remember, she felt content.

“Well, mum, I did it. I told Charlotte, told her everything.”

“Oh sweetie, I’m so very proud of you. That’s a big step, it can’t have been easy. So, how did it go then? Was she ok with you about it?”

“Yeah, she was fine, great actually, well after she’d gotten over the fact I wasn’t dying of cancer anyway, haha!”

Lesley looked quizzically across at her daughter, an eyebrow slightly raised. “What do you mean? You know that’s not something to joke about Kenz…”

“Sorry Mum, sorry. I guess without context that does sound a little crass. You see, I think I got myself a bit too worked up before telling her, and probably led into it the wrong way - I figured she may have been able to relate easier to what happened at my scan appointment that time, so I started with that to see how she reacted - but with all of the talk of hospitals and tests, and me getting a bit teary, I think she read rather too much into it, and when I finally managed to spit it out she was so relieved that I wasn’t, like, terminally ill or anything! I guess after worrying about that that, anything I had to tell her would have paled into insignificance, ant so it did. I get it now Mum, wetting the bed sucks, especially at 19 and after 10 years of dealing with it, but it’s not the end of the world is it. You know what Charlotte said?”

Lesley struggled to contain her own giggles at the thought of the two girls having such a serious conversation, with one convinced the other was on her deathbed, despite the reality being so much more trivial. “Go on…”

“What’s a few soggy sheets between friends”

Lesley’s heart immediately warmed to the unknown Charlotte. That summed it up perfectly, and seeing Kenzie throw her head back and roar with laughter over something connected to her bedwetting was unheard of. She suddenly seemed so carefree, so at ease with herself, so much more like the old McKenzie. It truly was a joy to behold.

Deciding that such a milestone day deserved a special treat, but realising that for all of her good spirits Kenzie was probably far too tired to want to go to the trouble of getting ready heading out for dinner, Lesley instead suggested ordering a takeaway which they shared whilst chatting more easily than they had for months, perhaps years. It was as if McKenzie was a different girl, all of the stress and worry lifted from her. They of course talked more about Charlotte, and Lesley suggested perhaps inviting her over for lunch at the weekend so they could meet, because more than anything she wanted to thank her for helping her little girl to regain her confidence.

Kenzie agreed, she’d never felt comfortable bringing friends home, especially not as she’d got older, but this time it just felt so different, so right, and she promised to talk to Charlotte the next day and arrange something, assuming her friend didn’t already have plans, of course.

That night, for the first time in ten yers, McKenzie went to bed filled with joy, without even a niggling worry about what the night ahead would bring. It didn’t matter, even if she woke up wet, it wasn’t the end of the world was it? Just an accident, easily cleaned up and no harm done. Maybe the doctors will finally be able to help, but in the meantime she was done with stressing about something she couldn’t help. After all…’What’s a few soggy sheets between friends’.

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Chapter 33

The rest of the week passed without too much in the way of excitement, Lesley still as busy as ever with work and McKenzie approaching her studies with a renewed focus and vigour, a spring in her step and a smile on her face. The routine hadn’t changed, every morning saw her stripping bed linen, but now it didn’t seem quite so much of a chore. Even without a way out of this monotonous cycle, she did at least see light at the end of the tunnel now, and generally felt more accepting of her own challenges. Where she’d spent at least the past couple of years suffering under the stigma of being a closet bedwetter, something that her peers would have grown out of many years earlier, now she had a new level of understanding. It was just a medical condition, nothing more, and one that she’d become particularly adept at managing privately, so why feel shame and embarrassment? It just seemed such a waste of energy to stress and worry about it now, she couldn’t change it, and life was just too short.

On the Saturday morning, after a lie in for both mum and daughter, which of course signified a dry night for McKenzie - two in a week being something of record in recent memory, attributable perhaps to the change in her mindset and lack of stress - they were enjoying a leisurely breakfast late in the morning, discussing plans for the weekend.

“Did you ask Charlotte about coming over for lunch, Kenz? Honestly I really can’t wait to meet this girl, I don’t know what on earth she did to you the other night, but it’s been like living with somebody else since, and I’m most definitely not complaining!”

Feigning indignation, but unable to disagree with what her Mum had said, for she knew herself that her attitude and entire approach to life had shifted dramatically in just a few days, Kenzie grabbed her phone to message her friend.

“Hey Charl, hows you? Mum wants to know whether you fancy coming over for lunch? Don’t worry, I’ll make sure she doesn’t mention ‘you know what’, but she’s really keen to meet you. I’d love to see you again properly, too. x “

“I’ll take that as a no, then, you hadn’t asked her? Lesley chuckled.

“Sorry Mum, I completely forgot! I mean, I see her every morning too, but only really two say hi too. I don’t really know her mates or anything, so it’s a bit weird. But yeah, I’ve asked her now.”

With no other commitments, and not much fancying their typical Saturday morning activity of a walk in the nearby countryside given the inclement weather, Lesley suggested they head to the leisure centre for a swim, and then nip into town to do a food shop on the way home, a plan to which Kenzie readily agreed. She’d not swam, or even really properly exercised, nearly enough recently as she’d never quite felt in the mood for it, but now she was feeling so much more positive about things the prospect of a vigorous workout really appealed. Plus, she may be 19 now and an adult in her own right, but going shopping with her Mum always meant a few extra treats finding their way into the trolley too. They were both as bad as each other I that regard, Lesley usually considering a trip to the supermarket a boring necessity when she went on her own, but with Kenzie it was more of a laugh, and she never did much to protest against her daughters naughty encouragement when it came to the wine and ice cream aisles!

Swimming had always been Lesley’s preferred leisure activity as it helped to keep her fit whilst acting as a way to relax and unwind away from work, and as such it had played a big part in Kenzie’s life growing up. Most weekends they’d swam when she was younger, and she’d taken lessons to quite an advanced level, even swimming on a team for a brief time, although eventually that too had come to an end as the team began to compete in time trials across the country, necessitating overnight stays and causing Kenzie to think up excuse after excuse for why she couldn’t make it, until it reached the point where she just didn’t attend even for practise any more. Something else that had been ruined for her, and all because of something she couldn’t help. If only she’d had this new found confidence back then, her coach had often said she was a strong enough swimmer to compete at county level.

The pair chatted excitedly as they gathered their swimming things - costumes, towels, goggles and toiletries - more like a pair of sisters than mum and daughter, the age gap closed by their shared love of the water. Deciding to skip their morning showers, as they’d of course wash both before and after their swim, Kenzie remarked that it really was unusual for her to be able to leave the house without a bath or shower, and when that happened she knew it was going to be a good day. She may have learned a new understanding of her problem, but it was still by far the biggest thing in her life, and something which somehow seemed to creep into every conversation and every activity.

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