Classified: A New Life

Hello everyone, it’s been a while, and I’d like to try my hand at writing again. I know this particular concept isn’t exactly original, but I wanted to do something that doesn’t take place in the Diaper Dimension. This story ignores the Covid-19 pandemic, since I started writing it a long time ago before all that happened. I hope you enjoy what I have so far anyway!

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Prologue: Day 7,118

Name: Emory Mason
DOB: 21/07/2002
CIN: D14R5721
Citizen Lifestyle Assignment Sorting and Sectioning (CLASS)
Result: Little

Emory stares at the letter in disbelief.

She feels numb.

Hollowed out.

She’s always been good at hiding it, making the profilers say whatever she wants them to say. It’s not hard, the questions are pretty straightforward, the answers easy to manipulate.

Or at least, they had been, until now.

Her eyes burn, tears welling up, making the letter impossible to read–not that it matters now anyway. She’d been a fool to think she could manipulate the results of the most comprehensive, and thorough personality test ever conceived.

Although, she thinks, there was more to this test than the basic questionnaire she’d filled out every year at school. Those had been simple things, designed to help the teacher understand their class. The actual CLASS exam had been a different beast altogether. There’d been bloodwork, physical ability tests, cognitive assessments…much more than she’d been expecting.

She’s always done well in school, and although she’s no athlete; she’s too small and underweight to really be able to participate in sports, she likes to think she’s in good shape.

But in the end, it’s the bloodwork that has given her away, her body has betrayed her in ways she hadn’t anticipated–enzymes and hormone levels can’t be fabricated, not without drugs, and a positive drug test before Classification is an immediate prison sentence.

“No…” Emory whispers quietly. Her life is ending. All her careful answers to the questionnaires, all the effort she’d put into studying and getting good grades to get into a good university…all wasted.

Her parents will disown her–they’ve made no secret of their hatred for Littles, they see them as inferior, a drain on the resources of society. All her friends are either Neutrals or Caregivers, but all the Caregivers are spoken for, and none of the Neutrals are at a point in their life where they can foster her until she finds a permanent placement. The only other Caregiver she knows is her roommate, Melody, but Melody’s never said anything about having a little, so that might not be an option either–she might not even want one…

Emory might be able to continue her university education, but not without a Caregiver to sponsor her, and she certainly won’t be able to live unsupervised, like the adult she’s so desperately worked to become.

No!” She howls, and crumbles the letter into a tiny ball.

Not that it matters, not really, every Federal, State, and Local agency already has her classification on file–the letter is really just a formality. She’s had her phone on silent, delaying the inevitable as long as possible until now, but she can’t hide from the results anymore.

That realization is like a sucker punch, knocking the breath from her lungs and tying her stomach into an anxious, aching knot.

She flops bonelessly onto the sofa, hugs a pillow to her chest, and sobs. The weight of her despair is crushing, the ache of her dreams being shattered winds around her chest like a band, squeezing the life out of her.

Emory fumbles for her phone, crying and shaking so badly that she can barely dial the number she needs.

“Hey, Emmy, I just got done at work, is everything okay?”

Emory sucks in a shaky breath, forcing herself to control her breathing so she can speak.

“Mellie, you gotta come home…” she chokes out, hiccupping.

“Em, you sound really upset, what happened?” Melody’s voice is unbelievably tender and gentle, and the bands around Emory’s chest loosen a little.

“I got my results today…”

“Oh? Were they not what you expected?”

“I’m…I’m a Little…” Emory manages to explain, before bursting into tears again. She’s said it out loud now, so it’s real, and definitive and inescapable.

“Okay. It’s gonna be okay, Emmy, I promise. I need you to listen to me very carefully though, alright?”

Emory nods, then realizes that Melody can’t actually see her. “Mhmm.”

“I put an Emergency Littles Kit in the medicine cabinet. It comes in a bright blue box with a white ribbon on the front, like a Christmas present. I need you to get it for me and open it okay? I’ll be right here with you the whole time.”

“O-okay…” Emory forces herself to get up and go to the bathroom; her legs feel like they’re made of lead. She opens the medicine cabinet and takes out the box. Inside the box are four round candies that look kind of like lifesavers, one each of green, yellow, purple, and a clear one. There’s a chart on the inside of the lid, with the color of the candies and a corresponding string of letters and numbers, but it’s indecipherable to Emory.

“I’ve got it Melody…” Emory sniffles, sitting down on the closed toilet lid.

“Good. You’re doing such a wonderful job Emmy. I need you to taste the candies and tell me which one you like best. If you don’t like one, you can just spit it out into the garbage, okay?”

“Okay. Here goes…” Emory says, swallowing nervously. The green and yellow candies taste horrible, and she spits them out immediately. The purple candy tastes incredible, and she feels a little less awful after eating it, though she does wish there were more of them. The clear candy is completely bland–not as bad as the first two, but she spits it out anyway. “I’m all done. I really like the purple one, but the green and yellow ones were nasty. The clear one didn’t really taste like anything.”

“Alright. I’m going to be home in five minutes. I want you to go into the living room and turn on Super Squad; you like that show, right?”

“Yeah…” Emory frowns. She’d never really thought anything of her interest in the childish TV show until now, and it irritates her that she’d been so oblivious.

“Good. Just try to relax and wait for me to get back, alright? I have to go so I can drive.”

“Okay…I’ll see you when you get back, I guess. Drive safe.”

“I will. See you soon.” Melody replies, and then she hangs up.

A fresh wave of tears rolls down Emory’s cheeks at the silence, and she shuffles out to the living room to follow Melody’s instructions.

She curls up on the couch dejectedly with her pillow, trying to focus on the cheerful music and whimsical nature of the cartoon, but it doesn’t really help all that much–she’s too busy catastrophizing, imagining all the ways her life is about to be upended. She feels so incredibly alone and vulnerable, and the only thing she can do is watch TV and cry about it.

After what feels like a lot longer than five minutes, Melody is kneeling down in front of Emory.

“Oh, sweetheart…you’ve had a rough day, haven’t you?” Melody says, in the same gentle, lilting voice she’d used on the phone. Her face is kind and understanding, her brown eyes warm and inviting. She’s put her hair up today, in a messy bun. Her hair is a slightly darker shade of brown than Emory’s. She opens her arms for a hug, and Emory lunges into her arms, bursting into tears all over again.

“Mellie…What am I gonna do?” Emory presses her face into Melody’s chest. She’s probably getting Melody’s shirt all snotty, but Melody only holds onto her tighter. She smells like baby powder and vanilla, and her embrace is warm and safe. At least for now, Emory doesn’t feel quite so terrible.

“Shhh, honey.” Melody reaches underneath Emory’s shirt to rub her back. The skin-to-skin contact is soothing, and it helps to ground Emory amidst the swirl of emotion she’s feeling. “One thing at a time. I know this must be pretty scary for you, but I promise, it’s gonna be okay. First, we’re gonna cuddle here for a little bit until you’re calmer. Then, we’re gonna get you in a nice warm bath, and then we’re going to go to the store for some things, okay. We’re not gonna worry about anything else for right now.”

Emory wants to protest, to say that of course she’s worried about literally everything else, but she doesn’t. Melody seems so sure that things will work out, so in control of a situation that’s completely unfamiliar to her, it seems foolish to argue.

“Okay…”

Melody rocks them for a bit, continuing to rub Emory’s back.

The fact that Melody is so much bigger than her had always bothered Emory, because she’d wanted to be seen as an equal, which was hard to accomplish with Melody being so much taller than her.

But now, it’s not so bad, since Melody can easily hold her. As much as she wants to deny it, Melody’s affections really are helping to calm her down.

Melody stands and carries Emory into the kitchen, before sitting her down on the counter and filling up a glass with water.

“Here,” Melody says gently. “You must be thirsty.”

Emory nods and drains the glass; she hadn’t realized that she was thirsty until Melody’d mentioned it, and she drinks a second glass, then half of a third for good measure. “Thanks. I guess I was really thirsty.”

“You’re welcome. You said you liked the purple candy?” Melody asks as she puts the used glass into the sink next to Emory.

Emory nods, smiling a little at the memory of the taste. “It was really good! There was a chart on the inside of the lid, but I don’t know what the codes mean.” She reaches out to hold onto Melody’s shirt, keeping her close. Even the little bit of distance between them now seems like too much, like the world might just swallow her up in her newfound helplessness.

Melody smiles gently and presses a kiss to Emory’s forehead. “That’s because those codes aren’t for you to worry about honey. Those are for me, so I know what to put into the kiosk at the Little’s Supply store–it will generate a shopping list for us to make sure we don’t miss anything. The candy should help you to feel a little more relaxed for the rest of the day.”

“Oh.” Emory frowns as an awful thought occurs to her. “Will you take me to an assignment center? I know I won’t be allowed to live on my own, and I’m not sure if you even wanted a Little or not, so…”

Melody raises an eyebrow, and Emory suddenly feels chastised and small. “Didn’t I just say that we’re not gonna worry about all that right now?”

Emory looks at her lap, eyes welling up with tears all over again. “Yeah. Sorry.”

Melody smiles and lifts Emory onto her hip. “It’s okay, sweetheart. And no, I’m not going to take you to an assignment center, those places are horrible. I don’t have a Little, because I haven’t really bonded with anyone in that way yet. Taking on a Little is kind of a big deal, you know, it’s a big commitment and a lot of responsibility. Caregivers are required to do lots of stuff to make sure Littles are taken care of, and if things don’t go well, we can end up in a lot of trouble.”

“Really? I didn’t know that…”

“Yeah. Mostly it’s just to make sure that Littles aren’t taken advantage of or abused. If someone takes on a Little, then they’re required to provide for them, just like you would for a child. There are things to help with all that of course–the government gives out a pretty hefty stipend to make sure people have enough money to get what they need, but it doesn’t always get used for the things it should be. Some Caregivers are only after status, and they’ll use the money on themselves and neglect their Little in the process.”

“Oh.” Emory nibbles her thumb absently. “That seems pretty scary.”

“Not really. It’s just something you’ve gotta take seriously. Sometimes Littles and Caregivers will have to part ways like if the Caregiver gets sick and can’t be responsible for the Little anymore. But outside of really serious stuff like that, it’s very difficult to separate from someone once you’ve made that commitment, at least legally speaking.”

“Is that why you don’t have a Little yet?” Emory wonders.

“Partly. I don’t want to let anyone down, you know? I mean, I know I can handle it, it’s just a lot to think about before making a decision. And, not all Caregivers are the kind who want Littles. Some people just like to help others in need–a lot of firefighters and police and stuff are Caregiver types. And, not all Littles need to have a Caregiver around all the time–it really depends on the person.”

“Wow. That is a lot to think about.” Emory plays with Melody’s hair thoughtfully.

“But don’t worry. Right now, I’m going to take care of you.” Melody heads back into the living room and then sits down on the couch with Emory in her lap. Do you mind if I read your letter? I’m gonna need some info from it for when we go to LS later on.”

“Sure.” Emory uncrumples it as best she can and hands it over. “Does it say anything bad? I don’t really understand the technical stuff.”

Melody is quiet for a moment while she reads, pausing occasionally to take notes on her phone, and then she smiles at Emory. “No, it doesn’t. It basically just says that you’ll be required to have supervision at all times. It also says that you’ll need diapers if I’m reading the section on bloodwork correctly–the rest of that stuff at the end is just info for the machine at the store.”

Emory frowns and folds her arms. “How is having to wear diapers not a bad thing? What if I don’t want to be supervised all the time?”

“The supervision is for your safety, and as far as the diapers go, you might not need them right away, but it’s indicated in your letter. You don’t want to be having accidents all the time do you?”

Emory frowns. “No…but I’ve never really had a big problem with that.”

“That’s part of why getting Classified is so important. You wouldn’t want that to be a surprise, would you?”

“I guess not. But I haven’t had any accidents for a long time. I don’t see why it would just suddenly become a problem now.”

“It’s different from person to person. Some Littles have accidents all their lives, and some only start having them after classification. The genetic markers in your bloodwork that identify you as a Little all activate at different speeds for different people. You might not be having problems now, but they’re coming, and it’s better to be prepared, right?”

“Yeah…I don’t want to be a Little though.”

“I’m sorry sweetheart. But there’s nothing that can be done about it. Just like you can’t help how tall you are or what color eyes you have. It’s not a terrible thing though, I promise.”

“It’s not fair.” Emory points out.

“I know. But that’s the way it is. Thank you for letting me read your letter. I know it’s a big adjustment, but I really think you’ll be happier once everything isn’t so new and different to what you’re used to. And I’m gonna be here to help you too.”

“Thanks…Won’t you be in trouble at your job though? If you’re here with me?” Emory wonders.
“No. There are all kinds of legal protections for Caregivers who live with someone who gets classified as a Little. They don’t last forever, but there’s nothing to worry about yet. I don’t actually need to go into the office anyway, it’s just nice to get out of the house sometimes.”

Emory lets out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding and rests against Melody’s chest. Her future is still very uncertain, but knowing that Melody will be with her makes it a little less terrifying.

“You’re very welcome, munchkin. Now, what do you say we get you into a nice, warm bath, and then we’ll get ready to go to the store. Sound good?”

Emory nods, nibbling on the thumb of her free hand. “Yeah.” And then, before she can stop herself she says: “Will you stay? I don’t wanna be alone right now…”

Melody scoops her up and settles her on her hip. “I’ll be right here with you the whole time. I know this must be really overwhelming for you. Just relax and let me handle everything okay? We’ll talk more about what to do next in the morning; right now we’re just going to try and relax. You just do what feels natural to you, okay, I’m not going to judge you or tease you.”

Emory slips her thumb into her mouth experimentally, cheeks heating up in embarrassment, but Melody doesn’t seem fazed in the slightest. She feels a few soothing pats against her bottom, and she just relaxes into Melody, feeling safer than she has in a long time. She’s conflicted–she knows she should be mortified, appalled at herself even. But, all the same, she…isn’t.

Emory’s life has been turned upside down in an instant, and if Melody is volunteering to navigate this crazy situation for her, maybe it’s best to just let her. And besides, maybe knowing her…tendencies as a Little will be helpful in the future.

“Do you want bubbles in your bath tonight, Emmy?” Melody asks, setting Emory down on the floor so she can begin filling the tub.
“Yes please.” Emory says around her thumb, taking hold of Melody’s shirt again. She squirms, the tiles are cold against her feet, and her bladder has begun signaling that it’s probably time to start heading for the toilet. It throbs painfully, and Emory can feel her eyes welling up with tears all over again. “Mellie, I gotta-”

And that’s as far as she gets before her bladder throbs again, and then she’s wetting herself, liquid splashing down the inside of her thighs and dripping onto the floor beneath her. She just stands there, wet and pathetic and horrified by what she’s just done.

Sure, she’s had her share of close calls, but she hasn’t actually had an accident like this since she was a little kid.

“It’s okay, sweetheart. Accidents happen, it’s not a big deal.” Melody pulls Emory into a hug despite her wet clothes, and Emory is eternally grateful for the comfort.

Melody’s statement doesn’t feel very true to Emory, but it’s easier not to be so upset about it since Melody isn’t bothered by it.

“Okay, Emmy, I need you to put your hands on my shoulders so you don’t fall, alright? I’m gonna help you get out of these wet clothes.” Melody’s voice is soothing and gentle as she helps Emory to get undressed.

Emory’s beginning to feel like she’ll never stop crying at this rate. “I can-I can do it myself…” She hiccups and tries in vain to stop the flow of tears.

“Shhh, babe, it’s okay.” Melody soothes. “I know you can. But, I’ve got it this time, okay? Emmy, please, just let me help you.”

Emory doesn’t really feel embarrassed at being naked in front of Melody; it’s not the first time it’s happened, and anyway, she mostly just hopes she doesn’t pee on the floor again. The air in the bathroom is cool against her skin, and she shivers, hugging herself for warmth.

“Come here,” Melody says softly, gathering Emory to her. She presses a kiss to Emory’s temple. “How are you feeling right now?”

“Lost. Scared. Angry. Confused…Sad…It’s a lot. I had my whole life planned out, a good career, a nice apartment on the ritzy side of town…But it doesn’t matter now.”

“Just because you’re a Little, doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Sure, you might not be able to live on your own or do certain jobs, but there’s plenty of stuff out there for you if you want it.”

“But-” Emory begins to protest some more, but Melody interrupts by taking her by the shoulders and giving her a serious look.

“Shh. No more ‘buts’. I know you probably have tons of questions, and I will answer all of them, tomorrow, after you’ve had a good night’s sleep. This is how things are now, and you can either spend your energy worrying over how things are going to be, or you can try to be open about the experience and take things as they come. I promise you, I won’t let anything bad happen to you okay? So try to relax. I’ve got you.” Melody presses a kiss to Emory’s forehead, probably to emphasize her point.

Emory nods. “Okay.”

“Is this a good temperature for the water?” Melody asks, as she adds the bubble bath solution to the tub.

Emory tests the water, and is pleasantly surprised to find that it’s just the right temperature. It usually takes her a bit of fiddling to get the water how she likes it, and Melody has nailed it on the first try. It’s a small thing, but it makes it a little easier to put her trust in Melody to look after her.

“It’s just right,” Emory says with a smile.

“Good,” Melody answers, smiling back at her before lifting her into the tub. “Do you want to wash on your own this time?”

It’s a simple question with monumental implications. Emory sucks on her thumb absently, thinking. The warm water has eased her stress levels a bit more, and she’s beginning to realize how worn-out she feels. She thinks back to what Melody’d said earlier, about experiencing this new reality and taking things as they come, and she makes her decision.

“Could you do it please?” Emory says around her thumb.

“Sure thing! You just sit back and relax. Thank you for trusting me little one, it means a lot to me.” Melody says, and reaches for the soap and washcloth.

Part of Emory is irritated at the new nickname. But, if she’s being honest with herself, it makes her feel warm inside, and it’s not really all that embarrassing either. The cognitive dissonance is exhausting and it’s giving her a headache. She doesn’t have the energy to keep protesting and behaving like pre-Classification Emory would. So, she decides to just let Melody take charge for the night.

Melody is very gentle when she scrubs Emory down, but not so gentle that it’s inefficient, and she even takes extra special care to avoid getting soap in Emory’s eyes. When she’s finished, she pulls the plug on the drain and wraps Emory in a big, fluffy towel before picking her up again.

“Thank you Mellie. That was…really nice.” Emory says honestly.

“You’re welcome sweetie. Now, let’s get you dressed, and we’ll head over to the Littles Supply. Do you want to get ice cream when we’re finished there?”

Emory nods. Ice cream sounds like the perfect comfort food after a day like today. Melody brings her to her room instead of going to Emory’s and lays her down on the bed.

“Stay still, okay munchkin? I’ll just be a sec.” Melody rummages around in her closet for a moment before getting a moderately-sized blue bag with the same ribbon on it as the ELK from the top shelf.

She takes out a plain white diaper, powder, and some lotion, as well as a pastel purple onesie with a snap crotch.

Emory fidgets, uncertain. She’s a little embarrassed, but she’s also very curious about how it’s going to feel to be in a diaper for the first time since she was a baby.

“This will only take a minute, sweetheart. Try not to wiggle around too much, okay?”

Emory nods and slips her thumb into her mouth again. “‘Kay.” She says softly.

Melody puts lotion on her entire body, not just her diaper area, which she hadn’t been expecting. It’s hard not to squirm, since Melody seems to have a knack for finding all of her ticklish spots, but she does her best. The lotion has a very pleasant smell though, so she doesn’t mind. Melody doesn’t even ask Emory to do anything during the diapering portion of the process, she just lifts Emory by the ankles before sliding the diaper under her. She dusts Emory with powder before pulling the diaper up between her legs and securing it snugly with the tapes.

The smell of baby powder and lotion in combination is incredibly relaxing, and it takes Emory a moment to realize that Melody is talking to her.

“Are you okay?”

Emory nods, giving an experimental wiggle. The diaper isn’t uncomfortable, but it’s definitely going to take some getting used to. Still, it’s not nearly as bad as she’d been afraid it would be.

“Mhmm.” She answers. “It actually feels kinda nice…”

“Oh? Well, I’m glad to hear that!” Melody says, before helping Emory to sit up. “Arms up, please.”

Emory complies so Melody can dress her in the onesie, which feels strange, but like the diaper, it isn’t uncomfortable either. She smiles at the realization, maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

Melody reaches into the bag and takes out a black pair of overalls and an oversized purple hair bow and helps Emory dress before tying her hair back in a ponytail. She takes a few items out of the bag and sets them aside–apparently there were different sizes of everything in, and they’d only needed what Emory was wearing.

Emory looks at the pile and is kind of embarrassed to realize that the only size missing from the pile is ‘extra small’ and she hadn’t thought that she was that tiny…

Melody helps Emory stand and guides her in front of the mirror.

“All done, what do you think?” Melody wonders.

Emory blinks at her reflection, her own blue eyes staring back at her. Her lighter brown hair is tied back with the oversized bow that Melody had taken from the bag, and she realizes that she looks like a toddler, only a bit bigger. She’s a little embarrassed to notice that the overalls also have snaps in the crotch, but other than that, it’s a pretty normal-looking outfit. She’d even go so far as to say it’s cute…And, as an added bonus, the diaper isn’t obvious at all, it’s the snaps in the crotch that give that away.

“I like it. It’s comfier than I thought It would be, but walking around in a diaper feels a little weird.” Emory confesses, turning to look up at Melody.

“I’m glad you like it. The bag didn’t leave me with many options, but you’ll have a chance to pick some things out at the LS. They make some pretty cute stuff, but it’s okay if you prefer the plainer side of the spectrum.”

Emory shrugs. “I’m not sure what I’d like best…I’ll have to see what they’ve got.” She feels a little nervous at the prospect of going out in public as a Little for the first time, and without really thinking about it, she lifts her arms toward Melody, hoping to be picked up. It’s only after she’s lifted into Melody’s arms that it dawns on her what she’d just done.

“Alright, little one, let’s get a move on. I’d like to get you to bed at a reasonable time tonight, and we have lots to do.”

Part of Emory bristles at the thought of being given a bedtime, but she ignores it and says:

“Okay.”

Melody smiles and kisses Emory’s temple–Emory doesn’t think she’ll ever get tired of being shown affection like that, and she snuggles a little closer to Melody without really meaning too.

Melody pats Emory’s bottom; it’s something she’s done many times before, but it’s somehow more comforting now, and it makes it easy to put aside her fears of going out.

“Don’t worry,” Melody says as she heads for the door. “I’ve got you.”

~~~~*

The Littles Supply store isn’t very busy when they arrive. Or, at least it doesn’t seem that way, as Emory spends most of her time looking at the ground. She still hasn’t gotten used to walking in a diaper, and she’s almost sure she looks a little awkward. She just holds Melody’s hand and tries to keep pace with her much longer stride.

“Well hello there!” Someone says. “Aren’t you just the cutest little thing?”

Emory can feel her face heating up a little and she makes herself look up to see who’s speaking to her.

There’s a lady sitting in a chair by the entrance with red hair, blue eyes, and a bright smile who’s waving at her. She’s got on a name tag that says ‘Beth’, with the Littles Supply logo on it.

Emory moves a bit so she’s mostly behind Melody. The employee’s greeting doesn’t scare her, not exactly, it’s just that she feels kind of exposed, and she isn’t quite sure that she’s ready to be seen like this by people other than Melody.

“Hi…” Emory answers, very quietly, giving the employee a small wave.

“Aww, someone’s a little shy today. That’s okay. Would you like a lollipop or a sticker?”

Emory shuffles forward a bit to see her choices, before looking back at Melody to make sure this is okay with her.

Melody smiles at her and gestures at her to continue. “Go on sweetheart, it’s alright. Pick anything you like.”

“You can have one of each if you’d like.” Beth whispers, like she’s letting Emory in on some big secret.

Emory gasps a little in surprise without really meaning to. “Wow…” After a moment of deliberation she chooses a purple lollipop and a sticker that says ‘Superstar’ with a golden star wearing sunglasses.

“Thank you.” Emory says in a small voice, and then goes back to Melody, taking her hand immediately. She hands the sticker to Melody once they’re inside the store.

“Oh, is this for me?” Melody wonders.

Emory nods. “Mhmm. I just wanted to say thanks for taking care of me. I’m really glad you’re my friend.” She feels like she’s said too much, but it’s too late to take it back now.

“Aww, thank you sweetie.” Melody says, and puts the sticker on her shirt. She stops in front of the carts, some of which are much bigger than the usual-sized ones and looks at Emory. “Do you want to ride in the cart? You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“Yes please.” Emory says, she’s already feeling kind of drained from the day, and the less walking she has to do, the better.

Melody lifts her gently into the cart. “If you want to get out to look at stuff, just let me know, okay?”

Emory nods.

Their next stop is the kiosk that Melody had talked about earlier. It’s kind of unassuming, just a big screen with a keyboard under it and a little printer beside it that has a sign above it that says: ‘First Time? Start Here’.

Melody pauses to consult her notes, types a few things into the machine, and after a moment, the printer whirs to life and spits out a ribbon of paper.

“Okay, we’ve got our list. Are you ready to get started?” Melody asks.

Emory nods.

“Alright then, Off we go!” Melody says cheerfully.

The store is a lot like the other big-box retailers in town, but it sells exclusively stuff for Littles, everything from clothing to those giant inflatable bouncy castles.

Their first stop is the section Emory had been dreading the most, the diaper aisle. There are tons of options to pick from, and although she’d rather not even be in this section, she knows that it won’t do any good to complain about it. She looks around at the packages and finds herself drawn to the ones with animal designs and some of the ones with spaceships and stars.

“I like those.” Emory says, pointing to them.

Melody takes a box of each of them and puts them into the cart. “Those are pretty cute.” Melody says. “We can have more delivered to the house in bulk, so we’re not gonna get a bunch right now. Do you see any other kinds you like?”

Emory points out a few more that also get put into the cart.

They head to the next aisle, one that has pacifiers, bottles and formula on one side, and various comfort items like blankets on the other.

“You don’t need to have formula, don’t worry.” Melody says before Emory can ask. “But you are going to need a cup with some kind of no-spill lid. Do you want to pick some, or do you want me to just go by the designs on your diapers?”

Emory shrugs, blushing a little at ‘your diapers’. It’s true, but it’s still kind of embarrassing to hear it out loud. “You can pick. I think I’d probably take forever, and I’m kind of tired.”

“Okay. If you see anything you like just shout.” Melody says, and begins sifting through items and putting them in the cart.

Emory lets her eyes wander before they land on a bottle with zoo animals that comes with a matching set of pacifiers and a very soft blanket. “Can I have that? Please?” It’s embarrassing to ask for it, but she really wants it, so she swallows her pride.

Melody adds it to their rapidly filling cart. “Of course you can. Thank you for using such good manners, sweetheart.” She tosses in a few other pacifiers and clips for good measure.

Emory smiles at the praise.

They turn the corner into the next aisle, one that has carseats, some of which are just upscaled versions of seats for toddlers.

“Wow…They’re huge!” Emory points out.

“Yep. They’re meant to replace the actual seat in the car. We’ll just get a ticket and take it up front, and they’ll install it overnight. There’s a shuttle that will take us home, and we can come back in the morning for the car. If you were a little bigger, we could probably just get away with replacing the seatbelt with a harness, and you could still sit up front. but I think the full-size carseat is the would be the safest option for you. Do you wanna try some of them out and see which ones you like?”

Emory feels a bit sad at the realization that her days of sitting up front are over, but nods.

All of the seats are comfortable, but she settles on a black one with light blue cushioning. It’s got a cupholder, a built-in charging port for her phone and it even reclines. It’s a little on the pricier side though, and that makes her think of something else.

“Um, Mellie? How am I gonna pay for all this stuff?”

“When you got classified as a Little, there was an account set up in your name that’s tied to the ID on your letter. You’ll get a card for it later, but until you get a Caregiver, the government stipend for Little care will go into that account. All we have to do is put in that ID number at the register, and everything will be taken care of. Didn’t you read any of the info things they gave you at Classification?”

Emory shakes her head. “Only the ones for Neutrals and Caregivers. I was so sure I wasn’t gonna end up as a Little that I didn’t bother with those.” She realizes as she says it that that lack of foresight is exactly the kind of thing one would expect from a Little. It seems so obvious now…

“That’s okay. We can talk more about all that later. We’re almost done, we just need to get you a crib, a changing table, and some clothes. Unless you want to look at some toys first? I know you’ve got your computer at home and the Playstation, but I thought you might want to do some other things sometimes too.”

“I have to sleep in a crib too?” Emory frowns. It doesn’t sound all that bad, but she feels like she should protest on principle.

“Yes, babe. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get out in case of emergency, and I’ll put a monitor in your room in case you need something.” Mallory explains. “I can’t really have you up and roaming around the house if I’m not awake to watch you, at least until we Little-proof things.”

Emory huffs. “I’m not gonna go around sticking forks in light sockets or eating the dishwasher soap thingies, Mellie.”

“I know, but you aren’t really in Littlespace right now either. Once you get more comfortable with things, I think you might be surprised. Besides, you can keep your TV and stuff so if you wake up before me, you won’t have to sit in there and be bored.”

Emory just pouts.

“Do you want to look at toys after we’re done picking out your crib and changing table?”

Emory smiles. Even before she’d gotten Classified, she’d enjoyed walking through the toy section just to look around, even if she’d only ever gotten her stuffed bear, Rufus, from there. “Okay!”

It doesn’t take them long to order their furniture, but Emory lets Melody handle that part. She does hope that the people coming to install it don’t take a long time to do so though; she’s uncomfortable enough with all this without a bunch of strange people in her house…

Emory stays close to Melody at first when they get to the toy section, since none of the toys for the really little Littles are very interesting. The shape-sorting toy seems like it would get boring pretty fast. She does like the blocks though, and gets a pretty big assortment of those. The aisle with all the Legos is the most exciting though, since she’d always loved playing with them as a child, and it’s really cool to see how complex some of the things she could build are now. She spends more time than she probably should browsing, and when she looks up to ask Melody if she can get a few things, she realizes that Melody is…gone.

Inwardly, Emory knows that Melody wouldn’t abandon her, but she can’t stop herself from panicking. She manages to stave it off momentarily by remembering that she can just call Melody and ask where she is. But, when she pats herself down, looking for her phone, she remembers that it’s still on the floor at home.

The gravity of being alone hits her like a freight train; now that she’s a Little, she doesn’t have many options for getting back home by herself. Without her phone, she can’t use a ride-sharing service to get home, if she’s even allowed to do that now, and she knows for a fact that buses won’t take unattended Littles either. She might even get taken to an Assignment Center.

Her breathing picks up, and her vision blurs as she bursts into tears, her heart jackhammering away inside her chest. Before she can really start crying, someone’s pulling her into a tight hug–she knows it’s Melody by the smell of her perfume.

“Oh, sweetheart, what’s wrong? Why all these tears, hmm?”

Emory just cries, unable to pull herself together quickly enough to respond right away. She just holds on tighter to Melody.

“Can you tell Mellie what’s wrong, little one? I can’t help you if I don’t know what the problem is.”

“I c-couldn’t see you. An’ I got scared…” Emory chokes out.

“I’m sorry little love, I thought you heard me when I said I was going to the next aisle over for a minute. You know I’d never leave you here all by yourself, right? Never ever.”

That makes Emory feel a little better, and she feels kind of silly for getting so worked up over such a little thing. “I know…’M sorry I freaked out like that…”

“You don’t ever have to be sorry for having feelings, Emmy. It’s perfectly okay to cry if you’re scared. Did you find anything you’d like?”

Emory nods and gives Melody a watery smile before moving to show her what she’d been looking at. After picking out a few things, they move on to the clothing section.

Their trip through the clothing section is by far the longest part of their visit to the store. Emory gets out to help Melody pick out some things–she gravitates toward the plainer, pastel colors, but Melody is definitely a fan of the more overtly cute stuff with designs and little sayings on it. Thankfully, she doesn’t pick out anything too outlandish.

And that’s when it happens.

Emory’s trailing behind Melody a bit, pausing to look at things, but always making sure that she can see Melody, when her bladder throbs. She suddenly regrets her decision to drink so much water earlier and she knows immediately that she doesn’t have long to get to a toilet. And, with the extra steps to undress because of the overalls, onesie, and diaper, she isn’t even really sure that she can. She squirms a bit and opens her mouth to let Melody know what’s going on, when her bladder fails entirely with a painful spasm, and she wets her diaper.

She stands there awkwardly, brow furrowing at the unfamiliar sensation. She’d had to go even more than she’d realized, and she ends up rooted to the spot, hoping she can finish before Melody notices what’s happening, as unlikely as that is. The feeling of wetting her diaper isn’t bad, but it’s foreign to her, not to mention embarrassing. She’s glad to be wearing it though, since no one knows what’s happened except her, and maybe–probably–Melody. At least she hasn’t left a puddle on the floor…

Emory looks up to see Melody in front of her, arms open for a hug, like she knows exactly what just happened. Emory doesn’t waste any time taking advantage of the offer.

“‘M sorry…” Emory says quietly, fighting back tears for the umpteenth time that day.

“You don’t have anything to be sorry for, Emmy” Melody soothes quietly, rubbing Emory’s back. “That’s what your diaper is for. It’s better than leaving a mess, right?”

Emory nods.

Melody reaches down to pat Emory’s bottom. “Your diaper can hold a lot more than that, but I understand if you want to get changed now. We’ve got a little time before the shuttle gets here to take us home, and they already set up delivery for your diapers, so we don’t need to do that. We can hurry and go to get ice cream after we pay, or I can change your diaper, but we might not have time for ice cream after that.”

“But you said we could…” Emory feels her eyes welling up with tears at the thought of missing out on ice cream. She rubs them gently with her fists, trying to stop herself from crying again, and sort of surprises herself when she yawns.

“Oh, little one, you’re so tired…I know I did. Can you wait to get changed until we get home?”

Emory nods. A wet diaper doesn’t feel great, but it’s not terribly uncomfortable either. And besides, it’s worth enduring if it means she gets ice cream. “I can wait…”

“Okay.” Melody says and fishes a tissue out of her purse. She holds it up to Emory’s nose. “Blow, sweetheart.” she says, and Emory does.

Emory’s thumb drifts toward her mouth, but Melody stops her. “Oh no, Emmy, don’t do that, it’s icky. We’ve been touching lots of stuff that other people have handled, and I don’t want you to get sick. Do you want to try a pacifier instead?”

Emory thinks about it for a moment, and then nods. No one has teased her or mocked her since she arrived at the store, so maybe she’s worried over nothing.

Melody hunts through her bag for a moment before finding one, it’s the same shade of purple as Emory’s shirt… She takes out a clip for the pacifier and clips it to Emory’s shirt for her. “There you go, sweetheart.”

Emory gives it an experimental suck, and realizes two things: First, that it’s faintly vanilla flavored, and secondly that it’s way better than sucking her thumb. She suckles on it happily and smiles at Melody.

“Thank you!”

Melody chuckles. “You’re too cute. You’re very welcome Emmy. Do you want to walk, or ride in the cart to go back up front?”

“I can walk,” Emory says, afraid she’ll fall asleep if she sits in the cart, and she doesn’t want to miss out on her opportunity for ice cream.

“That’s fine. Hold my hand though, I don’t want you to get lost.” Melody says.

“I’m not gonna get lost…” Emory protests.

“Emmy, you almost got lost earlier because you weren’t paying attention. We’re not gonna do that again, okay? I know this is all very new to you, but I need you to listen to me.”

“I can do it myself!” Emory responds, too loudly, and stomps her foot without really meaning to. She’s exhausted and out-of-sorts, and it’s so hard to keep a lid on her emotions when everything is so new and overwhelming.

“Excuse me? That’s not a very nice way to talk to someone, Emmy.” Melody says, raising an eyebrow, and taking Emory by the shoulders. “I’m just trying to keep you safe. I know you can do it yourself, but I don’t think that’s a very good choice right now, do you?”

Emory harrumphs and turns around to face away from Melody, too upset with everything to speak. She’s mad at herself for not being able to control her emotions better, mad at Melody for not letting her prove that she’s capable of doing things on her own, and mad at the Classification test for doing this to her.

“I’m mad!” she says, like it isn’t already obvious.

“That’s okay.” Melody says, and her calm, gentle voice is somehow even more irritating–a reminder of how grown-up and in-control she is, everything that Emory isn’t. “You’re allowed to be mad. Do you need a minute to calm down so we can talk?”

Emory folds her arms and flops down onto her butt without answering. She’s grateful for her diaper, since sitting down so hard would definitely have hurt otherwise. She feels Melody’s lips against the top of her head.

“Okay.” Melody says. “I’ll be right here when you’re ready to use your words.”

Emory’s crying again before she can stop herself. She knows she’s made a mistake, but everything is so different and wrong and it’s hard to know what to do. She gets up and turns around to face Melody, sobbing and reaching for her.

“Oh, honey…” Melody’s voice is almost a coo as she lifts Emory into her arms. “We’ve had a stressful day, haven’t we, little one?” She wonders, but she doesn’t seem to expect an answer from Emory.

Emory presses her face into Melody’s chest. “‘M sorry!” she bawls.

“It’s okay sweetheart, everything is forgiven. But do you understand why I want you to hold my hand?”

Emory nods. “So I don’t get lost and scared again.”

“That’s right. I don’t like seeing you so upset. Do you know what makes me feel better when I’m sad?” Melody asks.

“Cuddles?” Emory ventures.

“Yes, do you know what else cheers me up?”

Emory shrugs.

“Ice cream. Would you like to have some after we pay?”

Emory nods. “Yes please.”

“I think that can be arranged,” Melody says, and smiles at her before setting her down in the cart. “Let’s go pay for our things.”

With their cart piled high with loot, they head for the registers at the front.

Emory falls asleep before they get there, dreaming of ice cream.

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Chapter I: Day 1

The sound of the television wakes Emory up. She’s in Melody’s bed, she can tell that from the sound of the morning weather forecast, since that’s not something she’d watch. She stretches a little and yawns, her pacifier tumbling out onto the bed–she hadn’t even realized that she’d been sucking on it.

“Well, look who’s awake.” Melody says from somewhere beside her, reaching over to rub her back. “How are you feeling?”

Emory wiggles closer to Melody and feels around for a moment, before resting her head on Melody’s leg. “I feel a little better than I did yesterday. But I’m still sleepy. Five more minutes.” She mumbles.

“The candy from yesterday must be wearing off.” Melody says.

Emory props herself up on one arm. “That wasn’t candy, was it?”

“No. It was medication. A very mild sedative combined with a mild anti-anxiety tablet, just to help you relax a bit on your first day since I wasn’t around when you got your results.”

“You drugged me?” Emory’s mouth drops open in shock.

“Emory, calm down. It’s not a bad thing–it was to keep you from doing anything crazy until I got back.”

Emory frowns. “Do you really think I’d-”

“No,” Melody interrupts. “I don’t think that. But sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. Sometimes, stuff like that does happen, and I wasn’t about to take that chance with you.” Melody explains.

Emory sighs. She can’t really blame Melody for being worried. She had been pretty upset on the phone yesterday, and there was no way for Melody to know that she wasn’t in such a state where there could have been a…negative outcome. “I guess that makes sense. I still wish you would have told me beforehand though.”

“Have you ever tried to get a little one to take medicine Emmy? I couldn’t take the chance that you wouldn’t take it, given what could have happened.”

Emory huffs. Even now, she’s not a huge fan of taking any kind of medication, so she can kind of see Melody’s point. That doesn’t mean she needs to be happy about it though. “Alright. I understand why you did that. But next time, just tell me that it’s medicine. I’m not going to fight you on taking it, I promise.”

“That’s fair.” Melody says.

Emory rests her head on Melody’s leg again.

“Come on, sleepyhead, it’s time to wake up.” Melody reaches down and pulls Emory closer to her. “You’ll have a nap later, sweetheart. We have a busy morning ahead of us.”

Emory blinks at that, forcing herself to open her eyes and crawls into Melody’s lap. Her diaper squishes beneath her as she does so, and she’s a little embarrassed when she realizes how wet she is. Melody certainly hadn’t been joking about her needing diapers, since she hasn’t wet the bed in a long time. Still, she supposes that it’s better than wetting Melody’s bed, and she’s sure her roommate appreciates not having to wash her sheets as well.

“Why?” Emory wonders.

“Well, first, we need to go and pick up the car from the LS–they called while you were asleep to say that they finished installing your carseat. Then, we need to go and get you new ID cards from the CLASS office. The LS movers should be coming while we do that to install your crib and changing table, so it’ll be done by the time we get back.” Melody explains, reaching down to check Emory’s diaper.

Emory blushes a little. “Sorry…” she says.

“You don’t have anything to apologize for. You don’t ever need to apologize for using your diapers okay? It’s not a big deal at all, and I know you can’t help it. Hopefully it will be less embarrassing as you get used to things. We do need to get you changed though, I don’t want you getting a rash.” Melody tells her, reaching out to ruffle her hair.

“Okay. Um, thanks. Also, what happened to my pants?” Emory wonders.

“You wouldn’t let me put them on you last night before bed. Don’t you remember?”

Emory shrugs and shakes her head. “Nope.”

Melody chuckles. “You were pretty out of it last night. I did get you the ice cream I promised you though, it’s in the freezer.”

“Oh, I kinda forgot about that, thank you! Did you say I need new ID cards? What’s wrong with the ones I’ve got?”

Melody sighs. “You really didn’t read any of the stuff on Littles at Classification, did you? You need new ID cards to identify you as a Little. And then you’ll get an ICE card to carry around too, with names and phone numbers of people to call in case of an emergency.” Melody explains.

Emory frowns, and picks at a loose thread on her shirt. “Okay, I get it…” She sniffles, irritated at how easily she cries. “You don’t have to keep rubbing it in. I know I should have read everything at Classification. But I didn’t, so I’m a little lost.”

Melody pulls her into a hug. “I’m not trying to make fun of you, sweetheart. I just think things might be a little easier for you if you at least have a general idea of what to expect. We can get more information when we go to get your new cards.”

“Alright. What will happen to me? If I have to be supervised all the time, I’d imagine that I’d need to find a Caregiver sooner rather than later. And I don’t…I don’t wanna go to an Assignment Center.” Emory sighed.

“You’re not going to an Assignment Center. Like I said yesterday, I’m gonna take care of you for now. When we go get your new cards, I’m going to register as your Guardian.”

“Guardian? That’s different from a Caregiver?” Emory wonders.

“It’s pretty much the same. It’s just a temporary arrangement without some of the legal things that official Caregivers have to deal with. It’s essentially a trial period to see if we’re a good fit. If everything works out, I can just change my registration to your official Caregiver once we get to that point.”

“Like a foster parent?” Emory’s brow knits together as she tries to make sense of everything.

“Yes, exactly. I care about you a lot, Emmy, and I just want to make sure I’m the right person for the job. That’s why I’m not jumping into being your Caregiver right now; I want the best for you, and I’ve never done this before, so it might not be me, you know?” Melody explains gently.

“I understand…” Emory bites her lip. “You’ve been doing pretty great so far, I think. I’m really glad you’re around.”

Melody kisses Emory’s forehead. “I’m very glad you think so, sweetheart. Now, we really do need to get our day started. Do you need to go anymore before I change your diaper?”

Emory wrinkles her nose. “Um…no? I don’t think so?” It’s embarrassing to admit, but she can’t really tell whether she needs to go or not.

“Okay…we’ll give it a few minutes before we change you okay? If you do need to go just say so and we’ll try to get you to the potty, okay? But it’s not a big deal if you have an accident either. Eventually, diapers will be necessary because you won’t really know that you need the toilet, but I’m not trying to purposefully humiliate you.”

Emory makes a face. “Will I be using them for…everything?” She shudders.

Melody nods. “Try not to worry about it too much, okay? I’ll be right here to change you whenever you need it, okay?”

“Okay.” Emory looks away from Melody. Admittedly, wetting her diaper hadn’t been the horrible experience that she’d expected, but it was still embarrassing enough that the thought of doing the other thing is profoundly unsettling to her. “I wanna try sitting on the potty.”

“Alright.” Melody says, smiling at her. “I’ll give you some privacy this time, but don’t expect that in the future. You don’t leave toddlers unattended in the bathroom after all, do you?”

Emory blushes. “No…I guess not. I’ll be good, I promise.”

Melody helps her undress and sits her down on the porcelain throne. “I’ll be back in ten minutes. I’m gonna go make something quick for breakfast, and then we need to get moving, okay?”

Emory nods. “‘Kay. Thank you, Mellie.”

Melody smiles at her again. “Of course, love. I’ll be right back.” She says, and then she disappears, leaving Emory alone.

Emory uses the time to think. So far, things have been embarrassing, but not bad. It’s frustrating to have lost so much of her agency at once, but Melody hasn’t really used that against her, and protesting hasn’t done her any favors so far.

Worse than the emotional turmoil, though are the physical changes. Her first wetting yesterday had taken her completely by surprise, and the loss of control over her…personal faculties is the scariest part of it all. Even now, sitting on a toilet she’d used countless times before everything had changed so drastically, she still can’t tell for sure if she really needs to go or not. It’s one thing to be told that she’s essentially going to be helpless and dependent on someone else to manage her most personal needs, and it’s another thing entirely to experience it.

She’s always gotten plenty of warning before needing the restroom, at least until yesterday. She’d had maybe a minute from the initial urge to go, to standing in a puddle. It certainly doesn’t bode well for the future, since she can’t very well live in the bathroom to avoid accidents for the rest of her life…Besides, there’s no telling what else might have changed along with that.

Emory feels a creeping anxiety as she continues to sit on the toilet, hoping in vain–at least so far–that she’s managed to get lucky and happens to be in the right place at the right time and can avoid a much more embarrassing kind of accident later. Surprisingly enough, her anxiety isn’t tied to her bathroom habits, although she’s worried about those for sure.

It’s because of Melody.

Or rather, it’s because Melody isn’t here.

She’d asked for privacy, yes, but now she’s sort of…regretting it.

Emory frowns at this realization. It would be unspeakably humiliating to have Melody present when she does her business, but in her thinking time, she’s become acutely more aware of exactly how vulnerable she is. And, she’s alone. She’s aware that really, nothing is going to happen as long as she doesn’t get off the toilet and go wandering around, which is absolutely not going to happen. But, that doesn’t make her feel any better, her imagination conjuring all sorts of crazy what-if scenarios.

She sniffles as her emotions threaten to overwhelm her. She feels like a leaky faucet with how much she’s been crying recently.

Fortunately, her stomach rumbles at that moment, and, on a hunch, Emory begins counting in her head. She gets up to ‘sixty-two, one thousand’, before she’s relieving herself into the toilet, and she realizes that it’s just dumb luck rather than her own forethought that’s led to this result.

Emory sighs. Oh, man… There’s no way she’ll be able to go without a diaper if that is her time frame to respond to the urge to use the restroom. She pouts, disappointed at her discovery.

And that’s how Melody finds her.

“All done?” Melody wonders before taking a closer look at Emory’s face. “Are you alright? You look upset.”

Emory shrugs, not bothering to protest Melody’s cleaning her up and then lifting her to the sink so she can wash her hands. She feels rather foolish for not thinking to do any of that on their own. It isn’t like she can’t reach the sink or wipe her own bottom. Her cheeks heat up in response to her pondering.

“It’s nothing. I was just thinking.” She explains.

Melody lays Emory down on her bed, and Emory realizes that Melody’s already laid out her clothes, a different pair of overalls and a simple t-shirt with a unicorn on it.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Melody asks, as she gets to work diapering Emory, this time in one of the zoo-themed ones they’d bought yesterday.

Emory frowns thoughtfully, nibbling at her thumb. “I just realized how…helpless I am now.” Tears spill down her cheeks. “Why is this happening to me?”

Melody presses a kiss to Emory’s forehead. “You know why it’s happening.” Melody points out. “Classification Biology and Psychology is a required course to graduate high school.”

Emory squirms.

Melody heaves a knowing sigh. “Let me guess: you didn’t pay attention to the ‘Little’ parts of the curriculum.”

Emory smiles sheepishly in response. “I can neither confirm nor deny-” she begins, but is interrupted by a gentle swat on her padded bottom from Melody as she finishes diapering her. “Fine. No, I didn’t pay attention.”

“Okay. I’ll explain it to you again, but you will be reading all the info we get from the CLASS office on Littles. Alright? It’s important that you understand what’s happening to you, and that you know what to expect going forward.” Melody stares at her expectantly, waiting for an answer. “Arms up please.”

Emory blows out a long sigh. “O-kay…” She pouts, but complies so Melody can continue to dress her.

“Well, first you have puberty, you know how all that works already. Then you have Chrysalis, which is why you take the CLASS exam. If you’re a Caregiver, you become more sensitive to the needs of others, more empathetic. Usually you’ll put on a bit more muscle, too, and you get a little better with planning stuff like that.”

“With you so far.” Emory nods along.

“If you’re neutral, nothing really happens to you. You’ll pretty much stay the same. And if you’re a Little you might lose a bit of muscle, become a little worse at controlling your emotions, and maybe have some trouble with using the bathroom, depending on where in the spectrum you fall. There are some other things too, you might become afraid of the dark, or get anxious when you’re by yourself, it really depends on the person.”

Emory allows Melody to maneuver her, laying back to have her pants put on. “I mean, I get that. But I mean why. Why isn’t everyone a Little, or a Caregiver, or a Neutral? What’s the point of all this? Why does my life have to be ruined because of some dumb test?”

Melody sighed again. “Evolution. You know how some animals that live in groups all have specific jobs? Like ants in a colony? That’s why all this is happening. People are kind of the same way. Some people are better at taking care of others, some people are better at working behind the scenes and keeping things running smoothly, and some people…” Melody paused and gave Emory a pointed look. “Need a little extra help.”

“I don’t want to need the extra help.” Emory grumbles, sitting up as Melody retrieves her shoes and begins working them onto her feet. “I want to be normal.”

“Well, have you ever thought that maybe some people need to be needed? That maybe, as a Caregiver, when I have a horrible day at work, coming home to get a great big hug from you might be what I need to feel better?”

Emory blinks, surprised. “No…I guess I’d never thought of that…But I’m going to school to get a degree in graphic design! I don’t want to be relegated to some dumb princess coloring books for the rest of my life.”

Melody sighs again. “This is what I mean, little one. You can still do that. You might need to finish your degree remotely, but you can still get a degree, and work as a graphic designer if that’s really what you want to do. Sure, you might have to make some modifications to your schedule, but that’s still a totally achievable thing.”

“So, because of some dumb evolutionary hiccup, I have to wear diapers and sit in a car seat?”

“Yes. There are plenty of people out there whose life didn’t end up quite the way they planned it. I know it’s not what you want, but that’s the way it is. Might as well make the best of it, right?” Melody pauses and fixes Emory with a curious stare. “Speaking of which, why are you just getting your results now? You’re supposed to take the CLASS exam immediately after you graduate from high school, that’s why senior year is so full of courses on Classification. And yet, here you are, a year into college, just now getting your results…”

Emory wrings her hands. She’d been hoping to avoid this particular question, and had thought she’d been in the clear when Melody hadn’t brought it up yesterday. “Um…I may have neglected to update my address when I moved here. It’s a government thing, and they only communicate with snail mail, so…”

Melody’s face becomes serious. “And you thought you could what, ignore it forever? All of these changes happen whether you take the test or not. Did you honestly think that was going to work in the long run? Do you know what happens to you if you haven’t taken the test by the time you’re twenty? Did you pay attention during that part of class?”

Emory remains silent. She knows what happens, but answering Melody’s question seems a little too much like admitting defeat. She frowns curling up into a little ball, hugging her knees to her chest.

“They freeze your accounts, take you to a detention center, and they make you take the test. If you’re a Caregiver or Neutral, then you serve time in prison for trying to dodge Classification. If you’re a Little, then you go to a Behavioral Correction Facility so you can learn how to behave properly, and then to an Assignment Center from there. Is that what you want?”

“N-no…” Emory stammers. Melody seems genuinely upset with her, and it makes her feel immensely guilty. Better to come clean now than to make Melody more upset… “Someone from CLASS Affairs was in the classroom last week, checking out some students’ work, and she noticed that my student ID card didn’t have a Classification on it. She made me go and take the test, and the results came in the mail yesterday.”

Melody’s lips press together in an unamused line. “Sounds to me like you’re very fortunate that she caught you now instead of later.” She says. “That was incredibly reckless and irresponsible of you Emmy. What on earth were you thinking?”

“I was scared, okay!” Emory explodes in response. She hadn’t really meant to yell, but it’s too late to do anything about that now. “Don’t you think that I know I’m a Little? That my entire adult life was essentially being borrowed, and it could come crashing down around my ears at any second. Why do you think I’ve been working so hard on my degree? I was trying to finish all my work before something like this happened.” Emory kicks a foot in frustration, sending an untied shoe tumbling across the room, followed quickly by the other.

Emory’s mouth drops open. She hadn’t meant to do that…

Melody freezes, and takes a deep breath. Very slowly and deliberately, she takes hold of Emory’s wrists before anything else can go flying across the room. “That’s enough.” She says, in a tone that Emory’s never heard from her before. “If you had taken the test when you were supposed to, you wouldn’t be in this situation at all. You would have had plenty of time to adjust, before you started having accidents, and you’d have gotten assistance in scheduling your classes for college so you don’t get overwhelmed by the workload.” She pauses to stare directly into Emory’s eyes. “All of which, you would know, if you’d paid attention in class, or bothered to read the information provided to you, specifically about this subject.”

Emory begins to cry. She feels very small and foolish, having all her poor decisions laid bare before her.

“Do those decisions sound like something a Caregiver or Neutral would do? Do you think they would have just hoped for the best and ignored everything instead of asking for help, like you did?” Melody’s voice softens.

“No…” Emory concedes, nibbling at her thumb.

“I don’t think so either.” Melody agrees. “That’s why the CLASS exam exists in the first place. To make sure you have the support you need to live a happy and comfortable life. Judging by yesterday, you probably wouldn’t have started having accidents until now anyway, but what did you plan on doing about those? Going to a Littles Supply to buy diapers, without a little of your own would definitely have raised some eyebrows, since they would have seen that you’re Unclassified by your ID. Going the medical route would have ended the same way, since your Classification is included in your medical records once you’ve gotten it.”

“I didn’t think that far ahead.” Emory admits finally, sniffling.

“I didn’t think so.” Melody says, and reaches out toward Emory. “Do you understand why I’m upset?” She asks, softly, and gently.

“Yes. Because I did something really dangerous.” Emory confesses.

“Yes, Emmy you did. I’m glad you realize that now.”

“I’m sorry…” Emory says quietly, feeling small and ashamed of her actions. “And I’m sorry for kicking off my shoes.”

Melody turns around and retrieves the sneakers and then pulls her into a hug. “I know you are. And I forgive you, Emmy, but you should know better than to throw or kick things when you’re upset. We use our words to tell others how we feel, right?”

Emory nods against Melody’s shoulder. “Yes.”

“Good girl.” Melody praises, rubbing Emory’s back.

Emory feels slightly less awful at the praise. Her stomach rumbles loudly, interrupting the quiet moment between the two of them.

Melody giggles, and takes advantage of their separation to put Emory’s shoes back on. “My goodness! You must be very hungry, sweetheart. Let’s go and have your breakfast now, okay? We need to hurry or we’ll miss the shuttle back to LS. I made breakfast burritos!”

Emory grins. “Yes!”

~~~~~~

“This is why you’re getting a car seat and sitting in the back, you know.” Melody sighs as Emory pokes her again.

Emory had been allowed to stand when they’d first boarded the shuttle, but after a hard stop had nearly sent her flying, she’d been strapped into the harness next to Melody, who was somehow, unfairly, allowed to sit without being restrained at all.

“I’m not even doing anything!” she protests, poking Melody between the ribs in an attempt to find her ticklish spots.

“You’re very cute, but I won’t be able to play with you when I’m driving. It’s not safe. And I’m not sure I can trust you to keep your hands to yourself in the front seat, so back seat it is.” Melody explains.

“It’s not fair!” Emory protests. “I like being able to see out the front window.”

“You’ll still be able to do that. You just won’t be able to play games with me while I’m driving.” Melody explains.

“It’s not fair that I have to sleep in a crib either.” Emory continues. “Or have bottles.”

“First of all, the only bottle we have for you is one you specifically asked for, missy. All I said was that you needed a spill-proof cup. And secondly, your crib is a modular bed. If you behave, we’ll leave it as a normal bed with bars to keep you from falling out, but you’ll still be able to get up on your own. If you give me reason not to trust you, then it will be turned into a crib.” Melody explains.

“Oh…” Emory realizes sheepishly. “Right. Why didn’t you just tell me about the bed yesterday?”

Melody shrugs. “It said so right on the label. I figured you read it.”

Emory shakes her head. “Nope.”

Melody rolls her eyes playfully. “Why am I not surprised?” she says with a smile as the shuttle pulls into the LS parking lot.

They disembark from the shuttle and make their way over to the Service Center at the side of the building to retrieve Melody’s car. The familiar blue 4-door is parked alongside several other vehicles, gleaming and sparkling from a recent wash. From the looks of things, they’ve even replaced the flower-shaped air freshener that hung from Melody’s rearview mirror.

“Emory, watch out!” Melody shouts.

Emory freezes, startled, only to be hauled backwards bodily by the straps of her overalls. A big red truck hurtles past, through the spot where she’d just been standing, horn blaring as it goes. Emory swallows hard, breathing heavily as she tries to calm herself down.

Melody’s in front of her before she has time to get too worked up. “Emmy, are you okay? Are you hurt?” she asks, eyes filled with concern.

“No, I’m okay. Just a little rattled.”

“I’m glad you’re okay. What happened there, Emmy? You just walked into the street without even looking to see if any cars were coming.”

Emory shrugs, embarrassed at her lack of awareness. “I was just focused on getting to your car…I guess I kind of spaced out. Sorry.”

Melody takes Emory by the hand. “It’s okay, I’m just glad you weren’t hurt. Stay close to me, and remember to look for cars when we cross the street.”

Emory’s cheeks burn a faint pink and she nibbles at the thumb of her free hand. “I will.”

The rest of their quest to retrieve Melody’s car is uneventful, and soon, they’re on their way to the CLASS office.

Emory squirms. The car seat is comfortable for sure, she just wishes that Melody hadn’t made the straps quite so tight. “Why’d you have to strap me in so tight?”

Melody looks at her in the rearview mirror. “To keep you safe, and to keep you from getting up to trouble back there. Since someone seems to be fond of throwing things when they get upset, I figured it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

“I wouldn’t…fine.” Emory concedes, distracting herself by sipping from her cup. It’s fruit punch, her favorite drink. “How long until we get there?” she wonders with a yawn.

“About ten minutes.” Melody answers.

Her estimate is spot-on, and ten minutes later, they’re pulling up to a large, plain-looking office building.

Emory’s heart begins to pound, her hands sweating and fumbling as she reaches down to undo the straps.
“Here,” Melody says gently. “Let me help you.” She makes quick work of getting Emory unbuckled, opting to carry her instead of making her walk. She rubs Emory’s back.

“Mellie…I’m scared.” Emory admits, sniffling.

“I know. It’s okay to be scared. But I promise, everything is going to be just fine. We’ll be in and out in a few minutes, and then we can go home and relax. Sound good?”

Emory nods, and wraps her arms around Melody’s neck.

They head inside, and take the elevator to the floor labeled “CLASS Affairs”. There’s almost no one here, apart from the employees. The area reminds Emory of the DMV, there are cubicles and desks on one side of room, across from a waiting area with a ticket dispenser in it. Everything in the room apart from the desks is a boring, dull gray color.

It’s pretty much what Emory would have expected the inside of a government building to look like.

Melody sits down with Emory in her lap after they’ve taken a number from the dispenser. They’ve barely had time to sit down, when one of the employees calls out:

“Seventy-Four?”

Emory looks down at the ticket in her hands, and her stomach sinks. “That’s me…” she says quietly. “Will you come with me?” She looks at Melody.

Melody nods, setting her down on the floor and taking her hand. “Of course, little one. I’ll be right beside you the whole time.”

Emory takes a deep breath and heads over to the counter with Melody.

The woman behind the counter has dark skin, curly hair, and a pleasant, inviting smile. The nameplate on her desk reads: “Amanda”.

“Well hello there! That’s a really neat shirt, I’m jealous.” She says, smiling gently at Emory. “What’s your name, dear?”

“Emory Mason.” Emory replies, withdrawing her wallet from her pocket with a trembling hand.

“That’s a lovely name. And what brings you in today, Miss Mason?” Amanda asks.
“I uh…I’m here to get my new ID cards. I got my Classification results yesterday.”

“Oh, that’s no trouble at all. I’ll need you current ID card, as well as your CoinCard. Littles get their ID, ICE info, and bank card as an all-in-one, since there’s less to keep track of that way.” Amanda explains, putting Emory’s old cards into a nearby shredder. “I’ll also need to take your picture for your new ID. Can you look at the camera please?” Amanda taps a small camera on top of her monitor, right at Emory’s eye level.

“Okay,” Emory responds.

“Alright, can you take a big step backward for me? Just like that, and…perfect. Say cheese!”

Melody gives Emory a poke in her most ticklish spot at that command, and Emory can’t help but smile.

There’s a brief flash, and then Amanda says: “Got it. You have a lovely smile, dear.”

“Thank you.” Emory says, giggling.

“Who would you like to put down as your emergency contact? You need at least one, but you can have up to five.”

Emory takes out her phone with a trembling hand. She scrolls through her contacts until she finds the person she needs and presses the call button. “I just need to check something…” she explains. She doesn’t expect either one of her parents to be happy about the news, but she hopes that at least one of them will be willing to be her emergency contact.

“Hello?” Emory’s mother answers the phone.

“Hi, mom. I’m at the CLASS office and I need to put down some names for my ICE card. Can I use y-” And that’s as far as Emory gets.

“You’re a Little? How could you do this to our family? No daughter of mine is going to be a Little, I’ll tell you that much.”

Emory’s vision blurs with tears. “Mom, I didn’t ask for this, okay? I’m sorry it’s not what you wanted, but this is the way things turned out. I don’t like it either.”

“No, you can’t use me. Or your father. We won’t have our good name tarnished by being associated with a leech like you.”
Emory just covers her mouth and cries quietly.

“You can put my information down.” Melody says, pulling Emory into a hug–she must’ve been close enough to hear the conversation. “I’d like to register as her Guardian as well.”

“Alright, I can do both of those at once, I’ll just need a moment to bring up my other screen…poor girl.” Amanda replies softly.

Melody gives Amanda her information, and the quiet is filled with the sound of typing, punctuated by the occasional sniffle from Emory.

Emory sucks in a shaky breath and wipes her eyes on the back of her hand.

“We’d also like a copy of any Littles information you have available, please.” Melody says.

“Comprehensive, or basic?” Amanda asks.

“Comprehensive please. She wasn’t expecting to get this result, and I’d like to go over some things with her, to try and make sure everything goes smoothly.” Melody explains.

Amanda hands Emory her new cards, and hands Melody a rather thick-looking book. “That’s understandable. Here you are, is there anything else you need today?”

Emory shakes her head before looking up at Melody.

“No, I think that’s everything.” Melody answers kindly. “Thanks for all your help.”

“It’s my pleasure. Would you like a lollipop, sweetie?” Amanda asks, sitting a jar of assorted candies on the desk.

Emory looks at Melody for approval, and takes one when Melody nods at her.

“Thank you.” Emory says softly, fighting back a fresh wave of tears.

“You’re welcome! Have a nice day you two!” Amanda says, with a kind smile.

Melody reaches down and lifts Emory into her arms. “Come on, sweetheart, let’s go home.”

8 Likes

I like it so far. I like the CLASS testing. It gives your story Divergent feel. Your idea is quite original. I’m interested in seeing where Emory’s life goes from here.

I love this! the dynamic between them, and the struggles, are so captivating. not to mention the worldbuilding! please do more!

(I feel obliged to mention that I have actually just writen a short story that’s very similar to this in some ways. I’ll put it up this weekend. I suppose that shows it’s a good idea huh?)

Thanks so much for all the feedback everyone! It’s always nice to hear what people think of the story so far, and it helps to keep me motivated. It also helps me to be aware of things that need more clarification and (hopefully) maintain at least a decent level of quality. I won’t be able to keep up this pace as far as posting goes, but I had most of this already written when I posted the first chapter. Please keep the feedback coming, and I hope you enjoy the next installment!

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Chapter II: Day 1; Afternoon

Emory rubs her thumb over her new ID card as she sits on her new bed. There’s a raised ‘L-2’ in the top left corner, the same shade of pastel purple as her onesie had been yesterday.

The new bed and changing table are nice, made of beautifully stained oak wood. The mattress on the bed crinkles, no doubt from a protective sheet beneath the bedding. It’s thick and comfortable, much more so than Emory’s old bed. She hasn’t been on the changing table yet, but it looks just as comfortable as the bed.

Melody is busy putting away the diapers that had been delivered while they were out, some go into the storage shelves built into the changing table, and the rest go into the closet.

Emory knows she should be helping, but she just doesn’t feel up to it at the moment, drained and upset from her visit to the CLASS office. Besides, Melody doesn’t seem to be expecting her to do much anyway…

A tear falls from her eye, dripping onto her new ID card. She stares at it for a moment before rubbing it away.

“Mellie?” She asks softly. “What’s this ‘L-2’ for?”

“That’s to identify you as a Little, and the two is for your subcategory. Littles have a pretty big range of ages, all the way from an infant up through elementary school age. One is an infant, Two is between infant and preschool, Three is preschool age, and Four is elementary school age range.” Melody explains.

“Oh…thanks…” Emory says in a subdued voice. She’s still hurt by her parents reaction, a dull ache in her throat manifests as she struggles to hold back tears–she’s already cried so much today…

She’d expected that kind of reaction, but it’s still painful to have it confirmed. Her parents are the only biological family she has left in the world, and they’ve rejected her for something that’s completely outside of her control. She’d known that rejection would be painful, but not…not like this.

“Can I have my paci please, Mellie?” Emory asks. She doesn’t even feel shame at asking for it–the pain of rejection outstrips that in spades.

Melody gives her a concerned look as she kneels down in front of her to take off her shoes. “Sure, sweetheart. Are you okay?” She hands Emory her pacifier.

Emory takes it gratefully. “No,” she croaks before putting it in her mouth. She stares at her lap, trembling and quiet. Her lower lip quivers, and she sucks in a shaky breath. Despite having just admitted that she’s not okay, and the fact that Melody’s seen her cry several times already, she doesn’t want to cry in front of her again. It feels like giving up, to let herself be so vulnerable and dependent, and she’s afraid of losing herself.

Melody gently takes her hands as she continues her heroic effort to hold back her tears. “I know you must be hurting, little one. It’s okay to cry if you need to. I’m right here.”

And then the dam breaks.

Emory bursts into tears–the kind of ugly, undignified crying that comes with immense emotional pain. She collapses forward into Melody’s arms and just sobs. She’s been abandoned, in her hour of greatest need, by the people who are supposed to love her more than anything in the world.

Her life has already begun crumbling around her, and now she’s lost her anchor, leaving her adrift in a sea of uncertainty and vulnerability.

“It’s alright.” Melody says gently, rubbing Emory’s back. “I’ve got you.”

Emory continues to cry, mourning the loss of her future, her adulthood, and her independence, as well as her family. She hiccups and coughs, worried she might be sick, before finally managing to settle down several minutes later, emotionally spent and exhausted.

“Thanks…” Emory says, taking out her pacifier and scrubbing at her eyes. “Today is not my best day.”

“I know.” Melody says gently, pulling Emory in for a hug. “I kind of overheard what happened with your parents. I understand if you don’t want to talk about it right now, but I’m sorry they reacted like that. It’s not right to treat people that way over something they can’t help.”

Emory leans against Melody and lets out a short, bitter laugh. “Yeah, well, I don’t think they see it that way.” She sighs. “Thank you for saying that. I know it’s messed up, but I guess I kind of feel like I deserve it.”

Melody’s mouth drops open. “Emory! Why on earth would you say something like that?”

Emory gives a careless and defeated shrug in response. “I’m their only child, and I’m a Little. It’s not like I’m gonna be making any great contributions to society when I’m too busy shitting and pissing myself to do anything meaningful.”

“Emory, I know you’re hurting and upset right now, and I don’t blame you one bit. But being a Little doesn’t make you worthless or bad. Just because you need diapers doesn’t mean you can’t do anything meaningful with your life. Some of the most successful people in the entertainment industry are Littles. And, like I said this morning, you can still get your degree if that’s what you want to do. If you want to just stay at home and be taken care of, you can do that too, but your life doesn’t have to be reduced to that if you don’t want it.”

Emory just frowns and looks away from Melody, hurt and angry about how her life has turned out.

“I’ll also thank you to watch your mouth going forward. I won’t tolerate that kind of language.” Melody warns.

“What are you gonna do about it? Wash my mouth out with soap?” Emory glares back at Melody in defiance.

Melody’s eyes glint dangerously. “If I have to.” she replies. “I want to help you, Emory. I registered as your Guardian for a reason. I can either help you get in touch with Student Affairs and adjust your schedule and workload so you can keep working toward your degree, or you can throw a fit, stand in the corner for time-out, and then go down for a nap, and we’ll try again after you wake up. It’s your choice. I’m not going to put up with being cursed at.”

Emory sees red. She’d already been mad, hurting and upset from her ordeal earlier in the day, but having her afternoon dictated to her just sends her over the edge. She’s tired of crying over things.

“You don’t get to fucking tell me what to do.” She snaps. Ooh , it feels good to be defiant, to take control of something , even if it’s only the words she’s using.

Melody’s eyes narrow. “Okay. Seems like you’ve made your choice to me. Are you going to go to the corner by yourself, or do I need to take you?”

Emory crosses her arms and refuses to move, enjoying the feeling of being in-control. “Make me.” She says, planting her feet. But, she’s forgotten how much bigger and stronger Melody is than her, so it doesn’t do much.

Melody sighs, and picks her up, one arm wrapping around her legs so she can’t flail around wildly. Emory wriggles and squirms as best she can, pleased that Melody seems to be struggling a bit, but it does no good in the end. Melody places her down with her nose in the corner.

Emory flops bonelessly over onto the floor. If she has to be in this stupid corner, she’ll do it on her terms.

“I know you’re hurting right now, and that you’re not very happy with how things have gone for you lately. But your behavior is not acceptable Emmy. I’ll be back in ten minutes, and I want you to use this time to think about what you can do differently in the future when you feel this way instead of swearing at me.”

Fuck . You. Melody.” Emory growls.

And, she immediately regrets it when she feels a firm swat against her bottom. It doesn’t really hurt because of her diaper, but Melody’s never even hinted that she’d do something like that, and she immediately freezes.

“Emory Amelia Mason. You are making some very poor decisions right now. You are allowed to be angry, you are allowed to be upset and hurt and disappointed, and everything else that you’re feeling right now. But if you ever speak to me like that again, I will take you over my knee and spank your bare bottom. Do I make myself absolutely clear?”

Emory shivers. She doesn’t feel in-control of anything anymore; she just feels foolish and small. “Yes ma’am.”

“Good. Now it’ll be twenty minutes and I expect you to be in this exact spot when I come back. Do you understand me?”

Emory nods, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end. “Yes,” she squeaks.

“Good. I’ll be back in a little while, and I expect much better behavior from you when I return.”

Emory feels, rather than sees Melody leave the room, and despite the fact that she’d been certain that she was all cried-out, a fresh flood of tears begin to fall as she leans her head against the corner’s apex.

Way to act like a grown-up, dummy.

Time slows to a painful, miserable crawl as she waits for her punishment to end.

Emory is slowly able to stop crying, and begins to tremble anxiously instead. Her heart beats erratically in her chest, her breathing fast and harsh as she fights off an inexplicably primal surge of panic. She feels a rush of warmth in her diaper, which is heavy and a bit uncomfortable by now. She squirms uncomfortably; if she hadn’t thrown a fit she might have at least gotten changed sooner.

She still isn’t sure what possessed her to behave like that–it had seemed like such a good idea at the time, but now, she’s just upset with herself, and anxious because Melody isn’t here. Which only serves to make her more upset, since it’s not something a grown-up would be upset about.

“Time out is over, little one.” Melody says softly, taking Emory gently by the shoulders and turning her around. “Is there anything you’d like to say for yourself?”

Emory looks at the floor, sniffling. “I’m s-sorry.” She stammers. “I’m sorry…Please don’t leave me alone for that long again…I know I’m in trouble, but it makes me really scared when you’re not around. I don’t know why.”

“I forgive you, sweetheart. Thank you for apologizing. And I’m sorry too; I didn’t know that. I’ll keep the time-outs a little shorter in the future, though hopefully we don’t need to worry about that anytime soon.” She gives Emory a look, then presses a kiss to her forehead. “I’m very proud of you for using your words and telling me how you feel instead of throwing a fit. It’s hard to remember to do that sometimes isn’t it?” Melody’s voice is gentle and free of derision, and it makes Emory feel warm inside.

Not since two days ago… Emory thinks, but she nods anyway. “Sometimes.”

“That’s okay. We can work on it together. Nobody’s perfect, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best, right?”

Emory nods again before being ambushed by a massive yawn. She’s surprised at how tired she is, being emotional hasn’t always been this taxing.

Melody pulls her in for a hug, taking advantage of her close proximity to check her diaper by patting her bottom. She clicks her tongue. “You’re soaked. Why didn’t you say anything earlier? I would have changed you as soon as we got home.” She says.

Emory shrugs. “I haven’t really been paying attention.” And then, more quietly. “I didn’t know I was that wet…” Her cheeks turn pink at the admission.

“It’s okay. I know you might not always know if you need changing. I think it’s time we give the changing table a test drive, hmm? Do you want to pick out a diaper?” Her fingers dance over Emory’s sides, eliciting a fit of giggles from the smaller girl.

“You can do it, Mellie.” Emory says, smiling, and reaches for Melody to be picked up. She’s laid down gently on the changing table and is pleasantly surprised to find that it’s just as comfortable as her bed. She yawns again.

“Mellie?” She begins. “I’m sorry for being a brat.”

“It’s alright. You’ve had a tough day. And, you’re a pretty little Little, tantrums kind of come with the territory.” Melody says as she gets to work changing Emory.

Emory can feel herself blushing again, but she knows she can’t argue. She squirms a bit as the cold wipes touch her skin, but she doesn’t have long to tolerate them before Melody’s taping her into a clean, dry diaper.

“All done. Do you want to try out your new bed for naptime?”

Emory nods, blinking slowly. “Can you leave my overalls off please? It’s a little hot to sleep in them.”

“Sure.” Melody lays Emory down in her new bed, pulling the sheet up over her and handing her her Rufus. “Do you want your pacifier?”

Emory blushes and nods. As much as she doesn’t want to admit it, it does feel nice to suck on.

Melody eases the pacifier into her mouth and clips it to her shirt before brushing her thumb over Emory’s eyebrows until she closes her eyes. Then, she gives her a gentle kiss on the forehead. “Sweet dreams, Emmy.”

Emory is asleep before Melody is even out of the room.

~~~~~~

It’s irritating to realize exactly how much she’d needed a nap.

Emory feels considerably better when she wakes up. She wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s happy , but whatever funk she’d been in before going to sleep seems to have dissipated. She feels lighter and a bit more relaxed. She’s pleased to discover that she hasn’t accidentally tossed Rufus out of bed like she does occasionally, and she places him gently next to her pillow before sitting up and stretching. She takes a deep breath, and her stomach rumbles at the delicious smell coming from the kitchen.

She gets up and follows her nose, padding barefoot through the house. It feels a bit strange at first to be wandering around in just a t-shirt and her diaper, but it’s at least tangentially familiar. She’d gone around without pants when she was home alone before being Classified, so it’s not that different.

A familiar and catchy tune reaches her ears as she gets closer, Melody has always liked to listen to music while she cooks.

Emory’s never been much of a dancer, although she can’t help but indulge a little when she arrives in the kitchen. It feels good to relax and be whimsical for a change, and she begins to sing along with the song.

At least until the sound of the music fades and she looks up to see that Melody has been recording her with her phone.

Emory blushes and covers her face. “Mellie…stop it…”

Melody chuckles. “You have a lovely singing voice Emmy, and that was the cutest thing I’ve seen in a while.” She says with a smile, moving closer to give Emory a hug. “I was just about to come and wake you up for lunch.”

Emory smiles softly, returning the embrace before stepping back to look at Melody. “Thank you…You’re not going to put that on the internet are you?”

Melody shakes her head. “Not if you don’t want me to. I’d never do that without asking you first, don’t worry. Are you hungry?”

“I’m starving ,” Emory answers. She casts a curious glance around the kitchen. Their house–well, really it’s Melody’s house, Emory had just been renting the spare room to attend school–is small, and they usually eat at the kitchen table. But something seems to be missing, and it takes Emory a second to realize what it is.

“No high chair?” she wonders honestly.

Melody gives her a quizzical look before lifting her onto her hip. “Did you want a high-chair?” She carries Emory over toward the stove and sits her on the counter, stirring something in a pot with a wooden spoon. She takes the spoon out and blows on it for a moment before offering it to Emory, pausing to take Emory’s pacifier out of her mouth. “Here, taste this.”

Emory is a bit embarrassed, since she hadn’t realized she’d been suckling on it all this time. She opens her mouth for the spoon, and is rewarded with a burst of delicious, tangy flavor. “Oh, wow, that’s really good!” She says. “And no, I don’t really want a high chair, it just seems like it fits with the rest of…all this.”

“Unless you plan on getting up and running away from mealtimes, I don’t think that will be necessary. You don’t really need it, since you’re not so Little that you’d have trouble eating with cutlery or need me to feed you. But if you want me to feed you, that can be arranged.”

Emory shrugs. “It seems like it might be nice to try once or twice, but I’m okay right now.” she says, before she can stop herself.

“Okay. Just let me know if you do want me to feed you sometime, I don’t mind at all.” Melody says, depositing Emory at the table. “We’re having grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch. The Student Affairs office closes at four, so we have time to call and get them to rework your schedule after lunch if you want.”

Emory nods. “Thank you, I’d like that. Is it really necessary for them to alter the schedule that much? I’ve been doing a pretty good job keeping on top of things…I’m actually ahead right now.”

“Yes, but you also have a tendency to overwork yourself in the process. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve come home and carried you to bed because you passed out either at your desk or at the kitchen table after you were up late working on something?”

“Probably a lot.” Emory admits, biting her lip.

“Yeah. That’s not exactly healthy sweetheart, it’s important to have balance in life, especially now. They’ll just be spreading out what’s left of your coursework over a longer period so you don’t have to do that. And you might have to switch to remote learning, rather than in-person, so you can get changed when you need it, or just watch the lectures at your own pace.” Melody explains.

“I can’t say I’ll miss having to get up so early in the morning.” Emory says as Melody brings her a plate with a grilled cheese cut into triangles, and a bowl of soup. “Thank you, Mellie!” she says with a smile, before tucking into her lunch. It’s simple, but delicious.

“You’re welcome, Emmy.” Melody replies, smiling back at her.

It doesn’t take Emory long to finish her lunch, but she’s a bit of a mess by the time she’s finished.

Melody takes one look at her and chuckles, retrieving a dishcloth from the sink to clean her face. “You’re supposed to eat your lunch, not wear it.” she teases.

Emory giggles. “Can we call Student Affairs now?”

Melody nods. “Sure. They might be out to lunch, but we’ll give it a shot.”

The phone call is a brief one. Emory hadn’t lied about being ahead, as she’s already submitted her final project for the term, and it will soon be time for spring break. She’ll be given a week off to adjust to her Classification, and then the rest of her finals will be spread out over the following two weeks leading into Spring break, splitting the tests into three-day affairs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And, since she’s already registered for classes for the fall term, they’ll be able to tweak her schedule and get it back to her well in advance of her actually starting.

“That…wasn’t so bad.” Emory says once the phone call is over. “I’m not worried about doing well on my finals, but splitting them like that makes them much easier to study for without cramming.”

“And, without being up until crazy hours of the night and drinking lots of caffeine.” Melody points out.

“But, I like caffeine…” Emory pouts at the thought of losing out on her energy drinks.

“I know you do, but you really don’t need to be drinking energy drinks. There will be plenty of time for naps and maybe an early bedtime every so often, so you should be just fine.”

“That’s dumb.”

Melody kisses her cheek. “I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.”

Figures . “What am I supposed to do with a whole week of extra time to do nothing? I’m gonna die of boredom, Mellie!”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Melody says, but she’s smiling. “There are plenty of things we can do if you don’t want to be cooped up in the house for all that time. We could go see a movie, or go do storytime at the library, or to the playground…”

Emory blinks. She’s always enjoyed being read to, her phone is full of audiobooks, and she has several playlists saved on streaming services of people reading some of her favorite books. “Storytime sounds kind of nice. I wouldn’t mind checking that out.”

“Okay, we can definitely do that. It’s right before naptime too, so that works out well.”

“Naptime?”

“Yes. You’ll have a nap each day at 2PM. You don’t have to take one today since you’ve had one already, but it’s definitely going to be a regular thing from now on.”

“But…” Emory begins to protest, but her stomach cramps painfully, interrupting her argument. She’s frozen in place as the unpleasant muscle contractions continue, knowing exactly what’s about to happen, and completely powerless to stop it. A firm mass makes its way into her diaper, requiring more effort from her than she’d expected to expel it. It’s a slow, uncomfortable process to fill her diaper, and she regrets eating so much for breakfast.

Melody busies herself cleaning up the plates from lunch, but Emory knows she’s aware of exactly what’s happening. Still, even though Melody’s still in the room, Emory is grateful she’s not being stared at while she does her business.

A few moments later, she’s finally empty, squirming as she tries to get used to the large, warm mass in her diaper. It’s kind of gross, and it doesn’t smell pleasant, but the physical sensation isn’t as terrible as she’d imagined it would be. Still, she’s not keen on staying like this for any longer than she has to.

“Mellie? I’m…I’m done.” Emory says in a small voice. She doesn’t feel like she needs to cry about the mess in her pants, but it’s still embarrassing to admit what she’s done.

“Okay.” Melody comes back over and gently turns her around, lifting her shirt to tug at the waistband of her diaper before giving her a gentle pat on the bottom. It’s alright, Emmy. A poopy diaper is no big deal at all, we’ll have you nice and clean in no time.” Melody says, scooping her up.

Emory is grateful that Melody doesn’t squash the mess when she picks her up, and for the fact that she’s not making fun of her. She’s not sure if she’d be able to handle that without crying.

“Do you want to pick out a diaper?” Melody asks, when they arrive back in Emory’s room.

Emory nods, and Melody puts her down. She waddles over to the changing table and picks out a space-themed diaper before waddling back to Melody.

“Ooh, good choice.” Melody says with a giggle.

“Hey…” Emory whines.

“I’m sorry sweetheart, it’s just that you look so cute toddling around like that.”

Emory blushes, but says nothing in response as Melody lays her down on the changing table and gets to work cleaning her up.

“Mellie?” She asks, hesitant to start a conversation while having her butt wiped, but now seems as good a time as any to ask.

“Yes, cutie?” Melody replies, humming a nursery rhyme softly to herself.

“Why did you…” Emory pauses, shivering as the chilly wipes are used to clean her more sensitive areas. “Why did you check my diaper like that? Didn’t you already know that I…” She can’t bring herself to finish, it’s too embarrassing to say out loud.

“That you pooped?” Melody supplies, her voice completely free of any embarrassment or shame. “Yes, I knew that already. I just wanted to know what I was dealing with. Sometimes it’s better for little ones to go right into the bath if it’s really bad.” She explains as she lifts Emory by the ankles to slide the new diaper under her.

“Oh…” Emory is glad that her pacifier is clipped to her, since she can get to it easily and keep herself from asking any more embarrassing questions as Melody sprinkles powder onto her nether regions and tapes up her new diaper. She sighs contentedly, it feels good to be clean again.

“Do you want pants?”

Emory thinks for a moment and then nods. She hadn’t exactly planned on parading around in just a shirt and diaper earlier, it had just sort of happened that way. Even though she knows it doesn’t really matter with just the two of them, she feels like she should be wearing something on her bottom half besides just her diaper. She wonders idly if she’ll feel more comfortable without pants as they go along.

“Is there anything you want to do today?” Melody asks, breaking into the smaller girl’s thoughts as she lifts Emory off the changing table and onto the floor.

Emory shrugs. “I don’t know. Maybe I could play with one of my Lego sets?” She suggests, since it’s a mentally engaging activity, and she really does enjoy playing with Legos if she’s being honest with herself.

“Oh, that sounds like fun!” Melody agrees as she scrubs her hands in the sink. “I’m going to finish up some paperwork for my job so they know I’ll be out taking care of you while you play, but I’ll be close by on the couch so you don’t have to worry about being alone.”

Emory grins in genuine excitement for the first time since this whole thing began, and she scurries off to retrieve the biggest box out of everything they’d bought at the store–a roller coaster. The box is almost as big as she is, so it’s awkward to carry it to the living room, but she manages.

Melody chuckles. “Of course it had to be the biggest one we’ve got. Try to keep the chaos in one area, okay? I don’t want to step on any Legos.”

Emory nods solemnly. She’s no stranger to the agony of stepping on one of the small blocks barefoot. “I’ll do my best Mellie!”

“Thank you sweetheart.” Melody says, giving Emory a kiss on the forehead before settling down on the couch with her laptop. “I’ll be right here if you need anything.”

Emory nods and gets to work on her project, dumping out all the pieces and meticulously organizing them before getting started. She works diligently, her mouth working away on her pacifier as she consults the instructions periodically. At some point, Melody brings her a sippy cup full of water, which she gratefully accepts and continues working. She feels happy for the first time since being Classified, smiling to herself as she works. And then, she looks up and realizes there’s a problem. Somehow, she’s managed to build the framework of the track around herself, fencing herself in.

“Um, Mellie? I think I need some help…” She says sheepishly.

Melody looks at her and laughs before standing up and making her way over to her. “You know, if you wanted a playpen, we could have just bought one at the store. You didn’t have to build it yourself.” She reaches down and lifts Emory over her construction so she’s back on the outside of the large track frame.

“Mellie, don’t be a butt,” Emory protests, sticking her tongue out at Melody.

Melody laughs again, patting her on the bottom. “I’m only teasing you, little one. This is actually pretty impressive, you’ve made a lot of progress so far. I’m excited to see what it looks like when you’re all done!”

Emory beams at the praise, that warm and fuzzy feeling making a return as she cuddles up to Melody.

“I think it’s time for a break though, you need a diaper change, and it’s almost time for dinner. How does pizza sound?”

“Aww! But I’m not even that we-” Emory begins to protest, and it’s only then that she feels the telltale heaviness of a wet diaper. She’d been so absorbed in her building that she hadn’t even noticed.

“I hate to burst your bubble, but you’re one wetting away from springing a leak, squirt.” Melody says. “I’m not letting that cute little tush get a rash on my watch, no ma’am.” she tickles Emory’s tummy, and Emory giggles in response. “You can have some more playtime later after we eat, but you might not be able to get done with it today, alright?”

“O-kay.” Emory pouts, at least until Melody lifts up her shirt and blows a raspberry on her belly. She squeals with laughter. “Pizza sounds good. Can we have pineapple on it?”

Melody groans. “We can have it on half. Your taste buds are as silly as the rest of you, munchkin.”

“But you never even try it when it’s on there! It’s so good! And ‘sides, what’s that thing you always say to me when you’re on one of your healthy eating kicks?” Emory thinks for a moment before clearing her throat and giving her best impression of Melody’s voice. “‘How do you know you don’t like it, if you’ve never tried it?’” she smirks.

“First of all, I do not sound like that. And secondly, some things just don’t belong on a pizza.”

“Well, I think you’re just a scaredy-cat.” Emory responds with a grin.

Melody looks scandalized. “I am not! I just know what I like. You, little one, are playing a dangerous game for someone whose butt is about to be bare…”

Now it’s Emory’s turn to look surprised. “Nooo, I’m being good! I don’t need a spanking!” she protests, reaching down to cover her bottom.

Melody grins. “Looks like I win this round.”

“No fair.” Emory pouts. “That’s cheating.”

Melody lays her down on the changing table and works her sweatpants down to her ankles. “I don’t think so. I’m just using all my available options to come out on top.”

“Well, maybe I’ll just pee on you then.” Emory responds.

Melody laughs. “If you can’t control when it happens, it’s not really a threat, sweetheart. You get an ‘A’ for effort though. Space or Zoo diapers this time?”

Emory shrugs. “Fine. It’s a tie then. And you can pick.”

Melody smiles and reaches under the table for a fresh diaper, wipes and powder. “Whatever you say, Emmy. Whatever you say…”

6 Likes

Good chapter. Can’t wait for more.

Is Emory going to meet other Littles? Perhaps in a daycare/preschool like setting? Or a convention?
Somewhere she learns she isn’t alone and she can accept her new life.

Is her L-2 status permanent? Can it change through education and training?

Thanks for all your feedback so far! Emory will definitely be meeting other Littles, but her status is permanent. Outside of extreme circumstances like illness or injury, Classifications are a one-and-done thing and do not change. Sorry if that was unclear :slight_smile:

Thanks for reading!

1 Like

Chapter III: Day 2; Early Morning

Emory groans and rolls over in her bed. She’d been sleeping until now; Melody had put her to bed around nine, but she isn’t sure what time it is now. She knows she should be asleep, but she can’t seem to make herself tired.

The partly-finished Lego set from earlier that afternoon is begging to be finished, and it’s a quiet toy, so maybe she’d even be able to finish it tonight, without waking up Melody. Then she’d be able to sleep for sure!

Emory sits up and sighs. With Melody’s willingness to spank her revealed, she isn’t sure that getting up to play with toys in the middle of the night is in her butt’s best interest…

But it’ll be so much fun…

Emory glances over at Rufus, the dim glow of her nightlight illuminating his familiar fuzzy outline.

“What do you think Rufus?” she whispers around her pacifier.

Her furry companion is silent, as always, but his round eyes seem to be speaking to her. Don’t look at me, this was your idea.

“Yeah, I know it was my idea, but you’re supposed to back me up! Besides, it’s not like you’re gonna get spanked, so I dunno what you’re even worried about. You don’t even have to do anything besides be a lookout.”

Emory pokes at the stuffie, and he falls over onto his side. Leave me out of this. It’s only going to lead to trouble for you, and my fur getting covered in gross stuff when you cry all over me.

“Wow. Rude.” Emory replies, picking up the stuffed bear and staring into his eyes.

You’re about as stealthy as an elephant on roller skates. With vertigo.

“That’s not true!” Emory whisper-yells. “I’m like, a ninja, or something. What even is vertigo anyway?”

It makes you really dizzy and you might throw up.

“But that’d be super loud–oh. Hey! I don’t am-meciate that kind of talk…I’m not that loud…” Emory pouts.

This is stupid, and I’m not getting involved in your shenanigans.

“Well you can just stay here then, scaredy-bear. I’m gonna go and play.” Emory slips out of bed as quietly as she can. Her diaper makes it impossible to be completely silent, but she manages to make it all the way to the living room without alerting Melody. It’s only once she’s there that she realizes she’s forgotten to bring a light source, so she resorts to turning on a lamp. It’s risky, but she can’t very well build anything in the dark.

She manages to finish the tallest part of the lego set, which is difficult because she has to go slowly to avoid making noise, and because it’s taller than she is and awkward to get to.

“Emmy, what are you doing?” Melody asks from somewhere behind her, She doesn’t sound mad but it’s hard to tell whether she’s in trouble or not.

“Um…nothing?” Emory tries, even though she knows it’s painfully obvious what she’d been up to.

“Oh really?” Melody sounds utterly unconvinced as she reaches down to pick Emory up. “Because it looks to me like you were playing with your toys, little one. It is very, very late, and you should be sleeping. It’s not time to play with toys right now.” She says gently, patting Emory’s bottom.

“But I’m not tired…” Emory protests.

Melody sighs. “Sweetheart, you can’t play right now. Let’s go and see if we can find something to help you sleep.” She carries Emory into the kitchen, taking some milk from the refrigerator. She sits Emory down on the counter and retrieves the zoo-themed bottle she’d wanted at the store, and some chocolate syrup from the cabinet.

“When I was a kid, a big glass of chocolate milk always put me right to sleep.” Melody explains as she prepares Emory’s bottle.

Emory nibbles on her thumb, wishing she hadn’t forgotten her pacifier in her bed. She’s never had a bottle before–or at least, not for a long time–and she’s a little curious as to what it’s like to drink from one. She’d thought that she wouldn’t like her pacifier, but that turned out to actually be kind of nice…

“Alright,” Melody says softly. “Come on.” She lifts Emory up and carries her to her room. She sits down on Emory’s bed, propping herself up against the headboard. She adjusts Emory so her head is resting in the crook of her elbow, leaving her other hand free to hold the bottle.

Emory fights off a yawn. It’s actually really nice to be held like this, she realizes, but before she can figure out how to say that without embarrassing herself, Melody eases the bottle’s nipple into her mouth. It feels pretty similar to her pacifier, but it’s harder to drink out of than her cup. The chocolate milk is pretty good though, and Melody’s gentle pats to her butt just might be making her sleepy.

“Shh.” Melody whispers. “Close your eyes, sweetheart.”

Emory makes a point of keeping them open, although that becomes exponentially more difficult as the bottle empties. She can feel Melody chuckling to herself.

“You’re very stubborn, you know.” Melody says gently, smiling down at her. “You won’t have any energy to play with your Legos if you stay up all night…”

Emory loses the battle to keep her eyes open before she’s able to finish the bottle, disappointed at the thought of not being able to play with her toys.

“Goodnight, Emmy. Sweet dreams.” Melody says, from the edges of Emory’s awareness as she gently gets her situated in bed once more.

Emory tries to respond, with a “Goodnight,” of her own, but her mouth isn’t cooperating, so it just comes out as gibberish. She drifts off just as Melody kisses her forehead.

~~~~~~

It’s a little chilly for being so close to summer, but Melody’s dressed her warmly enough that she isn’t cold.

Emory is dressed in an oversized blue sweatshirt and jeans, although she’d discovered earlier that even though they look authentic and don’t have snaps in the crotch, they also don’t have buttons, just elastic around the waist. She suspects that that design choice is more for Melody’s convenience than her own. Her shoes are just normal canvas sneakers, but they’re comfortable enough.

“Are you excited for storytime?” Melody asks her.

Emory shrugs. “I guess.” She rests her head on Melody’s shoulder. She’s perfectly capable of walking, and she feels sort of bad that Melody’s carrying her and her diaper bag, but Melody hasn’t complained about it, and it’s nice to be held. “I’m a little nervous about meeting other Littles.” She confesses. “And, I sort of feel bad that you’re carrying me so much.”

“You really don’t weigh that much, Emmy, don’t worry. You’re not hurting me or anything like that. Besides, I enjoy it, and it keeps you from getting into mischief. Remember what I said about Caregivers putting on extra muscle during their Chrysalis time?”

Emory nods.

“So, it’s no big deal. Why are you nervous about meeting other Littles? I’m sure they’ll all be very nice.”

“I don’t know. It’s just a lot. I don’t mind being Little so much when I’m at home with you, but I don’t know anyone here. And what if the older Littles think I’m dumb or something? What if I have a diaper leak and everyone sees? Oh, god, what if I poop while we’re here?” Emory groans.

“Emmy, relax. If anything happens with your diaper, we have everything we need to get you cleaned up. I even brought a change of clothes just in case. Besides, you already went this morning after breakfast, so you should be fine for a while. And, I’ll be with you the whole time. I won’t let anything bad happen to you, I promise.” Melody soothes.

Emory puts her pacifier in her mouth, grateful for the comfort it brings, and the fact that Melody had insisted on making sure to clip it to her shirt before they left.

The library is quiet, as expected, but there’s a small crowd of Caregivers and Littles off to the right of the entrance. The area they’re in is covered by a big blue rug with some bookshelves and toys surrounding it. A big banner hangs over the space that reads Little’s Story Corner. There’s a small group of people waiting for story time to begin, and only four of them are Littles. There are two boys and two girls, chattering animatedly with each other as they wait for storytime to begin.

“Are you here for storytime?” A pleasant voice calls out over the dull roar coming from the story corner.

Emory jumps, startled, and grips Melody’s shirt tightly enough to blanch her knuckles.

“Shh,” Melody whispers, patting her bottom in a soothing rhythm. “It’s okay. I’m right here, I’ve got you. You’re alright.”

Emory feels her eyes welling up with tears, mostly because she’s frustrated with herself for being such a ball of nerves, but also because she’s genuinely anxious about going over to the Story Corner and meeting everyone. She presses her face into Melody’s shoulder, hiding from the world in the face of this new challenge.

“Yes, we are.” Melody says in a friendly voice.

“It’s in the area to your right, the restrooms are just beyond that and they have Little-sized changing tables, just in case you need them.”

“Thank you so much.” Melody replies. Judging by the increase in noise, they’ve moved closer to the Story Corner.

Emory doesn’t want this to be her introduction to a group of people she’ll probably be seeing pretty often, but she can’t help herself. She just clings to Melody and cries, unwilling to be put down.

“What’s going on with all these tears, little one?” Melody wonders as she sits down with Emory in a nearby chair.

“They’re gonna think I’m a dumb crybaby…” Emory mumbles.

“No, they won’t. I bet they’ll like you a lot! They just need to get to know you a bit first.” Melody tells her.

“You think so?” Emory wonders, looking at Melody and sniffling.

“I know so. Now, let’s get that face all cleaned up, and then maybe we can say ‘hi’ to a few people before Storytime starts.” Melody says, fishing around in the diaper bag for a wet wipe.

Emory feels a bit better after having her face cleaned. She turns around in Melody’s lap to see if storytime is ready to begin, and comes face-to-face with one of the littles.

She has red hair and green eyes, and judging by the way she’s dressed, she’s probably in the oldest group of Littles.

“Hi,” She says gently, like she’s afraid of scaring Emory. “I’m Isabelle, but you can call me Izzy for short. Are you new at storytime? I’ve never seen you here before.”

Emory gives a small nod. “Hi,” she responds around her pacifier. “I’m Emory. But, you can call me Emmy if you want.”

“Oh wow, it’s super nice to meet you Emmy. I’m this many,” Izzy continues, holding up both of her hands. Her left hand has her thumb and forefinger in the shape of an ‘L’ and her right hand is holding up four fingers. “How old are you?”

Emory realizes that this girl is asking about her Little classification and not her actual age, so she copies the gesture, with two fingers held up instead of four.

“Aww, that’s really sweet. I bet it’s scary to be in a new place with so many people, huh?” Izzy asks, giving her a knowing look.

Emory nods again, hands sliding into the pocket on the front of her sweatshirt.

“That’s okay.” Izzy continues with a smile. “You look super-duper cute today, I love your hair bow!” She lowers her voice to just above a whisper. “You know, I cried when I came here for the first time too.”

“Thanks.” Emory says softly. “But, you’re an L-4. I bet you’re not scared of anything…”

Izzy shrugs. “Everyone gets scared sometimes. I get nervous when I meet new people, but I’m working on that. I saw you crying, and I came over to tell you that there’s nothing here to be scared of. Mitchell and Kale,” Izzy pauses to point out the two Little boys on the far side of the room, engrossed in a book about dragons.

Emory wonders idly why anyone would name their kid after an icky green vegetable before tuning back into what Izzy is telling her.

“Are L-4s. They can be kinda loud sometimes, but you’ll get used to them. Kori,” Izzy pauses again, this time pointing out a girl in white shortalls with black hair and blue eyes who is crouched in front of the section labeled Fairy Tales. “is an L-2, like you. I think you guys will get along pretty well. We have an L-1 who comes sometimes, Ruben, but he isn’t here today. He has an illness that makes it hard for him to walk and stuff, but he’s super smart and friendly.”

“Oh.” Emory says, still processing all this new information.

“I’m gonna go potty before we start, but you can sit next to me if you want. I’ll be over there with Kori.”

“Okay, I will. Thanks Izzy!” Emory says brightly, allowing herself to smile at the older Little.

“Awesome!” Izzy grins. “I’ll be right back.” she waves goodbye to Emory, and then heads off in the direction of the bathrooms.

“See? I told you they’d like you.” Melody says. “Do you want to go and say ‘hi’ to Kori? I bet she’d be happy to have someone her age to talk to. I’ll be right here in case you get scared, okay?”

Emory nods and turns back around to give Melody a hug before being placed on the floor. She takes a deep breath and goes over to where Kori is looking at books.

“Um, hi. I’m Emmy.” Emory says softly. She’s never introduced herself as ‘Emmy’ before, but it seems like the right thing to do.

“Hi,” Kori responds in a very quiet voice. “I’m Kori. Are you new?”

“Yeah…I just got Classified yesterday. This is my first time here.”
“Mr. Taffy is reading today. He’s really good at voices. You’ll like him.” Kori tells her with a smile. “Is that your Mommy?” she asks, pointing at Melody.

“She’s my Guardian.” Emory says, and it feels strange to say it out loud. “I don’t have an official Caregiver yet.”

“Oh. Maybe she’ll end up being your Mommy though. She seems super nice. My Daddy is over there with Izzy’s Mommy.” Kori points to a muscular man with dark skin and very little hair on his head, although he has a short beard. “I think they like each other.” Kori says conspiratorially.

Emory giggles at Kori’s expression. “Maybe…”

“Miss West is really nice, I just wish Daddy would stop making eyes at her. It’s weird.”

“I can understand that. Have you been a Little for long?” Emory wonders.

“Since I graduated high school. It’s been a while, but I’m not sure exactly how long. Probably like five years by now, I think. How about you?”

Emory takes her pacifier out, letting it hang by its tether. “I just got my results yesterday. It’s…different. I thought I’d be able to trick the system into giving me a different result, but it didn’t work. I wasn’t prepared for all of this. It’s not all bad though. Being held and stuff is pretty nice.”

“Yeah.” Kori agrees. “The diapers were the worst part for me. It was hard to adjust at first, but I don’t mind them anymore. They’re comfy, and it’s nice to not have to interrupt playtime to go potty like some of the bigger Littles do. You should go to the playground if you haven’t gone yet–it’s super fun.”

“I guess…I’m not really used to that part yet. But, the playground does seem like it’d be fun. So, do you like, work or anything?”

Kori nods. “I write children’s books and books for Littles. I did Andy the Anxious Ant and the WonderQuest series. And some other stuff too.”

Emory’s mouth drops open. “You wrote WonderQuest? That’s so cool! I love those books! I’ve got them all on my phone to listen to.”

Kori turns a bit pink. “Thanks.”

Just then, Izzy returns from the restroom and kneels down in front of them.

“Hey guys! Are you playing nice with each other?” she wonders.

“We’re just talking. Emmy’s new to being a Little. Is it storytime?” Kori wonders.

“Yep! Mr. Taffy just got here, that’s why I was coming to get you.”

Kori grins. “Yes!”

“Do you want a piggyback ride to the story circle?” Izzy asks, and Kori nods emphatically, clambering onto the older girl’s back. Izzy isn’t much bigger than Kori, but she doesn’t seem to be struggling when she stands up. She stretches out a hand toward Emory. “Come on, you too, little bean. Can’t have you getting lost, that wouldn’t be any fun.”

Emory takes Izzy’s hand and allows herself to be led over to the area where Kale and Mitchell are sitting.

“Hey, new girl,” Kale says, reaching up to adjust his hat. Tufts of blonde hair poke out from under it, and his brown eyes are kind as he waves at Emory.

Emory returns the wave and smiles. Maybe this place won’t be so bad after all.

Mitchell just waves. He has dark hair and dark eyes, and he seems to be lost in thought about something.

Emory waves back and smiles at him too, but he doesn’t seem to notice.

Izzy puts an arm around her shoulders and pulls Emory closer to her and Kori–Kori is curled up in Izzy’s lap and she looks like she’s about to fall asleep.

“Are you tired, Kori?” Izzy asks.

Kori shakes her head and adjusts her position so she’s leaning back against Izzy. “Nope, just getting comfy.

Izzy leans down and whispers something in Kori’s ear, and Kori turns beet red.

“Izzy, stop it, Emmy’s gonna hear you!”

“Kori, relax, I bet Emmy wears diapers just like you do,” Izzy replies, looking over to Emory for confirmation.

Emory turns a little pink at being put on the spot like that, but she nods anyway. She wiggles, but she can’t tell if she’s wet or not. She settles against Izzy as an older man with kind blue eyes and a bushy white beard wheels himself to the front of the room in his wheelchair. His resemblance to Santa Claus is uncanny.

“Good afternoon, Little ones! I see we have a new face with us today, so for those of you who don’t know, my name is Mr. Taffy. Today, we’ll be reading Awesome Possum Goes to the Rainforest.”

“He looks kinda like Santa.” Emory points out quietly to Kori.

“Yeah, he does, doesn’t he? I don’t know how I never noticed that before.” Kori agrees. “You don’t think…”

“No way…well maybe.” Emory raises her hand slowly. She realizes that her question is silly, but she needs to know the answer.

“Yes, little one?” Mr. Taffy points to Emory.

“Are you Santa Claus?” Emory wonders out loud.

Mr. Taffy gives a hearty chuckle before slowly looking at all the Littles seated in front of him. He gives a very deliberate wink, before smiling and putting a finger to his lips.

Emory looks over at Kori and grins as Mr. Taffy begins to read.

“I knew it!” she mouths.

Kori smiles back at her, reaching out to give her a gentle, quiet high-five before settling in to listen to the story.

Emory leans against Izzy and does the same. It only takes a moment for her to realize that they had been right about Mr. Taffy.

He is really good at voices.

7 Likes

Good Chapter. I can’t wait to hear more.

Putting Emory in a story time setting like you did was a good idea. Letting her meet some other Littles or own “age” gives her a friend or two and let’s her know she isn’t alone. Sets up some play date ideas.

i keep loving this more and more

Hey, I’m still at chapter 2, but I’m just dropping this to say that I don’t think anything currently needs more clarification. I think there’s plenty explained so far. Given the character in question and how she ended up in the situation, you’ve given yourself plenty of room for explanation… however, be careful. You haven’t so far, but too much explanation could turn into more exposition than advancement of plot or building of characters. If your world is well realized in your head, it’ll show naturally through the story. In that, you’ve done great.

A good example of that would be the very short phone call to her mother about emergency contacts. It was briefly mentioned earlier, and in a few short lines you managed to convey a ton of information regarding her relationship to her family, as well as many other things about that. It was excellently handled, enough that it stood out from even the rest of the story, which has all been of very high quality.

As for the plot itself… it is probably just me, or maybe the sheer number of stories I’ve read which go a certain way, but I’ve got some anxiety about Emory’s situation. It all seems too convenient. As said above, her particular situation grants many conveniences to explanations, explanations that she’s thus-far bought wholesale. The timing of her physical changes, the drugged candy, a lot of the language and phrases that everyone else uses around her; I think a lot of us have seen it before in far too many darker narratives. I’m just waiting for a hammer fall and a knife twist.

Please don’t tell me. This has been very sweet so far. Almost too sweet. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if it turns out to be heartwarming to the end. I’m too cynical I guess… actually, that’s pretty much a fact.

Again, please don’t tell me anything. I’ll gladly read it as it unfolds. I am definitely along for the ride on this one.

Do most definitely carry on.

1 Like

Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything! I just wanted to say thank you for your comment! I really appreciate all the feedback, thanks so much for taking the time to write all that. I’m very glad to hear that you’re enjoying it so far, especially as a huge fan of your work. To be honest, I’m actually geeking out a bit right now, I’m just tickled to have gotten a comment, let alone praise, from one of the big names here.

Thanks so much for reading!

Chapter IV: Day 4; Midnight

Emory is running.

She doesn’t think she’s ever run so fast in her life, breath scraping in her throat, the branches of trees slapping at her face. The ground is soft and damp beneath her feet. She doesn’t know exactly what she’s running from, only that it would be very very bad if she were to get caught. Her foot catches on a rather sturdy tree root, and she goes sprawling onto the…floor?

Emory’s hands slam against an immaculately clean white tile floor.

What?

Her brain goes all fuzzy and she frowns as she picks herself back up and tries to make sense of this strange new environment. Somehow, it feels even scarier than whatever had been outside. She pats herself down, probing for injuries, and finds none. Her eyes scan the room, looking for a clue as to where she might be. She turns around, still searching, and comes face-to-face with a dead-eyed receptionist in a wrinkled set of scrubs. Behind her is a sign, dangling, crookedly from the ceiling that says:

Welcome To Ivory Hill Assignment Center

Emory screams.

*Whatever had been chasing her outside can’t possibly be worse than this. *

She whirls, bolting for a set of glass double doors that sit beneath an ‘Exit’ sign. The doors are locked, but Melody is on the other side.

“Mellie, you gotta get me outta here!” Emory shouts.

Melody gives a sad, slow shake of her head, and backs away from the door. “I’m sorry. I can’t carry you anymore.”

*Emory’s vision swims with tears. “Mellie no! Don’t leave me!” *

Melody continues to back away from the doors, her figure becoming smaller and smaller as she goes.

Emory sinks to her knees, sobbing and trembling. “Mellie! Please don’t go! I need you!” she presses a hand against the glass, as if she can make the door open by sheer force of will.
A bony, weathered hand squeezes her shoulder, too tightly to be comforting.

“Don’t worry.” The receptionist’s voice is a paper-thin whisper. “We’ll take good care of you.”

Emory just wails.

~~~~~~

“Emmy, wake up!” Melody’s voice, along with the shaking of her shoulder, brings Emory back to wakefulness with a choked sob.

Emory is drenched in sweat, her face streaked with tears, and she can’t seem to stop shaking. She can feel Melody lifting her out of bed, and she clings to her with every ounce of strength she can muster.

“I’ve got you, I’ve got you.” Melody says, her voice tender and soothing next to Emory’s ear. “It’s okay. It was just a dream, you’re safe.” She reaches under Emory’s shirt to rub her back, and doesn’t even complain about how gross and sweaty she is.

Emory can’t bring herself to speak, too shaken by her dream to say anything. Her heart is still trying to batter its way out of her chest, and a cold dread ties her stomach in an anxious knot.

“Shh.” Melody soothes. “It’s okay. I’m right here. How about we get you in a nice, warm bath, hmm? I bet you’ll feel much better when you’re not so sweaty, won’t you?” Melody’s voice is unbelievably gentle, and she doesn’t seem to expect a response from Emory. She carries Emory to the bathroom.

The tiles are cool against Emory’s bare feet, and she immediately clings to Melody’s shirt after being put down. “No…” She says, so quietly that she can barely hear herself, her anxiety spiking once more.

“I’m not going anywhere, sweetheart. I just need to put you down so I can start your bath. I’ll hold you again in a second.” Melody explains as she adjusts the water temperature and plugs the drain when she’s satisfied.

“Up?” Emory asks, once Melody’s finished. She feels tiny and vulnerable, and speaking seems like a herculean effort. Her thoughts are erratic and unfocused, except for the instinctive pull to be near Melody.

“Yeah. Come here.” Melody says softly and lifts her up again. She sits down on the closed toilet lid as the bathtub fills. “You’re having a rough night, aren’t you baby?” She pats Emory’s bottom.

Emory just gives a small, sad nod. Words are distant, out of reach. She doesn’t even mind that Melody’s just called her ‘baby’. She wishes that she could feel indignant or upset about it, but mostly, she just feels safe.

“I’m a little worried about you, Emmy. I’ve never seen you like this before.”

“’m scared.” Emory manages, as her tears begin to slow.

“I know. I heard you crying over the monitor. Sounded like a pretty scary dream.”

“I was in an Assignment Center.” Emory explains. “And you left me there. Even though I was shouting and crying for you, you still left.”

“Oh, sweetheart, that sounds terrible. No wonder you were crying so much. I’d never do that to you, Emmy. I hope you know that. You’re too important to me to let something like that happen to you.”

Emory nods. She leans against Melody’s chest, wishing she hadn’t left her pacifier in her bed. She grips Melody’s shirt a little tighter. “My Mellie,” she says softly.

Melody presses a kiss to the top of her head and pulls her closer. “That’s right, little one. I’m your Mellie. And I’m not going anywhere.”

“Can I sleep in your bed tonight? I don’t wanna be alone.” Emory asks.

Melody smiles. “Of course you can. As soon as you’re all clean and in a fresh diaper, we’ll get you all settled in with me.”

Emory allows herself a small smile as her anxiety begins to recede. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome, baby. Now, let’s get you clean.”

~~~~*~

Emory pushes her plate away. “‘M not hungry.” She says softly, leaning back in her chair. She still feels drained from her nightmare, her appetite is almost nonexistent. Her nightmare had driven home just how powerless she would be to stop something like that from happening, and it’s profoundly unsettling.

Melody’s allowed her a tremendous amount of freedom and agency to do as she pleases–within reason, of course–but without her, Emory’s pretty much at the mercy of whoever her Caregiver ends up being.

It’s a painful truth, one that she hasn’t really taken the time to think about until now. In hindsight, it’d probably been a bad idea to read the CLASS Guidebook for Littles right before going to sleep, and that choice was probably responsible for her nightmare. But, she’d learned that, at least as an L-2, the amount of freedom she has is fairly small. She’ll never be able to drive a vehicle, or board a plane or train–or go anywhere, really–unattended.

She hadn’t really understood how helpless she’d be without Melody, and since Melody hasn’t committed to being her Caregiver officially yet, the thought of being without her is omnipresent. She doesn’t want to say anything about it, because it wouldn’t be fair to pressure Melody into a commitment like that, but it’s difficult to focus on anything other than the eventuality of being alone without that certainty.

Leech.

Emmy realizes, bitterly, that perhaps her mother had been right in calling her that. Her ability to do anything is dependent on having someone around to monitor and care for her. What if Melody thinks she’s too much work, and gets rid of her? She’s trying her best to behave and not be a burden, but it’s hard not to lean on Melody, like last night after her nightmare. What if she’s asking too much?

Emory’s anxiety over the situation has stolen her appetite, and dulled her desire to do much of anything really. She just wants to be near Melody–her separation anxiety has been pretty extreme today. If Melody’s out of sight for, well, any length of time really, she ends up in a flood of tears. And, at the same time, she hates that she needs that closeness, because it might be pushing Melody away.

“Sweetheart, you haven’t eaten anything all day.” Melody points out. “Are you feeling okay?” she rests the back of her hand against Emory’s forehead.

Emory shrugs. She feels confused, and nauseated and afraid, both of being too needy and of explaining her feelings.

“We can save it for later, I guess.” Melody says, fixing Emory with a concerned stare. “I wish you would talk to me, little one. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s wrong.”

“I know…It’s just…” Emory sniffles. “What if my parents were right? What if I am just a…a leech?” Emory asks suddenly

“Oh, little one. That’s what you’re so worked up about?” Melody lifts Emory out of the chair and holds her close. “That’s not true at all. I don’t want you thinking about yourself that way.” Melody says.

“But it is. All I do is need you for stuff, Mellie. I understand if I’m too much work, I’ve just been really overwhelmed lately. Everything’s so different and strange, and I get anxious about pretty much everything now.” Emory admits. “I’m just a burden.”

“You’re not a burden, Emmy.” Melody says seriously, lifting Emory’s chin with a finger. “Do you remember what I said about how Caregivers need to be needed?”

Emory nods.

“That’s how I feel about you. It makes me feel…whole, knowing that you trust me to take care of you. I know you’ve spent a lot of your life trying to hide the fact that you’re a Little and you’re not used to asking for help, or having someone to lean on when you’re feeling like this. But you don’t have to be scared of being too much for me.”

“What if you change your mind? You haven’t registered as my Caregiver yet, so you still have time. Not that I’d blame you…I wouldn’t want to put up with me either.” she says bitterly, scrubbing at her eyes with her sleeve.

“I won’t. I wish there was a way that I could make you believe me. I’m not going to abandon you, Emmy. The reason I didn’t register as your Caregiver right away is partly because I’m nervous. But it’s also because that’s something that you should have a say in. I want you to feel safe with me, to trust me before we take that step. It’s not because I think you’ll be too much work or anything like that. I’m worried that I won’t be enough for you, and you deserve the best.”

Emory blinks, and stares at Melody in disbelief. That certainly hadn’t been the answer she’d been expecting. “Really? But you’re great at it. I don’t know why you’d be scared…”

Melody nods. “Yes, really. I care about you a lot, and I worry about what will happen to you if I’m not up to the job. Grown-ups get scared too, sometimes, especially when it comes to people we love.”

Emory’s mouth forms a small ‘o’ of surprise. “You love me?” She wonders quietly. Even though she understands that Melody isn’t saying that she has romantic feelings for her, Emory doesn’t feel worthy of something so special, of being so valued by another person. The anxiety and stress she’s been feeling eases, and slowly melts away.

Melody smiles. “Yes, Emmy. I love you, and I want the best for you. I know it might take some time for you to really be able to believe that, but it’s true. I want to be your Caregiver, but I need more time to make sure that I’m the best one for you.”

Emory wraps her arms around Melody’s neck and squeezes. “Thank you.” she says softly. And then, more quietly: “I love you too, Mellie. All the way to the moon and back!”

“Aww, thank you sweetheart!” Melody says, and rubs Emory’s back.

Emory nods. “Do you want to see my Lego roller coaster? I’m almost done, but I have to finish the hill. And put the track on, but that shouldn’t take long.” she wonders. Her roller coaster is almost done, and she’s excited for Melody to see the finished product.

“I’d really like to get something in that tummy of yours first. You can have your PB&J, or you can have something else. You can even have a bottle, but no playtime until you eat something.”

“I’ll eat my PB&J.” Emory decides. Now that she’s not so worried, she realizes how hungry she actually is, and ends up eating three sandwiches before she feels satisfied.

“You were really hungry.” Melody observes as she begins wiping Emory’s face and hands clean with a wipe. “I’ll never understand how you get so messy when you eat. Maybe you do need me to feed you.” She teases.

Emory’s cheeks heat up at that. “No, I can eat by myself, Mellie.” she says.

A few moments later, Melody proclaims her clean and she scampers off to the living room. It doesn’t take long to finish the hill, it’s just difficult since some of the pieces are over her head. When she’s finished with that, she begins easing the long plastic pieces of track onto the supports, so the roller coaster has something to travel on. She’s about halfway done, when her tummy clenches, and she fills the back of her diaper. It’s not a really big mess, but she’d already been pretty wet and she knows she should probably go and get Melody.
Emory sighs, unwilling to interrupt playtime for a diaper change when she’s so close to finishing her project. She decides to ignore her diaper for the time being, since she’s almost done, even though she usually tells Melody when she’s messy. It takes a little bit longer than she’d anticipated to finish putting all the pieces on, but she finishes just as Melody comes into the living room.

“And, done!” Emory says with a grin, feeling quite accomplished now that she can see the results of her handiwork

“That looks wonderful, little one, I’m proud of you!” Melody gushes. She steps closer to inspect it, and then sniffs the air. “Uh-oh.” She looks down at Emory. “I think somebody needs a diaper change.” she says, and proceeds to check Emory’s diaper.

Emory’s cheeks turn pink, and she finds herself regretting her decision not to wear pants. She isn’t sure that getting checked will ever not be embarrassing.

Melody lifts Emory into her arms, careful not to make the mess any worse. “Why didn’t you come and get me, Emmy?” she wonders, though she doesn’t sound upset.

Emory looks at the floor. “I was playing…” she says.

“That’s okay, I’m not upset. I was just surprised, that’s all. You usually tell me right away. It’s not good to stay in a dirty diaper for a long time though, I don’t want you to get a rash. Let’s go and get you changed, and then you can show me how this thing works.”

Emory grins. “Okay!”

Getting changed is a familiar process by now, and even though it’s kind of boring to just lay there, Emory is grateful to be clean again.

“Alright,” Melody says, once she’s finished. She picks Emory up and settles her on her hip. “Let’s go and see this roller coaster.”

“Hey Mellie, guess what?” Emory pokes Melody’s shoulder gently.

“What’s up Emmy?” Melody wonders.

Emory leans up to kiss Melody’s cheek, just like Melody does to her sometimes. “I love you!”

Melody smiles and squeezes Emory tightly in response. “I love you too, sweetheart. All the way to the moon and back.”

7 Likes

Very good chapter. Emorys fears of losing Melody are understandable. It’s good you are covering that.
As Alesha I can’t wait to hear what happens next.

Chapter V: Day 9; Afternoon

“Hi, Emmy!” Kori almost-shouts.

That’s all the warning Emory gets before she’s blindsided by the other Little. She’s caught off-guard by the intensity of the other girl’s greeting, and ends up flat on her butt, arms still wrapped around Kori. With her diaper cushioning the fall, it’s not painful, but she still giggles in surprise at Kori’s antics.

“Hi, Kori! I missed you!” Emory says, smiling so hard that her face hurts. “It feels like I haven’t seen you in ages.”

Kori laughs. “It’s only been a week, silly.” she points out. “I missed you too though. It’s nice to have someone my age around. The bigger kids scare me sometimes, they like to play really rough–especially Kale and Mitchell.”

Emory frowns thoughtfully. “How? I thought we were supposed to sit criss-cross-applesauce and be quiet for storytime…”

“We are,” Kori agrees. “But there’s a playground outside that we play on afterwards, sometimes. Last week everyone had stuff to do after storytime, so no one went outside. Maybe we can go today though.”

“Oh, that might be fun.” Emory says, fiddling with the strap on her overalls. “I have to ask Mellie if we’re doing anything after storytime though.”

“Okay.” Kori smiles at her. “You gotta loosen up a little, Emmy.”

“Loosen up? Why, what am I doing wrong?” Emory wonders. She feels a lot more relaxed than last time she was here, but she’s still not quite used to being around other people yet. Kori is nice, but also kind of intimidating–she’s so comfortable with herself and with being a Little in general.

“You’re not doing anything wrong.” Kori explains. “You’re just really tense. You look kinda constipated.”

“Hey!” Emory says indignantly, pouting. “I’m not…” she sighs. “I’m not constipated.” she says, her voice barely above a whisper. At least, she hopes not, since she’s usually gone by now, and she hasn’t yet today. She’s not going to tell Kori that though.

“You just look uncomfortable, and kinda scared.” Kori shrugs. “Seemed like a pretty safe bet to me.”

“I am uncomfortable and kinda scared.” Emory confesses.

“What for? No one here is gonna do anything bad to you, there are grown-ups everywhere. And besides, how are you gonna do fun stuff like playdates and sleepovers and stuff if you’re always so nervous?”

“I dunno.” Emory admits. “I just don’t like being away from Mellie. She makes me feel safe. And what if I say or do something dumb, and then everyone thinks I’m weird or something?”

“Unless you’re the type to eat glue, crayons, or bugs, I think you’ll be just fine.” Kori explains, ticking things off on her fingers.

Emory makes a face. “Ew. People do that? Why?”

“I don’t know. People are weird sometimes. I wouldn’t recommend the crayon thing though, they’re not very good.”

Emory just stares at Kori in disbelief. “You ate a crayon?”

“Not all of it.” Kori defends herself with a shrug. “I was hungry, it said Wild Watermelon, and I was curious. It did not taste like watermelon. Daddy says it made for an interesting diaper change though.”

Emory giggles. “That’s pretty silly…and kinda gross.”

“Yeah, but that’s my point. You need to relax. Be sillier! It’ll be a lot easier to get comfortable with being a Little once you stop worrying so much about acting like a grown-up.”

“I guess that makes sense.” Emory replies thoughtfully. “What if I…” Emory pauses and looks down at herself, hoping that Kori understands her meaning without her having to explain. “You know,”

Kori laughs. “No one cares about that, you goof. Sure, they might say something to a grown-up if you leak, or if you’re stinky, but no one’s gonna make fun of you for that.”

“Really?” Emory wants to believe Kori, but it all sounds a little too good to be true.

“Well, they might a little, but not to be mean or anything. I bet your Guardian does that to you already, so it’s not that big of a deal.”

“I guess I didn’t think of it like that.” Emory concedes.

“Hey fluffbutts, what’s happening?” Izzy crows, sweeping in to hug both Emory and Kori at once.

“Hi Izzy!” Kori grins at the taller girl.

“I’m not a fluffbutt!” Emory says with a pout. It’s embarrassing to have repeated that, so she puts her pacifier in her mouth to stop herself from doing it again.

“Oh really?” Izzy raises an eyebrow, and Emory is immediately jealous of her ability to do that–she’d even practiced in front of the mirror and still hadn’t managed to figure out how. Izzy gives Emory’s bottom a playful pat. “Yep, definitely a fluffbutt.”

Emory’s cheeks heat up, and she squirms, unsure of how to respond.

Izzy peers more closely at her, her eyes full of playful energy. “Is this a frown?” She looks over at Kori for confirmation.

“Mhmm.” Kori responds.

“Oh no! We can’t have a frowny face at storytime!” Izzy looks dismayed, and also mischievous.

Kori smiles. “Nope. No sad faces allowed. I guess we’ll have to fix that.”

“Yep.” Izzy says solemnly. “I bet she’s really ticklish.”

“Yeah!” Kori replies with a wicked grin.

“No…” Emory giggles a bit once she realizes what’s about to happen. Even though it’s kind of giving herself away to laugh before they even start tickling her. She backs away slowly, only to be followed by Izzy.

Before Emory can react, Izzy pounces. “Tickle attack!”

Izzy’s fingers are everywhere at once, hitting all of Emory’s most ticklish areas, and Emory’s legs turn to jelly almost immediately as she bursts into peals of laughter. She collapses against Izzy squirming in vain to get away from the onslaught. There’s a warm rush in her diaper as the tickling slows, but she barely notices. She lies across Izzy’s lay, breathing heavily.

“There,” Izzy says, smiling down at Emory. “That’s better. No more sad face,” She pauses, wiggling her fingers in Emory’s direction. “Or the tummy gets it.”

Emory bursts into giggles all over again, despite the fact that Izzy isn’t actually doing anything to her. She feels lighter, somehow, and wonders if this feeling is what Kori was talking about.

“Okay, okay, you win!” Emory concedes through her laughter. She smiles at Izzy and reaches toward her for a hug.

Izzy doesn’t disappoint. “Did you miss me?”

Emory nods. “Mhmm.” She blinks, taking a closer look at Izzy’s face, and wonders how she missed the bright blue bandaid on her cheek…and the ones on her arms. “What happened to you?”

Izzy grins. “Cody from playgroup bet me fifty coin that I couldn’t hit a wasps nest with a football from ten yards away. He was wrong.”

Emory can feel her brow scrunching up in confusion. “What’s playgroup? I’ve never gone to that before.”

“It’s for older Littles. It’s just a place to go after work to get out some energy. I don’t go all the time, but it’s nice to have something to do. Since I’m an L-4, I don’t need to have constant supervision, but I have to go to playgroup at least once a week to de-stress and get out some energy. Mommy usually takes me to the park to play on Mondays and storytime on Wednesdays since she doesn’t work on those days.”

“Oh.” Emory says, thinking.

“I live by myself, so I get to spend time with Mommy on Mondays and Wednesdays. I go to playgroup after work on Tuesday and sometimes Thursday. Then, on Fridays I just hang out at home if I’m not working. On the weekends, I visit this rascal,” Izzy explains, giving Kori a playful poke.

Kori giggles. “So what happened to Cody?”

Izzy smirks. “Everything was fine until the wasps came after us. I got stung a bunch, that’s why I have all these bandaids.”

Emory cringes. Just one bee sting is enough to make her cry, and she thinks she’d probably cry forever if she got stung that many times. Izzy, she thinks, is probably the coolest big kid ever. “Didn’t it hurt?” she wonders.

Izzy rolls her shoulders in a nonchalant shrug. “Well, yeah, but I only cried for like, twelve minutes. And I got fifty coin out of it, so it’s worth it. I’m gonna buy so much ice cream!”

“Wow…” Kori says. “Did Cody get stung too?”

“Yep. And he cried for like an hour. And he’s a shithead anyway, so he deserves it, always taking candy from the littler ones.”

Kori doesn’t look surprised in the least at Izzy’s foul language, but Emory’s mouth drops open.

“That’s a bad word…” she says quietly, not wanting to get Izzy in trouble. “Mellie would break my butt if I said that. Or I’d get my mouth washed out with soap.” She shudders at the thought of either one of those things.

Izzy rubs her own bottom, as though the thought of punishment is just now occurring to her. “Eh, sometimes the punishment is worth it though. Can’t spend your whole life being a goody-goody. It’s no fun if you never get in trouble…”

Emory isn’t sure she believes that, but she nods along anyway.

“Alright, Little ones, gather ‘round for story time!”

Emory looks toward the front of the story corner, and sees a tall blonde woman with blue eyes carrying a positively enormous book.

“Come on fluffbutts, let’s go!” Izzy says with a big smile. “Gotta get there before all the good seats get taken.”

It’s only then that Emory realizes that the three of them are the only attendees for storytime today.

“Do you want a piggyback ride?” Izzy asks.

Emory nods and climbs on when Izzy kneels down. It’s not quite as nice as being held, but it’s fun.

“Hello, everyone, my name is Miss Watts. Mr. Taffy wishes he could be here with you all today but he’s not feeling well, and he asked me to fill in for him. Does anyone want to be my page turner for today?”

Kori gives Emory a nudge. “If you do it, you’ll get candy at the end.”

Emory grins and raises her hand.

“How lovely, a volunteer! Why don’t you come on up here, little one.” Miss Watts gestures toward Emory with a friendly smile. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

“I’m Emmy.” Emory says quietly, looking back at Melody to see if she’s watching.

Melody waves to her and smiles, boosting her confidence a little.

“That’s a very pretty name! Thank you for being such a big helper today. This book is called The Great Big Ocean. Is everyone ready?”

Izzy pulls Kori into her lap and nods at Emory, giving her a thumbs-up.

“Wonderful!” Says Miss Watts. “Let’s get started.”

—CNL—

“Good thing it’s bathtime.” Melody says, chuckling. “You’re a mess.”

Emory feels her face heating up. Even though Melody had insisted she wear one of her old painting smocks to dinner–she’d argued, and lost–she’d still managed to mostly cover herself in spaghetti sauce. It hadn’t been on purpose, but sometimes, she swears Melody makes certain things for dinner just to see if she can eat them without making a mess.

“Hey!” Emory says indignantly. “I’m not the one who put so much sauce on the noodles.” she pouts, and realizes she’s been doing that an awful lot lately. She hadn’t meant for it to become such a habit, but it’s kind of too late now.

“That’s true.” Melody concedes. “But I don’t have spaghetti sauce in my hair. And, it’s probably past time to get you out of this soggy diaper anyway.”

“I’m not that wet…” Emory grumbles, even though she can’t really be sure.

Melody just laughs. “Okay,” she replies, sounding totally unconvinced. “Did you have fun today, my little page-turner? You did a super job up there.”

Emory knows that it’s a small thing, but she can’t help smiling at the praise. “Yeah!” she says. “Kori says I need to relax and not worry so much. And she said I looked constipated.” she huffs, still not quite able to believe that Kori would bring up something so personal.

“I think Kori might be onto something there, Emmy. You might not be constipated, but relaxing a little more would definitely be good for you.” Melody says as she puts Emory down on the floor and begins to fill the tub. “It was nice to see you having so much fun today. The redhead seems like quite the character.”

Emory nods. “That’s Izzy. She’s so brave and cool, I don’t think I’ll ever be as cool as she is.” her tummy rumbles, and she begins filling her diaper.

“Well, I think you’re pretty awesome.” Melody says, giving Emory a kiss on the nose. “Be careful around her though, she’ll get you into trouble.”

“Izzy’s nice to me though…” Emory points out, frowning thoughtfully.

“I know. But none of you Little ones are very good at whispering, and Izzy gets up to a lot of things that she probably shouldn’t. Not to mention that she’s got a potty mouth. You’ve been very well behaved these past few days, and I don’t want you to get up to things you shouldn’t because of her.”

“I’ll be good! I haven’t even said any bad words for three–two–whole days since I stepped on that Lego.” Emory agrees.

“I know, you’ve been doing a good job with that. And what did we learn from that experience?” Melody asks.

“That soap tastes yucky?” Emory replies.

“Yes, and what else?” Melody presses, raising an eyebrow.

“To clean up my toys when I’m done playing with them.” Emory sighs.

“That’s right.” Melody says, pulling her into a hug. “Good job, Emmy.”

Emory grins and gives Melody a big hug. She feels a tug on the back of her diaper and then a gentle pat on her bottom.

“Nope, not constipated either.” Melody says.

Emory covers her face. “Mel-lie! Stop it…”

“I’m only teasing, Emmy. Besides, you’re adorable when you blush.”

Emory harrumphs, but she’s smiling.

“Can you get the wipes out from under the sink please, baby?”

Emory smiles at the warm feeling blossoming in her chest and nods before going to retrieve them.

Melody makes quick work of cleaning her up and disposing of her diaper while the tub fills. She washes her hands in the sink before sitting back down on the edge of the tub in front of Emory.

“I’m very glad to see that you’re making friends, Emmy.” Melody says. “Maybe you can have Kori over for a playdate sometime. Or go over to her house if you want.”

Emory squirms. “I do wanna do that. But, not right now. I don’t think I’m ready to be away from you yet…” It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that, but it’s also true, and she’s trying to be better about sharing her feelings.

Melody pulls her in for a hug. “It’s okay if you don’t feel ready yet. I just wanted you to know that I’m fine with it if it’s something you want to do.”

“Okay.” Emory says. “I hope Mr. Taffy is okay…I had fun today, but I missed seeing him.”

“I’m sure he is, sweetheart. If you want, we can get him a ‘Get Well Soon’ card and drop it off at the library tomorrow when we run our errands.” Melody suggests.

“Yeah!” Emory agrees, smiling at the suggestion. “Can we go to the zoo this weekend?”

“I don’t see why not, as long as you do well on your final on Friday.” Melody says. “It’ll be good for you to get out and be around people some more.”

“I know, but it makes me nervous.” Emory squirms. “I always feel like everyone’s watching me.”

“They’re usually not. Unless you’re throwing a fit and making a scene, most people are just minding their own business. It’s not like Littles are uncommon to see anyway.”

“I guess you’re right…I still don’t like it though.”

“You’ll get used to it in time. Alright, into the tub with you.” Melody deposits Emory into the tub.

“Can we get some bath toys, Mellie?” Emory wonders. Baths are nice, but they’d be more fun if she had something to play with besides just a rubber duck.

“Sure, munchkin.” Melody says as she begins to wash Emory. “Have you thought about where you want to go for Spring Break? I think we could both use a change of scenery for a little while.”

“I’d like to go to the beach, because I’ve never seen the ocean in real life before, but I can’t swim.” Emory says sadly.

“We can definitely do that. I’ll get some swim diapers, and I’ll teach you to swim while we’re there. It’s easier to float in the ocean anyway.”

Emory smiles. “I’d really like that.”

Melody smiles back. “Me too.”

“Do you think we’ll see any fish? Or maybe some dolphins?” Emory wonders, closing her eyes as Melody begins to wash the soap out of her hair.

“Maybe, but the water isn’t very clear around here. If you really want to see some fish, we could just go to the aquarium–you’ll have a much better view there.” Melody says. “Alright baby, it’s time to get out, you’re turning into a raisin.”

Emory giggles, but allows Melody to lift her out of the tub and wrap her in a big, fluffy towel.

The routine of getting ready for bed is familiar enough by now, but as she thinks back on what Kori had said to her at story time, Emory decides to try something new. She waits until Melody has finished tucking her–and Rufus–in before speaking up.

“Can I…Can I have a bottle before bed?”

“Alright. Who are you and what have you done with Emmy?” Melody asks playfully.

“I’m me! I just…Kori said that I should try to relax and ‘go with it’ more, so that’s what I’m doing. Besides, it’s kinda…nice.”

“Okay. I’m very proud of you for speaking up like that. You can have a bottle, but it won’t be chocolate milk every night if this becomes a regular thing–it’s not good to have so much sugar before bed.”

“Okay,” Emory yawns enormously and rubs her eyes. She always feels so sleepy after getting out of the bath.

Melody smiles at her. “Think you can stay awake long enough for me to make you a bottle?”

“No…problem…” Emory yawns again as Melody kisses her forehead.

“I think we might have to wait until tomorrow night for that bottle, little one.”

“But, I’m…not…even….”

Emory is asleep before she can say ‘tired’.

8 Likes

Another good chapter. Can’t wait for more.
Good to see Emory found some friends.

1 Like

My time off of work is ending, so it might be a bit until the next chapter. Please let me know what you think so far!

#####

Chapter VI: Day 12; Morning

Emory’s mood becomes progressively more sour as they get closer to their final destination.

Today is the day she and Melody are going to the zoo, as a reward for her good grades on her final exam. She should be excited, but mostly she just feels annoyed. She’ll have to be seen in public as a Little by more people than she’s ever dealt with at once, and she won’t have the freedom to roam the zoo alone and see what she wants to see.

She really should be used to the constant monitoring by now, but this is the first time that it will actively impede her from doing as she pleases, since Melody is usually pretty lenient. Even so, Emory knows there’s no way she’ll be allowed to strike out on her own to explore, and it doesn’t seem fair, especially given what Izzy had said at storytime about not needing constant supervision.

Emory sighs and stares out the window, letting her pacifier drop from her mouth as she stares at the passing countryside.

“I hear the zoo put in a new penguin exhibit, that sounds like a fun thing to go and see.” Melody says.

Emory just hums in response. She doesn’t really feel like talking.

“Are you okay Emmy? You haven’t said much since we left…”

“I’m fine. Just tired.” Emory replies, which is only really half-true. They’d gotten up early to make the drive to the zoo and arrive at a reasonable time, but she’s mostly awake now.

“Maybe you’ll wake up a bit after we get to walk around a bit.” Melody says.

“Sure.” Emory replies, fidgeting with the straps of her car seat.

“Don’t play with the straps please,” Melody tells her gently.

“I’m-” Emory begins to protest, but stops herself, realizing it won’t do any good. “Okay.”

They travel the rest of the way to the zoo in silence; Emory just stews in her own frustration.

“Alright, spill.” Melody says once they’ve parked and are inside the front gate. “What’s up with you today? You’ve been grouchy ever since we left the house. What’s going on?”

Emory’s foot stomps without her permission, her eyes welling with tears as she rounds on Melody. “I am not–” She forces herself to take a breath before she starts shouting, and scrubs at her eyes with the back of her hands.

“I wanna go and see the zoo by myself.” Emory says, more calmly. “I’m not a baby. I can handle myself.”

Melody sighs. “Sure, but first, did you bring your phone? Can you tell me what number was on the light post that we parked under? Or what you plan to do when you need a diaper change?”

Emory folds her arms and scowls. “That’s not fair.” she grumbles.
“It’s completely fair. All I want to know is if you can call me if something happens, if you remember how to get back to the car, and how you plan to manage getting changed when you need it.” Melody points out.

“No. I forgot my phone, and I don’t remember what the stupid number on the stupid light post is.” Emory admits tersely. “And I can change myself.”

“The answer is no, Emmy. I’m sorry. We can still go to all the exhibits you want to see, but you’re not going by yourself. That’s not up for discussion.” Melody says firmly.

“Says you,” Emory snaps, her anger and frustration at having to stay near Melody, and not be in control of the trip she’d wanted to take beginning to boil over.

Melody’s eyes narrow, and she takes Emory firmly by the arm, marching her over to a nearby bench. “Do you really want to do this here?” She asks, her voice low and dangerous. “I understand that you want to walk around by yourself, but if you can’t get in touch with me when you need something, and you can’t remember how to get back to where we came from, then it isn’t safe for me to let you do that.”

“I’m not a baby.” Emory protests.

“I didn’t say you were.” Melody counters. “I already explained why you’re not allowed to walk around by yourself. Now, it sounds to me like you have a choice to make, young lady. You can either behave yourself, we’ll forget this little fit happened, and we’ll have a nice time today. Or, you can keep throwing a fit, we will go home, and you will be taking a nap with a sore bottom. I am not going to take risks with your safety. Especially not when you could end up in an Assignment Center if security catches you by yourself.”

“What? Why would they do that?” Emory wonders.

“They have a zoo to run, Emmy. They don’t have enough people to take care of all the animals, make food for the people, and look after all the Littles that wander off.” Melody explains.

“I’ll behave.” Emory concedes, tears spilling over at her inability to even convince Melody that she can be left on her own.

“Come here,” Melody says, opening her arms for a hug. “I know you’re disappointed, Emmy, and I don’t blame you. I know it must be frustrating for things to be so different. But you can’t go off by yourself when we’re in such a big place. It’s too dangerous.” She explains, wiping Emory’s tears away with the pads of her thumbs. “Now, which animal do you want to see first?”

Emory returns the hug, grateful for the comfort, but at the same time unable to quash the bitter feelings inside of her. It’s not fair…

“Zebras.” She decides finally.

Melody smiles. “Good choice.”

Even though she’s still kind of mad about not being allowed to go off by herself, Emory has to admit that it’s pretty neat getting to see all the animals. The zebras are fun to look at, even if they don’t do very much. The snakes had been cool, even though they’d creeped Melody out, and the crocodiles were pretty scary looking.

Now though, they’ve gotten to the gorilla enclosure. Most of the huge primates aren’t really doing anything, most of them are just lounging and munching on leaves. There’s a little one in the back however, that’s playing with what Emory imagines must be its mother. The smaller gorilla scampers back and forth over the wooden climbing structure, leaping and swinging for a few seconds before being caught again.

Nice try, little guy. Emory thinks. Watching the scene unfold gives her an idea though–Melody can’t tell her what to do if she’s not around to be told…and besides, what was it that Izzy had said at storytime?

‘Can’t spend your whole life being a goody-goody. It’s no fun if you never get in trouble…’

Emory nods to herself, realizing what she has to do. Part of her thinks that running away from Melody is an absolutely terrible idea and will only end badly for her, but she ignores those feelings. She’s perfectly capable of being by herself, and she’s gonna prove it. She continues following Melody around, dutifully staying close by and commenting on all the animals they’ve seen.

It’s only after they’ve stopped for a diaper change and lunch break that Emory makes her move.

Melody’s packing up the diaper bag, putting away the wipes she’d used to clean Emory’s face and stowing Emory’s favorite sippy cup.

Emory’s stomach feels like it’s full of rocks. She’s definitely overeaten a bit, but she also knows that Melody probably won’t be this distracted again for the rest of the trip. Plus, it will take her at least a couple of seconds to put everything back, giving Emory a head start.

Emory stands up from the table they’re sitting at feigning a stretch, and then takes off running before Melody has time to stop her. Distantly, she can hear Melody calling out for her, but she ignores Melody’s cries, weaving between tables and chairs, and disappears into the crowd of zoo patrons.

~CNL~

Emory pauses to catch her breath once she can no longer hear Melody’s cries. Her stomach is not happy with being made to exercise so soon after lunch, but the pain is a small price to pay for her freedom.

Emory smiles as she wanders through the exhibits, stopping to marvel at lemurs, tigers, and to stare at the majestic elephants. No one seems to notice that she’s without a Caregiver, but she imagines that’s because they probably think Melody is somewhere nearby. She continues to hop from exhibit to exhibit, doing her best to enjoy her newfound independence. She decides to take advantage of Melody’s absence to buy herself a big bag of candy from one of the zoo’s many gift shops.

“You look nice today, sweetie.” Says the cashier at the gift shop, smiling at her. She’s a little taller than Emory, her black hair pulled back into a braid, her dark eyes warm and inviting. “Did you pick out that outfit all by yourself?”

Emory smiles at the compliment. She’s definitely a Caregiver… “No, my Guardian did. Thank you though!”

The cashier gives her a skeptical look and glances down at Emory’s ID. “Your Guardian, huh?” Are they here?”

Emory swallows hard, her heart pounding. She’d completely forgotten about the fact that her Classification is displayed prominently on the same card she’d need to pay. *Uh-oh…*This whole situation has suddenly become a lot less fun.

“She’s in the potty right now, but she said I could buy some candy.” Emory lies, poorly.

“Uh-huh,” The cashier looks even more skeptical. “Well, you should probably wait for her here then, right? Wouldn’t want her to worry about you wandering off all by yourself.”

Sweat trickles down the back of Emory’s neck, and she feels a warm trickle in her diaper. “Uh, she said I’m supposed t’ meet her by the potties. Over there.” She points over her shoulder. It’s a gamble, since she doesn’t need to use the bathrooms and so she doesn’t actually know where they are…

The cashier gives her a long, intense stare. “The bathrooms are the other way, kid. But you probably don’t need to worry about that, do you?”

How does she know that? Emory wonders. “Um, I’m totally potty-trained, thank you! I just got a little turned around.” She smiles, and prays that it’s convincing.

The cashier rolls her eyes and folds her arms. “I’d bet my next three paychecks that you’re not.”

Emory frowns. “Well,” she pauses to look at the cashier’s name tag. “Amber, that’s really none of your business, so…If you’ll just give me my ID back, I’ll be on my way.”

Amber rolls her eyes. “I don’t think so, kid. I’ll be holding onto it for now.” She reaches for the walkie-talkie clipped to her shirt. “Hey, Jim, I think we found our little escape artist.”

Emory’s heart drops into her stomach and she bolts for the exit, her candy forgotten on the counter. She sprints away from the gift shop, going deeper into the zoo.

She makes it all the way to the meerkat exhibit, before her legs refuse to carry her any further. According to a nearby sign, she’s on the opposite side of the zoo from the front gate. Her feet ache from the walking she’s done, and her anxiety is beginning to spike because of her close call at the gift shop. It’s only now that she’s stopped that she realizes how dark it’s gotten. She doesn’t have a watch, but, judging by the lack of people around, she thinks that the zoo must be closing soon.

Great. She thinks to herself as she sits down on a nearby bench with an uncomfortably wet squish. The zoo’s about to close, security’s looking for me, and I have no clue how to get back to the front gate. And, if I get caught, then I’ll be sent to an Assignment Center. Way to go, Emmy.

Emory’s eyes fill with tears as she realizes what a mistake she’s made. She’s exhausted, scared, hungry, and wet, and to top it all off, Melody is gonna kill her. She lets herself cry for a few moments, and then wipes her eyes with her sleeve.

I guess I’d better get going…I can’t stay here forever. Emory summons her courage and stands up, resolving to at least go to an area that’s not as dark…

Emory gets halfway to standing before her stomach cramps mightily, and she grabs the armrest of the bench as she begins to fill her diaper with the largest mess she’s ever made. She’s glad that no one’s around to hear the noises of effort she’s making, if nothing else, at least she has relative privacy. After what feels like several minutes, she’s finally finished.

She stands there next to the bench, wrinkling her nose at both the smell and the uncomfortably full sensation in her pants. Her face crumples and she dissolves into tears once more, crying hard enough that she’s worried she’ll be sick.

She’s lost in a soon-to-be-closed zoo, exhausted, hungry, her feet are killing her, and as if all that wasn’t bad enough, her diaper is more full than any she’s ever had before. She collapses back onto the bench, and bursts into tears. The feeling in her diaper is gross, but she’s mostly upset because she’s failed.

In her quest to prove that she can handle herself and be independent, she’s only succeeded in proving the exact opposite, and all she wants is to tell Melody that she’s sorry and beg for forgiveness.

Maybe Melody has even decided that she isn’t worth the trouble, and she’ll end up in an Assignment Center, alone and unwanted at the end of this terrible day.

Overwhelmed by the magnitude of her failure, Emory puts her head in her hands and sobs.

~CNL~

Emory’s bottom has begun to itch by the time she manages to waddle her way back to the gift shop where she’d almost gotten caught. Almost immediately after stepping in front of it she’s blinded by an extremely bright flashlight.

“This is Carmichael, I’ve got her.” a woman’s voice comes from somewhere behind the blinding light.

The light blinks off, and as her vision clears, she realizes that it came from a spotlight attached to one of those golf carts security drives around. Next to the cart is one of the zoo’s security officers. The officer approaches her slowly, nose twitching, but she doesn’t say anything about the smell.

“Hi, sweetie. My name is officer Carmichael, I’m here to help you.” The woman says, reaching out to rest a hand on Emory’s shoulder. “I know you’re probably really scared right now, but everything’s gonna be okay.” she says softly.

“I want Mellie,” Emory sniffles.

“Is that your Caregiver, sweetie?” The officer asks.

Emory only nods, she doesn’t have the energy to correct the officer and say that Melody is actually her Guardian.

“Okay. I’m going to take you to her.”

Emory is overcome by relief and dread in equal measure, grateful that she’s about to be reunited with Melody, but also well aware that Melody might be the last thing she sees…She follows the officer to the cart and sits down in the passenger seat, nose wrinkling at the sensation of sitting on her mess once more.

“It’s alright, honey.” officer Carmichael says, buckling Emory’s seatbelt for her. “You’ll be clean again soon.”

It’s a short ride back to the main security office. Officer Carmichael takes Emory inside where Melody is waiting for her.

Melody looks like she’s been crying, which only makes Emory feel even more terrible than she already does. She covers the short distance between them in a flash, pressing her face into Melody’s chest, arms winding around Melody’s middle.

Melody returns the embrace with equal intensity, kissing Emory’s face all over. “I thought I’d lost you.” She says quietly in a trembling voice. “I’m so glad you’re safe.”

Emory just holds onto Melody and cries, both from relief and tremendous guilt.

Melody reaches down to pat Emory’s bottom.

“My goodness!” she says. “Do you have a place I can change her before we leave?”

“Yes ma’am, we’re connected to the first-aid station. There’s a Little’s changing station through the door at the end of the hall. It’ll be the second door on the right after that; there’s a sign on the door, so it should be easy to find.” Officer Carmichael replies.

“Thank you so much.” Melody says sincerely, and reaches down to lift Emory into her arms. She carries Emory to the changing room and lays her down on the changing table.

It isn’t as comfortable as the one at home, but Emory’s just grateful to be getting clean again. The diaper change is a very long process, and it proceeds in a very uncomfortable silence. Melody rubs cream into Emory’s bottom when she’s clean again, soothing the terrible, burning itch she’s developed. Melody tosses Emory’s old pants into the garbage and helps her dress in the clean pair she’d brought along for just this kind of situation.

“Thank you, Mellie.” Emory says in a quiet, tremulous voice. She’s not sure that Melody can even hear her over the noise of the sink as she washes her hands.

Melody dries her hands, and turns to face Emory, lifting the exhausted Little into her arms and holding her close for a few moments. She doesn’t say anything in response, she just slings the diaper bag over her shoulder and heads out to the parking lot.

“I’m really, really sorry.” Emory says, as Melody buckles her into her car seat.

Melody kisses Emory’s forehead once she’s finished, cinching the straps down tighter than they probably need to be. “I know you are.” she says solemnly. “But you’re not as sorry as you’re going to be.”

Emory gulps audibly as Melody closes her car door.

Uh-oh…

7 Likes

I like this alot, it’s a cute story that subverts what I’d begun to expect from d.d stories. What I expect being an exploitation fantasy. While I like some of those stories, if I look at alot of them outside of the scope of fetishy fiction the whole thing can be kinda questionable.
Seeing more of a glimpse beind how it might work logistically is a nice change of pace and makes me think there’s still potential in the setting. Thanks for writing.

1 Like

This is amazing, can’t wait to see the next chapter.

Thanks! I agree with what you said about the DD being an exploitation fantasy, and I’m writing this because IMO, the DD stories are starting to get a bit stale. I’m trying to create a world where CG/L dynamics can still happen, in a way that makes sense, without the caregivers needing to be 12 feet tall and able to easily overpower pretty much anyone they like.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!