Diapers Never Lie (Epilogue - 01/24/21)

This story is now finished, so congratulations, new readers, you’ll be able to finish without needing to wait for any further updates from me. There are, however, some things you should be aware before you begin.

For first time readers, you should know that this story is a part of another one that I’m currently writing, All My Mother’s Rules, covering the backstory of one of the characters in that tale. The stories can be read in either order. You can start with this one first, or, if you chose to start with All My Mother’s Rules , you’ll be re-directed back to this story when necessary.

Synopsis: Annabelle, a teenage girl with a troubled past and trouble with keeping her pants dry, must confront what has been done to her if she is to begin a new life, one that she hopes will allow her to eventually be free from diapers.

Content warning: This is a messed-up story. If profanity, violence, and references to suicide are off-putting, you probably shouldn’t read it.

Chapter 1: Therapy Session

My legs wobbled slightly as I followed the therapist down the hospital hallway and into her office. Even though a month had passed after the incident, standing for any length of time quickly tired me out, and walking was so much worse. To be fair, I had been offered a wheelchair, but I had turned it down. It wasn’t as if I was too embarrassed or prideful to use the wheelchair, but the thought of being constrained… well, that just wasn’t going to happen. Not now. Not again. Not ever.

My therapist, Miss Amanda, said the room was private. I wasn’t inclined to believe her. There was one of those one-way windows installed on the wall. She said it was only used for other clients, like if there was a parent or guardian that needed to be involved. I don’t have any of those, well, at least not anymore.

Though tiny, the room wasn’t so small that it felt constraining. The room was muted, with only few splashes of color. A light-brown leather couch with a couple of bright, plush pillows sat along the wall opposite the fake window. The far wall had a large, flat-screen TV inside of a wood cabinet.

“Annabelle, you can take a seat over there,” Amanda said, motioning to the couch with her hand.

The therapist took a seat herself in a swivel chair that was next to the far end of the couch. The binder Amanda was carrying remained closed. I wondered what it said about me in it. To be more accurate, I worried about what it said about me.

In the first few days after the incident I had talked a lot. Maybe I’d said more than I should have. Probably. But I had thought for once that I would have been believed. I’m still not sure if they do, or, if this therapy session is some sort of test or trick to discover what actually took place. I’m sure the transcripts of those initial interviews are in her binder. There’s no way they would have let Amanda begin her first day as my therapist without providing her with that information. I tried to remember everything I had told them. It’s not as if I hadn’t been truthful, but I wasn’t certain yet that I wanted to reveal any more than I already had.

I fidgeted on the couch, but that was more due to my nerves being uncomfortable, not my bottom. It would, however, be inaccurate to describe the couch itself as comfortable, even if I didn’t happen to be uncomfortable sitting on it. There are few benefits to being incontinent but having what is essentially a portable pillow for your butt is one of them. So, while the cushioning in the couch may have been lacking, the padding in the diaper I had taped on beneath my dress more than made up for it.

Amanda opened the binder and began to peruse it silently without saying anything. I didn’t get it. Was this some kind of trick into getting me to talk? All I knew about therapists was from what I’d seen on TV, which is to say, I didn’t know much. Well fine. Staying silent was my modus operandi so why should I give a shit?

A few minutes passed before Amanda looked up from the binder to talk to me.

“Do you understand why we are having this conversation?” Amanda asked.

Because some judge is worried that I might be a danger to society. That isn’t what I said to Amanda though. I just shrugged nonchalantly.

“Let’s start by talking about how you’re feeling right now.”

Talk about my feelings? Since when has anyone given two fucks, let alone a single one, about my feelings?

“I… um… I… I don’t know.”

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Everything made sense in my head. The thoughts and words flowed seamlessly together. I knew exactly how I felt right now. Despite my ongoing efforts to repress those thoughts, Amanda’s innocuous question had brought them forward again.

I’m lonely after being in the hospital for a month with basically no visitors besides the doctors and nurses who have been caring me. I’m embarrassed because even though I’m fourteen, I’ve never been able to move on from needing to wear diapers. And I’m confused, because a month ago I wanted to end my life, and now I want to live, but I have no clue as to what the future could possibly look like for me.

But it all became a jumbled mess the moment I began to speak. I closed my mouth, shut my eyes, and curled up in a ball on my couch. Maybe going to juvie instead of this wouldn’t be so bad after all.

With my eyes closed and my mind all wrapped up in my own thoughts, I didn’t notice that Amanda had taken a seat on the couch until she was sitting next to me with her arm tight around my shoulder.

“You know what, why don’t we do something different. It’s only the first session after all.”

I opened my eyes and nodded, though I didn’t turn to look at her.

“Do you like to play videogames?”

“I don’t know.”

“Annabelle, you need to help me out a little. I’m sure you know if you like video games or not. And if you don’t, that’s OK. We can find something else to do.”

How I am supposed to explain to her that I had never been allowed to play videogames? Well, besides that one time. I felt really embarrassed.

“But I don’t know if I like them.”

“Why not?”

“I… I wasn’t allowed to…”

My voice trailed off into a stutter, and I felt Amanda’s hand rubbing my shoulder.

“Why weren’t you allowed to play videogames?”

The laughter started with a brief giggle, but I couldn’t get it under control. In a few seconds I was laughing so hard that I was crying. This situation wasn’t supposed to be funny, but the absurdity and irony of it was more than I could deal with. I gave a better explanation to Amanda a minute later when I finally managed to compose myself.

“She said video games caused kids to be violent. You know, Columbine and all that stuff.”

“I don’t think there is much truth to that,” Amanda said. “Humans started being violent long before video games were invented. I’ll get the Wii set up and we can play for a bit, OK?”

Curious, I peaked over Amanda’s shoulder as she knelt next to the TV cabinet and got the gaming system plugged in. My excitement to give it a try overpowered my cynicism that this was just a ploy Amanda was using to get on my good side. I mean, I knew that the cynic in me was right, but I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity.

Amanda handed me the two remotes – Wiimotes, she called them. It was such as stupid pun that it made me giggle again. She started a bowling game on the Wii. Just another thing I’d never done before. After a few gutter balls to start, and one time where I threw the bowling ball backwards and scared all the Miis into jumping, I began to get the hang of it and even managed to pull off a couple of strikes.

But the fun was over as quickly as it began. Amanda turned off the TV and placed the controls back in the cabinet. I knew she would be expecting me to be more talkative this time around, but I still wasn’t ready for that.

“Can I slip out to the restroom?”

Amanda gave me a look. I guess her binder did have all my medical information in it as well.

I shuffled my feet. Couldn’t she just let me get away with saying I needed to go to the restroom? Why do I need to specify that I need to do it to change my diaper?

“To change myself,” I added.

“Can you wait until we’re done?” Amanda asked, clearly feeling like she didn’t want to interrupt the momentum she had gained from our gaming session.

Why does everyone always assume that having a diaper on means that I can wait forever to go to the bathroom? Like, do they not get that it can be uncomfortable sitting in a wet or messy diaper, or that it will leak or smell if I wait too long?

“Well, it might leak.”

That threat of having to deal with urine all over her couch was more than enough to get Amanda to give me permission to go to the restroom.

I grabbed my backpack and slipped out into the hallow to a restroom that was a few doors down. It was a one-person family restroom, always nice for times when I need to change a diaper. I took a seat on the toilet without bothering to raise the lid. I slid my shorts down to my ankles and pulled my ankle-length dress up to my waist. The wetness indicator on the diaper had barely changed.

I still hadn’t gotten quite used to the new brand of diapers I switched to when I arrived at the hospital. They were more absorbent than I was accustomed to to, so sometimes it was hard for me to determine if I needed to change myself without actually taking a look at the diaper.

I decided that I didn’t need to change myself quite yet. The diaper was slightly wet, but it will more than make it through the rest of the therapy session without any leaks. But the trip to the restroom served a second purpose. It gave me a mental break that I desperately needed. I figured I could at least take my time. It’s not like Amanda knows how long it takes to change a diaper.

This past month hadn’t gone like I had imaged it would. Sure, I had escaped from her, but in my imagination, that had always been the moment where everything in the universe finally fell back in order for me. While I couldn’t deny that my situation had improved slightly, this still wasn’t the life that I dreamed of.

I paced back and forth across the restroom. It only took me four steps to go from one wall to the other. I already knew the question Amanda was going to ask when I returned. It wasn’t so much that the truth was a problematic answer, but that there was so much to say that I didn’t know where to begin.

Amanda was seated in the swivel chair and reading through the binder when I returned to the therapy room. Without saying anything, I took a seat on the far end of the couch from her.

“Annabelle, are you ready to begin?”

No. I’m not at all ready. But does that matter? Not one bit. I stared at my hands as I picked at one of my fingernails.

“Annabelle,” she said again, sounding a bit impatient.

I kept on ignoring her.

“Annabelle, look at me. You need to be treating this seriously. You did tell the judge that you agreed to do this.”

I didn’t agree to do shit. When presented with a choice between going through therapy or being sent to juvenile detention, was there really, actually, a choice to be made?

“Would you rather just get right to the point?” Amanda asked, gently, but firmly.

I relented and nodded silently, waiting for Amanda to continue.

“Let’s talk about why you tried to kill your mother.”

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Chapter 2: In the Beginning

Six years earlier…

My younger sister is everything that I’m not. It’s as if after the stork delivered me, my parents made a list of all the revisions they wanted and put in a request for her. She’s only about a year younger than me, but you might not know that based on how our parents treat us.

She’s confident and outgoing. I stutter every time I get nervous. She gets good grades. I’m already a reading level behind her. She’s feminine and graceful. I’m lanky and awkward. She was potty-trained before her second birthday. I’ve almost never gone a day in my life where I haven’t wet or messed myself.

I couldn’t fix all of those things, but as I pulled on a pair of plain, pink, cotton panties, I felt as if I could at last bring some sort of equilibrium to our relationship.

Today is Thanksgiving, and a bunch of relatives from out-of-town will be arriving at our house less than an hour from now. It has been a couple years since I’ve last seen my cousins, and the experience is one that still centers in my nightmares. That was the summer before I’d started kindergarten. While even at that age I was aware of the differences between myself and my sister, I hadn’t fully grasped how unusual it was for a girl who had just turned five to rarely be able to make it to the toilet in time. Needless to say, my cousins, who are all my age or older, tormented me relentlessly, aided and abetted by my sister.

That was the beginning of my education that I was different. And different isn’t good. Different is weird, embarrassing, awkward, and humiliating. Different makes you stand out. Different paints a bright red target on your back for the kids who are normal. Different lets them know who they can get away with picking on and who they can’t.

So that is why I was terrified of having to wear pull-ups around my cousins again. For months, I had begged, and begged, and begged my parents to let me go back to panties on Thanksgiving. Their response was always the same. I couldn’t start using panties until I showed that I could go to the potty consistently without having any accidents. I tried so hard. I really did. But the best I could get in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving where two separate days where I had been able to keep my pull-ups clean the whole day long.

To my good luck, one of those dry days had been yesterday. When mommy came to check on my diaper this morning it was wet, but that wasn’t a surprise. I begged her incessantly to let me wear panties since I had gone without having an accident the whole previous day. She relented and had grabbed some unused panties from a package up on the top shelf of my closet.

I’d put the panties on a few minutes ago. It had been almost a year since I had last been allowed to wear them. They were the feeling of freedom. There wasn’t any padding resting on my bottom. I could walk without any fear that it would look like I was waddling. And, best of all, no one could accuse me of being a baby.

My younger sister, Elaine, knew better than to tease me directly in front my parents, but when they were out of sight, anything was fair game for her. We didn’t share the same bedroom, but that didn’t stop her from barging in while I was getting dressed, or, even worse, getting changed by mommy or daddy.

“Good morning baby,” she said, peeking her head through the door.

“I’m not a baby!” I shouted back, raising my voice partly to convince her and partly to convince myself.

Elaine didn’t look particularly convinced. To prove it to her, I pulled down my leggings enough to show the panties I had on.

“See! I’m not wearing pull-ups.”


My cousins arrived thirty minutes later.

I wasted no time in making it abundantly clear that I was a big girl now. I didn’t care that it wasn’t appropriate for me to be flashing my cousins with my panties. It was the only argument I had to prevent them from calling me a baby. So, I made sure all my cousins saw that I had panties on at least once, if not twice or more.

That afternoon progressed normally at first. I went to the bathroom three times without needing any reminders from mommy, not that she and daddy hadn’t stopped reminding me, but each time they told me I was already on my way to the bathroom.

The adults had sent us to the other room to play, something to do with us being too rowdy and loud while they tried to watch the football game on TV. We sat on the floor in a large circle, playing a game of Uno. I only had three cards left in my hand, include a “+4”. I was waiting eagerly for my next turn. My sister was seated to my left, and a cousin had just played a reverse card, changing the direction to clockwise. I had a hard time keeping my hands still as the play moved around the circle. Elaine only had one card left. This was going to be so, so much fun. It was just about to be my turn.

My mind registered the feeling of warmth and wetness in my panties a brief moment before it came to the realization that the fact that I was peeing myself was the cause of that sensation. I froze in shock. How did this happen? I had been so careful?

Elaine was the first to notice. And she was so giddy about it. Her eyes lit up and a cruel smile stretched across her face.

“Annabelle peed herself. Annabelle peed herself.”

My sister’s sing-song chanting got the attention of the rest of my cousins, who joined in.

“Annabelle peed herself. Annabelle peed herself. Annabelle peed herself.”

I raced to my bedroom as they followed and shut the door behind me. I was surprised by the accident, but did I have any reason to be? It didn’t make sense. At some point in every kid’s life, they wet themselves for the last time, and every time after that they make it to the toilet without any issue. And yet, for me, that last accident never came. I’ve never been able to seize the momentum of a dry day escape into the land of toilets and big girl underwear.

I heard the door open.

“Annabelle Mary Lee, what are you doing hiding in here?” Mommy asked.

I didn’t need to say anything. I’m sure Elaine or one of my cousins must have tattled on me. And even then, the massive wet spot on my leggings told mommy everything she needed to know.

“You stupid bitch. Why the hell did I let you wear panties?”

I didn’t respond. I looked down at mommy’s feet rather than up at my face. I cringed as she walked toward me, turning my face to the side in anticipation. But mommy grabbed my wrist instead and half-dragged me out of the bedroom, down the hallway, and into the living room.

All my aunts, uncles and cousins were lounging on the couch, watching some pop-star performing during the half-time show of the football game. They didn’t notice me at first when mommy pulled me into the room, her hand still gripped firmly around my arm. But once they did, the whispers started.

“Look at her pants.”

“Did she really pee herself?”

“I told you she wasn’t actually potty-trained.”

Mommy practically dragged me to the center of the room, right in front of the TV.

“Listen up everybody. Listen up. Annabelle has something she needs to say,” mommy said, turning to look down at me.

“Annabelle, why don’t you tell everyone how old you are?”

My mumbled response was incomprehensible, but the laughter that followed from my relatives was crystal clear.

“Stop muttering. Speak up. We didn’t hear you.”

“Eight.”

“You want to tell everyone what you just did in your pants?”

I emphatically shook my head sideways. The tears were already beginning to flow.

“I’ll do it for you then. Annabelle’s pants are wet because she just peed in them, because even though she is eight years old she’d rather do that than go to the bathroom like a big girl.”

Tears rolled down my face, going across my cheeks before following down to the floor.

Then the laughter came. Laughter, laughter, and more laughter. From every corner of the room they were all laughing at me.

“Mommy… please…”

“Please what? You were the one who said you were a big girl this morning. You told me you could keep your panties dry.”

Everyone kept laughing, except for an aunt and uncle, ones I hadn’t ever met before, who had hadn’t brought along any kids of their own. They stood by themselves in the far corner, scowls on their faces.

Another trickle of pee leaked out involuntarily, splattering on the floor and drawing gasps from my audience. Daddy gave mommy a look, and then whispered in her ear.

“So disgusting,” daddy said, as he grabbed me from underneath both my arms and hauled me away to my bedroom.

The spanking began without the usual lecture. At least daddy had been in such a rush to get it started that he hadn’t bothered with grabbing a paddle and was instead using his bare hands. Not that it still wasn’t painful. I thought that by now I should have used up all my tears, but I must have found another reservoir of them, because the tears kept flowing without any pause until the spanking concluded.

After the spanking, daddy laid me down on the bed. Back to pull-ups for me. I tried to be not too upset about it. That was the status-quo after all. Panties were just the exception.

But he wasn’t holding a pull-up in his hand; he had a diaper instead. The type with the Sesame Street characters I use at night or in the car when we went on long road-trips. I squirmed away and jumped off the bed, but daddy grabbed me and placed me back on the bed. He held both my legs in one hand so I couldn’t move.

“You have three seconds to stop or your bottom is getting another spanking. With the paddle this time.”

He won. I knew that threat wasn’t a bluff. Though the tears had stopped, I still sniffled as daddy taped the diaper on me with a well-practiced efficiency. It was bad enough to have to wear a pull-up around my cousins, but a diaper. I could already hear their taunts ringing in my ears.

Once I was off of the bed, I started to walk to the dresser to grab a pair of jeans, something that would hopefully hide that I was wearing a diaper.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m getting dressed.”

“Dressed? You already are dressed.”

The implications of that statement were immediately clear.

“Daddy. No. Please. Everyone will see it.”

“You should have thought about that before you decided to pee your pants. Now, come on. No more hiding in your bedroom.”

I froze as we got to the end of the hallway. I could hear my cousins just around the corner. They were talking about me. Then I felt daddy’s hand on my lower back. With a strong shove he pushed me forward out of the hallway and into the room.

My cousins didn’t say anything for the first few seconds. This was too easy. Predators don’t expect their prey to just come and lay down in front of them. The situation was just so bizarre, that even with the intent to bully me, they weren’t sure how to do it. The first comment, coming from my oldest cousin, was the most biting.

“Aww. Those are the same diapers my baby sister wears.”

I thought I had run out of tears earlier. I was wrong.

I sat in the corner and began to cry. My unresponsiveness put an end to the game, at least for the moment. They got bored, as kids tend to do rather quickly, and ran outside to play. Even after they left, I remained in corner. Eyes closed, arms hugged around my legs, which were squeezed together in an unsuccessful attempt to obscure the diaper.

Stupid. I’m so stupid. I should have just worn the pull-ups. Mommy wouldn’t have been happy with my accident, but she wouldn’t have punished me like that. And a daddy wouldn’t have put me back in diapers. It’s all my fault.

As I was crying in the corner, the aunt and uncle that I hadn’t met before took a seat to either side of me.

“Well,” my aunt said. “What has you feeling so down?”

I spread my legs far enough apart to make the diaper fully visible. My aunt frowned but didn’t make any comment. Instead, she removed her jacket and set it across my lap so the diaper was fully concealed.

“Who are you?” I asked. I didn’t know a lot about my extended family, especially ones who visit so rarely.

“I’m your dad’s sister,” she said.

“But, why haven’t I seen you before?”

“We… let’s just say your father and I have… some difference.”

Differences? That didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

“This might cheer you up,” my uncle said.

He reached into his jacket and pulled out a Gameboy.

I remembered what my parents always said about videogames. Evil. A gateway drug to violence. No different than devil worship. But now I didn’t know what to think. Here was an adult handing me a videogame like it was something that was completely normal to do. And from adults who weren’t making fun of me for wearing a diaper.

He showed me how to use the directional pad to move the little character from left to right on the screen and how to use the other buttons to jump or run faster. I wasn’t very good at it. In fact, I lost several lives right away before I began to get enough of a sense of the timing to where I could progress further along the level. My mind was so absorbed in the game that I didn’t notice the urges coming from my bladder until it was too late and my diaper had gone from dry to wet.

“Are you having fun?” my uncle asked.

I nodded. I hadn’t even known that there was anything in the world like this.

“You know,” he said. “How would you feel about the idea of coming to stay with us for a while, instead?”

Live somewhere other than with mommy and daddy? I didn’t know what to make of that idea, but my uncle didn’t get time to expound on the thought as daddy approached us and snatched the Gameboy out of my hands. Daddy threw it against the floor.

“I will not have you corrupting my child. Not in my house.”

My uncle looked at his brother-in-law with his mouth gaping open.

“Those aren’t exactly cheap,” my uncle said.

“That’s your problem. You shouldn’t have brought it.”

“Children have always needed to play. This is just a new way of doing it. We weren’t harming Annabelle”

“I. I am the one who decides what happens in my house. Not you.”

Daddy turned to look at me.

“Go to you room. Now!”

I ran off to my bedroom. That wasn’t an order I dared to disobey. But even in my bedroom, I could hear bits and pieces of the heated conversation daddy was having with his brother-in-law. They had moved closer to the front door, and I crept that way to listen in on them, taking care that daddy wouldn’t be able to see me.

“You saw what happened earlier. She keeps pissing herself,” daddy said.

“I did see what happened earlier,” my uncle replied. “I saw a bunch of so-called adults bullying a young girl because of something she isn’t able to control.”

“She’s eight. Eight-year-olds should know how to use the toilet properly.”

“Exactly, and if she can’t, she needs to see a doctor.”

“What she needs to do is stop pissing herself on purpose. I’m not paying to take her to some quack who would have her drugged up with who knows what.”

“On purpose? Are you crazy? What kid would want to do that?”

“What the fuck do you know about children? You don’t even have any kids.”

“You’re really asking what the fuck I know about kids? We’ve taken care of dozens of foster kids. And you know what, they all come from homes like this. With parents who aren’t willing to put in the work to take care of them right.”

“But you don’t have any kids of your own. I wonder why that is. Why should I listen to some faggot who can’t even get his woman knocked up properly?”

“James, don’t,” my aunt said to her husband, interrupting the conversation.

“I’m done. This is the last time either of you will set foot in here. I’ve got a 12-gauge, and I damn well know how to use it. Now get the fuck out of my house.”

The door slammed shut. I was alone again.

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Chapter 3: A New Beginning

Present time…

Telling my entire story to my therapist, Miss Amanda, took five sessions. But I told it to her. Every last detail, no matter how awful or painful it was to dredge back up. I hadn’t expected the process to take as long as it did, but every incident I told her about brought up another two that I had long suppressed in the back of my mind. Miss Amanda hadn’t talked much and had instead let me tell my stories with minimal interruption. Cathartic wasn’t the right word to describe how I was feeling, but there was a relief to being able to verbalize every fucked-up thing that had happened to me and move past it.

The three-hour sessions had taken place once a day, and a couple of days had passed since the last one without any update from her. The attorney that they had assigned to me had said it could take a few days for any decision to be made, but that it was almost certain that Amanda’s report would get the judge to agree for me to be released from the hospital.

The attorney had remained coy about what exactly that meant. I assumed it would be foster care, or maybe some sort of group home. My parents had fallen out with basically all of their relatives over the years, for one reason or another, so I didn’t think they would have any desire to take me in. Especially since they are all more than aware of my incontinence.

I had spent most of the day laying in the hospital bed and watching TV. There just wasn’t much for me to do now that I had finished with the therapy sessions as well as the education assessments they had assigned to me.

It had been years since I had last made a concerted effort to get toilet trained. I had completely given up on the idea and had resigned myself to the fact that I’d need diapers the rest of my life. But now that my recover was basically complete, the doctors had said that they thought there might be some ways to treat my incontinence.

I remained skeptical about the idea of Kegel exercises they were having me do. If it was this easy to finally get control of my bladder, why had no one ever told me to do them before? They also had me on a couple medications. The names were hard to pronounce, but one of them was apparently supposed to make my eliminations smell less.

My incontinence problems only extend to my bladder, not that I hadn’t had well more than my fair share of messy diapers. But those were almost always a result of circumstances beyond my control, like not being able to – or not being allowed to – get to a toilet in time.

I’d switched to wearing pull-ups the last couple of days with some success. I had at least managed to make it to the toilet on a couple of occasions. The nurse said it was a sign of the medications and exercises working, but to me, it felt like being in an environment where I had the freedom to go to the toilet whenever I needed to and wasn’t judged or shamed for having any accidents made a huge difference.

“Annabelle, you’ve got visitors,” the nurse said after peeking into my room.

The only visitors I had received were either my attorney or my therapist. This time around it was both of them at once.

“Good news Annabelle,” the attorney said. “The judge gave you the all clear this morning. We’re going to get you checked out of the hospital.”

“But where I am going to go when I leave?”

“You have an aunt and uncle on your mom’s side that you’re going to go and live with. They said you might recall meeting them once before,” the attorney said. “Normally, we wouldn’t release someone to family that you have barely been around, but, since they have extensive experience with foster children, we felt this would be appropriate.”

Uncle James and Aunt Lydia. I did remember them. They had been the lone bright spot on what had otherwise been one of the worst days of my life.

“I’m going to leave with them today?”

“Annabelle, you do get to have a say in things now. If you told me that you were absolutely opposed to going with them, we would try and work something else out.”

“They… they really do want to have me come live with them?”

“They really do. They’re at the first floor waiting room right now.”

I’d had many difficult choices to make recently. This wasn’t one of them.

“Yes, I want to go with them.”

“Are you fine if I go and get them now?” the attorney said.

I nodded, and he turned and left the room.

I suddenly remembered the last thing they had said to me on the one day we had met. They’d asked if I wanted to come live with them for a while. The question had left me perplexed for a long time. Who wants to take care of a kid who can’t be toilet trained? Maybe want is too strong of a term to use, but it seemed like they were at least willing to tolerate my incontinence.

I fidgeted in the bed as the seconds ticked by. Hope. That’s what I’m feeling right now. That’s what I’m trying so hard not to feel right now. It’s a feeling that’s let me down almost every time I’ve experienced it, until I let myself become jaded so as to avoid any crushing disappointment. I knew, intellectually, that my aunt and uncle were here. Attorney’s aren’t supposed to lie, or at least, not to their clients. Same goes for therapists and nurses. But emotionally, I wasn’t prepared – I didn’t know how to prepare – for a moment where my hopes actually, really, came true.

But that moment came. The attorney returned to the room a few minutes later, with my aunt and uncle closely trailing behind him. I didn’t say a single word. I just leaped up from the bed, sprinted across the hospital room and flung myself into my aunt’s arms so strongly that she nearly fell backwards.

“Everything is going to be OK now,” my aunt said.

“Annabelle,” the nurse said, trying to get my attention. “It’s going to be a several hour car ride to where your aunt and uncle live, so why don’t you gather your things and get ready for the trip. I have a couple of things to go over with them.”

I nodded. By telling me to get ready I knew she was referencing that I needed to check if my pull-up needed to be changed, and I was grateful she didn’t explicitly say that out loud.

I pulled the privacy curtain around my bed so I could get changed while the nurse went over some things with my aunt and uncle. I didn’t really want to go back to wearing diapers during the day, but given that they said the car ride would be several hours long, the last thing I wanted was to have a leak in their car. That would be a marvelous first impression.

The nurse was going over some details of my treatment with my aunt and uncle. I didn’t catch much of what she said, but my ears perked up when she brought up my incontinence issues. I suppose that couldn’t be avoided, but I was glad I had the curtain between me and them at the moment.

When I pulled back the curtain, the nurse was handing my uncle a large, cardboard box. I wondered for a second what was in the box, and then realized that it must be extra diapers, pull-ups, and wipes for me. My aunt and uncle hadn’t made a big deal about the diaper last time, but it still wasn’t a conversation I was looking forward to having with them.

“There’s just a few more things we need to go over quick before you leave,” the attorney said to me.

The attorney gave me a brief rundown of the expectations they had for me. My aunt and uncle were now my legal guardians, so I had to obey like they were my parents. I would need to avoid getting into any further trouble. And, I would need to start going to a regular school. Since spring is nearly over and it doesn’t make sense having me get started this late in the year, I’d need to wait until fall, when I would be starting high school. Until then, I’d have several private tutors who would be working with me to make sure I was ready academically.

To be honest. I hadn’t thought much about school. Kindergarten had been a first-rate disaster. I had only been able to hide my lack of appropriate toileting skills for three days before a leaky pull-up – my teacher hadn’t been taking me to the nurse to get changed as much as she should have – gave the game away.

But it wasn’t the bullying from my peers or the fact that I was barely learning anything that got mom to pull me from school the next year and begin to homeschool me and my sister. Mom had thrown a massive fit at a reference to evolution in a worksheet I had been sent home with, something that got the blood boiling for my creationist, flat-earther mother. But the school district wasn’t going to budge on teaching science, so she decided that she was going to do the schooling for us all by herself.

“You have everything you need?” my uncle asked.

I nodded, and followed him out the door, feeling truly hopeful for the first time in my life.


About fifteen minutes into the car ride, I finally worked up the courage to ask the question I had been holding in ever since we had gotten in the car. We hadn’t spoken since we’d left the hospital. I really didn’t know what to say, and they had respected my silence. My uncle was driving, but my aunt had taken a seat in the back with me, rather than riding in the passenger seat.

“Did you bring a Gameboy?” I asked.

“No, but I’ve got something much better,” she replied, reaching into her backpack and pulling out a Nintendo Switch.

I hadn’t even dared to suspect that I might be given one of these to play with. I held the device gingerly in my hands, so scared that I might break or drop it. Time flew by so quick on the car trip. I remained engrossed in the game system the entire time. My aunt just watched me play without saying anything, while my uncle surfed between talk radio stations as several ones went in and out of range.

We had been in the car for several hours. I hadn’t kept track of exactly how long, but it was now dark outside. But now I needed to go. Really badly. Had I just needed to pee, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. I’d switched to a diaper for the road trip for a reason, and it was already wet. But I need to poop, and I wasn’t sure how much longer I would be able to hold it in. After waiting for about ten minutes, I finally told my aunt and uncle about my need to go to the bathroom.

“I’m sorry, but there isn’t anywhere to stop before we get home,” my uncle said. “We’ll be there in five minutes.”

I should have said something sooner. We’d passed a gas station five minutes ago, but I had been too embarrassed – and not desperate enough – to say something at that point. I fought to resist the urge to squirm. With Aunt Lydia seated next to me, it was embarrassing to reveal just how badly I needed to go. But that didn’t do me any good. My bowels gave in, and I felt the back of my diaper fill up.

Putting on a diaper instead of a pull-up had been a wise decision. Pull-us aren’t really meant for doing number two, and the diaper would do a better job of holding in the smell. I took a cautious sniff. I couldn’t smell anything, which was a good sign, but as we drove down the bumpy road, I could feel it smearing all over my bottom.

“We’ll be at the house in a few seconds,” my aunt said. “The bathroom is the first door on the hallway to the left.”

I appreciated how she was trying to help me, but the embarrassment from the messy diaper grew as we pulled into the driveway. I didn’t step out of the car when my uncle opened the door for me.

“Don’t you need to go to the bathroom?” my aunt asked.

I buried my head in my hands.

“Oh,” my aunt said softly, in a tone that suggested that she now realized what had just taken place.

“Let’s get you inside so you can get cleaned up.”

Aunt Lydia gave me a hug once we were out of the car. Both her arms wrapped around me until I was in a firm embrace with one of her hands rubbing my back.

“I can help get you cleaned up if you’d like that,” she said.

Help clean me up? My heart sped up at that though. Mom’s idea of help had been… no, I don’t want to think about that right now.

The issue wasn’t so much the embarrassment of it. In fact, I had to admit that it would be so much easier and quicker to have someone do that for me. Not being able to see your bottom when you are trying to get yourself wiped clean is the hardest part, after all.

I hesitated because I felt bad for her. I didn’t want to put my aunt through this. But, Aunt Lydia wouldn’t have offered if she wasn’t willing to, right?

“I think… I think I can do it myself.”

“I know you can, but if it would be easier for me to help, it really isn’t a problem for me.”

I was OK with turning down her first offer to change my diaper, but for her to make the offer again meant that she actually was comfortable doing that after all.

“I’d like that,” I replied.

I grabbed my backpack and followed her into the house while my uncle grabbed the remainder of our things. The bedroom she led me to was so much bigger than what I’d had before. The bed itself was twice as large. There were several dressers, a walk-in closet, a bathroom, and a desk with a computer on it.

My aunt laid out a towel on the bed as a makeshift changing pad. I eased myself gently onto the bed, trying not to make the mess in my diaper any more difficult to clean up.

I held my breath as my aunt un-taped the diaper. Not because of the smell – that, I was used to, though the hospital had me on some pills that were reducing it – but because I wasn’t sure of what my aunt’s reaction was going to be. I’m sure she has changed diapers before, with as many foster kids as they’d had, there must have been some younger ones that weren’t toilet trained yet, but an adult diaper, especially a messy one, is something entirely else.

Not a word about how bad it must smell, or how messy it was. She didn’t make a snarky comments about how I shouldn’t have messed myself, or about how good it must feel to get all cleaned up. She didn’t rush through it haphazardly, like it was a task she wanted to be over with as soon as possible.

No one had every treated me this kindly before. Tears began running sideways across my cheeks. Aunt Lydia, paused, grabbed a clean baby wipe, and used it to wipe off the tears on my face.

“You don’t need to cry,” she said. “Everything is going to be OK now that you’re finally here with us.”

That was re-assuring, but what did my aunt my when she said “finally?” Then I remembered a comment my uncle had made six years ago the only time I had met them. He had mentioned the idea of having me come live with them. Had they tried to make that happen?

“Do you need another diaper, or would your prefer a pull-up?” she asked, once my bottom had been wiped clean.

“A diaper, those work better at night. I put some in the big section of the backpack.”

She put the diaper on as skillfully as she had cleaned me up. Even though I hadn’t said anything about baby power, she had taken some from the bag and used it on me as well. Aunt Lydia grabbed my hands and pulled me up off of the bed and onto my feet.

“Thank-you,” I whispered.

She led me to one of the dresses and opened the top drawer, which revealed an array of pull-ups in different sizes and colors.

“It’s not uncommon for kids who’ve had childhoods like yours to need some protection for accidents, especially at night. So it’s something we’re well prepared for. I don’t know if these pull-ups will work well for you, so if you need us to order something different for you, just let me know.”

I didn’t know what to say. I still couldn’t wrap my head around this idea that someone could handle my accidents, pull-ups, and diapers as if it were no big deal.

“I’ll give them a try tomorrow.”

I took a breath and asked the question that she had triggered in my mind.

“Before…. you had asked if I wanted to come live with you, did you and uncle James try to do that?

“We did try to get you to come live with us earlier, but…” she paused. “It didn’t work.”

I realized now that I knew exactly what she was referring to.

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Oh I do hope this continues it’s a very good story I’ve enjoyed to few chapters so far

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Chapter 4: No One to the Rescue

Six years earlier…

Mommy and daddy were furious when my aunt and uncle left. I made sure to scurry back to my bedroom so they wouldn’t discover that I had been eavesdropping on the conversation, but that wasn’t sufficient to prevent them from taking out their ire on me.

Spankings were a common occurrence, but if they decided to discipline me twice in one day, the second punishment that was administered would be something different. The only saving grace was that daddy left the diaper on while he gave the spanking. Though on the other hand, as I got left in the diaper for the rest of the evening without getting changed, it might have actually been better to just have gotten the bare bottom spanking if that meant going back to wearing pull-ups.

After spending the remainder of Thanksgiving Day in diapers, I was back to wearing pull-ups again. I may as well have been wearing diapers as I only managed to get the toilet on a couple of occasions. If my best efforts at toilet training weren’t going to be successfully, then what was the point of even trying? I’d even messed my pull-ups twice over the weekend, on purpose, something that I’d have never dared do before, but the vindictiveness of making mommy have to clean up a poopy diaper cheered me up a little.

Mommy had woken Elaine up early on the morning after Thanksgiving for Black Friday shopping. They left me at home. By the time I had gotten out of bed, in a wet diaper of course, they had returned with their prized purchases. They had bought Elaine a pink, electric car that she was driving around the yard at five mph. The reply I got from my younger sister when I asked if I could have a turn was that babies aren’t allowed to drive cars.

Mommy hadn’t completely forgotten about me while I was out shopping, but given what she had chosen to purchase, I wish she had forgotten all about me. Mommy had bought a portable potty-training toilet, purple and pink, with cartoon characters from a pre-school level children’s show. I didn’t know what was more embarrassing, that mommy had bought a potty-chair for me, or that I was scrawny enough to still fit in it. Anytime I went to a different room in the house, I was supposed to bring it with me so that I could relieve myself quickly enough to avoid any accidents, but that created a situation where wetting my pull-ups was the least embarrassing option between that and using a toilet in front of someone.

Elaine and I did our homeschooling lessons together. Since I had repeated kindergarten back when I had been in a public school, she had caught up to me and we’re now both in fourth grade. After getting up on Monday morning, eating breakfast, and doing our chores, our school day begin with our reading lessons. Elaine and I alternated reading each paragraph out loud. We were reading “Black Beauty,” and I winced internally as we read through a scene where the horse’s owners were thoughtlessly hurting it.

During my turn to read, I stuttered through the word “contemptuously,” butchering it into an incomprehensible jumble. Elaine giggled. I responded by shoving my younger sister in the shoulder. Mom grabbed my arm and then smacked me across the face with the palm of her hand.

“Annabelle, stop fighting with your sister. You know better.”

I barely had time to register the pain on my face when mom began prompting me to say the word correctly.

“Kuhn-temp-choo-uhs-lee,” mommy said slowly, as she emphasized the phonetics of the word. “Say it ten times, but slowly.”

My cheeks burned for multiple reasons as I repeated the word. I kept my eyes focused on the book laying in my lap. After several tries, I was finally able to say the word correctly without any stuttering or pauses. I knew how to say it now, but I didn’t have a clue as to what it meant, and I didn’t ask for fear of a further lecture from mommy.

“Honey, come here!” daddy yelled from the kitchen. He was leaning into the hallway, with his hand covering the receiver on the phone.

“One minute, the girls are wrapping up their reading lesson.”

“Now. This can’t wait.”

Mommy furrowed her brows at the urgency in daddy’s voice, stood up stiffly from her chair, and marched over to the kitchen. I held my breath. This sudden escalation in emotion left me unnerved. Life is better when my parents are in a good mood.

“This had better be important,” mommy said.

She clasped her hand over her mouth as daddy whispered something into her ear.

“They did what?” mommy said incredulously. “I mean, I know James doesn’t get along all that well with us, but for Lydia to try and report us for that.”

“I know, right?” daddy said. “No one gets to tell us how to manage our family.”

Mommy leaned back into the living room. I couldn’t help but notice how wide her eyes had gotten.

“Elaine, Annabelle, put your books away and go work on your math sheets. I need to talk to your father.”

My sister and I shared a desk with seats on either side so that we faced each other as we did our schoolwork. We stayed at our desks as mommy and daddy retreated downstairs to talk privately. Elaine had already made it half-way through the math book for the schoolyear while I was only a quarter of the way into it. If we finished our curriculum ahead of schedule in the spring, we could begin our summer break early. I’d never managed to do that yet, and at the pace I was going this year, it would be unlikely that I would be able to pull it off.

I stared blankly at the array of figures and symbols on the page. Long division has me stumped. Instead I doodled on a piece of scrap paper with my pencil. I didn’t really even like drawing. I’m not that good at it, but it was something to keep my mind occupied until mommy returned.

I fidgeted in the wood-backed seat as my bladder began to announce that it was approaching the point of overflowing. I had set the portable toilet in the corner of the room, behind the couch and out of the line of sight from where our desk was situated. If I went to use the toilet, Elaine wouldn’t see me, but the pitter-patter of urine splattering in the plastic basin of the potty chair would create a visual impression as strong as if she was standing right next to me and watching me urinate.

If I wet my pull-up, Elaine wouldn’t have a clue, not until I have to ask mom to change me once she is done talking with daddy. Be embarrassed now or be embarrassed later? I chose to push the embarrassment off as long as I could, letting my bladder empty into the pull-up.

Pounding footsteps from the stairwell told me that both mommy and daddy were now coming upstairs, and the rapid pace suggested that they were in a rush.

“Elaine, come to our room, now,” daddy said sternly.

Wait. What? My sister is in trouble? Not me? They never use that tone with her. Elaine’s eyes went wide as she looked up at me from her math worksheet. I suppressed a grin. This was magnificent.

“Someone’s in trouble,” I whispered at Elaine as she hesitantly eased herself out of her seat.

The fact that she chose not to respond suggested that she was as apprehensive about the situation as I was. Elaine walked down the hallway and followed mommy and daddy around the corner. The bedroom door slammed shut. And then there was silence.

Right then and there I regretted that I had allowed myself to wet the pull-up. Had I just waited a minute or two longer, which I probably could have, I would have had the toilet all to myself. As the minutes ticked by, the wet pull-up became the least of my fears. I shifted back and forth in my seat, not because of the discomfort of the pull-up, I was well used to that sensation, but in anticipation of what was happening with Elaine. She never got into any trouble with our parents. And if she was in trouble, was I in trouble as well?

After a dozen-or-so anxious minutes, Elaine sauntered back into the room without a hint of worry on her face.

“Your turn,” she said.

“My turn for what?”

“Annabelle, hurry up,” mommy called from around the corner.

I got up from my seat at the desk. This didn’t make any sense. Mommy and daddy had seemed upset, but they had called Elaine to their room, not me, but my sister was too happy at the moment to have just received any punishment from our parents. I walked quickly to their bedroom.

“Annabelle, close the door behind you,” mommy said.

The door shut with a click. Mommy and daddy were both seated on the bed, with some space set aside between them.

“Have a seat,” mommy said, tapping her hand on the spot on the bed between herself and daddy.

“A lady from the government is going to come and talk to you,” mommy said.

I shrugged, not giving any reaction to the statement. Why would someone from the government want to talk with me?

“Do you know what an institution is?” she asked.

I shook my head.

“It’s where they put retarded kids to stay for the rest of their lives. It’s like jail for stupid girls who can’t potty-trained.”

I felt a chill spread begin in my chest and spread to my arms and legs until I could feel a tingle in my fingertips and toes, the growing fear accentuated by the current condition of my pull-up.

Daddy lowered his voice to a stern whisper, grabbed my chin firmly with his hand, and pulled my eyes up to meet his.

“The woman is going to ask you a lot of questions,” he said. “If you don’t tell her how happy you and show her that you are potty-trained, she’s going to take you away and lock you up and you’ll never ever get out again.”

I nodded mutely.

“Now, you’re going to need to be wearing panties today when the lady comes later today, and you better dare not have an accident while she is here.”

I wasn’t sure how I was going to avoid that, given how the past few days – and for that matter, my entire life – have gone.

“You’re going to wear panties for the rest of the day,” mommy continued. “But you’re going to be sitting on the potty every fifteen minutes and you’re not getting anything to drink until she leaves. Is that clear?”

I nodded again. Just being told I wasn’t going to be allowed anything to drink was beginning to make my mouth feel dry. I followed mommy back to my bedroom so that I could change into panties.

“Of course,” mommy muttered when she noticed the state of my pull-ups.

She made me lay on the bed as she removed the wet pull-up and wiped me clean. Instead of letting me put on the panties myself, mommy pulled them on like she would do while dressing me in a pull-up. Mommy carried off the potty-chair into the garage. I was confused at first, since if I was going to be spending most of the day on the toilet, wouldn’t they want me to be using that. Then I realized that they wouldn’t want the government lady to see that I still needed a potty-training chair.

The rest of the day passed slowly. Mommy made good on her threat to have me seated on the toilet every fifteen minutes, and it actually felt as if she were making the toileting trips happen even more frequently than that. And she was also true to her word about me not getting anything to drink, which was made worse by the fact that she allowed Elaine to have a soda during lunch.

I jerked upright in my chair as the long-awaited ring from the doorbell finally came late into the afternoon. Elaine and I remained in the living room at our school desks. Though I could hear mommy and daddy talking with at least two people near the front door, but I couldn’t make out what they are saying.

“Elaine, Annabelle, come over here,” daddy called out calmly.

I recognized the first of the two visitors instantly, as his uniform and the handcuffs and handgun on his belt gave him away as a policeman. I didn’t know what the woman who was standing next to him was supposed to be. A badge was stitched onto the woman’s otherwise nondescript jacket, with the letters “CPS” emblazoned on it.

“And you are homeschooling both your daughters?” the woman asked.

“Yes,” mommy said. “And we’re fully registered with the state to do so.”

“What grade are they in?”

“They are both in fourth grade”

“But I thought they weren’t the same age.”

“Well, our oldest, Annabelle, had to repeat kindergarten as public school wasn’t right for her. That’s a large reason for why we chose to homeschool them. And it works better anyways with them both learning the same subjects together.”

“They still take the assessment tests every year and pass them better than most public-school students,” daddy added.

Elaine did get good grades, mine, well, they weren’t as good and were usually another source of spankings.

“Well, I’m going to need to speak to each of them separately,” the lady said.

“But…,” daddy began to say.

“It doesn’t work that way,” the police officer said, resting his hand on his belt.

“Can I talk to Annabelle in her bedroom?” the lady asked.

“Of course, it’s just down that hallway,” mommy said, pointing with her finger.

“Why don’t you lead the way, Annabelle,” the lady said.

Once we were in my bedroom, I took a seat on my bed and the lady joined me. If she noticed the crinkle from the plastic mattress protector, she didn’t say a word about it.

“What happened to your cheek?”

I repeated verbatim the answer that mommy had made me rehearse.

“I was wrestling with my sister on her bed. We got too close to the edge and I fell off and hit my face on the floor.”

“I see,” the lady said, in a tone that suggested she was going to ask my sister to check if our stories matched.

She went through a series of rather boring questions. Asking about what I was learning in school. What I liked to do for fun, and so forth. I answered all the questions honestly, though I didn’t understand why she was asking them. It all seemed so unimportant.

“How often are you able to get to the toilet?” the lady asked casually, in the same tone she had used to question me about what my favorite types of food were.

The suddenness of the question left me at a momentary loss for words. I couldn’t tell her that I had at minimum, one accident a day, often two or three, and sometimes more. What would she think of me? I didn’t want to get locked up in an institution.

“I’m eight,” I said, fighting to keep my voice from reaching a higher pitch. “I get to the toilet all the time.”

“And you don’t ever need to wear pull-ups or diapers?”

“What, no,” I replied, trying to sound firm. “I’m wearing panties,” I added, crossing my arms over my chest.

“I see,” the lady said.

I thought she was going to ask me to show her proof that I was wearing panties, but the lady proceeded to a question that left me unsure of how to answer.

“But what about Thanksgiving, did you have a bladder accident then?”

There was a look in her eye as if she already knew the answer to the question. But how could she have known? And why ask if she already did?

Mommy and daddy had told me to lie about all my accidents, and I wanted to obey them so I wouldn’t get sent to an institution, but I had another feeling that this was a lie I wouldn’t be able to get away with.

“Yes… I had an accident. But I had just gotten distracted with all my cousins over for Thanksgiving.”

“And what happened after the accident? Did your cousins tease you? Were you punished for it?”

I took a brief pause again. I couldn’t give the wrong answer, but if mommy, daddy, and my sister were going to also be saying that I didn’t have potty accidents, my answer needed to match what they would say.

“They did tease me, but mommy just sent me back to my room to get cleaned up.”

“Are you sure that’s what happened? You don’t have to be embarrassed or afraid.”

“That’s really what happened,” I said with a stammer in my voice.

“Well, I think that is all for now,” the lady said, leading me out of the bedroom.

I stood in the front room with the policeman and mommy and daddy as the lady spent about ten minutes talking with my younger sister before returning to the room.

“Is that going to be all,” mommy asked.

“Yes, that will be all, I’m sure our getting called here must have been a misunderstanding.”

“I’m glad we got things cleared up,” daddy said.

“But one more thing, the lady asked, turning back to face my parents. “Why didn’t you tell me that she had wet her pants on Thanksgiving,” the lady asked mommy.

Mommy took a brief glance at me before regaining her composure.

“I hadn’t thought much about it,” mommy replied. “Besides, why would I want to embarrass her by telling someone about it.”

“That’s fair enough,” the lady said. “Sorry for troubling you. We’ll be on our way.”

Mommy and daddy both peered out the window, watching as the car with the lady and the policeman drove off. After about a minute they both turned to face me.

“Annabelle Mary Lee,” daddy said, as he took two big steps forward to grab me. “What did I tell you about not telling the lady about any of your accidents.”

Without waiting for an answer, and I didn’t have a good answer to give anyway, Daddy lifted me off the ground, twisted me around and laid me across his lap as he took a seat on a chair.

“Elaine, go to the kitchen and grab one of the wooden paddles from that drawer next to the sink.”

“Please. No!” I yelled.

I tried to squirm away, but daddy’s hand pressed against my back was more than enough to ensure that I wasn’t going anywhere. He pulled my skirt up with his other hand but didn’t bother with lowering my panties. The only warning I got about the impending spanking was the sound of my sister’s footsteps as she returned from the kitchen with a wood spoon presumably in her hand.

As daddy repeatedly smacked the utensil against my bottom, I strained my ears, hoping to hear the car with the policeman and the lady turn around and pull into the driveway, but no one was coming to the rescue.

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Chapter 5: I’m (Not) a Big Kid Now

Present time…

I remained in the awkward position on the yoga mat for as long as I could manage. I had no idea how these Kegel exercises were supposed to help my bladder, but it’s what the doctor said to do so I’ve been following his instructions down to the letter without any positive results so far.

This current pose had me resting on my shoulders with my arms stretched forward. I had my knees lifted up in the air so that I was holding my body at a forty-five-degree angle. My back ached. I could only manage to hold the post for about twenty seconds at a time, so I had to rest frequently between attempts. I wasn’t even certain that I was doing it correctly.

With my head resting on the mat and facing the ceiling, I couldn’t directly see the TV, but from the opening jingle I could guess that an episode of The Price is Right was just getting ready to begin. I collapsed back onto the mat with a sigh and soft thud. That was enough exercise for this morning. I rotated my head to take a look at the living room TV. Having been living with my aunt and uncle for about three weeks now, they have let me have the house to myself while they are off to work.

I’d watched more TV in the past few days then I had in quite a while. I had mostly stuck with the game shows: Jeopardy, The Price is Right, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. I couldn’t stand the soap dramas, too crazy and emotionally exaggerated.

Diapers, baby formula, car seats, and other infant paraphernalia, that’s what the vast majority of the commercials were for during those shows. I guess it made sense that stay-at-home moms with young children would be a large part of the target audience during day-time TV.

The ads that annoyed me the most were the ones for the pull-ups. You know, the ones with the smiling kid off on her wait to the toilet. And that annoying jingle – “I’m a big kid now” – I could hardly get it out of my head.

I hated the simplicity of it. Just put these pull-ups on and you can be potty-trained in no time. I never quite understood why a company would market a product designed specifically to get a person to stop using their products. Just seems so counterproductive.

It hadn’t taken me long to discover that the pull-ups Aunt Lydia had left in my bedroom were completely insufficient for my needs. They fit me perfectly fine, but after a series of leaks the next day, I’d gone back to wearing the diapers the hospital had sent with me. I hadn’t liked that I had been stuck using them, but it was my only option at the moment. Aunt Lydia, bless her, had searched online and found some adult-sized pull-ups that worked much better. They were plain white, and though I would have preferred something cute, they did what they were needed to do.

My new pull-ups had finally arrived the other day. I felt way prouder of myself as I pulled them on than a teenage girl should feel, but it was a freedom I hadn’t experienced for a couple of years. After I had outgrown the usefulness of store-brand pull-ups, mother had often forced me to wear diapers when my bladder problems were at their worst, which, really was most of the time.

With the house to myself, I hadn’t bothered to put on anything other than a pull-up or a t-shirt. I’d only gotten out of bed half-an-hour ago and had made sure to go to the toilet even though I’d woken up in a soaked diaper, but the pull-up already was slightly wet. I hadn’t noticed, but it must have happened while I was doing the exercises. So much for that helping with my bladder.

As much I wanted to change into a dry pull-up right away, it had only been a small accident and the pull-up nearly had as much of that absorbent padding as my diapers did, so it would be wasteful to toss it in the trash. I decided to forgo putting on any additional clothing for now. Shaving off even a few seconds from the time it took for me to get seated on the toilet could make the difference for whether or not I was able to avoid having an accident.

I don’t know how well the doctors had described my medical issues to my aunt and uncle, but I got the impression that they were both a bit surprised and concerned when several weeks had passed and it had become apparent that I wasn’t just going to become magically toilet-trained overnight.

Aunt Lydia was by far the most understanding of the two. I had always hated it when my parents or my sister had changed my diapers, but Aunt Lydia managed to do it in a way that didn’t make me humiliated, embarrassed, or ashamed of myself. So, while I could change myself without issue, and preferred to do so, I could selfishly admit that I took advantage of her willingness to change me on more than one occasion.

Uncle James never had anything bad to say about diapers. He basically ignored them for the most part. I mean, it wasn’t as if he was going to be changing them. The only time he’d said anything was when he caught me lounging on the couch with just a diaper and a t-shirt on and he told me to cover it up. I’d get the odd look occasionally from him as well if I mentioned that I need to step away to change myself, but he never teased me or said anything derogatory.

This was the third morning my aunt and uncle had left me alone in the house, and I still haven’t gotten over the strangeness of it. I’ve never been left alone before like this, at least, in the physical sense, with the freedom to indulge in whatever I desired to do without someone constantly looking over my shoulder.

For breakfast, I would really have liked something warm, like scrambled eggs, perhaps, but I hadn’t been able to work up the courage to ask Aunt Lydia to show me how to use the stovetop, being too embarrassed to admit that mother had never allowed me to operate that. But the cupboard was stocked with a half-dozen brands of children’s cereal. I poured a bowl of Captain Crunch and topped it off with some skim milk. A good choice and one that I hadn’t had in several years. That cereal had been one of my sister Elaine’s favorites, and she had always picked it out when choosing breakfasts, again, something that mother didn’t let me do.

For most people, it feels like their bladder must be practically yelling at them once it has filled up and needs to release. For me, the messages from my bladder tend to come as the faintest of whispers, noticeable only if paying close attention to all the tiny signals coming from my body.

Having the patience to pay attention was the biggest challenge for me. With the Nintendo Switch I’d been given on the drive here from the hospital, I had a ready source of distraction right on hand. My aunt and uncle had let me play as much as I wanted, until that time when I had been up nearly all night and had been too groggy to do anything the following day. I now had to relinquish the gaming system before going to bed.

The point is that I have a hard time paying attention to anything else when I’m playing videogames. I get so absorbed in the world that I don’t even hear Aunt Lydia when she is calling my name, much less noticing the urine that is soaking into my diaper or pull-up. That wasn’t as much of a problem the first two weeks here, as I had been stuck with the diapers and hadn’t bothered much with trying to use the toilet except when I needed to go number two.

I was really torn. I’m close to beating that Zelda game, and I really want to know how the story ends, but I’ve got to eventually make some progress on getting truly toilet-trained for once. I gave in and picked up the controller, I can deal with toilet training after I’ve finished the game.

Beating the game took longer than I expected. It was already well past noon when I finally defeated Ganon once and for all. And my pull-up was soaked. I didn’t even have to check it to know what had happened. Even though the pull-up was absorbent enough that the wetness had been wicked away from my skin, just the fact that I hadn’t gone to the toilet in several hours told me that I had likely wet the pull-up two or three times. And I hadn’t even once given a second thought to the idea that it might be good to take a break from gaming and try and use the toilet.

The result was disappointing, but not at all surprising. I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after getting changed into a fresh pull-up, determined to not repeat the mistake of ignoring my bladder this afternoon.

I had always thought that the best way to avoid accidents was to drink as little water as possible, but the doctor had told me that being dehydrated actual irritates the bladder and can make it more likely to have accidents. With that advice in mind, I drank a whole glass of lemonade along with my lunch, despite my worries that this much liquid would overwhelm my bladder.

I thought back to the times mother had made me sit on the toilet for hours on end. Sure, it had resulted in the eventual tinkle into the toilet, but usually only after a lengthy wait, and rarely was the result of me actually intending to go. It was just the blind luck of being on the toilet rather than elsewhere in the house at the exact moment my bladder decided to release.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to try and sit on the toilet for ten minutes or so after lunch and give it my best shot. I went back to my bedroom to the attached bathroom that was only for me. The feel of the cold, porcelain surface against the bare skin on my bottom wasn’t something I had ever gotten used to. I squeezed every muscle I could think of, mentally strained as long as I could, fidgeted back and forth. Nothing came out, not so much as a drop splashing down into the toilet bowl.

I returned to my bed and turned on the small TV that was sitting on the dresser on the opposite side of the room. Video games were a no go. This morning confirmed that to be the case beyond any doubt. Television isn’t as distracting, especially if the show isn’t one that I’m interested in, and otherwise there wasn’t much to do to pass the time until my aunt and uncle returned from work later this afternoon. There were several dozen books on a bookshelf off to the side of the room, but reading wasn’t something I had ever done outside of being forced to for school, and it had rarely been a pleasant experience for me.

I flipped over to the right channel again and sat cautiously on the bed. It was simply a waiting game at this point. I had to be able to muster the patience to not get so distracted that I would forget to pay attention to my bladder.

The time passed slowly. I twiddled my thumbs. Counted to five hundred. Twice. I listened as carefully as I could to any signs that might be coming from my bladder. Nothing. No tingle. No sudden urge to pee. Didn’t even feel any warmth or wetness from any accidents. Nearly an hour had passed, as I’d finished an entire episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Still nothing. Then, I reached down and pressed my hand on the bottom of my pull-up near my crotch.

The material was slightly squishy to the touch, and warm as well. How? That couldn’t be. I was paying attention. I should have noticed. I raced out of bed and into the bathroom and slid the pull-up down to my ankles to the unmistakable sight of the small yellow spot where my pee had been absorbed.

The truth was unmistakable. Diapers never lie. I rolled up the wet pull-up into a ball and chucked it angrily in the trash can.

“Why does this have to be so fucking hard!”

I didn’t mean to yell, but I just couldn’t keep it inside either.

I sat down on the floor in the corner of my bedroom without bothering to put on another pull-up, rubbing my hands at eyes that were beginning to tear up. Why did this have to be so difficult? Everything was supposed to be better now. I was free, living with people that cared about me. I had pull-ups again and access to the toilet whenever I needed to go.

I had always blamed my bladder problems on mother, how she had made me wear diapers, limited my toilet access, shamed and belittled me over every accident and mistake. Could it be that it is really my fault after all? With her no longer around to blame, and my bladder issues staying just as bad as before, that left me with a conundrum that I didn’t want to face.

But I couldn’t admit that it is my fault. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to accept that there was something inherently wrong with me, rather than being broken because of something that had been done to me. Being the victim of circumstances beyond your control is easier than accepting that something is your issue alone to face.

“Annabelle, what are you doing undressed like that?” Aunt Lydia said.

Shit. My head spun up abruptly. How had I not even noticed that she had gotten home from work early? I looked back down, but didn’t do anything to cover myself up.

“What was all that yelling about, anyways?” she asked as she took a seat on the floor next to me. “And what happened to the pull-ups you were going to be wearing today?”

I began to say that I had wet them, but the words just couldn’t quite make it out of my mouth and past my lips. Aunt Lydia seemed to surmise what had happened even without getting any response from me.

“Did you have some issues getting to the toilet on time today?” she asked.

I nodded in response. Aunt Lydia placed her arm around my back and gently squeezed my shoulder. She just sat there without saying a single word for several minutes. Finally, the silence demanded a response from me, and I gave in. I told her about the accidents I had had today. How I thought the stupid Kegel exercises were pointless. How I was so discouraged about the difficulty in getting to the toilet. How the whole situation was really all my fault after all.

“You know what?” Aunt Lydia said. “Would you be OK with taking a break from toilet-training, just for this evening? You can take a fresh start at it again in the morning.”

Diapers didn’t sound so bad when she phrased it like that. At least it would be my choice. That’s what mattered the most. I could live with wearing diapers in a scenario like that. I remained on the floor as Aunt Lydia grabbed a diaper and powder the dresser and got them set out on a towel on the bed. She diapered me with an amazing efficiency, and I slipped on a knee length dress after she was done. I didn’t care for wearing an outfit that would show off any sign of the diaper for the rest of today.

A ringing phone caused Aunt Lydia to make a sudden exit from the room. I laid back down on the bed, carefully positioning my dress so that the diaper was completely covered. Not that it mattered with only Aunt Lydia around, but it still made me feel better. I couldn’t help but admit that watching TV was so much less stressful now that I knew I didn’t have to pay attention to my bladder.

Aunt Lydia returned to the bedroom and peered around the corner with a deep concern engraved on her face. I got the premonition that I didn’t want to know what the phone call had been about.

“The charges against your mother have been dropped,” my aunt said, with a slight shakiness to her voice. “She just filed a lawsuit to try and regain custody of you.”

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Chapter 6: My Sister’s Keeper

Four years earlier…

Under no circumstances was I stepping out of the car with the way I was dressed.

I was seated directly in the middle of the back seat of the car, knees and legs pulled up snug to my chest with my arms wrapped firmly around them. I had darted back into the vehicle after mommy had made me remove my shorts. She had said it was so that she could be thorough with the sunscreen, but as soon as I had gotten the shorts off she had tossed them in the trunk, telling me that I wasn’t going to need them since it was a warm summer day at the beach.

Having removed my shorts and t-shirt, I now had on only a one-piece swimsuit – purple with pink polka-dots – with a diaper underneath it. The swimsuit held the diaper snugly against my bottom and did absolutely nothing to conceal it. The leg cuffs of the diaper stuck out past the swimsuit, and the outline of the diaper was surely unmistakable. It felt as if I was a baby wearing a onesie.

I could make out the beach in the distance from the rear window of the car. A sea of umbrellas and beach chairs led right up to the Gulf of Mexico. The crowds hugged the beach in either direction as far as I could see. The idea of one stranger seeing me in a diaper, let along hundreds or thousands, was terrifying, but mommy and daddy didn’t seem to mind, as they both tried to coax me to get out of the car.

“Mommy, do I have to wear a diaper?”

“Yes,” she replied curtly. “We went over this already at the hotel. There aren’t any bathrooms close by, and you won’t be able to hold it long enough to reach them.”

“But if I have an accident, I can get washed off in the ocean.”

“Young lady, you can’t swim. You aren’t going to be going any deeper in the water than to your ankles.”

I didn’t understand why I had to wear this stupid one-piece swimming suit if I wasn’t really going to be getting in the water in the first place. Granted, I had never been given swim lessons, much to my gratitude given how mommy would probably interrupt the rules requiring swim diapers for children who aren’t potty trained.

“Could I wear a pull-up instead?”

“We didn’t bring any to the beach.”

“But mommy.”

“No buts. You’re going to wear the diaper, and if you need to go, you’re going to use it.”

I was too busy arguing with mommy to notice that daddy had opened the door on the other side of the car. By the time he had reached in and grabbed me it was too late. I couldn’t break free from the grip of his hands on my upper arms as he basically dragged me from the car and set me in a standing position in the parking lot as mommy hustled over to this side of the car and shut the door before I could even think of trying to run back on.

I held up my arms over my head as mommy rubbed sunscreen all over my body until I was glistening in the sun. Daddy gave Elaine and I each a beach bag to carry. My younger sister had been allowed to wear a two-piece swimsuit, I would have been jealous, except for the fact that it was an outfit that would have left my diaper even more exposed than it already was. If only I could have been given a pair of boys’ swim trunks to wear over this swimsuit instead.

A sandy trail that passed through a grassy dune connected the parking lot to the beach. I did my best to walk behind mommy as closely as I could manage, trying to keep out of sight for as long as possible, even though I knew I was only delaying the inevitable. Sand caught between my toes as my flimsy flip-flops did little to protect my feet from the elements. I decided that I hated the beach.

I couldn’t bring myself to look anyone in the eye as we neared the crowds huddles on towels and portable chairs under the umbrellas. While some people are unobservant, indifferent, or at least kind enough to mind their own business, plenty are not. A ten-year-old wearing a diaper is such a strange sight that it can’t help but catch people’s attention. The unmistakable stares in your direction, but not at your face but down toward your waist. The quick grab to get the attention of the person next to them, followed by a whisper and a finger pointing in your direction. The comments made loudly enough that you can’t help but overhear.

I kept my focus directly ahead of me on mommy’s sandals as I followed in each of her footsteps. Once we had arrived at the beach, we had to zig and zag throughout the crowd as we searched for a spot to set up our umbrella and blankets. Nearly every available inch of the beach was taken already. Despite trying to keep my focus on mommy, I couldn’t help, but notice the babies and toddlers we passed, as if my gaze was magnetically drawn to them. Many of them were running around wearing nothing other than a diaper or pull-up, I suppose my situation could have been worse, after all. Others carried the tell-tale signs of a diaper sticking out of their swim trunks or bulging through the bottom of a swimsuit, in a mirror image of how I must look.

After walking for what seemed like forever, we at last came to a small clearing between a pair of families where we had just enough room to stake out a spot in the sand for ourselves. Daddy laid out two beach towels side-by-side on either of side of the umbrella, enough for each of us to have our own. I instantly claimed one of the towels in the middle for myself.

After they had set their stuff down, Elaine and Daddy ran off to jump in the waves. My younger sister had been given swim lessons earlier in the summer. Mommy was already laying on the beach towel to the right of me, flipping through the first few pages a paperback book she had brought along in her bag.

Laying on the beach wasn’t all that it was made out to be. I couldn’t get into a comfortable position, with the unevenness of the sand beneath the towel causing my back to ache, and I already seemed to have some sand in my hair, and I wasn’t even sure how that had managed to happen already. The umbrella directly overhead did shield my eyes from the sun as I rested the back of my head on the towel, but view it created was uninspiring. To my relief, it didn’t appear that any of the neighboring beachgoers had noticed my diaper, or, if they had, they hadn’t seemed to react to it at all to it.

I few minutes of laying on my back pointlessly was all I could take. I sat upright and looked down at the ocean, just in time to see a large wave sweep Elaine off of her feet and send her face first into the water. I chuckled slightly at that sight. Maybe being out of the water wasn’t so bad after all.

“What’s so funny?” mommy asked without taking her eyes off of the book.

“Nothing.”

Daddy yanked Elaine upright out of the water. Her shoulder-length hair was now drenched. She jogged back toward us with wide eyes on her face.

“Done swimming already?” mommy asked, still too engrossed in her book to bother to look away from it

“For now, the waves are a bit too rough,” daddy said, not mentioning that Elaine had been pushed over by a wave.

“Yeah, this massive wave knocked Elaine over,” I added, getting a glare from my younger sister for my effort to tattle on her.

“She what!? mommy said, this time slamming the book shut and tossing it down to the side. The book missed the towel and landed in the sand.

“It’s nothing,” daddy said. “It’s just a bit windy, so the waves are bigger than normal. That’s all.”

But mommy was already off of her towel and inspecting Elaine.

“Look at your hair. Are you sure you are OK? Does it hurt anywhere?”

“Mom, I’m fine,” Elaine said, brushing mommy’s hands away.

“I don’t care. You and your sister on not going back in the water. You can play in the sand after lunch.”

I could barely suppress a grin at what I had accomplished. While it was a bummer that I wasn’t even going to get a chance to get my feet wet in the ocean, I’d managed to make things equal with my younger sister after all. Elaine took a seat on her towel, which was to my left, on the other side of the umbrella stand. She knew as well that continuing an argument with mommy wasn’t going to get you anywhere.

We made short work of our lunch. Mommy had packed ham sandwiches, potato chips, and juice pouches. Elaine wanted to build a sandcastle. I didn’t really care to join her, but I also didn’t envision laying on the towel for several hours as being a good alternative, so I helped my sister carry a bag of beach toys – buckets, miniature shovels, and other tools for constructing a sandcastle – a couple dozen yards ahead until we reached a spot a few feet above wave-line.

It wasn’t until I waddled a little as I stood up that I again remembered that I had the diaper on. It had almost slipped my mind once I had gotten settled into our spot on the beach. I sat down as soon as we reached that spot where we were going to build the sandcastle. Keeping my bottom on the ground was my only defense to prevent anyone with a wandering eye from spotting the diaper.

We must have been at the start of the trend, because no sooner had we began plotting out how the sandcastle was going to be built then a young girl and her mother arrived and began working on a sandcastle of their own a short ways away from ours. Elaine and I didn’t pay much attention to them. I was using the shovel to carve out a future moat around the castle walls. When I needed to move, I scooted as discreetly as I could, keeping my bottom as close to the ground as possible. Those efforts proved futile.

“Mommy? Why is that girl wearing a diaper,” said the young girl, pointing her finger in my direction.

The lack of a diaper or pull-up beneath the girl’s yellow-and-white two-piece swimsuit made it clear that the toddler had already mastered the art of potty-training. I turned my head away to avoid making eye contact with the girl’s mother, who I assumed was now looking in my direction as well. I stared intently at my sandcastle, using both of my hands to straighten a wall that was connecting two of the towers.

“Lily, it isn’t nice to point at strangers,” the girl’s mother said, speaking in a hushed tone that was barely audible over the din of the crowd.

I flipped over the bucket to add another tower to the sandcastle. I tried not to fidget too much, but I was beginning to feel some of the sand that had gotten trapped in my diaper. It was just now that I noticed that the diaper was wet. Having not gotten close enough to the water, that was probably my fault. The combination of the gritty pebbles of sand and the moisture of the diaper made it hard to sit still.

“But why isn’t she potty-trained,” the girl asked, her curiosity stronger than her mother’s admonitions about not being rude to strangers.

To my left, Elaine was barely able to keep a smile off of her face. She enjoyed how my inability to potty-train impacted our relationship. She would much rather play the role of older sister, and she gladly lorded her ability to properly use the toilet over me. And since my younger sister was already nearly my height, despite the fact that I had about a year on her, strangers just tended to assume that she must be the older sister. While I couldn’t hear the mother’s sigh of exasperation in response to her toddler’s tenacity, I certainly could at least imagine it.

“Some kids are different,” the woman said. “They have a harder time learning how to grow up. She problem has some special needs and isn’t able to learn how to use the toilet, but it isn’t nice to point at her like that.”

I knew the woman meant well by what she was saying. She was at least trying to teach her daughter to have good manners and not be rude to people who are different, but the words stung, nonetheless. The conclusion she drew was the first conclusion everyone always came to when they saw me wearing diapers or pull-ups.

If they were polite, strangers would ask if I was developmentally delayed, or special needs, if being more discreet. Strangers who were a bit more forward might ask if I have Down Syndrome, Autism, or some other specific disability. The worst ones were those whose minds skipped directly past that and right to the insults. Stupid. Retard. Baby. The idea that an otherwise completely normal girl might not have the ability to control when she uses the toilet was a totally foreign concept to them. Once they catch sight of the diapers, they have to assume that something else must be wrong with me as well.

Despite my experience with these situations, I couldn’t help but begin to cry. I think the woman noticed, because afterward she lowered her voice and whispered to her daughter, who went running back up the beach. Petrified, I remained seated on the sand. I wanted nothing more than to get away from the beach, but to stand up would mean to provide those strangers an even better view of my diaper than they had already gotten. Elaine didn’t say anything in the next couple of minutes. That was unusual for her. She didn’t normally pass up an opportunity to rub in the fact that I had these toileting problems. I hoped that the woman might leave to follow her daughter, and at least give me my privacy and a tiny amount of my dignity back. That wasn’t to be.

The toddler returned, holding the hand of a taller girl, who appeared to be closer to my age. The way older girl walked was slightly uneven, as if she somehow weren’t able to quite control her balance. Strange. Then I noticed something about the girl that did pique my attention. She had a diaper on underneath her swimsuit just like I did.

Not wanting to get caught staring at that other family as the new girl arrived at the sandcastle the toddler and her mother had been building, I once again went back to working on our sandcastle, only to be interrupted a minute later when the woman and the mystery diapered girl walked over to Elaine and I.

The woman greeted us, but the lady didn’t address me, instead choosing to speak to Elaine.

“I’m sorry that my daughter, Lily, was being rude to your sister,” the woman said. “She really should know better, since her older sister has similar disabilities as your sister.”

“Yeah, Annabelle can’t figure out the whole potty-training thing, either” Elaine said casually, having also made note of the diaper this other girl was wearing, as if talking about my issues with a total stranger was not big deal at all.

“This is my other daughter, Patricia. She has multiple sclerosis, it’s a disability that causes her to have some difficulty control her body and movements.”

Multiple what? I didn’t have any idea about what that meant. The girl gave me a meek, disjointed wave at me. I wanted nothing to do with her.

“I thought they might like to play with each other,” the woman continued.

“Of course,” Elaine, said, as if she somehow had the right to decide what I was and wasn’t going to do.

“That’s so nice,” the woman said. “It’s such a pleasant surprise for Patricia to be able to meet someone like her.”

I wasn’t anything like her. Just having a diaper on didn’t make mean there were any other similarities. Why did the fact that I wore diapers have to be the defining aspect about me?

“I’m not a retard like her!”

I knew right away that I shouldn’t have said it. The girl began to cry almost instantaneously. I hated how people judged me for my toileting issues, but it was hypocritical to behave that way toward others dealing with problems outside of their own control.

My outburst of anger really wasn’t at the girl or her mother. I wanted to be normal, to go to the beach without people pointing or staring at me. Without people talking down to me or trying to stereotype me as someone who was only compatible with other children who aren’t normal.

I couldn’t think of any good way to extract myself from the situation. So, I instead made it worse. I picked up a bucket that was halfway full of sand, chucked it at my sister, stood up, and ran all the way back to where mommy and daddy were seated under the umbrella. I practically tossed myself face-first onto the towel.

Mommy and daddy didn’t say anything upon my arrival. Mommy remained trapped in her book, and daddy was laying on his stomach, his beach towel a few feet away from the umbrella so that it would be out in the sun. He had headphone in both ears and may even have been asleep. I peeked up from the towel to look back down at the beach. Elaine hadn’t followed me back, and was still talking with that other family, probably still telling them how much of a baby she thought that I was.

I didn’t dare tell bother mommy that I had wet the diaper. I wasn’t sure that she had brought any diapers to change me in the first place. I also wasn’t sure that she wouldn’t just change me right here and now on the beach towel. I rolled over onto my back. The diaper was less visible from the front than from behind. I didn’t dare get up from the towel for the next hour, partly because I didn’t want to deal with any other strangers pointing out my diaper, but also because I felt bad about calling that girl a retard, and I didn’t want to run into her again.

The need to poop had begun to grow shortly after the incident at the sandcastle. Mommy had indicated that I was supposed to use the diaper, and she hadn’t given an exception for doing number two. Normally, even when I was wearing a diaper and was expected to wet it if I needed to pee, mommy still wanted me to let her know when I needed to do number two so that I could do that on a toilet. But maybe being at the beach was different. And maybe I’d be able to hold it in until we got to the hotel anyways.

We didn’t start packing to leave the beach until Elaine started whining to mommy and daddy about how bored she was. I would never have gotten away with that, but sure enough, a few minutes later we had packed up all the beach toys, folded the towels, and taken apart the umbrella.

It didn’t seem possible, but the beach felt even more crowded than before as we hiked across the sand on the walk back to the car. In the past hour, the urge from my bowels to relieve myself had only strengthened, and it was at the point where if I didn’t give the situation my full, undivided attention, I was likely to end up with a messy diaper as well as a wet one.

As we continued walking, I was sure that if I paused and stood still, if only for a handful of seconds, that I would lose the last grip of control that I had over my bowels. We were about half-way back to the car, so maybe another ten minutes before we got there, and the drive from the hotel to the beach had only been another ten minutes or so. If I could just hold out that long, I’d be fine.

My attention had been so focused on making sure I had kept moving forward as I trailed behind mommy that I didn’t register the fact that she had come to complete stop. I bumped into her back and the fell backwards, landing on my bottom in the sand with a soft thud. As I hurried to stand up, the inevitable happened. I could feel the poop squeeze out into the diaper, the stickiness of it against my skin exacerbated with every step I took.

Mommy, daddy, and Elaine were all ahead of me and had turned to continue walking so they didn’t notice that I had messed myself. I hoped that the view from behind me wasn’t too obvious to anyone watching us walk along the beach. When we arrived back at the car, Mommy finally caught a glimpse of my bottom as I leaned down to pull on my shorts.

“Annabelle, did you really do that in your diaper?”

I knew better than to lie, especially when mommy would be able to discover the truth easily enough. Even though mommy didn’t exactly specify what she was wondering that I had really done in my diaper, I knew what she meant.

“Yes,” I muttered, looking down at my feet.

“Elaine,” mommy said. “Look in the trunk to see if we brought your sister’s diaper bag.”

“I don’t see it,” my sister called back.

As uncomfortable as I was becoming, I didn’t mind that the diaper change would have to wait until we had reached the privacy of the hotel. With the shorts back on as well, I didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing my diaper in the hotel lobby.

Getting me into a clean diaper didn’t seem to be a priority once we arrived back at the hotel. The hotel suite was large, with two separate bedrooms and bathrooms. Mommy and Elaine each grabbed one of the showers right away to get the sand and salt from the beach washed off. Daddy had stopped changing my diapers, so that left me standing alone awkwardly in my room, as sitting down was no longer comfortable given the condition of my diaper. Elaine emerged from the bathroom before mommy did, and daddy got his turn to take a shower, but no way was I going to ask my sister to change me.

I walked over to the bathroom mommy was in. I didn’t hear the sound of the shower from the other side, so she had to be close to getting finished with cleaning herself up.

“Mommy, can you please hurry, I really need to get changed,” I whined at her.

“Go get your changing stuff out and lay on the bed,” mommy said from behind the door. “And tell your sister to come see me if she is out of the bathroom already.”

I sent Elaine off to talk to mommy, and then grabbed the changing pad from my diaper bag along with a pull-up, wipes, and baby powder. I wasn’t normally this cooperative with getting changed, but I wanted nothing more than to just get this diaper off of my bottom. After removing my swimsuit, I eased myself onto the bed in an attempt not to smear the poop across my bottom any more than I already had. I could hear Elaine arguing with mommy from the other room.

“Mom, why do I have to change her diaper? It’s so gross.”

“Because I told you so.”

“But she pooped in it!”

“Exactly. That’s why it needs to be changed. Now go.”

Elaine returned from the other room a few moments later with a couple of paper tissues in her hand. She wadded them up and stuck them in each of her nostrils. Since I wasn’t allowed to change myself, mommy had begun to teach Elaine how to change my diapers. Both of us hated it. Messy diapers were a rarity, and Elaine hadn’t ever had to change one of those before.

“Ewe!,” my younger sister exclaimed as she pulled back the front of the diaper after undoing all four of the tapes.

I couldn’t see the state of the diaper, but the nauseating smell wafting toward my nostrils made me wish I had some tissue paper stuffed into my nose as well.

“You’re so gross,” Elaine said, as she began to gingerly wipe away at my bottom.

I wished she would hurry up and get it over with. That’s what you have to do with a messy diaper, just take a wipe and bravely go right down the middle with it. Elaine was too squeamish. She practically went through half of the fifty-pack of baby wipes before she pulled the diaper away and wrapped it up snuggly.

Elaine carried the diaper away to the trash can, which I was thankful for because wrapping it up wasn’t nearly enough to eliminate that awful stench. I remained still on the bed. For half-a-second, I considered grabbing the pull-up and putting it on myself, but I knew mommy wouldn’t be happy with me doing that, and the odds of Elaine not tattling on me are non-existent.

When Elaine returned from disposing of the diaper, she was holding a diaper in her hand.

“Come on, you need to lift your butt up for me.”

“What! No! I’m not wearing a diaper.”

I kicked the diaper out of my young sister’s hand, rolled off the bed and ran naked into the other room, where mommy was in the middle of getting dressed.

“Mommy, Elaine was trying to put a diaper on me.”

“I know. I told her to.”

“That’s not fair.”

“You know the rules about having a messy accident in your diaper. Why didn’t you ask to be taken to the toilet?”

“You said the toilets were too far away.”

“I never told you it was OK to take a shit in your diaper. Now go back to the other room and let your sister help you get the diaper on. You’re wearing them for the rest of the day.”

Dejected, I returned back to where Elaine was standing at the foot of the bed.

“Baby,” she whispered in a drawn-out snicker.

I chose not to respond. It was hard to get into an argument that I wasn’t a baby when all the evidence at the moment stood to the contrary. Elaine did a better job putting the clean diaper on me than she did with removing the messy one.

“Much cuter,” Elaine commented as she pressed the final diaper tape into place.

She gave my bottom a firm smack as I stood up from the bed. The teasing had finally gotten too much for me to ignore. I turned around and yelled at my sister as all my pent-up frustration from the day came to a head.

“I hate you. I hope you die.”

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Chapter 7: Group Therapy

Present time…

I must have misheard what Aunt Lydia had said. They’d let mom out of jail? She was trying to regain custody of me? That couldn’t possibly be right. No. No. No.

“Wait. Really?”

“Yes, that was the lady from the Child Protective Services office.”

I felt a chill rush through me as if the temperature had dropped to below freezing.

“But how could she do that? That’s not right.”

“I’m not sure, but since the charges against her were dropped, she is allowed to make a petition to get custody of you again.”

That still didn’t make any bit of sense, but the legalese of the situation was beyond my understanding anyways. “How” wasn’t even the most important question. That was just the procedural part of it. What left me most puzzled was why mom would even consider trying to regain custody of me in the first place.

Set aside for a moment the fact that I had tried to kill her. She had never wanted me. My younger sister had always been the favored child, and for reasons beyond simply my inability to consistently make proper use of the toilet. Elaine had been smarter, better-looking, better behaved, better, well, at anything and everything compared to me, not that doing so had been much of a challenge. I was an afterthought, the unseemly first attempt that hadn’t quite turned out as expected.

Sure, I was all she had left, but over the past two years, that scarcity hadn’t resulted in an increased demand that she care for me. The whole deal made no sense at all. Mother had no reason to want me, and she had given me no reason to want her.

Aunt Lydia intruded upon my silent reflection to try and re-assure me that everything was going to be alright.

“Annabelle, you don’t need to worry that anything is going to change right away,” my aunt said. “It takes a long time for things to go through the court system. I’m going to make some more phone calls, why don’t you stay in here and keep watching TV.”

I left the TV on, but I had gotten bored of watching game shows, so I instead sat at the desk to fiddle with the computer.

I had never been allowed unsupervised access to a computer before and had no idea where to begin after turning it on. This one was so much fancier. The keys on the keyboard lit up in a stream of rainbow colors and gave a satisfying click every time I pressed them. The mouse was large and fit perfectly into my hand. It had a bunch of buttons on the side, but nothing happened when I pressed them, so I didn’t’ have a clue as to what they were supposed to be used for.

Minesweeper and solitaire were the only games I had been allowed to play on the computer. They were apparently educational enough that my parents hadn’t thrown a fuss over them. I tried to look for Minesweeper, but it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I would have to ask my uncle to help with that when he came home from work later today.

The urge to pee came briefly and disappeared as I relaxed my bladder almost instinctively. Aunt Lydia’s idea about taking a short break from toilet training sounded like a good idea while I had been sitting on the floor crying about the previous accident, but a wet diaper was still a wet diaper. I wished fervently that I would soon begin to see some results from the exercises I was doing. The doctor had hinted at the possibility of some medications if that didn’t work. At this point, I’d be willing to give any idea a shot.

Aunt Lydia was on the phone talking to someone in a urgent, hushed tone as I walked over to the living room to retrieve the Switch. I couldn’t make out what she was saying, as she appeared to have lowered her voice after noticing I had stepped out of the bedroom. I tried to keep my mind clear of thoughts about what the custody battle would mean for me, as I laid back down on the bed to play with the gaming system and enjoy temporary distraction it provided.


My first foray into public wasn’t going as well as I had hoped it would. The hospital stay didn’t count. And I’d hardly ever left home in the year preceding it.

Being homeschooled hadn’t been high on the list of my sources of angst but finding myself seated amongst a half-dozen other girls my age left me at a complete loss as to what I should say or do. The last time I had been around this many kids my age had been at the funeral. Outside of gatherings with our extended family, which had become more and more infrequent, my social life had been basically nonexistent.

We were seated in a full circle, in an oddball collection of mismatched plastic chairs in the center of a large room that could have held ten times as many people. I was seated to the right of the therapist, Amanda, who I had met with while I was at the hospital. These group therapy sessions hadn’t been required as part of the agreement with the court, but apparently Amanda had suggested the idea to my aunt and uncle, saying it would be good for me to be around girls my age.

I had arrived only a few minutes before the therapy session was to begin. I had panicked when I had gone out to the car with Aunt Lydia, and it had taken a while for her to help me calm down.

The other girls had already divided into a couple of groups when I arrived and were casually chatting amongst themselves, their voices echoing across the mostly empty room. I later learned that all but one of them had been to this therapy group before. None of them paid me any attention when I grabbed one of the two remaining seats.

I stood out like a sore thumb. None of them were dressed nearly as conservatively as I was. Five of the girls were wearing jeans or leggings. Another was wearing mini shorts. There was one girl who was wearing a skirt, but it didn’t even reach all the way to her knees, and her shirt was tied up in the front so that her midriff was showing. Mother would never have let me dress like that in public, not that I would have wanted to. A diaper underneath one of those outfits would stand no chance of going undiscovered.

I didn’t attempt to join in on any of the conversations. What would I say? I didn’t have a single clue as to how I should introduce myself or what I should say. I resorted to half-heartedly picking at my fingernails and staring at the floor and my ankle-length dress. I really suppose I could get away with something at least a few inches shorter.

The attempts at toilet training had been put on an indefinite hiatus in the several days since I had found out that mother was attempting to regain custody of me. Not a single night had gone by without one dream or another about all the humiliations and embarrassments I had endured. More than once I had woken up without immediately realizing that I was now free from that woman’s grasp.

I didn’t want to admit that this additional stress had made concentrating on my bladder a much more difficult proposition, but that was the truth, and so I had basically stuck to diapers since then. Seeing how normal kids dressed made me want to redouble my efforts. I had never worn leggings before, and they looked so comfortable.

When the therapy session began, Amanda made everyone take turns saying their names and something fun they did in the past week. She started with the girl seated to her left and they went around in a clockwise fashion until it was my turn to speak.

“I’m Annabelle, and something fun I did in the last week was beat the Breathe of the Wild game.”

“Annabelle? Like the doll from that horror movie?” asked Lucy, the girl seated to the right of me.

I responded with a blank stare. I didn’t have the slightest idea as to what she was referring to.

“With that dress you can kind of see it, too,” said another girl, whose name I had already forgotten.

My face burned. I didn’t know who this other Annabelle was, but I didn’t get the impression that comparisons to her were favorable.

“Girls, knock it off,” Amanda said. “That movie only came out a few years ago. Annabelle wasn’t named after it.”

After that rough introduction, I was hesitant to bring up anything else about myself. What if they found it as silly as my name?

Amanda spent some time talking about the importance of being able to express ourselves and not bottle up all our thoughts and emotions inside. We were supposed to share our feelings, speak our truth, whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

The first time Amanda called on me to speak, my mind went as blank as an Etch A Sketch tablet that had just been shaken. I kind of shook my head until she called on someone else and said I could have more time to think about what I wanted to say. I tried to pay attention to the other girls as they talked. I didn’t understand why they were in a therapy group. They all seemed so normal.

‘Can I be excused to go to the restroom?” I asked Amanda, anticipating that she was likely to call on me again soon.

I had no compunction about using my bladder problems as an excuse to get myself a break from a conversation that I had zero interest in. Plus, it was a tactic I’d already used successfully with Amanda before.

“Of course,” Amanda said.

That response didn’t sit well with the other girls, who apparently hadn’t been given the same luxury of being able to step away from the therapy session whenever they asked. A few of the grumbled about how that wasn’t fair.

“Well, Annabelle can, so let’s just continue,” Amanda said as I shifted my mini backpack onto my shoulder and went in search of the restrooms.

I remained in the bathroom for as long as I felt I could get away with it. I had gone into one of the family restrooms so that I could have a little more privacy, but this one came with a full-length mirror on one of the walls. I wanted to pace back and forth so I could concentrate and think, but every time I turned around to face that wall, I had to see myself and this ugly dress in the mirror once again.

Amanda didn’t ask me any more questions during the remainder of the therapy session once I had returned to the circle. I appreciated not being put on the spot again, and I guessed that Amanda must have figured that was how I was feeling. I left the room as soon as the session came to an end, not bothering to stick around and try to talk with the other girls.

“I have some good news for you,” Aunt Lydia said, as I sat down in the passenger seat of the car.

“It better be that I don’t have to go to this stupid therapy session ever again.”

“Why would you say that? What happened?”

“No one wanted to talk to me, and they all made fun of my name. They said it was the same as some doll from a horror movie.”

“They are just being dumb. Annabelle is a completely normal name. Look, if it is bothering you that much, you could go by Anna, Annie, or Bella instead, if you’d like.”

“I don’t know,” I replied.

The idea of changing my name wasn’t something that had ever come to mind before. Mother had never called me anything other than Annabelle.

“Anyways,” Aunt Lydia said, clearly intending to press on with the good news she had planned to deliver. “We hired a lawyer who is going to help make sure that you don’t have to go back to living with your mom. There’s going to be a court hearing in a month or so, but the attorney we hired is going to file a counter-suit.”

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Chapter 8: The Third Casket

Two years earlier…

I had never before felt so alone when surrounded by so many people. The funeral had not started on time, and I suspected that my mother was somehow to blame. In her absence, I remained in the lobby of the funeral home, the center of attention for everyone in need of someone to whom they could direct their condolences.

For the past half-hour I had been the constant recipient of awkward hugs that lasted too long, whispered sympathies that each contained the same insincere words as the last, and pats on the back from people who I couldn’t recall ever seeing before.

My father and sister have been dead for nearly a week, and I still hadn’t shed a tear. I might cry now, not out of any sudden sense of sadness, but from the strength of the perfumed candles lining the wall near where I was standing. The smell of flowers might have been pleasant in a smaller dose, but the overwhelming nature of it made me wonder if it was causing me to experience a sudden onslaught of allergies.

I resisted the urge to rub my knuckles against my eyes, not because I didn’t want to garner any more displays of empathy from the roughly sixty or so attendees milling about the room, but because mother had put makeup on me for the first time ever, and I didn’t dare risk incurring her wrath by making a mess of it.

Two days ago, we had gone shopping for an appropriate dress, as the growth spur I gone through in the past six months – putting on another six inches in height – made my previous dresses obsolete. Ladylike wasn’t how anyone would describe me. Sure, I was now as tall as my mother, who wasn’t a short woman, but I remained gangly after growing so quickly. Still, the dress was by far the nicest outfit mother had ever purchased for me. Pitch black and elegant, it streamed down to my feet in way that my other dresses did not. More importantly, ankle-length dress was loose enough around my waist that it didn’t reveal the outline of my diaper.

It was true that I had been outgrowing the pull-ups I had been using for the past several years. They still fit, but much more snugly than before, and leaks were increasing at an alarming frequency. Whatever else I might say about the diapers, I couldn’t deny that they at least did exactly what they were intended to, which is to ensure that no one but me noticed when I wet myself.

That isn’t to say I didn’t still throw a fit about mother’s decision to make me wear a diaper to the funeral. I was mortified at the prospects of the cousins, who saw me paraded around in a diaper four years ago during the holidays, again spotting me in a diaper. The fact that the dress concealed the diaper better than I anticipated did mollify me some.

My cousins remained clustered in a group near the opposite corner of the room. They hadn’t come to say anything to me, save for a few that walked over silently with their parents, their eyes shifting away from mine. Under other circumstances, the social ostracization from my peers would have been deeply hurtful, but I couldn’t imagine how that incident wasn’t, even now, re-playing freshly in their memories. I wanted nothing to do with them.

There were only two visitors that I had hoped to see, Aunt Lydia and Uncle James. Four years had passed since that fateful Thanksgiving Day where I had both met them and last seen them. I had thought my father’s threat for them to never step foot in the house again had been mere drunken bluster, but perhaps there had been more to it than I had been made aware of. Either way, I never had worked up the courage to ask about my aunt and uncles’ whereabouts, and in truth, had given them little to no thought for a long time until now. If anything were to bring them back, the death of a brother and niece and the final moment of goodbye at a funeral would appear to be enough. Yet, they hadn’t been among the visitors at the wake yesterday evening, and there was no sign of them today.

Mother stepped into sight from around the corner, her eyebrows narrowed; hand clutched tightly around a cellphone by her side. What phone call could have been so important that it was worth delaying the funeral?

“Why aren’t you greeting the guests,” she whispered harshly at me, when she was close enough to speak without anyone else overhearing her.

“They’ve already taken their turns coming to talk to me.”

Mother didn’t appear satisfied with that answer, but she moved along without prolonging the argument. With a practiced touch, mother smoothed the expression on her face, and made eye contact with the pastor on the far side of the room, and the man hurried over to us

“We’re ready to begin,” she said, slipping her phone into her purse and dabbing at her eye with one of her sleeves.

“Why don’t you come with me and get seated, and then I’ll usher the guests in after you,” he said.

The pastor took my mother’s hand as he led us toward the front of the chapel and we each took a seat in the second row. While the diaper provided my bottom with a degree of protection from the wooden bench, I was unable to get my back into position where it was comfortable against the pew. As the crowd of mourners made their way into the chapel, I received a firm pinch on my arm, a message from mother that I needed to stop fidgeting.

While I had been to my share of church services, I had never attended a funeral before. My gaze didn’t linger at the pulpit for long, but shifted past it, to where the two caskets sat side by side. One open. One closed.

The ceremony began on a solemn note, as mournful organ music filled the room. A prayer was said, a hymn was sung, and several people who had known my father and sister had stood at the pulpit and given brief eulogies of them.

The pastor was now at the pulpit and had begun an exuberant recitation of how virtuous my father had been – loving, selfless and devoted to his children, who never raised his voice in anger.

He’s dead, what purpose is there to lying about how good of a person he was?

The man continued, extoling a wide array of platitudes that he said my father had possessed. I didn’t get to bothered by it, until the pastor described the deaths as the result of a tragic, unlucky accident.

Liar. The car crash had been tragic, yes, but in now way could it be simply described as an unlucky accident. Even though it had been early in the afternoon, father had already been drunk when he got in the car. Mother had offered to drive, but daddy wasn’t having any of it. Staying home meant the possibility of needing to change me, and he hadn’t done that in years and wasn’t going to get started again now.

About an hour later, I had eavesdropped by the door when two police cruisers pulled into our driveway, their lights on and sirens blazing. I scurried away to my room when the somber face officer delivered the news of the deaths to my mother, whose shrieks of denial could be heard from behind the shut door to my bedroom.

I put together the full scope of the story with the bits and pieces of information that had gradually come my way the next few days, as relatives we hadn’t seen in ages trickled into town for the funeral.

The pastor’s eulogy wrapped up, and another man took to the pulpit, his arms raised to direct a pair of final songs. I steadied the hefty hymnal on the bench in front of me, but I didn’t need to glance down at the lyrics to follow along with them. However, I didn’t join in with the song, opting to instead mouth the words as I pretended to take part in the ceremony.

When the ceremony at last concluded, I took one last walk by the caskets with mother. My father’s casket remained open. When I had looked inside the casket the other night at the wake, his eyes had been closed, lips curled upward into the faintest of smiles, a whole arrangement intended to convey a sense of peace that I had never witnessed while he was alive. I didn’t look in the casket this time. I averted my eyes toward the ground. My last memory of him wasn’t going to be a lie.

My sister’s casket was closed. Elaine hadn’t been wearing a seatbelt. Supposedly there hadn’t been much left for the embalmer to work with. Instead, a collection of photographs had been arranged on a small table next to it. I wasn’t in any of them. I could hear mother sniffling as she attempted to maintain her composure. It took me a while to finally register the mood I was feeling. I was disappointed, disappointed that there wasn’t a third casket.


We’d been home from the funeral for over an hour, and I was still laying on my bed waiting for mother to come in and change the diaper I’d worn for the entirety of the funeral service and burial. I’d already asked mother to change me once. She’d just told me she come do in later in my room. I knew better than to ask a second time, even as the moisture in the diaper was becoming more irritable against my skin.

With my dress off, all I had on was a training bra and a sagging, pale-green diaper with a pair of small tapes on each side barely holding it up. Without any appropriate diapers my size at Walmart, my parents had turned to the internet. I’m sure they bought the cheapest brand that they could find. Even though I’d had the diaper on for more than six hours, I’d hardly had anything to drink which mean that had gotten soaked, but it hadn’t leaked.

When we had moved to this house a couple years ago, my bedroom had been neglected while the home was furnished. Elaine had been given a fancy bed. Hers was a lofted bunkbed with a ladder to climb up to it. Beneath her bed she had a desk and chair to sit out.

My room was an afterthought. As my old mattress had been ruined from nightly bedwetting, the new one my parents purchased after the move was one with a built-in plastic cover designed to make it fully waterproof. They hadn’t bothered with a bedframe and had instead set it down in the far corner of the room.

I could smell the alcohol on mother’s breath when she at last stepped into the bedroom. She laid out a changing pad on the bed, and I dutifully shifted over onto it, too tired and uncomfortable to make the always unsuccessful argument that I should be allowed to change myself. The reasons for why I wasn’t allowed to change my own diapers had varied as I had gotten older.

As a younger child, it was because I wasn’t big enough to do that. As I got older and was given chances to diaper myself, mother complained that leaks would happen because I couldn’t diaper myself right, or said that she needed to clean me up because I wasn’t doing a good enough job of it myself. For a while, those arguments got set aside as mainly wore pull-ups, but as pull-ups’ usefulness came to an end, I was often at the mercy of mother for any changes or trips to the toilet.

Father had always been the one with a taste for liquor. Mother might join in with him on occasion, but often than not, her chastisements over his alcoholism turned into full-fledged arguments. But tonight, her eyes were red, and her breath was reminiscent of my father’s when he had deep into hard liquors.

She did a rushed, sloppy job of changing my diaper, mumbling words under her breath that I wasn’t able to discern. As soon as she had left the room and shut the lights off, I carefully adjusted the tapes on the diaper to achieve a more comfortable fit. Waking up in a wet diaper was bad enough. I didn’t need a wet bed in addition to it.

As guilty as these jealous thoughts made me feel, I couldn’t help but wonder at the possibility of being allowed to move into my sister’s bedroom. I’d long envied her bunkbed and the ability to have her own desk to sit and draw at, not to mention her much more well-equipped wardrobe. I fell asleep to dreams of better things.

That was not to be. My cautious inquires the next morning about possibly moving into my sister’s room were rebuffed off-hand by mother, who made it clear that the topic was a non-starter. My schooling, which had been on pause for a week, remained neglected as I spent the day placing phone calls with an increased agitation and anger in her voice. I was left to my own devices, which meant spending the day watching low-budget educational documentaries of dubious quality, such as the one on at the moment that was attempting to argue that dinosaurs and man had existed at the same time.

As the day progressed and mother’s voice became loud enough to carry throughout the house, I understand why she was so upset. When my parents had made the decision to pull my sister and I from public schools to homeschool us, she had quit her job to stay at home. She hadn’t worked in seven years and had little desire to return to work.

Father’s life insurance policy should have made us rich. But the policy had a number of loopholes, and dying as a result of your own drunken driving was one of the causes of death which the insurance company wouldn’t pay out, no matter what manager mother asked to speak with or the threats of lawsuits that she delivered.

As the next weeks passed, mother sold off every item of my father’s and Elaine’s that she could get a buyer for. A month later, my sister’s room was as barren as my own. And I was alone.

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Chapter 9: The Question

Present time…

The top drawer of my dresser slid open without a single creak or groan. As with everything in the bedroom, it was new and in perfect condition. Mine. That wasn’t a description I had thought I would end up giving it. I hadn’t noticed the shift in how I perceived my environment, but at some point in the past several months, I’d come to accept my aunt and uncle’s house as home, not simply a place I would be temporarily staying.

Three months had passed since mother had filed her lawsuit to regain custody of me. The initial terror of that first week had receded, replaced first with a curiosity about the legal process, followed by a retreat into indifference. It’s not as if I weren’t mindful to the consequences of what would happen should my mother’s attempt to take me back succeed, but the longer it dragged out, the less I thought of it.

Legal stuff isn’t nearly as exciting as it gets shown on TV. Shocking, right? I had yet to step foot in a courtroom, everything that had happened up to this point has been lawyers from both sides filing documents and mailing them back and forth. The hearing was supposed to take place in about two weeks, but it had been delayed twice already, so it wasn’t on the forefront of my mind.

I still hadn’t gotten over how amusing it was that legal documents were referred to as briefs. The first time that the attorney my aunt and uncle had hired had visited the house to discuss their legal strategy, his comment about “needing to get the briefs ready” had me laughing so hard that I didn’t even realize I had wet my pull-up.

All the websites I purchased diapers from never actually referred to them as diapers, opting instead for range of euphemisms. Disposable briefs was the most common one, though I failed to see how it made anyone feel better about purchasing them.

I’d slipped into a sleeveless tank-top after drying off from the shower. The summer heat was too oppressive for anything more than that. I examined the contents of the drawer, surveying my options for what else I could put on.

A diaper was out of the question. My work on finally getting toilet trained wasn’t finished, but I had at least gotten to the point where I was only wearing diapers at night or when I left the house. Even in public, it was with a diaper brand I found that had re-adjustable tapes, so that I could still have access to a toilet. Besides, I didn’t even want to think about how badly a diaper would make me sweat. That left me with several options of pull-ups to put on.

My aunt and uncle hadn’t exactly forbidden me from wearing panties, but they both had strongly encouraged me to stick with pull-ups until I could be certain I wouldn’t be having any accidents. I could understand their reasoning. The house was mostly carpeted, and those types of stains could be difficult to clean up. I would have been resentful had it been mother who had issued that type of edict to me, but it was easy to let it slide since they otherwise left me to my own devices when it came to my toileting issues.

Offers of an occasional diaper change from my aunt had stopped after I began to decline them. I even had my own debit card, which they sent money to so that I could make purchases of diapers and pull-ups for myself. This newfound independence helped alleviate the annoyance of having to forego wearing panties, several pairs of which were now located in the top drawer of my dresser, next to my pull-ups. I could have stuck the underwear in the closet, hidden away until I was fully ready for it, but I had been so excited about the purchase that I wasn’t able to keep them out of sight.

Every time I opened the drawer, I could barely resist the urge grab one of the panties and run my fingers through it, at times even slipping it on for a few minutes, imagining the day when the pull-ups and diapers were all discarded, and all that remained in the top drawer of the dress were rows of regular, normal, adult underwear.

Maybe I could wear them again this morning, if only for a few minutes while I did my hair. Privacy was another benefit of living with my aunt and uncle. I never had to worry about them abruptly barging into my bedroom. They rarely bothered me, but if they wanted to get my attention, they knocked, and then waited for me to come to the bedroom door and open it.

I slipped on pair of lavender panties and went back into the bathroom. The mirror was still slightly fogged up from the shower, so I had to grab a towel and wipe up the remaining moisture so that I could see my reflection. The image that peered back at me still wasn’t completely clear, but it would do, as I grabbed a brush to get any remaining tangles out of my hair.

I still couldn’t get over how different the panties felt and looked. Gone was the bulkiness between my legs, the struggle to avoid waddling, the crinkling sound as I walked. The underwear was so thin that it didn’t feel like I had anything on at all. The sense of freedom, of being unconstrained, of not being ashamed of my body or how I looked. I never wanted it to end.

I decided not to put my hair into any fancy braids today. I didn’t want to spend all morning getting ready. I grabbed a stretchy hair tie from the drawer next to the sink and pulled my shoulder-length hair into a simple ponytail.

As fun as it was to wear the panties, I knew it was time to get changed out of them. I still hadn’t managed to pull off a day where I had avoided any accidents, but I also have managed at least one successful trip to pee in the toilet every day for the past several weeks. Progress was coming at a slower pace than I would before, but as long as it was coming, I could wait for it.

I had a couple of plain-white medical brand pull-ups with various levels of absorbency. I applied a generous amount of lavender-scented baby power before putting on a pull-up. I finished with pulling on a knee length skirt along with some shorts to make sure the pull-up was fully concealed, as I headed to the kitchen to eat breakfast before my tutor arrived.


The question had been gnawing at the back of my mind ever since I realized that my aunt and uncle wanted me to live with them and were willing to fight my mother in court for the right to maintain custody of me. It wasn’t a kind question, and I wasn’t certain I wanted to know the answer to it, given its power to impact the very nature of my relationship with my new guardians. The tutoring session hadn’t gone well today. I had been so distracted that I hadn’t even gotten half-way through the practice test I had been assigned to complete.

The tutor was gone for the day. Such a relief. Since there wasn’t any way I was going to let her know about my toileting issues, it also meant that I couldn’t be rushing off to the bathroom nearly as often as I would need to do to avoid any daytime accidents. Next week I would have to go through five straight days of tests. While the plan was for me to start my freshman year of high school in the fall, they had to be certain that I was academically prepared for it.

With the tutor gone, I had Aunt Lydia to myself for an hour or so before Uncle James gets home from work. She was nestled into her reading chair in the living room, a situation that usually led me to play videogames in my room so as not to disturb her.

I wasn’t good at starting conversations, even when it was about simple stuff, like, what the weather is going to be like or what I might want to eat for dinner. I didn’t have the slightest clue about how to broach a more sensitive topic with my aunt. It wasn’t that I didn’t like talking to her, it’s just that she was always the one initiating our conversations.

I stood right at the corner of the room for several minutes, my feet fidgeting, trying to work up the courage to finally ask the question. My aunt was seated in her reading chair with her back to me and her feet stretched forward on the recliner. She was flipping casually through a magazine with her reading glasses on. My mouth and lips were dry. I wasn’t sure if any words would even come out if I were to open my mouth. Screw it, I can ask later. I had begun to turn around and head back to my bedroom when my aunt spoke up herself.

“Is there something you need?” Aunt Lydia said.

She hadn’t looked up from her magazine, but somehow had sensed my discomfort even though her back was to me.

What to say? What to say? What to say? Why hadn’t I come up with a fallback question? I blurted the question out, almost angrily, though I hadn’t intended for my tone to be confrontational.

“Are you getting paid to take care of me?”

Aunt Lydia took off her reading glasses and turned to look at me.

“No, we aren’t getting paid to take care of you,” she said. “Why would you think that?”

Why would I think that? That thought had come from when I had sifted through mom’s mail, and found the checks that had come every month, not that any of the money had found its way into my pockets. Where were those checks being sent now? And was Aunt Lydia being truthful? Or had I been mistaken?

I stayed silent, hoping that Aunt Lydia would give more of an explanation, which she did.

“You were getting some monthly payments after your father’s death, but that is going into a trust fund for you until turned eighteen.”

“A trust fund?”

“That’s just basically a bank account that no one else can take money out of until it’s time to give it to you.”

“But why didn’t you tell me about it?

A frown appeared on Aunt Lydia’s face. She looked upset. I knew I shouldn’t have brought this topic up. What was I thinking?

“I thought you already knew,” she said. “The money should have already been going there since your father’s accident.”

I shook my head sideways. I had been aware of the checks, but that they were solely intended for my use was a surprise.

“That bitch,” Aunt Lydia muttered.

I nearly jumped. My aunt never swore.

“Of course my sister was keeping the money for herself.”

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Chapter 10: Midnight Choices

Several months ago…

My skin itched underneath the scratchy, cotton nightgown, but with the heating bill left unpaid, and the temperature getting close to freezing, the outfit was still preferable to spending the entire night shivering beneath paper-thin blankets with no clothing on other than a diaper.

I had nothing to drink today besides a single eight-ounce glass of water around noon. Mother’s latest theory on dealing with my untrainable bladder was to severely limit my fluid intake along with closely monitoring everything I ate. Sure, I was peeing less during the last several weeks. But I still had no control over my bladder, and the more concentrated urine was becoming increasingly irritable to my skin.

The ragged mattress I was lying on hadn’t been replaced in the two years that had passed since the death of my father and sister in drunken car crash. Most everything else had been. Everything that belonged to my father or sister had been sold, the remainder of our old house gradually ransacked as monthly bills came due. Last to go was the house itself. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms was more space than what would be needed for a single mother and her daughter, but the sale came out of desperation, not practicality. Mother purchased the mobile home about a year ago, and we’ve lived in a handful of trailer parks since then, each seedier than the last.

The plastic covering of the mattress was ripped in several places, but I used that to my advantage, as I had stuck a bobby pin into the mattress through one of the tears in the cover, keeping the hair pin completely out of mother’s sight. I’d been changed and put to bed around 9 p.m. And by put to bed I mean mother sent me to the smaller of the two bedrooms and had locked the door behind me.

Sound travelled easily through the walls of the mobile home, and noises made during her nighttime routine appeared like clockwork – the TV blaring on some violent, late-night show. Glass bottles being tossed across the room. The clamor of furniture being shoved around – until I at last heard her bedroom door shut.

With the hallway light, which had been shining into my room through the crack at the bottom of the door, now off, my room was in near total darkness. I didn’t know how long I waited after mother had gone to bed. I didn’t have a clock in my room. But I counted to one-thousand, and, in hearing no noise coming from her bedroom across the hallway, determined that it was safe to make my move. I retrieved the bobby pin from inside the mattress. The discovery of what I could do with it the other night had been a moment of pure genius.

With the pin in hand, I crept stealthily toward the door. The first night I had picked the lock on the door, it had taken me what must have been nearly an hour to pull it off. Tonight, I got the door unlocked in five minutes. My stomach rumbled as I stepped into the hallway. I briefly froze, listening for any sound that might indicate that my growing hunger had betrayed me.

I was down to getting two diaper changes a day, with mother changing me once in the evening and once in the morning. With how little I was getting to eat and drink, there weren’t any issues with leaks, but the lengthy time between changes had recently led to some uncomfortable rashes and chaffing.

With no sign of danger, I tucked the bobby pin into my hair and resumed my walk across the floor, gingerly stepping forward, not only because I wanted to avoid making any noise that would wake mother, but because of the discomfort of doing so, as each step caused the edges of the diaper to rub against already chaffing skin.

A brief burst of light shot into the room as I inched open the door to the refrigerator. I held down the button inside the fridge to get the light to shut off while I used my free hand to blindly rummage through the remaining contents of the fridge without filling the mobile home with light.

After a few moments of searching, I grabbed what felt to be a half-gallon jug of milk from the top shelf and shut the fridge. In the darkness of the kitchen, the starlight coming in through the windows wasn’t enough to allow me to determine the expiration date, only that the plastic jug had a heftiness to it that made it seem as if it was mostly full. I spun open the lid and raised the tip of the jug to my nose. A cautious sniff told me that it hadn’t gone bad yet.

I raised the milk jug to my lips and took the slightest of sips. As much as I wanted to chug it down, I couldn’t leave any evidence that I had snuck out to the kitchen. Mother didn’t know that I had managed to pick the lock that she used to keep me in my bedroom all night long, and the situation needed to stay that way.

Having taken a couple of additional sips of milk, I reached for the refrigerator door so I could put the milk jug back in and see if there were other items that could be discreetly snacked on

Instead of bringing my foot back down onto the linoleum floor of the kitchen, my heel came down on top of one of mother’s bottles. As I slipped forward, my hand yanked the refrigerator door all the way open, flooding the room with light. I dropped the jug of milk onto the floor as I braced myself for the fall. As I landed on my knees, the bottle went spinning out behind me, resulting in a loud, metallic clink as it came into contact with other bottles that must have been left on the floor.

I rolled onto my side, clutching at my knee and biting my lip while trying desperately to not add any more noise to the midnight cacophony. Exactly how many fucking bottles of alcohol had mother left out this time? At least she might be wasted enough not to notice this clamor. I peered down the now dimly lit hallway toward her bedroom, not seeing any signs that I had immediately roused mother from her slumber.

I felt something cold and wet against my hand. The milk jug had cracked and was spilling its contents across the kitchen floor. No, no, no. How am I supposed to cover this up now? I set the milk jug upright. Thankfully, the crack was near the middle of the jug, so it hadn’t spilled its entire contents. I held up the jug so that I could view it in the light of the still-open fridge. The crack wasn’t all that noticeable. I placed the milk jug back on the top shelf of the fridge and closed the refrigerator door with the hope that the damage might go unnoticed in the morning. Now, what to do about the milk puddle?

We were out of paper towels and didn’t even have any of the leftover napkins mother would grab in large handfuls when getting take-out fast food, so I would have to make do with a rag from the bathroom. I practically crawled to the bathroom, timidly stretching my hands out in front of me to make sure I didn’t knock anything over that would add to the commotion I had already made.

As I stood up in the bathroom and rummaged through a storage shelf for a cleaning rag I could use, I felt a painful rumble in my stomach, but this time it wasn’t because I was hungry. A week or more must have passed since I had drunk any milk, and it wasn’t sitting well in my stomach. I was beginning to feel pressure building up in my bowels, like a balloon that is being inflated to the point of bursting.

It’s not as if I wasn’t used to messing myself by now. Several months had passed since mother had let me wear anything other than a diaper. But I usually tried to time my bowel movements to around the time mother would be changing me.

How I wished I could sit on the toilet. In the past several weeks, the only times mother had allowed me to relieve myself on the toilet were the times between diaper changes. But I couldn’t go to the toilet by myself. Removing the tapes would only rip the plastic covering of the diaper, leaving me unable to put it back on and in a huge amount of trouble with mother in the morning.

Whatever reaction the milk had caused in the inner workings of my body was going to come to fruition much sooner than later. I tugged at the bottom of the diaper to loosen it up and make room for what was about to enter it. I bent my knees forward and squatted slightly. I didn’t need to squeeze any of my muscles, as my body did the rest. The resulting smell was bearable, though I was well practiced in breathing through my mouth and not my nose.

I let several minutes pass without moving. A shitty diaper didn’t feel as bad as long as I remained still, but with each step I took back toward the kitchen, I could feel the sticky fecal matter spreading across my butt. I needed to get the milk wiped up, and then hide the rag in the dirty laundry and hope that mother doesn’t noticed it. I had only just gotten on my knees in front of the puddle of milk when the lights came on.

“Annabelle, what the fuck are you doing out of your bedroom?” mother screamed.

I didn’t have time to answer as I scrambled off the floor as mother stepped toward me, not that there was anything to say in my defense. Her puffy eyes and dark red cheeks were indicative of how she had spent the evening. I tried to raise my arms up, but I wasn’t quick enough as her hand slapped downward across my cheek. I braced myself for another blow, but mother stepped back with her hand cupped against her nose.

“Eww, did you really shit yourself again? You know you’re not getting your diaper changed until morning, young lady.”

I had never been more relieved to have pooped in a diaper before. If doing so spared me a beating it would be almost worth it. I’d forgotten about the rag I’d left lying on the floor. Mother hadn’t noticed the rag at first, but it at last caught her attention.

“What the hell is that on the floor?” she muttered, reaching down to pick up the rag and spotting the puddle of milk on the floor.

Mother shoved me out of her way and stomped across the kitchen to the fridge, which she flung open, rattling the condiments stored on the shelves inside the fridge door. She pulled the jug of milk out of the fridge; the crack more obvious than I realized.

“You little thief,” mother squealed. “No wonder you are still waking up with a wet diaper every morning. You’re sneaking out to get a drink every night.”

I remained silent. Any protest that this was in fact only the second night that I had pulled this stunt wasn’t going to be believed and wasn’t going to make her less angry at me.

“And this milk is ruined now,” she muttered, almost as an afterthought.

I ducked as mother chucked the jug of milk at my head and it careered past me and into the hallway. Her rage outweighed any disgust she felt at my messy diaper as she assailed me, the slaps coming on my face, head, and shoulder as I retreated backwards toward the hallway that led to both of our bedrooms. I could have turned and run back into my bedroom, my normal reaction to when she got out of control. That would have put a stop to the beating but would also have left me in the room till morning to stew in a messy diaper with windows I couldn’t open.

What the fuck did she expect from me? I was thirsty and couldn’t fall asleep with a dry mouth. As I slowly gave way toward the bedroom, I sidestepped the milk jug and the puddle it had created on the floor. The whole side of the jug had split open, emptying the remainder of its contents. Mother wasn’t as lucky, her foot stepped squarely in the middle of the puddle as she reached out to strike me again. I turned to the side and flattened myself against the hallway wall as she tumbled past me onto the floor.

This was my chance. I raced past her to the other end of the mobile home. I didn’t dare run outside, not with how cold it was and my lack of a winter outfit. With my luck, mother would lock me out until the morning. Instead, I stepped into a closet near the front door, and placed a broom between the handles to hold the closet doors shut.

Mother was slow in getting up from the floor. She hadn’t been asleep in bed all that long. Maybe the liquor was finally getting to her. From my hiding spot, I could hear the irregular pace of her footsteps as she approached the closet. She gave the doors a single tug, but the broom helped hold the doors in placed as I also grabbed at the door handles in a game of tug of war.

“If you don’t come out now, you will be grounded for the rest of your fucking life,” she yelled.

The threat didn’t hold much sway with me. I was already grounded. I basically never left the mobile home. Partly because mother didn’t ever want to take me anywhere, and partly because I didn’t have any outfits that really hid my diaper well enough for me to even be comfortable with asking to go somewhere in public. I was locked in my bedroom each night, not allowed to have any food or to use the toilet except at certain times. Yes, I legitimately had accidents, but I wasn’t allowed to change myself or be responsible for my own toileting needs.

In short, I couldn’t picture any discipline worse than my daily routine, giving me no desire to give in to her demands. Without an answer from me, mother resumed her attempts to pry the door open. With as hard as mother was pounding and tugging on the closet door, I was amazed that it hadn’t given way. At last, she leaned back against the wall, panting heavily.

“Listen you little bitch. I’m coming back in a few minutes and if you aren’t out of the closet by then I will make you regret it.”

The front door opened, and I heard mother step outside, though I didn’t have any idea of where she would be going or what she was doing.

The reprieve created by her absence allowed me to examine the sparse contents of the closet with the light shining in from the hallway through the slits in the closet doors. Besides mom’s outfits, there were a couple of jackets I had outgrown, and a few threadbare ones from a thrift store that still fit me. Much of the remaining space was taken up with cardboard boxes, likely containing items that weren’t valuable enough to sell, but not so useless as to be thrown out in the trash. I reached to the back of the closet when my hand enclosed around a narrow, cold, metal tube.

I pulled the object toward me to the revelation that it was my father’s old shotgun. I’m surprised that mother had kept it. The gun had to be worth a decent amount of money at a pawn shop. I didn’t have a clue as to whether it was loaded or not, or how to check that other than by pulling the trigger. But it gave me an idea. I set the gun back down and removed the broom from the door handles so that I could get out of the closet. I made my way to the living room with the shotgun and waited for mother to come back inside.

When mom stepped back inside the mobile home, I saw why she had gone outside. As I peeked around the corner, she was holding an iron crowbar in her hand that she must have retrieved from the car. Mother hadn’t noticed me yet; her attention was focused on the now-empty closet.

“Annabelle, you had better be in your bedroom,” she called out aimlessly.

I stepped back from the corner and stood at the back of the living room. It would have been easier to hold the shotgun if I was seated, but I couldn’t do that comfortably in a messy diaper.

Mother flinched at the sight of the gun, when she caught sight of me, but otherwise didn’t react as we remained in a silent standoff. Her crowbar held loosely in her right hand. My shotgun held upright and aimed at her chest.

“You put that down right now before you get into any more trouble than you already are.”

I didn’t budge. I didn’t have any goals past that obstinate refusal. I just knew that I was done with all the restrictions, all the abuse, all the shame. And I wasn’t going to do another single fucking thing that she asked me to.

“Look, I’ll put this down,” mother said.

She took a step forward and placed the crowbar on the floor, but when she stood up, she was now several feet closer to me.

“Stay back,” I said, taking a backward step myself.

“Annabelle, put the gun down, it isn’t even loaded.”

The contradiction in that message confused me. If it wasn’t loaded, why did it matter if I put it down or not? The weight of the shotgun was getting to me. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep the shotgun pointed at mother with how much it was straining my arms to keep it upright. After another lengthy moment of silence had passed, I began to involuntarily lower the gun so that it was pointed in front of mother rather than right at her.

Mother seized the opportunity and took another couple of steps forward. It took all my remaining strength to point the shotgun back at her.

“Stop,” I shouted.

Mother came to another pause, this time only ten feet away from me. Sweat tricked down my back. My arms shook. I held the shotgun upright, but I couldn’t keep it steadily pointed at mother as it wavered back and forth.

Mother took another tentative step toward me. I pressed my finger against the trigger. It wouldn’t budge. Nothing happened. Mother took another step. I placed a second finger onto the trigger, closed my eyes, and squeezed as hard as I could.

The blast from the gunshot knocked me backwards onto the floor. I landed on my bottom at first, with my head slamming back against the carpet. I had expected the kick from the gun and had made sure to steady it against my shoulder before firing, but the strength of it still left me stunned.

The sound is what I hadn’t been prepared for. Not the sound of the gunshot, which had left my ears ringing. The sound of mom’s anguished cries filled the trailer, a ghoulish mix between a sobbing and screaming. Death wasn’t supposed to be this noisy.

After several seconds I opened my eyes to see her sprawled out on the floor, her limbs twitching. And so much blood. A dark red puddle was spreading out onto the floor next to her. Crimson specks spread across the room behind her. This wasn’t what I had pictured happening when I had grabbed the shotgun. I don’t know what I had naively thought would happen, but it wasn’t this.

There was so much blood, I couldn’t tell where the shot had hit her and whether the wound was fatal or if she had only been temporarily disabled. An onslaught of emotion broke through the shock of the moment. Regret. Panic. A sudden urge to run. To where? I didn’t know. Just not here.

I skirted around mother’s body on my way to the front door. The main door remained open, leaving only the screen door clattering as it opened and shut in the wind. Two steps out onto the tiny wood porch changed my mind about running away outside. The blistering cold would be the death of me. I turned back to go inside, shutting the door behind me and flipping both of the locks. Though why those would be needed, I didn’t know.

I ran back into my bedroom, adverting my eyes from mother as I passed by the living room. She had gone silent.

I stood confused in my bedroom. I didn’t know why I had gone there. Instinct? Habit? Something was out of place, and not being able to place it was creating a growing anxiety. Then I remembered what was missing. My entrance to the bedroom was almost always followed by the slam of the door closing shut behind me and the click of the lock going into place. A routine so familiar that its absence left me unnerved.

I paced back and forth inside the bedroom, as I was prone to do during times I was locked inside the room and unable to sleep. Hours passed. I didn’t leave the bedroom. I couldn’t leave the bedroom. The mental lock as strong as any of the physical one’s mother had installed, and I would need something stronger than a bobby pin to break through it.

The diaper remained on me. Another habit I couldn’t bring myself to break. There was nothing to stop me from changing myself, and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I hoped she was dead. Then I hoped that she wasn’t dead. Then I hoped she wasn’t dead so I could shoot her again to make surer she was dead. I couldn’t make up my damn mind. I had no idea about what I should do next. Was she really dead? If so, how would I hide the body? And how long would I have until anyone noticed, given how recluse our lives were? Each question spawned a dozen more, none of which I had satisfactory answers for, and all of which depended on a question I remained unwilling to discover.

My feet ached. I sank down to my knees, exhausted. My life was over. I couldn’t do this. It didn’t matter whether mother was alive or dead. I was screwed either way. A sense of peace filled me at that moment, as the need to be concerned about anything further away than the next five minutes disappeared. I found that I had the strength to step up from the floor and walk to the bathroom. I didn’t check on mother.

I closed the bathroom door behind me and locked it just in case. I reached my hand to touch the back of my diaper. That was a mistake. Shit had smeared up my back, probably from when I had been knocked to the ground after I had fired the shotgun. I washed my hand clean with ice-cold water from the sink.

The mirror doubled as a medicine cabinet, I tried to avoid looking directly at my reflection as I swung it open, to reveal several small shelves littered with bottles and tubes.

I didn’t stop to even read the labels on the bottles. I’d seen them enough before to be familiar about the dire warnings of taking more than the prescribed dose. I grabbed the first bottle of pills, pressed my hand firmly against the lid and twisted to get it open. It wouldn’t budge. Fucking child safety caps. I got it open on the second try, but to my display, on a dozen or so pills remained.

The ease at which I was able to swallow all of them was disconcerting. But would a dozen be enough? I didn’t want to leave it to chance. I opened several more bottles, taken a dozen pills from each. It had only taken a few minutes to do so, and I didn’t feel anything yet. Maybe it had been foolish to expect the results to be instantaneous.

I waited. The need to pee came and went as I urinated in the diaper, toilet training another desire now rendered pointless. The effects of the medication came on so gradually that I didn’t realize them until they had reached their full force. My legs began to feel weary, as if the weight they were needing to hold up had tripled. A sudden clamminess overtook my arms, which were now hanging onto the counter to brace me. I could literally hear my heart pounding.

I couldn’t hold myself up any longer. My hands slipped from the counter and I hit the tile floor with a thud. I tried, and failed, to lean up against the wall so I could sit in an upright position. I thought belatedly about my funeral. There would have to be one, right? But who would come? What songs would they sing? What would they say about me from the pulpit?

Each breath became harder to pull in than the last, yet my body fought for each breath, strained for life, even as every breath became more painful than the previous one. I wanted the end. I welcomed it, but my body said no. But what I wanted didn’t matter. What my body wanted didn’t matter. What mattered was the pills I had swallowed minutes ago, and the irrevocable path they had set me on.

My eyes closed and then opened, then closed and opened again, staying shut for longer and longer at a time as the cycle continued until they at last closed and didn’t open.

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Chapter 11: Diapers Never Lie

Present time…

A half-dozen Corinthian columns lined the courthouse façade as I walked up the stone steps with my aunt and uncle on either side of me, the building still as imposing as my first visit several months ago. I was no less afraid of entering through the wide, oak doors than I had been before, though for far different reasons. The interior of the courthouse was spacious. From the atrium at the entrance, I could see all the way up to the fourth and highest floor, where the family court proceedings would take place. Paintings of former judges – their legal garb providing a sense of gravitas – lined the walls. The building was oppressive in its grandeur, instilling a sense of dread as I meandered through the wide hallways.

I was dressed for the occasion in a sleeveless, deep-blue dress that flared out at the waist, disguising the outline of my diaper. Aunt Lydia had helped me with putting my shoulder-length hair into an elaborate braid that hung off the right side of my head. To complete the outfit, I had on a pair of inch-high heels, the first time I had ever worn any in public. Even that small addition to my height felt almost overwhelming, but I had spent almost an hour practicing walking back and forth in them in my bedroom, so I didn’t have any difficulty maintaining my balance.

We made our way to the elevators, located to the side of the centuries old building, a recent drywall addition that was out of place with the original architecture. A sign indicating that the ladies’ restroom was around the corner provided a reminder that I really should make a trip to the toilet prior to the hearing. I tugged at Aunt Lydia’s arm, embarrassed to announce in public I needed to go to the restroom. My aunt was thankfully on the same page as me, and she told me that they’d wait for me by the elevator until I was done doing my business. We’d arrived at the courthouse early enough that I didn’t have to rush to make sure we would be on time for the hearing.

Three of the five stalls were already occupied. My only options were two stalls that would leave me with someone to either side of me. After taking the remaining stall that was furthest from the restroom’s entrance, I double checked that the stall door was securely latched shut. I hitched my dress up and lowered the pair of pink compression shorts I was wearing on top of the diaper before taking a seat on the toilet.

Removing the diaper so that I could have access to the toilet presented a challenge. Yes, the Velcro tapes meant I could remove both the tabs from one side of the diaper to slide it down my legs while being able to put it back on after I was done, but there wasn’t any way to quietly undo the tabs. I could rip them off all at once, louder, but it would be over quicker, or slowly ease the tabs slowly off and deal with the extended sound of the Velcro parting.

I have never been comfortable in public restrooms. My earliest memories of them were of when I was still small enough to fit on the baby changing tables, of always turning my head to face the wall so as not to make eye contact with everyone else coming in to use the restroom. I would have been four, maybe five years old at the time. Old enough at least to know that it wasn’t normal for me to still be wearing a pull-up or diaper.

Mother would send my younger sister Elaine, who, of course, was already fully toilet trained, into an empty stall before lifting me up on to the hard plastic of the changing table hanging from the wall. I’m certain these changing tables were intended to have a parent place some type of mat or cover on top of it for both comfort and sanitary reasons, but mother never had a changing pad packed with her, leaving me to lie in discomfort on the plastic surface. Then there was safety strap, which mother always secured on top of me, as if I were a squirmy toddler who couldn’t be trusted to hold still for a diaper change.

A solitary woman or girl coming into the restroom during a diaper change wasn’t usually an issue. If they paused to gawk at the girl who was clearly big enough to be toilet trained, I at least remained unaware of their lingering gaze. But a group of women, or even worse, a mother and daughter, gave rise to the possibility of them conversing about the strange sight taking place in front of them. Comments that, no matter how discreetly they may have been intended to be, always seemed to carry across the restroom.

Now, as much as I disliked needing to change my own diaper in a bathroom stall – the cramped space provided little room to maneuver while taping on a diaper – using the toilet in a so-called normal way was no less embarrassing. I had never had the chance to get used to performing my bodily functions around others. Hearing the splash of urine into the toilet bowl while someone was in an adjacent stall was enough to make my face turn beet red. A toilet trip that should have only lasted several minutes might take much longer, as I worked up the courage to go.

I waited a couple minutes until my neighbor in the stall to my left flushed her toilet, using that noise to disguise the sound of quickly ripping off the two tapes. I kept the diaper between my knees, making sure not to lower it all the way to the floor, where it might be visible to someone looking underneath the stall. And I waited another couple of minutes for the next toilet to flush, giving me cover to urinate. My bladder emptied easily; I had gotten better at making myself go even when I didn’t have an urgent need to do so. Wearing a pull-up would have made this whole process easier, but nothing would be worse than having a leak during the court hearing, so the diaper had been a necessary choice.


The courtroom we had been assigned was smaller than I had expected, and the compact nature of the room left me closer to mother than I would have wanted to be. We had entered the room with our attorneys only minutes before the hearing was to begin. Mother was seated by herself in the second row on the left side of the room. She didn’t turn around when my uncle pulled open the door to the courtroom and ushered us in. I squeezed ahead of my aunt and immediately walked into the back row on the right side of the room, putting as much space between myself and mother as I possibly could. I kept my eyes focused on the front of the room, a rising wooden podium where the judge would be seated, refusing to make so much as a glance in mother’s direction.

The side of the room had a couple of rows of empty benches where a jury could be seated, but, for our case, the judge would be the only person responsible for determining my fate. Seated in the front row, with a sign indicating it was for witnesses, were my therapist, Miss Amanda, and one of the doctors who had worked with me at the hospital, whose name escaped me. Everyone stood as the judge entered the courtroom from a door on the opposite side. She was an older woman, with short, curly silver hair, who was wearing a long black robe, her face carrying a serious expression as she surveyed the courtroom, before smacking her gavel to bring the hearing to a start.

The mundanity of the lawyers’ initial arguments belied the seriousness of whatever the outcome would entail, and I struggled to follow all of what they were saying. My thoughts drifted to the last time I had seen mother lying on the floor of the mobile home. I hadn’t known the extent of her injuries at the time, but I found out afterward that the gun had been loaded with birdshot, and my wayward shot had only hit her in the shoulder. Mother’s inebriated state had been as much to blame for her passing out as her injuries, which, while outwardly messy, had in fact been minor as far as gunshot wounds go. Her immediate recovery had been one of the reasons the judge had been lenient in not considering more serious charges.

I tried to regain my focus on the proceedings as the judge was questioning my mother’s attorney.

“Suppose I was to award custody of Annabelle to her mother,” the judge said, addressing the attorney for my mother. “Are you telling me that Mrs. Lee feels safe living with her daughter?”

That was a good question. I couldn’t picture trying to kill mother again, not because I didn’t find myself capable of it, but because I refused to contemplate a scenario in which I ended up living with her.

The attorney paused before providing an answer, appearing as though he was attempting to choose precisely what words he was about to use.

“No, I’m not inferring that my client would feel say living with her daughter.”

Good. I was glad to hear that bitch was scared of me, but even more puzzled as to why the custody case was being pursued in the first place. The judge appeared just as puzzled as I was. Her upper lip stiffened, and she leaned forward in her chair.

“If Mrs. Lee doesn’t feel safe in caring for her daughter, why is she objecting to the state having awarded custody of Annabelle to her aunt and uncle?”

“Mrs. Lee loves her daughter, and is pursing custody for Annabelle’s own good,” the attorney began.

I started to stand up. I wanted to yell something, anything, in objection to the bullshit the attorney was spewing. Aunt Lydia’s arm caught me in the waist and forced me back down onto bench. We briefly exchanged glances and the look she gave me told me I had come perilously close to getting into serious trouble. I had no choice but sit uneasily and listen to what my mother’s attorney had to say.

“The girl is clearly suffering from serious mental issues. Besides attempting to take her mother’s life, she has several indicators of anti-social behavior. For one she lacks the mental capacity to properly use the toilet and has always had the need to wear diapers.”

The padding between my legs felt extra noticeable after that remark. Everyone in the room already knew about my incontinence, but that didn’t mean that it was fair for the attorney to bring it up and use it against me. I slumped down in the bench. It was one thing to know that everyone knew I was wearing a diaper; it was something entirely else for it to be rubbed in my face. But the insults from my mother’s attorney didn’t end with his remarks about my bladder problems. He claimed I had displayed anti-social behavior during group therapy and that my suicide attempt demonstrated that I wasn’t mentally stable.

“That doesn’t seem to be a case for why Mrs. Lee would want custody of her daughter,” said the judge, interrupting the attorney again.

“Your honor, the girl is clearly troubled, and no doubt the death of her father and sister may have played a role in that too. Her inability to adjust to society and the potential danger she possesses to others would be justification for Mrs. Lee to seek institutional care for her daughter should she regain custody of Annabelle.”

That was the last straw for me. He had pulled out the age-old threat mother had always held over my head when she was at her angriest. Mother’s plan was clear. She wanted to have her cake and eat it too by getting me locked up while still getting the monthly checks. I stood too fast for Aunt Lydia to stop me.

“That’s a lie! She just wants the money!”

The judge smacked her gavel down almost instantaneously as every eye in the courtroom turned to look at me.

“Order, order,” the judge said. “Young lady, you need to take a seat.”

Properly admonished, I hastily took a seat, though I couldn’t help but notice the judge attempting to hold back the slightest of smiles on her face. Aunt Lydia leaned in to whisper in my ear.

“Don’t worry, when it’s our attorney’s turn, they’ll have a rebuttal for what was just said.”

I took a deep breath and picked aimlessly at my fingernails while the hearing moved on. At last, it was our lawyers’ turn to speak. My doctor and therapist were both called as witnesses. The doctor explained, in greater detail than I felt was necessary, that my bladder problems were an entirely physical issue, and didn’t reflect one way or another on my mental capacity. Miss Amanda testified that my mother’s attorney had misrepresented her therapy notes, and that I had been socializing as well as could be expected, given my circumstances.

We were nearly an hour into the hearing. Both sides were supposed to get thirty minutes apiece. And my bladder was aching. This wasn’t the typical urge to urinate that makes you want to squirm and cross your legs. The kind where if you laughed to hard or got tickled in the wrong spot your bladder’s floodgates might open up. This was painful. The only comparison that felt appropriate would be if my bladder itself was cramping up.

No one would know if I wet the diaper. mean, this is why I had worn a diaper instead of a pull-up in the first place? A risk of a leak was basically non-existent. The diaper was absorbent enough that I could wear it the rest of the day with no leaks happening, not that I would ever do that given how uncomfortable that would be.

Giving in would be so easy. Relax my bladder for fifteen, maybe twenty seconds. The diaper would take care of the rest. The pain would be go away. I could live to fight another day.

“Annabelle. Annabelle.”

My head jerked upright at the sound of my name. One of our attorneys had walked forward to the waist-high barrier that separated the audience from the remainder of the courtroom. The arguments from both sides had concluded. Now it was time for the judge to determine the outcome.

“The judge would like to talk with you,” he said, before I could think of a non-embarrassing way to excuse myself to run off to the restroom.

The woman seated up high on the bench was not the same one who had handled my earlier proceedings. I had to lift my chin up to look her in the face. What did she want with me?

“I need to know how you feel about all of this,” the judge intoned quietly enough that her voice wouldn’t carry back to the audience.

“Does it matter?”

“It often does, but it’s a question I always want to make sure to ask before coming to any custody decision.”

“I want to stay with my aunt and uncle.”

There wasn’t any reason for either of us to have expected that answer to be different, by I nonetheless appreciated that I had been asked. But now the pain in my bladder was back. The momentary distraction of being called forward to talk with the judge had temporarily put it off my mind, but now the ache in my insides was back with a vengeance.

“How much longer till the hearing is over?”

“It will be another ten to fifteen minutes. I need to talk with the attorneys for a bit more before I announce my decision.”

That was longer than I would be able to wait. I paused. If I didn’t ask, I was going to wet myself.

“Can I be excused to go to the restroom,” I whispered.

“Of course you can,” she said, completely unphased by the request. “Oh, and you can take you time. The hearing needs to stay on schedule, so we’ll keep it moving without you. And you don’t have anything to worry about. You’ll be staying with your aunt and uncle.”

I wanted to skip out of the courtroom, but I remembered the attorney’s advice about maintaining decorum, and I kept myself to a normal pace, stepping out into the hallway before my aunt and uncle even had a chance to ask me where I was going. Once the door shut behind me, I took a glance in both directions. With no one in sight, I jogged toward the far end of the hallway where the restrooms were located.

I yanked the tapes off of the diaper, indifferent but not oblivious to the fact that others in the restroom would be able to hear it, though hopefully they wouldn’t recognize what the sound meant. And even if they did figure out that I had a diaper on, I didn’t care. In the moment, achieving the success of making it to the toilet without wetting myself was worth a bit of embarrassment.

Whoever had coined the phrase “relieving yourself” had captured the almost paradisiacal feeling of emptying one’s bladder, when all the tension of holding your muscles tighter and tighter against their will finally gives way relaxation.

It was only after I had relieved myself that I found time to dwell on the judge’s decision that had brought a whole different sense of emotional relief. I hadn’t anticipated her delivering a different verdict, but the moment hadn’t become real until the minute she announced it. But with the finality of her decision, that meant one more task for me to complete before we left the courthouse to head home. Aunt Lydia had asked me multiple times if I was sure I wanted to go through with it, even though it had been my idea from the start, but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was what I wanted for myself.

I gave the diaper a careful examination while putting it back on. The interior of the diaper was solid white, with not a single yellow stain in sight. I did it. It was, to be sure, a small victory, a minor battle that I’d won in the course of a much longer war. But for the first time in longer than I could remember, I was filled with a sense of unbridled hope that the war to gain control over my bladder was one I was capable of winning. No matter what needed to be done. No matter how long it took. After all, diapers never lie.

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Epilogue

“Sorry, we don’t accept credit cards,” said the woman behind the counter at the courthouse clerk’s office.

The portly woman tapped a pudgy finger against the glass barrier that separated the county workers behind the counter from the public, alerting us to a small sign stuck to the glass that did clearly state that credit cards weren’t an acceptable form of payment at the courthouse. Uncle James returned his credit card to his wallet, which he flipped open to check if he had enough cash to cover the sixty-five-dollar fee required to file the form.

“All I’ve got is a twenty,” he said. “Honey, can you check your purse?”

Aunt Lydia lifted her faux leather purse onto the granite countertop before unzipping it. Sixty-five dollars was such a small fee for something so life changing. I really hoped my aunt had enough cash on-hand to cover the remaining forty-five dollars. We lived all the way on the opposite side of the county from the courthouse. I didn’t want to have to come back another day.

My aunt discovered a wad of bills in her purse, sifting through them until she had the right amount. She slid the money to the clerk through a small gap beneath the glass divider. The woman flipped through the bills, counting them out loud as they smacked against the counter. Twenty. Forty. Fifty. Sixty. Sixty-five. With the bills inserted into a cash register, I watched through the finger-print-smeared glass as the clerk went to the back of the room, where gray, metal cabinet files lined the walls. She pulled open a couple of creaky drawers before at last finding the form we were requesting, sliding it underneath the glass to my aunt, who handed the single sheet of cream-colored paper to me.

“A little young to be doing that,” the woman muttered to no one in particular.

I ignored the remark. What does she know, anyways? The title of the form was listed on the top left side of the paper in a blocky typeface: Request for Name Change. I grabbed a pen from the jar on the counter, removed the cap, and filled out the first few spots in blue ink with relative ease, listing today’s date, my address, and my birth name.

I paused and took a deep breath as I reached the end of the form. My fingertips were beginning to get sweaty. Why am I so nervous? This is what I wanted, after all. A clean break. Severing the one remaining public tie I had to mother. I had thought carefully about what I wanted to change my name to. I wanted something shorter and simple, without any obvious negative associations. Annabelle was too long. Too formal. I also didn’t want to use a nickname. I’d made a list and settled on my choice several weeks ago. I had wanted to go to the courthouse right away, but Aunt Lydia insisted that I wait to make sure I wasn’t having any second thoughts about my choice.

Steadying my hand at last, I held the pen above the section where it asked me to fill in my new first name.

I wrote four letters in a neat, printed script: Lisa.

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Meant to post this for anyone who might be confused at how the epilogue ended. For those of you who haven’t read my other story, All My Mother’s Rules, Lisa is one of the characters there and this is intended as her backstory.

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I had picked this up when it was on DD first and got a few chapters in. Glad to see it finished.

And by that I mean I’m also glad to see Lisa get closure and relief. It was certainly a dark and woeful tale. I’ll be interested to see how Lisa fits into All My Mother’s Rules. Though, I pray there isn’t a lot of other overlap or parallels of events, as already the mother in this and your other story share a lot of similarities. In both, the mother is the main antagonist, though in this one the mother takes on the role of the villain at the end–AMMR remains to be seen what happens, but with the conclusion of this, I’m confident it’ll be rock-solid, whatever it is.

If I had to pick out any gripes, they’d mostly be the occasional spelling error, as well as some odd verb-tense switching, but those are niggling.

I wanna say I’m surprised there aren’t more comments, but I can understand as a lot of people are looking for escapism and this is anything but. However, it was absolutely gripping and I love the work you put into it.

Thanks!

No spoilers about AMMR, but I will say that I’m personally more satisfied with how that story will end. Not that this ending wasn’t good, but in retrospect there may have been some things I’d rather have done differently.

And yeah, tense is probably been the challenging part of moving to writing fiction. I know I should be writing in past or past perfect tense, but I do find myself drifting at times to whatever sounds best in the specific situation.

I’ve lacked for feedback on DD, so I assume it will come along here as well, since I just recently started posting stories on both sides. I’d post elsewhere, but sadly my writing might run afoul of rules on other ABDL story forums.

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Great story, congratulations.