Ink: By Personalias

(Wednesday)

The blows from Molly’s hairbrush landed swiftly and repeatedly on Margaret’s bare bottom. It burned, oh how it burned! Surely the fires that rained down on Sodom and Gomorrah were less potent, less painful, less agonizing to both body and soul than the kind of pain that Molly was inflicting upon her roommate.

Pinned to the apartment floor, hands pinned behind her back with, Molly soundly and thoroughly thrashing her backside, her soaking wet Goodnite drooping around one ankle, Margaret desperately wriggled and squirmed to free herself from Molly’s hold. It was no use, however. Molly only needed one hand to paddle Margaret like she was a naughty child at K-Mart. Every other part of her was dedicated to pinning Margaret to the floor; throwing all of her weight down on the other girl while maneuvering Margaret’s hands behind her back and not allowing any meaningful movement. If not for the spanking aspect, it might be comparable to a police restraint.

Margaret cried out, but she would not cry; she refused to give her roommate that satisfaction, preferring to squeeze her eyes shut and shake her head furiously. Perhaps she’d get lucky and her braided pigtails would smack Molly in the face hard enough to get her to let go.

As Margaret thrashed, willing herself not to break, while mentally comparing this treatment to something out of the Old Testament, Molly had other, more practical, things on her mind. Was she hitting Margaret too hard? Any harder and there might be a bruise; that’d be no good, even if it would teach the little pill a lesson. Should she do something about the Goodnite? The thing already looked close to leaking and every one of Margaret’s kicks threatened to send the pissy thing sailing through the air and splattering on the wall. And who would have to clean it up? Molly, of course.

It was better for Margaret to have it around her ankles than around her bottom at the moment. Too much cushion, and Margaret wouldn’t take Molly’s swift and just punishment seriously. If Molly was going to be taken seriously (and she was going to be taken seriously) boundaries were going to have to be set for her roommate to respect: routines established and reinforced, rules learned and followed.

Boundaries were good. Reinforcement was good. Routine and expectations were good; not just good for Molly, but for Margaret too. It was a lot of work at the beginning, but Molly knew the other girl would be better off for it in the end and everything would become so much easier in the long term. That’s what she told herself to drown out Margaret’s screams. A tiny voice that didn’t quite belong to her reassured her of these facts.

Also, being spanked through a wet diaper might lead to a nasty rash…Molly would have to look that one up for future reference…just in case.

“Say it!” Molly yelled over Margaret’s tantrum, not letting up on the spanking for an instant.

Margaret inhaled long enough to shout “No!” before exhaling into not-quite sobs.

Molly began to worry about actually damaging her roommate. New flesh would have to be spanked if she didn’t want Margaret to bruise. Molly’s eyes went to the tramp stamp just above Margaret’s ass, but, no, it was still too fresh and raw…she might accidentally break the skin. Margaret’s thighs would have to do if this went on much longer. “Say it!”

“No, no, no!”

“You were wrong! Say it!”

“No!”

“Say it!”

Another long inhale as Margaret caught her breath. “Shove that hairbrush up your-“ a series of rapid fire spankings slammed down on Margaret’s already reddened cheeks and thundered out through their apartment turning Margaret’s last words into “AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” It was almost like the tattoo on Molly’s wrist was kissing the tattoo above Margaret’s ass. They were kisses that brought pain, however.

“No naughty language!” Molly commanded. “That’s what got you into this!” Margaret would have begged to differ; it was Molly who had gotten her into this, but she wasn’t quite up to the task of using semantics and properly debating. Pain has that effect on people. The pain was too much. If Hell was a thing, here, right now, with no end in sight, was Margaret’s Hell. A tiny voice that didn’t belong to her told Margaret to just give up and admit that she was wrong, (even if she didn’t mean it) so that the pain would stop. Then she could get on with her day, watch some cartoons and maybe even get a fresh Goodnite. The extra padding would certainly feel good on her sore bottom. Finally, amidst the slapping and the screaming, something broke inside of her.

“I’m sorry!” Margaret screamed out.

“For…?”

“For calling you a bitch…?” A quick smack told Margaret that using bad words was inexcusable, even when apologizing for saying bad words. “I’m sorry I called you a bad word!”

Molly still wasn’t satisfied. “Are you going to use that bad word again?” She stopped paddling her roommate, but left the hairbrush hovering over the point of impact

“No.” Margaret was shaking her head so fast that she was smacking herself in the face with her own braided hair.

“Be polite.” Molly ordered. “Are you going to use any bad words, again?”

“No, Ma’am!”

“Promise?”

“Yes, Mommy!”

The word “Mommy” stabbed at both of their brains as if it had been a hot poker. Molly released her hold on Margaret and leapt off of her as if her new roommate were made of sulfuric acid. She jumped up onto the couch, as if the woman she’d been spanking had mutated into some kind of poisonous reptile and eyed her wearily. Once free, Margaret got her feet underneath her and scrambled away in the opposite direction, scooting along the carpet while kicking the soaked and soiled undergarment as if it had leprosy. Better to be naked than to be in that thing. Never taking her eyes off Molly, she pressed he back to the wall as she began breaking into a cold sweat, panting the entire time. She was as scared of herself as she was of the woman she’d just called “Mommy”.

That was the thing that scared them both. The word “Mommy” had come out of Margaret’s mouth so naturally…and it felt right to both of them. There wasn’t a trace of sarcasm, or irony in it. No sexual innuendos or the kind of bad roleplay vibes that people beating each other in the movies gave off. It. Just. Felt. Right.

But it shouldn’t have.

Not even a week ago, these two women were perfect strangers, just getting to know each other. In only a few short days, so much had changed. One calling the other “Mommy” was probably the least strange thing that had happened in that time, but it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

How had they gotten to this point?


(Saturday)

Molly Huang had just finished unpacking the last of her stuff, her room now a beautiful mess of sketchbooks, yarn, clay, paint, paper, and pencils, all in little piles throughout the room. Her dresser was now crammed tight with t-shirts, shorts, underwear and socks all bundled together. Entire outfits were crumpled into little balls so that all Molly had to do was open up a drawer take out the bundle of wrinkled clothes and put them on in the correct order (ironing was optional and dependent on her mood) . Her closet, now home to a little over a dozen half-finished paintings and molds that would never be finished once their spark of inspiration had dimmed, remained. It was always best to look upon the failures of old so as to inspire new successes. Oh yeah, there was a bed in there somewhere, too, likely beneath the boxes filled with vinyl records, (where had her record player gotten off to?).

A knock at her bedroom door caught Molly’s attention, and she opened it without hesitation. It was Margaret Masterson, Molly’s new roommate. “Oh, hey!” Molly chirped. “Wussup?”

Her roommate peered into her room, eyes squinting behind thin wire frame glasses. “Sorry to interrupt,” Margaret said. “Didn’t realize you were still unpacking.” Then Margaret said the words Molly secretly dreaded. “I can help,” she offered. “I’m really good at organizing things.”

This much was an understatement. When Margaret had given her the grand tour last week, Molly thought she was looking at a model of an apartment, not an actual living space. Not a dish out of place or a wrinkled sheet to be seen. Her pantry was organized alphabetically, for Chrissakes! The “interview dinner” a few nights ago had been equally bland and unappealing. Margaret was a customer service representative for one of the big tech companies (meaning she got bitched at for a living and wasn’t allowed to bitch back). Her fiancé had left her, thought she had never stated the reason why. Molly got the feeling it might be because the woman was so OCD she tried to control everything about the guy’s life (including the number of thrusts before being allowed to orgasm), and he got while the getting was good. Then again, it could have been murder. Molly hadn’t seen that level of cleanliness outside of a Hollywood psychopath. An earlier bathroom break revealed to her that the toilet paper was just as full as it had been when she’d taken the tour. Did Margaret go through so much toilet paper that she was constantly restocking, or did she just not use the bathroom? Point being was that Margaret was in a bad way. The hubby that got away had done the majority of the bread winning.

Molly, meanwhile, was a commercial artist. Her name and creations would never line the hall of a museum, but they paid the bills and left plenty of free time to pursue her own personal muse. She’d sometimes go months without a gig, but the payouts were often big enough so that the lights stayed on, she’d never gone hungry, and she got to work her own hours and be her own boss. The thing of it though, was that work was getting slimmer lately, and the paychecks weren’t lasting as long as they used to. If she wanted to maintain her standard of living and still have time to pursue her true artistic passions, she needed to either make more money or spend less of it. Despite their contrasting jobs and natures, they both had what the other wanted: half of a rent payment.

“I’m good,” Molly politely rebuffed her roomie’s offer. “I kind of unpack organically, if you know what I mean.” Margaret nodded her head, but Molly had a feeling the answer was still “not really”. “I need a break anyways.” She looked over to the television in the living area, just in front of the modest kitchenette. “Wanna watch some T.V.?”

Margaret grimaced a bit. “We don’t have cable,” she said. “Cable is too expensive.” Molly’s shoulder’s slumped. No T.V.? “I’ve got Netflix, though.” Margaret said, sensing Molly’s disappointment. “I stream it on my PS4.”

“Really?” The artist was skipping over to the little black box, and snapping up the controller before her roommate knew what she was doing. This had potential in Molly’s eyes. You never really knew a person these days until you looked at their Netflix playlist and their porn. Molly sincerely doubted Margaret had any porn, so this was going to be the best look into the woman’s soul.

The gentle boot up tones filled the room as the game console hummed to life. Illuminated with the comfortable blue glow of the T.V. screen, Molly giggled in surprise when she glimpsed Margaret’s game list. “What’s with all the FPS and fighting games?” Molly asked. “Your ex’s?” Too late, she realized she may have just inadvertently said something stupid and touched a nerve.

“Mine,” Margaret answered. A bashful blush colored her cheeks. “They help me destress after work,” she said, nervously glancing away.

“Iiiiinteresting.” Molly said, going onto Netflix.

“I don’t mind if we share my account, but would you mind making your own profile?”

Molly’s eyes were focused, hungry for juicy, juicy, gossip level information. “I just wanna see what you’ve got on your playlist,” she waved off Margaret’s growing concern. Time to see what was in this nutter’s soul.

The artist gasped. “Bojack Horseman? Red vs. Blue? Archer? MST3K? Sausage Party?”

The customer service rep rubbed her arm. “I like to laugh.”

“Hell yeah you do!” Molly agreed. “We gotta have a movie night sooner or later.”

“Really?…Okay.” The first traces of a smile were creeping onto Margaret’s lips. “That sounds fun.” Indeed it did. Maybe there was more to this bookish spinster-in-the-making. Maybe there was a wild woman screaming to get loose. One way to find out…

“I’m getting hungry.” Molly rubbed her tummy for emphasis. “How about we go get some grub?”

Margaret glanced at the clock on the microwave. “Isn’t it a little early to think about eating?” Then she added, “And I don’t exactly have the money to spare right this second. It wouldn’t be responsible.”

“My treat,” Molly offered. “You drive. I’ll pay.” She didn’t exactly have the money to spare, either, but she had some stashed away for a kind of I-need-fun-or-I’ll-die fund. This was as good a time as any. Molly’s new roommate chewed this over for a minute, debating and arguing with two sides of herself: The wild woman and the good girl.

“Okay,” she said. “Let’s celebrate. Live a little. Where were you thinking? Something like Applebees?”

“Something like that.”


(Saturday)

“I am NOT drunk!” It was super important that her new roommate know this about her…right then, too. That fact that Margaret had not once been accused of being drunk by her knew roommate hadn’t crossed the customer service representative’s mind. If Molly thought Margaret was drunk, (or worse yet, a lush) she wouldn’t be taken seriously, and it was so important that she be taken seriously at this vulnerable time in her life. This was a new relationship, for all intents and purposes, and though it was not romantic by any means, certain boundaries and routines had to be established up front. Boundaries and routines like she was not drunk. “I’m not…I’m…not. I’mnot!”

Molly knocked back her fourth shot of Jaeger. “I know.” A dopey, self-confident smile, oozed out across her face.

“No you don’t, ya don’t…don’t, don’t, don’t.” They were in a place that was “something like Applebees.” It was your typical family bar and grill, only without the grill…or the families. “MORE JAEGER!” she called out to the bartender. Margaret hadn’t drunk this much since college. She hadn’t drunk this much ever. Margaret didn’t drink. How Molly had convinced her to match her shot for shot had been lost when the girls had transitioned from Jell-O shooters to Jaeger.

And while Margaret was practically propping herself up with the bar, Molly seemed only a little bit buzzed. The bartender brought over two more shots and a tall glass of water. “Drink this first,” he said. “Keep hydrated, honey.” Margaret giggled like she was in Elementary school. He had called her honey!

Wisely, the young woman took the tall glass of water (straw included) and began sipping. She looked back to her new roommate, her new partner in this adventure called life, and asked, “Wanna race?”

“Nah….I’m good.” Molly said, only now beginning to sway with the rest of the room. Somewhere in the back of the room, a drunken crooner was belting out Hey Jude on the old karaoke machine as if the Beatles’ resurrection and reunion tour depended on it.

As she sipped at the water, the small part of Margaret that could (barely) think straight was amused at this recent turn of events. Molly had been the last candidate that Margaret had interviewed, and the only one to accept the offer of splitting the rent. Everyone, even the people who she had only met with a day prior, had already found more satisfactory living arrangements. They never said so directly, but Margaret quietly suspected that she was the deciding factor causing them to refuse. Ever since her fiancé left her for that whore, Jamie, Margaret’s sense of self-worth had shriveled while her people skills were, meanwhile, being called into question.

Did she really make that bad of a first impression? So what if she liked a clean apartment and kept things tidy? That was supposed to be a plus! Did it really matter if she didn’t really go out and dance or want strange men or animals flitting in and out of her home? Or drugs that could cost Margaret her job? Was that so wrong? Apparently, it was. This crazy little ball of chaos named Molly…a girl that had more quirks than the cast of a Wes Anderson film…a girl whose moving luggage was ninety-nine percent black garbage bags…was the only one who had been interested in living with her after the grand tour and interview. Margaret Masterson really had no other choice but to let Molly Huang into her life.

“Best… notta choice…evar!” Margaret slurred.

Molly looked up at her. “Huh?”

“Nevamind.” Margaret could barely hear over the Na-Na-Na chorus of Hey Jude. They were likely the only two in the bar who weren’t singing along. Once the song had ended, the hoots were hollered and the clapping sputtering down, Margaret decided to change the subject. “Sho,” she said. “What do you do if yer wif a guy? Hanga sock onna door or sumfin?”

Again, Molly looked up at Margaret, only half-awake. “Huh? Noooooo! I’m not gonna bring anybody home. That’s a rule…you said so!”

“Yer gonna bring somefin’ home.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“No I won’t.”

“Are too…iss okay. I unnerstand. We’ve…we got needs. I got needs. I…” the customer service rep fought off a sudden melancholy sob. “I’mstillavirgin.” Margaret belched the word ‘virgin’ out. A flush of shame exploded across her entire body. Whether it was at the belch, the information overshare, or the sudden feeling of vulnerability overwhelming her, even she didn’t know. She kept sipping on her water. Just stay numb. Just stay numb.

Molly smiled politely then shrugged. “Maybe we should talk about sex,” Molly said. “But we should probably talk about that kind of stuff…later…yeah later.” Inwardly, Margaret agreed. Nothing said while drunk really looked that good when the light of sobriety kicked in. God, it had been so long since she’d gotten good and drunk. She needed this. She really, really needed this. The room started to sway even more, as the gurgling slurping sounds made their way up from the bottom of Margaret’s glass. The water had arrived to Margaret’s system a little too late.

“How are you not drunk?” Margaret asked.

Molly stuck her tongue out. “I am drunk. You’re the one that’s not drunk, remember? I just hold my booze better.”

“Oh yeah…I forgot.” The new roommates burst out into hideous, yet hilarious intoxicated laughter. Margaret let out. “How are you not that drunk? I’ve gotta have at least fifty pounds on you.” This was true. Margaret wasn’t overweight, but Molly was decidedly petite.

Again, the artist shrugged. “I’ve got a pretty good tolerance.”

“I’m hungreeeeee,” Margaret said. Her own body began to rhythmically sway to a ballet only she could hear, (though the sounds of Don’t Stop Believin’ in the background synced up pretty well.) “Can we get somethin’ ta eat?”

The dopey smile never left Molly’s face. “You mean like Applebees?”

“Somethin’ like that.” Margaret thought on it for a moment…or it might have been gas. “What about White Castle? That’s a thing…right? White Castle? I wanna be dangerous. Les do White Castle”

Molly hadn’t been sipping anything, but if she had, whatever burning concoction she’d put to her lips would have rocketed out of her nose. Margaret had no idea why, but she felt as if she had accidentally made a joke. “Okay, let’s go get some shit food,” Molly said.

“Language!” Margaret yipped. Both girls seemed stunned by Margaret’s admonition.

Molly asked, “Did…did you really just say ‘language’?”

“Sorry,” Margaret apologized. “Old habits die hard.” Then, “I’m not drunk!” Then, “I gotta pee.”

Margaret’s roommate pointed the way towards the bathroom. “You go to the little girl’s room. I’ll pay up the tab and call us a cab.”

Margaret nodded, and smiled to herself. She was soooooo lucky to have come across and made a good friend like Molly. She made it three steps to the restroom before she pivoted and wobbled back to the bar. “Almost forgot,” she said, taking the final shot glass filled with Jaeger in her hand. “One for the road.” Molly took her own shot glass and they clinked theirs together before downing the green liqueur.


(Sunday)

The heavy thrum-thrumming wasn’t coming from Molly’s head, though she wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been. Like rusty door hinges on a haunted house, her eyes creaked open to the sounds of heavy metal rattling on hard floor. It hurt. She hurt. Everything hurt. Molly’s entire existence was one not so dull ache. “Worth it,” Molly’s voice cracked, dry and broken.

Worth it, indeed. From what Molly could remember, she’d had a good time, learned more about Margaret, and perhaps even bonded with the taller woman in the process. To call everything after the bar a blur would be a disservice to blurs in general. Blurs still had some semblance of form. Bigfoot could be seen in a blur. UFO’s could be seen in a blur. Everything after the bar was more like one giant technicolor smear: all bright and vibrant, but she couldn’t begin to tell you what she’d been looking at.

But what was a little memory smear to the developing bonds of sisterhood? The artist couldn’t quite remember everything, but her hunch about Margaret had been correct. The repressed little mouse of a woman who got yelled at for a living, was a freak waiting to bust out. She’d been saving herself for marriage, (how that had worked with them living in the same apartment, Molly had to wonder) but if her fiancé had waited it out, or just gotten her drunk once in a while, he would have been in for a treat, Molly was sure.

The image of Margaret in her plain, boring, bordering-on-school-marm clothes during the day switching to a full-on dominatrix outfit during the night was amusing to no end. Margaret was definitely one of those types: a lady in the living room but a freak between the sheets. On second thought, Molly didn’t quite see Margaret as the whips and chains type. Mentally, she edited the image in her brain to Margaret as a sexy school girl, with plaid socks that went up to her knees and a short skirt, a paddle in hand and just begging for a spanking. Yeah, that seemed more accurate to Molly.

With a tired yawn and an aching stretch, the artist looked around her cluttered room and the first traces of disgust with herself snuck in. Garbage. She was surrounded by garbage. Everything looked worse in the light of day after a night of heavy drinking, even the mounds of chaos decorating her habitat that Molly wouldn’t otherwise have given a second thought to.

A rumble from Molly’s insides informed her that she had other, more urgent matters to attend to. But going to the toilet met she had to get dressed. With a flourish, she ripped the sheets off her body, only then fully appreciating that she was naked. Molly hadn’t realized she was naked, but that wasn’t surprising; she didn’t even remember getting home. She sniffed. She’d need a shower, too. One thing a time. Molly pulled open a drawer and pulled out a bundle of clothes. The shorts took a spot on the bed, while she pulled on the panties and a just long enough shirt. That would do for her sojourn towards the porcelain throne.

She swung the door open and shuffled across the floor, the thrum-thrum-thrumming that had woken her up getting louder as she crossed the living area. The tiny little closet on the wall next to the kitchenette containing the washer and dryer had been thrown wide open. The washing machine rattled and danced with a thrum-thrum-thrumming as it wobbled from side to side; not quite tipping itself over before going the other direction and doing more of the same.

Apparently Margaret had loaded it unevenly. Poor girl must be even more hungover than Molly was feeling, and right now the fluorescent lightbulbs of the apartment were as blinding as the sun. With shielded eyes, Molly squinted and made her way towards the (thankfully open) bathroom door.

“Aaaaaaaaaah”, her relieved cries echoed off the bathroom walls. From outside, Molly could still hear the thrum-thrum-thrumming of the washing machine rattling and shaking along with its unbalanced load. If it kept going on, Molly might just break out her portable record player, turn it up to max, and put on some Jackie Wilson just to complete the picture.

It was when she reached for the toilet paper that she noticed something was amiss. On the underside of her right forearm, right below her wrist, was a square bandage. Where had that come from? Had she started cutting again or something? Molly had thought she’d long outgrown that phase, and she had generally preferred her legs; nothing was bandaged up there. Timidly, she poked at the bandage, bracing herself for a sharp pain. There was some minor irritation, like a scrape or a sunburn, but nothing that screamed drunken emergency room visit.

Now more curious than afraid, Molly ripped the little white square off her wrist, the adhesive rubbing the wrong way against her flesh and causing her to flinch. Where the bandage had been, two tiny little symbols made of crisscrossing dashes in black ink remained. One looked a bit like a sloppily drawn number eight; the kind that appeared on digital clocks, only it had stray lines sticking out in places and a single dot in each of the hollow spaces. The other symbol looked like the letters X, Y, t, T, and F all had an orgy and were piled on top of each other. When had that happened? Molly had been pretty drunk before, but she’d never been tattoo drunk.

A baffled guffaw issued forth. “NIIIIICE!” she said. This was definitely a new experience, and she was too drunk to remember all the painful little bee sting needle stabs that came with getting it. Win-win. Molly’s unexpected exuberance was cut short by the sounds of quiet sobbing from the other side of the wall; Margaret’s room.

Molly quickly cleaned herself up and flushed before swinging around to just outside Margaret’s room. “Margaret?” Molly called out. “You okay?”

The other woman’s sobs stopped briefly. “I’m fine!” she called back. Drunk or sober, the young woman was a godawful liar. Glancing at the new decoration on her wrist, the decided likelihood of Margaret waking up to a matching tattoo was close to a statistical certainty. Getting drunk was one thing, but for a repressed prissy goodie two shoes like Margaret, waking up with a tattoo would be much more traumatic than just a “One time I got plastered” story.

“Yeeeaah,” Molly sighed. “I’m coming in anyway.”

“No! Don’t!” It was too late. Molly flung the door open and stepped in. The sight of the room was enough to make every bone in Molly’s tiny body shudder in revulsion. It was carpeted, with old antique looking dressers holding a small collection of Russian wooden dolls that had been well dusted but still probably hadn’t been touched in years, a vanity mirror with no makeup but lots of cheap looking costume jewelry, and a four-post bed. The place looked like her Nana’s room at the nursing home. This wasn’t where a twenty-something woman lived, this was where an old lady came to die.

Atop the four-post bed, stripped of its sheets, was an equally naked Margaret. She was scrubbing something off of her mattress using a handheld floor brush. “Get out get out get out get out!” she screeched. She seemed to be talking to the mattress. Her eyes were wild, not unlike a rabid racoon that had just been cornered, her lips pulled back into a snarl. The foam wasn’t coming from her mouth, but it had built up on the mattress as she brushed and scrubbed the center. Molly amended her thoughts about Margaret as a naughty Catholic school girl and shifted them to Lady MacBeth.

Her head swung around to meet her roommate’s gaze, her eyes locking on Molly. “GET OUT!”

“Eeep!” Molly squeaked. “Sorry!” Molly snaked out of the doorway, shutting the door behind her. The muffled and panicked sobs rose up almost immediately. The faint scent of urine followed Molly back out into the living room. For a moment, she wondered if she had wiped well enough but then she connected the dots. “Oh…oh…ooooooooooh!”

“GET OUT! PLEASE! GET OUT!”

Not knowing what else to do, and not entirely sure if Margaret was addressing her or the stain, Molly just decided to go about her morning as she originally intended. Best to give her new friend some space. After a quick but boiling shower, Molly dressed herself and listened for sounds coming from Margaret’s bedroom. “Yep,” she commented to no one in particular. “Still crying.”

Molly looked down at herself: wrinkled shorts, wrinkled shirt, wrinkled socks. Even her hair was a mess. Normally, this didn’t bother her, but in that moment it felt like an itch that needed scratching. Perhaps Margaret was affecting her as much as she was affecting Margaret, or maybe this emerging sense of self-consciousness was just the result of living with someone else for the first time in forever.

Whatever the reason, Molly felt extremely dissatisfied with herself. Rather than put one of her records on and do some sketches to see if inspiration would take over (her go to program for most any lazy Sunday morning), Molly rolled up her sleeves and set to work organizing her room. Too much clutter in too small a space. Mayhap the garbage bags that she hauled most of her junk in would be used for their intended purpose after all.

About a half-hour into Molly’s impending room purge, Margaret, now dressed in a nightie, slinked out of her room. Timidly, she tapped Molly on the shoulder. “I need help,” her confession came out in hoarse, whispery plea. “I peed my bed.”

Molly put down the garbage bag that had been filled almost to the brim with “supplies” she decided she really didn’t need. “Yeah,” she said. “I kinda figured.” Her roommate looked like as if she’d just been struck. “It’s no biggie, it’s no biggie,” the shorter woman backpedaled. “You were really, really, drunk. Just don’t drink that much and it won’t happen again.”

“I’ve got the stain out,” Margaret said, “but for some reason the smell isn’t going away.”

“You were really drunk,” Molly reminded her. “That kind of smell gets stronger the less water is in your system.” Really drunk! Her eyes began running up along Margaret’s arms, searching for a tiny square bandage. The way they were gelling last night, their drunken selves would have totally gotten matching tattoos.

“Yeah,” Margaret whined, her long brown hair just as tangled a mess as Molly’s shorter black, “but I’ve cleaned everything up. The sheets, the mattress….” Margaret paused. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Molly whipped her head up to meet her roommate’s eyes. “Nothing! I mean looking like what.” Molly sniffed, and the smell of stale urine returned. “Umm…did you remember to clean yourself up?”

The color drained from Margaret’s face. “Ohmigosh, you’re right! I was so panicked I completely forgot!” The taller woman spun around to go to the bathroom. When her nighty fluttered up, Molly caught sight of a tiny square rectangle on the small of Margaret’s back.

“Stop!”

Margaret froze in her tracks. “What?”

There was no easy way to say it, so Molly opted to not say anything. “Yeeeow!” Margaret shrieked as the bandage was quickly ripped off. “What was that?”

Just as Molly suspected. “You’ve got a tattoo now,” Molly said. Margaret turned back around and looked, slack jawed at her new roomie. “Me too,” she showed Margaret her wrist tattoo. “We got really drunk.”

“Ohmygod,” Margaret said before slapping a hand over her mouth. “I’ve got a tattoo! A friggin tramp stamp!” Her voice was becoming choked, her eyes starting to tear up.

The shorter girl waved her arms excitedly to distract her companion. “Relax, it’s not that bad. It’s not like it’s in any place where people can see it unless you want them to.” With the way Margaret tended to dress, this was true.

“What’s it look like?” The taller woman turned around, and gingerly lifted the back of her nightie.

“Uh…it’s Chinese, writing I think…or Japanese.” Molly said, leaning in to take a closer look.

“What’s it say?”

“How should I know?” Molly asked. “I only speak English. Besides, I’m third generation Vietnamese.”

Margaret bit her lip. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it to be racist or anything.”

“It’s cool.”

“Does yours and mine at least match?” Margaret asked, the apprehension evident in her voice. That was actually kind of sweet. The thought of them matching seemed to give her some kind of comfort. They really had bonded.

“No. I don’t think so.” Molly sighed. “Definitely not.” Like Molly, Margaret had two symbols inked onto her skin. The first looked a little bit like a crooked L, a comma, and a straight line that all intersected and overlapped to make a crooked box in the middle. The second symbol was even more intricate. It looked similar to the first symbol, but it had two square humps above it containing commas and apostrophe marks beneath them. “Still pretty cool looking though,” Molly assured her friend.

“Any way to get them removed?” Margaret asked as she turned again to face the other woman.

“I’ve always heard that kind of stuff is expensive.” Molly said. “Like, we-wouldn’t-be-able-to-pay-rent-if-we-did expensive.”

“Oh…” The disappointment hung in the air like scent of stale urine that was following Margaret.

Molly spun her roommate back around and started maneuvering. “Neither of us feel good right now, but at least you have a cool story you can tell. And,” she added, “you really need a shower.”

The taller woman grimaced. “Oh yeah, you’re right.” She began walking to the shower on her own.

A few minutes later, as Margaret cleaned herself up, Molly continued cleaning out her newly unpacked trash heap. There was something cathartic about cleaning this up, so much better than the bother of moving had been. An Avant Garde idea for a blank piece of paper titled “Clean Room” flickered across her mind. Molly chuckled at her own dumb joke, but her nose wrinkled as she inhaled. She sniffed again, and the smell of stale piss still clung to her nostrils. She hadn’t wet the bed, too, had she? A quick check confirmed that she hadn’t.

The young woman on the cleaning spree poked her head out of her room and saw that the door to Margaret’s room was now wide open. That’s where the smell had been coming from. Maybe Margaret wasn’t quite as thorough as she thought she’d been on cleaning up after herself.

A buzzing from the washing machine, caught her attention. The sheets were done. Feeling particularly magnanimous just then, Molly stopped packing things away (properly this time), long enough to switch the sheets to the dryer. Still, the smell of urine lingered, and it was bothering Molly to no end. There had to be something she could do about it. She had gotten Margaret completely wasted the night before, so in a way it was kind of her fault, she reasoned. She owed Margaret some help and TLC today.

Inspiration struck when Molly noticed a bottle of baby powder on the floor (left over from her body and face painting phase…also great for cosplay), and picked it up. Perfumed cornstarch in hand, she made a bee-line for Margaret’s room. The smell of wet bed clung to the walls like spoiled milk to the inside of a refrigerator. Margaret had definitely missed a spot.

A quick scan of the floor revealed the crumpled-up clothes from last night’s debauchery. They were soaking wet. Margaret had been so freaked out in getting the sheet into the wash and saving her mattress that she’d completely forgotten to toss her soiled clothes in along with the sheets, poor thing. Using a pillowcase as a barrier, Molly gingerly picked up the sopping clothes, and threw them into the washing machine, now empty and waiting for more clothes. Molly threw in some of her own clothes, too; waste not, want not.

Not yet done, she returned and opened the bottle of baby powder she’d brought. Like an old voodoo witch-woman she sprinkled the cool, fragrant smelling powder around the bed and onto the mattress itself. Molly inhaled deeply. The urine smell was still there, but it was fading, covered up by the sweet lavender scent of the baby powder. It’d still be there for a while, more than likely, but the ratio was far and away in the sweet smell’s favor. Something about that smelled right to Molly. Something about that smelled very right.

(Sunday)

Freshly bathed and no longer reeking of piss, Margaret sat on the floor in a clean set of pajamas; her back against the cushioned couch and a PS4 controller in her hand. She had a list of things to do to get ready for the work week; grocery shopping, laundry and ironing, budgeting for apartment and car payments, and just sprucing up the place in general. She was doing none of it. This was the first time that the young woman could remember being hungover since…ever. The aches, fatigue, slight nausea underlying everything, and embarrassment (let’s not forget the embarrassment) had completely disabled her ability to “adult.”

That’s why she was sitting and lounging in quiet agony in her jammies; she held no illusions about today. Today was an unexpected recovery day. Besides, she justified to herself, she’d been doing laundry today anyways. If it had been forever since Margaret had been hungover, it felt like even longer since she’d wet the bed. Factually inaccurate, but emotionally true. We are all different people than who we were as children. Little Margaret Masterson, age two, had wet the bed, and even then, only the once. She’d been dry during the day for over a month, and it took only one unprotected accident, one Pull-Ups free slumber, for her body to realize what it needed to do. Letting loose while sleeping was a no-go from then on out. Not that she truly remembered that incident, but Mom had always liked to brag on her like that with stories starting with “Even when she was a little girl, Margaret was a quick learner.”

Little Margaret’s fully grown and developed counterpart had never had to deal with a wet bed or soiled sheets, either. The closest experience had been in middle school when she had her first “time of the month”. Mom had been kind enough to take care of the bed then when an overwhelmed and panicking Margaret, age twelve woke up with blood soaking her panties. Once again, it only took the one accident for Margaret to learn to diligently keep track of her cycles and listen to her body’s signs of an oncoming menstrual deluge. Never again had she been caught unprepared.

While she thumbed through cartoons filled with humor both sophisticated and sophomoric, (she doubted she had the reflexes or wherewithal right now for a good game of Overwatch) the implications and ramifications of last night’s bender unfolded and replayed in her mind. The hums of the washing machine and dryer stayed present in the back of mind. They were the sounds of her mistakes last night (or this morning, depending on one’s point of view). She shouldn’t have gone out and gotten that drunk.

She’d paid the price… but was the price really all that steep? A wet bed? Big deal. Within the hour, it’d be so much easily forgotten pixie dust memories along with the rest of her drunken escapades last night. Some things wouldn’t go away, though. Absentmindedly, she pawed and poked at the tattoo now forever etched into the small of her back. It hurt, but nothing worse than a mild heat rash or rug burn. There was an underlying throbbing sensation that yet lingered, but only when she thought about it; likely psychosomatic. A forever reminder of the night when she lost control.

Maybe losing control wasn’t a bad thing, though. Maybe she had needed to lost control. Margaret had always been a bit of a control freak; everything having to be in its proper place at the anointed time. Back in high school when she’d taken AP Psychology, Margaret had been drawn towards the section of her textbook about Sigmund Freud and his theories about psychosexual stages.

Freud theorized that people who were toilet trained too early had control issues, in that they were bad at giving up control. The chapter went on to talk about how, while Freud had been very influential, Freud’s theories were largely disregarded these days as unfalsifiable and ultimately unscientific. Freud might have missed the mark, but Margaret would have put good money that he was on to something. Young Miss Masterson couldn’t remember the act of potty training, but her parents’ constant praises of how quickly she had toilet trained and how neat and tidy she was, and how organized and obedient she could be had undoubtedly shaped her into the helpful, mild-tempered, yet deeply neurotic mess that she was today.

Waiting until marriage had been Margaret’s idea. She’d needed the control. Jack’s goodbye letter said that she lacked passion and spontaneity. He’d strayed from her because she valued control and order more than she valued human interactions. Considering the majority of her human interactions consisted of people complaining to her about some gadget they’d bought and then asking to speak to her supervisor, could she really be blamed for that? All the same, that final, cowardly rebuke from her ex-fiancé stuck with her and continued to sting her far more than some irritated skin just above her ass.

From her position on the floor, Margaret looked over to the open door of her new roommate. The inside was an obvious mess; piles and piles of clothes, clutter, and junk dotted the floor- enough that it would have been impossible to navigate the room without weaving, serpentine, around the different chunks of junk.

It was better than it had been yesterday, at least. A quick survey from the doorway had shown Margaret a floor that required high and careful steps around the scattered bits of yarn, dried clay, old jars of paint, and unrinsed brushes. The sound of junk clattering around the room and the plastic rustling of garbage bags being unfurled hinted at what Margaret had secretly hoped for. Molly was cleaning. How about that? Apparently she’d taken Margaret’s hint the other day and wasn’t going to be such a slob.

Neither Margaret nor Molly were well versed in what could be labeled “Classic TV”, but had they ever seen an episode of The Odd Couple they would have seen grumpy old man versions of themselves: a freewheeling little slob and an anal retentive old maid in training. Margaret was certain that the so-called artist would drive her crazy within the week, but so far this was the honeymoon period…heck, the very idea that she was experiencing a honeymoon period with this woman who was so unlike her was marvelous to begin with.

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. Maybe Margaret needed someone like Molly in her life; a little shoulder devil to get her to let loose every now and then and Molly needed Margaret as a shoulder angel to get focused and organized. Maybe…just maybe…they’d balance each other out and pick up one another’s good habits while phasing out their bad.

Margaret hurt like hell, but the price of self-knowledge and improvement (as well as fun) was worth a little discomfort after the fact. (Hadn’t the Greeks had a philosophy like that? It sounded Greek anyways.) A dopey grin, so similar to the mellow drunken smile that Holly had plastered on most of last night, came to Margaret as she once again rubbed the spot where the new tattoo was. Getting it had been a mistake (one that she couldn’t remember making), but just like old saying said, “No Regrets.” The little squiggly lines on her back were now a bookmark for a new chapter in her life.

So screw it: It was time for Margaret to have a little “me time”. Groceries and laundry and dusting could wait for another day. Today, she determined, would be just her lounging around in her jammies and watching cartoons; a literal Netflix and chill. Grocery wise, there was some hamburger helper still left in the pantry, and she could make do with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch tomorrow. She could go grocery shopping tomorrow after work. A PB&J sounded SO GOOD right about now, come to think of it.

Did she have peanut butter and jelly, though? “Molly,” Margaret called out, “do we have any peanut butter and jelly left?”

Molly popped her head out of her increasingly less cluttered bedroom. “Lemme check.”

As door hinges creaked and doors slid open and shut, Margaret continued rifling through her usual Netflix shows. “Seen it, seen it, not in the mood, bored, why is this still on here?” she muttered to herself. Maybe it was the dehydration, or she was still fuming about her accident this morning, but nothing was appealing to her.

As if by magic a plate with peanut butter and jelly sandwich- crust cut off and cut into little squares- and a glass of milk appeared; Molly’s arms at the end of them. “Here ya go,” Molly said.

Margaret took the plate and glass and began greedily gulping down milk and biting into the sweet brown and purple sandwich as Molly looked on. Oh God, did she need this! “Fankyou,” Margaret said gratefully, her mouth still full.

“Welcome,” Molly chirped and turned to walk back to her bedroom.

Margaret swallowed and called out, “Hey!” Her roommate, fully dressed in comfortable but serviceable spring cleaning clothes, turned around and looked back down at her. “Why’d you make me the sandwich? I thought you were just going to check.”

“Why didn’t you go and check for yourself?” Molly replied. There was nothing mean spirited or snotty about it. Only genuine- if mild-curiosity was contained in her words. The taller woman blanched ashamedly all the same. She hadn’t even thought to get up and check herself. It was like there was a little voice whispering in the back of her head, telling her to be a little lazy and call out for help.

“I…I…” Margaret stuttered, “I didn’t think to.” With no other words available to her, the customer service rep just shrugged.

A sharp bark of laughter drummed itself up from Molly’s chest. This didn’t make Margaret feel any better. “Damn…” she said, then quickly covered her mouth, remembering Margaret’s protestations about “language.“ “I mean, ‘dang’,” she corrected herself, “you really are hungover, aren’t you?”

“Kinda,” Margaret admitted, looking away. “Why aren’t you hungover?” she asked.

Molly gave what was becoming her signature shrug and easygoing smile. “I am. I’m just dealing with it better than you are. I’m getting some cleaning done.”

Margaret tried (and failed) to hide the astonished tone in her voice. “I can see that.”

“I’m used to it,” Molly explained. “You? Not so much.” Then she added. “I mean the drinking…not the cleaning.” Margaret was tactful enough not to openly agree. “Let me take care of you today.”

Margaret’s hair flapped in her face, she shook her head so hard. “I’ll be fine,” the young woman insisted.

Molly favored her with a condescending head pat. “I know you are. But it’s my fault that you’re hungover this time. You came and played with me, and we played a little too hard. Let me make it up to you by taking care of you. Cook, clean, that kind of stuff. You just chill.”

The offer was music to the taller woman’s ears. It was exactly what she had wanted…no, needed to hear. Alas, some lingering amount of stubborn pride yet remained. “I peed the bed.”

“So just don’t drink tonight.” Molly countered. “You’ll be fine. In the meantime, make yourself comfy. We went out last night, so let’s be a couple of homebodies today.”

Margaret inhaled through her nose, the sweet scent of baby powder dancing out from her room. She held her breath for a moment, and then sighed out the lavender aroma. So relaxing. So comfy. So…right. “Okay,” she agreed. “But is there anything I can do for you?”

The Asian girl looked over to the Netflix cue, nothing yet selected. “Put on a cartoon, or something,” she suggested. “Like a Disney flick. Something with music. It’ll help me clean. Maybe Moana or something.”

Margaret hemmed and hawed for a hot half second. She’d been twelve when she saw her last Disney flick. It really wasn’t her thing. “Or,” Molly interrupted her train of thought. “I could always put on my Best of Tool record.”

“Moana it is.” Margaret began looking through the “Family Friendly” movie lists.

Molly smiled, this time more of a shit eating grin. “You’re welcome.”

“Huh?”

“You’ll get it later”

And so the rest of the day went. Disney movies and cartoons all day long. Even though Molly had finished organizing her stuff by the end of the second movie, the hits kept coming. Margaret found herself entranced, stopping only for dinner…the first one she hadn’t had to prepare for herself in who knows how long. Then it was more cartoons, then sleep. Good thing she was already in her jammies.

(Monday)

Dawn came early that morning. That’s the sentiment that crept into Margaret’s head as she stirred from her otherwise peaceful slumber. Little dust motes glided and danced in the early morning light, as Margaret stretched her arms for the first time since waking. Such strange dreams, she’d had. Even as she blinked away the sleep while shuddering away the cold (Why was it so cold? Had the temperature dropped during the night?), the details in the dream were fading away into the ether of her subconscious, only the broadest strokes surviving into consciousness.

What she most vividly remembered was feeling small, and trapped; helpless. Normally that’d be the framework for a nightmare, but something about it hadn’t bothered Margaret as she slept. This was a good kind of helplessness, she instinctively knew.

A good kind of helplessness? Dream logic. Go figure.

The tattoo, symbol of her first (and possibly last) attempt at really cutting loose, had made it in there, too. It too, had been a good thing in the dream, though; instead of some mark of shame or lapse in self-control, it was comforting. Just thinking about the flickers of dream-memory sent a pleasant glow up her spine, starting at the strange squiggly marks that Molly assured her were inked onto her.

Dream-memory: the thought danced around in Margaret’s still groggy head. Perhaps she had just dreamed some sort of memory. Maybe that’s why she hadn’t been alarmed in the dream. Maybe it had been a long-suppressed memory, a pleasant memory at that. Helpless, and small, and…- caged?-…not quite but it was close to what she remembered; how could any of that be considered pleasant? What would Freud say about that?

The young woman reached for her glasses on the nightstand. Her bladder ached slightly. She had to pee. That’s what had woken her up. She doubted she had much more time before she had to get up, but maybe there was a slight chance she could go to the bathroom, and then back to bed for another solid fifteen minutes of sleep. The glasses on, fully restoring her sense of self and vision, Margaret’s brain began to fully awaken and piece the data her senses were feeding her together, assigning meaning to the sensations.

The first thing that came to her senses, as the last vestiges of sleep were shed like a useless lizard skin, was the time. Margaret’s heart was racing even as her eyes darted to the nearby alarm clock. The orange-red letters blinked the time like a quietly sanctimonious old church lady; always judging, never saying anything. Early dawn, indeed.

“I’m late!” Margaret whispered in shock. “Very late!” She’d forgotten to set her alarm for work. How? She never forgot to set her alarm for work. It just didn’t happen. The alarm stayed on and set; always. Margaret even kept it on during weekends. It was inconceivable.

Margaret kicked off her sheets in a frenzy, scrambling out of bed like a rabbit when the fox has already gotten a head start. The sheets felt heavier than usual; colder too; but Margaret paid them no mind. First a shower, then get dressed, and drive as fast as possible to work, apologizing the whole way. She’d just have to make her bed later; a blasphemous thought normally, but it was a concession that Margaret would have to make.

As the customer service rep reached her bedroom door, a chill breeze rushed across her bare legs. “Gotta start wearing jammies to bed,” she muttered to herself, bitterly. “Getting’ cold.” Only her legs weren’t bare, she realized, looking down. She was in the same black and hot pink pajamas that she’d worn all day Sunday. The reason her legs were so cold was that the bottom half of her pajamas were completely soaked. A double take to her normally white sheets confirmed all that she had feared.

She’d wet the bed…again; this time without the aid of Jaeger and an exhaustively late night. What did she do? Why had this happened? How did she fix this? There was so much that she had to do now, no time to do it, and it was all her fault. The panic swelled like zit ready to pop. What to do? A little voice in the back of her mind gave her the answer she needed to hear: Margaret took a deep breath…then wailed in panic and despair.

(Monday)

Molly checked online for more job postings.  She had to find more work.  She’d been up since about an hour before dawn, had found an amazing burst of energy and put the finishing touches on her latest project before sending the final product electronically to her client, and was now busy updating her portfolio and looking for new clientele.  The money that would be forthcoming upon completion of the project would easily pay for at least a month or so of rent and food, maybe two months if she didn’t party too hard, but something inside Molly knew it wouldn’t be enough.

Briefly, she considered finishing some of her more inspired (but less commercial) projects, maybe hit the Fine Arts Festival that was coming through in a few weeks, get herself a booth and sell her work to the old folks looking for “culture” for their living room walls and coffee tables. She’d probably do it, too; a weekend at one of those things was an easy way to make around a thousand bucks, give or take. Still, Molly wanted…no, needed something more substantial.

The “why” of this sudden need to be productive, rather than her usual loosey goosey self, couldn’t be properly explained. The artist had a feeling that it had something to do with the dreams she’d had the night before. Only fleeting impressions and flashes of images remained from the previous night’s slumber, but Molly felt herself deeply affected nonetheless.

Images of her being big and powerful lingered in her conscious mind. Big, and powerful, yet gentle, and loving. It was a bit like what Molly imagined being a goddess might feel like. In her dream she had had the power to create and destroy at a whim, and the only thing binding her was her chosen responsibility to her charge.

Charge? That was an unusual designation for a worshiper. Then again, what were worshippers to their gods other than helpless little dependents who desperately needed divine intervention on their behalf? It made sense in the dream, and so it made sense in the waking world, and Molly Huang was channeling that feeling of benevolent power into something productive.

A gentle, almost electric tingle traveled through her body, but it wasn’t a disturbing feeling. It was more like a personal massager working its way all along her arms and legs and up and down her back and neck. So relaxing. And it started on the underside of her right wrist.

Remembering the good times that led up to getting her one and only tattoo (or maybe it was her first of many, time would tell) and the quiet and more intimate moments that followed the next day, Molly stopped searching for ad companies looking for artists and examined the ink permanently etched into her flesh.

What did those little squiggly lines mean, anyways? Were they Korean, for “Blessed Friend?” or just Japanese for “Pickle Fucker”? Molly didn’t know. Even if they had been in Vietnamese, she likely wouldn’t have had a clue beyond the few sight words that her grandma hat taught her when she was a little girl.

Molly squinted at the ink that had mysteriously showed up yesterday morning, as if narrowing her field of vision might somehow give her some insight into the meaning of the text. A hot pulse on her skin, matched a sudden flash of red on the symbols: there and then gone again. Had her tattoo just glowed a bit (was it made from some expensive and fancy ink that changed color?) or had that been just a trick of the light?

The young artist might have taken more time to examine this had her ears not pricked up at the sound of high pitched, nearly hysterical wailing. She was halfway into the living room before she was fully aware that her feet were moving. The sound was coming from Margaret’s room, and Molly found herself ready to break down the door to get inside.

The readiness was merely symbolic, however; a simple turn of the knob did the trick, and Molly walked in to find her roommate standing in the corner of her own room screaming as hot wet tears ran down her cheeks.

Molly was about to ask her roommate what was wrong, but she was forced back a step as the smell of stale urine almost overwhelmed her nose. The lavender smell of baby powder was still present, but the ratio of powder smell to piss smell had definitely shifted in the latter’s favor. The yellow stain on Margaret’s bed, as well as how the inside legs of her pajama bottoms were much darker than the outside confirmed to Molly’s eyes what her nose had already told her. Still, she asked, “What’s going on?”

“I’m sorrrrrry!” Margaret moaned, her apology coming out in one big elongated sob.

“You wet the bed!” More than a hint of shock and even accusation was in Molly’s voice. Was this why the little neat freak had trouble getting a roommate?

“I overslept!”

“And you wet the bed!”

“I’m sorrrrry!”

“Did you drink again, last night?’

Margaret sniffled. “No….”

“Is this normally a problem?”

“If it was,” Margaret replied, tears dripping onto the floor and snot beginning to pool onto her upper lip, “don’t you think I’d be used to it by now…and not…and not…?” There was an awkward pause, followed by another round of “I’m sorrrry!”

Molly wanted to scream at Margaret, to slap her and tell her to grow a pair and deal with it. She’d had some shit luck with her love life, and a bad hangover yesterday, but that was no excuse for this kind of freakout. Instead, Molly found herself marching up to the taller woman, grabbing her squarely by the shoulders with both hands, and very gently saying. “Margaret, sweetie, tell me what happened.”

The tears slowed as Margaret began to speak, Molly’s words enveloping her in a kind of calm as she explained in gasping sobs what had happened. “I woke up late, aaaaand, I forgot to set my alarm clock. Whichisreallyweirdbecausethat’sneverhappenedbefore,” the tumbled out of Margaret’s mouth all at once. “And now I’m wet, and my bed is wet, and I’m laaaaaate but I gottagotowork!”

Despite herself, Molly couldn’t help but feel her heart melt at the pathetic display. Her roommate was like a puppy that was rubbing her own nose in her mess and scolding herself, poor thing. “Okay,” Molly shushed the taller girl. “It’s okay. It’s gonna be alright.” The gears were already turning in Molly’s brain. How to make this right without destroying the pour girl? “You take a hot shower and relax. I’ll clean up here. Then, when you’re out, you call work and tell them you’re taking a sick day.”

“But I never miss work,” Margaret whined. The idea of missing work seemed to cause the more tightly wound woman even more distress than waking up in a wet bed two mornings in a row.

Some never-before-felt impulse told Molly to give the girl a hug, piss stained pajama bottoms or not. Instead she took a step back, finding with it a sense of objectivity, tempered by her compassion. “If you never miss work, then they’ll understand that you really need the day.”

The girl in the aforementioned wet pajamas sniffed. “That makes sense….but…my boss…I’m already not there…and he…he…” Margaret looked like she was about to break down crying again. Molly couldn’t have that.

“Do you want me to call your job for you?” The offer hadn’t been thought through, it just came out of its own volition. “Make up an excuse for you?” Margaret nodded. “Fine. Give me your phone, I’ll make the all while you’re showering up.”

A hint of a smile started showing itself on Margaret’s face. “Thanks Molly,” she whispered, “You’re a good friend.” Still in wet pants, she went over to the nightstand, unplugged her phone, and handed it back to Molly. “My passcode is one-zero-one-seven.” Then, with surprising alacrity, the brown-haired woman dropped her soaking wet clothes down to the floor and stepped out of them on her way out the door to the bathroom.

The sudden and complete lack of modesty surprised Margaret. She had gone beet red just the other day when Molly had stumbled in on her quietly crying and scrubbing the mattress. Now she was wailing at an earsplitting volume, crying openly, and dropping her panties right in front of Molly, and they’d only known each other a few days. Molly wouldn’t have been bothered by such openness under most circumstances, but the speed at which the other girl was opening up to her was shocking. The things stress can do to a person. “Don’t think I’m doing this for free,” Molly called out to her roommate. “When you’re all cleaned up, you totally owe me a shopping trip. We don’t have any breakfast and I’m not wolfing down PB & J or Hamburger Helper first thing in the morning.”

“Okay.” Margaret’s muffled voice came in from the other side of the wall where the bathroom lay. The sound of pressurized water hitting tiled floor filled the apartment, and both women, in their own way, went to work.

The call to Margaret’s job had been easy enough. She had “Work” saved in her contact list, and the man on the other end of the line was surprisingly understanding and cordial. He asked a message for a speedy recovery to be passed along, and wished Molly a good day. Before hanging up, he’d asked. “By the way, who is this?”

“For all intents and purposes,” Molly said, “her mother.” She hung up and laughed at her own joke, feeling pretty smug.

The sheets, and pajama bottoms were quickly bunded up, and put in the washing machine, this time spread out evenly so that unbalanced, thrum-thrumming, lopsided shuffle from the day before didn’t happen. Easy as pie; piece of cake.

The stain on the mattress was something else entirely. Haphazardly, Molly filled a bucket with soap and water, grabbed a dry towel from the linen closet and tried in vain to scrub away the smell and the spot. The spot hadn’t completely disappeared from the first wetting. The second one was cementing the marking on the mattress as surely as Molly’s new tattoo marked her skin. Girl needed some spot remover or something.

If Margaret was to be believed, she didn’t normally have spots, so it stood to reason she had no spot remover. Make that another item to add to Margaret’s after shower shopping list besides milk and Cocoa-Krispies. “Would that be too much?” Molly asked Margaret’s room, still reeking of piss. “Would that be holding her responsible, or just kicking her when she’s down?” Hard to tell.

What the young artist could tell was that she needed help cutting the smell. It didn’t take long for her to get the baby powder, and once again sprinkle it over the suds-dampened mattress. At least the powder would dry out the bed a bit, and hopefully keep mildew from forming. Molly gave the air a sniff: better, but not quite right. It needed something more.

The shower was still going strong by the sound of the water, Molly heard. Bottle of powder in her hand, Molly cast a glance at Margaret’s dresser drawer and was struck with an idea. Carefully, very carefully, as if she were cracking a safe, Molly opened the dresser drawers until she found where her bedwetting roommate kept her unmentionables.

“Figures,” Molly said as she picked through the perfectly folded panties. “Not one thong.” Molly had no idea why she was doing this, adding baby powder to Margaret’s clothes wouldn’t do much for the smell of the girl’s room, and it wasn’t as if Margaret smelled bad (current circumstances not withstanding), but Molly had long ago learned to trust her impulses and hairbrained ideas as part of following her own personal muse.

Slowly, but smoothly, as if she were disarming a series of bombs, Molly unfolded her new friend’s underwear, and one by one sprinkled some of the sweet smelling powder inside, and then carefully folded them back up and placed them inside the panty drawer. They were organized and placed even more neatly than when Molly had found them, if she said so herself, Molly had placed them in neat little stacks of three or four. No routing around for a pair, just pick one up from the top, unfold, and put it on. Molly inhaled deeply before closing the top drawer, and smiled in self-satisfaction before purring a bit in contentment.

“This is how a little girl’s room should smell.” The thought was uttered and forgotten before Molly even had time to examine what she had said.

(Monday)

Margaret had gone from cold and wet to hot and wet. Amazing what a difference in temperature can do to a person’s temperament. Speaking of temperament, Margaret couldn’t help but wonder what was going on with hers. “What is wrong with me?” she whispered into pulsing showerhead. She hadn’t cried like that since she was in pre-school, and even then, it had been to her mother or a trusted adult, not a peer…not a friend…not a roommate.

Worse than the crying was her accident. The first time, she could forgive herself for being in over her head and drowning her higher brain functions in booze. But today? What was her excuse for that? Normally, Margaret Masterson was in perfectly control of her body and emotions; that was both her greatest strength and defining weakness. That’s why she’d lost her fiancé, or so he’d written.

Ever since she’d let loose in an act of invisible rebellion- a hello toast to her new roommate and a goodbye middle finger to her ex- she’d felt like she’d lost that steady spark of herself; that filter that kept Margaret organized, and clean, and productive.

Margaret craved release and to be irresponsible and just kick back, like any human being. She had just learned to discipline herself into enjoying herself in little spurts (perhaps a poor choice of words considering her nocturnal enuresis). She’d do all the work she could, make things neat and tidy and nice to look at, and then she’d relax a bit with a mixture of simulated violence from her videogames or animated fart jokes. Now, though, it was as if that tiny part of her that was always whispering for her to run rampant with her desires, her id, had grown larger and was still growing. In the white noise and steam created by the hot shower, Margaret reflected upon her circumstances, such as they were.

She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t relieved when Molly offered to call work for her. The responsibility had been lifted from her shoulders, and she needed that, she felt. But what of the other things that Molly had done, like help clean up her wet sheets for her? Was she taking advantage of Molly? Was she really that helpless?

“Of course I’m not,” Margaret spoke softly to herself, though which question she was answering was unknown, even to her. As if in response, be it contradiction or agreement, the irritated patch of skin on the small of Margaret’s back pulsed with heat. It wasn’t an unpleasant sensation, Margaret thought, but it didn’t feel exactly natural, either.

Why was she being such a crybaby lately? Margaret couldn’t begin to guess why her emotions had been so topsy turvy. Was she really that not over Jack? If she hadn’t known any better, she might think she was pregnant, even though the biggest prerequisite for being pregnant had yet to be met. A dark thought creeped across Margaret’s mind: maybe it had been. She’d been drunk enough to get a tattoo, maybe she’d been drunk enough to hook up with a complete stranger. “Naaaaah,” Margaret waved away the thought was she reached for the knob.

The shower ended just as the hot water was beginning to run out. Getting out of a tepid shower was still more pleasant than exiting an icy one. Groping around in the steam cloaked bathroom, Margaret searched in vain for a towel to dry off with. She hadn’t brought one into the shared bathroom, she realized. Too late. Necessity being the mother of invention, the young woman reached for the hand towels by the bathroom sink.

Positioning them as best as she could, Margaret was a bit more covered than Adam and Eve had been but slightly less covered than Tarzan and Jane. A quiet peek into the main living area showed no roommate in sight. Margaret took the opening and crab shimmied from the bathroom to her bedroom, her face a mask of absolute panic and embarrassment. Had Molly been there to witness, she would have no doubt laughed herself into fits while rolling on the floor; anyone with a brain would have.

Her pride now bruised, Margaret wasted no time in drying herself off with hand towels and getting dressed into something more grown-up than soiled jammies. As before, her room was practically drowning in the scent of baby powder. She had no chance of noticing that there was an extra concentration of the smell coming from her underwear drawer. So rushed was she, that Margaret didn’t even look to see the film of white powder lining the inside of her panties as she stepped into them, nor did she notice thin puff of white dust that spilled outward and upward as she pulled them up her legs as fast as she could. Her body burned too hot from shame to properly notice the cooling effect of baby powder on her bottom.

A bra, a blouse, a skirt, and a quick but thorough hair brushing later, Margaret felt ready to face the world for the first time since last Friday. The best part was that she didn’t even have work to go to now. Slipping on a pair of comfortable but functional sandals, Margaret walked out into the living room and picked up her car keys off the little hook on the walls. The washing machine was humming merrily as it erased the evidence of her juvenile indiscretion.

“I’m out of the shower,” Margaret said, knocking loudly on the door. “What can I get you for breakfast?”

The click-clacking sounds of fingers dancing on a keyboard stopped and there was a pause. “Cereal,” Molly called back through her door. “Something chocolatey.” The clacking resumed, and Margaret was about to head for her car when Molly added, “Oh and you might want to get something for that stain on your mattress.”

Saying nothing, Margaret bit her tongue to suppress the sob that threatened to erupt from her. “Let’s just get this over with,” the girl told herself, her mood now completely soured. She exited her apartment and made her way out into her complex’s parking lot, finding…nothing.

Her car wasn’t in its appointed place. She checked the nearby visitor parking space. Nothing. For the better part of ten minutes, she scanned the painted concrete, looking for any vehicle that even remotely resembled her little blue Honda Fit, finding nothing. Who had taken her car? Should she call the police? Who would want to steal her car in the first place? Then the terrible, sobering reality of her situation dawned on her.

“MOLLY!” Margaret’s voice came in panicked and whining.

The door to Molly’s room flung open, and Molly poked her head out, her face the very picture of genuine concern. “What is it?” Molly asked. “What’s wrong?”

“We left our car at the bar,” Margaret said, her lips quivering. “We took a cab out of there. We must’ve taken a cab home too.”

Molly seemed to think about it. “That sucks,” she said. “Good thing you took the day off anyways. Go get it.”

“How?!” Margaret howled, her face contorting against her will, and tears dripping down her cheeks anew. “I don’t have a car to get to my car! You don’t have a car! What are we gonna do?”

Molly sighed. “You’re really sheltered, aren’t you?”

“Uh-huh”, Margaret spoke through her fingers, her hands already traveling up to her face to hide her shame.

“Alright,” Molly said, “don’t worry about it. Just give me your keys and the cash. I’ve got your back. It’s my fault anyways.” Margaret didn’t even think twice before relieving herself of the burden.

“I’ll be back with breakfast,” her roommate said, opening the door and going outside. “We’ll go from there.”

“Okay,” Margaret’s voice said meekly as Molly walked out. “I’ll just stay here, then.” Her head turned to the soiled mattress she could see through her doorframe as if it were an old enemy. “Maybe make my bed while you’re gone.”

(Monday)

Molly came home in a little less than an hour, holding two large paper bags full of groceries. The bus dropped her less than a block from a nearby Publix, and the ride home had been relatively swift as well. “Breakfast,” she called out, unnecessarily. It took her setting down the bags on the kitchenette counter to notice that Margaret was back on the floor, watching cartoons.

“Oh…hi!” Margaret called up from her spot on the floor, as if waking up from a trance. “Was just taking a break.”

Molly started unpacking the groceries she’d bought with (mostly) Margaret’s money. Lunch meats, cheese and condiments went in the fridge, milk would join them shortly; pasta went in the cupboard, and cereal would go in the pantry when it wasn’t being eaten. It wasn’t exquisite by any definition, but it would keep their bellies full for a few days. “A break from what?” It wasn’t accusatory in the least, but Molly couldn’t help but hide her own feelings of befuddlement. Molly could see that her roommate’s bed remained unmade, and a quick check of the washing machine revealed that Margaret hadn’t even thought to switch her wet sheets over to the dryer. Maybe Margaret’s ex did all the housework…

“Oh,” Margaret stammered “I mean…um…y’see…I guess…” she stopped. “I kinda got distracted.”

“Doing what?” Molly reiterated. In looking down at Margaret, she noticed that the little Russian nesting dolls that she’d seen the other day had been opened, unpacked, and placed carefully around the floor so as to appear they were all watching Netflix with their owner. At least that was proof that Margaret had been in her room since Molly had left.

The taller woman, now not so tall from her spot on the floor, pointed to the T.V. A flash-animated tiger in a red hoodie took up the majority of the screen. It was talking and singing tunelessly about how taking turns makes it so that everybody can play. “It’s called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” Margaret enthusiastically explained. “It’s like Mr. Rogers, but it’s animated. The setting is that land of make believe place from the old show, and the characters are all kids of the puppets that Mr. Rogers used to use. It’s really cool. And it doesn’t teach ABC stuff as much as social skills and how to deal with your feelings and stuff.”

It was a clever concept, Molly agreed, one that could definitely convince parents to let their kids watch: Older parents would be drawn in by nostalgia, hoping that their kid could watch something similar to what they did, and even millennials who’d never seen an episode knew that Mr. Rogers was more wholesome and family friendly than anyone’s actual family. So, why not let the next generation of toddler watch? That still didn’t explain why a twenty-something with no kids was lecturing her about its merits.

A little part of her brain told her to read the room, and that maybe this wasn’t the best time to bring that up. “Well, let’s get some breakfast.”

“Cool,” Margaret chirped. “Would you mind bringing it down here?” She patted a spot next to her on the carpet.

“Actually,” Molly replied, “I’d like it better if we sat at the table together. There’s some stuff I need to talk to you about…as roommates.”

Margaret looked at the tiny dining table by the kitchenette as though it were a mile away. “But I’m comfortable,” she whined.

Molly put her foot down. “And I’m serious. There’s some things we need to discuss if we’re going to keep being roommates.” Molly watched as those words “if we’re going to keep being roommates”, sunk in. Margaret sat up a little straighter. “Now…”

Margaret practically leapt from her spot on the floor and scampered to the table, while Molly laid out bowls and spoons. “I’ve got Reese’s Puffs Cereal and Special K.” Molly said, holding the two boxes up.

“Reese’s, please.” Margaret replied in a very polite and very contrite tone, clearly not wanting to anger her new friend. Margaret opened the box and handed it over to Molly, who began pouring the dark and light brown corn balls into her own bowl, almost filling it to the brim. Meanwhile, she opened the other box and began pouring the much more adult oriented cereal into her own bowl.

“I thought you wanted chocolate, too.” Margaret said, reaching for the milk that Molly had laid out. Molly snatched it away and quickly poured the milk, first into the chocolate cereal then into her own before putting it away in the refrigerator.

If either girl felt the behavior was uncalled for, they didn’t say anything. “I thought so too,” Molly said, coming back to her bowl of cereal. “But something struck me when I went shopping, and so I went for this instead.”

“I’d normally eat something like that,” Margaret admitted, “but when I saw the Reese’s, I just had to go for it.”

“Yeah,” Molly agreed, “I had a feeling about that, too. Figured I might be in the mood for some later. Good thing I got both, huh?” Margaret nodded, and the two munched away at their breakfast, neither woman speaking until both were finished, only the crunches coming from their mouths and the clinking of their spoons made any sound.

When they were done, Molly cleared the dishes away and put them in the sink. “So…got some bad news,” Molly started.

“Is it about my car?” Margaret asked, a dribble of milk still clinging to her lower and sliding down her chin.

It took everything Molly had within her to not lean over and wipe the spittle off of the other woman’s face. “Yeah, I made some calls.” Molly admitted. “Your car is impounded.” Margaret was thankfully silent, her eyes becoming wide as saucers. “We accidentally left it there for longer than twenty-four hours. It’s been towed.”

“How much to get it out?” Margaret asked.

There was no easy way to put this. “Rent day is coming up, isn’t it?”

“Uh-huh.”

“I don’t think you have enough for both.”

Margaret was literally shaking. “How am I going to get to work then?”

Molly allowed herself her typical, lazy smile. Time to look more in control than she felt. “I’ve got some money coming in a few days. As soon as I have it, I can bail your car out. You can pay me back when you can. We can work out a bus route to get you to work until then.” Somehow she knew she’d need more money before all of this was said and done. Go intuition. Go instinct.

“OH MY GOSH!” Margaret gushed. “THANK YOU, SO MUCH! THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED TO ME BEFORE AND I’M IN SUCH A BAD SPOT AND I REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP! PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THERE’S EVER ANYTING YOU EVER NEED ME TO DO!”

Molly swallowed hard. The easy part was over. Now for the difficult part. “About that,” she said. “There is something I think you need to do.” She went over to the paper shopping bag and pulled out…

“Diapers?!” Margaret all but shrieked.

“They’re not diapers,” Molly replied (okay, they kind of were, but that wasn’t helping.) “they’re for people who wet the bed.”

“They’re for little kids!”

“Look,” Molly insisted. “It was either this, or adult diapers. I thought we’d try this and see how they hold up.”

Margaret whined. “I don’t need those!”

The young artist nodded. “I agree,” she said. “You probably don’t. But this is just in case.”

“THERE’S A KID ON THE FRONT OF THAT THING!” Margaret screamed. “A KID THAT’S SMILING. THEY’RE SMILING BECAUSE THEY WET THE BED!”

“Look,” Molly said, changing her tone. “Put these on tonight. If you’re dry, then it’s a false alarm, this was a freak accident. If not, then I won’t have to wash your filthy sheets again.” Margaret shrunk back, stunned. Time to go for the kill. “And also…you just said you owe me.”

“Fine,” Margaret huffed, taking the package of dia…of bedtime bedwetting underwear and turning it over in her hands. “At least the decorations are kind of cute.” They were, Molly thought. Maybe that’s why she picked them out instead of one of the plainer adult pull-ups. Though Molly couldn’t begin to explain why she’d decided to get any kind of protection for her roommate to begin with. As usual, she just followed her instinct, and didn’t mind so much when her hand shot out and grabbed a pack off a nearby shelf.

(Monday)

As Margaret slept that night, wearing her bed wetting pants like a good girl, a shadowy form loomed over her alarm clock, deftly switching it from “on”, to “off.” If Margaret noticed this, then her only response was to pop her thumb into her mouth and suck on it.

(Tuesday)

Margaret was awake before she opened her eyes. A relaxed sigh of contentment puffed out of her nostrils. What a wonderful dream. Lazily, she shifted her weight, trying to will herself back to sleep before the alarm screamed her out of this comfortable haze. The night before last had been filled with what could only be described as nightmares, with feelings of helplessness and entrapment.

But the dream that Margaret had just woken from? Amazing. Primal. Sensual. Possibly even sexual. The particulars of the dream had faded by the time the brown-haired girl’s breathing had changed, yet the feelings that dream aroused lingered like a good buzz. In the dream, Margaret was surrounded by warmth; comforting, laze-inducing warmth, like a big snuggly blanket on a winter’s night. And she was small in the dream, just like the last time, but in a fundamentally different way; like a Lovecraftian horror character versus a Buddhist monk. Both realized how tiny and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, yet the monk accepted his place in the cosmos and from that humility gained a kind of strength.

Indeed, during her slumber, Margaret had felt so “in tune” with her own personal universe that it was as if she were a battery, and the universe was filling her up with the sweet, comfortable, delicious warmth of bliss, a kind of bottled Nirvana given to her in infinite supply. Soon after, the warmth began spilling out of her; she wasn’t a battery, but a conduit for the warmth and love as it passed through her. She’d been filled to the brim with love and overflowed into the surrounding universe, making it a better place in the act.

Speaking of “overflow”, Margaret knew there was something else that she needed to take care of, especially if she was going to get back to sleep and recapture the almost transcendent experience she’d dreamt of. Breathing in through her nose, she held her breath for a moment and tensed ever so slightly. Then, as she released her breath through her mouth, she relaxed her bladder and let loose a trickle into her Goodnites.

The strangest feeling of déjà vu passed through Margaret as her bladder relaxed and a pleasurable warmth lapped over her privates. “Pee-peeeeeeeeee,” she whispered to herself in the midst of the act. Only when the leak guards of the oversaturated bedwetting brief failed, and hot piss dripped onto her inner thigh, did Margaret come to her senses.

Muffling her own gasps and shrieks of surprise into the palm of her hand, shimmied out of her bed and onto the floor, naked save for her leaking padded underwear. Instead of the floor, her feet hit the rumpled nightgown she’d pulled over herself before she went to sleep, its light pink faux-silk material feebly absorbing the urine that was pouring out of her.

Try as she might, she couldn’t stop the disgusting flow erupting out of her. Once opened, her own personal floodgates could not be closed until the stream trickled itself out. Her legs bowed out, as if they were disgusted to be attached to her and trying to leave her in her own mess. Like a stroke victim, Margaret’s face contorted despite herself, no matter how much she willed herself to maintain some form of composure. In total, a half minute hadn’t even passed, but it could have been hours for all that it mattered to her.

As if her good mood had been leaked out into the Goodnites and onto the floor, Margaret scowled down at herself, past her breasts and to the wretched article of clothing that threatened to rip itself off of her hips with all the weight it now held. If not for her bow-legged stance, the soaking padding would have slid right off her hips and onto the floor. At present the bulk of it didn’t even touch her. Margaret chewed on her tongue a moment and decided to bite the bullet, snapping her stance back to shoulder width, and sending the overloaded night pants skidding down her urine glazed legs. The wet plopping sound it made as it collided with discarded nightgown made her suck in her breath.

Had she wet that much, just now? Impossible. But the sodden thing was leaking from overuse, and if she hadn’t overtaxed it in her almost sleepwalking state (yeah, that was it…sleepwalking) then that meant she had also wet in her sleep. Like wildfire, a nagging itch started just above her rear where her new tattoo was and spread all over her bum and crotch. Great. Diaper rash. The girl’s scowl deepened and she shoved the thought aside, stepping out of the wet pile of clothes.

Diaper rash? This wasn’t a diaper! She was a grown woman. A little down on her luck in love, and with an admittedly strange and sudden bed wetting problem, but this wasn’t a diaper. Gingerly, as if the bloated, dripping padding might reattach itself to her, she picked the used Goodnite up off her bedroom floor with one thumb and forefinger.

It wasn’t a diaper, it was…a diaper. She had made a conscious effort to not look at it when she’d ripped one from the package last night and slipped it on under her nightie. Otherwise, she knew, she might not be able to break through her own pride and take the necessary precaution. In the dark, it had felt a little like a pad that was sewn into a pair of tight granny panties. Looking at it now, it was a diaper.

The shade of pink was that obnoxious nursery room color that somehow managed to be “girly” without being “feminine” or attractive. The portraits of Ariel and her guppy friend Flounder, now distorted from the swelling adorned the crotch area, were definitely not mature. The worst part was the stenciled in borders along the top and between the legs. Along the waistband, a cutesy ribbon was drawn in an attempt to disguise something meant for a baby; to make it look like it was meant for a preschooler. Between the legs, the outline of panty lines made the thing look even more juvenile. Showing where the leg holes would have been, had this underwear not been padded, only made the padding more obvious.

She’d slept in a Pull-Up, a tapeless diaper designed to mimic and encourage a toddler to try out big girl panties. Only Pull-Ups had fade-when-wet designs and other little tricks to teach a kid when they were wet and transition to regular underwear. Her older sister’s parenting blog had told her that much. This was different; it was just a diaper disguising itself as underwear. This thing didn’t want her to transition to big girl panties. It wanted her to wet it. That’s why it had been so comfortable that she’d accidentally leaked in it.

A second plop sounded in Margaret’s ears as she let the nasty thing drop to the floor again. Margaret turned away in disgust, averting the eyes from her own juvenile mess; but out of sight was not out of mind in this case. Sitting neatly on her dresser was the rest of the pack of Goodnites. Its top was ripped open with a stray pink diaper poking out, but it was otherwise intact.

On the front of the package was a smiling kid, with light brown hair not unlike Margaret’s. Margaret wasn’t sure how old the kid on the package was, but it was definitely a “kid” as opposed to a “baby” or “toddler;” old enough to be in school, old enough to be embarrassed about wearing night diapers with features like double leak guards. Thing is, the kid in the picture wasn’t blushing or blanching at having to wear padded undies to bed; the model was giving a big toothy grin for all the world to see.

How fucked up was that? Some poor kid, likely with an over controlling stage mother, got dragged into a photo shoot, and had to smile in front of a camera so she could have her face plastered on countless packages of diapers. What was the message of this? Was she supposed to be smiling because she was happy to be wearing diapers? Were parents getting this thing supposed to think that their kids would be thrilled to have an embarrassing nighttime problem or just grateful that there was less laundry that would have to be done in the morning? Because Margaret wasn’t feeling any of that.

The complete lack of discretion on the package made it even worse. You didn’t see that kind of nonsense on Depends or whatever; no smiling grandpas with diapers advertising decorations of Betty White or whatever old people were supposed to like. Dignity and discretion was not at the forefront of this product’s mind. But dignity went out the door when you weren’t buying the diapers.

Margaret stared at the brown haired girl on the package, and felt like she was gazing into a kind of distorted funhouse mirror along with a certain kind of morbid comradery. Neither of them had wanted to wear these things, she could see as much in the kid’s eyes right above the fake toothy grin. Yet here they were, forced by circumstance and caregivers. (Was Molly her caregiver? She had been taking care of Margaret, but did that give one woman any actual authority over the other?)

The little voice in the back of her mind added insult to injury by reminding her that the kid on the package probably wasn’t actually wearing the girly diapers. It was a profile pic of a kid in jammies with a blanket pulled up to her chest; there was absolutely no need for anyone to actually wear diapers. In that way, Margaret was even more juvenile than some kid spokesman. The kid was probably just lying by broadcasting, “I wear diapers…yaaaaay.” Margaret had actually worn and used them. That was no lie.

Disgusted with herself and the situation she’d allowed herself to be put in, Margaret dropped the package to the floor and kicked it under her bed. “Screw this,” she said to herself, before grabbing a towel and walking briskly to the bathroom.

(Tuesday)

Molly ached all over. Everything hurt and every synapse in her body was wrung by a constant dull ache. She’d had a deep, dreamless sleep, but didn’t feel the least bit rested. She’d gone to bed not long after her new roommate had turned in, the sound of Margaret’s peaceful snoring acting as a kind of white noise that lulled the artist to sleep, but the only result of her slumber was a sense of lost time. Her eyes closed one moment, vaguely wondering when she’d fall asleep, and a blink later, it was morning, and everything hurt. It was her vary first hangover all over again.

The sound of the bathroom shower running from across the apartment- gentle and subtle like a tiny indoor rainstorm- should have worked to put her back to sleep. But a tiny voice in the back of her mind jolted Molly awake. The shower meant that Margaret was up and about, and some illogical superstitious notion told her that she should be up now. She could sleep when Margaret slept if she needed it, but she had to be up when her roommate was up.

Margaret needed her, she felt, and to sleep the day away while her companion was in need was no good at all. She wasn’t alone in the world anymore. Molly had responsibilities. With a groan, the artist sat up in her bed and threw the covers off of her, revealing a modest set of sky blue pajamas with vertical white pin stripes.

Funny. Molly didn’t remember having these, or dressing in them before bed, normally preferring to sleep in the nude. No one was going to see her fall asleep these days anyways (and if they did, they’d be naked too,) so pajamas seemed kind of pointless. The baggy shirt and shorts made her normally adorable and petite frame look plain and sexless. It looked more like something her mom wore after Dad moved out and she’d given up trying to impress anyone. Still…they were comfy.

Arms outstretched, Molly groaned again, feeling ten years older, but also ten years more experienced and resolute. “Time to check on Margaret,” she mumbled to herself, taking a step towards her bedroom door. A glimpse at her worktable, (strange having a worktable, having only set up a single designated space yesterday, when the entire floor was once her worktable) made the artist pause.

She spread out the pieces of paper, which had been arranged in a tidy little stack, and an almost orgasmic warmth flew through her body, starting at her tattooed wrist. “Oh my god,” the words leapt out of her in a silent gasp. They were beautiful. They were just sketches, to be sure, but they were beautiful all the same. In each one, she saw the potential to build on. One that could be turned into a tasteful landscape for the local art’s fair, another was the roughest beginnings for some goofy looking cartoon animal that kids would absolutely flock to, a third was a series of character sketches for what appeared to be a more fantasy setting, a fourth was filled with the beginnings of character designs for what looked like your typical superhero comic rag, and so it went.

They were all her work, too. Even when she was changing things up for different genres, she knew her own style and technique. Each one was unmistakably a Molly Huang original. The strange thing was that she couldn’t remember drawing any of them. Her wrist ached again, though this ache was pleasurable, like the good burn after a workout. Is this why she hurt so? Had she been sleep walking or sleep drawing or something? Had the result of her organizing her life so precisely made her creative energy bubble up to the surface even when she was asleep and forced her into a kind of fugue state?

“Dang,” Molly whistled to herself. “Now if only I could do backgrounds in my sleep. I hate backgrounds.” The young artist made a note to herself to finish these and then see if she could find a way to market them, maybe pick up a few clients while she was at it. Versatility mattered sometimes.

The continued pitter-pattering of the distant shower caught Molly’s attention once more. “Time to go to work,” she whispered, walking out into the living room, thankful now that she was in her “mom jammies”. At least she was dressed enough to be able to check up on her roomie.

Hmmm…roomie. Now that she consciously thought about it, Molly liked thinking of Margaret as her “Roomie.” It sounded soft, and cuddly, something that needed to be loved. That described Margaret to a T as far as Molly was concerned. Was Molly Margaret’s “Roomie,” then? She wrinkled her nose at the thought.

No.

Definitely not.

Molly couldn’t put her finger on it, but the thought disturbed her more than it should have. The same designation just didn’t feel right in Molly’s mind. Margaret was her Roomie, but she was Margaret’s Roommate. Even though it was just the difference of a few phonemes, it just sounded right.

Traversing across the apartment, young woman took a gander at the clock on the microwave and noted the time. Margaret was late. Again. She’d obviously overslept. Didn’t the girl know how to set an alarm clock? Molly made a mental note to set an alarm on her phone early so that she could wake Margaret up tomorrow. If she wanted something done right, it seemed, she’d have to do it herself.

Not thinking twice, Molly pushed open the unlocked door into Margaret’s room and stepped inside as naturally as if she’d lived with her roomie all her life. Tentatively, Molly sniffed the air, trying to determine if the other woman was showering to wake up, or to rinse off her shame. If it smelled of piss, it was either incredibly subtle, or Molly had already gone smell blind to the distinct funk.

What her nose couldn’t find, her eyes honed in on soon enough. By the side of Margaret’s bed was a sopping wet Goodnite making a little mound on a crumpled-up nightgown. Thought so. Peeling back the sheets, Molly ran a hand over her roomie’s bedspread, feeling for the telltale wetness of a soiled bed. Nothing. It seemed the bed-wetting diaper had done its job. A smug, self-satisfied smile- the smile of someone who’d just proven themselves right- spread across her face. It had been a good idea to insist that the taller girl pad up just in case, and once she got out of the shower, Margaret would likely thank her.

She looked down at the discarded enuresis garment. Then again, maybe not. Apparently, Margaret couldn’t even be bothered to dispose of it, instead leaving it on the floor with her sleeping clothes. Gross. Somebody could slip and hurt themselves on that if they weren’t careful; maybe even Margaret.

With surprising swiftness indicating experience in these matters that Molly sorely lacked, she quickly skipped into the kitchen and grabbed a plastic grocery bag, doubled back into Margaret’s room, scooped up the mess that had been left behind, bagged the diaper, tied the bag, and tossed it in the kitchen garbage can. A quick trip to the washing machine took care of the not quite dripping remains of the nightgown. Molly opted to not run the washing machine just yet. She’d likely have to do some laundry herself and it didn’t make sense to run a full load of laundry for one little leaked on nightie.

Mouth twisting to the side, Molly briefly considered the garbage pail she’d just thrown the diaper in. The plastic barrier of the tied-up shopping bag would do for now, but if this became a habit- something which a little voice in the back of her mind was certain it would-Molly would have to consider getting a separate pail to handle Molly’s nighttime accidents. It wouldn’t make sense to have the kitchenette and living room smell like a dirty bathroom every time the lid came off.

One thing at a time. The shower wouldn’t last forever, and Molly still wanted to do a good deed for her new friend. That’s when the little voice in the back of her mind, the one that didn’t quite belong to her, came up with a great idea: Wouldn’t it be nice for Margaret to walk back into her room with her clothes already laid out for her?

No sooner had the thought crossed her mind, than Molly all but pranced back into Margaret’s room. Rifling through her friend’s clothes, the young artist was playing one of those flash dress-up games in her mind. This wouldn’t go with that. This wasn’t flattering. That didn’t match anything. This was too long in one area. That was too baggy in another. No wonder Margaret was having man trouble, her taste in clothing was just awful…no sense of aesthetics at all.

Through the flotsam and jetsam that Margaret called a wardrobe, Molly picked out a simple purple top and a frilly black skirt that looked like it would suffice; long enough to keep everything covered, yet short enough to be interesting.

Molly took a quick moment to make her roomie’s bed before laying the outfit out. Then she scampered over to the underwear drawer. “One last thing,” she spoke, yanking the top drawer out. A little puff of white fragrant dust gushed into the air, causing Molly to giggle a bit. She’d really done a number on Margaret’s panties with all of that baby powder the other day. She picked out a nice white pair (the better to discreetly hide all that powder with) and laid it out beside the skirt and top.

She was about to leave, but as she turned, her foot kicked something soft and plastic. The artist hit the floor and reached under the bed with her right arm, pulling out the mass of cotton and perfume. The rest of the package of Goodnites was now in her hands.

Molly turned over the package and examined it. The kid on the package was smiling from underneath the covers. Molly nodded to herself. This was likely how Margaret had woken up, happy and smiling, she thought. Relieved that for the first time in three days, she’d awoken in a dry bed.

Actually, as far as Molly knew, Margaret might have always had this problem. Every morning since they’d moved in together, Margaret had woken up with a wet mattress, except for today. How lucky it was, then, that Margaret had found her when she did. Poor thing wouldn’t have known what to do with herself, most likely.

Acting on instinct and impulse more than rational thought, Molly withdrew a fresh Goodnite, a near perfect replica of proper big girl panties, or close enough for what Margaret needed, and placed it opposite the white panties that she’d already laid out for her friend. Choices were always better where possible.

“Just in case,” she said to herself, not realizing how patently ridiculous the thought was. Then she left the rest of the pack of Goodnites on Margaret’s dresser and went to get herself dressed, despite not having anywhere to go.

(Tuesday)

Margaret bathed in the steam more than she bathed in the water. For minutes on end, she sat on the toilet, stewing, as scalding hot water rocketed out of the showerhead and down towards the drain with nothing but air in between the two points. Two days in a row she’d woken to find she’d wet in her sleep and sulked off to a boiling hot shower. Now it was day three of this, and the cycle was repeating itself again. It was quickly becoming routine, even though it shouldn’t have. At her age, bed wetting should have been a freak accident, not a constant problem.

This wasn’t normal. It shouldn’t be normal. So why should Margaret act like it’s normal? Already, in the thick clouds of evaporated water, a vision danced before Margaret’s eyes; a premonition. She would get in the shower, scrub her skin raw, blubber a bit more to herself, and when she went back to her bedroom, Molly would have already laid out an outfit for her to wear. But instead of panties, a Goodnite would be waiting for her “just in case.”

From there, it would just be a matter of pointing out that she was late to work- Margaret was already well aware of that; something might be malfunctioning in her alarm clock, but she knew how the sun worked- and the suggestion that she take yet another day off.

Then would come more coddling and doting. Margaret would be encouraged to take it easy by her Roommate (she didn’t like thinking of Molly in such informal terms as “roomie”), and she’d take another day off. She wouldn’t even have to cook or clean. Molly was more than good enough at all that stuff. Even her peanut butter and jelly was somehow delicious.

All Margaret would have to do is take it easy, live for herself for another day, play some video games or watch some movies, and maybe…maybe… wear something meant for children who couldn’t hold it in while they slept.

But what was wrong with that? She even imagined herself sitting in the living room playing Overwatch while Molly popped her head in from time to time to check on her, make her something to eat…maybe ask if she had to go potty…

Potty?! Potty?! Where had that come from? Margaret Masterson wasn’t some friggin’ toddler! She was an adult! A grown-up, even! How could she even think of playing hooky from work in such saccharine, juvenile, immature, infantile terms. And why did she kind of like the idea of Molly acting like some kind of…of…she couldn’t even mentally allow herself to think the word. Oh, god! Was she fantasizing about this now? What was wrong with her?

The young Miss Masterson mentally backpedaled away from herself, relying on her natural revulsion towards her predicament, and used it as fuel to focus herself into a more appropriate mindset. If things kept going the way they were going, Margaret would have to wear another Goodnite to bed at the very least. Just thinking about putting another one of those glorified diapers on caused her back to tingle unpleasantly. It was like thinking about lice; thinking about the revolting things just caused her scalp to itch. She had to break the pattern before it became a cycle.

But how? The idea came to her instantly, as if by divine providence.

For starters, she wouldn’t take a shower. Not much of one, anyway. If it always started with a wet bed and a shower, well she’d gone too far to stop the first…but the second? There was still a chance. A bit of practicality snuck into her rebellious little fantasy, though who she was rebelling against, she couldn’t quite say: Molly or herself? The problem was she still smelled like piss and not bathing wasn’t going to help that.

She couldn’t maintain her independence if she couldn’t manage some basic hygiene. She looked down at herself and her upper lip curled a bit. Her hair down there wasn’t helping matters much either. Hair absorbed odor, and she’d have to wash it…or get rid of it.

That was it! If she did a little bit of “landscaping” so to speak- she could kill several birds with a flick of her wrist. She couldn’t have piss-soaked pubes if she didn’t have any pubes, and kids, invalids, and idiots (all of which she had been beginning to feel like) didn’t shave themselves. It was perfect.

Instead of the body wash, Margaret grabbed for the shaving cream and began lathering herself up as she finally stepped into the shower. A few minutes later (and no nicks, she noted with pride) and she was completely clean and smooth between her legs. Not a single errant hair or bit of stubble remained. It was almost as if puberty had never come to her pelvis. Damn, but she was good!

And so Margaret Masterson , inwardly and outwardly determined to prove how independent and womanly she was, exited the bathroom with skin as smooth as…well…

(Tuesday)

“What in the world?” Molly hissed as she stared, slack jawed, at her computer screen. She’d downloaded a virus of some sort; someone had hacked into her computer. Had to have! That was the only explanation, as ludicrous as it seemed. After laying out clothes for Margaret to find, Molly had gone back to her room, gotten dressed in a relaxed jeans and t-shirt combo and gone to check her internet feed: Facebook, Instagram, e-mail and all that.

Her browser had been left open, as usual, but the websites that filled her screen were places that she’d never visited, yet alone had prior knowledge of their existence. Sites with names like ABUniverse.com, Onesiesdownunder.com, and Baby-Pants.com dotted her internet history. One site after the other caused her frown to deepen further into a full-fledged incredulous scowl. Every strange site that had been visited last night seemed dedicated to one thing and one thing only: treating adults like babies.

“What the heck is a cushy pen?” the artist wondered aloud as she scrolled down her internet history without visiting the site. So many adult baby sites. Too many for her to get a grip on them.

A check to her personal email account had confirmed her worst suspicions. There were at least ten different confirmation purchase emails. She’d bought things, a lot of things, and it didn’t look good. It must’ve been a scam from one of the skeevier bars they’d been to last Saturday: Get credit and debit card information from some drunk (in this case Molly and her roomie), and then use it to make purchases until the funds ran out. But if that was true, why were all of those things being bought with her money being shipped here? Wouldn’t a thief use their own email account and address? And what did anyone else have to gain from wasting her money on adult diapers and big baby junk? Would a credit card scammer really go to all that trouble for no good reason?

Molly Huang glanced over at the sketches that she’d found this morning. Had she been doing more than sleep sketching? Had she been sleep shopping, too? The thought that she might have actually bought seven adult sized onesies, a dozen or so baby style dresses, two pairs of shortalls, and an adult baby sailor suit, along with cases and cases of something called “Super Dry Kids,” made her feel sick to her stomach. The thought of sleep drawing didn’t bother her; art was her life. Ordering adult-sized baby clothes was messed up on a level even a professional psychologist might not understand.

More importantly, how was she going to pay for all of this? Did any of these sites even have a return or a cancelation policy? She hadn’t taken long enough to find out. The orders had piled on one right after the other, taking up a full page on her email.

How far did this bizarre little rabbit hole go?

Molly clicked over to the next page and couldn’t believe what she saw. It wasn’t more orders, almost the exact opposite in fact. They were bank statements, with notifications of deposits being put in her account. Below them there was correspondence between her and several big-name companies that she’d never once approached for work: a gaming company famous for its sword and sorcery table top games, a relatively small but still very popular comic book company set to be the Wendy’s to Marvel and DC’s McDonald’s and Burger King; a candy corporation looking for a mascot for its latest line of chocolate and fruit flavored bubble gum.

Somehow, she’d contacted them all…and they’d accepted. She’d sent her portfolio out, given pitches…and even scanned rough drafts that she didn’t remember…and they’d all thought she was good enough…and she didn’t remember any of it. Skimming, she saw that the writing style and word choice was typical of hers, but it all still felt wrong. Molly knew she wasn’t nearly this good in an interview, not even a digital one where she could edit her responses and let her art do the majority of the talking. This was the Molly Huang that she’d wanted to be, the true and talented professional, not the whimsical slacker that came so easily to her.

The dates that the various correspondences and sales pitches had started weren’t as early as last night, either. They all started in what would technically have been Sunday morning, but what felt like a late Saturday night to a petite little lady drunk off her ass. Molly stared down at her wrist, tattooed with the strange markings that she couldn’t hope to read. She felt it tingle, with a mixture of pins and needles and tickling pleasure, like a hand that hadn’t quite fallen asleep. What had she done? At least she could afford all the garbage she’d just bought.

Seriously though, what kind of sick human being would think to degrade someone and treat them like a baby?

A slam from the front door, broke Molly out of her contemplation. Like a prairie dog, Molly poked her head out of her room and looked at the front door. Margaret had slammed the door so hard it was still vibrating on its hinges. “What’s her problem?” Molly asked herself.

At least it looked like her roomie was going to work. That was a start. Molly gave an almost longing glance at the door as it finally stopped shaking. Her roomie…walking to the bus stop to go to work all by herself. Maybe Margaret didn’t need Molly so much after all. A sad but grateful tear snuck its way out of the corner of Molly’s eye before she wiped it away.

“I wonder if she liked the outfit I picked out for her.” Molly said aloud to herself, as she crossed the apartment to Margaret’s bedroom. Not for the first time since she woke up today, Molly Huang gasped in shock.

The place was what her mother would have called a “warzone”. The sheets were stripped off the bed and thrown angrily aside, slumping against the wall. The pillows were punched to the point that they were caving inward on themselves. Lastly, crumpled up and scattered around the room were the clean Goodnites that Molly had left out.

Molly said nothing, even to herself, instead surveying the damage with a kind of solemn silence. Something had clearly upset Margaret, but Molly couldn’t for the life of her figure out what. Her hands began to itch the longer she looked at the absolutely trashed bedroom, and since idle hands were the Devil’s plaything, she might as well get to work.

The bed was relatively easy to fix and re-make, Molly found, and the pillows only took a half-minute to fluff. As she smoothed out the comforter, Molly made a mental note to propose getting a mattress protector if Margaret’s bed wetting problem persisted. With only the Goodnites left to clean up, she noted that the clothes she’d laid out were nowhere to be seen. At least Margaret had gotten dressed properly.

With a tired sigh, Molly bent over and started throwing crumpled up bedwetting undies onto the bed. Carefully, she un-balled them and smoothed them out on the comforter. They were resistant little buggers, all right; not as pretty as they had been, but still perfectly serviceable for their intended purpose. It was a sure sign of a good product.

Had Margaret taken the time, she could have ripped open the relatively flimsy sides, Molly supposed, but there didn’t seem to be anything calculated about this little outburst…this temper tantrum. A temper tantrum was the perfect way to describe this episode.

For all her initial impressions of maturity, Molly decided, Margaret really did have more in common with a toddler than an adult woman. As she gathered the Goodnites up into a neat little stack, not as pristine as they’d been, but still good enough, Molly wondered if Margaret had been the one to order all of that baby stuff off the internet.

Maybe Margaret had snuck into Molly’s room and ordered that junk off the computer with Molly’s credit card. Maybe she was trying to put ideas into Molly’s head. Maybe this was a cry for help or something. So many “maybes”, but the big question remained: What kind of person would want to treat another full-grown adult like they were a baby?

The smell of baby powder filled Molly’s nostrils as she opened up her roomie’s underwear drawer. She sighed contentedly at the smell, smiling dopily all the while. Then, in a moment of, she felt a blush rush to her cheeks.

“Oh…” she said, answering her own question.

(Tuesday)

Margaret sat on the bus, guzzling down a bottled water. It was all she had managed to grab before storming out of her own apartment and slamming the door behind her. Never before had she been so absolutely furious to be right about something. Just as she had predicted, her Roommate had come along, and laid out something decidedly juvenile for her as if Margaret didn’t know how to dress herself. Okay, she had to admit to herself, the top and skirt themselves weren’t particularly immature, but leaving the panties right next to those glorified diapers was a real slap in the face.

Despite herself, Margaret looked at the clock, knew she wouldn’t have much time to catch the bus, pulled on the panties, shirt and skirt, and went to work; but not before ripping the sheets off of her perfectly made bed and crumpling up every fucking diaper in the bag left on her dresser. Who the hell did Molly think she was, Margaret’s mother?!

Margaret stormed out of her room, grabbed her purse and a bottle of water from the fridge, and stormed out. Molly was in her room, and Margaret had no time for a fight just then, so the young woman made her displeasure known by almost shattering the front door off its hinges as she ran for the bus. There would be a fight, alright, and a big one. Margaret decided that she would internalize every bitchy customer that she had to deal and bottle up that anger deep down inside her. Then, when she got home, she’d unleash it full force on Molly.

No games or crying or alcohol to dull the pain or distract herself from her outrage and stress…she’d be completely brutal and verbally tear the short little Asian girl a new asshole. She’d let all the pain she felt from being dumped, and being put in a financial bind, and having to deal with terrible people whining about their tablets not working, and suddenly being a bedwetter (not to mention waking up with a previously unasked for tattoo) just flow out of her and into Molly’s chipper little brain. It wasn’t fair, Margaret knew, but neither was the way Molly was treating her.

A gurgle from her stomach stoked Margaret’s resentment; she’d missed breakfast after all. She girl took another few heavy glugs from her water bottle so that her belly would at least have something in it. Jesus, if Molly was going to treat her like a little kid, she could have at least packed her a lunch. Now she was going to have to stretch the few dollars she had in her purse and raid the vending machines at work; not exactly nutritious, filling, or cost effective, but it felt like her only option. She sniffed and her nose twitched as the scent of baby powder wafted into her nose and tickled her nostrils.

Where the hell was that smell coming from?!

Margaret looked around the near empty bus and saw no likely suspects; just a couple old ladies, and some greasy punk with more than a dozen piercings. Was that smell coming from her? No. Couldn’t be.

A landmark that she and Molly had marked out last night in planning Margaret’s bus route whizzed by, and Margaret crossed her ankles. Nine more stops to go, and she’d be at work; late, but still there. At least she was getting out of the apartment.

Something gnawed at Margaret from the inside, and it just wasn’t her hunger. If Molly was doing some weird kind of mind games thingy and wanting to be her mother, why was she helping Margaret get out of the house and get to work? The tall and skinny woman uncrossed her ankles as another landmark passed by. Eight more.

If Molly wanted to gaslight her into utter dependence, then wouldn’t she have said something along the lines of “You need to stay home until this bedwetting thing is under control”? Instead, right from the beginning, Molly had been unusually supportive and helpful in navigating around the whole no more car situation, as any reasonable person would.

Seven more stops. Margaret crossed her ankles again. It was only when it came to what she wore to bed and what happened first thing in the morning that things had gotten weird. Maybe Molly was doing some kind of reverse psychology to get Margaret fired up and out the door- treat her as helpless so that she’d get pissed off enough to do something about it. If that was the plan, it’d worked like a charm. Margaret couldn’t get out of her apartment and out to work fast enough, not even fast enough to grab more than a bottle of water. Her ankles uncrossed when another stop flew past.

She wriggled a bit and shivered in discomfort. Goddamn, they kept this bus cold. Even from under her bra she could feel her nipples poking out a bit. A very loud cough and an audible “ahem,” drew her attention outward. Two of the old ladies on the bus were crossing their arms over their chest, looking distinctly judgmental. One of the crones was looking at the greasy punk sitting across from Margaret. The other one was glaring at Margaret herself.

The customer service rep looked down at herself and discovered the reason for the disapproving looks: she wasn’t wearing a bra. Her nipples were fully erect, and the slime ball across from her was staring a little too hard. The simplest eye contact sent the little perv shuffling off towards the back after his little show. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and did her best to pretend the whole thing hadn’t happened. Five stops left and Margaret was crossing her ankles again.

The bus didn’t seem quite so cold as blood rushed to her face. How stupid could she be? Had she really been so dense as to forget to put on a bra? Molly hadn’t left one out for her so…no! No! This wasn’t Molly’s fault. Margaret was a grown woman and was responsible for her own state of dress…still, it would have been helpful if Molly had laid out a bra for her.

Uneasily, she shifted her weight and heard a distinct, but muted crinkle. Margaret froze. Experimentally, she squeezed her legs together and heard the crinkle again along with a thick padding not unlike a sanitary pad. Oh, God! In her haste to get dressed and get to the bus, she’d actually slipped on the bed wetting diaper that Molly had left right next to her panties. What had she done to herself?!

Carefully, the girl reached back with one hand and probed the waistband of her skirt, searching for something, anything that resembled her actual adult underwear. Her hand went numb for a second as it brushed the bottom of her tramp stamp tattoo and for the briefest of moments, it felt as if someone else were discreetly pulling back her skirt, like a toddler getting a diaper check. Her fingers came alive again when they brushed up against the relatively smooth and thin fabric of her big girl panties.
At least she was wearing layers, it seemed. In her rush to leave, she’d put on both undergarments; first the Goodnites, then her panties. Thinking about how thick the Goodnites were compared to her actual panties, it’d be fairly obvious that she had underwear pulled up over a diaper to anyone who looked…but one would look…right? Right? Right. Though maybe that little perv had been looking at more than just her nipples.

Her ankles uncrossed again, but not as a way to keep track of how many stops were left, and Margaret couldn’t help but hear the papery rustling of the diaper beneath her. It was like the hidden words in a subliminal message; once you knew what to listen for, you could never not hear them.

Something didn’t feel quite right. Margaret Masterson couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but it wasn’t just the padding in all the wrong places. Something was definitely wrong, but she didn’t know how to explain it.

She crossed her ankles. Then uncrossed them. Then shifted. Then crossed them again. Then shifted the other way. She was all but rocking in her seat. Each time, a distinct crinkle filled her ears over the humming of the bus. Margaret just couldn’t get comfortable.

The bus rolled to a stop and Margaret looked up, an arm covering her breast and another one between her legs, her feet jittery and doing a little jig. Still three more stops to go, but as a long line of passengers shuffled aboard, those three stops suddenly seemed a lot longer than the few miles left to her. New to this whole public transportation thing, Margaret just did her best to avoid eye contact with the strangers (especially with those old crones who’d been throwing shade at her).

A little voice inside of her whispered that strangers were dangerous and not to be talked to, even for a moment. The vibration from the moving vehicle subsided for the moment, her body was sending its own message loud and clear:

SHE HAD TO PEE!

She glanced down at the empty water bottle by her side. Had she really drank the entire thing already? When had that happened?

The bus was filling up and Margaret caught a glimpse of the last passenger stepping through the doors. She only had three stops before she could make the mad dash to her workplace bathroom, but something inside her made her think that she didn’t have that kind of time. “WAIT!” Margaret cried out, the look of panic evident in her eyes. “I gotta go po-!” She stopped herself shook the babyish word right from her mouth. “I gotta go pee-pee!”

There was an awkward, stifled chuckle from the mas of strangers lining the seats around her. “I mean this is my stop.” Margaret stammered, correcting herself a second time. The bus doors opened again, and Margaret stood up.

That had been a mistake. She felt like her entire bladder had not only filled up even more in those few precious seconds- the slight discomfort bypassing the tingling sensation and skipping straight to a hot burning ache between her legs- but now it felt like the bottom was about to drop out and the only thing holding her potential flood in was the hard plastic backed seats of the city bus.

Timidly, slowly, and very, very carefully, Margaret shuffled in tortoise like half-steps. Each step out was a bit of bottled agony. Each follow up step brought her thighs together, along with a bit of strength. “Come on, lady!” some faceless stranger jeered from the assembled mass. “Off or on! Move it!”

“I’m going as fast as I can!” Margaret whined. She was only going for the back doors, but even those seemed so far away where her panties were concerned. “I’m…I’m having a difficult day.” Slowly, she descended the steps towards the street, past chuckling, grinning, mocking strangers.

Ka-Thunk

Ka-Thunk

Ka-Thunk

When one sneakered foot was finally planted on terra firma, the bus shuddered to a start, and a strangers’ hand pushed her the rest of the way out. Margaret stumbled a few steps, but did not fall, managing to catch herself on nearby bench. Unfortunately, that was still enough.

That was when the last of her willpower and resistance left her. The palms of her hands scraping the bus stop bench, Margaret Masterson’s bladder gave way and emptied itself into her waiting Little Mermaid pull-up diaper. Her newly slickened and shaved pubic area felt the raw heat and wetness as urine poured out of her, being absorbed by the thirsty padding of her new undergarments quickly, but not quickly enough for her to not know what she was in the midst of doing to herself.

Within seconds, she felt her underwear gain weight and the diaper drooped down a bit away from her body as she continued flooding it. When would it stop? The wetness spread out from the center and creeped up her backside and front in equal measure as the core of the diaper became over saturated. Ironically, her adult underwear acted as a kind of brace that kept the wretched sodden padding from sliding off of her as it had this morning.

Finally…after much too long, Margaret Masterson stopped pissing herself. Panting, and too overwhelmed to care, she lifted up the hem of her skirt and inspected the damage she’d done. At least she didn’t leak this time…so her panties were technically dry.

The customer service rep dug through her purse and pulled out her cell phone as tears and snot built up and dripped onto her face. “Molly,” Margaret cried into the receiver, “can you…can you come pick me up?”

(Tuesday)

The cab ride back home was silent, awkward, slightly smelly, and, for Margaret, squishy. She’d spent close to an hour in her wet Goodnites already, and while the act itself had long since passed, the evidence of her accident was literally all around her. But really, she was getting ahead of herself.
She’d argued on the phone with Molly for close to twenty minutes in a never-ending loop of panic and sophistry.

“Just get back on the next bus and ride the loop around if you don’t want to go to work.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“There are strangers!”

“There were strangers on the bus before, weren’t there?”

“And that’s what made me freak out!”

“So, what am I supposed to do? I don’t have a car right now, either.”

“I don’t know! Help!”

“You want me to take the bus and meet you there?”

“NO!”

“We could ride back together…”

“NOOOOOOO!”

And so it went in degrees and variations on the theme. Molly would make a suggestion, and Margaret would feel her mind gripped by an animal-like panic. Finally, after the contents of Margaret’s accident had cooled and the innards of her disposable panties were swollen and sagging, held up only by the extra layer of actual panties over them acting like a sling, did the option of a cab come up.

“How about I call you a taxi?”

“Will you come with it?”

There was a pause. Then an audible sigh from the other end. “It’ll take longer if I do.”

“I don’t care,” Margaret said, tears threatening to spill out again. Then she added, “Please come,” before hanging up the phone and turning it off so that she could finally have the last word.

Margaret wasn’t sure why, but she felt she needed Molly with her if she was going to get back home, almost as if her new Roommate was some kind of guardian angel or human security blanket. Nothing bad seemed to happen as long as Molly was around; it was only AFTER Molly and Margaret parted company that things would go awry. More importantly in Margaret’s mind was the idea that she was NOT getting back on one of those buses.

Forgetting to wear a bra, the quiet laughter and impatient grunts of the huddled masses crowding onto the bus, wetting her pants in the street…it was like she was stuck in some bad dream, and getting back onto another bus would just restart the whole thing. She’d be surrounded.

But sitting in the back of a cozy little cab, Molly next to her? She’d be okay. Secure. Safe. With Mo…Molly. She’d be with Molly. Her friend.
Margaret paced back and forth along the sidewalk; a muted, sodden crinkle sounding off with each step made the back of her teeth tingle unpleasantly, like when you hear someone else brush their teeth. Like an idiot, she kept looking at her phone to check the time. Oh. Yeah. I turned it off, she thought.

At least here on the sidewalk, in the broad daylight, waiting on a cab (at a bus stop no less), in a wet diaper covered by dry panties, things seemed no more real but much less intimidating. The absurdity of her situation was less scary and dehumanizing, and instead came off as quirky. It was the difference between Wes Craven and Wes Anderson.
A bus pulled up to the stop, and Margaret waved it on and kept pacing. The driver gave her a little wave and moved on, but Margaret didn’t return the wave. Her back ached and a little voice inside her head told her it was a bad idea to talk to strangers.

Buses were filled with strangers, bus drivers included. Without Molly, how would she know that the bus would have taken her where she wanted to go anyways? Better to stay put (pacing not included) and wait for Molly to come pick her up.

After approximately five hundred paces back and forth- Margaret had lost count around four hundred sixty-three- she decided to sit down, the squish against her backside reminding her of what she’d done to herself. A gasp escaped her lips as the gel and fabric pressed against her, the way the diaper pushed back up against her from the bench its own unique (though not entirely unpleasant) sensation. In her mild fatigue and impatience at waiting for her ride, Margaret had allowed herself to forget her lapse of control, even though the evidence clearly remained to remind her. Another bus pulled up to the stop, and a few strangers limped off and loped away, not even bothering to look at her.
Margaret snuck a hand between her legs and gave the Goodnite beneath her panties a squeeze, feeling the misshapen, not quite symmetrical bulge caused by the absorbent pulp. The sensation was a little like a cross between a water balloon and a bean bag; malleable yet sturdy.

How long had she been in this thing, anyway? How long was she going to be sitting in her own wet diaper? Again, for what felt like the millionth time, Margaret reached in and looked at her phone to check the time, only to remember (again) that she’d turned it off. Not that it mattered; she hadn’t thought to look at the time when she got off the bus…when she’d peed herself…when she’d called Molly.

Another bus drove by her, this one not even stopping to drop off passengers. Was that the third bus, Molly wondered, or the fourth? The fifth? It was hard to tell.
How long had she been waiting?

As if in answer, she felt the slightest ache in her bladder. She had to pee again. That meant it had been a while since she’d had her accident, didn’t it? It didn’t feel as overwhelming as it had the first time, so maybe it hadn’t been quite as long.

Logically, the feeling of a filling bladder was not a reliable indicator of the passage of time. For all Margaret knew, it was only a matter of perception, like when a person felt hungry when food was mentioned. If the topic hadn’t come up, a busy enough person could have carried enough and not even notice they were hungry; they might not even have been hungry until they realized food was a possibility.

The same principle applied here. Margaret was in a damp Goodnite, effectively wearing her toilet, so maybe she was being more sensitive to the condition of her bladder than she might otherwise be. Maybe a slight dribble only felt like a building gush, in the same way that a little extra room could feel like ravenous hunger. That’s what Margaret told herself, anyway: she didn’t really have to pee again…and if she did that was because so much time had passed and Molly would be here any minute.
But the aching in her bladder, however slight, was like an itch. It would drive her mad unless she scratched. Where was a toilet though? Margaret certainly didn’t see any nearby public restrooms or businesses that would let her use their facilities.

What if Molly and the cab came while she was going to the potty? Wouldn’t Molly be worried then? How would she get home without Molly? An alien thought burrowed itself into the customer service rep’s brain. Despite herself, she pondered: “What if I just wet again?” The Goodnite was damp, to be sure, but it wasn’t as bad as the other one had been this morning. She must have wet it at least twice, no three times, at full volume, she reasoned. That’s why it had leaked. A little tinkle wouldn’t hurt it. And that way, she could relieve herself and not lose her chance to get home.

Oh, what the heck.

Margaret closed her eyes, took a deep breath in through her nose, and as she released through her mouth, willed herself to do what this morning had been unthinkable. Better than missing Molly.
Slowly, a trickle came out and leaked into her Goodnite. She actually felt like she was pushing. She was Sisyphus pushing a bolder up a hill, for no reward at all. Margaret felt her face flush with effort.

It was barely anything. She could have likely let it out into her adult underwear and it wouldn’t have shown. Her panties warmed up a bit, but that was all. Warmer was better at least, almost more comfortable. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad when she was doing it on purpose.

“What are you doing?”

Molly’s voice broke Margaret’s concentration. The tiny trickle sped up in a final surge as Margaret completely released her bladder in shock. The fourth bus (or was it the fifth?) roared away as Molly stepped off.

“Molly?” Margaret stumbled over her words. “I thought you were coming in a cab…I…why…bus…?”
Her Roommate crossed her arms, seeming more authoritative despite being a head shorter. “How was I supposed to come pick you up in a cab if I didn’t know where you were?” she asked. “You turned off your phone.”

Margaret hung her head in shame. “I’m sorry. I just wanted you to come find me. That’s why I hung up.” Molly’s hand on her chin caused Margaret to look into the other girl’s eyes. There was resolve there, but no real anger.

“I took the bus, and found you,” Molly said. “The hard part’s over. Now I’ll call the cab and take us home.” Margaret wrapped her arms around her roommate, taking her into a gleeful hug. Finally. Home. Everything would be all right when they got home.

Little did either of them know that it was when they got home that things would be out of control.

(Tuesday)

“Home sweet home,” Margaret sang out, as they crossed the threshold into their apartment. With the almost guilty, but way too giddy spring in her step of a child who’d just faked her way out of school, Margaret dance-walked to the couch.

Inwardly, Molly cringed as her taller, formerly more reserved roommate plopped onto the couch. Her eyes darted to Margaret’s skirt, searching for signs of leakage on the couch. The furniture wasn’t even hers, yet she still found herself worried about the upholstery.
Margaret had pissed herself. This was fact. Molly wasn’t sure when exactly this had happened, but she was certain all the same. The slight but lingering smell of ammonia in the backseat of an otherwise surprisingly clean taxi cab had cemented the idea in her mind. At some point, her roomie had peed her panties, and even now was lounging about in her soiled underwear, her legs spread open in a complete and (some would say) unladylike lack of modesty.

What the hell?

Molly stretched her arms out and yawned audibly to catch her roomie’s attention. “I’m gonna go to the bathroom,” she announced as the taller girl flipped over to her belly and idly reached for the T.V. remote. “Been holding it for a while,” she added, hoping that Margaret would take the hint. Why the hell had she yawned? Molly might have been an artist, but she was a shit actor.
“Okie dokie,” Molly said, shimmying down to the floor, her knees rising to her chest, (and giving anyone who’d care to look a peek at her almost ruined panties).
The young artist (and shit actor) snuck a look between her roomie’s legs on the way to the bathroom. The Goodnite was sopping wet, pushed to its limit and sagging over the edges of her adult underwear. It was already cut thicker between the legs, making it hard to conceal, but now it was akin to a water balloon pressed against a mesh net.

Oh no! The carpet!

This must be how mothers felt when they were potty training their toddlers.

While Margaret turned on cartoons for herself, Molly shuffled off to the bathroom, shaking her head, and unsure of what to do. The door locked behind her, Molly was left to her thoughts.
To say that she found Margaret’s behavior to be unusual was an understatement. The little (okay, not so little) bed wetter had thrown a temper tantrum when Molly had left the Goodnite out on her bed next to her other clothes. Not only had Margaret put it on, she’d used it for its intended purpose.

No, a little voice in the back of her mind told her- the tattoo on her wrist tingling the entire time- that wasn’t quite right. The purpose of the Goodnite was to keep her from ruining her bed while she slept. Margaret had been completely awake since getting out of bed, and unless she took a nap on a crowded bus (possible, but not plausible), she had been wide awake when she had used the Goodnite.

Molly scoffed. The other girl was using the bed wetting pants like they were Pull-Ups. She had seemed completely content to lounge around in her own mess like a two-year-old.
Guiltily, in the back her mind, in a voice that was her own, Molly stewed over this information. She was to blame as much as anything, though. She’d left the Goodni…the diaper out there for Margaret. Every step of the way she’d been the one to put the ideas into Margaret’s head.

Now, after her temper tantrum, Margaret had decided to skip work again AND was now laying about in a squishy and soaked diaper after having a panic attack over the phone. Either this was the most subtle form of rebellion via reverse psychology or something inside the other girl had broken. No matter how she analyzed it, Molly concluded that at least one of them was being seriously fucked with.

The only way to deal with it, the little voice that wasn’t quite hers concluded, was to face the problem head on. If Margaret was trying to make a point, the best way to deal with this would be to up the ante and call her bluff; if not…well she probably wouldn’t mind it so much, would she?

Taking a deep breath, Molly stood up and flushed the toilet. She had only used it as a chair, but it was important to keep up the ruse. For some reason she wasn’t entirely certain of, that meant feigning toilet usage. A cold sweat broke out over her face as she pretended to wash her hands, slowly counting to ten.

The bathroom door swung open and Molly coolly walked out a few steps before U-turning into directly Margaret’s bedroom. The airlock was open. Time to go swimming with sharks. “What are you doing?” Margaret called out over an episode of Sid the Science Kid.

God. Sid the Science Kid. What happened to the fighting games and first-person shooters she’d talked about? There was adolescent level guilty pleasures, and then there was mind numbingly pre-school endeavors. If Margaret were doing this out of spite, then she must be some kind of mental and emotional masochist; cutting off her own nose to spite Molly’s face.

Margaret’s questions persisted. “I said, ‘what are you doing?’” There was something empty about her tone, however. Less anxiety or outrage, and more idle curiosity in Molly’s estimation. Wordlessly, the artist grabbed and smoothed out one of the slightly crumpled but clean Goodnites out of the little stack she’d made on top of Margaret’s dresser.

A nearby packet of baby wipes (formerly used to clean up clay residue and paint spills) was in her hands an instant later as she wordlessly approached Margaret. From her spot on the floor, Margaret looked up at her Roommate. “Hmmm?” she asked.

“Margaret,” Molly said, “we need to talk.”

Margaret leaned to her side to look around Molly and at the Muppet-ish CGI Monstrosities talking about the basics of the scientific method. “Bout what?” she said. Molly noticed that her roomie’s Goodnites weren’t quite moving with her as she fidgeted from side to side, they were sagging so much. Had she wet herself even more since they’d gotten home? Had the girl even made to the toilet once today?

“You’re wet, honey.” Molly said. It wasn’t aggressive or reproachful. Simply a statement of fact. Margaret went rigid, her skin becoming a hue that almost perfectly matched the fresh diaper in the other woman’s hands.

“You noticed…huh?” Margaret asked sheepishly.

“Kinda hard not to,” Molly said. She smirked a bit. Something was funny about this. Not funny ha-ha, but funny in the you had to be there moment; the special selective kind of funny when someone you’ve known intimately says something stupid but too cute to make you angry.

The taller of the two girls shot to her feet, her Pull-Up almost a full second behind her. “Sorry! I thought you didn’t notice! Sorry!” Molly took note how her roomie said “I thought you didn’t notice” instead of “I didn’t mean to.” Margaret knew she was basting in her own bladder juices. She just didn’t care enough to do something about it and only shame was motivating her.
“I noticed,” Molly confirmed. “That thing looks pretty maxed out.”

“Yeah, these things suck,” Margaret agreed, pivoting slightly to the side so that she wouldn’t have to look the shorter woman in the eye.
Still holding the dry Goodnite, Molly held it up to Margaret’s waist, visually sizing it up. “I don’t think they suck. I just don’t think they’re intended for…this.”
“They’re diapers!” Margaret whipped her head back around and looked Molly in the eye.

“They’re diapers for little kids,” Molly answered in reply. “It can’t hold all of what you’re putting into it. You’re a big girl.”

You’re a big girl.

Silence followed that lie. It wasn’t a malicious lie in spirit; more of the fake-it-till-you-make-it fibs that adults told children so that they could make progress and mature. Margaret’s eyes became glassy, and the frown across her face was a poorly constructed mask for the smile she was attempting to hide. Molly felt a tingle on her wrist. Margaret nervously massaged the small of her back. Neither girl noticed the mixture of pain, pleasure, embarrassment and even guilt in the other’s eyes.

Nervously, Margaret ran her fingers through her long brown hair. “I’ll get in the shower and change into something more…umm…grown-” she stopped and corrected herself, “…appropriate.” She made a move to walk around Molly.

“Or…” Molly let the word hang in the air.

Margaret froze. “Or…?”

Molly held up the clean Goodnite and the wipes. “I brought these for a reason.” Margaret was biting her lip, obviously anxious about what her Roommate would say next.
Time to take charge, the voice in Molly’s head hissed. She needs you. Give her what she wants. Give her what she needs. Be the adult. Do it.
“It’d be a pain if you had to take a shower,” Molly said. “Just change your undies.”

Like a big toddler trying too late to hide her shame, Margaret’s hands shot down to her wet and padded crotch. “This was just an accident. It’s no big deal.”

“Is that the same one you were wearing when you woke up this morning?” Molly asked. Margaret opened her mouth to answer, and Molly heard herself cutting the other girl off. “Tell the truth.”

Margaret bristled, and moved one hand to rub the small of her back. “No…”

“No…?” Molly repeated, her tone making it clear that something was missing from her roomie’s reply.

“No ma’am.”

Molly had always been a bit of a free spirit. She’d been drunk more times than she could count; same with being stoned. Back in college she’d gone through a phase with mushrooms and other psychedelics, and there was that one time she experimented with ecstasy. The rush of endorphins at being called “Ma’am?” That natural high outweighed all other forms of intoxication she’d experienced. Every part of her danced in exultation of that feeling.

To be respected. To be needed. To be authoritative and nourishing at the same time, like an ancient Pagan goddess. In that instant, like it or not (and oh, did she like it) she was hooked.
Molly followed where her feelings took her. “So how about you just take that wet thing off, throw it away, and put a fresh one on?” Margaret’s mouth hung open, unable to generate a reply. They stared at one another for a minute that stretched into eternity. Molly had taken that step over the line; Margaret hadn’t yet. “Let me help.”

Both were in a trance. Molly pivoted and took a knee next to the couch, placing the Goodnite and wipes down on the cushions as she took a knee. Margaret’s hands lifted up her skirt, her nipples becoming erect underneath her shirt with no bra to conceal them. Molly reached for the other girl’s panties and shimmied them down her skinny legs.
Their collective breaths became fast and shallow. Their skin buzzed. Their bodies moving detached from fully conscious thought, like in a daydream, or a routine so practiced that it can be done without thought.

Margaret stared down past her skirt and saw the wisps of perfumed white cornstarch staining her big girl underwear. “Is that baby powder in my panties?” she asked.
Inwardly, Molly froze, feeling guilty that her past…modifications…to Margaret’s underwear had been noticed. Her eyes stayed locked to the carpet, but her arms and mouth continued unabated. “Must be something put in the diaper packaging,” she heard herself lie. “Probably why most kids don’t wear underwear over these things.” Another lie. “Might be a good idea to not put these one over the next one. It could ruin them.” Yet another. “Let’s keep your big girl panties off until this problem blows over.” So many lies in just that one sentence. Big girls didn’t wear big girl panties…they just wore panties. The phrase itself was double think worthy of Orwell.

It wasn’t a problem, either. Had it been a problem, Margaret would have made more of an effort to make it to the toilet, or had the idea to change herself, or would have put up some kind of resistance. Molly found herself enjoying this far too much and on levels both deeper and darker than she knew existed within herself. Molly’s own panties were becoming damp, just not because of bladder control.

Finally, deep down, Molly knew that this wouldn’t blow over. The little voice inside her whispered that this giant toddler in the wet Pull-Ups was who Margaret was, and the guardian, the caregiver, the mother helping her change out of her soiled training pants was who Molly was. This wasn’t a problem. This was the new normal. This was the way things should be.
But yeah…keep the lies going. Go big or go home, right? Right. These were the thoughts that washed up to the forefront of Molly’s mind as Margaret quietly stepped out of the adult underwear.
Neither of them knew, but at least one of them hoped, that it would be the last pair of panties that Margaret Masterson ever wore.

Both women breathed in sharply as Molly ripped the sides open, and caught the nearly dripping undergarment before balling it up and placing it on the floor; obliterating the façade that the soaking wet Goodnite was anything other than a pair of sized up toddler pants.

Hands normally used to sketch out the most intricate details popped open the top on a packet of baby wipes and withdrew the wet napkin. “This is gonna be cold,” Molly warned Margaret. “Sorry.” Molly made a note that she’d have to go out and get a wipe warmer at some point in the future. She’d have to order it online, of course. She clearly couldn’t leave Margaret alone to go shopping, and a part of her knew that Margaret wouldn’t like all the fuss. That’s why she’d been so resistant, Molly decided. She couldn’t handle all the fuss.
Margaret stood there, hands still holding her skirt up, as Molly took the single baby wipe and cleaned her up. As expected, and despite the warning (or maybe because of it) Margaret visibly shuddered as the cold damp cloth caressed her bare shaven sex. The wipe was placed on top of the balled up Goodnites, and a second one finished up Margaret’s backside. Molly relished in the momentary shudder when she probed between Margaret’s cheeks.

When she was done, Molly put the used wipe with the other and grabbed the Goodnite. “In ya go,” she instructed her friend, popping it open. Margret obeyed and stepped in the leg holes, still holding her skirt up as Molly pulled it the rest of the way up her legs, the material starting to stretch out. Margaret was skinny, Molly could see, but she was still a grown woman with full hips, and the padded bed wetting pants were made for kids who were still in elementary school, with smaller bladders and less surface area to protect.
No wonder these things could take only a wetting or two before they were on the verge of leaking. It was a miracle they held as much as they did. If this “problem” was going to continue, then Margaret would need something that she could wear instead of just squeeze into. Molly thought back to the order confirmations on her computer, and a thin smile appeared as she pulled the large pink pull-up diaper over Margaret’s hips.

The little grin was gone by the time Molly stood up. Still shorter than the woman whose training pants she’d just changed, she had to look up a bit into Margaret’s eyes to tell her, “There ya go. Try to keep this dry for a while, okay?”

Dumbly, Margaret nodded her head, shaking with what could only be excitement. “Okay,” she mumbled. While Molly moved to throw away the used Goodnite and wipes, she caught a glimpse of the other woman sitting back down on the carpet, her left thumb unsteadily inching its way to her mouth.
The image was almost too much for Molly. With hurried feet she shuffled over to her bedroom. “Gotta go,” she half-whispered through gritted teeth.

“What?”

Molly almost ignored Margaret’s question. A need was building up inside her and was ready to burst like a shaken up pop bottle. “IMPORTANT….STUFF!” she called back before closing her bedroom door behind her. She’d almost said ‘Grown-Up Stuff’, but voicing the words would have sent her over the edge.

Margaret might be the one peeing herself, but Molly’s pants were starting to become wet.

The young artist back flopped onto her bed and her nimble fingers went for the buttons on her pants.

Eyes closed.

Lips wet.

Panting.

Molly went to work.

She didn’t last long. In fact, she didn’t even finish. It was not to be.

Before she got too far into it, a switch flipped on in her brain. The post orgasmic clarity (and disgust) came before she managed to feel the barest hints of climax on the horizon. And just like that, the illusion she’d been fed cracked and she looked at herself from an outsider’s critical view.

What was she doing?!

Why was she feeling like THAT after changing someone like they were a three-year-old? What kind of sicko did that? What kind of freak was she turning into?
Molly’s stomach turned, a hideous, almost angry groan rumbled through her guts. Pants still around her ankles, she rolled over and vomited into her bedside wastebasket which until a few days ago had been filled with brushes and paints and other doo-dads that she had never found proper time to store away. Thank goodness for this new organizational streak.

The artist had run out of stomach fluid before the little pink wastebasket was all the way filled up. Praise be to small mercies. Her pulse pounding, and her breath racing, Molly rose to her feet wiping off bits of spittle and vomit from her lips. She’d have to empty the puke filled plastic bucket, she knew, but for the time being, her mess would stay contained and secreted away.

On unsteady legs, she wobbled back over to her computer and sat down. This had to stop. This whole…whole…whatever it was had to stop. She was treating Margaret like a small child all because of some bed wetting accidents. That was fucked up and wrong, and no amount of sophistic logic could convince her otherwise.

“I have to help her,” Molly muttered to herself, logging back onto her computer and going straight to her email. She blanched at the messages saying that all the things she’d ordered had already shipped. Her great windfall of sleepwalking productivity was being eaten away at by spending money on stuff she didn’t even want. Chances are she was going to have to eat the losses, bust her ass on the myriad of projects she’d miraculously snagged, and hope to get more work down the line.

Then again, these websites existed for a reason. There were people out there who actually wanted to buy this garbage. Worst case scenario, she’d sell the big diapers and baby clothes on ebay. She might not make a profit. She might not break even. But she wouldn’t have to have useless dress-up clothes taking up space in her closet or throw a bunch of money into a dumpster.
Okay. Okay. Maybe things weren’t so bad just yet. The situation was still salvageable, financially at least.

How to salvage her roomie though? Margaret was definitely getting worse. Pissing her bed and missing work were bad enough. Today, she’d regressed to peeing her pants and was watching friggin’ Sid the Science Kid in the living room. How to stop that?

A huff of annoyance puffed out of Molly’s throat, which still stung from stomach acid. Only one way to do it. Just one way to help her. “Gotta make sure she remembers to go potty,” Molly whispered to herself.

Wheels gliding across the floor, Molly moved her chair over to her work desk, and began sketching. It was rudimentary, just some straight lines in a grid, but it would do: Columns for dates, rows for aisles. Molly was short on stickers, but she knew she had some daubers that would work.
Instantly, she’d slapped together a coding system. Green would be dry, but no luck on the toilet. Blue would be dry and success. Yellow would be if Margaret wet herself and red would be…well she sincerely hoped she wouldn’t have to use red. For reasons beyond Molly’s understanding, what didn’t occur to her was that in devising a plan to make her roommate less childish, Molly Huang was constructing a basic potty training chart.

Without looking up, Molly reached into a supply drawer where she knew she’d kept the daubers. Instead of any of the bulky paint tube/stamp hybrid, her fist clasped around something small, flimsy, and rectangular.

It was a tiny matchbook, like something you’d get out of a cheap hotel. Tiny little sticks with red phosphorous heads poked out, sliding haphazardly with just a little shake. It wasn’t even full. Molly didn’t remember having a matchbook, but then again, there were lots of things she didn’t remember getting over the years; she was such a packrat. Maybe this was left over from her scented candle phase from a few months ago.

She closed the flap and examined the cover, hoping to jog her memory. The matchbook had a shiny reflective foil on it, but in bright red letters it had the words “True U Tattoo” on it.

(Tuesday)

Arms crossed, lip pouting, brow furrowed, and skirt and big kid Pull-Ups around her ankles, Margaret Masterson sat on the toilet of her bathroom with the door wide open, her Roommate peering in from her perch on the couch. It used to be her bathroom. Right now, Margaret wasn’t so sure. Nothing felt like hers the last few days, not even her bladder.

After some strange noises started coming out of Molly’s room- noises so loud that Margaret had to turn up Sid the Science Kid to drown them out- Molly had marched out with some poster board and grid paper. She explained how she was going to help Margaret, and went over an entire convoluted system of checks and color coding and everything.

There was a bit about “routines” and “reinforcement” and “expectations”. In short, Margaret was potty training again. Somehow, Margaret couldn’t find the voice to resist. The objections were there, and they were obvious; like, what right did Molly have to assume authority in “helping” her with her slight bed wetting problem? For some reason though, Margaret just nodded and agreed so that she could get back to cartoons.

So every hour today, on the hour, Molly had come out of her room and demanded that Margaret go sit on the toilet. Sometimes she got a blue, sometimes she got a green, she never got a red, and other than that time where she almost made it, (Molly had said she could finish watching that episode of Curious George first), she hadn’t gotten any yellows.

What’s the big deal? Margaret wondered. This was just a phase. Something to work out. Not some kind of crisis that required immediate attention. She had plenty of sick days left at work, (though she did forget to call out sick today…aaaand she’d been unreachable by phone since turning it off after the bus incident), and had plenty of these Goodnites to go through. She’d be ready for her regular underwear again by the time she ran out of Goodnites.

Right?

Right.

Margaret glanced between her legs and down into the bowl beneath her. The water was still clear and no telltale tinkle had rang out in her ears as she pouted. Another false alarm.
Margaret reached for her ankles and started when a nagging voice stopped her. “Did you flush?” She had an inkling to give Molly a piece of her mind- remind her that she was going along with this to humor her, not because she actually needed to- but restrained herself. Years of being nagged at her job had built up a tolerance.
Margaret let out a breath and then called back, “About to.”

“Did you wipe?” Molly asked, sounding every bit the mother to a child with bad habits.

Margaret closed her eyes so Molly wouldn’t see them and then rolled them inside her sockets. “Didn’t need to,” she replied, sounding annoyed.

“Okay,” Molly replied. “If you’re sure.” By the tone of her voice, Molly wasn’t sure.

As Molly grabbed a green dauber and went to put a mark on the chart she’d so tastelessly put up beside the T.V., Margaret looked outside the frosted bathroom window. It was finally getting dark. Rather than sit up and watch more cartoons or forage around her own kitchen for something to eat (and thus inevitably have to go through this stupid ritual again), Margaret decided to take the easy way out.

“I’m going to bed,” she said.

“Do you need-?” Molly started.

Margaret cut her off. “What? Do I need a diaper? I’ve got that. What-“

Molly looked hurt. “I was gonna say ‘hug.’”

(Wednesday)

DEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEP….

Molly startled herself awake and picked her head off her work desk. Damnit. The drawings she’d been working on: the candy mascot, the comic page, and the fantasy portrait- none of them had changed. So much for thinking she’d miraculously sleep pai-

DEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEP….

The piercing, annoying, maddening alarm broke off her chain of thought. What time was it? The sun wasn’t even out yet. Margaret must have set her alarm to go off extra early and extra loud to prove to Molly (and herself) that she didn’t need all this supervis-

DEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEP….

“MARGARET!” Molly screamed. “TURN THAT DARN ALARM CLO-“

DEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEPDEEP…

“HEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!” The muffled scream came from outside Molly’s door. “HEEEEEEEELP!” Molly jumped up and flung open the door to her bedroom. Only when she started coughing, from the cloud of smoke pouring into the living room did Molly realize that it wasn’t Margaret’s alarm clock going off.

A smoke detector!

Adrenaline pumping, and with no regard to her own safety, Molly bolted through the living room, ramming her shoulder into Margaret’s door. The smoke covered her eyes like a blanket, the acrid, burning stench causing her eyes to water.

Molly ducked down under the smoke, and caught a glimpse of a terrified Margaret, naked save for a sopping Goodnite pressed up against the headboard of her bed in a tight ball, while on the opposite wall, a tiny inferno belched out smoke, ashes, and burning baby powder.

Margaret’s underwear drawer was on fire…

(Wednesday)

It was well past breakfast and firmly into brunch territory when Margaret awoke. The events of the previous night blocked out of her mind by not-quite dreams of warmth and comfort, it can be forgiven that Margaret was confused as to why she woke up in a strange bed. The walls were familiar, but the furniture was all but alien to her. A heavy oak work desk was across from her, its surface neatly organized with pencils, pens, and drawings, with subjects ranging from still life, to whimsical doodles, to something right out of a comic book. Next to the work desk was a smaller table with a computer, its screen alive with scans of the aforementioned sketches being turned into full on illustrations and drawings in the midst of being digitally colored, shaded, and refined.

She was in her Roommate’s quarters, Margaret concluded, but where was her Roommate? More importantly, why was she here instead of her own room? “Mo…” she started to call before stuttering and coming to a stop. Like an old VHS tape that had only now rewound, the events of the last night replayed themselves in her mind’s eye.

Smoke and fire, her clothes burning.

Terror; mortal terror as the fire in her underwear drawer blazed like an open Hell pit.

Blindness and suffocation as the smoke rose into her face; an acrid pillow smothering her face and seeping into her lungs, threatening to choke her back into unconsciousness, knowing that oblivion awaited her.

Deafness as the smoke alarm bleeped and blooped, denying her the infinitely more pleasant death of being burned alive in her sleep.

The door whining open as her rescuer came in…then retreating footsteps…her hero abandoning her.

The steps thundering back, and a cloud of white enveloping and smothering the flames; a fire extinguisher.

A gentle hand guiding her out of bed and pushing her along the floor, sending her crawling.

When she could finally see again, she was on the floor of the living room, looking up at Molly.

“Stay right there, honey. I’ll take care of everything.” Like a good little girl, Margaret had obeyed. She stayed put as Molly broke into a blur, opening windows, turning on ceiling fans, moving an oscillating fan, and grabbing towels.

After the adrenaline rush had stopped and most of the smoke had cleared out, Margaret’s body trembled at the thought of going back to her own bed. The offer had never even been made. Instead, still crawling, she’d been led to Molly’s room, and with promises of dealing with it tomorrow, they fell asleep in each other’s arms, the harsh words they’d exchanged hours before completely forgotten.

“Shit,” Margaret swore under her breath, the fact that she normally abhorred swearing not even occurring to her. She climbed to her knees and noticed that the Goodnites was still sagging down closer to the mattress. “I’m wet,” Margaret said dumbly, her voice tinged with disbelief.

She was wet, as she had been most every morning this week. That much was obvious. “When” was the real question. When had she wet herself? Had she wet in her sleep before the fire alarm, or after when she had literally crawled into her Roommate’s bed? Had she unknowingly pissed herself in fear of the fire? Had she gone back to bed wet?

Margaret didn’t know. And that not knowing is what was more terrible than the fire had been.

Taking a deep breath, Margaret called out for answers. “MOLLLLLLY!”

(Wednesday)

Molly was busy spraying and cleaning, dutifully trying to get the smell of burning death out of the air. To say the least, the job was easier said than done. Her roomie’s panties, now so much ashes (along with her underwear drawer) had been bagged up and tossed in a nearby dumpster over an hour ago. That had been the easy part.

Now was the not so easy part. She’d have to try to get the smell of burnt baby powder and wood out of everything. She’d have to take pictures and document minor smoke and fire damage to the ceiling. She’d have to contact the landlord and see about getting it fixed. Cripes, she didn’t even know how to contact the landlord. She’d have to ask Margaret once the girl woke up.

It was closer to lunch than it was to breakfast, and as far as Molly knew, her little roomie was still sleeping. That girl could sleep through anything, it seemed; anything short of a fire, anyways. Margaret sleeping too deeply had been the start of this weird week of playing wet nurse to the technically grown-up woman. Margaret could sleep for two, it seemed.

Soon after the immediate threat had been resolved, Margaret and Molly had crawled into her single bed, and co-slept, spooning up against each other. Margaret had drifted off first, Molly knew, because of her light, almost kitten-like snoring which helped Molly drift off.

However long they laid there together, they didn’t stay that way. Molly had jolted awake with dawn, sitting down at her computer, her work thus far having been scanned into her computer and being digitally altered and edited further towards completion. Her body had gone all cobbler’s elves on her again.

Despite this, she didn’t feel the least bit tired and kept on working; now while conscious as Margaret mumbled to herself in bed. Molly couldn’t be certain, but she was pretty sure her roomie had been saying “Pee-pee.” At the time, Molly could only smile and shake her head knowingly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither would her roomie’s bladder control. No sense in waking her up, though, and so instead she poured herself a bowl of sensible cereal and went about finishing some work before going to clean up Margaret’s room.

Thinking back on that, Molly’s brow furrowed in concern. What if Margaret’s diaper leaked? Margaret already regularly filled her pants to the brim while sleeping, and the Goodnite was a stop-gap measure at best, she knew. That’s why it had been so important to start potty training her again to beat this problem.

After this latest incident, the girl would likely regress further, paralyzed into inaction and dependence by fear. That would do neither of them any good. On a more superficial note, Molly worried about her mattress. She chided herself for not checking the state of the girl’s Goodnite after the fire had been dealt with. It was assuredly wet now, but how wet- how close to leaking- was the real issue at hand.

Should she go in now and wake Margaret up, risking a tantrum, or was the damage already done and her mattress soaked anyways? Maybe she could change her as she slept and avoid calamity altogether. How would she change her, though? All of Margaret’s underwear, disposable or otherwise, was now well and truly disposed of. No way was Molly going to loan her a pair of her own underwear.

Out of the corner of her eye, something on the floor caught the young artist’s attention. Poking out beneath the dresser was a spare- but clean- Goodnite. That in of itself was odd enough, considering that Molly had been sure she’d placed them all in the now cremated underwear drawer.

What was stranger was the little cardboard matchbook laying neatly on top of the crinkly pink undergarment. “True U Tattoo,” it read. Molly snatched the brittle little book up and flipped it open. Eleven little red headed soldiers all stood at attention, their brother in the middle snapped off and gone. A match was missing. Suddenly, Molly’s little sleep walking adventures didn’t seem as much of a blessing as it once had. “What are these doing…?”

“MOLLLLLLY!” Margaret’s voice called out. Molly didn’t have time to finish her thought. Pocketing the matchbook, she scooped up the clean Goodnite and fast walked across the apartment to her own bedroom, now anxious to see the state of her bed, and dreading the conversation she was most likely about to have.

(Wednesday)

“I’m wet.” The statement, put so bluntly, had a kind of gravitas that Margaret had sorely lacked since well…forever. Bedwetter or not, Margaret had always been a bit of a pushover. But that simple statement, devoid of any emotion seemed damn near profound coming from her position on the bed, standing on her knees, the soggy padding barely clinging to her hips.

Clean Goodnite in hand, Molly answered just as simply. “I know.” Her eyes darted from the sodden undergarment down to her mattress. Margaret had the distinct feeling that Molly was looking at more than just her. Her gaze seemed downright neurotic, just like most everything about her room since she fully unpacked.

The seemingly free-spirited artist had become quite the clean freak. Even the clutter of sketches and art supplies was meticulously arranged as if it were part of a dollhouse scene meant to replicate the feeling of frenzied creativity; OCD masquerading as frenzied whimsy. Had there been a hidden camera and wide-angle lens, a peeping Tom might mistake this for a particularly quirky Wes Anderson film (even as far as Wes Anderson movies went).

“I’m sorry,” Margaret said, her hand darting between her legs and squeezing the spongey pink panties. Molly was still looking at her own mattress more than she was Margaret. Deep down, a little voice whispered to Margaret that she had just lied. She wasn’t sorry. Not THAT sorry anyways. It was just that sorry was something to say when you had a widdle acci…when you pissed your pants.

Satisfied that her mattress was intact, Molly finally looked Margaret in the eye. “Not your fault,” she said, genially enough.

Speaking of lies…. “How is it not my fault?” Margaret scoffed. “I peed myself.” Still caressing the bloated front of the Goodnites, Margaret was a little more than relieved that the mass strapped to her ass was at least close to room temperature. “Peed” was much better than “peeing”. Tenses mattered where pride and nerves were concerned in this situation.

The shorter of the two girls was taken aback a moment. “Oh, that,” Molly said, seemingly embarrassed. “Yeah. That’s not your fau…” she paused, and her eyes went to the floor. “I mean…it’s nobody’s…” She looked down to the bedtime Pull-Up still in her hands. “I thought you meant something else.” She looked like she felt guilty, though Margaret couldn’t deduce why. Back to the point.

“The fire?” she asked Molly.

“Yeah,” her Roommate answered, that guilty flush filling her cheeks.

Shudders and flashbacks of what would have likely been her death rattled to the forefront of her memory. “I don’t even wanna think about that,” Margaret shuddered.

“Good.” The word was clipped and rushed. A line said too fast; an opportunity for escape taken too eagerly.

Margaret frowned. “What?” Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly as suspicion crept back into her rational mind, pushing away the tiny whispers and buzzing in her brain that had plagued her of late.

As if hearing Margaret’s accusatory thoughts, Molly’s eyes all but rolled out of her head. She crossed her arms and spoke slowly and condescendingly as though to a not particularly bright pupil. “I mean, we should face forward and figure out what we’re going to do from here. ” Then she added, “Dwelling on failure only makes things worse.”

Even though she was the taller of the two, Margaret felt particularly small from her position on the bed. “Good point,” she agreed. “You’re really smart. I hope I get my shi-“

“Language!” Molly snapped. She wasn’t looking for a way out, Margaret realized. Molly was just thinking faster than Margaret was. And why shouldn’t she? She’d been up for hours while Margaret had snoozed half the morning away already. Even now, Margaret’s body was pushing through her anxiety and self-disgust and threatened to send her back to sleep.

“Sorry,” Margaret corrected herself. “I hope I get my stuff together like you’ve got yours.”

Molly leaned forward so that she was eye level with the girl in the Goodnite. “You’ll get it.”

“Thanks,” Margaret said. Her feeling of relief was short lived.

“Eventually,” Molly added. The small of Margaret’s back buzzed a bit at the word “eventually”. She didn’t know if she liked that feeling or not.

Rubbing the small of her back, Margaret focused on something else that had been bothering her. “How’d that happen anyways?” she asked Molly. “The fire I mean.”

Molly broke eye contact. “I…I don’t…I can’t rightly say for sure.” Her confidence was evaporating before Margaret’s eyes. “Freak accident maybe?”

Margaret’s mouth twitched to the side. “It can’t be electrical,” she said, “because the fire would have spread elsewhere, and it was just on my dresser. If I was a smoker, I might think I left one burning or something but I don’t…” Margaret stopped. For the first time, she noticed- really noticed- the Goodnite in Molly’s hands. Something was off. “Why are you holding that?”

“Fresh one.” Molly said curtly. “Found it on the floor of your room.”

“But my panties…”

“Burnt up,” Molly finished the sentence for her. “I think this is a left over from your little temper tantrum yesterday. “Kinda lucky in a way, huh?”

“Oh. Yeah,” was all Margaret could get out. She turned her head to Molly’s drawer, longingly, a starving woman with a buffet just out of reach. So much for borrowing a pair of real underwear, not that she could blame her Roommate.

So hard to pay attention. It was like being drunk all over again, in a way. Thoughts just coming and going. So much that she needed to- and yet didn’t- know. “Do you know if I…err…went before the fire? Like…did I go to bed with wet pants?”

“No clue there, ki-…” Molly stopped herself and frowned, as if she were about to swear before realizing she was in mixed company. “I dunno, Margaret. I do know you were mumbling something about ‘pee-pee’ this morning.”

“Really?” Margaret gasped, her face distorting into an exaggerated frown. “I actually said…said…”

“Hold that thought,” Molly had the audacity to press her finger to Margaret’s lips. Instinctively, Margaret went quiet. “Let’s get you dry. I don’t want you getting comfortable in wet pants. That’ll make it harder to…y’know.”

Potty train.

The words Molly was alluding to was “potty train.” Wasn’t potty training something that only happened once? One-and-done-riding-a-bike-level-easy? Yet the words fit comfortably over Margaret’s grey matter like a warm blanket. She wasn’t potty trained. Not anymore. And with that thought, coming so naturally, something inside her buzzed with excitement.

She wasn’t potty trained.

Margaret looked at the pink Goodnite in Molly’s hand. “So what now? This is the last one.”

“We’ll go out and get you more.”

“Panties?”, Margaret yelped…and immediately knew it to be untrue. “Goodnites?” she corrected herself. Even the word “panties” left a funny, foreign feeling on her tongue.

“Yeah,” Molly nodded. “But first let’s get these on.” Molly made to pop open the panties.

“Um…I think I can put them on myself.” Margaret reached for the Goodnites and Molly drew back as if the diapered woman’s fingers were a poisonous snake.

Molly smiled, but it was forced. “Don’t be silly. Let me help.”

Margaret got up and rose to her full height, nearly a head taller and suddenly seeming like something close to imposing. “I’ve got it. I don’t need your help.”

Molly looked up at her, undaunted. “Really? I’m not the one going pee-pee in my sleep.” There was a pause. Clearly, it was to let that last remark sink in, because before Margaret could open her mouth, Molly added “Assuming you were really asleep.”

“You’re being mean.” The words tumbled out, making Margaret sound every bit the petulant child.

“You’re being silly,” Molly replied coolly. “I’m trying to he-“

“You did this!” Margaret cut her Roommate off. “You’re the one who’s been turning my alarm off so that I oversleep, aren’t you?” Molly’s jaw hung open. She hadn’t been slapped, but she looked the part.

That was it. That was the truth. It was so obvious now that she was saying it out loud. Molly wasn’t helping. Molly was to blame for this. Molly was completely to blame for this.

Margaret’s drinks had been spiked.

Molly had prepared all the food and drink since then.

She was still potty trained. She was a big girl. This crazy “artist” was a con artist. She’d been gaslighting Margaret from the very beginning. All to get her doubting herself and in the crazy cunt’s bed.

She’d been rooming with a psychotic bitch.

“You burned my underwear up.” Margaret accused. “You did this. You. Did. This!” Emphatically her hands came down on her padded crotch, an audible squelch accompanying the string of accusations.

Molly started visibly shaking and stepping backwards out of her own bedroom. “Don’t be ridiculous. I haven’t…I haven’t…I’m not…I didn’t…” A tiger on the scent of its prey, Margaret stalked after the shorter girl, the argument spilling out into the living room.

With the wrath of an angry goddess, Margaret leveled a steady finger at the woman who had betrayed her. “YOU WANT TO KEEP ME LIKE THIS, DON’T YOU! AS SOME DUMB BA-?“

“Why are your fingertips so messed up?” Molly asked, her voice resonating with genuine concern and confusion, Margaret’s righteous anger breaking on her like waves on a beach. “Have you been sucking on them or something? Biting them?” Margaret felt her fury dissipating. “No way, that can’t be biting,” she said. “It almost looks…” and the thought drifted out of one woman’s mind and into the other’s.

Stunned, Margaret pulled her finger back and looked at her forefinger. The tip was blistered, a puss filled lump surrounded by a bright red ring. She tapped her finger against herself and winced. “OUCH!” It burned. The tip of her thumb was similarly blistered, she noticed. “My fingers are burned.”

“Burned?” Molly echoed. “How did they get burned.”

Margaret considered for a half-second. “The fire,” she concluded. “The fire that YOU started!”

Molly scoffed. “How could you have gotten burned by that fire? You were huddled up on the opposite end of the room. You weren’t even close to the…” A light, a spark of realization lit up behind Molly’s pupils. “You started it.”

“I what?” Margaret shook her head so fast her hair smacked her in the face several times. “This isn’t about me.”

“That’s why your fingers are burnt,” Molly said, reaching into her pocket. She produced a matchbook. “I found these by your dresser, too. Right next to the last diaper.”

“No I couldn’t have…” Margaret said, her voice barely above a whisper. She felt like she was choking from the inside out. Now Molly was on the offensive, each accusation worse than the last.”

“YOU STARTED WETTING ON PURPOSE!” She dropped the dry Goodnite and went over to the couch, picking up a hairbrush that had been left there last night.

Margaret put up her hands, blistered fingers shielding her. “I didn’t…”

“YOU’VE BEEN TURNING OFF YOUR OWN ALARM CLOCK!”

“No.”

“YOU BURNED YOUR UNDIES UP AND LEFT THIS FOR ME!” Molly shouted, smacking Margaret in the face with the clean Goodnite.

“I would never…”

“WHY?!” Molly shouted Margaret down. “SO I CAN TAKE YOU OUT IN PUBLIC…LOOKING LIKE THIS?! YOU MISSED YOUR STUPID EX-FIANCE SO MUCH, YOU TRIED TO TRICK ME INTO TAKING CARE OF YOU?!”

Margaret was out of words. Almost. “You bitch.”

What followed next was a blur of motion, panic and fury, as Margaret found herself wrestled to the floor, her wet Goodnites yanked down to ankle, and her bottom being soundly thrashed by an absolutely enraged Molly.

Shouting. Fury. Pure instinct. Both lost themselves in that moment. Neither of their thoughts were their own.

Then Margaret called Molly “Mommy.”

Skittering away from each other, the two saw themselves and each other through fresh eyes. They had both been acting like lunatics, and not just this morning.

How had it gotten to this point?

“This all started when we got these stupid tatoos.” Molly said, looking at her wrist.

“Yeah,” Margaret agreed. She looked down at the matchbook on the floor. Tru U Tattoos. “I think we need to go there.”

(Wednesday)

BING-BONG!

Walking into “Tru U Tattoo,” Molly swiveled her head from right to left, trying to get a feel for the place. Molly couldn’t remember ever being here. Based on the unsure, pensive look on Margaret’s face, she didn’t either. Then again, why would either of them want to?

The walls were a disgusting shade that was somewhere between off-white and not-quite yellow; like smoker’s teeth. Smoke lingered in the air like fog, despite there being no candles in sight. Even hissing through her teeth, Molly could smell cheap incense mixed with heroin. Not that Molly had ever smoked heroin, but the acidic, almost vinegar smell and the look of decay that somehow lingered in the air made Molly think of some kind of skeevy, dangerous place.

And yeah…to be honest, the Chinese tattoos they’d gotten made her think “Opium Den” instead of “Crack House”. Calling this little place a “House” or a “Den” was generous, though. The single room was about the size of their apartment’s living room, with dingy tiled floors that had the same unclean color as the wall.

Based on the faux leather reclining chair and the mirrored wall, Molly guessed that this place was once a barbershop. It might still be a barbershop. It’s not like this place could afford to turn away customers. The single doorway in the back had a beaded curtain that wafted to and fro, the light click-clacking of cheap plastic beads mingling with the squeaking of the old ceiling fan. In the corner of the room was a heap of old laundry; sheets and shirts and slacks all jumbled together in a tiny hill.

“I think I want to throw up,” Molly whispered to Margaret.

“Me too,” Margaret whispered back. Margaret had changed into the one remaining Goodnite; she’d even managed to change herself, so that was good. They had postponed their shopping trip to get more Goodnites until after this excursion. With luck, they would find out why Margaret kept wetting her pants, and why Molly was having impulses to mother her little roomie.

Molly inwardly chastised herself. That was not the way to be thinking: Margaret being able to dress herself shouldn’t have been remarkable; real luck would be finding a way to stop Margaret’s regression and put the brakes on Molly’s need to control everything. Not to mention, Molly was the smaller of the two, and her roomie was anything but little by comparison.

In addition to the thin childish pull up diaper, Margaret was wearing a pair of army green panties, khaki pants, and a pink short sleeved blouse. The panties had been a peace offering/apology from Molly for literally beating Margaret’s ass red. The rest of the outfit had been from Margaret’s own, unsinged closet. Maybe it was her own altered mind, or her own hyper alert senses, but Molly still heard a quiet crinkle with every step that Margaret took; the thin sliver of pastel pink poking out the back of the taller girl’s shorts shone like a beacon to Molly.

Margaret was fidgeting in place, her fingers curling into claws and her weight shifting on the balls of her sneakers; and Molly bit down on her lip to ask the other woman if she needed to go potty. It took a considerable act of willpower for Molly to stop herself from pulling back the waistband to check the state of Margaret’s undies, and instead reached out and took her new friend’s hand in her own; both of them giving the other a quick squeeze before easing.

Speaking of wet….a shudder raced through the young artist. Even holding Margaret’s hand- so innocent, yet powerful- sent jolts above and below in all the right ways. Molly had idly thought of experimenting with girls one day, just to see what it was like. This is not how she imagined discovering a part of herself.

No! This was not discovering anything! This was something that had been forcibly inserted inside her. (Yikes! Even her internal arguments had a way of sounding dirty lately!) “Hello?” Molly called out, breaking the silence so that she might drown out her own internal monologue.

Nothing.

“Hello?” Molly repeated.

A quick squeeze on her hand caused Molly to look up towards Margaret. “Do you think anybody’s here?” Margaret asked.

“Door was unlocked,” Molly said.

“We were really drunk,” Margaret replied. “Maybe we just came in, grabbed the matchbook and stumbled out.”

Molly shook her head. “What about these?” Fingers still intertwined, Molly lifted her hand and pointed to the strange markings on her wrist. She couldn’t help but watch- a hint of lust in her eyes- as Margaret rubbed her own tattoo just above the sliver of Goodnites peeking out. A tiny voice back in Molly’s head started to whisper she should check Margaret’s diaper just in ca-

“Grrrr….”

A rumbling, throaty sound caught both of their attention, their gaze snapping to the pile of clothes in the corner. The pile began to move and collapse as the base rose, shirts and underwear rolling off the back of the thing underneath it.

From beneath the cluttered clothes, a pale, chubby, disgusting thing of a man crawled out on all fours. The girls’ mutual horror was matched only by their disgust, their noses wrinkling as the smell of Febreze and Axe body spray mingled with stale sweat and body odor hit their nostrils. Their eyes went unblinking, not daring to tear their gaze from the developing scene.

The man (for it was certainly human) was balding, but had hair to spare over the rest of his pale flesh. A patchy, snot covered mustache and ragged, spit stiffened beard covered up most of his face. His tongue dangled out of his mouth in a light pant, and, as he crawled forward on all fours, it wasn’t the only thing that was dangling.

“Mo-…Mo…Molly,” Margaret said, her voice just barely above a whisper. “What do we do?”

Molly’s knees locked. She had no idea what this was, but normal wasn’t it. “I. Don’t. Know.” Still crawling on all fours, the man began to stalk forward, growling the whole time, his teeth bared. “Don’t…move…” Molly hissed.

“MILO!” A voice called out. “DOWN BOY!” The naked man stopped, then after a moment of consideration, turned around and padded back to the pile of clothes he had been laying under. The click-clacking of bead curtain signaled a new presence in the room.

He was blonde and clean cut, wearing a blue button up shirt and black slacks with a belt. He was easily the cleanest thing in the filthy room. He looked like he should be selling insurance, not working in a crappy tattoo parlor.

“Can I help-?” He started and then corrected himself. “Oh, it’s you two.” He said it in a way that wasn’t demeaning, or dismissive, but completely casual. It wasn’t quite familiar or overly comfortable, but there was more than a hint of recognition in it; neighbors running into each other at the store.

Molly smiled, feeling like she was at a family reunion and she just forgot her second cousin’s name. “Heeeeey…you.” She cast a questioning look towards Margaret. Who the fuck is this guy? Margaret didn’t shrug, but her eyes said that she had no clue, either.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” He stepped up deeper into the room.

“Nope.” That was Margaret. Molly wanted to slap Margaret on the wrist like she was a naughty child, but settled for the seemingly more egalitarian option of elbowing her in the ribs a bit.

Blondie shrugged. “It’s cool,” he said. “You guys were pretty drunk the other night. Most people who come here are.” He tilted his head to the side. “Or they’re lost. Or they’re on a dare. Or they’re going through an emotional crisis.”

“Um…” Margaret raised her free hand, as if asking a teacher to speak. “Does it count if it’s a little bit of all of that?”

“So we were here,” Molly said, ignoring her roomie before things got sidetracked.

“Yeah,” the blonde guy nodded. “And now you’re back.”

Margaret hadn’t put down her hand, and instead raised it harder. “Oooh! Oooh! What did we do when we were here?”

The guy both frowned and smirked. Stupid question. “I gave you tattoos.”

“Yeah, about that,” Molly said. The oddly normal man held up his hand, cutting her off.

“Let me guess,” he said. “You both woke up, found out you had tattoos that you don’t remember getting, or they were different, and now things are getting pretty weird, pretty fast, right?”

“Yeah,” both girls answered in unison. Molly was subdued in her nodding, but Margaret made up the difference. She might have been a bobblehead with how frantically and exaggerated every motion was.

“Mind if I take a look?”

Molly let go of Margaret and offered up her wrist. The proprietor of the establishment looked it over and scratched his chin. “Let me guess…” he said. “You’re getting shall we say ‘maternal’ feelings? Compulsions to care for people? Maybe a hint of condescension?”

“Yeah,” Margaret answered. Molly shot her roomie a warning look, and Margaret’s lips vanished past her teeth. “Sorry….but kinda true.”

The man reached for Margaret’s wrist, but the taller woman yanked her arm away. “It’s uh….not there.”

There was a beat. Then he chuckled. “Oh yeah. Tramp stamp, right? Mind if I look at my handiwork?”

The color rushed out of Margaret’s face. Carefully, Molly leaned in and whispered into Margaret’s ear, “It’s literally nothing he hasn’t seen before.” With reluctance encasing every movement. Margaret nodded, and then turned around. Molly watched as the clean cut man bent forward and looked at the foreign writing, wincing as he sucked in his breath as if looking at an infected sore.

“And you,” he said to Margaret, “are very lucky.” He stood back up and allowed her to turn around. “You’re finding it harder to concentrate aren’t you? And having…uh…bathroom accidents?” Margaret nodded, but this time it was barely noticeable; closer to a shiver. “And things have been getting weird for you two, especially at night, I’m betting. Strange dreams? Sleepwalking, maybe?”

The two girls looked at each other. “Yeah,” Molly said.

“Probably…maybe…probably…yeah.” Margaret agreed.

“How’d you know?” Molly asked.

“Happens to a lot of folks who come in here,” the man said simply. “Kind of comes with the tattoos.”

Molly pressed on. “But how do you know?” she asked. There was more to this than it seemed.

He huffed a sigh, like a tour guide who had done his spiel one too many times and was burnt out, ready to retire. “Because your tattoo,” he pointed to Molly’s wrist, “says ‘Mother’, and yours,” he motioned to Margaret, “says ‘baby girl’. Oh,” he jerked his head towards Margaret again, “and I can kinda see your Pull-Up in the back.”

“It’s a Goodnite!” Margaret said, her voice filled with indignance.

“Truth be told,” the man went on over Margaret, turning his attention to Molly, “I’m kinda surprised. I would’ve pegged the roles reversed. You seemed like the more immature one, but it’s not my call.”

Molly couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “The the the…the HECK are you talking about?!” She’d wanted to say something a little more forceful than “HECK” but couldn’t bring herself to swear in front of Margaret.

In reply, the man in the blue shirt walked over to an almost barren countertop, its only contents being a tattoo gun, a thick laminated binder, and a brass ink well, its shine long since lost in the gloom of the place and lack of care. “See this?”

Molly and Margaret both nodded. “This is the ink that’s under your skin.”

“That does NOT look sanitary.” Molly said.

The man let out a dry chuckle. “Funny, that’s what she said the other night,” he nodded to the girl in the Goodnite. “Like I said, I’m surprised the roles turned out like they did. But this stuff is cleaner than Holy Water run through a state of the art filtration system.”

“What is it?” Margaret asked him.

In response, he poured a little bit of viscous black liquid onto the tip of his finger. They all saw themselves reflected darkly back in the shiny little dot’s pool. A second later, the drop hissed and evaporated into a tiny whisp of black smoke. “It’s Shen.” The man said. “It’s God Ink. Nasty weird stuff. Crazy stuff. Whatever it says you are is what you turn into.”

“So you’re turning us into a Mommy and baby?” Molly scoffed.

“No more than Milo is a dog,” the proprietor said. “But he doesn’t know the difference.” Upon hearing his name, the naked man looked up from his pile of clothes on the floor. When his master didn’t issue a command, he let out a brief snort and then curled back up on the mount of underwear and t-shirts. “I’m not turning you into anything. The ink is. It’s the Shen.”

It’s often said that when confronted with evidence of the impossible, a rational human being will simply accept that their parameters are unreasonable, rather than deny their senses.

“That’s impossible,” Molly said. “You’re messing with us. This is some kind of prank. Where’s the camera?” Molly wasn’t feeling particularly rational or reasonable just then.”

The laugh that the tattoo artist gave was bitter. “Why would I prank you by turning you two into a Mommy-baby freakshow? I’ve got nothing to gain from this. It’s just my job.”

“Why did you put baby girl on my back then?” Margaret retorted, forcefully. “Why?” She stamped her foot

“I didn’t.” He reached over and grabbed the binder, flipping it towards the back. “See?” The two girls held their breath, which is just as well, since their throats started to close up at the sight of the pictures. It was them, circa Saturday night or Sunday morning (depending on their frame of reference), obviously drunk, hair disheveled, and skin red and irritated.

Both were proudly flashing their new tattoos at the camera.

In the picture, their tattoos matched. Three symbols, that to their uneducated eyes, could best be described as a box, next to a cross, next to a ladder. “I only know how to do one tattoo. But with the Shen, I only need one,” the man said. “It means truth.”

“So it….changed?” Molly couldn’t quite believe what she was asking.

A muted thud as the photo binder slammed shut began the reply. “It always does,” the stranger replied. “It always does. And whatever the Shen decides you are, is what happens.”

“WHY?!” Margaret shouted, stamping her feet. “WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO PEOPLE? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO US? WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!” Tears streamed down Margaret’s cheeks as she broke into a full tantrum. Instinctively, Molly stepped in between the two and held Margaret tight, rubbing her back until the girl’s breathing started to slow.

She looked behind her and saw that the tattoo artist was getting a little teary eyed himself. “Because,” he said, unbuttoning his shirt. “I don’t have a choice, either.” Just above his heart was his own tattoo. “It means ‘slave’. The ink chose me for this. I gotta keep doing this until the Shen picks someone else.”

Despite herself, Molly muttered a very quiet “I’m sorry.”

“Me too. It’s just fate I guess.”

Margaret found her voice again. “I’m not sorry! Fuck you! Why do you say I’m lucky, huh?! I’m losing my job, I’m losing my potty training! I’m losing my marbles!”

The blonde man, looked away and to the naked man on the floor. “At least you have someone to take care of you. I took Milo in, because I knew nobody would take in a two hundred and forty pound naked dog man. You guys have each other. Imagine how bad it’d be if you didn’t.”

Molly found herself apologizing. “I’m sorry about my ba…about my friend. She’s not herself, lately.”

“Or she’s being more herself than she’s ever been,” the blonde man offered. “Depends on your perspective.”

“Is there any way to stop this?” Molly asked. They’d been launched out of denial, and Margaret was still very much stuck at the anger stage, but Molly had progressed to bargaining. “Or slow it down? Is there anything we can do?”

The man looked Molly square in the eye. “There is one thing you should probably do.”

“What?”

“You’re probably gonna want to get some thicker diapers. For both of your sakes.”

(Wednesday)

The rest of that Wednesday was a blur to the girls. A complete and utter existential crisis laid at their feet that defied concepts of theology, psychology, neurochemistry, and possibly physics, the girls reacted as most anyone would.

They screamed.

They yelled.

They threatened.

The man who’d given them the (if he was to be believed) magical tattoos merely shrugged.

They left.

They ran.

They called 911.

They were laughed at.

They attempted to circle back and find the dingy little tattoo parlor.

They failed.

They did find a liquor store, however.

Well into that night, they put all of the information and resources they had at their disposal to use. Getting drunk had gotten them into this, maybe another layer of plaster could get them out. Best not to think of it, anyway. At the very least, if a kind of mental oblivion awaited them (as it had the dog-man in the parlor), then they could at least attempt an oblivion of their own choosing instead of some broken down old-world god. (What kind of god would use magical tattoo ink, anyways?)

It was a Shen. A Chinese god embedded in mystical tattoo ink; or its power, anyway. It was responsible for the strange way they were behaving: Margaret’s roller coaster of emotions with a side of petulant bratty behavior (not to mention the slipping toileting control), Molly’s sudden organization and need to bring about a nurturing and caring (yet strict) routine for someone who had been all but a stranger before this (as well as her complete lack of disgust regarding someone else’s bodily fluids), their combined nocturnal activities of sleep walking, Molly’s productive sleep paintings and business dealings and Margaret’s destructive impulses of lighting fire and turning off her alarm clock…All of it was their respective tattoos’ fault.

The tattoos themselves were particularly jarring. To know that “truth” had been written on their skin, and it magically changed to the equivalent of “Mommy” and “baby girl” respectively; as if proclaiming that this was their “truth,” hurt them on a level far deeper than some mystical curse. The young women were not only losing their minds, but their very identities were being called into question. Were they really being altered, or was some piece of them buried deep on the inside now being brought to the outside? Anyone could get bitten by a werewolf or a vampire and turn into one. That was the curse. But to be told that you’d always been a freak and just didn’t know it; that really hurt.

Sadly, “magical markings that change overnight and assign you a new role in life” doesn’t hold up in court; not even small claims. With nowhere left to run, they hid at the bottom of several bottles of vodka. And with no other enemy within reach, they fell upon each other.

“I’m not a baby,” Margaret whined. “I was making my own bed by the time I was two!”

“You think I’m anybody’s ‘mommy?’” Molly retorted. “I’ve never even baby sat before. I’ve killed cacti. MULTIPLE CATCUSESESES!”

Already half a bottle in by this point, Margaret snorted. “You’re less nurturing than a desert!”

“Yeah…” Molly spat. “And just like a desert, I’m dry. You?” Margaret reached down between her legs and gave her final Goodnite a squeeze. It was sopping wet and sagging to boot; likely about to burst. Even more distressing, Margaret wasn’t exactly sure when she’d wet or how many times her bladder had let lose without her explicit permission. She’d been dry at the tattoo place, right?

The look of disgust and confusion on the other girl’s face was enough of an apology for Molly. “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, there.” Her tone was becoming more clipped and hurried, as if she were searching for the right words against a ticking clock. “That just hit a nerve for some reason.”

“Yeah?” Margaret asked, tacking on another unspoken question. Is it because you’re thinking more like a Mommy?

Wordlessly, Molly answered the first question with a nod, and answered the unspoken one out loud. “I’ve been feeling not like myself, either. I’ve just been sneaker about it.” She had meant to say “sneakier” but a even a seasoned drinker like Molly (or at least like she used to be), flubbed her words after more than a couple of shots.

“Like how?”

The artist bit her lip and admitted, “I started by sprinkling baby powder in your room. I really liked the smell. Then I added it to your panties.”

“I knew it.” Margaret’s tone wasn’t accusatory, or surprised, or even angry. It was more thoughtful than anything. It was almost as if the big little girl had been lying to herself, pretending not to notice it, and hearing the truth from someone else had opened. At least she hadn’t been crazy about THAT.

“Aaaaand I was enjo-“ Molly hiccupped, “enjoyeee…almost masturbating at the idea of taking care of you.”

Even though she was stripping her pants off to expose her wet diaper- there was no point in calling the thin bed-wetting pants anything else- Margaret frowned. “Eww…tee-em-eye.”

Cheeks flushing, Molly apologized. “Sorry,” she said. “It’s just that lately I’ve had this little voice in my head. It keeps telling me things.”

“-And at the time, it seems like a good idea?” Margaret finished the thought as the last of her clothes hit the floor. “Like bein’ dwunk but itssss not you? Not even dwunk you?” Neither girl knew how much of Margaret’s speech was magically induced regression and how much good old-fashioned booze.

“Yeah.” Molly replied. “It’s a little like bein’…wha’ you shed.”

“Iss wike…I mean like…” Margaret paused.

They spoke the next word in unison: “Shen.”

The alcohol (and maybe something more) caused their marked skin to glow pleasantly. It was as if the third person in the room had just been acknowledged and was thanking them.

The former customer service rep (a text on her phone had confirmed she’d been fired) started to stumble towards the bathroom. Looking over her shoulder, she stopped for a moment, and leaned against the wall. “You’ve got that voice too?”

Too drunk to stand at the moment, Molly smiled dumbly. “Uh-huh.”

“Mebbe we do deserve this.” Margaret slurred.

“Mebbe.”

“I’mma go potty,” Margaret announced a bit too loudly. “But I don’t wanna stop drinkin’. Thish is fun.”

“Kay kay,” Molly agreed, with eyes closed. “You sit and potty. I’ll bring ya more.” The petite dark-haired girl cracked open an eye. “Not cuz I’m yer Mommy or nothin’. Cuz I’m yer friend.” This was good, she thought. This was how it should be. Two drunk chicks getting wasted, not worrying about what would happen in the morning.

“Okie dokie,” Margaret said, stumbling back to the safety of the bathroom. Drunk as they were, they almost didn’t notice how their tattoos buzzed with renewed intensity. Molly almost didn’t notice the sounds of the diaper ripping open, causing the little voice in the back of her head to tell her she’d be hearing that sound a lot more in the coming years. Margaret almost didn’t notice the squelching plop of the wet padding being tossed into the waste basket, making her own little voice tell her that that she should flush while she could- because the sound of a balled up diaper plopping into the garbage would be the closest thing she’d have soon enough.

Almost.

Almost.

Ever the pragmatist, Margaret spent the rest of the night getting drunk on the toilet. She was pleasantly surprised each time she heard the sound of urine hitting water, and hated it at the same time, realizing that she hadn’t willed it so. She blamed it on the alcohol. She liked that thought better. The poison she was drinking would be out of her system soon enough. Then it’d be over and everything would be back to normal. It was a most pleasant lie.

Meanwhile, Molly did everything she could to get back to her old, unorganized, carefree and whimsical self. Paints and brushes were dragged out of drawers and strewn about the floor. Nothing more liberating than a good old wall mural, perhaps something with lots of skulls and black paint…something dreadful and completely inappropriate for a child (or the mother of a child). Even strewn about the room, though, Molly’s chaos took on a pattern of organization, and her attempts to be grim devolved into downright cutesie when her skulls started to become little Jack Skellingtons, and little pink bows started showing up on her vampire bats.

Great. Goth Baby. But what was the point of trying to do forced creativity and going against one’s muse? Molly wasn’t sure if that was her or the thing that was turning her into a freak-nanny, and that part scared her more than the smiling man in the moon she’d painted on the wall

Between brush strokes and switching colors, she’d check on her cohort, and freshen up her drink. Each time she handed her a refilled shot glass. She’d say “for a friend,” before turning about face and going back to her own drinking. She did her best to resist a proud grin whenever she heard Margaret go tinkle in the potty.

Despite herself, Molly started watering down Margaret’s drinks, giving just enough Vodka to give the girl a taste, before filling up the rest of the glass from the sink. They’d already both drunk enough by that point to where they should be going to the emergency room, or at least engaging in some very epic projectile vomiting. No sense in making it worse. A dark thought occurred to her that it wouldn’t matter how much they drank; the Shen wasn’t letting them off that easily.

In a moment of weakness, when she was refilling one of her roomie’s drinks, Molly grabbed a particularly sharp steak knife and cut her finger with it.

Damn! That hurt like a mother fucker! (Language!) Great. Now she was internally chastising herself for just thinking of naughty language. The fu-…the he…what was up with that? But the strangeness didn’t end there.

Teeth gritted, and the flushing of a toilet covering her pained sighs, Molly pulled the knife across her arm. If she could change the symbol on her arm, drunk her reasoned, she could change the meaning. The pain was intense and searing as she pulled the blade across her flesh, yet no blood came. The markings on her flesh remained intact.

Worth a shot. Fruitless, but worth a shot. The Shen definitely wasn’t going to let her off that easily. No. They’d had their fun, and it was about to have its time.

After that, Molly stopped watering the drinks down for either of them. She didn’t even mind it so much when Margaret said “Thanksh Mom-…Mowwy…Mol…Molly.”

Neither one could have known it, but they both lost consciousness at the exact same time. Also, they both blacked out with the same thought.

“Please don’t let me wake up.”

(Thursday)

THU-DUD!

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

Eyes clenched shut, Margaret woke screaming in pain and panic as her head banged against the floor of the bathroom, and her arms rag dolled behind her back, and her legs twisted with seemingly agonizing and contortionist levels of flexibility.

Her last thoughts from the night before screamed back at her through the pain. She’d woken up.

Damnit. So much for that wish.

“MOLLLLLLLY!” she cried out, relieved despite everything that she could still call her Roommate by her first name. Hot tears streamed out across her cheeks, drying themselves on the floor beneath her as the lanky girl thrashed about like a fish out of water.

Something was wrong, though. The floor hurt, but her voice didn’t echo off of the bathroom tile as it had last night when she’d been calling out for more Vodka. The floor didn’t have the slick and cool feeling. She wasn’t in her bathroom.

Still sobbing from shock, Margaret wiped away the wet tears off her face, trying to piece together the last few hours of her life. Speaking of wet: Margaret’s hands shot down to her waist. Instead of her own naked flesh, her palms brushed against cloth- soaking wet cloth.

Immediately, through her own screams, she began to assemble the information. She’d fallen asleep. She’d gone to bed, (or rather, was taken to bed). She’d wet her bed. She’d fallen out of bed, and was currently screaming her eyes out, hoping she hadn’t broken anything, and was tangled up in her own pissed in sheets.

Something didn’t sit right with her analysis, though. There was something she was missing. Before she’d switched to “protection” at night, her accidents had been messy and trickled down her legs. And while Margaret’s crotch was certainly soaked, her legs felt white hot and flushed.

As she began to open her eyes, Margaret noticed that her chest was bare. Her legs too, from the feel of it. But her butt, her waist, and her crotch? They were wet and covered in wet cotton.

Oh God. No!

As her vision cleared enough for her to make sense of the world, Margaret went mute. Whether it was because of the horror that flooded her very core, or whether she’d simply run out of breath with which to scream, it’s hard to say. What can be said was that wrapped around her were her bed sheets folded up in multiple layers and then pulled up between her legs and secured with big metal safety pins at the sides on her hips.

In other words.

“A DIIIIAPER!” The words came screeching out of her mouth the moment she had enough breath to speak.

Through it all, the small of her back burned and buzzed as if fresh markings were being applied to the tattoo on her back as she wailed. Patronizingly, mockingly, the little voice in the back of her brain, the one that didn’t quite belong to her, the voice of a god, told her the truth of the situation: The little baby had fallen out of her big girl bed.

The heavy pounding of footsteps rattled the floor as Molly came running. Moments later, Margaret’s head was in the other girl’s lap. “Shhhhh,” Molly whispered. “It’s okay. It’s okay. You just fell out of bed. That’s all. No big deal.”

Breath forced its way into Margaret’s lungs. Instead of breathing, screamed out “MAAAAW-!” her body wracked with sobs, unable to add the second syllable.

“Molly,” the petite, dark haired woman continued to whisper. “That’s right. It’s me. Molly. Just Molly. We’re friends. We’re friends. That’s all. I came running because I was worried about you…a friend.”

Like a particularly redundant pop song, the same chorus kept playing again and again, with one screaming at the top of her lungs, and the other one speaking just barely above a whisper just a few inches from the other’s ear.

“MAAAA!”

“Molly.”

“MAAAA!”

“Your friend, Molly.”

“MAAaaa?”

“It’s just Molly. That’s all.”

Margaret tried to slow her breathing, and to her great relief, she found that she could. The pain was fading. Her thoughts, wretched and pain filled as they were, were her own. “Hey…Molly,” the greeting came out in tired, labored pants, now just above a whisper themselves.

Looking up into Molly’s face, Margaret saw the relief wash over her Roommate. “Good that you’re still with us,” Molly said, a little louder than before. “You had me worried for a second. I thought I’d have to start changing diapers already.”

Margaret’s smile melted. “Um…about that.” Her eyes guided Molly’s down to her hips, the yellowed drooping sheets now very obvious to the both of them.

“Whoah!” the smaller girl’s hands shot up to the ceiling. “How did THAT get there?”

The taller woman’s whole body burned with embarrassment. “I…think you put it on me.”

Molly’s head vibrated more than shook, the denial was that strong. “No way did I…” then she stopped. “No, wait. Those are my safety pins. Yeah. I might’ve done that,” she admitted.

The diapered girl sat up, taking her head out of the comfortable nest that Molly’s lap had become, and examined her makeshift diaper. “Why do you even have safety pins this big?” she asked, touching the metal fasteners.

“I am, or at least used to be,” Molly admitted, “a bit of a hoarder. You come across something weird in a flea market, like big safety pins, you buy them on the cheap and stash them away because…yeah…you never know when you’re gonna need big safety pins. Y’know?”

Margaret didn’t know. She couldn’t even fathom a normal, boring, non-artsy, non-diaper usage for safety pins this big. Before now, Margaret had assumed that safety pins this big only existed on giant cartoon ducklings. The safety pins must have been three to four inches in length, and there were two of them pinned on each side, keeping the cloth snug around her waist. Part of her wanted to play and fiddle with the metal things. Another part told her to not meddle, lest she tear or break something. And then there was the tiny presence telling her that she didn’t know how to undress herself anymore anyway, so best not to try.

“Oh dear,” Molly’s call caught Margaret’s attention. “What happened to your room?” The diapered girl’s head jerked up and took in her surroundings for the first time since she got up.

The plain, boring, white walls of her room- a grown-up’s room- were gone. Instead they were replaced with light pink and baby blue hand prints. There was no discernible pattern, no alternating motif other than hand shaped paint splattered from corner to corner. In some portions, fingers and thumbs overlapped to create technicolored butterflies. Other spots had lines of blue hand turkeys doing the conga over a line of pink hand turkeys going the opposite direction. There was no rhyme or reason beyond a general color scheme, but what it did not look like, was adult.

“Nnnnnnoooooo!” Margaret’s crying began anew. “My room looks like a nursery.” Arms wide, Molly moved in for another hug. Forcefully, Margaret shoved her back. “No!” she said. “No! I don’t wanna hug right now!” She then leveled a finger at the other girl. “What did you do to my room?” It wasn’t shouting, but it definitely wasn’t friendly.

Molly held up her hand in protestation. “I didn’t do anything,” she said. “It wasn’t me!”

“How do I know that it wasn’t you?” Margaret leveled a finger squarely at Molly’s chest. Sure enough, Molly had been painting last night, Margaret remembered. It only made sense that in her drunken frenzy or her sleepwalking stupor, her ink influenced efforts might bleed over into Margaret’s boudoir. Granted, it wasn’t the most organized arrangement, but there was decidedly a kind of artistry to it. Kinda. Almost. Maybe.

Molly’s eyes narrowed a bit as her eyes focused on Margaret’s hands. “Uh…I think it was you, honey.”

“Me?” Margaret asked, pointing back to herself. “Why, I didn’-” Margaret stopped. The blue paint on her right index finger was dried and already starting to flake, but it was obviously still there. The diapered girl stared at the pink and blue palms of her hands as though they belonged to someone else. “No way.”

Their tattoos began to sizzle like a bad sun burn; causing them to groan in discomfort. The little voice in their heads chuckled, offering to show them the truth; but it wasn’t truly an offer. Offers are things you can say no to. Their moans mixed with the mocking laughter of a long forgotten god as their eyes rolled back into their heads. They didn’t so much remember the previous night, as much as they re-dreamed it; the fleeting images of their actions flitting across their minds’ eye, seeing each other and themselves as they had truly been.

Both women saw the other move with the strange mixture of fluidity and rigidity in all the wrong places belonging to marionettes. With heavy steps and wobbling knees they had moved throughout the house, working together to transform Margaret’s walls into a child’s canvas; both of them moving with purpose but with far off stares into the abyss.

Molly gawked in horror as she relived bundling up her roomie’s bedsheets and, with practiced care and precision, folding them over each other again and again.

Margaret’s jaw clenched, her teeth grinding as she momentarily relived laying herself down on the homemade diaper, helping Molly finish the transformation.

Molly broke out into a sweat as she witnessed herself pull the sheets up between the other woman’s legs and pin them on with her with her long-since-forgotten pins. What had been a random fifty-cent purchase two years ago now seemed like a cog in the wheel of destiny.

What neither of them expected was what happened next. Molly remembered the warm smile that crossed her lips. Margaret remembered licking her own in anticipation. Molly remembered lifting up her shirt and deftly removing her bra, exposing her tiny breasts. Margaret remembered leaning in and opening her mouth….

Back in the world of the now, the two women leaned back from each other, repulsed by what they had done. Please let that last part have been false, they both thought without speaking to each other. Feeling as though she might retch, Margaret turned away from the smaller woman, pivoting onto all fours; the sheets pinned around her buttocks blocking the view as she began to cough and gag at the thought of suckling at Molly’s teat.

Rising to her feet, Molly draped her hand across her chest, shielding it from onlookers, despite being fully clothed. Clenching fingers felt no familiar padding of a bra across her bosom. Yet another thing she hadn’t noticed until now.

Their entire world was collapsing around them, and they were only now noticing the depths to which they had sunken. Both wanted to simply curl up in a corner and die. Better to die than to be cursed by the markings on their skin.

Mercifully (or not), a pounding at the door interrupted their near panic attacks. “DELIVERY!” came the muffled call from outside their apartment.

Moving faster than either of them had any right to, considering how much alcohol they had each imbibed the night before, the two leapt to their feet, the living room blurring by in an instant. “Tell me you didn’t order pizza,” Margaret quipped.

“Pizza is the least of our worries,” Molly replied, leaning up to the peephole. Through the fish eye lens, she made out a man in a brown uniform and matching cap; a clipboard in his hands.

Margaret asked. “Who is it?”

“Looks like a delivery driver.” Molly answered, looking back. “Packages. Not Pizza.”

“What did you order?”

“I didn’t….” Molly stopped. “Oh wait…I might have a couple days ago. Sleepwalking. Get it?” She looked back to the girl in the diaper- the girl she’d diapered- hoping to get some kind of understanding. She didn’t.

“Sleep walking?” Margaret understood, but didn’t. She wasn’t connecting the dots.

Molly shot her roomie an indignant look and explained. “What? You oversleep, unplug your clock, and set fire to your big girl panties,” she said. “I go on extended drawing sprees, make business deals to get clients that I couldn’t get in a million years,” she took a breath, “and buy things online…apparently.”

The lightbulb went on in the taller girl’s head as she looked from Molly to the door and back again. “What did you-?” Margaret’s question was cut off as Molly opened the apartment door, sending the taller of the two women leaping sideways to avoid line of sight. “EEEP! NAKED!” Her fall was cushioned and muffled by a nearby love seat.

Oblivious to Margaret’s squeaking, the delivery guy just looked at his clipboard and said. “Yeah, got a couple of packages here. Is this the correct address?”

Swallowing hard, Molly took a step outside her apartment and looked at the large cardboard boxes. They were various shapes and sizes, and if Molly remembered the receipts, weights too. Most stacked on top of each other, one or two as long and bulky as they were leaned against her outside wall. Considering what had already happened, did she want this junk- this soft and fuzzy and cute and crinkly and absolutely damning junk- inside her house? More importantly, was there really any way she could avoid it?

A thought occurred to Molly. “What if it isn’t? My address, I mean.”

The delivery guy motioned with his head towards the assembled packages; almost enough to make a fort, some might say. “I take it all back and it probably gets tossed in a dumpster. What’s in it anyways?”

“I couldn’t begin to tell you,” Molly half-lied.

“Does that mean this is the wrong place?”

The young woman’s mouth went completely numb. “No,” Molly said. “You’ve got the right place. Where do I sign?” Her mouth moved. Her voice spoke the words. But she wasn’t the one saying it. She wasn’t getting out of it this easy. Flipping her forearm over, the young artist looked at her tattoo that effectively read “Mommy”. She swore she heard the tiniest hint of laughter in the back of her mind.

“Just sign here,” the man said, offering her the clipboard and a pen. Her arm, the inked one of course, obeyed, despite her own internal protests. The laughter inside her head was replaced with a kind of hungry purring. The Shen was about to get what it wanted.

Digging her fingernails into her forearm, Molly found the strength of will to speak up. “Um…thank you,” then she added, “I guess.”

“Do you need help bringing this in?” the delivery man gestured to the almost dozen boxes stacked outside the apartment. “It took me a couple trips just to get it all out of the truck.”

“NAKED!” Margaret interjected, her voice ringing out from behind the not closed door. “Also…drafty!”

Nervously, Molly glanced back over her shoulder. With things escalating as they had been, Molly would have bet good money that Margaret could no longer dress herself. Letting this man into her house, no matter how briefly, would only complicate matters. “Yeah sorry, my ba-…my bae is naked,” she corrected herself. “People still say bae right?”

“Sure, I guess,” the delivery guy shrugged. Then he looked over Molly’s head and into her living room. “Huh…cool decorations on your walls. You have kids?”

Molly didn’t dare look back. “Nope. Not planning on having any, either. Ever. Actively trying to avoid it, in fact.”

If the guy was hitting on her, he took the hint. If he wasn’t, at least he was still leaving. “Okay, well if you don’t need any help, I’ll just be on my way. Have a nice day.”

“Yeah,” Molly called back meekly. “You too, I guess.” Like a statue, she stood straight and weary until the delivery guy got back into his truck and drove off. Only then did she allow herself the luxury of a full breath.

Timidly, like a prairie dog emerging from its hole, Margaret leaned out of the apartment, using the door to shield her bare body. “What happened?” she asked.

“I signed for the stuff,” she pointed to her forearm. “Kinda got put on autopilot back there.”

“Ugh…” Margaret’s face disappeared behind the door. Soon there were a series of thudding noises as she banged her head against the heavy wood. “So what do we do now?”

“Help me throw it out?” Molly offered.

“Uh…naked.” Margaret reminded her Roommate. Then she added, “and wet. Any chance you can run to the store and get some more Goodnites, or something?”

Molly frowned and cast a thumb back at the boxes. “If we don’t get these out of the way soon, there’ll be more people pounding at our door. Go get dressed.”

The taller girl’s lip trembled a bit. “I’ve been trying.” Her head drooped a bit. “I snuck into your room while you were talking to that guy to try to find some clothes.” Molly felt a lump form in her throat as Margaret said, “I can’t dress myself. I…forgot?”

Molly threw her head up to the sky. “Called it,” she said. “I friggin’ called it.”

Clearly, Molly’s words struck a blow to Margaret’s already dwindling. She seemed smaller somehow, cowed by it. “Help me get dressed?” Margaret mewled.

Something akin to a hybrid of a sigh and growl rumbled out of Molly’s throat. “I’ll take care of you later. First I gotta get rid of these…things.”

With a final whining mewl, verging on a sob, Margaret closed the door. Good. Now Molly could do the real work of getting these ill-ordered packages into a dumpster. Wasn’t there one nearby in the parking lot? Both her newfound organized and pragmatic side and her old hoarding-everything-for-the-sake-of-hoarding side were conflicted with what she was prepared to do.

She’d spent good money on this stuff, and now she was just going to throw it all in the dumpster. Then again, she said to herself, at least half of the boxes’ contents were designed to go into the garbage after use, anyways. This was just speeding up the process.

With heavy steps and a strangely heavy heart, the so called “Mommy” walked up to the stack of boxes like a boxer facing down his opponent. This would be a lot easier and take a lot fewer trips if her Margaret would just get dressed.

Not that Molly was surprised at her roomie’s lack of ability. Margaret had been useless for the better part of a week anyways. Come to think of it, since the two women had just met before they had been branded by fate, Margaret had been regressing into a “baby girl” longer than Molly had known her as a slightly stuffy adult. Margaret had been this pathetic, immature, bed-wetting thing needing to be cuddled and coddled for the majority of their time together. Quickly, and with ferocity that surprised her, Molly smacked herself upside the head and pulled at her hair, willing the pain to bring her to her right frame of mind.

That wasn’t her thinking. That was the ink talking. Margaret was a victim. Same as her. “But not anymore,” Molly told herself, picking up the first of the cardboard boxes.

A single step away from the door was all it took before Molly came to a full stop, her arm wrenching out towards the door of her apartment. The young artist gasped a bit in pain, feeling as if her shoulder may have been dislocated. The whiplash was so sudden, that she lost her grip on the box of unmentionables and sent it tumbling to the ground.

Undeterred, she took a second box and moved towards the parking lot. The jolt that followed was so profound, that Molly found herself about face and accidentally flinging the box at her door. She huffed and pushed her bangs out of her eyes, deciding it better to not get into a shouting match with the mystical manacle inked on her arm, (even if it was silently mocking her).

Fine. She’d just leave the boxes out there to rot. Who cared what the neighbors thought? Neighbors that didn’t like you just meant they’d leave you alone and throw out your garbage for free. Ta-da! Win-Win. Take that, Shen!

With big, triumphant, exaggerated strides, Molly marched away from the pile of ridiculous things she’d bought in her sleep…and almost fell down when her arm yanked her the other way, back towards the tiny tower of boxes. By God, was this what it felt like to be a mime?

“Oh come on!” she yelled, gazing at her own forearm. The only reply she got was inside her own head, as a tiny little voice told her that Mommy had work to do.

The sound of a muffled thud and Molly’s muted cursing caused Margaret to blink up at the ceiling. What had she been doing again? A hot moment ago, she’d been trying unsuccessfully to unfasten the safety pins that kept her bed sheet diaper on her. The struggle had been so intense that she’d wrestled herself down to the floor, rolling around and trying to yank the little metal rectangles out, even if it meant tearing the fabric. She’d been lying down when the diaper had been pinned on her, maybe she’d need to lie down to get it off.

That made sense, right? Right.

Beneath her still was the rumpled blouse of Molly’s that she’d tried- and failed- to cover herself with as well as the jeans that she couldn’t even manage to unzip. The crumpled mess was oddly comfortable, all things considered.

Surrounding her were the freshly repainted walls, all with a childish- some might say “nostalgic”- motif. One wall was painted in the dark but whimsical Nightmare Before Christmas style, while its opposite was decidedly Pseudo-Seussian. The wall with the T.V. now had the Muppet Theatre behind it, complete with Statler and Waldorf’s balcony in the upper left-hand corner, and the kitchen was now home to Bugs Bunny and friends. Clearly, Molly had done more than just pin some sheets around Margaret’s crotch last night.

Honestly, it was good; too good. The different styles, the level of detail, the sheer scope of it all. If Margaret hadn’t known any better, she would have assumed that each wall had been done by a different artist. Margaret had seen a few of the sketches in Molly’s bedroom, and this was better than any of it. To put it bluntly: Molly just wasn’t this good.

Surrounded by these child-friendly masterpieces, the brown-haired woman looked all the more a child as she tried to wriggle the damn sheet off of herself. Things had been going…terribly, when in her thrashing she’d caught sight of her own feet and found herself oddly intrigued.

How funny they’d looked up there above her head. The way the overhead lights kind of cast them in silhouette, their shadow blocking part of her face. Wasn’t it weird how they looked? Rather like funny warped hands with near useless fingers.

Deep thoughts. Stupid deep. Philosophical drunk deep. Was it possible to go from drunk to sober to drunk again without imbibing anything….rebound drunk? If only she could get a closer look at them….then everything had gone fuzzy until the ka-thump had knocked her out of her musing.

What was she doing again? A dribble of spit plummeted from her big toe back onto her forehead, and with it the memory of what she had just done. “Oh fuck,” she said, her tongue still tasting of feet. Her stomach began to churn -hopefully out of disgust, instead of hunger.

“Language!”

The diaper girl looked back to the door and saw Molly carrying in one of the cardboard boxes that had been stacked outside their apartment. Rolling over onto all fours, Margaret asked, “What’re you doing with that?”

The box dropped from Molly’s hands, her shoulders sinking with it. “Bringing it in…unfortunately.”

Margaret’s heartbeat sped up. “Whhhhyyyy?” she whined, realizing too late just how childish she sounded. “I mean…why?”

Her Roommate looked to be on the verge of tears. They weren’t quite out yet; Molly was being strong…but the hurt, the fear, and the desperation, were still there. “My arm won’t let me,” Molly said. “I’ve tried.” For a tense ten seconds they just looked at each other. Then Molly spoke up. “Why are you on the ground?”

“Oh yeah,” Margaret said. “Sorry. Um…my back made me…?” That was a lie, as far as Margaret knew, but hopefully Molly would feel better if she wasn’t the only one being outwardly compelled.

It had the opposite effect. “Oh god!” Margaret gasped. “Do you mean you can’t walk anymore?”

Scrambling to her feet and waving her arms Margaret did her best to smooth over her little white lie. “Nononononononono,” she said. “I was going for the door, and then everything got heavy or something.” Molly seemed a little relieved at that. It was just a little, but a little was better than nothing. “What’s in there anyway?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“That bad, huh?”

Like a doctor about to deliver a terminal diagnosis, Molly put on a brave face, her own dread still shimmering in her eyes. “We’re going to have to have a serious talk about it, once I bring everything in. Just don’t open it. I’ve still got a couple more that I’ve got to go, and I’d rather us both be sitting down. Okay?”

“Okay…” Margaret agreed.

“I’m serious,” Molly wagged her finger.

“I know, I know,” Margaret said crossing her arms over her chest. “Fine.”

And so Margaret waited, unable to do anything other than watch as her “Mommy” brought in box after box. First came another box that was roughly the same size as the first. Then came another, slightly bigger box. Then another. And another. And another. How much shit had Molly bought? Margaret might have questioned how likely Molly could have done all this and found the money to pay for it while sleepwalking, but the walls of her own apartment were testament to what she could accomplish while unconscious.

A bigger box, less of a cube and more of a rectangle, came through the door. It landed with a heavy clunk, even though its weight had barely seemed to register as Molly dragged it in. “One more,” Molly said. “Then we can talk.” A single huff was all that hinted at any fatigue she might be feeling.

As the door closed for close to the dozenth time, a kind of wicked curiosity overtook Margaret. What was in these boxes? More Goodnites? Depends, maybe? Bucket loads of safety pins? Margaret wasn’t sure whether it was her voice or the voice of the Shen influencing her in the back of her mind, but a thought occurred to her: Obviously she wasn’t meant to like what was in the boxes. Perhaps if she knew before Mommy…errr…Molly broke the news to her, she’d be able to help Molly. ‘Yeah’, she’d say. ‘I know there’s a billion more Goodnites in there. No big deal.’ She’d save Molly the trouble of breaking the news to her by breaking the news to herself, and wouldn’t that be helpful?

The ex-customer service rep waddled over to the first box. It had been slightly dented by its journey through the air and crashing against the apartment door, and so it seemed likely to be the easiest around. “Cheap packaging” Margaret remarked as she tore away at the seams; meeting next to know resistance. “Almost like wrapping paper.” The idea hadn’t occurred to her, or else it was kept from her, that something had wanted her to open the box easily.

There weren’t enough curse words in the world to describe Margaret’s emotions once the cardboard was torn apart. Wrapped inside clear plastic, pure white save for the pastel cutesie cartoon drawings smattered over each puffy, crinkly folded rectangle, were diapers.

Not Goodnites.

Not Depends.

Not sheets.

Diapers. As in ‘too young for pre-school and not ready for the big kid potty’ baby diapers. It was obvious from first glance that they were much too big for any real baby. For a certain tall, skinny, brown-haired young lady who’d recently lost most if not all of her continence, though, they’d be a perfect fit.

“The hell?” she demanded to know as Molly lumbered in, bringing in yet another large rectangular box. She shoved the diapers in the shorter woman’s face.

“I told you not to look inside!” Molly said, her tone suddenly stern. “Why didn’t you listen?” She seemed to stand up a little taller as she released the box, making the floor rattle with its landing.

“Why did you buy me giant Pampers?” Margaret asked, her tone accusatory.

Molly didn’t back down. “I didn’t know I was buying them for you. It just happened. Just like everything this week! It’s. Not. My. Fault.”

Margaret wasn’t buying it. She was pissing herself, and Molly was drawing masterpieces in her sleep. One of them was clearly getting the shorter end of this stick. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you wanted this to happen. You’re getting everything! I’m getting diapers! It’s not fair.”

“Are you kidding?” Molly scoffed. “I’m the one who’s having to wipe your ass for you!”

The diaper girl took a step back. “Not yet you aren’t!”

“Pretty darn close!” Molly jabbed a finger in the Margaret’s face. “I’m doing all the work, and taking care of you to boot. Before you started peeing yourself, I was already calling in sick for you and going shopping for you. Even if I make a whole bunch of money from this, it’s all going towards you!”

“And I’m supposed to thank you for that?”

“You’re supposed to listen to what I say,” Molly spat. “But I can see that was expecting too much of you. You can’t even make it to the potty!” Only the slight quiver in her jaw gave any sign that Molly regretted what she had just said.

As her petite Roommate turned her back with a “Harumph”, a dangerous thought began to bubble in Margaret’s brain, as her stomach began to churn anew. Like a sumo getting ready for battle, Margaret widened her stance and squatted down. She’d make Molly regret those words. She knew what she had to do. “If she really wants a baby,” Margaret whispered to herself. “She’ll get the full…package.”

Just then, Molly turned back around. “Look, I’m sorry,” she said. “I shouldn’t have said…what are you doing?” Margaret couldn’t quite hear the other woman; trapped in her own little world as she was. She had a sudden nasty impulse to work out of her system. “Margaret!”

A wicked small came to Margaret’s face, as she stood back up to her full height; ironically triumphant. That’d show the bitch. Then she saw the look in Molly’s eyes, and saw only love.

“Uh-oh…”

(Thursday)

There’s a nearly universal experience; almost the exact opposite of “déjà vu”. It’s called a “senior moment”. It’s that feeling that an otherwise mentally alert person gets when they walk into a room, or get in their car, or open the door of the refrigerator, and their mind goes blank. They’re left staring off into the middle distance, and for moment their mind goes static like an old television with old wires and bad reception. They wonder, “What did I come in here to do?” or “Where was I going?” or “What was it I wanted to eat?” Then, the moment passes, and like that same old T.V. getting smacked on the side, the picture becomes clear again and they remember. Either that, or they just walk away and go about their business.

Molly was having what felt like the mother of all “senior moments”. She was in her apartment, her home that she had been in less than a full week; so much yet to do, she knew; but if a gun had been placed to her head she couldn’t begin to say what had happened or what exactly she had been doing or needed to do.

The walls of her living room were painted with murals of children’s characters. Why? She hadn’t the faintest of notions. Not even a week in and she had likely already violated the lease. One of her little creative, whimsical, and perhaps drug induced fugues had likely overtaken her and now she’d have to repaint at least the living room before she moved out. It likely had seemed like a good idea when she was drunk, stoned, and/or tripping on ecstasy. She made a silent little prayer to whatever spirit or god out there that would listen that she hadn’t painted over her apartment. At least then, months from now when she moved onto the next flight of fancy, she could hold up a paint swatch and figure out whatever boring shade of beige she’d need to buy and clean up her mess.

Speaking of moving, cardboard boxes littered the floor around her. But some tiny voice in the back of her head, (déjà vu perhaps?) reminded her that those weren’t moving boxes. She’d just gotten a delivery of some sort and had been in the midst of unpacking when she’d had her “senior moment”. All of the sudden, the picture was becoming clearer.

Molly’s nose wrinkled as a disgusting, fetid, truly odious smell flooded her synapses. What was making that god awful terrible sme-?

Scent is a curious sense: It is arguably the least important of human senses in terms of survival. Rotting food, garbage and disease can still be detected through the other senses. No one has ever needed to learn a new language or means to communicate because they had anosmia. Most of the worst poisons are odorless, anyways.

And yet, for its tertiary status (if that) among our five senses, smell is still greatly valued. Food tastes better when your nose isn’t clogged up by mucus. How you smell is a key component of personal hygiene and daily social interactions. Scent is said to be deeply connected to memory and parental associations. Molly even had a psychology teacher back in high school who changed perfumes once she became a teacher as a way of transforming herself from “sex-kitten” to “matronly”.

Scent is important.

It was the scent, and the associations with it, that ended Molly’s “senior moment”. Her daughter (that wasn’t quite right, but it’d work until the right word buzzed into head) Margaret stood in front of her, legs bowed and face red from strain. Clothed in just a cloth diaper, (a very shoddy one at that; were those bedsheets?) Margaret stood there, proudly as if she had accomplished a most difficult task.

Then it hit her. “Uh oh,” she said.

Molly couldn’t help but smile at that and fall in love with her little girl all over again. Little girl. Closer, but not quite. That’s when the lightbulb in Molly’s head flickered to life. The bright coloring on the walls; the packages of supplies; a red faced Margaret; the toddlerish admission of guilt and the smell as evidence; Molly remembered where she was and what she had to do.

“I think I know a certain someone who needs to be changed,” Molly said, grabbing a pack of diapers and ripping them open. The perfumed lavender scent mixed with the offensive reek of Margaret’s accident; the new mixing with the old.

Margaret whined, but didn’t move. “Noooooooooooooooo!” she screamed. Giggling, Molly paid her charge no mind as she scooped her up and laid her down to the ground. So dramatic. Babies so often acted as if a diaper change were a death sentence. Pinning Margaret with one hand, Molly reached out and grabbed a nearby packet of wipes, chuckling to herself all the while.

“Trust me, baby girl, you’ll feel so much better with a clean, fresh, and,” she emphasized, “real diaper.”

Margaret howled again. “Noooooooooooooooooo!” The child’s objections went unanswered as Molly undid the safety pins on her makeshift diaper. So over-the-top. The girl might as well be shouting “Khaaaaaaaaaaaan!”. At that thought, Molly had to suck her lips in to stop herself from laughing. William Shatner in a diaper. Too funny. “Big kid! Panties!” Margaret insisted, meekly struggling against Molly’s grip.

The other safety pin came undone, and Molly pulled back the front of Margaret’s diaper. Gesturing to the contents of the sagging sack as evidence, Molly said, “Honey, just because I put you in a cloth diaper doesn’t mean you’re wearing big girl panties. Now hold still, or Mommy will have to spank.”

“Mommy?” Margaret echoed with a note of confusion.

“Uh huh,” Molly said. Apparently, she wasn’t the only one who’d had a senior moment. “I’m your Mommy. You’re my baby girl. Now let Mommy change you.” Without waiting for acknowledgement, Molly took her hand off of Margaret’s chest and moved to lifting her legs so she could go to work down below. Margaret, for her part, just whimpered as wipe after wipe after wipe was dragged across her delicate skin. Poor thing.

“Honestly,” Molly admitted to herself, “I don’t know what I was thinking when I put you in cloth diapers.” There was more truth to that than the artist and single “mother” cared to admit. She really didn’t have an idea of why her baby girl had been wrapped in a bedsheet. She’d remembered a little factoid she’d read that Cloth Diapers were better for potty training since it allowed the child to feel their accidents happen; but Margaret was nowhere near potty training age yet, was she? Maybe she’d forgotten to go to the store and run out of diapers, and thus had to improvise. That wasn’t like Molly either. She’d been super on top of things- at least since Margaret had come along. Nothing made a young woman grow up faster than becoming somebody’s Mommy.

Regardless, she decided as she slid out the soiled sheets from underneath Margaret’s rear, those sheets were going straight into the trash. Cloth or not, that diaper was being disposed of. “Big kid!” Margaret insisted right as Molly was sliding a fresh diaper under her little bum. So adorable.

“Maybe someday,” Molly said, reaching for a bottle of baby powder. “Someday you’ll be going to Kindergarten and dressing yourself and talking in full sentences and even going potty.” A little voice in the back of her mind told her she was lying, she realized as she sprinkled the cooling white powder over her baby girl’s diaper area and started rubbing it in.

She craved the kind of intimacy that came with being a Mommy. She loved the tender intimacy of moments like this, or breast feeding, or just the simple act of cuddling indoors on a rainy day. Molly needed those things just as much, if not more, than Margaret did. Rationally speaking, Molly knew that Margaret would eventually grow up…and sooner rather than later. What would happen if Molly still had those needs?

She supposed she could just make another baby, but how would that be fair to Margaret, the tiny little voice in the back of her head asked. The moment that Margaret was fully potty trained was the moment that she’d seek privacy and know shame. Privacy was the enemy of intimacy. Shame was the enemy of love. Molly didn’t want her baby girl to ever have those enemies. Why not just keep Margaret as her baby girl? Wasn’t that the better option? The more maternal option? Yes. Yes it was. No need to let the baby know, though. Babies just couldn’t understand. “Someday,” Molly repeated her lie. “But not today.” Not ever.

Pulling the diaper up and taping it shut, Molly smiled in satisfaction. “There we go. All fresh and clean,” she announced. With that, she pivoted and rose to her feet. Scooping the absolutely vile pile of bedsheets in her hands, she looked for a garbage can. “Now where to put this?” she wondered aloud. How did you dispose of cloth diapers anyways? Shouldn’t she wash them first? At least dunk them in the toilet? Maybe she could just put this in a garbage bag and throw it in a far away dumpster. It definitely wasn’t staying in her home any longer than absolutely necessary.

The artist-come-mommy didn’t have proper time to consider her options when yet another emergency loomed large. The squeaking of the door hinge followed in quick succession by the door slamming backwards against the living room wall was the only warning Molly got. “MARGARET!” she yelled, dropping the soiled sheet back onto the floor. “GET YOUR CRINKLY BUTT BACK IN HERE!”

Margaret was more than halfway out the door before Molly was able to grasp ahold of the toddler’s wrist and drag her back inside. “Margaret, what on earth do you think you’re doing little-?“

CRACK!

Margaret’s tiny hand swung out in a fist and knocked Molly right on her ass. She couldn’t believe it. Not only had her baby girl hit her, but it had hurt; hurt bad. “Hurt like a Cho De” as her own her own mother would have said.

“BITCH!” Molly spat, picking herself off the ground. “You goddamn spoiled little bi-!” Rearing back to throw a punch of her own, Molly set her jaw and decided to give her roomie a taste of her own medicine.

Roomie?

That was when the fog lifted from Molly’s mind. She looked at her own clenched fist and was reminded of the tattoo just below her wrist. She gazed at a panting, angry, and yes, frightened Margaret; full grown, yet wearing nothing but a very babyish diaper sized for an adult. The only thing that had a smile were the pastel colored teddy bears holding the balloons.

“Oh god, Margaret.” She gasped. “I’m so sorry!”

A nightmare can be defined as a “bad dream” wherein the sleeper experiences stress, anxiety, and fear. A general sense of helplessness and lack of control are also notable characteristics. Upon waking from nightmares, children often describe imagined scenarios where they were running from a monster, witch or another such bogeyman and yet were powerless to escape. Everything would go in slow motion, or the ground would become putty beneath their fleeing feet, or the monster killing sword that they’re dream-selves just KNEW was in their hand a moment ago has suddenly disappeared.

Margaret was having a nightmare, albeit a waking one. She was powerless. The worst part yet, as she stood there, bow legged and knock kneed, her face red and the faintest trace of panting lingering in her chest, it was a nightmare partially of her own making. The tattoo on the small of her back tingled with delight, almost snickering as she finished her latest act of spite against her would-be caregiver, Molly.

It wasn’t until she had emptied herself out into her makeshift diaper that she felt the weight- both literally and figuratively- to what she’d just willingly done to herself. Bile rose up in her throat, just as Molly turned around and looked at her.

“Margaret!” she’d shouted, her voice filled with an intense mixture of surprise, disgust, and yes that most delicious of all emotions to elicit, anger. But then, her Roommate’s eyes clouded over for a moment, and when they refocused, it was as if Molly wasn’t actually looking at her anymore. Someone; some god, or demon, or Shen, or whatever the hell had been manipulating, had just changed the channel in Molly’s brain. And all it had needed was the smell of Margaret’s not-quite-accident and the sight of her standing in a very used makeshift diaper to do it.

“Uh oh…” she said. Regret is a little bit like seasoning as far as emotions go: All flavor, no nourishment. Regret filled Margaret’s mouth as Molly looked adoringly at her and smiled- sweetly and unironically- back at her. Normally the phrase “like a funhouse mirror” means that the original image or intent has been warped into hideous parody of what it was. The fact that Margaret’s own mean-spirited and spiteful smirk (a funhouse mirror smile in its own right) was being returned with complete affection and sincerity made it no less disturbing.

Molly bent down quickly, and without the smallest hint of anger or malice in her voice, said “I think I know a certain someone who needs to be changed.” As she ripped open the vacuum sealed pack of adult sized diapers, Margaret’s nose was greeted by the pleasant smell of lavender mixing in with her own bodily waste; a strange kind of witch’s brew.

The taller girl tried to move, tried to retreat, tried to do anything other than stand there, feet rooted to the floor as if she were some kind of imbecile in a horror movie. But this was a waking nightmare, wasn’t it? And the victim never got away in the nightmare. Up from the back of her throat, Margaret issued an absolutely blood curdling scream. “Noooooooooooooooo!” Surely, any nearby listeners would think that she was being murdered…or worse.

Molly only giggled, somewhat dementedly, as she closed the distance between Margaret and herself, fresh diaper in hand. A tap at the back of her knees was all Margaret needed for her legs to buckle and be caught in Molly’s arms, gently lowering her to the floor.

Margaret tried to sit up, tried to roll over, tried to scramble out of the smaller girl’s grasp, but an open palm on her chest might as well have been an anvil. How was Molly this strong? Or was Margaret just suddenly this weak? Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. End result was the same. Just go with it. That’s what the little voice that wasn’t quite Margaret’s whispered in the back of her mind as Molly reached with her free hand for a packet of baby wipes.

“Trust me, baby girl,” Molly told her. Her voice was playful and reassuring, but something in the other woman’s eyes just wasn’t there. “You’ll feel so much better with a clean, fresh, and,” she emphasized, “real diaper.” The word “real” made Margaret’s blood run cold. Wetting her bed. The Goodnites. The makeshift mess clinging to her hips. All of that was just practice for what was coming next.

Her body had been play-acting on her. Everything before this moment had been half-measures and rehearsal for this very moment; baby steps. Now, completely against her will, and with no assistance on her part, she was about to be put in a diaper.

A Big. Puffy. Bulky. Crinkly. Infantile. Soft. Diaper. Not an incontinence brief. Not bed wetting pants. Not training pants. Not even an “adult” diaper. Just a diaper that was big enough to fit a very big baby. A baby just about her size.

The safety pins being undone by Molly, Margaret let out another spine-tingling howl of anguish. “Noooooooooooooooooo!” She looked up into the more petite girl’s face to see if there was any sign of recognition; any sign of her would-be friend in there. Instead, Molly appeared to be holding back a hearty laugh; as if Margaret had done something absolutely funny…and…and…adorable.

Wriggling beneath her Roommate’s iron vice of a grip, Margaret tried to reason with her. “Molly! Listen to me!” she pleaded. “This isn’t you. This isn’t me. I’m an adult! I haven’t worn diapers in decades! Literal decades! And I don’t need them now!”

In reply, Molly undid the last safety pin holding her homemade underpants together and pulled back. There, in all of its non-glory, now cooling in the open air, was what Margaret had just done to herself. “Honey,” Molly said, “just because I put you in a cloth diaper doesn’t mean you’re wearing big girl panties. Now hold still, or Mommy will have to spank.”

“Mommy?” Margaret echoed with a note of confusion. The last time Margaret had called her roommate that word it had snapped them both out of whatever trance they’d been in. Now Molly was calling herself that.

“Uh huh,” Molly nodded. “I’m your Mommy. You’re my baby girl. Now let Mommy change you.” Being called ‘baby girl’ made Margaret’s stomach churn. She could only hope that that meant she was about to vomit. A full sized adult spit-up would be preferable at this point.

Any chance at freedom that Margaret might have had was instantly downed. The moment that Molly took her hand off of Margaret’s chest, the latter felt an equal weight on the small of her back tugging her down to the ground. The floor beneath her was flypaper. She was a roach that had just checked into the motel. The only thing missing was Margaret’s anguished and high pitched cries of “Help meeeeeeee.”

Meanwhile, Molly was going to town between Margaret’s legs with a barrage of baby wipes; moving her legs up and out as she deemed appropriate. The taller woman (though was it really fair to call herself a woman at this point…wouldn’t “girl” be more appropriate?) flinched and gasped as each cold wipe was dragged across her again and again and again. So cold. So wet. Almost too much to think straight.

“Honestly,” Molly said, clearly not expecting a dialogue, “I don’t know what I was thinking when I put you in cloth diapers.” Margaret knew the answer. She hadn’t been. The Shen, the god or spirit or whatever that had been weaved into the ink on their skin had turned them both into puppets. Margaret had been put into a makeshift cloth diaper precisely because it’s what the tattoos had wanted. They had gotten impatient with their little puppets, and had decided to turn things up a notch while they waited for the supplies to show up. But now that all of the little accoutrements of adult infancy had been dropped at their doorstep, it was time for the party to really begin.

As if she’d just been shoved out an airlock and into the cold void of the cosmos, Margaret stiffened as her homemade diaper was slid out from beneath her. “I’m an adult!” Margaret insisted, right as Molly slid the fresh diaper beneath her. The twinkle in the other woman’s eyes told Margaret everything she needed to know. No she wasn’t. Not in Molly’s eyes. The dry crinkling sound as her rump settled on the fresh padding might as well have been a death knell.

Her ‘Mommy’ chose to seize on that idea. “Maybe someday,” Molly said, reaching for a bottle of baby powder. “Someday you’ll be going to Kindergarten and dressing yourself and talking in full sentences and even going potty.” Margaret recognized that as the lie it was the moment it came out of Molly’s mouth. As the soft powdery flakes of scented cornstarch poured onto her private areas (though how private were they, now?) the Shen whispered the truth to Margaret:

She’d never be out of diapers again. The only time she wouldn’t be padded up was during baths-babies didn’t take shower- and the fleeting moments during a diaper change. This was her first of many diaper changes, an uncountable number, an infinite number that awaited her. Never again would she have privacy or independence, or agency. Never again would she have a moment to herself. If she was lucky she might have a quiet moment here and there between going to sleep and being gotten up for the day, but other than that, she’d be under constant surveillance, constant monitoring, and constant care. She was her Mommy’s baby girl. And she’d never, ever, be allowed to grow up. “Someday,” Molly repeated the lie. “But not today.” Not ever.

Margaret held her breath as the diaper was pulled up between her open legs, and fastened on, one tape at a time. The tiny cartoon bears holding the balloons smiled up at her, welcoming her to her new life. Welcome to Babyhood. Enjoy your stay. You’ll love it. “There we go,” Molly said. She brushed her hands together. “All fresh and clean.” The baby girl wanted to cry, but they weren’t tears of happiness.

The weight pulling her downward had ceased as soon as the diaper had been properly fastened on, and Margaret found herself able to sit up again. The temptation to undo the tapes said diaper was there, but Margaret had the creeping sense that such an act would cause her to fall floorward.

The act of changing done (until next time), Molly had risen to her feet and turned her back on her baby, gingerly picking up the absolutely disgusting sheets that had been wrapped around Margaret’s ass just moments ago. If the ex-customer service rep hadn’t known better, she would have figured that Molly was in some kind of artistic trance, the kind seen in the movies before the genius has their “Eureka” moment. “Now where to put this?” Molly said, more to herself than to Margaret. Nope. She was just trying to figure out where to throw the damn thing out.

It was a shame, in the ironic sense, that there wasn’t such a thing as an adult diaper pail. Or was there? Sitting on her padded rump, Margaret looked around the living room. Cardboard boxes abounded, but they didn’t all have diapers in them, did they. Some had diapers for sure. Some had clothes, she could imagine. And a little voice- hers or the Shen’s, she didn’t know-told her that some of the boxes had other items. There were adult baby diapers. Why couldn’t there be an adult baby highchair, or an adult baby playpen, or an adult baby crib? There could be, and in the boxes, there likely were. Diapers were just the start of it. Margaret had so much more than just diapers to look forward to…unless she did something now.

Carefully, like a cat readying its pounce, Margaret gathered her feet underneath her, cringing at the loud crinkle that even the slightest movement on her brought caused. She inched toward the door. Molly was still in whatever la-la land she was in as she likely tried to remember which box had the adult diaper genie in it. T

She inched again. And again. And again. Then, just as her fingers were grazing the doorknob, the tall, slender girl, through the door open with a slam and dashed out of the apartment. Naked save for the diaper, she ran out the door. She might be embarrassed or humiliated; she might even be arrested for indecent exposure, but the bars of a jail cell were still better than the bars of a crib.

“MARGARET!” Molly’s voice roared after her. “GET YOUR CRINKLY BUTT BACK IN HERE!” In a fair world, the sudden fear combined with opportunity would have given Margaret an amazing adrenaline boost, allowing her to dash out of the apartment and run down the street, naked but free. This wasn’t a fair world, however. It was a waking nightmare.

Her legs became jelly. The floor beneath her became quicksand. A supernatural force gripped ahold of her at the small of her back and actually pulled her backwards towards the door, back into her loving Mommy’s arms. A small but inhumanly strong hand grabbed onto Margaret’s wrist. “Margaret, what on earth do you think you’re doing little-?“

CRACK!

Without thinking, Margaret had balled her hand into a fist and swung at her captor’s face as if it had a target on it. Turns out Molly had a bit of a glass jaw. The diapered girl didn’t have any time to celebrate or bask in her victory.

Molly was up and fuming a moment later. There was murder- or at least a spanking- in her eyes. “BITCH!” she screamed as she rose to her feet. Margaret’s knees locked as the shorter woman marched over to her, her own arm rearing back to strike. “You goddamn spoiled little bi-!”

She froze. She blinked. And then she looked- really looked- at Margaret. ‘Mommy’ was gone. Molly was in the driver’s seat again. “Oh god, Margaret.” She gasped. “I’m so sorry!”

“What are we going to do?”

“I have no idea. I have no fu-“

“Language!”

Margaret bit her lip. “I have no fudging’ idea,” she corrected herself. Molly was at least courteous enough to blush apologetically for yelling out “Language” like Margaret was some errant toddler. Though honestly, given the situation, either of them could be forgiven for swearing.

Apologies had been offered and accepted. Hugs had been given and tears had been shed at the madness that their life had become. Both mourned, however briefly, for themselves as well as each other. Having hit rock bottom, they both went inside, and shut the door behind them.

They had shut the door behind them, and lost two hours in the process. The found themselves standing in Margaret’s room- now a full blown nursery, the blinking self-setting alarm clock on the dresser indicating how much time had gone by. Margaret’s bed had been converted into a crib with drop side railing, and a mobile dangling over it.

Her dresser now had a foam changing pad contoured to fit her slender frame on top of it; her drawers filled with diapers, wipes, powder, and soaker pads: a proper changing table. Her closet had been utterly ransacked, and now nothing remotely “adult” was left for her to wear. It was all onesies and rompers and dresses too short to cover anything but the top of her diaper. Even the shortalls all had pictures of baby ducks and (dare she say it) the Little Mermaid stitched on the bibs. Arguably the most adult thing in there was the sailor suit with light pink trim.

The kitchen wasn’t any better, with an adult sized high chair now taking up residence on the tiled floor. The packaging that all of this ridiculous stuff had come in was all gone, now, along with the adult clothes that Margaret owned, (not to mention any number of whimsical, funny, or otherwise ‘immature’ t-shirts belonging to Molly). Both of them prayed that it was at least Molly who had shambled out in a fugue and disposed of the stuff.

A pang of modesty buzzed in Margaret’s ear, and she crossed her arms over her breasts. At least her diaper was still dry, she thought. Or maybe she’d just been changed during the missing two hours. Did the tapes look like they were on different, or was it just her? The thought must have occurred to Molly too, as both of them cast an uncomfortable glance at the adult diaper pale next to the changing table. Neither of them had the courage to look inside and see if it was empty or not.

“Whelp,” Molly said, her arms hanging loosely at her sides. “We’re boned.”

“Hey,” Margaret whined. “How come you can say naughty things, and I can’t?”

“Because I’m the adult,” Molly growled. There was a tense silence. They were already slipping. “Fine,” Molly said. “Knock yourself out. Cuss.”

The taller of the two opened her mouth to swear like a dock worker, but nothing came up. “Uh oh,” she said. Molly’s hand swung around for the front of Margaret’s diaper and then froze.

“Sorry.”

“S’okay.”

“Please don’t say ‘uh-oh’ anymore.” Molly said. “It makes me think you’ve had an accident.” A beat. A blush. Then she added, “What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know if I can cuss anymore,” Margaret admitted.

Molly’s face twisted. “You weren’t much of a curser before all this.”

“Yeah,” Margaret said, feeling absolutely ridiculous, “but at least I COULD curse. I think I might’ve actually been about to say ‘fudging’ the first time…before you stopped me.”

“That’s ridiculous. Try swearing.”

“Caca. Poo poo. Doodie. Meanie head.”

If either of them had been a little more drunk or a little less frightened, they might have laughed. They didn’t. “This is insane,” Molly scoffed. “Our brains are being rewired. We’re turning into…into…”

“Mommy and baby?” Margaret offered.

“FREAKS!” Molly shouted loud enough to cause the mobile above Margaret’s crib to rattle. “FREAKS!”

“I’m the one wearing the diaper.”

“And I’m the one changing it! Which do you think is worse?”

“I know which I’d rather be…”

Molly held up her hand. “We’re not going back there again. We lose our temper at each other, and then we make up in the worst way possible.” Molly started pacing. “Can you even take off your diaper?”

Margaret didn’t even need to try. Her Mommy might as well have asked ‘Can you even breathe underwater?’. Margaret shook her head. “Positive I can’t. Can you? Take off my diaper I mean.”

The shorter woman drooped as if a tremendous load had just been piled onto her shoulders. “Not to sound creepy, but I would honestly prefer to see you naked. But alarms go off in my brain every time I even think about letting you walk around unprotected.” Unprotected. There was a new euphemism for “not looking like a pants-pissing moron”. “I could probably get it off you in the bathroom, but then I think I’d just HAVE to give you a bath.”

“This is insane.”

“It is.” Molly agreed. “These tattoos have driven us completely insane.”

That’s when the mother of all bad ideas crept up Margaret’s spine and straight into her brain. An idea so utterly stupid that it just might work. “That’s it!” Molly said. “I’m insane. You’re insane. We’re both insane!”

Molly sucked on her teeth. “What’s your point?”

“You ever seen Boondock Saints?” Margaret asked. Molly hadn’t. “It’s about these two street vigilantes who believe they are ordained by God to bring down the mob and the FBI agent who is hot on their trail.”

“And?”

“And one of the recurring elements in the movie is that the vigilantes have no idea of what they’re doing. They’re keep knocking off mobsters because they’re insane and are doing stuff that is so stupid, no one in their right mind would prepare for it.”

“What’s your point?”

“WE NEED TO GO OUT!” Margaret gushed.

The room shook, Molly was shaking her head so fast. “Are you kidding? If we go out like this, we’ll get stared at. Maybe even arrested…”

The diapered woman was bouncing. “EXACTLY! They’ll put us in jail. They’ll commit us! And maybe, just maybe they’ll have a way to snap us out of this! Even if they don’t. I’d rather be in a straight jacket than diapers.”

“You do realize that those two articles of clothing aren’t mutually exclusive, right?” Molly interjected.

“I DON’T CARE!” Margaret screamed with manic jubilation. “We go out. We get our Mommy and baby girl on in public. People are gonna notice us. People are gonna yell at us! People are gonna want to stop us! Then they’re gonna wanna find out what’s wrong with us! Then they’ll want to cure us! Even if I go to jail, even if I’m still in diapers YOU won’t be the one changing me! So what do you have to lose?”

Molly nodded. She didn’t smile, but a certain something sparked in her eyes. Maybe it was hope. Maybe it was madness. Either way, it was worth a shot. “That’s just dumb enough to work.”

“BOONDOCK SAINTS!”

(Thursday)

If Margaret had imagined her plan to get help would translate into strangers on the bus awkwardly doing their level best to not stare at the two Shen-compelled roommates, then everything was going to plan. By any other metric, however, things were not going well. Margaret’s idea to use the magical compulsions the tattoos were forcing on them to their advantage was a gigantic case of easier said than done.

Back in their apartment, Margaret had had visions of the two of them parading around the city with her wearing nothing more than a diaper and drool coated smile. If she was going to go full baby, she’d do it in public. That way she could get arrested, separated from her fellow prisoner-turned-warden and hopefully have her condition analyzed, identified, and cured. Even the little markings on the small of her back tingled at the idea. “Nakied”, the little voice inside of her head encouraged her. “Nakied, nakied, nakied!” That time, the voice had sounded disturbingly similar to her own. When the ex-customer service rep focused long enough to realize she was mouthing those exact words, the danger of complete mental oblivion seemed to loom that much larger.

She was running out of time.

Yet Molly (or, more accurately, Molly’s tattooed arm) wouldn’t let Margaret take a step outside as underdressed as she was. “What kind of Mommy would I be if I let you go out there in just your diaper?” The shorter girl had gone quiet immediately after saying that. The gurgling sound coming up from her throat and the hard swallow told Margaret all she’d need to know: Her Roommate had thrown up in her mouth a bit.

Begrudgingly, Margaret allowed herself to be led to her newly decorated closet and dressed in something positively adorable. The little tyrannies didn’t end there- would that they did, Margaret thought. Margaret wasn’t allowed to walk to the bus stop without having her hand held by Molly. When they finally got on the bus, Molly’s hand became an iron vice unless Margaret was sitting on the smaller girl’s lap. That wasn’t going to work for long, but after a few awkward tries over the course of a few equally awkward minutes, they were able to reach a kind of bodily compromise with Margaret sitting sideways on the bench and draping her legs across Molly’s lap while keeping the majority of each other’s weight off one another.

If Molly’s face wasn’t clearly agonizing alongside Margaret, she might have thought Molly was enjoying this. She wasn’t though. Margaret’s ink was manifesting as emotional instability, peppered with bits of bratty petulance, and of course a massive dose of potty failure. Molly’s ink gave her a set of borderline obsessive-compulsive behaviors that seemed to give her no end of torment, and short of her brief diapering fugue, no amount of satisfaction. Molly had been on the verge of a panic attack while dressing Margaret, and her packing of the pastel pink diaper bag with little bunnies stitched on the front had seemed more akin to an addict readying their fix.

The biggest downside of their current seating arrangement was that the hairy guy sitting to Molly’s left could very easily see Margaret’s diaper peaking out from underneath the hem of her sailor dress. Not that her diaper was particularly hard to see; the hem of her dress was scandalously short, and the crinkly padding that she’d been changed into caused her to sit in a kind of spread eagle fashion. If she’d sat down like a normal person, she might have been able to conceal her not-quite underwear by leaning forward in her seat and casually draping a hand between her knees just in case.

Concealing it had been against the point, though, so Margaret tried to content herself by sitting spread eagle in her cute little pink-trimmed sailor dress with matching hat. Her feet ended in frilly ankle socks and shiny black Mary Jane shoes. She was a hair’s breadth away from cosplaying as Shirley Temple.

Short of maybe one of the onesies- which might have been mistaken for swimsuits- this was the most babyish (and hopefully provocative) outfit she had left to her. Molly, by contrast was very much in “Mommy Mode”, wearing a pink blouse untucked over comfortable jeans and sneaker, her hair tied up in a little bun. No makeup either, though the tired circles around her eyes from so much sleepwalking were starting to appear. What really painted the image of “single mom” was the diaper bag she had slung over her shoulder. They made quite a picture; yet even with Margaret’s diaper more or less on display for public inspection, she wasn’t provoking quite the response she’d hoped for.

Everyone on the bus had given them a good dose of shade and side-eye, but no one had said a damn thing about the girl dressed like a toddler. If the creeper had been aghast at Margaret’s attire, everything would have been going according to plan. Instead, he was taking pervy little glances every now and then when he thought the girls weren’t looking; a kind of cross between peeking and staring that lacked the subtlety of the former and the honesty of the latter.

A buzzing electric rush along her spinal cord made Margaret want to scream “TAKE A GOOD LOOK” at the top of her lungs, but Mommy (MOLLY! MOLLY! MOLLY!) wouldn’t have liked that. To prevent the building outburst, she chose to self-soothe by sucking her thumb a bit.

A strange, desperate giggle, rattled in the back of Margaret’s throat and stopped just short of her thumb. Just a week ago a stranger peeking at her panties would have sent Margaret into either a fit of rage or a river of tears. Now she was banking her salvation on random passerby getting a good gander of her unmentionables.

Molly leaned in and tenderly gave Margaret a little peck on the cheek. Where had that come from? “We wouldn’t have been able to get on the bus if you weren’t dressed up,” she whispered to Margaret. Her voice could barely be heard over the motorized hum of the bus. “Don’t worry. We’ll find someplace that’ll work for us.”

Crossing her arms, Margaret leaned forward so she could whisper back. “Where?” The awkward silence droned on a for bit. Squeaking brakes and a stoplight punctuated the void that they both felt. It felt like most everyone was purposefully looking out the window, even though nothing was going by it. Reality had suddenly found a way to become even more cumbersome

“I don’t know,” Molly finally said. “The park, maybe?”

The park? The park could work. It was big and open, sure, which was a great way to make a scene, but what if a scene couldn’t be made there? Margaret was starting to see the fatal flaw in her plan. As evidenced by Molly, their tattoos still had control over their behavior. If the thing that had possessed them didn’t want something to go down, it wasn’t happening. “What happens if we’re not allowed to go the park?”

“Why wouldn’t we be allowed to go the park?” Molly asked. “Babies and Mommies go to the park all the time.” A flash of guilt covered Molly’s face. “That’s what I’m working with here.” She tapped her head. “Crazy voice up here isn’t complaining.” Then the artist flicked the writing on her wrist. “And nothing here is burning or spasming. I think we can do this.”

Not completely convinced, Margaret bit her lip, wishing for a pacifier despite herself. The dozen or so other people in the long metal box with them were doing their best not to look. The windows and their smart phones were their world. They registered the girls’ presence; and some were clearly uncomfortable about it based on frowns and sideways glances, but no one was speaking up. Great; they were trying their best to get caught and the forces of politeness and tolerance were working against them. Where was an outraged evangelical Christian that wanted to mind everyone else’s business when you needed one?

It might have just been in her head, but she could hear the dry, plastic crinkle as she wriggled in her seat. “What if we can’t make a big enough scene? What if everybody ignores us?” She shot a look at the hair creeper sitting to Molly’s left. The man had broken out into a sweat, had pitched a tent in his pants, and was doing a poor job of hiding both. “Or if all of the right people ignore us?”

In answer, Molly maneuvered her diaper bag (it was Margaret’s, technically…) into her lap and took a baby bottle out of the side pocket. A rubber nipple was shoved into Margaret’s face, and her mouth opened to accept it before her brain could reject the offer. Both of the big baby’s hands wrapped around the bottle, obscuring the amber colored liquid within. “Apple juice,” Molly told Margaret’s ears as her tongue confirmed the same. “A wet diaper will be harder to ignore.” Margaret’s eyes darted down past her nose; looking at the baby bottle like it was a leech. “It’s just apple juice,” Molly reassured her. ”No additives. Don’t need them. Pretty sure you’ll have an accident all by yourself.” That brought more than a little color to the taller girl’s cheeks.

Still drinking the stuff, Margaret shot her Roommate an incredulous stare. This was stupid. Objectively stupid. Molly must’ve known what she was thinking. “Yeah, this is dumb,” she admitted. “Boondock Saints, remember?”

A hiss of air entered the conversation as Margaret stopped suckling on the rubber nipple long enough to ask, “What if a wet diaper doesn’t get enough attention?”

A maniac grin came to Molly. With all the flourish and enthusiasm of an action star revealing their weapons cash in the third act, Molly flipped open the top flap of the diaper bag. The diapers peaking out of the top might as well have been a rocket launcher. “Mommies change their babies in public all the time.”

Hairy and Horny’s eyes looked like they were going to fall out of his skull. Mommy…Molly closed the diaper bag and maneuvered it back around to her side, acting as a buffer zone between her and the pervert who was likely ejaculating in his pants.

This. Just. Might. Work.

Margaret smiled as she finished the last of her apple juice, handing the bottle to her more diminutive caretaker. A tiny burp rumbled out past her lips. “Good girl,” Molly said, absentmindedly as she placed the now empty bottle back in the side pocket of the pink bunny bag. Neither of them seemed to take exception to that last remark. Baby or Adult, everything was going according to plan, so Margaret was, in fact, being a good girl…wasn’t she?

Sweaty McPervpants had whipped out his own phone, and he was hurriedly working some app or another. The big baby girl didn’t have to wait long to figure out. Quickly, and likely less subtle than he intended to be, the man sitting next to Molly tilted his phone to face Margaret, and his thumb tapped the screen.

Like a snake going for the kill, a slender, petite hand with an iron grip reached out and snatched the phone away from the peeping Tom. “Do you normally take pics of little girls’ diapers?” The man next to Molly didn’t even shout or object as she looked at the screen and thumbed through his photos. He just kept trembling, his brow becoming drenched in his own perspiration. “No other pictures,” Molly said, a little too loudly. Now the other passengers were starting to take notice. “This must be your first.”

Oliver Twist would have looked at the pathetic excuse for a man, sitting on the bus with hand out, silently begging for his phone, and been disgusted. “Deleted,” Molly said a moment later. The neckbeard next to her leaned in a bit, meekly trying to get his phone back. A single upheld finger stopped his advancement. Clearly, Molly wasn’t done yet. “Betcha don’t clear your internet history on this thing.”

Margaret couldn’t see what her Molly was gazing at in the soft glow of the smartphone’s screen, but her eyes had glazed over with a kind of familiar contempt. Whatever she was seeing was neither a shock, nor a surprise to her. When she was done she lobbed the phone back at the would-be voyeur. Clumsy hands fumbled the easy toss and the phone clattered to the ground. “You’re sick. Get help. Get out.”

“Excuse me?” He was shaking as he picked the phone up off the humming floor, but he finally found his voice.

“Get. Out.”

A stop was pressed, the man got out, and other than few not-so-hushed whispers of “Pot calling the kettle black” things went quiet again. Too quiet.

“Mom…ly?” Margaret misspoke. Molly looked up and regarded her. Screw it. Press on. “Was that really necessary?”

Molly reached out and drew Margaret into a hug, a maternal gesture that she did not resist. “Yeah, it was. That was crossing a line. I would’ve reacted that way even if this wasn’t happening to us.” The baby girl wanted to believe that, but she suspected there was more than a little maternal instinct at play.

A sign flashed by out the bus window. A different kind of instinct caused a jolt of electricity to surge through Margaret’s spine, making her hand to shoot up and press the “stop” button. “We’re not at the park, yet, sweetie,” Molly said.

“I just got a better idea,” Margaret replied.

“But the plan was-”

“I’m an adult. Trust me.” Molly frowned at that, but it seemed to Margaret as though she was frowning at herself. Slowly, the other girl nodded.

The bus squeaked to a halt at the next stop, and hand in hand, the two Shen-compelled women stepped off to quiet snickers and scoffs of “finally” and “about time”. So those people had had a problem! A chilling notion creeped into the back of Molly’s mind: What would happen if they failed and both of them changed completely? What would happen if they offended but not enough for retaliation? Would they go out into the world as ‘Mommy’ and ‘baby’, forever oblivious of the scorn inches away from them while they subconsciously toed the line of tolerable behavior? Or would they, like the Addams Family or the Munsters, be forever strange and never quite understand why they didn’t fit in? Or like the naked dog man in the tattoo parlor, would this be their last journey into the world outside their apartment?

The pavement beneath their feet, Molly looked up to her baby girl. “Where are we going?”

Margaret turned and pointed behind them. “There’s something better than a park,” she said. “Something better than a park. Something waaaaay better.” If Margaret’s psyche had been split into two minds by the nonsense she’d been forced to endure, both her adult and baby self thought her latest impulse was a great idea, if for different reasons.

The two walked in silence for about three blocks before what Margaret had been looking for could be seen. It was a shopping plaza, and an unremarkable one at that. Across the street from an old pizzeria next to a dollar store was a half-acre of concrete encircled by six rectangular cement buildings, their plain and rocky surfaces and gray color doing everything that could be done to repel the eye with banality.

The giant board at the plaza’s entrance was divided up into six equal sections, each one advertising a business that had set up shop in the parking lot. Margaret tried to read the words off the billboards, but found that something in her brain wouldn’t quite translate the letters into sounds. Like a glitch in a computer program, every time she attempted to read the signs, the letters seemed to blur or pixelate.

Helpfully, Molly read the names of the businesses out loud. “Staples Office Supplies, Hobby Lobby, Shoe Carnival, a McAlister’s Deli, a discount movie theatre and-

“That one,” Margaret pointed to the last sign.

The sign had a plain white background, with the trunks of trees shooting up from the bottom and splitting off into explosions of green leafed branches, with vines dangling from the top. Playing in the tree tops and swinging from the vines were happy, smiling, wide eyed simians in every shade of the rainbow. All of them looked straight out at the viewer, despite their varied and dynamic poses.

“That art is so amateur,” Molly shook her head in disgust. Margaret nudged her a bit to get her to focused. “Monkey Mania?” She kept reading. “Indoor jungle gym and play place.” A dawning realization lit up Molly’s eyes. “That’s a kid’s and parents’ only kind of place.”

Smugly, Margaret nodded. “Yup.”

“Taking you in there would likely piss a lot of people off…”

“Yup.” Margaret felt her confidence swelling as Molly started connecting the dots that the diapered woman already had. Now she got to be the big and smart one.

“And people can just leave a park.”

“Yup.”

“This’ll get the cops called on us for sure.”

“Especially if you change my diaper in there,” Margaret smiled. She lifted up her dress and gave her padded undies a pat. Too bad they were still dry.

Still hand-in-hand. Molly lead the way towards the entrance. Before they had even covered half the distance, Molly stopped. “What if our tattoos won’t let us go in? What if they won’t let us get help?”

As if on cue, Margaret’s backside started to tingle and burn like hot cinders. Her hand was immediately released as Molly slumped to one side, grunting and groaning in pain while her arm literally tried to drag her to the ground.

Margaret had to think. The things inside their tattoos were effectively complaining. But she dealt with complaints for a living, didn’t she? What would she do to pacify an annoying customer who wouldn’t listen to reason? Then the idea occurred to her: You diffused the situation.

“We have to go, Mommy!” Margaret whined in pain as her tattoo felt more like a fresh brand.

Molly was on the verge of tears, struggling to stay upright and off the hot, dirty sidewalk; using the diaper bag as a kind of ballast for her lopsided body. “We…can’t…”

“What kind of Mommy would you be if you didn’t take your baby girl out for some playtime?”

It stopped. The pain in Margaret’s back, and by the look of it, the wait in Mommy’s arm. Good. Mommy righted herself, straightened out the diaper bag, and once again took hold of Margaret’s hand. “Come on, sweetie,” she said. “Let’s go play.”

Given recent events in her life, Molly had every reason not to believe her senses. Just earlier this morning she’d looked at her roommate and saw a small child- her small child- in need of a fresh diaper. And despite herself, she kept fretting over the poor little thing, wanting to provide love and nurturing care for her little-

DAMNIT!

Case in point: derailed trains of though such as that were good enough reason for her not to completely trust herself.

Before an extensive makeover, the place might have been a storage warehouse of some sort, with wide walls and high ceilings, that was effectively one big room. Arrows marked “Birthday Parties” and “Restrooms” pointed to a small passageway that likely used to be a collection of offices. Whatever purpose the building had been built with in mind no longer mattered, however. At present, this place was very obviously an indoor playground.

The walls were clean and white, with the same swinging rainbow hued monkeys shown laughing and playing and swinging from vines everywhere she looked.

The closest corner had a little barrier that came up to about Molly’s hip; forming a sort of pen. Large foam blocks and tinker toys littered the ground within it. A sign nearby read “For children 2 and under, with parent accompaniment.”

The front right corner had a large wooden steam engine style train painted bright blue. It obviously wasn’t meant to be mobile, but big enough to enter, with wide enough entryways that the carved in rows of benches on the inside could be seen.

At the very back of the mammoth space, the wall was spackled with rock climbing ledges and footholds, with unoccupied safety harnesses clearly visible. A small concession stand and ticket counter was visible in the back corner. Make the kids and their parents walk the perimeter and see what there was to see first; clever. But the aforementioned spaces were hardly the main event.

In the center of the room, a tangle of shiny steel, pastel foam padding, brightly colored plastic, and black mesh netting wound and twisted together to create a fairly impressive structure. The term “jungle gym” didn’t even do it justice. From the entrance way that led to the trampoline floor, or the maze of interconnected crawling tubes, or the monkey bars that dangled over the tremendous ball pool, or the slide that exited the structure; it was closer to a funhouse or an obstacle course. Based solely on how much space was dedicated to it, this was the place’s main attraction. Molly looked to Margaret and saw that her charge was similarly taken aback by the sheer enormity of everything.

Pre-packaged, manufactured, auto-tuned kid covers of Top 40 pop songs played from unseen speakers. The music was loud enough that it could likely be heard from anywhere in the big open play space, but not so loud as to where Molly felt the need to yell to be heard, and the walls were well insulated enough so as to not cause an annoying echo. The cold air of the central air conditioning was a welcome relief from the heat outside.

Molly had seen this type of place advertised before- perhaps even passed this particular establishment-many times before and vaguely wondered how such places could exist and make ends meet when every McDonald’s with a Play Place could accomplish the same effect. The sheer grandiosity of the place showed Molly where she’d erred in her thinking. McDonald’s was a cheap burger joint that also had a playground. This was a premium playground that had some snacks. There was a difference. The utter lack of that signature grease trap smell tainting everything was a nice bonus too.

A place like Monkey Mania would be a great way to spend an afternoon…if you were a kid.

With all the safety equipment, the air conditioning, semi-familiar tunes, and accessibility, Monkey Mania could be a good place to let your kids wear themselves out…if you were a parent.

As impressive as the entire setup was, there was something very, very wrong about this situation: There wasn’t a single parent or child around. No one was around. The Playground Rapture had happened and Molly and Margaret had arrived too late. Someone struck gold in the next playground over and now Monkey Mania was a ghost town. The colonists of this playground had all disappeared, and Molly half-expected for the word “Croatan” to be scratched into one of the foam posts on the Jungle Gym.

Margaret was the first to say something. “Where is everybody?”

“I don’t know,” Molly said. “You don’t see anyone, either?” She was glad that if she was deluded, at the very least, it was a shared delusion.

“Maybe they’re closed…?” Margaret said, her lack of confidence evident in her own tone.

“With the door unlocked and everything running?” Molly asked. Then she chirped, ”Is this even going to work if people aren’t here?” She crossed her arms, shaking her head. “Someone’s here. And we don’t need to creep out a bunch of people with our crazy. Just someone who will ask us to leave and call the cops when we don’t.”

“Yeah,” Margaret agreed. “This might be better. It’ll be easier to have fun and…” she paused, “you know… if I’m not worried about creeping a bunch of kids out.” She pointed to the back. “Ticket counter?”

Linking hands, it didn’t occur to Molly until a few steps towards the counter that she’d finally managed to release her grip on Margaret’s hand. Probably best to not mention it now that their freedom had been so easily and thoughtlessly relinquished.

“Hello?” Molly called out once they reached the cash register. “Is anyone there?” She looked around for a little bell or something to ring for service. “Hellooooo?” The flush of a toilet and hurried footsteps from the back hallway signaled the arrival of the building’s only other occupant.

He appeared to be in his mid to late thirties; right on that precipice between youth with vigor and age with experience. His blonde hair was neatly combed, but not so much as to imply he was a perfectionist or anal about his appearance. His light blue eyes peered curiously and welcomingly into her dark brown ones. A strong chin highlighted his friendly smile. And while he wore black slacks with a Red Polo shirt, the words “Monkey Mania” emblazoned on the breast, it did nothing to hide his tall, muscular physique. “Hi there,” Welcome to Monkey Mania. “Can I help you?”

Molly was at an immediate stupefying loss for words. He was gorgeous. Oh the things she would do to him if given half a chance. “Uh…I…um…I…yeah…”
Her baby girl was kind enough to help. “What my Mommy means is we’d like to play here, if that’s okay.”

“Sure thing.” The man behind the counter said with no hint of hesitation. “Just the two of you?”

Molly looked around, as if expecting a crowd to have formed behind her. There was no crowd, but Margaret was already twisting around, peering at the massive obstacle course. “Yeah. I guess.”

“That’ll be five dollars, even,” he said evenly. Molly dug into the pockets of her jeans and produced a Lincoln. He accepted it and rung open the cash register. “You can stay as long as you like,” the hunk said. “Normally I’d give you a stamp so I knew you’d already paid, but we’re kind of having a slow day.”

The artist leaned forward on the counter, drawn in by the sound of his voice. “Yeah,” she said, trying to sound interested but not as entranced as she currently felt. “About that? I thought there’d be other kids here.” A twinge of guilt made it’s way, realizing that she’d just referred to her roomie as a child.

Molly’s sudden crush shrugged a bit. “Beats me. I guess we’re just having an off day. A really off day. Normally this place is packed.” Normally. That sent alarm bells ringing in Molly’s mind. “I sent everybody else home. I’m the manager,” he added, extending his hand. Molly shook it, but she wasn’t really paying attention.

“Why so cheap?” she asked. Above the manager’s head was a pricing structure. Kids as old as 12 were charged close to fifteen bucks.

“It’s how we do business,” he said. “We only charge five bucks for children two and under.”

Molly was a deer in headlights. “Two…and…under…?”

The manager nodded slowly, and repeated himself even slower as if Molly wasn’t completely fluent in English. “Yes. If your little girl is under two years old, the price of admission is five dollars.” Then he cocked his head to the side; a new thought buzzing in his ear. “Oh, I’m sorry, is she older than two? I couldn’t tell. Don’t worry about it if that’s the case.”

Oh no.

“Margaret,” Molly said. “We’ve got to…-“ she whipped her head around. Gone. Margaret was gone; she had vanished into the ether.

A big, masculine hand pointed towards the jungle gym. “She got away from us,” the manager chuckled, lightly. “Little rascal couldn’t wait to go play.”


PLAY! PLAY! PLAY! PLAY! Everything was going according to plan! Mommy and Margaret came to this place and it was SO EMPTY! That meant that she could have the ENTIRE PLAYGROUND TO HERSELF! How amazing was that?!

With rushed, heavy steps, the precious darling waddled up the entrance ramp into the ginormous play house. This was going to be so much fun! And no mean old big kids to push her out of the way or make fun of her, neither. Before ducking her head and setting foot past the entranceway to the jungle gym, she spared a glance over her shoulder. Mommy was talking with the nice man behind the counter. She’d catch up and come play in just a few minutes. Mommy always did.

She didn’t get far into the play space before the space started playing back with her. One step onto the bouncy, stretchy floor caused the little girl to lose her balance, sending her tumbling to the trampoline floor. A muffled “Oooof” came out of the little girl’s mouth, but no tears poured from her eyes. For once, it was fun falling down; such was the magic of this place.

“MARGARET!” Mommy called out. She was obviously worried, so Margaret let out a little giggle to let her mommy know that she was alright. “Come here, precious! Come to Mommy!” Margaret knew that tone well enough. It meant she was trying to trick her! That was the same way she talked when it was bath time or if vegetables were for snacks.

Ever so clever, Margaret wasn’t having any of that. She wanted her playtime and she was getting it. Her diaper crinkling behind her, Margaret climbed back to all fours and crawled her way across the bouncy trampoline floor.

“MARGARET!” Mommy called. “YOU’RE TOO LITTLE FOR THAT, SWEETIE!” Margaret giggled mischievously. She’d show her.

Mommy was just beginning to poke her head into the bouncy space, as Margaret started shimmying through the big hamster tubes. It was a bit of a cramped fit, admittedly, but she could move through well enough. The tubes went up at an angle at first, with little hand holds in them like a ladder that Margaret used to scooch up and up and up.

Soon though, the tube leveled out, and Margaret was able to wriggle along on her belly like a snake.

“MARGARET!“ Mommy’s voice echoed through the plastic tunnels. “COME BACK!”

Margaret never had been a particularly good listener when fun was involved. Besides, there wasn’t enough room to turn around in and Margaret hadn’t figured out how to crawl backwards just yet. Forward was the only way to go.

A moment later, Mommy’s voice went away from the tubes, and Margaret heard her talking to the nice man outside. She couldn’t understand what they were saying because of how muffled their voices were. Mommy didn’t sound too happy, if Margaret was being honest with herself, but the man sounded very calm.

She hoped that he’d calm Mommy down. When Mommy got upset at her, Mommy spanked. Margaret reached back behind her and rubbed her bottom, the smooth plastic of her diaper comforting to her fingers. As long as it wasn’t a bare-bottomed spanking, maybe it would be okay.

Determined to make this little misadventure worth it, Margaret bravely explored the plastic labyrinth. Up. Up. Down. Down. Left. Right. Left. Right. All fears of punishment evaporated when she snaked out of the tunnels, the roof rising, and the stuff air of the tunnels giving way to the mesh barrier.

In front of her was pit filled to the brim with plastic balls of all the best colors: Reds and blues and greens and yellows. But the real thing that caught her attention was the row of sturdy grips high above her head. “Monkee barz!” She cooed with wonder.

“See?” The nice man from behind the counter thumbed over to Margaret. “I told you she’d come out there.” Margaret only half heard this, as she was absolutely mesmerized by the framework of horizontal bars. “That net mesh can come right off and we’ll get her out of there.”

Panic all but consumed the little girl. Out?! Out?! No! No out! She wanted to swing on the monkey bars. She wanted to dangle her feet. She wanted to dive gracefully into the big swimming pool of round plastic goodness.

“Hurry!” Mommy said, sounding panicked. “I don’t think she’s in her right mind!” That didn’t quite sound like something Mommy would say.

Fumblingly, Margaret pushed herself up to her knees, as high as she knew how to get up, (the fact that she’d been walking not five minutes ago not occurring to her), and she stretched her hand up and out. The monkey bars were above her, but they were out there too, so at the very first rung a kid could kick and dangle their feet above the ball pit. Painfully, slowly, agonizingly, she stretched out her hand, her knees wobbling with fatigue already. If only she were just a little bit taller, or a little bit older or knew how to stand up.

All. She. Had. To. Do. Was. Reach.

The world went topsy turvy as little Margaret reached out for that first rung, twisting and turning in like a leaf in the wind before falling backwards over herself. Moments later, a more adult Margaret would have described her ungraceful dive into the ball pit as “ass over tea kettle”, her landing head first into the pit, her padded backside above her head and on full display for the two other adults to admire in the split second she plummeted. Little Margaret, however, was a baby and didn’t have such words as “ass” and also possibly “teakettle,” so topsy-turvy would have to do.

What happened next was a bit of a reversed baptism. The baby Margaret disappeared underneath the round fragile waves of the ball pit, and a tense moment later, a panicked and struggling adult Margaret was reborn and breaking the surface. “MOLLY!” she called out. “Get me out of here!” In the back of her mind, Margaret’s tattoo spirit, her Shen, was screaming in protest; it was like a lion that had once again been denied the whole of its feast.

The netting wall was already peeled back by the time Margaret was back to herself. Molly was waist deep in the stuff and wading over to her. “We need to leave.” She said.

“Agreed,” Molly echoed the sentiment. “Something’s going on here and I don’t like it. And it’s not just you.” Margaret sat on her haunches, the weight of her body supported by the balls, almost like water, in fact. Molly waddle-waded through the mass and scooped her arm underneath the padded girl’s armpit. “C’mon. Stand up.”

She couldn’t though. Margaret had been sending the command to her legs to stand back up to her full height long before Molly gave the order. “I can’t,” she said, her voice laced with dread. “It’s not working.” Her legs trembled and strained as if atrophied.

“Try,” Molly demanded. “Just try.” The big baby pushed up on the balls on her feet, just so her knees could shake and spasm as if wracked by seizure, sending her topping face first into the globules. This time, tears did fall with her. The lion inside her soul had managed to get a bite after all.

Her Mommy let a long breath exhale out, her eyes closed in concentration. “It’s okay,” she said. “It’s okay. I’ll take care of…” Molly’s sentence was cut short by a strained groaning noise. “What…the…heck?”

From her spot right next to Molly, Margaret saw Molly’s strong and dexterous finger curl into gnarled talons, her body straining against some unseen pain. Molly wasn’t looking at her anymore. Her Mommy suddenly had bigger problems than a silly baby in a ball pit. Drunkenly she swayed, groaning and growling and clawing at her stomach. “It….hurts…!”

Margaret could only watch, a helpless bystander as Molly stumbled away as if intoxicated; doubled over in pain; all but toppling over the edge of the ball pit. “Something…” she said. “Something’s not right.” The diapered girl managed to do a kind of doggy paddle crawl over to the edge of the pit while her Mommy writhed on the floor.

“Ma’am,” the man in the red shirt said, leaning over. “Are you alright? Do you need me to call 9-1-1?”

9-1-1? YES! 9-1-1 was EXACTLY what they needed right now.

“No.” Molly growled, picking her self up off her feet. “I’m fine!”

WHAT?! No! They were not fine! None of this met any definition of fine!

“Where’s your bathroom?” she asked, ignoring Margaret’s whimpering pleas for help by the edge of the ball pit.

Tall, Blonde, and Oblivious-To-Diaper-Butts pointed to single hallway. “That way and hang a right. Ladies’ room is the first door on the right!” Molly was already moving, clutching at her stomach. “Don’t worry, “l’ll look after your baby,” he called after her.

Wide eyed and afraid, Margaret did not like the sound of that.


The bathroom door flung open, and Molly was a blur through it and in the nearest stall, not even bothering to lock it. She was not about to shit her pants, she was not about to shit her pants. She. Was. Not. About. To. Shit. Her. Pants! Not 30 seconds ago she was trying to escape this place, now she was not so silently thankful that at least she wasn’t on the bus.

Another cramp rattled through her insides, she knew not why. Had the tattoo changed its mind? Had the Shen inside the ink decided that she’d make a better baby and decided to consummate that new relationship right here and now? Did she just have a sudden case of the shits?

Pants around her ankles and suddenly in more pain that she’d ever been in her life, Molly kicked like a mule, almost sending the stall door off its hinges. If she’d bothered to lock it, it might have.

Oh god! Oh god! It hurt so much! It felt like she was shitting, but more than just shitting. It was the most intense pain she’d ever felt in her life. It felt like there was something possessing her, something that was kicking and growing inside her; like a parasite; and her body just wanted to push out.

If felt like she was…like she was giving…

Before she gave the most pain filled, intense scream of her young life, Molly managed to whisper a single word.

“No…”

In the midst of her tortured wailing, something popped: Liquid hit liquid as amniotic fluid (or rather some poor substitute) gushed out of her. Another pop, this one external, as a button on her blouse went airborn while body warped and twisted in a terrible parody of pregnancy.

Like a balloon filling with air her belly became huge and swollen, swelling and stretching faster than her clothes could hold. She felt as though she would burst open and her entrails would spill out over the bathroom floor. Her petite breasts filled and grew at least two sizes. Surely they’d burst open as well, and she’d bleed out, being released from this torture!

But she didn’t bleed out. The pain didn’t stop. And her screams went unanswered. No one was coming to save her. She would have to save herself.

So Molly did the only thing she could. She pushed.

And pushed.

And pushed.

And little by little…the pain subsided. Her belly deflated, and her skin broke out into a cold sweat. Standing up, and still shaking from the exertion, she looked down into the toilet. Nothing. She looked between her legs. Nothing; at least, none of the ripping or trauma she’d heard of women experiencing during child birth. Her tummy was tiny again; not even a stretch mark.

Hiking her pants up, she paused to look at the tattoo on her arm. She still couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but it looked the same as before. “What was that about?”

As if in answer, her breasts, still engorged, starting leaking. A yellowish milky substance dribbled out of her nipples and dripped onto her feet.

Colostrum.

Molly was beyond words, and could only whimper, holding back tears, as the yellow, almost puss like stuff kept leaking out and it was replaced by something smoother, lighter colored, and more creamy in appearance…

Breast milk.


(Meanwhile)

“Up we go!” The manager of Monkey Mania said, scooping Margaret out of the ball pit and cradling her in his arms. “You went and had yourself a little adventure, huh?” Margaret didn’t gasp as much as get a breeze knocked out of her when she felt how strong the man was. “How about something a little safer, yeah?”

“I don’t think a ball pit is that dangerous, actually,” Margaret said, looking up into his dreamy blue eyes. He smiled softly down at her, not saying anything. “It’s just a ball pit.”

Again, he nodded. “Uh-huh.” In his arms, she bobbed up and down a bit, hyper aware of every step he took as she was carried over towards the front corner, where the two-and-under area was.

“Seriously though,” Margaret said. “Thanks.”

“Yup.” He wasn’t looking at her anymore. Just nodding as a little tuft of blonde hair nodded with him, just slightly out of place. Who was this guy, who was just so effortlessly lugging her around? Lugging wasn’t a good word for it, actually. Lugging implied strain and effort. There was none.

Mr. Monkey Mania was being short with his responses, but it seemed more out of bemused disinterest rather than strain. Big strong arms cradling her barely seemed to tense. He was so strong. Very cute…handsome actually. A lifetime ago, sometime between being dumped and getting her new roommate, the old Margaret might have blushingly fantasized about flirting with him.

He was big and strong, like Superman. She was Lois Lane, being flown away to safety. She felt so tiny in his arms; so helpless, so little. “Is there a ‘Mrs.Monkey Mania?”

“Mmmhmm.” Was his reply as he brought her into the padded play pen, littered with cushions and foam blocks and tinker toys.

Bummer. “Sorry,” the baby woman replied. “I didn’t see a ring. I didn’t mean to embarrass myself.”

“Oh yeah?” the manager said, setting her down on her bum. “Tell me more.” Margaret noticed a distinct squishy wetness beneath her as she was set down. When had that happened? More importantly though, was the tone in which her new company spoke. He wasn’t speaking to say anything, but to keep her talking.

She looked down at herself and was reminded of the sailor dress and hat she had been dressed in; the wet diaper starting to swell and peek out even further from the hem. Her bewildered, juvenile-seeming face reflected back at her in the tops of her black patent leather shoes. She looked up from her spot on the floor to the man standing next to her. “You can’t understand a word I’m saying, can you?”

“Interesting…” he said. This wasn’t a conversation. It was talking to a pull string toy.

Her breath made a hiccupping noise on her. “Nothing at all?”

“Go on.”

“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”

The man nodded. “Okay.”

Words escaped Margaret as the implications of this new information sunk in. The real question was whose perceptions were being tampered with? Was the Shen-tattoo on her back scrambling this stranger’s hearing, or was she only under the illusion that she was speaking real words? She needed more data. She needed more time. She needed answers. She needed –

“MOMMY! MOOOOOMMMY!” Arms flailing in the air and the backs of her heels slamming against the soft ground, Margaret went into a full-on panic induced temper tantrum.

“Uh-oh! I know what that means!”

Strong, comforting arms snatched her up from the floor. Her soggy bum was boosted up and came to rest in the palm of this stranger’s hand as he gently patted her back and shushed her. She buried her face in his shoulder, muffling herself, and soothing herself as he rubbed her back.

“It’s okay,” he said. “It’s fine. Your Mommy’s just in the bathroom. That’s where grown-ups go when they have to go potty. She’ll be back in just a couple of minutes.”

The ex-customer representative didn’t feel herself peeing, but she did feel her diaper become wetter and warmer as the apple juice finished its journey through her body. Her cries died down to a whimper, despite herself. She just felt so helpless. She didn’t want to be a baby. She didn’t want to be a little girl. She wanted to be a woman!

“I know a fun game we can play,” the stranger who held her said, brightly. Margaret didn’t open her eyes to see where she was being taken, as much as she felt her newest captor back up and sit down on a nearby bench so that parents wouldn’t have to get on the ground with their rug rats.

As his lap began to form, Margaret felt his too-strong hands pushing her hips backwards. His idea was sitting down and getting her off? No, she realized. Her journey backwards stopped once she reached the edge of his lap. He wriggled and disentangled himself from her so that she was left straddling one knee. Carefully, almost daintily, he took her hands in his. “Horsey time!”

“Whoah!” she balked as he began to bounce her up and down on his knee.

Undeterred, he began bouncing her, jostling her up and down, rhythmically simulating (or so he thought) the motions of riding a horse.

He sang: “Clip, clip, clop little Shetland Pony

Swish your tail and toss your mane

Clip, clip, clop little Shetland Pony

Bounce in the saddle and hold your reign!”

A wave of pleasure shuddered through Margaret as the bouncing went on. Even more so when he declared “Faster!” and picked up the tempo. “Isn’t this fun?” he asked.

She nodded and let out a breathy, “Uh-huh,” before holding on tight as he bounced her again. The diapered woman felt something well up in her. What was going on, here? The squishy padding between her legs, combined with the smooth, forceful rhythm of him bouncing her up and down on his strong legs was having a very different, decidedly un-childlike effect on her.

He might not have been trying to get her off of his knee, but she was getting closer and closer to getting off on his knee.

“Faster,” she whispered, biting her lip. “Faster.”

“Yeah?” She didn’t know if he understood her, but he went faster anyways. Sang louder too.

“CLIP CLIP CLOP LITTLE SHETLAND PONY

SWISH YOUR TAIL AND TOSS YOUR MANE

CLIP CLIP CLOP LITTLE SHETLAND PONTY

BOUNCE IN THE SADDLE AND HOLD YOUR REIGN!”

So good! Each squish a tension, each bounce a tiny release. Now she was getting wetter and wetter, and not in a babyish way. And with each little thrust upwards, she felt herself inch towards a point of no regrets. He smelled great, too

“Oh, fuck me…” she whispered. “Just fuck me. I need this.”

“ClipclipcloplittleShetlandPony

Swishyourtailandtossyourmane

ClipclipcloplittleShetlandPony

Bounceintthesaddleandholdyourreign.”

Closer. Closer. Closer. She was helping him now (more like helping herself), thrusting her hips a little bit with each successive bounce. Closing her eyes, she placed one hand on his shoulder to keep her balance while the other hand balled up into a fist. With abandon, she popped her thumb in her mouth.

To keep her from falling, he had to adjust his grip on her, moving from her hands to hips. They were grinding now. Dancing. Living in the moment. This! This is what she had been missing. This is what she had been denying herself. This is what she had never really gotten to experience with her ex-boyfriend. It had seemed like ages since she had felt so alive, so womanly, so turned on and overcome with passion that she wanted to fuck somebody’s brains out! “Oooh…oooh…ooooh.” Then she couldn’t hold it any more. “DADDY!”

“Did you call me Daddy?” He stopped. Damnit! Why did he stop?! She was so close just then, and he’d gone and ruined it!

Great. Just. Fucking. Great. Every word came out as baby babble except “Daddy,” and like every other man in history, the D-word was the universal anti-aphrodisiac. She leaned in, pressing her face against his chest, and moaned pitifully. “Daddy……”

“Margaret!” Molly’s voice rang out, snapping her from her trance. “We have to go. Now!”

Margaret looked up, watching her Roommate stumble out of the bathroom, her clothes and hair a complete and utter mess, as if she had been mauled by something. Her blouse wide open, and with no bra to speak of, Molly looked as if she had been bleeding from her chest.

Only it wasn’t blood, and the white, creamy liquid pouring out of her and onto the floor was coming from her nipples.

“Mommy?”

(Thursday)

“Mommy”.

There was that word again. That deviously simple word kept repeating itself into eternity between Margaret and Molly’s collective psyches, like a signal bouncing and forth between their brains; gaining strength with each bounce.

Neither ‘Mommy’ nor ‘baby’ knew how they had ended up together, writhing on the floor of the indoor playground in some bizarre amalgamation between what mothers and infants do and what two lovers do; whether they both lost consciousness while their bodies spurred them forward, or whether the universe itself folded space and time to bring them together between two ticks of the clock. Right now, neither one of them much cared.

Molly was on her back, her blouse ripped open, her bra nowhere to be seen and her eyes rolled up into the back of her skull as her hand held the back of Margaret’s head to her bosom, the ink on her wrist humming all the while. Like a spider ice-skating for the first time, her free hand spasmed on the floor; her fingers never quite finding purchase or stillness as she let out low breathy moans of contentment. She made no sounds other than the low groans of ecstasy, but every time she inhaled so that she might whisper-sing her own pleasure and contentment again, she’d smile a bit and mouth the word “Mommy,” as if trying the word out on herself for the first time.

Straddling her left leg so that her saturated, sagging, puffed up diaper was grazing past the bony part of Molly’s knee, Margaret had buried her face into the other woman’s breast, latching onto an erect nipple and sucking at it as if her caregiver had been bitten by a venomous snake. Along with Molly’s low moans, Margaret added in her own muffled rendition of “Mnmmy. Mnmmy. Mnmmy,”.

At present, “Mommy’ was the only word that Margaret truly knew. Her mind on a constant feedback loop so that time became meaningless, it was the only word that mattered to the girl. Like a vampire, the taller girl was sucking the sweet nourishing life out of her Roommate. A never-ending stream of sweet delicious milk cascaded out of Molly and past Margaret’s groping lips in such volume and speed that little white speckles snuck out the corners of the diapered woman’s mouth and dribbled back down onto Molly’s exposed breasts.

The baby-woman loved it. The milk completed everything. It was the missing piece of the puzzle. With Mommy’s very essence flowing through her, the circuit in little Margaret’s soul was complete. It filled her up in a way video games, or cartoons, or alcohol, or would-be spouses and sexual partners never could.

This was happiness. This was love. This was security.

Except it wasn’t. Such things as happiness and love and security only existed in theory because it was possible for them to enter a state of non-existence. You couldn’t have happiness without sorrow, nor security without danger. And deep down inside Margaret, she didn’t want to be happy. She wanted to be THIS- neverending THIS! All of her needs taken care of, never wanting for anything, and never having to pass someone onto her manager because she could not, in fact, help them with their problem, ever again.

She didn’t need this feeling to be an experience, she needed it to be a constant. Unbeknownst to her (though frankly she couldn’t care less at this point), her diaper swelled and discolored, finally clashing with the pristine colors of the white sailor suit with pink trim. Not caring that what should be her shame was all but on full display, she continued to suckle, grunting greedily with each pull from her lips. “Mnmmy!” She mumbled between sips. “Mnmmy!” All the while she continued to wet herself and didn’t know it. The tattoo on her back, the “Shen,” sang out in a glorious melody that ran up her spinal chord and into her brainstem as the warmth in her diaper spread out back and front and threatened to leak out onto the floor.

Whether it was by design or just simple instinct, Margaret’s arms and legs began to tire, and she lowered her hips a bit to adjust the weight. Molly/Mommy’s knee pressed against her sex, causing new sensations to well up. It wasn’t Daddy’s knee (Daddy’s?), but it would do. More so with impulses than with conscious words, Molly resolved to finish what she’d started. With a squelch, the diapered girl thrusted her hips, grinding against her Mommy’s legs as she continued to lick and suck at the shorter woman’s nipple. Heaven. This was the original communion.

Margaret had never felt so alive! No longer was she that petulant little brat that the ink was trying to turn her into. No longer was she the helpless little blob! She was one with her universe! She was enlightened! She might be helpless, but that helplessness was something that she truly and deeply needed in her life with someone that had earned her implicit and unreserved. She was free! She could have it all! She would have it all, no matter what some stupid “Shen” tried to make her think!

Now…

FASTER!


Molly was aware of what Margaret was doing, and smiled, letting out a perverted, muted, and frankly idiotic giggle as she felt her roomie humping her leg like a little purse dog. Poor thing. The giggle cut to a gasp when Margaret began to clumsily brush against and grope at her free breast. Molly shifted her leg a bit, giving her knee bend and her darling something more substantial to rub up against.

“That’s right,” she heard herself say as if she’d said it a million times before. “Get it all out. Get it allll out.” Then the words left them both. It was all grunting and moaning and thrusting and grinding from there. Molly’s hand on the floor snaked between her own legs, as she stopped holding Margaret’s head to her breast- she didn’t need to. Instead, she softly stroked and caressed her little bundle of joy’s hair and pinched at her ears as they both did what came naturally to them.

Neither one was thinking clearly. In their own respective ways, both women were sharks and blood was in the water. One was brutal, almost desperate and panicked gyrations; the other was lapping waves on the beach.


Hot flashes, then tingles, then gushing and a new kind of warmth exploded out of Margaret. Her diaper had just gotten much warmer, and not in any of the typical ways, either. If the diapered girl had had a word for “orgasm” at that moment in time, she might have known what had just happened to her. Instead, as oxytocin flooded her system, she was rewarded with more cuddles, a switch over to Mommy’s opposite breast, and Mommy making more silly noises while Margaret kept on engorging herself.


Caught up in the intensity of their own intimate communion, both had forgotten that they were not quite alone. Standing awkwardly to the side, the manager of the Monkey Mania just muttered, “Well…alright then….” The pair barely noticed when a beach towel was gently draped over them. Nor did they stop. They certainly didn’t question when it came from.

“Ooooh….ooooh…ooooooooooh!” Molly shrieked as she finally brought herself to climax, minutes after. A few steady breaths and a few dozen thundering heartbeats later, something resembling cognition jolted awake inside of her. As if awakening from a pleasant nap, she took stock of her surroundings.

Margaret had already lilted off to the side of her and had been gently snoring, more of a quiet humming, really- her head resting in the crook of her Mommy’s arm. She knew she was in an abandoned indoor playground and Margaret had run away, and then that awful incident in the restroom, and then she’d stumbled out, milk dribbling from her engorged breasts, and then…this. Where had the towel come from, though?

With short jerky movements, she ripped the towel off her head, the fluorescent lighting and high ceiling of Monkey Mania shining down on her. Her skin tingled a bit with the pleasant chill of the air conditioning. It was only when the broad-shouldered shadow cast over her face that she realized that there had been a third person with them there that afternoon.

The semi-rational, non-tattoo influenced part of her brain realized this might be a good thing. She and Margaret HAD been trying to get themselves arrested so that proper authorities could see that they weren’t in their right mind. And judging how Margaret was sucking at her thumb, at least one of them was still in la-la land.

Still, the plan had been for them to skip around and play in the ball pit and be asked to leave, not masturbate on the floor. The manager looked at her, his countenance as awkward-looking as hers should have been. “Oh!” Molly blanched, her face on fire with embarrassment as her free hand finally became useful and snatched the big fluffy towel up, covering herself. Like most things in Molly’s life, ecstasy and rapture had given way to painful awkwardness and a feeling akin to an emotional hangover.

Seemingly embarrassed himself, the third person in the room averted his gaze and filled the silence with “I guess she was hungry, yeah?”. That was certainly one way to put it.

Molly bit her lip. “Yeah,” she said. “Sorry about that. It just kind of…happened.” The manager was standing up straight, arms crossed and barely looking at her out of the corner of his eye. Shouldn’t he be yelling or something? “Things have been…difficult for Margaret and me lately.”

She expected a raging, roaring rant, or at least a some kind of disgust-laced lecture on morality. Instead of yelling, he spoke in a tone that was barely above a whisper, amplified only by the echoes in the nearly empty building. “Yeah, I get it,” he said, looking down at his feet. “Sorry about the towel. I just figured you two needed some…uh…privacy? It’s clean,” he added after a beat. “It’s just the best I’ve got.”

The heat was returning to the rest of Molly’s body, but it was not at all a pleasant sensation. Out of all the things she expected to experience today, shame had generally not been one of them. This poor guy had just been treated to a freakshow and he didn’t have the fortitude to interrupt them or even shoo them out when the show was over. The only thing they’d succeeded in was making this perfectly nice stranger uncomfortable. Damn her for doing this.

Slithering out from beneath her baby girl, Molly quickly buttoned her blouse back together as best as she could. The rise up to her feet was painful, both physically and emotionally. Head still swimming, it was becoming more and more difficult for her to look at her padded roomie as anything more than a child, even though Margaret was objectively bigger than she was. The weight of her baby thrusting into her leg and near ludicrous speeds must’ve knocked her knee out of joint or something. Ugh…what had they been thinking? A glance down at Margaret, her diaper all but leaking, gave at least one of them an excuse. What was Molly’s?

“I’m sorry about that,” Molly mumbled. “I’d call it an accident, but it was something much, much weirder.” Reclusive and unrefined by nature, Molly had at least the good graces enough so that she could look the man in the eye as she apologized. Strange. The dude was smiling. And it was a different smile than she might’ve expected. It wasn’t a pervy smile like that creep on the bus, or even a happy smile like a brain-dead drone. If anything, it was kind of a sad smile; one that didn’t quite match the look in his eyes. “Well, we’d better get going.” She bent down to rouse her roomie.

“Wait!” The warning came in a hissed sort of stage whisper.

Molly froze. As if there were a spring in her back, she bolted upright in alarm. “Hmmm?” she said, trying to sound unassuming, despite the sudden jolt of adrenaline that had just shot itself into her. She wasn’t out of the jungle gym yet.

The manager looked to be talking to himself, his eyes bouncing from side to side as two halves of his brain argued with themselves. In a very literal way, Molly supposed, she could relate to that. “Before you leave-“ he started and then paused, the anticipation obvious in his tone. Anticipation for what, though?

The pessimistic, frankly rational part of her brain indicated one thing: He’s some kind of a perv. Great. Just like the one on the bus. Here came the phone, or the weird question, or even worse, the request for a three way. He paused and started over. “I don’t mean to criticize, ma’am. But shouldn’t you change your little girl’s diaper before you leave?”

Molly looked down at Margaret, still snoozing on the floor. She frowned. “I really should.” If she tried to so much as move the giant rugrat, the bloated plastic backed undies would likely slide down her legs and plop down to the floor.

That’s when the unexpected happened. “If you’d like, I can do it,” he offered. “You look like you’ve had a rough day.”

To say the least, Molly was taken aback. “R-really?” Her heart…fluttered? Really? Fluttered? Why fluttered? Blondie was kinda cute, but nowhere near the kind of punk-rock bad boy or drunken junkie mess that normally pinged on her radar. This guy was too settled looking. Too clean cut. Too safe. But Molly had been looking for safety just then. Nothing ventured nothing gained. “You don’t have to…” she let the statement hover in the air between them, her intonation laced with an unspoken “but please, please, do”.

The manager shrugged. “I’ve had to do it before. Clueless guys…women too, come to think of it…boyfriends or aunties or first-time sitters, come in and then freak out when nature takes its course. And I’m not just gonna let a kid walk around in a mess.”

“But I’m not some clueless-!“ the artist interjected. Truthfully, she was. She’d never changed any kind of diaper before this week. An adult-sized one was completely out of the realm of possibility. She legitimately didn’t know what she was doing (in more ways than one).

“That came out wrong.” He interrupted her, holding his hand out flat, palm down in a non-threatening gesture. “I just get the sense that you and your little one have had a really hard day, and maybe I could make it easier.”

Her tattooed wrist suddenly felt extremely heavy, her free hand too. But it wasn’t in the same way. There was no force yanking her arms around willy-nilly like it had been when she’d tried to ditch the boxes of adult sized baby supplies and furniture. It was just simple fatigue. She was tired; exhausted even. A little voice in her head pleaded with her: Please. We need a rest. We deserve a rest. Let us have this.

Slowly, her eyes wandered down to the still snoozing Margaret. She wouldn’t mind, would she? Would she even be in her right mind if she woke up? And she really shouldn’t let her stay in that wet diaper any longer than absolutely necessary, and here was a guy who was offering to help. Chances were, Molly was realizing, she’d be stuck changing Margaret’s pissy and shitty diapers for the rest of her life. Any babysitter she hired would freak the moment she saw her “charge.” Why not take the help when it’s offered?

Looking back up to the manager, Molly asked, “Can you do it without waking her?”

A small but confident nod was his reply. “Let me get her things,” he whispered. He roll-stepped around Margaret, retrieving her diaper bag from the toddler play area where it’d been set down. Then, like a civil war doctor rescuing someone from the burrows and muck during the aftermath of a battle, he carefully unpacked everything he’d need to change her. A fresh diaper, powder, and wipes were carefully removed and placed on the ground. Molly held her breath as he reached for hem of Margaret’s sailor skirt. Please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up, please don’t wake up.

He stopped. Molly’s heart thudded in her chest. Margaret remained undisturbed. The blonde boy scout got up and roll stepped to the counter. “Almost forgot,” he said, pointing to the waste basket he brought back with him. He sunk back down to his knees and grabbed the beach towel, folding it up neatly.

Molly’s baby stirred a bit as she nudged over to her side, as Blondie slipped the neatly folded towel underneath her padded bum. As gravity caused the big baby’s thighs to touch, the wet, disgusting squelch clearly audible in the cavernous room caused even the helpful manager to flinch. Margaret’s eyes were still closed, her thumb still firmly in her mouth as she was rolled back onto the impromptu changing mat. “Good baby,” Molly whispered despite herself.

The tension doubled as Margaret’s skirt was shifted up so the manager could get to the tapes holding her personal toilet together. Molly bit into her tongue to prevent from screaming. The empty indoor playground had suddenly transformed into an operating theatre. A diaper change had become the equivalent of a triple bypass and simultaneous brain surgery, and all the young Mommy could do was try not to scream. Two competing thoughts wrestled for dominance within her: “This is wrong. This is so wrong. She hasn’t consented to this,” and “She’s going to wake up. She’s going to wake up and start crying and I’m going to have to find a way to calm her down all over again and this little peace I’ve got for myself is going to be shattered. I should have at least gotten cloth. Cloth is quieter.” Both trains of thought ended with a singular question: “Why did I say ‘yes’ to this?”

Slowly, with surgical precision, the manager peeled off the tapes. Molly had expected a kind of thundering ripping sound mixed with nails on a chalk board when the tapes came off, but no sound issued forth from the plastic. A knowing and oddly cocky smile from the manager greeted Molly’s trembling breath as the diaper came open and all but sagged forward on its own. Stretched so thin was the abused nappy that it barely crinkled. Margaret’s ears twitched a little, she noticed, but her breathing didn’t change.

Molly couldn’t help but wrinkle her nose as she caught a whiff of the rapidly cooling urine (among other things) that had filled the garment’s pulpy core. It wasn’t quite gag inducing, but it wasn’t pleasant either. Given a day or two, she knew, in a diaper pail combined with its fallen sisters, the fermented ammonia contained within could definitely become vomit inducing. The shorter woman didn’t bother to question how she’d known that little tidbit. Down at ground zero, the manager didn’t seem to notice the smell.

Carefully, this complete stranger wiped down Margaret’s front side, making sure to warm each wipe in his hands before swabbing the girl’s privates. It was a marvelous trick of parenting, honestly. Molly made a note to steal that one for later. Margaret’s eyelids fluttered just a bit as her legs were hoisted upward and the wet diaper was slid out from beneath her, but they hadn’t opened fully. Tentatively, Margaret withdrew her thumb as her ass was being wiped, a string of drool making a bridge between her hand and lips.

Thinking quickly, the new Mommy quick stepped over to the diaper bag and dug out a pacifier before pivoting back and popping it into her baby girl’s mouth. As if a switch flipped, Margaret’s eyes closed fully again, her breath returning slowing and her lips working the rubber nipple. The two true adults eyed each other, and Molly smiled softly while the man changing her baby’s diaper mouthed a silent ‘Thanks’.

Margaret didn’t so much as stir for the rest of the change. A fresh diaper was unfolded and slid underneath her bum, fresh baby powder was applied and gently rubbed in, and finally, the crinkly mass was folded back up and taped closed just before the hem of Margaret’s dress was pulled down, covering all but the very bottom of her new undies. The relief was palpable for all parties.

Molly was struggling to keep her voice down as the man balled up the old used diaper and put it in the waste basket beside him. “I can’t believe you pulled that off!” she whispered.

Blondie was blushing a bit, but smiling. His chest puffed out a bit. “Honestly?” he said. “Me neither.”

“You did that like a pro,” Molly gushed. “You’re a natural. I’ve never seen anyone change her like that before!” The words were out before the implication of what she said could be fully appreciated. While what she’d said was true, it sounded like she’d changed Margaret far more times than the handful over the past week. She was starting to talk like a mom, too.

The manager twisted his mouth to the side. His eyes did that bobbing to the side thing again while he talked to himself. The young artist caught his eyes sneaking a glimpse at her hands, of all things. “Not even her father?”

Oh shit! Where had that come from? Molly took a half-step back. “Um…her Daddy, I mean her father…she doesn’t have one.” That got an arching eyebrow. Her voice had raised to a normal volume. “I mean, obviously she has a father, but he’s not in the picture and I’m not-“

“Sorry,” he said. “ I didn’t mean to pry. It’s none of my business. I was just curious. When I was bouncing her on my knee, she called me ‘Daddy’. I wondered if I looked like him, or something.”

Something clicked in Molly’s sleep deprived brain. “Daddy?” she repeated. “Are you sure?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t understand a lot of her other words, but I understood that one.” A beat. “So…do I? Look like her Daddy, I mean.”

Molly frowned. “Heck if I know.” That sounded way worse than it was supposed to. She looked to see his reaction. Nothing but patience. Molly gestured over to Margaret, still snoozing on the floor and sucking on her paci. “She’s adopted.”

The helpful stranger looked over his shoulder to the sleeping Margaret and back to Molly. “Really? She looks just like you.”

Molly almost guffawed. Had she been sipping milk, it would have surely squirted out of her nose. “You realize that I’m Asian, right?”

He shrugged. “True. I guessed she just took more after her father in that regard.”

“Then how does she look just like me?”

“I think you’re both cute.”

It hadn’t been so long since Molly had giggled like a schoolgirl and flirtatiously averted her eyes, adoring the attention, but it had felt like an eternity. A week of progressively more intense motherhood could do that to a woman, she supposed. It was nice to be the object of affection instead of the one giving it. “Are you hitting on me?”

“A little bit. I’m kind of a flirt. Is that okay?”

She looked down at her little girl and back up to him. “Yeah. Yeah it is. Molly,” she said extending her hand. “Nice to flirt with you.”

He took it and a pulse raced between them; the ink on her wrist sighed relief. “Mark. Likewise.” They shook (in more ways than one, Molly noted). “Business is kinda dead today for some reason. Maybe I could buy you coffee?”

An almost instinctive urge to back pedal overtook her. Coffee? In public? With her little girl exposed to a mocking and awful world? “I don’t know if I’m feeling coffee right now. I might need to wake up, but I know someone who needs a proper nap at home.”

“Maybe later?”

“I don’t know. It’s kind of hard to find a sitter these days.”

“I don’t mind bringing her along.” Mark said. “I like her.” Again. Heart fluttering, and the faintest glimmer of hope of rescue. But rescue from what?

Yet the dance continued. She had to be sure. “She gets cranky when she’s out too late.”

“I don’t mind just hanging out.”

“Maybe….”

Then Mark played the trump card. “Aw heck,” he waved off her indecision. “Tell you what: How about we start as friends? If you ever need babysitting so you can go out and have some ‘you time’, call me. Or just bring her here. I’ll watch her.”

The bottom of her jaw now knew precisely how the texture of the floor felt, she was so taken aback. “You’d do that? Why?”

Drumming semi-nervously on his slacks, he told her. “I like you, yeah. But you also just look like someone who could use a little help. Life’s too short to not do something nice for someone.”

Molly should have run. She should have abandoned any form of pretense of being polite and just run for the hills. Abandon Margaret. Leave. Burn her bridges. Go off the grid. Start a new life somewhere over from scratch. Grab a blowtorch and burn the markings on her wrist into a boiled over puss filled scab. She knew all this somewhere deep inside herself…but she didn’t do any of that.

Instead, she melted. “Really?”

“Really, really.”

“Maybe,” she said, “we could watch some Netflix at my place later tonight.”
He smiled brighter this time. “I’d like that.”

“First a cartoon?” Mommy looked down at baby.

“Sure.”

“Then something else?”

“If you’d like,” he replied. “Mind if I cook?”

She was already drooling. Even before she’d become a Mommy, she’d hated cooking. “Not at all.”

“How’s five sound?”

She checked her phone and did some mental math. “Six might be better. We’ve got a long bus ride ahead of us.”

“Bus ride?” Mark scoffed. “Forget that. I’ll give you two a ride home.”

The strangest unnecessary worry jumped into her frazzled head. “Is your car safe?”

“I’ve got a baby seat.”

There were suddenly three Marks because how fast Molly was shaking her head. “That’ll fit her?”

Mark was already running into the back office. Thirty seconds later, he returned with a forward-facing car seat with harness and safety straps. And it wasn’t baby sized. “I’ve got a niece. She’s disabled, and I keep it with me for when she visits. It might be a little big on your little girl, but I think we can adjust it so she’d be safe.” Molly took the contraption in. It wasn’t too big at all. It would fit perfectly. The only thing that could make it better is if it were cuter. At present, it was a plain gray contraption. If it could be reupholstered…instantly Molly’s brain set about to designing a fitted cover to make it more presentable. Something with pink ponies perhaps.

She’d never tried sewing, but a creative spark was lit inside her. She could make the world a little brighter for her baby girl and satisfy her natural impulsive creative urges at the same time. She might even do this while conscious.

It was then, at that moment, that Molly realized that she’d broken free of the Ink’s hold forever. She was no longer under its control. She could be Molly and Mommy. She could be both.

“Yeah. That could work. That could definitely work.” This wasn’t what they’d been looking for when they set out trying to get help, but maybe it was the kind of help they needed. Maybe help from a kindly stranger was what they all needed.

(Friday)

Mark rolled over to see that the girl he’d gone to bed with was still there, slumbering peacefully in the single bed they’d both managed to share last night. Holy cow, he’d needed last night. Ever since Gracie had left him, he’d been heart broken and afraid to open himself up again. Then on the worst day of the year, in comes this lady and her kid and things are looking strange…and then he can’t help himself and he goes and cooks her dinner.

As he sat up and stretched, feeling the muscle aches settle in, he reflected on last night. Watching movies and playing with that little girl, Margaret, had made him feel good. As had cooking, and bath time and putting the little princess to bed.

Then sitting up and getting to know Molly and talk into the wee hours of the morning had been refreshing; talking to someone in an interaction that went beyond doling out change or answer questions about hosting birthday events was, sadly, novel.

It was good to be a provider. It felt good to be competent and care for someone who needed it; and that went for both Molly and her baby. It felt good to make a connection with another human being.

And to be frank, he’d needed that good lay. Molly was the epitome of a single mom. She was all cuddles and hugs with her gurgling baby, but she was a total freak in the bed. Never thought he’d have to/get to spank a grown ass woman. She’d insisted that Margaret was adopted; but she fucked like a madwoman.

Caring provider by day. Fuck bunny by night. Mark could get used to that, he decided. He could get real used to that.

Cries from the baby’s room caused Molly to groan and stir. “I’ll take care of it,” he said, whispering to his new (he hoped) girlfriend. “She probably just needs a bottle, a change, and some cartoons. I can do that. Go back to sleep. “ He turned away from her to go take care of Margaret. Time to be ‘Daddy’.

Groggily, she asked him, “Wus that?” He looked back over his shoulder towards the strange markings on the back of right shoulder. After Gracie had left him a little over a week ago, he’d gotten drunk and stumbled into some low rent tattoo parlor. Darned thing was though, that the tattoo Mark had asked for wasn’t what he’d gotten.

“Just a tattoo, I got,” he said. “I think it’s Chinese or Japanese or something. I don’t know what it says. But it looks cool, huh?”

Molly seemed to examine his new ink and gave a yawn. “Daddy,” she said, before yawning and rolling over. “It means ‘Daddy’.”

“Huh…” Mark smiled to himself. “Cool.”

(The End)

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Amazing! I always enjoy your stories.

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I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Thank you.

This is amazing! I don’t remember reading it on your Patreon, though, and I thought I’d read everything there. Maybe I should take another pass. :slight_smile:

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typo - ‘knew’

I love this. It amuses me on multiple levels.

typo - ‘leapt’ or ‘leaped’

The story lost me a little with the strange birthing scene in a funhouse restroom, but that aside it was an interesting scenario that kept me engaged.

I’m not sure it was as satisfying a character arc as I often enjoy when reading your stories but overall it’s left me thinking a little more than normal, so for that reason it stands out.

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This isn’t on my patreon to be fair. (Though now I can’t remember if I put it there as a retrospective. Point is this story is older than my patreon. It was originally a Cushypen piece that has long since been made available to the public.

This is currently on my deviantart. I’m transferring stuff from my deviantart over here.

Thank you for catching the typos! Much appreciated. Just goes to show that stuff slips by the cracks. Bless your keen eyes.

Yeah, I feel ya on the character arc and what not. I really like this story mainly because it gave me a chance to try something I haven’t before and to tinker with new dynamics, specifically the unwilling cg aspect as well as some more strange pseudo-magical concepts.

Thank you for the thoughtful insight.