[i]Lily let out a sweet, little feminine burp and then a sigh of relief. Her eyes were nearly closed at this point. He placed her on her back, covered her with her favorite baby blanket, put her teddy bear by her side and slipped a pacifier between her lips. He leaned forward and kissed her forehead.
“Here endeth chapter one, Princess Lily,” he whispered softly and sweetly. “Sleep well, BabyGirl ……… and Dream what your heart desires.”
Moments later, she fell asleep and, yes indeed, she began to dream …
To be continued …[/i]
Lily opened her eyes slightly and quietly sat up in bed. Moonlight was shining in and dimly illuminating everything in the room into silhouettes. Zeke had left the balcony door open and a faint breeze was blowing through. She looked at Zeke, fast asleep next to her. She leaned over and kissed his nose. He twitched his nose in his sleep. She kissed his nose again as he twitched it again. This brought a smile to her face, and a slight giggle.
She could hear the ocean through the open balcony door. She walked out onto the balcony and leaned forward on the railing as she took in the full sight of the nighttime ocean and beach. Waves were crashing in, and couples were out for midnight strolls.
She began to look for Mr. Woody, but didn’t see him. She wanted so bad to be on the beach, but she didn’t want to miss Mr. Woody. She had to sneeze. So she closed her eyes and did so. When she opened her eyes she was standing on a first floor balcony. Looking around confused, she spotted Mr. Woody sitting on the dune top on the sand in front of her. She hopped over the balcony railing and ran up to him.
He was staring out at the ocean. Looking up to her, he gave her a wink, and then gestured for her to sit next to him, which she did.
“You look troubled, LilyGirl,” said Mr. Woody.
“I was standing on the balcony a moment ago,” she said.
“I know. I saw you up there. You shouldn’t ever lean on the railing like that. Your room is on the seventh floor,” Mr. Woody said.
“I won’t, but I wanted to be on the beach, and all of the sudden I was on a first floor balcony,” she said. “How did that happen?”
“You want to be on the beach. So you were,” he replied. “In your dreams, your heart makes the decisions. It is you who wished to be down here, so you were.”
“Is that why I sneezed?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied. “And you did it all by yourself. I used to help you along, but now you can do it on your own.”
“What do you mean you used to help me along?” she asked.
“For instance,” he started. “You wanted those stars to dance in the sky the other night. So they did. It was you who had those stars make pictures in the sky.”
“I did that?” she asked, still confused.
“Your mind did,” he said. “But we can get into that later. It looks like you had a pretty fun first day in the Bahamas.”
“So that was you on the bench at Bay Street?” she asked.
“Yes. I normally don’t appear like that, but you and your fella guy weren’t getting any closer to the store that you needed to. And it looked like he was getting tired of shopping. So I appeared to you, and leant a hand with the navigation,” he explained.
“I’m sorry for telling Zeke that you weren’t real, Mr. Woody” Lily apologized.
“It’s okay, LilyGirl,” Mr. Woody said. “Most people believe in me and once they get old enough they stop listening to their hearts, and they grow up and never believe in me again. But you chose to continue to believe in me and that means more to me than anything else.”
“I’m supposed to tell you that Jimbo still holds the key,” she said.
“Jimbo said that, did he?” he said, laughing.
“Tell me what it means. What key?” she asked, curious as could be.
“Not yet, LilyGirl,” he stated. “I will tell you, but when the time is right, and when it will benefit you.”
“When will that be?” she asked. “When will it benefit me?”
“It will benefit you when you need the key. Not before,” Mr. Woody said. “Now I want you to take my hand and close your eyes.”
Lily took his hand and closed her eyes, only to feel a strong wind blow in from the ocean. She opened her eyes and found herself standing on a cliff. The moonlight shown down on them brightly now. She could see they were at a cove.
“I’m going to jump off this cliff and do a cannonball into the water, and I want you to follow after me in the same fashion,” he said.
“Why?” Lily asked with a tremendous amount of panic in her eyes.
“LilyGirl, you must trust me. The cliff is only ten feet high,” he said. “When you get into the water, I want you to open your eyes. You will see an entrance to an underwater cavern. Swim to the cavern. You will find me there.”
And with that, Mr. Woody jumped off the cliff, landed in the water and disappeared. Lily looked down at the water. She was frozen with fear. She was unable to get herself to jump off the cliff. She looked around and saw nobody. She struggled to put one foot forward. She closed and with her heart pounding heavily, jumped.
Cool air rushed up her body quickly, and suddenly she hit the water. She opened her eyes underwater and began looking for the cavern entrance. Left and right thrashed her eyes until she made out the dimly lit entrance in front of her. She swam with a fervent ambition to get to it. Squinting as she neared the entrance, she could barely make out Mr. Woody sitting on ground at the surface of the water. She swam up to him.
As her head rose out of the water, she took in a deep chestful of air while she looked around the cavern. It wasn’t very big, and she wondered why he brought her there. Mr. Woody helped her out of the water and onto the sand next to him.
“What is this place Mr. Woody?” she asked.
“Your question shouldn’t be what this place is, but rather what it represents,” Mr. Woody said. “And only you can answer that question, but I don’t think you’ll be able to answer it tonight.”
“I never know what to think about anything,” she admitted.
“You must trust your feelings first,” he stated.
“How do I do that?” she asked.
“You just did it twice,” he answered. “You’re afraid of heights, aren’t you?”
Lily lowered her eyes and nodded her head.
“Yet you jumped off that cliff. Then you found the entrance to this cavern,” he continued. “What did you have to overcome to do those things?”
“Fear,” she answered.
“Well done. You’ve conquered something that most people don’t,” he said. “Never allow fear to control your actions. You are capable of doing anything, LilyGirl. Never have fear. Yesterday, you began to allow fear to control you when that bracelet disappeared.”
“But you told me I had to wear that bracelet to see you in my dreams,” Lily said, perplexed.
“The bracelet was simply a reminder of friendship,” Mr. Woody said. “I remember I returned your blanket and teddy bear, and I put that bracelet around the teddy bear like a necklace. In the note I wrote to you, it said: Put this bracelet on your wrist when you go to bed and I will see you in your dreams whenever you want. You don’t have to wear the bracelet to see me.”
Lily smiled, realizing his point.
“So I’ll see you whenever I want,” she said.
“Exactly,” he replied.
“No matter what?” she asked.
“No matter what,” he said, smiling. “That dream catcher is simply a tourist charm. It is you who makes it real. Now close your eyes, LilyGirl. I’ll see you again soon.”
Lily closed her eyes, and opened them again. She was back in the bed at the hotel. The first light of dawn was creeping across the ocean waters and into the room, but it wasn’t as brilliant or as beautiful as it could be because it was raining.
The bathroom door opened and closed suddenly, and out walked Zeke in a pair of jeans. He had just taken a shower, and as he finished drying his hair with a towel, he glanced over at her. Lily was sitting up in bed, rubbing her eyes with her hands.
She looked around the room again and then up to Zeke with a smile so dazzling it could even brighten up a rainy day like this one. She raised her arms up to him and he lifted her into his embrace. She wrapped herself around his neck and chest and squeezed. His left hand felt performed the morning check of the seat of her diaper.
“You didn’t wet yourself last night,” he said, in a morning voice.
She smiled as her happiness grew inside. She kept hugging him with all her might until he sat down on the couch and cradled her on his lap. The morning bottle was sitting on the table next to the couch. He picked it up with his right hand, pulled the pacifier out of her mouth with his right pinky and placed the nipple of the bottle to her lips.
“Open, BabyGirl,” he instructed in a firm, but still gentle tone.
She obediently parted her lips, taking the nipple into her mouth and beginning to drink from it. Their eyes remained affixed to each other as if they were communicating without speaking. The entire world became background noise and all that mattered was each other. She had drifted into that baby feeling without even knowing it. She remained in his arms for quite a while as she slowly drank the bottle.
It was becoming clearer to her that everything Mr. Woody had been telling her was the truth. She had been enjoying his company, his baby treatment of her, this vacation, and the thought of being in love. Now she didn’t just sense how much he loved her. She could feel that love beaming from his eyes and penetrating to the center of her soul.
Her dreams were teaching her lessons about how to trust someone by first trusting herself. Fear had been controlling her, but she could see clearly where her life would go if she trusted him. She was still grappling with that decision, but now she understood it was a decision she would not only have to make, but it was also a decision that she wanted to make.
This particular bottle feeding was doing a good job of convincing her to let him into her heart even deeper than before. Having a nature of submissiveness was one thing, but allowing oneself to be this vulnerable was a test in faith that she would soon have to take.
In amongst gently rocking her and softly patting her diapered bottom, Zeke kept checking her diaper. She had woken up dry in mornings prior, but shortly after being awakened, she wet her diaper. On this day, she still hadn’t wet herself as she finished her wake-up bottle.
Zeke wiped the milk dribble away from her lips and chin. He placed the pacifier to her lips and she took it into her mouth. As tenderly as possible, Zeke leaned her forward onto his chest and began patting her back, awaiting a burp. Still reveling in a relaxed feeling, Lily’s body was limp and she was held against his chest by his arms alone. It was too wonderful of a caressing sensation to let go of, and she remained limp, not able to move freely. So she submitted to her place in his arms, against the skin of his chest as his heart beat strongly.
She lifted her head ever-so-slightly to let out the tiny burp that was lingering within her. She sighed, softly and sweetly, as he lifted the nightie off her petite, easing frame, and placed her down on the couch. She rested herself there, wearing nothing but her diaper and her earrings, as she watched Zeke take a cup of hot water (he had warmed in the coffee maker) and pour it into a bowl. He set it on the dresser and reached into a drawer pulling out a wash cloth and a bib.
Setting the bowl and the wash cloth at the foot of the bed, he walked back over to and knelt in front of her at the couch. Once again, he lifted her body into his arms and grasp. He sat on the floor using the bed as a backrest as he drew his knees up and placed her back on them. She faced him, in a reclined fashion and marveled over this man in front of her.
He fastened the bib around her neck, and picked up the bowl. Stirring the contents with a spoon, he gently blew on the contents as steam was still rising from it. Then came the first spoonful. It was oatmeal. Her eyes lit fully as he put the spoon to her lips and she took it into her mouth. There wasn’t any other food in the world she absolutely loved more than hot oatmeal. Each spoonful was better than the one before.
She let her body go limp once again as her mind began wandering off. Her eyes shifted to the rain falling outside, but on such a rainy day as this, she wasn’t the least bit depressed or upset. Her world was very small at the moment and all that made any difference to her was right in front of her. The ceiling fan blades were turning very slowly from the wind entering the room, and the dream catcher twirled just the same. Watching it put her in and out of a trance as Zeke kept redirecting her attention for the next spoonful. Her thoughts shifted just like that from raindrops that gave rise to a cool breeze in the room to ceiling ornaments that danced a pirouette above her to Zeke’s face which produced a smile on hers, and then it all repeated.
Lily closed her eyes as Zeke placed her on her back on the floor. He began placing blankets and stuffed animals and toys all around her. She wasn’t sure why he was doing this, but not knowing why was something she was accustomed to. She simply relaxed herself senses long enough to feel the contentment of a full belly.
Zeke turned the TV on and her eyes quickly opened when she heard it playing:
“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? …”
It was time for the Spongebob Squarepants cartoon. She sat up Indian-leg style, and faced the TV while gathering the blankets and toys and stuffed animals up under her arms until she was surrounded by everything. There she sat, now fixated on the TV. And there her attention would remain for the next hour.
In a muffled tone, she could hear Zeke on his cell phone, talking with someone about whether something would be open today because of the rain. She paid it little mind as she recited, word-for-word, the episode of the cartoon she was watching.
Zeke returned from the balcony a few minutes later and relaxed on the bed, watching Lily’s contentment. She was sitting on the floor, surrounded by every AB things they had with them. She never once shivered from the breeze of the room though she wore nothing but a diaper as she bounced up and down, just simply enjoying her Spongebob.
Zeke was never able to put to words what her happiness meant to him. He often found the right things to say at the right times to express how he felt, but he couldn’t really explain why his heart would beat faster when he thought of her. He couldn’t explain how her every little quirk made him smile and grow fonder of her. He couldn’t even begin to describe how he not only loved her as her Daddy, but also as a man. And as he stared at her, he became perplexed as to how to tell her that his love for her had grown deeper yet, beyond their Daddy/AB Girl beginnings.
His thoughts ended as the end credits rolled for the second episode. The Spongebob Hour had come to a close. Lily leaned back and rested down on the carpet, positioning herself for some much needed attention. Without even taking time to ask, Zeke rose to his feet and grab the “necessaries” to change her.
Situating himself at her legs, he began unfastening the tapes as Lily began the five sense journey she undertook with every diaper change. She closed her eyes listening to the sounds of a wet diaper being removed from her waist. Her legs and bottom went up into the air, shortly followed by the cool feel of a wipe and he delicately cleansed her bottom and all around. That familiar sweet scent filled the air, ever-so-slightly, and her tender frame was lowered down into a new diaper. It was always such a wonderful moment when he nestled her into the new diaper. Aside from the physical feeling, it also brought an emotional one as she would soon return to her “little” mind without thought.
She opened her eyes as she heard her diaper tapes being fastened. On the ceiling she saw rays of sunshine. The rain must have stopped! She sat up, trying to look out the balcony window only to be denied the opportunity by Zeke, who placed her pacifier in her mouth and eased her back down. Her diaper change wasn’t over yet.
As she lay there for a few moments more, she glanced under the bed to her left and there she saw her dream bracelet. She had solved the case. She grabbed it quickly and held it up for Zeke to see.
“You found it!” he said, with joy. “That’s wonderful! Now, your dreams can be snagged in that dream catcher above the bed or they can begin with the bracelet.”
Lily looked up and Zeke, who had a very honest and sincere smile of cheerfulness on his face. She became overwhelmed with a need to be in his arms. She reached up to him with “Please hold me” written on her face and punctuated in her eyes. Zeke recognized the yearning she had. He leaned down, placed his hands behind her bottom and back, and picked her entire body up from the floor. He cradled her body and held her close to him. She could feel the warmth of his skin on hers and she basked in the sensation of his touch.
He rocked her back and forth, ever-so-slowly as he walked out onto the balcony so she could not only see the sun which had escaped from its dreary cloud cover, but she could also see the beautiful rainbow that stretched across the entire horizon of the ocean.
At that moment, she never felt better. Time became still and the world she re-envisioned in slow motion. Nestling her head on his chest and shoulder, the warmth of his skin on hers mixed with the warm of the sun melted her heart. The site of the rainbow eased her soul. The gentleness of the hands and arms that held her and rocked her also enriched her with affection. She was caught up in a rapture of emotion that she prayed would never end.
Zeke sat on the balcony chair. She remained in his arms and turned with his movements to retain her cradled position. The cuddle never ended and mixed in between a barrage of butterfly nose and eskimo eyelash kisses was a little well placed tickling on Zeke’s part.
“Wanna go to the beach?” he asked.
She nodded her head vigorously.
Well, we gotta get some clothes on you then," he said.
She shook her head no.
“How about … an astronaut suit?” he asked.
She smiled and shook her head.
“An astronaut suit?”
Again she shook her head no.
“A party gown?”
She giggled and shook her head no.
“Ah. I got it. A bathing suit, right?”
“What then?” he asked.
She sat up to her knees and threw her arms out, showing she was ready to go as she was.
“Nothing? You want to wear nothing, but a diaper to the beach?”
She nodded and started bouncing up and down.
“Princess, I don’t believe that’s allowed. I’m sorry,” he said as he playfully patted her diapered bottom.
She sat back down on his lap and scratched her head for a moment. Then, she came up with an idea. She hopped up, ran into the room, and had the white Kansas City Chiefs’ shirt with the short pink sleeves he bought her to wear as a nightshirt.
Zeke smiled as she raised her arms in the air. He lowered the shirt over her head and shoulders. She lit up with happiness and ran into the room again, this time returning with a white button-down shirt for him to wear. She grabbed his hand and yanked him up. Zeke threw the shirt on his body, took Lily by the hand, and crossed to the door.
“Does Daddy need to change your diaper before we go?” he asked turning back to her and seeing her shake her head no. “Hmmm. Let me check.”
He felt the seat of her diaper as she shrunk into his chest in shyness.
“Well how about that? You don’t need a diaper change,” he said, feeling her front to make certain.
Out the door and down to the beach they headed. In the elevator, Zeke put her hair into pigtails. The doors opened into the lobby and they walked right out onto the beach. The sun was shining brightly now, and everything was quickly drying from the morning rain as the heat slowly returned.
Zeke looked at Lily, a few steps in front of him. The Chiefs’ shirt suddenly made perfect sense. It was lighter material to begin with and it covered her body down to mid-thigh. It was an ideal length, and comfortable. She had a slightly skip to her step, and her pigtails bounced with her cheery stroll. She had an adorable appeal to her, but she was even more adorable to Zeke, for reason only obvious to him.
They walked up to the edge of the dune and looked out at the beach and ocean, now eye-level with it.
“This is where I sat with Mr. Woody in my dream last night,” Lily stated, pointing to a spot in the sand, not far off.
“And what did the two of you talk about?” Zeke asked.
“He told me not to be afraid so much,” Lily said. “Then he took me to a cliff and the two of us jumped into the water below it and swam to an underwater cave.”
“I’m surprised you weren’t exhausted when you woke up this morning,” he said as she ran over to a clear spot of beach sand and began shuffling her feet around in it.
She would shuffle her feet and body in one direction and then in another. Then she would go to a different area and begin shuffling her feet and body again. Zeke watched her for a few minutes, perplexed, before asking her what she was doing.
“Almost done,” she said, as she shuffled her feet a bit longer and then ran back over to him.
“What was that about?” he asked.
“I’ll tell you later,” she said with a smile as she took his hand. “Let’s have lunch by the beach.”
“All righty,” he said. “There’s a restaurant about a quarter mile up the beach called ‘The Cabana’.”
They strolled along the beach, arm-in-arm. She leaned her head on his shoulder. This vacation was way better than any other she had ever taken in so many ways. She had never felt this happy before. Lancaster, PA felt like it a distant memory.
They made their way to “The Cabana”, and found the closest table to beach. Covered with a thatch roof, they could see everything and the breeze blowing by helped with the heat of the day which had finally returned.
Zeke, being the eternal “guy”, ordered a Bacon Double Cheeseburger, and Lily decided to follow his unhealthy lead with an order of Barbecue Ribs…. complete with a bib, which she winked to Zeke about as the waiter put it around her neck. She also ordered a chocolate milkshake.
So there she sat in a bib eating barbecue ribs with her fingers, and as could have been expected, she dug into them with little concern as to where the sauce wound up. By the end of the meal her hands were a mess as was her face. Zeke normally wouldn’t have been thrilled by the mess she had made of herself because they were in public but this time around he just sat there and grin. He could see she was enjoying herself.
“Oh my,” he said as they left, headed back up the beach to the hotel. “I’m glad we have a little bit until we get back. I need to walk that meal off.”
“I just had a chocolate shake,” she said, almost bouncing out of her skin. “Now I have a sugar rush!”
“I bet you do,” he said, while keeping hold of her hand so she wouldn’t skip away. “Let’s see if you can put that energy into solving a mystery.”
“The mystery of where we are headed a little later today,” he said. “Yes and no questions only.”
“Okay,” she said. “Will there be people there?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Will there be rides?” she asked.
“No,” he answered.
“Will there be food?”
“Will we be walking when we get there?”
“Oh yes. Lots of walking.”
“Will I be excited?”
“I’m willing to bet money you will.”
“Oh! Hold on one second!” she said while running back over to that sand patch where she shuffled her feet earlier.
She started shuffling her feet around in it again.
“Princess,” he said, as she looked up at him. “We need to get back to the room.”
She skipped over to him, and they entered the hotel.
“Will I wanna leave this mystery location?” she asked as they entered the elevator.
“Probably not, but we’ll have to at the end of the day,” he answered.
“Well, that doesn’t seem fair,” she said. “Have I gone on this trip before?”
“Not this specific trip, but probably one similar, I would imagine,” he replied.
“Have you and I done this trip before?” she asked as they exited the elevator and walked down the hall to their room.
“No,” he said, reaching into his pocket for the room card.
“Could we go on this trip in Lancaster, PA?” she asked, as he unlocked the door.
“No. Not in Lancaster,” he said, as she quickly ran out to the balcony.
Zeke began mixing up a bottle of milk. He looked out at Lily on the balcony. She was looking down at the beach. She turned with a smile on her face, and walked back into the room, closing the glass door to just a crack.
“Will we need to get dressed up to go?” she asked as he sat on the couch and motioned her to sit on his lap.
“No,” he replied, leaning back and cradling her.
“Will I love it?” she asked, as she look up at him with “little” crossing over her thoughts.
“I intend to make it so,” he said placing the nipple of the bottle to her lips. “Open.”
She opened her mouth and took the nipple in while closing her eyes. She drank from it and Zeke cradle her. A bottle feeding was always indication that it would soon be time for a nap or bed. It served as an opportunity for her to settle herself down slowly, and it worked every time.
She touched the bottle with her finger tips, and tried to fight off the sleep that was overtaking her, but she knew it was no use. She would soon be fast asleep. As she began to drift off, Zeke felt the seat of her diaper and was surprised that she had pooped yet. He checked her front and she was dry.
For the next few minutes, he held her and slowly rocked her. Shortly, the bottle fell from her lips and out of the grasp of her fingers. She was now asleep. Zeke stood up and carried her over to the bed, placing her on her back. She woke up and whimpered lightly, only to be soothed back into her slumber by her pacifier, which he put back into her mouth at the absolute perfect moment.
Zeke checked the alarm clock. She could get a solid two-hour nap in before he needed to get her. He walked out onto the balcony, and looked out at the ocean, then down to the sand. His eyes grew big with surprise. Directly below their balcony, Lily had written him a message in the sand. It said: “I love you, Daddy”, a message written with her shuffling feet and placed inside a heart.
“That’s what she was doing,” he thought to himself as he looked back to her on the bed with a smile that showed his love for her.
Lily’s two hours of napping came and went. She startled to a half-awakened state as she heard diaper tapes being unfastened. She shuddered slightly for the cool air rushing over her waist as Zeke lowered the front of her wet diaper and began to wipe her skin. She bit down on the nipple of her pacifier and then settled into the TLC she received.
How small she felt as he lifted her legs and bottom into the air. She could feel the wipe gently tracing the contour of her bottom. Then that sweet smell of powder filled the air around her. It was always a wonderful aroma to take in, setting an endearing ambiance. He lowered her legs and bottom back down to the bed, resting them on the soft, clean inside of a new diaper. The wet one she wore moments had a different pleasant feel to it, and though she missed the warmth of it, the clean feeling she warmly welcomed back.
Gracefully parting her eyelids, she saw Zeke positioning her diaper into place and beginning to fasten it. He looked at her with a thought of love in his eyes and an expression on his face that didn’t require words to convey a simple message of fondness. That one look from his eyes meant the world to her heart and to her senses. And then he spoke.
“Are you feeling okay, LilyGirl?” he asked with concern.
Lily nodded her head up and down broadly as she rubbed her eyes, beginning to fully awaken.
“Hmm,” he pondered. “I haven’t changed a poopy diaper yet today. I thought for sure I would now.”
A smile formed behind her pacifier as she crumbled up into the fetal position, squeezing and hugging her teddy bear and blanket. Merely the words he just used had sent shivers up her spine, formed butterflies in her tummy, and drove her mind back into enjoying the baby feeling.
How small he had made her feel. She sat up and raised her hands to the sky as he lifted the t-shirt off her shoulders. She kept her hands up high as he picked up another t-shirt on the bed next to her and placed it over her head and shoulders. He placed her flat on the bed again. She lifted her legs to the sky as he slid a pair of blue jean shorts onto her.
Standing her up, he handed her a sippy cup of apple juice. This was an indication to her that they needed to get going soon. She began drinking from it as he sat on the couch, placed her sitting on his lap, and took the hair bands out of her pigtails. She looked out the balcony windows and watched the birds flying over the ocean as he began to brush her hair.
She closed her eyes as he took long strokes to brush out the hair “rats” that every girl with long hair has to deal with. It was such a wonderful feeling, almost like her scalp was being massaged at the same time. It was a moment when she was glad to have long hair and a guy who was willing to caress her so delicately in so many ways, even as he brushed out her hair.
She kept her eyes closed while listening to his voice.
“I saw the message you left for Daddy in the sand,” he said, still brushing her hair. “And I love you, too.”
She smiled as she set the sippy cup down on the end table and turned on his lap to face him. He tied her pigtails back up with some white ribbon and they made the way for the door. Zeke grabbed her diaper bag as she put her pacifier in her shorts pocket. Down the hallway they went to the elevator.
The doors closed and she saw her reflection in the walls of the elevator. Wearing a pink baby t-shirt with a panda on the front, a pair of blue jean shorts that were very short and a pair of pigtails tied up with white ribbon, even she had to admit that she looked adorable, like a little girl going on a trip with her Daddy.
They crossed the hotel lobby and made their way to the front. She not only looked like a little girl. She felt like a little girl, too, holding onto Zeke’s hand and striding her legs along to keep up. It was a rather magnificent feeling and one which she invited with fervor. She had no money on her, no ID of any kind, no purse, nor anything on her at all, except for a pacifier in her pocket which made a bulge, but luckily not a revealing one.
They got into a cab and went down the road. Zeke was thinking ahead by giving the street address to the cab driver as opposed to telling him the location. Thus, Lily still had no idea where they were going, and it once again began to drive her crazy.
“Will we be outside a lot?” she asked, continuing the 20 questions with him.
“Oh yes,” he replied. “Most of the time.”
She touched her finger to her forehead, deep in thought.
“Will we be running?” she asked.
“Only if you get too excited and start to,” he answered, still giving cryptic answers.
She lightly chewed on her lip as she scrunched up her face. It was eating away at her that she couldn’t figure out where they were going.
“Will we have to stand in line?”
“Not for long,” Zeke said as the cab pulled up to a curb and let them out.
Lily sat up and looked out all the windows, almost feverishly, as she searched the street scene, looking for their destination. They got out of the cab and she turned her head, left and right, in an almost panicked state. Led by the hand, she was taken into the building directly in front of her, which she never once looked at.
They entered and she immediately smelled fries. Her eyes shot forward with animation. They had entered McDonalds.
“No, this isn’t the secret trip, but let’s get something to eat first. Shall we?” he asked, while getting in line and looking up at the menu.
“Happy Meal, 4 Nuggets, Apple Juice, Apple Chunks, Sweet and Sour Sauce,” she rattled out quickly. “And I’ll eat some of your fries, too.”
“Are you sure about that?” he asked with a laugh.
“Yep,” she quickly replied.
Zeke stepped to the counter and placed their order. She watched as he took out his wallet and paid for the meal. Once again she felt wonderfully little in his care. She recalled in previous relationships only ever having to open her purse to buy things that a guy wouldn’t think of, but this relationship was completely different, and it felt as such.
“Will we have to sit?” she asked sitting down in a booth.
“Only if you want to. I’m sure I will want to after a while,” he said sitting next to her and placing the food tray down.
“Will there be a playground?” she asked.
“Yes, but you won’t be able to play on it,” he replied. “It’s a special kind of playground.”
“Do we have to be quiet?” she asked opening up her happy meal.
“You may squeal as loudly as you want,” he replied. “Hopefully you won’t want to do that.”
Lily took a handful of his fries and began sticking them into the little cup of ketchup. She stuffed about 20 fries into it before pulling them out one and a time.
“Will we be dancing?” she asked, beginning to dunk her nuggets in a similar fashion as the fries.
“There will be dancing,” he answered. “But we won’t be the ones dancing.”
“Are we seeing a movie or a show?” she asked.
“There will be a show there, of sorts,” he answered carefully. “But not like a show in a movie theater or on a stage.”
She sat there for a few minutes, eating and tried to think of where they were headed. After a while, she asked another question, determined to not give up guessing.
“Is it some kind of a park?” she questioned.
“Yes,” he said while smiling and saying no more.
“Will I have fun?” she asked as they gathered their trash and began to leave.
“Oh yes,” he answered assuredly as he threw their trash away and helped the front door open for her.
“Are you gonna have fun?” she asked as they began crossing the street.
They got to the other side. Zeke gave her a hug and kissed the top of her head.
“I guarantee it,” he whispered softly in her ear.
They walked directly towards the gates in front of them. Lily looked up at the only word written in the gate. It said: “Zoo”. She leapt up into his arms and thanked him repeatedly. He set her back down, walked up to the ticket window and paid their way in.
“I love kangaroos, giraffes, ostriches, seals, and polar bears,” she exclaimed as they entered the zoo. “And you wanna know why?”
“Absolutely,” he said. “Why do you love those animals?”
“Because they have unique bodies and fun-loving personalities,” she said. “Think about it. Have you ever seen one of those animals unhappy?”
“I don’t think I have,” Zeke said while catching his attention to a sign.
“It’s because they aren’t ever unhappy. They’re fun-loving,” she proclaimed as Zeke spun her around to look at the animal exhibit behind her.
“Giraffes!” she said while grabbing Zeke’s hand and taking off towards the exhibit.
They headed down a pathway with many different animals. On that pathway, they saw ostriches, lions, and tigers, but no bears – oh my. She walked up to the each railing and stared at the animals in front of her, fascinated by their movements and what they were doing. Whereas Zeke expected her to be a lot more dynamic with her excitement, she was actually quite reserved and stood quietly while being so.
They got to the zoo at the right time of the day, early evening. It was dinner time for the animals, and Lily not only got to see these animals playing, but also eating.
Nearing the end of the pathway, Lily ran over to a water fountain and got a drink. Zeke joined her. The heat of the day still hadn’t broken though it was evening time. There was one more animal exhibit on that pathway … monkeys.
Zeke pointed to them, and Lily ran over to the railing. There was a full cage around them and a system of ropes and trees that connected. The various monkeys climbed from one thing to the next, not paying any attention to the patrons watching them.
“There’s the playground you mentioned that we can’t play on,” said Lily with a smile.
“Exactly,” he said, sharing the smile with her.
Sitting off in a corner was a big orange orangutan. He had three bananas in front of him, and he broke them into pieces. While eating them, he kept his eye on the monkey to his right that had taken notice to the banana buffet and wanted some for itself. It looked like a fight was looming.
An ape on the other end of the exhibit was scratching at the dirt in front of him, picking handfuls of dirt up and dropping them into the man-made water source by his side. Zeke and Lily watched this ape for a while to figure out what he was doing. They soon realized that he was picking up grains of rice and dropping them into the water the rinse them off.
The monkey exhibit seemed to be very popular. People crowded the railing and took pictures incessantly. From one side of the exhibit to the other and from one primate to the next, there was always some sort of activity to observe.
Zeke and Lily moved on to the end of the pathway where they came across a building, painted to look like an ocean. A sign above the door read: “Where the Seaweed Grows…” They entered the building. Starfish and Seashells covered the walls. The lights were dim and the air conditioning felt really good.
They walked into the main room and surrounding them were some of the largest fish tanks imaginable. Some were as tall as three-stories and as wide as a house. In each tank was a different animal of the sea. Lily walked past each tank slowly, staring at the inhabitants therein with awe-struck wonder. An octopus, crabs, sea turtles, sting rays, seahorses, sea urchins, and every fish you could imagine swam around in their own private quarters as Lily took time studying each one.
The next room had bigger sea life. The entire room was one enormous tank that held sharks. The entrance and exit to the room were simple cut-outs in the tank. So you actually had to walk through the tank to get into the room. Her eyes grew big as she entered, seeing the different kinds of sharks all around her: hammerhead, bullhead, mackerel, tiger, blue, mako, whale, shortnosed, ribbontail and of course, the great white.
Fascinated as she may have been, she opted to not stay in that room for long. Onward they moved into the next room, which had tanks in it but led back to the outside. Dolphins swam and splashed and played as people passed by. In the water in front of her, she saw two dolphins twirling around each other. Their faces seemed like they were smiling.
“Zeke, look at these two!” she said with astonishment.
“Yeah. They’re dancing,” he replied with a grin.
“And you said there would be dancing,” she stated with an equally bright grin.
They walked out of the dolphin area and over to a lemonade stand. They got two drinks and sat down. Lily was staring at the ground, in deep thought.
“What are you thinking about?” Zeke asked.
Lily sipped her lemonade.
“I’m trying to figure out how I couldn’t figure out that we were going to the zoo. All of the answers you gave me make sense now,” she said as she finished her lemonade and began drinking his.
“My goodness you’re thirsty,” he said.
“It’s hot,” she said, taking a break from drinking.
“That’s for sure,” he said.
“Okay, let’s go,” she said, having finished his drink as well.
They walked up to the next building. Above the entrance was a sign that read: “Express to the North and South Poles”. They entered, and much like the building prior, there was a theme to the walls. Glaciers of ice were painted on the walls. The air conditioning felt good once again, but it certainly was as cool as the environment behind the glass where Lily saw two polar bears playing in the water and wrestling with each other. Penguins waddled along and plunged into the water of the next exhibit. Seals and Walruses shared the exhibit after that.
Finally, it was on to dry land where arctic wolves and foxes paced back and forth as packs as they eyed up all the strange people who were lining up to view them. The caribou didn’t seem to mind as much as they continued to sharpen their antlers on the trees nearby. The snow owls didn’t say much but kept a close eye on the passersby.
They exited that building and Lily walked straight forward to and started down the next pathway. She was determined to see this entire zoo in one visit. Zeke looked at the sign at the entrance to the path, which read": “The Australian Outback”.
From each fenced in exhibit area to the next, the Australian wildlife were displayed. From the Bandicoot to the Dingo to the Duck-Billed Platypus, every animal seemed to have its own individuality. Lily spent the time watching each animal at each exhibit as well as reading about each one of them on the plaques that lined the trail. She showed interest in the Kiwi, the Koala up in the trees, wombats, wallabies, and even the Tasmanian devil, but it wasn’t until she saw the Kangaroos that she became content.
Instead of jumping up and down, she simple made her way to the railing and leaned over it a little, sporting a smile on her face that told the tale of how happy she was. It was as she was leaning on the railing that Zeke realized the time to move on was very important.
He walked up behind her and whispered into her ear.
“Let’s go find a bathroom,” he suggested.
“I don’t have to go right now,” she said, content with standing there all day looking at the roo-roos, as she called them.
“Well, then I need to use the restroom,” he said, while taking her hand and calmly walking her to the bathroom.
They made their way down the rest of the Australian trail and into the family bathroom. It made Zeke feel better that there wasn’t a young family waiting to use that room. Zeke shut the door and locked it. He turned to Lily and unzipped her jean shorts, allowing them to fall to the floor for her to step out of. Then she saw the back of her jean shorts were completely soaked. She covered her mouth to prevent sound from coming out. She knew her diaper was a little wet, but she had no idea she had leaked through her shorts. It was then that the “danger of discovery” which sometimes gave her a thrill turned into fear and her mind began to race with fear. They were still in the middle of the zoo.
With her shorts off, she could feel the weight of her diaper as now rested on her hips. She looked at Zeke who had set the diaper bag on the changing table and was searching through it in what appeared to be a frantic fashion. She covered her face with her hands as tears formed in her eyes. He wasn’t finding another pair of shorts. She began to panic and her mind became overloaded with thoughts of worry.
“What if someone saw I was wet? Even if no one saw how is Zeke going to get me out of this zoo without being discovered if there’s no other shorts in that diaper bag?” Lily began to think to herself as Zeke lifted her up onto the table, eased her down onto it, lowered her hands from her face, placed another pacifier in her mouth, kissed her on the forehead, and told her not to worry.
“Don’t worry? How can I not worry?” she began to think.
Zeke unfastened her wet diaper, and began to wipe her clean. Her bottom and hips were soon raised into the air. He wiped her backside clean, and slowly she began to relax as she had no other alternative but to trust that he would find a solution. He lowered her back onto the table and into a new diaper.
“Maybe Zeke will carry me out of the zoo in his arms. I can bury my face in his chest. No one will see my face and no one will know if we can just get out of here and get back to the hotel,” she began to reason with herself as Zeke wrapped the front of her diaper up into place and fastened it.
Zeke returned to his search through the diaper bag as Lily sat up and awaited her fate of having nothing to cover her diaper with. It was only after he had dumped the entire bag out on the changing table that he realized he indeed hadn’t packed another pair of shorts. Instead, he had packed a white skirt, free flowing and short to the mid thigh. But he hadn’t put it inside the diaper bag. He had put it in the side pocket.
Lily watched as if Zeke were performing a miracle by simply unbuttoning the side pocket and pulling out the skirt. She embraced him with an impassioned craze of emotion like an answer to prayer had just taken place in front of her.
“I’m sorry if I spooked you,” Zeke said, rocking her back and forth while patting her diapered bottom. “I knew I had packed a change of clothes for you. I just couldn’t remember where, but all is well.”
Lily stepped into the skirt. It was light material, much like everything she had packed for the trip, but it would do the job needed and her secret would remain that way.
“Let’s get out of this bathroom,” Zeke said, repacking her diaper bag, grabbing her hand and unlocking the door.
Lily couldn’t agree more. She took the pacifier out of her mouth, and followed him out. They walked slowly down the trail arm-in-arm, both relieved but still shaken. Lily leaned her body against him. Her heart was still racing a mile a minute, but the look in her eyes told him that she would be all right in a little while. She just needed time to regain her composure and gather her senses.
As they strolled along, Zeke looked across to a small pond under some trees. There were ducks swimming in it.
“You wanna feed the ducks before we go or have you had enough fun for one day?” he asked with a chuckle.
Lily looked back to him with a smile.
“I would love to,” she said while taking the sandals off her feet and putting them in the diaper bag.
Zeke walked into the snack shop next to the pond, and came back out a few moments later with several pieces of bread.
“They gave me the stale bread,” he asked.
“That was nice of them,” she said as she took half of it and ran over to the ducks.
Zeke followed her, watching as she ran barefoot in the grass over to the edge of the pond and knelt down. She broke off a piece of the bread and dropped it in front of a duck, watching him pick it up with its bill and swallow it.
She had found the feeling of safety again and was able to slip back into her “little girl” frame of mind. Without any other care in the world, she began to “play” once more. Zeke’s broken heart healed when she looked back at him with a glowing face and a smile. She winked and blew him a kiss. He caught the “kiss” in the air and touched his hand to his heart. She stood up and began throwing pieces of bread to all of the ducks that had waddled over to her.
She was a precious sight to behold: a pretty, little pigtailed girl whom with just a glance had an allure to her that would make any passerby ogle over how cute she looked and how happy she seemed.
She backed up as the ducks followed her, eating the bread she tossed to them. Soon she had many ducks around her and no more bread to give them. She ran back to Zeke, laughing as the ducks chased after her, squawking for more. She leapt up into his arms and crawled around to his back before wrapping her legs and arms around him, seeking protection. Zeke willingly tore the bread in his hands to pieces and dropped it all to the grass. As the ducks battled each other for the pieces, he returned to the trail way, honoring Lily’s fun-loving request to ‘get while the getting was good!’
He walked down the trail way and out of the zoo with Lily remaining piggy-backed on him along the way. They flagged down a cab and headed for the hotel. Though it wasn’t yet time for sunset, it soon would be. A mile up the road, Lily laid down on the backseat and placed her head on his lap. It was time to start winding this day down.
Just then, an accident occurred a few cars in front of them. Zeke and Lily sat up and watched as police and ambulance vehicles shortly arrived. Within minutes, they were caught in a traffic jam. They would be headed nowhere any time soon. Realizing this, Lily curled up in a ball on his lap and leaned her head on his chest as her energy began to leave her.
Zeke took the pacifier out of the diaper bag and touched it to her lips. She took it in her mouth, allowing it to soothe her and transform her from a little girl into a BabyGirl as it often did. He began to rock her, ever-so-delicately and ever-so-gently as he reached under her skirt and patted her diapered bottom. She was completely consumed by a wave of infantile emotions when he leaned over and whispered in her ear.
“So Lily, the AB Princess of infantilum, was so distraught waiting for news of who her parents had selected for her to marry she decided to do one of her favorite things to do. She went for a horseback ride to make herself feel better,” he whispered softly into her ear as she smiled while making herself comfortable for the story time.
“She went to the stable and mounted her favorite horse named Paddington. Out of the stable they went and down into the countryside she rode. Paddington was used to galloping slowly and galloping fast with Lily on his back. Some days she liked a swift, brisk ride in the morning air. Other days she liked a slower, calmer trot through the rays of the evening sun. On this day she rode through the countryside at great speeds. She leaped over steeple walls and dashed through woods, feeling the wind in her hair,” he continued as Lily’s eyelids began to droop for sleep.
Up ahead the traffic had started moving and the cab began to roll down the road.
“Lily thought that if she rode Paddington fast enough, she just might be able to outrun her worries. She thought about riding straight forward and never turning back. This way she would never have to face her parents’ decision. But where would she go? How would she live? Who would take care of her?” he continued as he slowly began to take the ribbons out of her hair, allowing the pigtails free and her hair to fall to her shoulders.
"Lily tried to outrun her problems, but eventually returned to the stable, having decided to face them instead. Her heart was broken as she dismounted Paddington. She turned around to see a boy the same age as her. He wasn’t a simple common village boy whose job it was to keep the royal stable clean and tend to the horses. He didn’t lead a relaxing life, but the look on his face told her that he took pride in what he did and found enjoyment in what he had. She introduced herself and he laughed while telling her that he knew who she was. Everybody knew who she was.
He congratulated her on her upcoming marriage, and that he hoped it would be a happy marriage that lasted a lifetime. The look on her face told him that she wasn’t happy. He asked her what was wrong. She sat down on a pile of hay and told him the story," Zeke continued while running his fingers through her hair.
"Malcolm became concerned for her happiness when he saw how upset she was. He told her that love should never be something that was arranged for her, but rather something that she felt in deep inside her. He said he hoped that the Prince chosen to marry her would be a man with nothing but Chivalry in his heart. And if she ever needed a friend to talk to, she could always find him here at the stables.
Lily walked back to the castle in a happier mood, knowing that her fate still awaited her, but also knowing she had a friend who understood her heart. But she felt a little bit more in her heart than just that. Was she in love? To be continued…" Zeke finished as the cab pulled up in front of the hotel.
Zeke got out and carried Lily into the lobby and into the elevator. She was asleep in his arms. She held firmly to him as the elevator took them to their floor.
The elevator doors opened and Zeke stepped out. He made his way to their room, unlocked the door and went inside. With one arm holding the sleeping Lily against him, he fixed a washbowl of warm water. Dropping a wash cloth in the water, he picked up the washbowl and walked out onto the balcony.
He sat on the balcony chair. Paying close attention to not awaken her, he leaned Lily backward just enough to lift her t-shirt off. He slipped the cloth skirt down her waist and off her legs.
He picked up the warm wash cloth soaking in the washbowl and began to bathe her with it. Very softly and extremely gently he washed her body from head to toe as she slept and never stirred. It was such a wonderfully caressing feeling she didn’t want to wake up if it was a dream.
Zeke paused from time to time to watch the sunset behind the horizon. He reflected on the day they just had together and he thought of what the future might bring. He knew he would soon have to ask her a question he had been holding off on asking her. The time to open his heart up to her was almost upon them. He held her in his arms for several hours as he pondered how to make a memory in a single moment of time.
To Be Continued …