Brian and the girls opened their eyes some time later to find Sara standing smiling over them. Looking over at the window they could see it was still daylight out, but it was definitely later in the day. They had actually taken a nap, their mommies had been right about them being tired after all.
“C’mon your three, nap-time is over. We need to get some nummies in those tummies now.”
“We’re gonna eat?” Brian asked his mom.
“Yep, Rachel and Megan’s mommies went and picked up their little brother and sister so we can all go out to dinner. We’re all going to Pasta Pete’s!” Sara announced.
Brian swallowed a groan. Pasta Pete’s was a local family restaurant, always filled with annoying kids and squalling babies. It wasn’t the kind of place college kids ever ate at. In fact he couldn’t remember going there since he was about ten. Still he forced a smile, remembering the decision they’d made to play along until they had the book again.
They followed Brian’s mom back downstairs to the living room where the other two moms were already waiting. As they entered the room Brian got his first look at Dan, Rachel’s little brother. She’d said before that he was dressed and acting like a toddler, so Brian was interested to see if the second reality shift had changed him as well.
As soon as they set eyes on the young man they knew the world had shifted for everyone once again. When they were kindergarteners he’d been a toddler. Now that they were somewhere in the terrible twos themselves it appeared he had gone even further back. Since his body hadn’t changed it was hard to gauge his mental age exactly, but from his dress and behaviour Brian figured the kid was about eighteen-months rather than years now.
Danny was sitting on his bottom in the middle of the room wearing a small green striped t-shirt and a bulky white diaper. The puffy garment was certainly no set of pull-ups that was for sure. He wore no pants over the diaper either, his long bare legs smooth and hairless like Brian’s, splayed out before him. He wiggled the toes on his bare feet back and forth idly as he scribbled aimlessly with an awkwardly held green crayon across a sheet of paper between his legs.
The sight of Danny grinning while he scribbled with crayon was nothing compared to what was going on just across the room. There Amanda was sitting with her daughter Sue on the couch. All three of them stopped where they were and gaped at what was happening before their eyes. Sue was dressed in a fuzzy yellow onesie, her crinkly white diaper sticking out of it a bit around the leg holes. Her smooth bare legs were draped across the couch as her body lay across her mom’s lap. They couldn’t see her face, only the back of her head, the thin wild hair tied up in a single hair-band so it stood straight up.
Her face was obscured because Amanda had her pulled in close to her bosom. The eighteen-year old girl was suckling on her mommy’s boob. In the silence that fell when the trio froze all they could hear was the scribble of Danny’s crayon on paper and Sue’s suckling. Amanda was gently rubbing the teen’s back and whispering into the overgrown baby’s ear. Rachel seemed to be the most disturbed by the sight, covering her mouth tightly as though trying not to vomit. Brian was having a different but equally embarrassing reaction. Physically he was still very much a guy and so he couldn’t help but stare at the scene on the couch, praying for Sue to finish so he could get a look at Amanda’s boobs. He’d thought they looked unusually big before and now he knew why. She was nursing.
“Well here we all are!” Sara announced cheerfully, entering the room behind the three frozen kids.
Danny looked up from his drawing, the crayon dropping from his uncoordinated fingers. “Danny eat!” he yelled, patting his tummy with both hands.
“Yes Danny, we’re all going to eat soon,” Sara agreed, nodding to the boy.
“Who dat?” Danny shouted back, pointing at Brian.
“That’s my little boy Brian,” Sara replied.
“Who dat?” the teen shouted again, now pointing at Megan while his twiddling his toes together.
“That’s Megan. She’s a big girl like your sister Rachel,” she answered.
Apparently satisfied, Danny rose awkwardly to a squat then stood with his arms out for balance. Once he was fully upright he stuck his hands out towards them and toddled over. His legs were bowed out widely but they couldn’t tell if that was due to the thick diaper or just his immature gait. In any case he seemed able to walk and even run on his own, but clearly not with very much skill or balance. He made a bee-line for his sister, wrapping his arms around the poor girl who was still trying to hold back an urge to throw up.
“Awww!” Sara cooed as Danny gave his sis a big baby hug.
All eyes turned to the couch just then as the sound of suckling abruptly stopped. Amanda was easing Sue’s mouth off her breast, a bit of white milky liquid dribbling down the girl’s chin and a visible strand still connecting nipple to slack lips. The string of milk and spittle broke as Sue’s head slipped back into her mom’s cradling elbow.
Brian’s eyes were big as saucers and he felt drawn towards Amanda, not taking his eyes off her exposed breast. He moved across the room towards her, barely aware he was doing so. Amanda didn’t seem to notice or care about his interest. She only had eyes for the big baby in her lap. Brian was standing right before her soon enough, licking his lips and feeling glad the tight pull-up and overalls hid the reaction he was having. Then a hiccup broke his concentration and he glanced down at the teen girl lying across the couch before him.
Sue was a pretty girl but it was clear that she was now nothing but a big infant. Her bare legs were bowed out by the thick diaper, even more so than Danny’s. They twitched and kicked without coordination. Sue’s eyes were wide open, but there was nobody home. The baby-blue eyes stared vacantly between the ceiling and her mom’s face, glassy and empty of recognition. A rivulet of slobber was creeping down her left cheek, her chin already wet with milky drool. Sue burbled and spluttered silly meaningless sounds before bringing her hands to her mouth and chewing on her fingers. As she mouthed them Brian was able to see that Sue had no more than a couple small teeth. It was a stunning sight.
“Is Sue all done feeding?” Sara asked.
“Yep, my little Susie’s had her nummy-nums,” Amanda replied, fixing her bra and doing her shirt back up.
“Okay, let’s get the kids ready,” Sara said.
Joy came in from the kitchen and headed straight over to where Danny was now playfully turning the hallway light-switch on and off. She was carrying a pair of elastic waist khakis shorts. “Okay buddy-boy, time to get you all dressed up for the restaurant,” she declared.
Danny cooperated while she slipped the shorts on him. He seemed too enthralled with the light-switches to even care that he was being dressed. Brian doubted the boy cared one bit was he was dressed in anyway. In his state of mind he probably would have been happy to go to the restaurant buck naked or in a frilly pink dress.
Amanda set Sue down on the carpet and rummaged through a bag to get something for Megan to wear. Soon she emerged with a pair of pink shorts. “Okay sweetie, come to Mommy,” she beckoned.
Megan was all too happy to comply. She was sick of being the only one with no pants on. Little pink shorts with hearts were not her usual but they could have been so much worse. So she let her mom slip them over one foot at a time and pull them up. It was a relief to have her pull-ups covered up at last. In fact she was better off that Rachel now, as her short little dress failed to hide her puffy pull-ups.
Having successfully clothed her son Joy had now turned to Rachel, directing her to sit on the floor. Rachel had done as she was told, hopeful she’d be dressed in something at least marginally better than the silly outfit she had on at the moment. She was not a fan of frills and cutesie short dresses, even on little girls. She’d have been happy even to be dressed as her friend Megan was. But when Joy returned from the front hall she didn’t have a new outfit for her daughter, just a pair of glitter-covered jelly sandals which she proceeded to strap onto the pouting girl’s feet.
With the kids dressed the other two moms seemed ready to go as well. Amanda scooped Sue up from the carpet and steadied the teen girl on her hip, slipping a red and white binkie between the girl’s lips. Brian looked around and furrowed his brow. “Where are my shoes Mommy?” he asked.
Sara shook her head. “Don’t worry honey, you’ll be fine without them,” she assured.
Brian shook his head. He couldn’t go out in public, to a restaurant, without any shoes on! They wouldn’t let him in like that would they?
“Mommy I need shoes!” he insisted.
Sara rolled her eyes and turned to the other moms, ignoring her son’s pleas. “He pulls his shoes and socks off every time I put them on him. I can’t tell you how many sneakers and socks are now missing a partner because he throws them away. It’s easier just to let him go barefoot y’know?”
Joy nodded. “I know, my little Danny’s the same way. He just loves having his toesies all free. Funny how little kids just hate shoes.”
“If it’s just shoes they hate you’re getting off easy,” Amanda told them. “My little ones hate wearing clothes altogether.”
The mothers shared a round of laughter at their struggles while Brian continued to plead. “But Rachel has shoes!”
“Well Rachel is becoming a young lady and she knows how to keep her shoes on like a big girl,” Sara retorted.
Brian was crestfallen but could see this was a losing battle. Megan was being led by the hand to the car in her bare feet as well but she wasn’t complaining. She was just happy she’d been given something to cover her pull-ups. Of course the restaurant wouldn’t care that they were barefoot, Brian admitted, because little toddlers didn’t count as real people. So he gave up and padded out the front door after his mom, wincing as he trod over sharp pebbles and hot tarmac to the car. He just kept thinking about how he would get the book back soon and then somehow he’d end this nightmare.
Pasta Pete’s was a buzzing cauldron of activity. Families with screaming ‘kids’ sat at every table while waiters in tacky white shirts, red bow-ties and black suspenders rushed about with large trays of food. It was a cheap family restaurant alright, complete with red and white checked plastic table-cloths and pictures of stereotypical Italian street scenes on the walls.
As they waited for a table to open up Brian looked around at the other families seated or waiting for a table. Men a few years older than him twisted back and forth excitedly while parents held their hands. A 40-ish woman tied a bib around the neck of a messy-faced young lady about their age. Brian decided that in this new world children stayed infants much longer than normal but then rather suddenly grew up between age eighteen and thirty. He saw no appreciable difference in behaviour between kids who looked sixteen and those who looked ten.
After ten minutes of excruciating waiting in the crowded entry area a man in a stupid waiter outfit topped off with a straw boater hat appeared with a set of menus. He looked over the assembled family and smiled pleasantly at them. He didn’t groan at the sight of a gaggle of unhygienic and potentially vagrant young adults in a restaurant without shoes. All he saw was a group of cute twenty-year old toddlers.
“Welcome to Pasta Pete’s! Follow me please,” he directed.
The table was made up for them already. Two of the chairs were quite different from the rest. They couldn’t really be called high-chairs because of course they didn’t lift their occupants any higher than the normal seats. Yet they looked like high-chairs. They even had straps to buckle occupants into them. Three other chairs at the table had red booster seats on them. The trio knew these were for them and they took their special seats without comment. They had been sat next to each other, a cup of crayons and three placemats with lots of kids’ puzzles and games laid out before them.
Trying to get their minds off their predicament they each took a crayon and began to work on the puzzles while the moms got the babies settled in their high-chairs, threading legs through the holes and doing up seat buckles. Sue’s binkie dropped from her mouth and she immediately began to squall. Luckily Amanda found it and cleaned it off quickly, reinserting it in the crying girl’s mouth. Her tears were gone as quickly as they began.
Returning his attention to the puzzle Brian found the maze he was working on trickier than expected. For one thing it was very tough to manipulate the crayon. He couldn’t grasp it correctly for some reason. He’d used pens and pencils for years but the manner in which you were supposed to hold one escaped him. Sending the crayon where he wanted to was equally difficult. He kept crossing the lines. Even worse though, he couldn’t seem to think ahead. He kept hitting dead ends in what should have been a simple maze. The whole thing was frustrating and worrying.
Brian finally abandoned the maze and threw his crayon away, looking over at his friends’ papers to see they too were having trouble. Rachel was having a hard time just connecting the dots on her mat while Megan’s usual drawings were now nothing but scribbles. It was quite a relief when the food finally came, though Rachel was particularly upset their mothers had simply ordered for them without even asking for their preferences. She didn’t want plain old spaghetti, but no one would give her a menu and even if they had she knew she wouldn’t have been able to read it anyway.
As the waiter set down plates before them the moms were all quickly out of their seats, tying bibs around Sue and Danny, then turning to the ‘toddlers.’ Joy picked up Rachel’s napkin, unfolded it and began to stuff it into the neck of her dress like a make-shift bib.
“Hey, stop it! I don’t need that!” Rachel insisted, twisting back and forth to escape her mom’s hands.
“I’m sure you’ll be a big girl and be very clean for me dear, but just in case we need to keep your pretty dress clean.”
“Pretty dress? I hate this stupid thing, just leave me alone!” Rachel wailed loud enough to make heads turn from nearby tables.
“Rachel, don’t make a scene!” Joy scolded. “Sit still and be a good girl or there will be no dessert for you.”
Rachel pouted but quieted down, not because of the threat but because she realised people were indeed looking at her like a bratty toddler. Megan and Brian said nothing as their moms tucked napkins into their shirts the same way.
If colouring with crayons had been hard, eating was near impossible. Brian blamed the utensils. While the adults had normal metal forks and knives they had to make do with simple plastic cutlery. Abandoning the proper adult grip Brian held his fork in his closed fist and shovelled the spaghetti into his mouth as best he could. Sure enough it wasn’t long before his napkin bib was stained liberally in tomato sauces. He was certain his cheeks and chin were no better. It took all his concentration to bring the fork to his mouth properly. His only consolation was that Rachel and Megan were doing no better.
“This is stupid!” Rachel finally declared, throwing down her fork and crossing her arms in frustration.
Joy looked up from her meal and gave her daughter a firm look. “Rachel, finish your meal,” she said calmly.
“No! I don’t even like spaghetti with tomato sauce.”
“Rachel, if you don’t finish that, no dessert for you tonight.”
“I don’t care!”
“Really? You won’t care when your friends Brian and Megan are eating yummy ice cream and you have to just watch?”
Rachel said nothing, but didn’t even look at the food.
Joy sighed and got up from her seat, going to Rachel’s side. “Rachel, you are going to eat your dinner or Mommy will have to feed it to you like a little baby.”
“No!” Rachel gasped, looking up at her mother with terror.
“Yes Rachel, eat like a big girl or like a baby, it’s your choice.”
Her bottom lip quivering, Rachel picked the fork back up and shovelled another messy load of spaghetti into her mouth. “I’m not a baby,” she insisted.
“I know that honey,” her mommy assured her. “You’re a big girl who can feed herself. Now show Mommy how you can finish all your food,” Joy encouraged, rubbing Rachel’s shoulder.
By the end of the meal all three were feeling quite silly about how messy they’d gotten. Although they weren’t nearly as bad as little Danny, who’d fed himself with his fingers. The giggling teen’s hands, cheeks and chin were all red with sauce. Megan was feeling a bit overly full from the meal, even though it hadn’t really been that much. She burped loudly and then cringed with embarrassment at her faux pas. The mothers just smiled and giggled at her rudeness though.
As the moms worked on cleaning their babies’ faces with wet-naps Danny’s smile left his face and he got a look of intense concentration. For a moment the trio wondered it maybe some of the old Dan’s adult mentality was trying to break through. Then they heard the rude noises, muffled by his diaper and shorts, erupting from him. Loud farts and little popping sounds could be heard as he squinted and grunted softly. Brian gasped and looked away when he realised what was happening. Rachel was frozen in horror watching her own brother soil himself. Megan was absolutely disgusted.
The teenaged young man smiled again as he finished his business, looking up at his Mommy and announcing, “Poopy!”
“Uh-oh,” Rachel chuckled, “I think we have a little mister stinky-pants here.”
The smell of what the young fellow had done wafted through the air, leaving no doubt he’d made a real load in his big diaper. The scent of it and the smile on Danny’s face was too much for Megan. She gagged and covered her mouth, but combined with her indigestion she couldn’t hold it back. Megan vomited a bit before regaining control. It wasn’t that much, but it was down her bib and badly stained her shirt. Just the sight of the disgusting stuff on her Sesame Street shirt made her want to throw-up even more.
“Oh Megan!” Amanda exclaimed, rushing to her daughter’s side. “Are you feeling sick honey?”
“It stinks!” Megan managed to blurt out.
“Oh, poor girl, you must have eaten too much baby. And you’ve gotten it all over your nice shirt too.”
Megan blinked back tears, looking around her and realising people were staring. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled.
“It’s okay honey, Mommy will get you all cleaned up.” Amanda turned to the other moms and asked, “Could you watch them for a sec, I need to go to the car and get her a new shirt?”
Sara nodded. “I’ll watch them. Joy, you just go take care of Danny.”
Joy nodded and unbuckled the boy from the chair. “Okay little stinker, let’s get you changed,” she chirped, leading the still grinning boy to the bathroom with the diaper bag over her shoulder.
Amanda tutted as she looked over the mess her daughter had made of her shirt. “Okay honey, let’s get you out of this messy shirt. Mommy will get you a clean one from the car,” she told Megan, grasping the bottom of the shirt and pulling it up.
Megan shrieked and pulled away but it happened so suddenly she wasn’t prepared for it. In one swift motion her shirt was up over her head and slipping off her upraised arms. Just like that she found herself sitting in a crowded family restaurant topless, not even a bra to hide her breasts. “Mommy, I’m topless!” she gasped, crossing her arms to keep some dignity.
“Well you can’t just sit in a shirt covered in throw-up sweetie. Mommy will be back with your unicorn shirt in a second.”
As her mother left with her shirt Megan shivered in shame. This was worse than what had happened at home. As bad as that had seemed at the time, being topless in full public view was infinitely worse. Sure, it had happened a couple times at drunken parties back at college, but that was different. Then she’d chosen to take off her shirt and she’d been one of several topless girls. Now no one was even staring at her, no one cared that she her boobs were on display. She was just another toddler who’d ruined her shirt as far as anyone was concerned. Somehow that made it all even worse.
While Brian was trying not to get caught staring at his half-naked friend, Rachel had problems of her own to worry about. The urge to pee had struck her suddenly and violently. It was as though she’d been holding it in all day. She was seriously worried she wouldn’t be able to wait long. “I… I need to potty!” she called out, immediately regretting her childish choice of words but unable to think of how else to explain her need.
Sara gave her a sympathetic look. “Okay honey, just hold it a second. Your mommy will be right back.”
Rachel shook her head. Didn’t this woman understand she needed a potty now? “Can’t wait, need to potty!” she exclaimed.
“Sorry Rachel but I can’t take you to the potty until Megan’s mommy or your mommy comes back,” Sara explained.
Rachel squirmed in her seat, crossing and uncrossing her legs. She needed to go potty but no one was here to take her. It struck her that she shouldn’t really need anyone to take her to the potty and yet by now she needed to go so badly she was afraid even to stand up lest she lose control. It was all for nought though. After a few more seconds of struggling Rachel felt her loins growing warm and wet and the pressure releasing. After holding it in so valiantly she had lost the battle.
The feeling of release was so nice she had to fight not to sigh contentedly. She felt ashamed by what she was doing, but it was impossible to stop. It seemed she had quite a lot of pee-pee to get out. She felt it trickling through the leg holes of her pull-up, warm liquid running down her leg to her sandals as she set on the edge of her seat. She tried to look nonchalant, like nothing had happened. No one could know the disgusting thing she’d just done.
“Honey, did you just have an accident?” Sara asked kindly.
“What?!” Rachel gasped. “No!” she insisted.
“Are you sure dear? You didn’t make pee-pee?”
Rachel shook her head again, refusing to admit the shameful truth.
As she sat there in her cooling pee trying not to cry again she felt a brief flicker of jealousy for Sue of all people. The teen girl was simply sucking away at her binkie, content, oblivious to all the shame Rachel and the others were going through.
Joy returned with Danny soon enough. The young man toddled along pulling ahead of his mommy, who held him by the hand, picking his nose with his free hand. As soon as Joy had him settled in his high-chair again Sara turned to her and said, “Joy, I’m afraid you have another little one needing a change.”
“Oh, what happened?”
“Rach really needed to potty a little while ago but she hasn’t said anything for a couple minutes and she got that look on her face I’d recognise anywhere. I’m pretty sure she’s had an accident.”
Joy nodded and walked over to Rachel’s side. The girl was about to deny she’d done any such thing, but her mommy didn’t even bother asking her. She just reached down and yanked her skirt up, pulling back her pull-up and sticking two fingers down it. Rachel felt horribly violated but worse, she knew the game was up now.
“Rachel honey, you’re very wet. Why didn’t you tell someone you’d had an accident?” Mommy asked her.
Rachel tried to think of an excuse but she was drawing a total blank. “I’m sorry Mommy!” she gasped at last, tears filling her eyes.
“It’s okay. Let’s go to the bathroom and get you changed,” Joy told her kindly, taking her hand.
Rachel sniffled and let her mom lead her through the restaurant to the bathroom. She was sure everyone knew why she was being taken there. With every step her wet pull-up swished and squeaked across her thighs. The cooling pee made her bottom and legs sticky and uncomfortable. At least there was no one else in the lady’s room when they entered. Mommy took her to the largest stall, where a diaper changing station was built into the wall.
“Please Mommy, don’t make me lie on it,” she begged.
“Don’t worry sweetie, you don’t have to lie down. Little girls your age have accidents, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Joy lifted Rachel’s dress and pulled her sopping wet pull-up down, slipping it off each foot. Pulling out a couple wet-naps from the diaper bag she wiped Rachel’s privates and thighs, cleaning off the pee-pee.
“Hmm, looks like you leaked a bit dear. I’m afraid you’ve gotten it all down your leg,” Joy commented, getting more wet-naps.
Rachel stood still and thought about happy college memories while her mother wiped down her leg.
“Honey, you’ve even gotten it all over your sandals,” her mother sighed, undoing the buckles on her glittery jelly shoes. “Well you can just go barefoot like your friends,” Joy told her.
Rachel pouted as she felt the cool tiled floor of the bathroom under her feet. She reminded herself that this wasn’t so bad. Megan was the one sitting out in public topless, being barefoot was nothing compared to that. Mommy was getting out a new pull-up from the bag already and Rachel eagerly stepped into it, glad to feel the thick garment slipping up her legs and protecting her again.
By the time Rachel and Joy returned to the table Megan was wearing a new t-shirt and everyone was getting ready to go. None of them had a chance to speak to each other again before they were separated. Each found themselves being led to separate cars, wondering when they’d see each other again. The worst of it was they still didn’t know what on earth had become of that cursed book.
Part of Megan was relieved to be home after the day she’d had. She’d woken up a kindergartener and somehow things had gotten worse from there. In fact it would have been a relief if she’d woken up a kindergartener again the next morning. Even preschool age would have been an improvement on her present situation! As it was she was still shivering from the traumatic experience of being sat topless in a booster seat at a family restaurant in front of her closest friends.
Mommy dropped her bag on the floor in the living room and slipped Sue into a large automatic baby swing in the middle of the room while she went to check messages. “Meggy sweetie, play with your toys while Mommy checks the computer, and don’t make a mess please,” she called as she ran upstairs.
Megan watched her sister rock slowly back and forth in the swing, awake but far from alert. She wiggled the teen’s toes and whispered to her. “What’s it like for you Susie? What’s going on in that head of yours?”
Sue stuck her tongue out a bit and began blowing spit bubbles in response. Megan sighed and left her little sister to enjoy her silly swing. There were other things in the room to amuse herself with of course. A jack-in-the-box sat in the middle of the floor, a set of large choke-proof Lego blocks nearby. Megan didn’t want to touch them, lest she become enthralled with toddler toys again. She headed over to the couch instead, looking for the remote. She found it between the cushions and switched on the TV.
A middle aged white woman was smiling at the camera. “I want my little ones to get all the nutrition their growing bodies need. But there are so many brands out there that just can’t deliver. That’s why I stick with the tried and true company for babies’ dietary needs, Gerber’s,” the woman enthused. The scene shifted and now the woman was seen standing in a kitchen with a lanky teen boy sat in a huge high-chair before her. The boy was dressed in nothing but a puffy white diaper, grinning ear to ear and banging his hands on the tray as the woman spooned gooky yellow stuff into his open mouth. An announcer’s voice explained that Gerber’s Growing Bodies products were specially designed for infants aged 12 to 15 years old.
“Ugh!” Megan moaned, switching channels.
A diaper ad appeared on the screen next. Now two older teens, one girl and one boy, were pictured lying on their backs on a soft white carpet dressed only in disposable diapers, giggling and peddling their legs in the air while a graphic showed the stretchiness of the diaper.
Megan turned the TV back off in exasperation. Just then Mommy hurried back into the room and scooped Sue out of her swing. “Okay Meggy, Mommy needs to give Susie her bathie, then it will be your turn. Be a good girl and stay in the living room for me.”
Megan nodded and watched her mother disappear with Sue riding on her hip. Now there really was nothing to do. She feared her mind would eventually turn to mush just like Sue’s if she didn’t find something to occupy her. Sitting down on the floor she gave serious thought to giving in and playing with the Lego blocks. Maybe she could build a pretend city or something.
By chance she glanced over at her mother’s bag, lying on its side on the carpet nearby. Among the possessions visible there was a book, a black leather bound book. Megan crept across the floor to the bag and reached inside. As she drew her hand back out she got a feeling of elation for the first time tonight. It was Catcher in the Rye.
The book was in her hands now, but she was no closer to figuring out what to do with it. She held it tightly in her hands and said out loud, “I want to be a grown-up again.”
Megan stared hard at the book again and tried a new tack. “I like being a grown-up,” she whispered to it. “I am happy as a grown-up,” she pled, willing it to work.
Her eyes shut tight, book gripped tightly, she wished silently over and over for it to change her back, to fix things. Then she opened her eyes and looked around. Nothing had changed. She was still dressed in a unicorn t-shirt and pull-ups, there were still toddler toys all over and an adult-sized infant swing in the middle of the room.
Now Megan felt a new emotion, anger. In fact it was more than just anger. Megan was enraged. If the book couldn’t fix her, what good was it? It seemed that it could only make things worse, not better. After all, just as Rachel had pointed out the night before, things hadn’t turned out so well for Holden Caulfield had they? He’d ended up in a nut-house. In fact, that’s what happened to another devotee of this novel, John Hinckley, too. No, the book was clearly evil and there was only one way to deal with that. Megan knew she had to destroy the wicked thing and she had to do it now.
First she needed to make sure she wouldn’t be interrupted. So she crept upstairs, hearing the sounds of cooing and giggling echoing down to her. At the top of the steps she peaked her head just around the corner until she could see into the bathroom.
Mommy had left the door wide open. Sue was sitting in a baby bath seat in the middle of the bathroom. It was a light green kind of plastic bucket seat with a big yellow spongy section between her legs. She was naked of course. Mommy held a bright yellow rattle in one hand, shaking it high above Sue’s head. The teen girl gaped open-mouthed up at it and squealed in delight, reaching her hands out for it and batting them clumsily about while Mommy cleaned her bare breasts and her tummy with a sudsy sponge in her other hand.
Assured that Mommy was well distracted Megan scurried downstairs and tip-toed into the kitchen. The place was well baby-proofed with plastic locks on every cabinet. While those may have thwarted a mental toddler Megan easily undid them and rifled through cabinets and drawers until she found what she was looking for, a big box of matches.
Grabbing the trash bin from beside the fridge she dumped out its contents on the floor, then retrieved the book. Dropping it in the bin she opened the match-box and took a handful out. It was hard to get a grip on them individually. Her fingers were clumsy and she dropped the first couple. She listened intently for any sign Mommy was coming. Finally the third match lit and she dropped it in the bin. It went out before it hit the bottom. Trying a new tact she lifted the book back out and managed to light another match. This time she held it to the pages of the book until it lit up. She watched the yellowed old paper retreat, blackening and curling before disappearing in flames. Once the book was well ablaze she dropped it back in the bin. The fire spread quickly and Megan grinned triumphantly as the novel was consumed.
Thick acrid smoke began to pour from the bin and a moment later the smoke alarm began to beep loudly. Megan could hear Mommy hurrying down the hall and the stairs. She knew she’d be in trouble for this, but it didn’t matter. The book was already destroyed. Whatever power it had was gone. She’d won.
“Oh my God!!! Megan what are you doing?!” Mommy screamed as she came racing into the kitchen.
Without asking for an answer she raced to the sink and filled up a couple glasses with water then dumped them in the bin. Just like that the small fire was out. Amanda grabbed a tea-towel and waved it wildly at the smoke alarm until it stopped its ear-piercing warning. Then she turned to Megan with shock and fear in her eyes.
She lunged at the girl and grabbed her hands tightly. “Naughty Megan! Playing with matches is very bad! You must never ever do that!” she scolded, putting her face just inches from Megan’s.
Megan tried her best to look scared and contrite but inside she was just hoping the whole world would shift back to normal any second. Her mother’s scolding was cut short when Sue began crying loudly. Mommy gave Megan a stern look and told her, “Don’t touch anything. Mommy will be right back.”
Her mother took the matches and hurried back upstairs to see why Sue was wailing, leaving Megan alone once more. She was disappointed that the world hadn’t changed again, but relieved that at least things wouldn’t get worse. Perhaps they would still be able to find a way to set things right yet.
The smoke had cleared from the trash bin and Megan leant over it to see what was left of the book. There appeared to be nothing but watery ashes left in the bin. Megan smiled with satisfaction for a moment, but then the smile faltered. She squinted down into the bin. Was that something pink in there? Why would there be something pink in all those blackened ashes?
Megan turned the bin over, dumping the contents onto the kitchen floor. Dropping the bin she knelt by the pile of burnt paper on the floor. Sure enough there was something pink sticking out of the blackness. She brushed aside some ashes and instantly jumped back, not believing what she saw. There was a new book amidst the destruction. It was a bright pink and glossy new looking picture book with rounded corners and thick pages like a toddler book. Despite the cartoon images of bunnies on the cover the title still said Catcher in the Rye.
Sue’s cries had died down by then and Megan knew Mommy would be back to scold her soon. She didn’t care about that. What she was seeing right now scared her far more than any punishment Mommy could dole out. Then things got worse.
The book began to glow once again, though this time a bright pink emanated from it. The ashes and embers around it vanished, the smoky air clearing and the trash bin reappearing back next to the fridge where it was meant to be. Megan could only watch, transfixed as the kitchen righted itself. Then the glow expanded and all she could see was the blinding pink light. She couldn’t even shield her eyes. In her terror she felt pee-pee flooding her pull-up once again.
Then her fear seemed to leave her, a feeling of peace and contentment settling like a soft blankie over her mind. Whatever it was she’d been thinking about a second ago didn’t seem important anymore. And whatever it was she couldn’t recall it anyway. The pink light faded away and Meggy found herself sitting on the linoleum floor of a clean kitchen, warm pee-pee squishing around her bum-bum and a pretty pink book on the floor nearby. Meggy liked pink. She couldn’t quite recall what the colour was called, but she knew she really like it.
Mommy walked into the kitchen with Sue bouncing on her hip. She smiled down at her twenty-one year old toddler daughter as the girl squatted on the floor looking curiously at some picture book. “Meggy, what are you doing? Are you trying to read like a big girl?”
Meggy smiled innocently up at her mother and shook her head. “No! Meggy no wead! Meggy wike pig-shures!” she announced.
“Oh, you like the pictures?” Mommy translated.
Meggy nodded, then dropped the book and slapped at her crotch with both hands. “Made pee-pee Mommy! Meggy had ax-ee-den’!”
“That’s okay Meggy, Mommy will clean you up, but then you have to show me you can use the potty like a big girl before you go to beddy-byes. Can you do that for me honey?” Mommy bargained.
Meggy nodded eagerly, desperate for her Mommy to see she could be a big girl. And so it was that Meggy finished her day sitting on a big pink potty seat in her mom’s kitchen, smiling ear to ear and clapping her hands with glee when the sounds of pee-pee splashing on plastic finally filled the air.
To Be Continued…