James knocked on the door in three awkward bursts and stepped back a couple of steps, looking down at his shoes and shunning this dull, uneventful day. His mother had told him to visit every house on the block, and this was thankfully the last one. He always hated these stupid fundraisers. It was usually just grown-ups acting like they cared about whatever stupid fundraiser his school was putting on and he did it mainly out of sheer boredom. Summer was only a month away. Just one long month away, he thought.
Ellen hadn’t been expecting company. She put down her crossword puzzle and leisurely approached the door. “Hold your horses,” she called out, unlocking the latch and opening the door, looking out and down at James, carrying some fundraising supplies and his own frowning face. “Well, hello there, how may I help you?”
In a snap, James came back to reality, startled by the door’s sudden burst of life and the figure standing in the door frame, “Oh, h-hi err hello miss, I’m doing a fundraiser for my uh school, would you want err I mean would you like to see?”
James kicked himself mentally over the awkward introduction, but to his surprise, he found himself being ushered inside the house and into the kitchen. Along the way, James’s eyes wandered around all the strange trinkets and old family photos. It was exactly like his grandmother’s house, thought it obviously did not feel so familiar.
“Come in, come in,” Ellen uttered, waving James along into the house towards the kitchen. “It’s pretty warm today, what with summer coming. I bet you’ve been doing this all afternoon, haven’t you? Why not have a snack and something to drink to refresh yourself?” she offered, fixing him a plate of cookies and a big glass of milk. “You can tell me all about your fundraiser while you do.”
After twenty minutes passed, it was almost impossible for James to get a word in. Ellen was almost conversing with herself, letting out many “ooos” with each flip of the page. He took the time to just enjoy the free food and milk, gazing around her kitchen some more, soaking in the kitschiness of the decor.
All of a sudden, James felt a sensation he couldn’t remember ever feeling before in his life, at least for many years - a surge of pee at the end of his bladder. Before he could process what was happening, he could feel it slowly coming out and spreading onto the front of his jeans. He could feel the weight of his heart hitting his stomach with immense force as a cold sweat burst out onto his brow.
What… how, how could I have… Without much thought, James reacted as best as possible and tried moving a piece of paper of his groin to cover up the huge wet spot. The word echoed in his head and made me feel even worse; How on earth could I have peed my pants? There was little time to dwell on it though. He had to get over the how and think of a reason to leave without causing an awkward situation.
“Is something the matter, hun?” Ellen said, noticing the boy blushing as she put the fundraising materials to the side. “What are you holding?” she said as she noticed the boy’s blush grow and the paper slowly absorbing the wet spot around his jeans.
“Oh dear!” she exclaimed, holding her hand over her chest in surprise as she rose from her seat. “Oh, sweetie, you should have told me if you had to go so badly. There there, it’s okay, Ellie’s gonna take good care of this little man.” she smiled, sweeping him up off the chair into her arms.
She was sure she caught the young boy off-guard, but from caring for her own grandchildren who had moved across the country a few years ago, she knew that when boys had their little accidents, the best thing that can be done is to give them lots of tender loving care so they don’t feel so bad, and she knew exactly how to do that. “Come on, hun,” she cooed to him, cradling as she went back to the door before making a sharp turn up the staircase. “Let’s get you all cleaned up.”
James felt a certain shock go down his spine as Ihefelt her soft yet strong grip on him, holding him tight as she walked down the hallway. He was so scared he couldn’t even bring himself to fight or plead. That was until Ellen started walking up the stairs. He tried grabbling a stair railing but found it being pulled back as Ellen shushed him and patted his back. “P- please ma’am, just let me g- go, pleaseeee!” James begged as she stopped in front of a foreboding bedroom door.
He tried turning my head while she held him over her shoulder to see what she was doing, watching as she reached above the door frame for what he thought was a key. He could feel his face turning beet-red. Combined with the warmth of his accident, he had no idea what could possibly be happening.
“Here we are,” Ellen smiled as she put the key to the lock and opened the door that hadn’t been opened for more than a few years. The first thing that hit James was the smell; an intoxicating and nostalgic aroma that hearkened him back to days he could only vaguely remember. It wasn’t until the door opened that he could see what awaited him. “Let’s go in and get you nice and clean,” she cooed as she carried the boy in. His eyes were wide at the sight before him: a fully-stocked nursery.
His eyes struggled to take in every last detail as he was carried over the threshold. In the corner, he could see a large white crib with sheets speckled with pictures of trains. The baby blue walls were decorated with large cutout hangings of baby blocks and Sesame Street characters. The nostalgic fragrance became immediately recognizable and stronger as he spotted the changing table, stocked underneath with many unopened packages of Pampers, Huggies, and the source of the telltale sent, Luvs, and they were all the same plastic-backed kinds that had been sold the last time he ever wore them. Up on the table was a pastel yellow plastic changing mat, several tubs of scented Pampers and Huggies baby wipes, bottles of Johnson’s baby powder and lotion, and a full tube of Balmex diaper rash ointment. The table looked like it had been waiting all this time behind the door for a baby to be laid down upon it.
“Here we are,” Ellen announced as she laid the boy down atop the changing mat. It crinkled under his weight. James quickly realized he was the one the table had been waiting for him.
Upon the slow feeling of being lowered onto the mat with Ellen’s hands on both of his hips, the fear and panic finally started to set in. This was literally the most embarrassed James had ever felt in his entire life. He tried to find words to say amongst his shaking. As he leaned his head up, he could see his shoes being swiftly untied and removed. “P-please d- don’t do this,” his voice trembled. “I’m begging you m- ma’am.”
“Honey, we can’t just leave you in your wet pants and I can’t have you making any more accidents,” Ellen chided James as she took his shoes off one by one and then his socks, tossing them in a nearby trash bin as she went for his shirt next. “Trust me, you’ll feel so much better when you’re clean and dry. Grandma’s got lots of experience with little ones like you, and she’ll do a real good job.”
She removed his shirt in one quick swoop, pulling up his arms and then doing the same with his jeans in the same firm swift pull, leaving him in nothing but his underwear. “Just you wait, hun, by the time we’re done here you’ll be smiling from ear to ear,” and then off came the white garments stained yellow as his underplaces were exposed to the cool fragrant nursery air.
She hummed as she held James down with one hand. Despite her age, James soon found out she was much stronger than she looked. Humming a nursery rhyme, she opened a tub of Pampers Baby Fresh wipes, and pulled out a handful. James shivered and suppressed any noise of surprise as she began to run the cool refreshing wipes all over his front and backside, making sure to get in all the little nooks and crannies his body held.
When she was done, she ripped open a sealed mint-green and purple package of Luvs diapers. The scent escaped from the plastic wrapping strongly as James caught another whiff. This time, a small coo came out of his lips. “Oh my,” Ellen noticed. “Does this little hun like that smell?” she said with a smile as she unfolded it and slid it under his bottom. “If you’re a good boy, there will be more where these came from,” she chuckled, reaching for the Johnson’s Baby Powder, twisting the cap, and pouring a generous amount of the silky magical dust all over his diaper area before pulling up the front.
James winced as he heard the plastic outer material crinkle as Barney’s smiling face covered his most personal places. With a smile, she patted James’s front and helped him off the table. “There you go, hun, now how about we get you into some nice warm jammies? You look like you could use a nap.”
A wave of emotions came over James that to Ellen, appeared pleasant, but to him were anything but. The sheer embarrassment and overwhelming babyish feeling that overcame him was like nothing Ihehad ever felt before. It felt as if there was a cloud around the lower portion of his body that only let in the slight sense of a hand supporting his bottom. As he was picked up, he could feel the soft yet wrinkled hand of Ellen on his back, her firm but frail grip giving him a sense of safety that he was trying to block out of his mind completely.
He felt an even greater sense of impending doom when he saw his clothes tossed in the trash, the question circling around his head if he would ever see them again. He didn’t see a clothing hamper anywhere and with the fear of what happens when boys misbehave also waving over his head, it shut off any willingness to kick and scream.
“Such a good boy you are!” Ellen cooed as she went to the closet and pulled out the last thing James would have expected; a fuzzy baby blue sleeper with designs of brown teddy bears. She sauntered back over with the infantile piece of clothing, no doubt sparking the question in James’s mind how she could possibly have such a babyish piece of clothing in a size large enough for him.
“Okay, honey bunny, let’s get your little feetsies and toesies all snug and warm,” she said in a loving affectionate tone as she took James’s left leg and slipped it inside the left footy. James was taken aback immediately at how snug and comfortable it was, sparking distant memories of his own days in such clothing before today. Then came the right leg.
“Okay, sweetie, now upsy-daisy,” she giggled lifting James’s thick padded bottom up just enough to slip the rest of the sleeper underneath him. With a little more wiggling and giggling, he was all zipped up in his pretty new jammies. “Nice and comfy?” she asked, the question obviously rhetorical as she pulled out a big yellow pacifier and plopped it in his mouth before he could answer. “Now don’t you worry about a thing. I’ll call your momma and tell her you’re just taking a bit of a break from the sun over here. You get a good nap and Miss Ellie will check on you when you wake up. Nightie nite, baby boy.”
For hours James felt himself soaking in a cold sweat, born from the embarrassment of the cloud-like diaper that was so tightly snug around his behind, trapping him in so many ways. He searched for a way to get it off, but in no way did he have any luck even getting at the sleeper, Its soft fur against his skin gave him the deepest red blush. Hours passed and he could feel the true nightmare on the horizon, the true fear of his situation; the need to use the bathroom.
Why did it have to happen now? It couldn’t have happened any other time? A time at least when he had a fair chance of escaping and possibly making it home in time to assert his independence and prove he wasn’t the baby Ellen had seemingly imprisoned him to be? The stomach pains only got worse. His voice became hoarse from trying to call out “Hello!?” or any plead that he needed to use the restroom.
Any rational thought he had left assumed that Ellen couldn’t hear him because of her age, but in no way did it help to ease his nerves. A sudden epiphany came over him finally, as with all of his weight, the thick diaper making it very difficult, he managed to stand up again. He was not going to make it. With butterflies in his stomach and well, other things, it was very difficult to reach the “mind over matter” status of what he was about to do. After just starting to push, with almost no effort, he could feel a weight bearing down heavily underneath him.
Amongst it, he could feel himself peeing again as well. I can’t believe that I just pooped in a diaper, the mere words in his head sent a chill down his spine almost worse than what happened next, James butted his head against a crib bar and instantly heard a clicking sound. He stood there, his head in a swirl of fire, not realizing one of the crib bars activated the latch.
James quickly realized he had to get over this immense feeling of anger and with much diligence, he hopped down from the crib, making sure to land flat on his feet. I can’t allow myself to feel stupider by allowing my mess to spread around, he thought with disgust as he waddled, by no choice of his own but for the diaper and sleeper, towards the nursery door. He cracked it open, barely being able to reach the doorknob. I hate being short, he raged to himself, but maybe, he thought, it could help him in his escape.
In an unfamiliar house, and the fear of Ellen coming around the corner at any moment, he tiptoed downstairs into the first door he found, greeted by a large set of stairs. Into the darkness he waddled, step by step just knowing there had to be a back way out of the basement. He found no such thing, Instead, he was greeted with boxes among boxes of old unused things; some old couches and other furniture, stuffed animals and more family photos.
James’s heart finally sank deeper than anything he could ever imagine when he started to hear the ceiling above from what sounded like footsteps and chatter. In a panic, he waddled to a large couch and crouched behind it, making sure not to allow his mess to spread; a task that would wear my knees out in very little time.
“He’s right upstairs, ladies,” Ellen said, leading her two best friends Susan and Nancy upstairs to the nursery. “Now you two have to be quiet, no matter how cute he is. He needs his nap.” They climbed the stairs as the three grandmothers chatted about their favorite kinds of diapers to use, the best ways to soothe a fussy charge, and so on. As they opened the door to the nursery there was a large gasp. Some clattering could be heard in the basement by James as the flurry of three pairs of footsteps made their way to the first floor.
“Well, he couldn’t have gotten far.”
“Susan, search up here. Nancy and I will look downstairs.”
James’s heart skipped a beat as he curled in the fetal position behind the couch, wanting nothing more than to melt into it and be impossible to find, but fantasy gave way to logic as the two older ladies made their way down the rickety basement steps. He curled closer to the couch as they stopped at the bottom.
“Ellen,” Nancy said, making an exaggerated sniffing sound. “Ellen, do you smell what I do?”
Ellen took a whiff as well and replied in a sweet and knowing voice. “Oh dear, I think our little mister ran away with a surprise for us.”
They let their noses lead the way as they searched the basement. It didn’t take long until James looked right into the face of a woman who wasn’t Ellen. This must be Nancy, he thought with fear as he backed away into Ellen’s waiting arms.
“There you are, Mr. Stinky Pants!” Ellen cooed as she lifted James up by his armpits, holding the back of his diaper against her nose and taking a heavy whiff of its contents. “Peeuuu! Someone needs a diapie change!” she announced as she cradled him like an infant up the staircase, one hand firmly planted on his warm seat, every step causing him to bounce against the palm of her hand and squish and smear his poopy mess all over the inside of his Luvs. “Let’s get you back to the nursery and Nancy, Susan and I will take are of all that big yucky poopy in your pants.”
With every step, James could feel the poop run up against the backside of his diaper, making it stick to his rear end. He was positively humiliated as Nancy walked behind them, smiling at him the whole way and occasionally rubbing her nose against his – what James remembered his grandmother called “Eskimo kisses”. He thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse.
“Susan,” Nancy called as they made it back to the ground floor. “We found the little stinker, and oh is he darling!”
Susan rushed over and took James right out of Ellen’s arms, swinging him around. “Oh, hims is just adorable! Yes hims is!” she cooed baby talk to him as James was again too shocked and surprised to speak. “And hims made a big uhoh for grandma! Oh dear, what a messy smelly baby boy you are! Mr. Stinky Pants made a lovey in his Luvs, didn’t he? Yes hims did! We gotta get you cleaned up, yes we does!”
“Now Susan, he’s all of ours to take care of,” Ellen chided her taking him back. “Of course, the first diaper change is always special for grandma, especially a big poopy one, so why don’t we all do it together?”
“Oh what a wonderful idea, Ellie!” Nancy clapped her hands together, taking James and holding him over her shoulder, patting his diaper firmly. “We’ll change your boo boo pants with lots and lots of baby wipes and baby powder. Your grandmas are very, very good at changing poopy diapers, baby boy. You’ll be cooing and giggling all over for us before you know it.”
“Then it’s settled,” Ellen announced with a grin. “Nancy, you’ll undress him and take his Luvs off. Then I’ll use the baby wipes and get him squeaky clean, then Susan, you can powder his little tush and put him in a new diaper!”
With that, they climbed the stairs back to the nursery, Nancy squeezing and mashing his soft warm mess all over his bottom until they got inside the nursery, the powdery fragrance of the room blending with the odor of his ruined Luvs diaper into a scent that simultaneously intoxicated and repulsed James. “Okay, sweetie bee, let’s get your diapie changed!”
In an intense squirming maneuver, James managed to wriggle free of Nancy’s grip and landed on both feet, the weight of his diaper swaying back and forth. He forced it out of thought, focusing only on escape as he quickly began to waddle to the door, hearing snickers and an “oh my” amongst the laughter behind him. With nothing but escape on his mind, he waddled down the steps and made a run for the front door, cracked open as though by divine providence that he be able to leave this cursed house once and for all.
Feeling the sun’s rays upon his face, the sensation of freedom, he continued his quick stride across the front yard. Luck continued in his favor as he spotted a mail truck approach. He grinned as he knew what to do; I tell the mail man what had happened and he’ll give me a ride back home! Without much further thought, he quickly waddled up to the truck, but upon reaching the side of the vehicle, he was greeted by a heavy-set woman who wore a name tag that spelled “Melanie”.
“Um, m- Melanie I…”
“Mel, how are you doing today?” James froze as he heard Ellen’s amicable voice, sounding off as if there was nothing out of the ordinary about the situation outside her house. “Let me guess, bills, bills and more bills?”
“We’ll you’d win the million dollar prize,” Melanie said, looking at James with a smile. “Is this little guy one of yours?”
“You betcha,” Ellen smiled, picking James up and popping a pacifier in his mouth before he could protest. “Little Mr. Stinker here doesn’t want to get a diaper change. Thanks for blocking his escape,” she said jokingly, but only James knew it wasn’t a joke. Ellen kindly took the mail and carried James back inside. “C’mon, mister, let’s leave Ellen’s good friend Melanie to her work,” she said, letting him know that she was not going to be on his side of things, and as the mail truck drove off. Inside, Ellen locked and latched the door, and with its click, it signaled the end of James’s attempts at escape. The soft mess in his diaper had begun to cool and get slightly irritating as Ellen squeezed it going up the stairs. “You’re gonna feel a lot better after we change you, hun.” Feeling absolutely defeated, all James could do was to let out a long sigh through his pacifier as they made their way up the staircase to the nursery.
At the top of the stairs, Ellen handed James off to Nancy, who cuddled the boy close in her soft gentle hands. “Time to get our little boy all clean and fresh,” Nancy cooed as she carried him back into the nursery where Susan was also waiting. Knowing they had a squirmer on their hands, Nancy immediately strapped the table’s built-in restraining belt around him as soon as she laid him down. It would make getting his sleeper off easy, but she didn’t mind. She nuzzled her button nose against James’s lovingly. “Hims is just gonna be so happy to get his diapie changed. Yes hims is!” she cooed as she slowly unzipped the sleeper. The aroma of warm mess wafted out from the inside of his one-piece pajamas as Nancy fanned her nose and winced. “Oh me oh my, hims a little stinky pants!”
Nancy gently helped his arms and legs out of the sleeper, revealing the Size 6 luvs now turned light brown in the seat with a noticeable bulge. “Yep yep, hims needs a diapie change. Mr. Stinky Pants made a big poopie from his grammies. Yes hims did.”
James blushed, mortified, as Nancy slowly, as if to savor the moment of his defeat, peeled back the first tape. The ripping sound of the plastic adhesive tab rang out through the nursery like a chorus, announcing his first poopy diaper change in god knew how many years was happening for him. Nancy then moved to the second tab, removing that one even slower, wanting James to hear every sticky snap of his diaper being peeled off. James turned bright red as she slowly pulled down the front and the first traces of messy BM were revealed.
“Oh hims made a big poopoo for his grammies!” Nancy squealed. “Oh yes, Grammy Ellie’s gonna need a whole box of baby wipes to clean up this tushie. Ellie dear, he’s all yours!”
“Please,” James started to whine. “Please don’t change me!”
“Mmm…” Ellen sounded, pretending to think about it. “But then what would your mother say about you coming home in a soiled diaper? We can’t have that,” she cooed, tickling James’s tummy, not even giving the slightest notion of being able to smell the rich heavy odor wafting from between his legs. She knelt down under the changing table and came back up, producing a tub of scented Pampers baby wipes.
“He so stinky! Yes hims is!” those words coming from Nancy and Susan gave his face the reddest color imaginable from Ellen she came back up from under the table now holding the wipes, a tool for the task she was about to take on, Deftly, Ellen grabbed James’s ankles firmly, stronger than James thought she could grip them given the soft frail quality of her hands, but nonetheless James found his legs being lifted into the air and his muddy bottom being exposed to all three ladies to his complete humiliation.
James looked up to see Ellen’s fluffy grey hair silhouetted from the light on the ceiling above us. Turning his head to the side in utter shame and despair, he could could see Nancy making little claps with her palms already connected, to which he turned his head turned the opposite side to see a Big Bird decal, seeming to be laughing at him as much as the three ladies around him.
The changing process started with the use of the Luvs to wipe off some of the excess poop from James’s bottom, something he couldn’t even feel from the warmth of it all and how mammoth of a mess it was. Ellen began to hum a nursery rhyme as she popped open the tub and began to pull out wipe after wipe, laying them in a small pile next to the dirty diaper for easy access. She must have drawn out twenty wipes by the time she felt ready to tackle the mess on her hands. Gently, she took the first wipe and began to clean James off. He shuddered at the coldness and the embarrassment of watching Nancy and Susan fan their noses and make comments over his predicament. He winced as he heard the phrases “smelly baby” and “what a little stinker” come off their lips and roll into his ears.
Each wipe made James wince as it would send a shock up his spine, his face still red as he turned his head from side to side with each wipe trying to hide how uncomfortable it was, and her humming only make me want to punch her that much more. Eventually, the coldness stopped affecting him as Ellen was practically bathing him in the wipes, making sure to get every nook and cranny and to clean any mess unnoticed at first glance, even turning him on his side to wipe a little off his back. By this point, James could clearly detect the scent of the baby wipes over any other diaper-related thing in the nursery.
Ellen continued to wipe James down over and over again, making sure to be thorough and not to miss any nook or cranny in his diaper area. James just kept hoping for it to be over as she circled his bumhole with the final wipe before deeming the job complete. James winced like never before from the feeling of her finger nail in the circumference blanketed in a baby wipe, going through one last round to make sure nothing icky was still there, forcing him to hold back his tears of humiliation.
A ray of hope kept him together though, shined through with the "“But then what would your mother say about you coming home in a soiled diaper?” giving James hope that this was the last round of babying. Maybe she just wanted to take care of me for a bit to relive her days as a grandmother and didn’t want me to go home… messy, a word I struggled to even say out loud in my head…
“Upsy-daisy, cutie patootie,” Ellen coaxed as she helped him lift his bottom up off the used Luvs so she could roll it up and dispose of it in the diaper genie. “Now that you’re all clean, it’s Susan’s turn.”
Susan took over as she pinched James’s bottom with a knowing smile, looking down with a sense of condescension at his glowing red face. “Okay, baby boy,” she emphasized intentionally, seemingly more aware than Ellen and Nancy were of what they were doing to him. “Lets get you all nice and cozy in a fresh newdiapie.” She held James down as he began to struggle, amused that he thought his ordeal was somehow over.
“Now, now, no fussies,” she cooed in a sickeningly sweet voice. “Baby be good and I’ll even let you pick what kind of diapie you wear.” She began to rifle through the packages. “Baby want Pampers? Huggies? Luvies?”
Ellen spoke up, having watched James as Susan was going through the diapers. “Susan, he blushed a little more when you came to the Luvs,” James winced as he heard loud crinkling and the familiar sweet scent that tickled his nose just so. “Oh baby does wuv his Wuvies,” Susan said, placing the fresh clean diaper under his bottom. James might have shown elation if he was doing this himself, but not as this was being done to him by these women. Susan smirked as she pulled back the crinkly white plastic and took out a large bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
“Time for the magic fairy dust,” she cooed as she turned the bottle upside down, sprinkling him generously until his entire diaper area was covered in the sweet-smelling snow. Humming a different nursery rhyme, she pulled the diaper up snug as James squirmed against the pressure of being taped into yet another diaper with the horrifying sensation he would be expected to use this one as well.
He thought he was going to be released from the table when out came the baby lotion. Susan continued to hum as poured a large dollop into her hands and began to knead and massage it into James’s chest, arms and legs. Feeling the lotion being applied made his stomach drop. The babyish smell made him blush such a deep red he wished for his face to disappear. Susan’s humming only made him more furious. He could now feel the mixture of the baby powder and lotion meshing together in his bottom area, making the entire lower half of my body feel as soft as silk, the softest he could ever recall it feeling.
He began to kick, overwhelmed by the softness of Susan’s hands and the smell of the lotion. I’m not a baby, he kept telling himself as he struggled, desperate to let any of this make him feel happy in any way. Ellen smiled, knowing his inner battle was futile. After all, the moment he came into the house, Ellen knew this was exactly what he wanted.
Feeling like the embarrassment was over, he was dismayed to see Susan begin to make a stupid flapping gesture with her lips, her knowing eyes looking down at his defenseless tummy. Please, no, he thought to myself, bracing for impact.
“Hims smells so good!” Susan cooed in the same overly-sweet voice as her face hovered just a hair’s breadth from James’s tummy. He lay there, anticipating what was to come, before falling into a mess of involuntary giggles and laughter as Susan blew a big wet raspberry on his freshly moisturized skin. “Oh hims likes that!” Susan noticed, looking up at James with a devilish grin before going back in and doing it again and again. James squealed and squirmed, unable to contain himself as her warm breath hissed out over his bellybutton and the vibration of her full red lips sent tremors through every nerve ending they touched. “Oh hims a ticklish baby! Grammy Susan is going to remember this for sure!”
With each blow against his tummy, his face and body deceived him in the worst way possible. Each raspberry sent him into fits of uncontrollable laughter, a dopey smile on his face and legs kicking that gave the appearance of happiness and joy but contradicted how he was actually feeling. Any amount of work he had put in to show his discomfort and anger was all for nothing, as he had just shown so much glee beyond his will.
Ellen looked with gentle exasperation at Susan and pulled her away. “Now now, we don’t want to get our baby boy too excited. He’s all fresh and snug in his new diaper and has a big afternoon ahead of him.”
“That’s right,” Nancy chirped, unbuckling James and lifting him with ease into the air as she carried him to the closet to pick out a new outfit for him to wear. “Hims is gonna be his grammies’ date to the book club where hims is gonna get to meet all of his grammies’ friends. Oh hims is gonna be the center of attention. Evewyone’s gonna love you, baby waby!”
Upon being lifted, James couldn’t even feel Nancy’s hand on his bottom from the combination of the thick disposable diaper and the unbelievably silky smooth skin that was underneath it all. Again, it felt like a cloud was around his lower body, something he hated to admit would possibly make him happy if he was alone at home with all the time in the world to dispose of it. And yet, he cursed himself, unable to believe he was reaching this revelation. It didn’t matter because what was happening needed to end.
James needed to find a way out, but it seemed that the cottony prison around his butt was about to reach around his whole body as they approached the closet. Now, knowing they were on their way out the house into public, he knew whatever he was dressed in would surely only amplify his embarrassment and regressed state.
Before James could realize what was going on, he was dressed in a dapper sailor suit made for someone his size with nice dress socks and shoes. “Oh, who’s our handsome little boy?” Nancy continued to tease him, tireless in her efforts.
“He certainly is a little gentleman,” Ellen said, picking him up with one arm around his backside and one supporting his rear, carrying him over her shoulder downstairs. “Now let’s get you buckled up in your car seat and it’s off to the bookstore!”
Again James felt as if he was bouncing on a cloud with each step taken down the stairs, his thickly powdered, lotioned and diapered rear bouncing off of Ellen’s hand. The drive to the bookstore only made him more nervous and excited at the same time, a pit in his stomach forming at the thought of being in public wearing this ridiculous outfit and the idea of maybe, just maybe, finding an escape.
The excitement of escape though didn’t outweigh the nervous and gutsy feeling he had of being seen in his sailor suit, but he had to stay positive, looking out of the window from his car seat. With a sense of a hand slapping him in the face, he came back to reality when he felt the car stop and realized they were in the mall parking lot. Here we go, he thought after taking a huge gulp.
The minivan door slid open loudly, announcing to James that they had arrived at the mall. At first, he thought he might be so lucky to walk through the store, being able to shuffle on his own feet and hide behind his captors as best he could. “Oh, hold on Nancy,” Ellie told her as she began to unbuckle James. “I need to get the stroller ready.”
James felt his heart twinge with fear at the word “stroller”. Turning around best he could, he could see some semblance of a large baby-blue stroller being unfolded and rolled over to his side of the van. With an impish smile, Nancy picked him up and patted his bottom as she sat him in the stroller, buckling it tight around him. “Oh hims did so good staying dry on the way to the mall. Now let’s go inside and you can meet all of your grammies’ friends!”
Upon being lowered into the stroller, James could feel the soft cushoiny material of the cashmere-like seat around and under him. At this point, he felt as if his whole body was in a cloud. All he could do was look down at his sailor overalls in complete disgust. Turning his head around, he could then see Nancy, the largest of the three ladies, lifting a huge diaper bag from the back of the car. James could spot Sesame Street designs and a bit of age to it. It had obviously been used years prior to today.
For a moment amongst their chatter, James contemplated the idea of simply acting like a baby, to hide in plain sight. This thought only put in his head the idea of surrender however and he knew that it wouldn’t work in making him feel any better. Instead, it would only anger him further. Reality then smacked him in the face as he felt the momentum of the stroller begin to push forward as the three ladies continued their conversation, glancing ahead at the mall, which for James, for the first time in his life, looked more like a video game boss’s castle, ominous and foreboding.
Ellen looked at the thin watch around her wrist as they crossed the parking lot. “Oh dear, we got here a little too fast,” she noted to Nancy and Susan. “The book club doesn’t start for another half-hour.”
“That’s okay,” Susan replied. “I’m sure our little baby boy is very hungry after emptying himself out. Let’s get him something yummy for his tummy!”
In every moment of silence in their conversation, James felt the need to speak up, but the ladies’ chatter cut his voice short as they talked to each other about how much the mall had changed over the year. Finally, they seemed to have had their heart set on taking James to the Panera restaurant on the other side of the mall, being the closest place to eat near the bookstore.
It wasn’t fun or easy, but after so much baby talk and teasing, James was able to eat his meal. Ellen had bought him a kid’s turkey sandwich with a side of macaroni and cheese and a candy cookie for dessert. “For being such a good boy,” Ellen made sure to mention to the cashier when they had ordered.
During his meal, James made a pretty decent mess, so Nancy, his least favroite of the three, used a baby wipe to clean up the excess food that was on his face still. The wipe’s cold feeling was a reminder of what exactly that cloud-like feeling around my butt was - something he worked hard to forget until just now. Ellen got him a small strawberry smoothie on their way out to the club meeting. James imagined this would be the last good thing for a while. He had no idea how right he was…
The sun had just set as Ellen carried James into the house, patting his diapered bottom. The little boy had had such a long day with Grandma Ellie and her friends at the book club. Nancy and Susan returned home as well, though they swore up and down they would be back first thing tomorrow to pick Ellen up for their gardening club. Ellen thought to bring James as well, but James was a perfect gentleman to all the ladies at the book club, who had fawned and coddled him relentlessly. So many turns of Grandma’s friends feeding James and changing his wet and messy pampers had left him plumb tuckered out. The poor dear could use a break, and she had plans already made up for how he would be taken care of. She cooed sweetly to the boy in her arms as they walked silently up the stairs, but the bounce of his bottom in her arms as they went up the staircase, step by step, made James squirm slightly.
“There there,” Ellen cooed in a soft, impossibly gentle voice. “Grandma’s gonna tuck you in nice and snug, baby boy. Then you can have lots of sweet dreams until morning.”
Opening the door as quietly as she could, she laid James on the changing table to remove his clothes. She checked his diaper with a quick lift of his front, light as a feather and not weighed down by his wettums in the slightest. Though this gave James rise as his eyes fluttered open. Ellen did hope he would be more cooperative in his drowsy state.
“Shhhh,” she hushed the boy as she lifted his shirt off over her head. “Grandma’s just getting you into your jammies. It’s night night time for all good baby boys, sweetie.”
In his incredible exhausted state, James felt no urge to resist, completely submissive to feeling Ellen’s hands unlocking his diaper. He could feel a dying urge to fight but couldn’t find it in him anymore. He simply lay their and listened to the tearing of the tabs and felt her gentle hands feel around to make sure he wasn’t wet as he drifted off, mentally and physically exhausted from such a hellish day. He couldn’t even process the bizarre circumstances for what they were, He only knew that his butt was tired from the extensive diapering over the past several hour. His bum wasn’t used to that kind of extensive pampering.
As Ellen put him in an embarrassingly adorable teddy bear-shaped sleeper she had been raving about the whole way home, James felt slightly less tired and slightly angrier for being put in yet another babyish outfit, but soon that fight died too, for the fur material lining the inside was as soft as velvet on every part of his skin and he couldn’t help but bet betrayed by his own body as a soft coo escaped from his lips.
After being lowered into the crib, he felt a bit of a moist kiss on his forehead and a poke on his belly that make me want to yet again crawl in a hole in die. Yet, amongst this exhaustion, he knew this was the time he had to brainstorm of how he’d be awake in time and ready to break out of this crib. Now that he knew how easy it was to escape, he was sure that after getting enough sleep, he would wake up before the elderly lady and escape. James tried to ignore the circumstances for once and drift off with a sense of relief, knowing that soon he would be free…
Poor James though was far more tired than he had given himself credit for. Even after the sun had begun to peek through the blinds of the nursery, the warmth peering through his windows only made his fuzzy bear sleeper all the more comfortable and soothing, keeping him in a deep sleep well past when he planned to wake up. His eyes did not begin to budge until he felt the soft, wrinkled, but firm hand of Ellen on his shoulder, gently nudging him from the land of lullabies.
“Rise and shine, Mr. Sleepy Bear,” Ellen whispered softly as James awoke. As his eyes opened, he quickly became fussy, as though he did not like the fact that he had to wake up. “Oh, I know sweetie, but I can’t just let you sleep all day. Now come on, let’s check your pampers.”
Ellen placed James on the table, securing him as she removed the sleeper and checked his diaper. Noticing it was a little wet, she decided to change him, wiping his little parts clean with a few scented baby wipes that she warmed in her hands so they weren’t too cold so early in the day. Amongst being changed and through Ellen’s banter to him, James felt a sense of frustration that the window of opportunity to try and escape had been missed and a sense of drowsiness from the premature awakening was felt.
Ellen got another diaper, Huggies this time, and placed it under his bottom. Taking the baby powder next, she sprinkled it thoroughly on his diaper area in preparation for whatever he would end up doing in his diapers today. “Is someone getting his diaper changed? Oh yes, a fresh clean diaper is just what James likes the most. Yeah, he’s gonna smell all nice and pretty for when his grammies go out for the day. Oh yes, what a good clean boy you are.”
Ellen tapped up the new diaper and patted his bottom to signal the change was over. “All right then, now, do you want to be Grandma’s little helper and pick something to wear? We have to make sure you look so sweet and handsome for your babysitter.”
More embarrassing outfits, great, he thought with a grumpy look on his face.
Ellen held out an adorable little sleeper, dark green with a tail just above the snapping bottom flap and a hood that had big felt teeth and beady eyes - a dinosaur sleeper! Holding it over James to size it up, even with his pouting face, she was sure this was the one. The babysitter was just going to eat him up looking like this. “Oh yes, oh yes, this will be absolutely perfect! Come on now, let’s get you looking oh so sweet and adorable, hm?”
She laid James back down on the changing table under the sleeper and put his arms and legs through the soft cottony sleeves, zipping him up nice and snug and pulling the hood over his head. “Ooooh, look at the scary wittle baby! He’s just the cutest little T-Rex that ever was! Yes he is!”
Ellen showered him with kisses all over his pudgy cheeks as she firmly wrapped one arm around his back, holding him close and supporting his bottom with her free hand as she hauled James downstairs for breakfast. “Oooh, and I bet my little dinosaur is a hungwy dinosaur! We gotta feed him an ummy-nummy breakfast or else he’s gonna start to roar!”
James shrugged and felt his teeth clenching tighter with each “rawr” mentioning or every replacing of a “r” with a “w” as she cooed to him. The worst part of it was he could truly feel how cashmere-soft the inside on the sleeper was, juxtaposing the anger and frustration he felt inside with the situation. It was all he could do to not let the soft comfort of the sleeper break down his guard. He shuddered, hoping there would be no recreation of the nightmare that happened yesterday. I swear if I see that mail truck lady again… but the worst part wasn’t even over with that; it was what happened at the book club. Just the thought of it made him feel physically ill with shame and horror.
Just then the doorbell rang. Ellen was a little perturbed, having wanted to feed James before the babysitter arrived, but she was pleasantly surprised to see that it was Nancy and Susan, decked out from head to toe in gardening gear, with thick rubber gloves and big floppy visors to protect from the sun.
“Oh, Ellen, are we too early?” Nancy said, as Ellen welcomed them in.
“You’re right on time,” Ellen noted as she shifted James’s weight in her arms. “James, sweetie, can you say good morning to Grandma Nancy and Grandma Susan?”
“Well hello, baby boy,” Susan said, pinching hischeeks. “Off to destroy Tokyo this morning are we, or just your diapies?” she teased James relentlessly.
“Say hello, James,” Ellen asked of him again. “I’m sorry, ladies. He’s just the fussiest today. I hope he isn’t too much of a handful for Mayra.”
“That’s right,” Nancy said, looking at James squarely. “Our little man needs to be on his best behavior today. Grammies are going to Grandma Susan’s house to help with her with her backyard garden and hims has to be a perfect little gentleman for his babysitter.”
Ellen craned her neck over Susan and Nancy, as she saw a wine-red minivan pulling up the drive. “Oh, and would you look who it is? Come on, let’s go and greet her.” Ellen again shifted James’s weight in her arms as they made their way out of the house. She smiled a little as she watched James hide himself against her shoulder like the shy little boy he was. The book club had not been easy on him, but she wasn’t going to relent. James had to get used to being fawned over and coddled and spoiled. She was certain that with enough time and encouragement, James would be a happy, smiling baby boy for all his grammies and all their visitors.
“Hi, Mayra, thank you for coming on such short notice,” Ellen told the woman, a tall Latina woman with her slightly graying hair tied in a bun, dressed in a blue blouse with a white lightweight knitted vest and tan shorts maybe 10 years her junior as she got out of the car. “Come on, baby boy,” Ellen encouraged James. “Say hi to Mayra. She’s going to be taking care of you today.”
Why can’t it stop? James screamed internally. He had almost somewhat in the tiniest fraction of a percentage gotten used to the annoying babying by Ellen, Nancy and Susan, thinking that was the extent of it, but now yet another face would see him in this state. James began to panic, more from anger than anything else. With a last wind of force, he managed to catch Ellen off guard as he wiggled free, managing to land on his feet and not on his diaper, making off slowly towards the sidewalk away from the ladies. That was, until he witnessed something that nearly made him wet his diaper yet again.
A few yards ahead, were a large congregation of kids James’s age whom he very specially recognized, talking to each other amongst walking towards the bus stop. James felt a cold sweat come upon him. In the shortest time frame possible, endless thoughts went through his mind of them teasing him relentlessly, all of his crushes finding out, teachers making offhanded references and on and on. It felt so painful to have to turn around from his pathway to freedom, but his pride, battered as it was, left him no choice.
James turned around to see the ladies looking at him before deciding to make a run back towards the house, nuzzling his way in through the cracked-open front door before dashing under the coffee table in Ellen’s living room. When no one came for him, he began to get antsy, deciding to get on the couch and peek one eye through the curtains of the nearest window.
The lady, whose name James had forgotten nor cared about, was smiling and chatting with all three of the ladies. She looked like she wasn’t from here, but talked with ease to them. James quickly found himself giving extra attention to the lady of tan complexion, her hair in a bun gave him scared thoughts and a first impression of her being mean and stern, something he had taken for granted of Ellen and her friends not being. Finally seeing them slowly separate from one another, James jumped and looked for another spot to hide. With luck, maybe this lady would forget to lock the door out of the distraction of finding him. He had to be on his game now.
The babysitter, Mayra, waved goodbye to Ellen and the ladies as they pulled out of the driveway. Closing the door, but not locking it, Mayra stepped into the living room. As she looked around, the big green tail sticking out from behind the credenza foiled whatever hiding James was trying to do. Certain that he wasn’t going to be going anywhere like that, Mayra went to the kitchen and helped herself to a cup of coffee as she sat down at the kitchen table and watched James intently. She knew very well he could stay there for long, but she decided she would wait until he realized it.
It wasn’t long, as she was about halfway through her coffee when the little tail began to sway as James ducked out into the open. He looked shell-shocked, as though he had expected that as soon as she closed the door he would be bombarded with affection and attention. Mayra knew that some of the boys Ellen watched relished in that kind of behavior, but James was one of those who still valued his independence and clung to his freedom like the ladies expected him to cling to a baby blanket - for dear life and no matter how little hope there was. These boys couldn’t just be willed into enjoying being a baby again. Conditioning was required, and that’s why Ellen always hired Mayra for cases like James, because she knew like no other how to get the most stubborn boys to come out of their shell.
James stared into Mayra’s olive complexion and subtle wrinkled features as she drank her coffee peacefully, reading through the list Ellen handed her outside. It wasn’t until she glanced over at him that he almost fell onto his butt out of shock. S- she knew I was here this whole time? I thought in misery. James looked away and tried to crawl behind the couch, but couldn’t manage to fit between the space. Ignoring her words of welcome, James frantically knew he had to get away from her, lest she pick him up, so that the same torture would ensure again and again.
After thirty seconds passed, scotching further back thinking he was out of sight, James saw her stand up and walk towards him and kneel down on his level. Before she could speak, he made a desperate dash, waddling in his dino suit towards the basement again. Oh great, awesome memories down here, he thought. To his shock, he didn’t feel or sense footsteps behind him.
Still, James struggled to make my way down the stairs at a quick pace, feeling weighed down by the annoying bulkiness of the diaper and dinosaur tail of this stupid outfit Grandma… Ellen dressed him in.
James sat on the floor behind the stairs, out of sight from the doorway, sitting on this cloud-like cushioning from under his sleeper. He sat feeling hopeless and defeated. James then began to wander around the room, running his hand across old relic-like trinkets and looking at dusty photos. There were some old toys in a corner, some were Fisher-Price toys that looked like they were from around the time he was a kid, or even before he was born. Old stacked photo albums of families whom James didn’t know depicted people at the beach, one picture of a kid running on the beach in a diaper being chased by his mother. It was almost as if life itself wanted to remind him of his current place.
Among pacing and moping, hours passed and thoughts that James didn’t understand started to surface in his mind. Why couldn’t he take his eyes off Mayra? What was it about her? How come he kept going back to that photo of that kid laughing on the beach, running around in just his diaper? James had never played with such toys in his life, but somehow they struck some weird neutral chord in his soul.
After ten minutes of dazing at the patterns on the arm of his sleeper, realizing there was no “secret doorway” that led into the backyard or anything of that nature, the increasing grumbles in his stomach became deafening. James couldn’t take the pain anymore; something had to give. It has been since the book club meeting that James had his last meal. Sitting on the dusty basement floor, he began toying with the idea that Mayra might be locked into some TV show or doing something that didn’t concern him. Maybe, just maybe, I could find a way to sneak into the kitchen and grab some kind of food to sneak down here… I mean, she must have not seen me come down here or else she surely would have quickly come down right?
James turned an eye to a light coming from underneath the door to the upstairs area and let out a large sigh, attempting to build up courage to go back to the ground floor.
From what Ellen had told Mayra prior to leaving, Mayra knew James was a fussy one, but that he didn’t entirely hate how he was being treated. Though he had retreated to the basement for an hour or so, Mayra smiled as she sat in Ellen’s easy chair, a book in her lap. She marked the page and closed it softly, placing the time-occupier on a nearby table as she looked at James, peeking out to see if Mayra was still there. “Hola, pequeño,” Mayra cooed softly, but not making any attempt to approach him. “Is your tummy all kinds of rumbly?”
James pulled the door closed a little bit, but not all the way. It seemed he was afraid Mayra was going to come after him, but instead Mayra went to the kitchen and took out a can of oatmeal, preparing it on the stove while she cut up a banana to go in with the mush. “Come here, pequeño. Let’s get some yummy food in you and make the rumblies go away. Would you like that?”
James watched as Mayra fiddled with the radio until he heard a bunch of commercials, with people talking very fast and in Spanish. Those radio commercials segued into what I was very danceable-type of music he remembered hearing in a Mexican restaurant one time. Going over to the kitchen, James watched her faintly humming the words of the song to herself as she began cutting up a banana and stirring a pot. There was a stern look of intense concentration on her face as she looked down to cut the fruit, her view obscured by her slightly large breasts beneath her blue blouse. Who was this lady? James thought to himself while at the same time fiddling and fascinated with the patterns on my sleeper… that he absolutely hated and wanted off of him.
Yet again, James was hurled back into reality as Mayra turned to him and squatted down to his level. “Don’t you wanna get food in your wittle belly, pequeño?” she asked, again causing him to move back, but not as much as before. James turned his head away, trying to hide the warming sensation on his cheeks that he knew were there, but was it anger still, or something else? Knowing that something had to give, that food was absolutely vital to giving him the strength to get out of there, it gave him some strength to walk forth towards Mayra.
James looked up at the table, trying not to make eye contact, but to - what shouldn’t have been - his surprise, he followed her around the other side to be greeted by a large wooden high chair, already with the latch up.
Mayra looked at James amusingly as he stared up at the high chair and back at her, over and over. “Yes, pequeño, that is where you sit. Señorita Mayra would not want you to fall off while you bounce around at the table.” She gave James a moment to get into the highchair, but quickly noticed that he seemed bewildered by it more than anything else. Squatting down to meet his eye level, Mayra smiled and gently tousled his hair. “Can’t get up, pequeño? Let me help you with that.”
Mayra grabbed James by the armpits and gently lifted him up, chuckling a little about how big he was for a baby and sat him down on the hard wooden seat. James didn’t feel gravity fighting his lift-off of the ground when Mayra grabbed James by the armpits and gently lifted him up, chuckling a little about how big he was for a baby and sat him down on the hard wooden seat. His feet gave no fight to staying planted on the ground before finally snapping back to the miserable reality that he was in a high chair, shuddering over the memory of embarrassing photos his mother used to show him of when he was a baby, carrot flavored baby food all over his hands and face, wearing a blissful smile.
She latched the tray in place, making sure to watch out for his little hands so they didn’t get caught or pinch as she locked it into place and pulled a kitchen chair around in front of him, holding the bowl of warm mushy oatmeal in her lap with a spoon shaped like a choo-choo train that looked to be older than James was by a few decades.
James could feel Mayra rustle his hair after being planted in the high chair seat. Her long peach colored nails stroking through his hair gave him mixed feelings. It had begun to dawn on him, he was feeling something he couldn’t explain other than it wasn’t the same kind absolute terror he had felt over the last day of being stuck in this house; a diapering, pampering prison.
“Now I know my pequeño is quite a big boy, but Señorita Mayra doesn’t exactly know how big? Does him want to feed himself while I watch or does him want to be fed until he’s nice and full?”
Mayra smiled a little, noticing James was warming up to her so much faster than she anticipated. Seeing James looking away from her after asking if he wanted to feed himself, being given the opportunity to be a big boy and decline the offer, made Mayra all the happier. Whatever James said or how he fussed, she knew what he wanted, deep down in his heart of hearts, was the tender love and affection that only a baby could so openly and happily receive.
Mayra put the bowl of oatmeal with banana slices on the tray. Knowing how little ones didn’t always like the taste of oatmeal, she swirled in some brown sugar to make it sweet for the little boy. Dipping the choo-choo train spoon into the mixture, she took out a healthy serving and swirled it around in front of him. “Choo-choo,” she imitated the sound a train makes, softly and lovingly. “Choo-choo, pequeño. The train is heading your way with a big delivery of yummies for your tummy. Can you open up the tunnel and let it through?”
She chugga-chugga’d and choo-choo’d bring the train closer to James’s lips, never once giving the impression she was forcing it upon him. She would keep doing this until James opened his mouth of his own accord, which she had a feeling would not be all that long.
Sitting in the high chair, James could feel his legs dangling even higher off the ground, aided by the extra boost of the thick Huggies and fabric of the dinosaur onesie. His mind fluttered back to the picture of the kid on the beach wearing the diaper, a huge smile across his face and being chased by a lady amidst laughter that may or may have not have been his mom. It struck a faint chord within his memory, walking next to my mom in the grocery store and seeing pictures on bags of diapers, of babies smiling with their mothers, happy in the background, looking down at their diapered troublemakers.
He remembered seeing Pampers commercials and feeling the same feelings he was feeling right now. What was going on? Why was it a sense of curiosity he was feeling now? He tried and tried to shake his head free of confusion and refocus his thoughts on what was important, getting out of there, getting rid of the diaper somehow before getting home, hoping not to be seen by people in the neighborhood or, even worse, his mother.
But then looking ahead of him was Mayra, whose slightly older features were washed out by her… beauty. He gulped as she walked closer to him, with a huge smile and a beautiful chest. Salsa music played next to the cutting board behind her and he couldn’t help but fight these new feelings that he was just starting to experience.
Mayra then said again, amongst her glee, “Choo-choo, pequeño.” which caused James to look away, trying to avoid looking at her face that was begging to wear down on something inside of him that he couldn’t quite put a finger on. After relenting and turning his face towards her, he saw the spoon still suspended in mid air, right in front of his face. At this point, his stomach was practically begging him to stop being stubborn and to accept what he needed in this very moment, despite the circumstances.
James pulled his hand from under the latch of the high chair and felt Mayra gently let go of the spoon into his hand. Immediately, James took a massive intake of the oatmeal. Instantly, he began to feel his stomach filling with what felt like miracle matter, sending endorphins all through my body and wanting more instantly. Caught up in the moment, he completely forgot about the thick diaper hugging his rear, the soft fur of the dinosaur onesie teasing his skin with its softness, and this strange-speaking lady making him breakfast and baby-talking me. She rustled his hair again as he devoured the food in a desperate manner, not even taking time to enjoy it for what it was, but for the fact that it made him feel so good and nurtured.
“Ay, despacio,” Mayra laughed as James surprised her, gobbling down every spoonful of oatmeal that he could get his mouth on. She tried to keep him clean, but James had turned into the voracious dinosaur he was so appropriately dressed up as, messily taking each spoonful and getting oatmeal all over his slightly pudgy cheeks. “It’s not going to disappear, pequeño.”
James seemed to have no conscious sense to slow down, but Mayra was not about to scold him for it. On the contrary, it warmed her heart to see the little boy so happy enjoying his breakfast. In and out the spoon went from his mouth as the contents of the bowl began to disappear. James hadn’t lost any steam by the time the bowl was empty, so she planned to set him loose in the living room when they were done. Noticing how messy his face was, Mayra fetched a clean dishtowel from one of the kitchen drawers and ran it under some lukewarm water