Maggie was frustrated. It had been a long day of boring lectures. Maggie felt that if somebody could make even the 1960s sound like a boring time, they really shouldn’t be allowed to teach. Especially at the beginning of the semester. They’d pose a suicide risk for the students. She had told her boyfriend Christopher that over lunch. Well, he wasn’t really her boyfriend; they were more like friends with benefits. He had made all the right, sympathetic noises, but she knew he’d been ogling one of the new psychology professors. Maggie had to snap her fingers in Christopher’s face to wake him up. She had said that she didn’t really blame him for looking; after all, it was impressive how she looked like she was in her early thirties while she had to be at least a decade older, but that hadn’t been true. She had been feeling down and looking for some sympathy, not a not-quite-boyfriend who couldn’t keep his attention on her for two minutes. In hindsight she regretted not just getting up and leaving right there and then. Instead she had played the part of the loyal friend and stuck around until Christopher had had to leave for class.
After that, Maggie had had to endure another couple of classes that thankfully weren’t quite as bad as the history lecture, but they had still been annoyingly tedious. Add to that four hours of work, and by the time Maggie returned to her tiny apartment, she was just about ready to strangle someone. She really wasn’t cut out for work in the retail sector, particularly during back-to-school sales. Even flying around Azeroth on her favourite World of Warcraft character failed to relax her. There was really only one thing to do: Maggie went to bed early.
For Maggie, getting ready for bed when she was feeling like this was a little more elaborate than normally. She started by pulling out the bottom towel from the neatly folded stack in her tiny bathroom. It was the biggest and softest of them all and she always made sure to put it at the bottom of the stack so she wouldn’t grab it by mistake. Maggie moved the table out of the way, pulled out the sleeper sofa and quickly made the bed. Next she spread the towel out on the bed and folded it several times. After stripping, she sat down on the towel and pulled it up between her legs. She slipped her feet into a pair of oversized granny panties and pulled them up so they held the towel in place.
Maggie didn’t need the diaper, but for some reason she liked the feeling of being padded; she always had. The thicker the better. If she couldn’t bring her legs together, that was perfect. She had lost count of how often she had woken up with most of her duvet stuffed between her legs when she was younger. As she grew older, she had begun to do it intentionally before she fell asleep. At first just using a blanket or her duvet, but eventually she switched to towels. Maggie had never shared this with anyone, but whenever she was stressed or upset, the temptation was always there. And more often than not, she acted on it.
Maggie could almost feel the tension leave her body as she lay on her bed, the evening sun peeking in around the edges of her curtains and the warm summer air making a slight sheen of sweat appear on her skin. She slipped a hand inside her diaper and lazily played with herself while she listened to the traffic outside. Eventually, she drifted off to sleep.
Maggie awoke with a start and found she couldn’t move. She was completely paralysed as a cool draught raised goosebumps on her clammy skin. Some oddly calm corner of her mind worried how it would look if somebody saw her like this: Wearing a big diaper and with one hand inside it. If Chris saw me like this, I’d never hear the end of it.
Maggie’s thoughts were interrupted by a metallic gurgling sound. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the mirror next to the door. It looked less like a mirror and more like a vertical pool of mercury. Part of its surface was oozing down the wall to form a shiny puddle on the floor. Then something rose out of the puddle; human-shaped, but with a mirror finish. The annoyingly detached and nerdy part of Maggie’s mind noted that it was just like the T-1000 terminator. Its surface dulled and it turned around and it was… her. It looked exactly like Maggie. It was wearing the same bulky diaper and granny panties; it even had the same tattoo of a fox barely visible over the waistband of the panties, except it was on the wrong hip.
The mirror image walked over to the bed and sat down next to Maggie who pretended to be asleep, peering out through almost closed eyes. It wasn’t very hard since she couldn’t really move anything else anyway.
“Oh stop that,” the mirror image said. “I know you’re awake.” She reached out and brushed the hair out of Maggie’s face. Maggie felt her muscles relaxing as the paralysis began to fade away. She tried to pull her hand out of her diaper, but the mirror image stopped her. “Just leave it there for now. We both know you like that.”
“How?” Maggie whispered.
“Well, duh! I thought that’d be obvious by now. I know that your cellphone pin number is your birthday backwards, divided by three. I know you almost flunked history last term.” The mirror image reached down to touch her own tattoo. “I know who held your hand while you got this and how you still have a bottle of her shampoo in your bathroom.” She stroked Maggie’s cheek. “I know everything about you because I am you.”
“I meant how is this poss… Hang on, I do not have a bottle of Susan’s shampoo,” Maggie protested.
“No, you’re right. It’s her conditioner. But that’s not what’s important; nor is how I’m here. What matters is why I’m here.”
“And why is that?” Maggie was slowly trying to slide away.
“You had a crap day. you were annoyed that summer is almost over and that you’re back in school with all the drama that entails. You wanted some sympathy and maybe a good hug, but that dumbass Chris was too busy thinking about that hottie professor.”
“Yeah,” Maggie admitted reluctantly.
“So I’m here to make you a deal.” The mirror image took Maggie’s hand in hers and looked into her eyes. “Do you remember when you were little? When summers lasted almost forever and you didn’t have to worry about anything?”
“Wouldn’t you like that again?” The mirror image slowly stroked Maggie’s hand. “No stupid job or classes to go to; no responsibilities. Not a care in the world.”
“Mm-hm,” Maggie said dreamily
“I can make it that way again,” the mirror image said and rose from the bed. “Take my hand.”
In a daze, Maggie swung her legs out of bed and got up. She walked behind the other Maggie towards the mirror, holding her hand.
The mirror was so narrow that her mirror image had to step through it sideways, vanishing through the slowly rippling surface. When she pulled Maggie along and her hand made contact with the mirror, she expected it to feel cold, but it didn’t. It felt more like a warm, heavy mist or fog. Maggie closed her eyes as she stepped through and when she opened them again she was still standing in her apartment, except it was different somehow. It took her a couple of moments to notice a magazine on the table, but then she realised that everything was mirrored.
“Come along now,” said the mirror image. Or was Maggie the mirror image on this side of the mirror?
Still holding the other Maggie’s hand with one hand and holding up the sagging towel diaper with the other, Maggie followed Other Maggie through the door. They emerged in the middle of a small clearing surrounded by trees. Looking back, Maggie saw a small shed. Other Maggie was saying something, but Maggie was still mesmerised by the surroundings. She bent down and picked one of the flowers next to her bare foot.
“It’s incredible. This even smells real.” Maggie breathed deeply smelling grass and wildflowers.
“It is real,” Other Maggie said. Now come along. There’s somebody I want you to meet."
"“Like this?!?” Maggie suddenly became aware of what she was wearing.
“Oh, nobody will mind. No worries, remember?” Other Maggie took Maggie’s hand and pulled her along into the forest.
When they came out of the forest, they were at the top of a small hill. Below them was a large house, a pond and a large garden with big trees. “We just missed lunch, but there should be some food left.”
When they came closer, Maggie realised that everything about the house was a little scaled up. The windows were just a foot higher up than usual, the door was bigger, the steps up the porch was just a little too high to easily walk up. It all gave her the distinct feeling of being smaller than usual.
Other Maggie opened the door and walked in, pulling a acutely self-conscious Maggie along. Inside was a kitchen with the same oversized tables and chairs. There was a giant of a woman putting plates and glasses in the sink. She must have been almost seven feet tall and looked like she was in her early fifties. She had that air about her that grandmothers do, even though she was a little young for it.
“Hey Mom, look who finally came to join us,” Other Maggie said. She turned to Maggie and whispered: “Her real name’s Eliza, but she likes it when we call her Mom.”
“Maggie!” Eliza exclaimed and came over to give Maggie a hug. “We’ve been waiting for so long. Let me have a look at you.” Maggie unsuccessfully tried to cover up her bare chest and the diapers. “Nonononono, that simply won’t do. Come with me, dear.”
Eliza took Maggie’s hand and led her out of the kitchen and down the hall to a bathroom. “You hop up here,” she said and patted what looked like a piece of the kitchen counter. Maggie realised that it was a giant changing table and just stood there in front of it, dumbstruck. “Oh come on now. You’re a bit too big for me to lift you.”
Maggie looked around and saw a stool next to the changing table. She used it to clamber up onto the table and sat there with her feet dangling over the edge.
“Lie back dear,” Eliza said as she grabbed Maggie’s legs and slid her further back. Maggie lay back on the smooth, warm surface. “Are you still dry?” she asked and unceremoniously slipped a couple of fingers inside Maggie’s diaper.
Maggie jumped. “Hey,” she blurted out. “Of course I am.”
Eliza pulled the granny panties and towel diaper off Maggie in one quick yank, leaving her naked and desperately trying to cover up. “Oh come now. It’s nothing I haven’t seen a hundred times before,” she said. “Now lift your butt.”
Without thinking Maggie did as she was told and Eliza slid a diaper under butt. She quickly pulled it up between her legs and taped the whole thing in place. The whole operation took only seconds. She helped Maggie sit up and Maggie looked down at the teddy bear print. This is so weird. She reached down to touch it, somehow doubting that any of this was real. The plastic backing rustled softly when she did.
“Now, let’s see if this doesn’t fit you.” Eliza held up a light blue summer dress. She slipped it over Maggie’s head and helped her with the sleeves before helping her down from the changing table. “Now you go outside and play with the others.”
Maggie walked back to the kitchen and out onto the porch, wondering what Eliza had meant by ‘the others’. But once she set foot outside, she heard excited voices from the other side of the house. She tip-toed to the corner and peeked around it. By the pond she could see four children playing. No, not children. They were adults dressed as children. Then it struck her: So was she. Maggie crept closer, ducking behind bushes until she was close enough to hear what they were talking about. It seemed the three of them, two girls and a boy, were having an argument about some kind of race in the brook that fed the pond. Eventually, they decided that the only way to settle it was another race. They picked up their crude wooden boats and ran upstream.
“I can see you, you know.” Maggie froze. “Oh come on. That blue dress isn’t exactly camouflage.”
Feeling like she had been caught trespassing, Maggie slowly emerged from behind her bush to see who had spoken. It was another boy. No, not boy; man. He was maybe in his late twenties, average height, a little chubby, with a deep tan and mop of curly brown hair. All in all not entirely unattractive, Maggie thought. He was sitting on a stone with his knees pulled up and his arms around them.
“Hi, I’m Tommy.”
“So, you’re gonna want to have a seat for the today’s grand final of the race,” Tommy said wearily. “I think the score is like a thousand points to Maria and a thousand points to Jacob.”
“So they’re tied?” Maggie sat down on the stone next to Tommy.
“I have no idea, I’ve lost count. But they should have time to finish before the rain starts.”
“What do you mean?”
“See that cloud over there?” Tommy pointed towards the mountains in the distance. “The one that sort of looks like a fish.”
“When it’s on the other side of that mountaintop, it’ll start to rain.”
“How do you know that?” Maggie looked at Tommy.
He sighed. “That’s how it is every day. It’ll start to rain and we go inside to play. It’ll stop halfway through dinner.”
“What do you mean ‘every day’?”
“Every day is the same here. I’ve tried to figure out the routine, but this place get inside your head. Makes you forget numbers and letters and-”
“Who’re you?” A voice interrupted from behind them. Maggie turned around to see one of the two girls that had run off earlier.
“Uh…” Maggie was a little thrown by the childish appearance of the young woman. While she might be around twenty, she was wearing a pink dress so short her diaper peeked out below the hem. She had mussed-up, blonde hair and a couple of dirty smudges on her cheeks and forehead.
“Charlotte, this is Maggie,” Tommy said. “Maggie, Charlotte.”
“Like the thpider,” she lisped
“She’s been here a while,” Tommy whispered. “Like I said, this place gets inside your head.”
“Will you be my friend?” Charlotte looked up at Maggie with a wide-eyed, innocent expression.
“Um, sure,” Maggie answered.
“Yay!” Charlotte shouted and threw her arms around Maggie to give her a hug. The unrestrained enthusiasm surprised Maggie, but she returned the hug, rubbing Charlotte’s back.
“Does this mean you’ll stop bugging me now?” a voice asked snidely. When Maggie looked to see who had spoken she saw a girl with olive skin and long black hair. She was wearing overalls and a red t-shirt and was carrying a wooden boat.
“I guess you must be Maria,” Maggie said. “I’m Maggie.”
“Ooooo, look at you talkin’ all fancy,” Maria replied and rolled her eyes.
“Don’t listen to her Maggie. She’s just being a meanie,” Charlotte said, frowning at Maria. She grabbed Maggie’s hand and pulled her towards the garden. “Come on, I wanna show you something.”
Charlotte dragged Maggie around the entire garden, showing her the apple tree and the patch of strawberry plants. She was just about to lead Maggie back to the pond when the first raindrops began to fall. Maggie glanced towards the mountains and just like Tommy had said, the fish-shaped cloud was just past the top of it.
Maggie followed a squealing Charlotte back to the house. She darted from tree to tree in an attempt to stay dry in the steadily increasing downpour. Charlotte on the other hand danced along the path and jumped in a couple of the small puddles that had formed by the time they reached the porch.
When they reached the kitchen, Maria and Jacob were sitting by the kitchen table colouring. Jacob was concentrating with his tongue out. Tommy was nowhere to be seen.
“Where’s Tommy?” Maggie asked.
Maria gave her a quick look before she returned to her colouring book. “Momma’s changing him.”
Charlotte had already climbed onto one of the oversized chairs and started hoarding the blue and green crayons, but Maggie didn’t feel like colouring. So she decided to explore the house instead. She found a large living room on the ground floor and bedrooms and an additional bathroom on the first floor. When she made her way up the steep staircase to the attic, however, she found something odd. Somebody had tied some string between the backs of two chairs and put a blanket over it, creating a small tent. Well, small compared to the chairs; it was more than big enough for Maggie. The tent itself wasn’t really all that strange, but inside she found a shoe box filled with papers. Leafing through them, Maggie saw mathematical equations and calculations far more advanced than what she understood, but the closer she came to the top of the stack, the simpler the maths became. Eventually, the numbers were replaced by unidentifiable squiggles and then there were drawings of flowers. Bluebells to be precise. Sometimes a single flower, other times whole fields of them.
“Do you like them?” Maggie almost jumped out of her skin. Charlotte was kneeling in the opening to the tent. She crawled in and sat down next to Maggie, taking the stack of papers from her.
“You did that?”
Charlotte nodded. “I wasn’t very good at first, but Momma said that if I practised I would get better. And I did, see?” She picked up a new drawing from the floor outside the tent and held it up for Maggie. It was a picture of two stick figures in a green field dotted with blue flowers. One was wearing a pink dress and the other a blue one. “I made it for you,” Charlotte said.
“Come on, Momma said it’s dinnertime.” Charlotte crawled out of the tent, giving Maggie a perfect view of her soiled diaper as she did.
The two girls joined Tommy and Jacob in putting away the crayons and colouring books. They were almost done when Eliza and Maria came back from the downstairs bathroom.
“OK, anybody else need a change before dinner?” Eliza asked matter-of-factly.
Charlotte looked away and scraped her foot on the floor. “Me,” she said quietly.
“Charlotte made a stinky! Charlotte made a stinky!” Maria began singing.
Maggie could see that it upset Charlotte who looked like she was about to burst out in tears. For some reason she felt oddly protective of her. “Quit picking on her.”
“Yeah,” Tommy chimed in. “Stop being a meanie.”
“Maria!” Eliza said sternly.
Maria stopped immediately. “Sorry,” she mumbled, not sounding very sincere. Charlotte however didn’t notice and went off with Eliza.
Maggie sat down next to Tommy. “So you’re all wearing diapers?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah. That’s the first thing to go. Then it’s numbers and letters like I told you. And finally you don’t even remember anything from before.” He nodded slightly towards Maria and Jacob.
“That doesn’t sound so bad. I mean, apart from the diapers this place doesn’t sound all that bad.”
“Are you kidding? It’s the same day over and over and over. The rain starts at the same time every day.” He pointed out the window. “And by the time Mom puts the rest of the food back on the stove, it’ll stop raining. Then just after sunset it’ll get kinda windy. Tomorrow morning, just after breakfast, a big fish is going to jump in the pond, and so on and so on. Every day is the same and every day you feel a little of yourself slip away.”
“How long have you been here?”
“Shhh,” Tommy said as Eliza and Charlotte returned. “She doesn’t like us talking about that.”
Charlotte sat down next to Maggie. Her face was cleaned up and her hair was in pigtails. Eliza looked at Maggie. “How about you dear? Are you sure you don’t need a change?” Maggie nodded. “OK then,” Eliza said and began putting plates on the table.
During dinner, Eliza had the children talk about what they had done that day. The stew was tasty, but a little bland. After they were done, Eliza rose to put the big pot back on the stove. Tommy gave Maggie a nudge and glanced towards the window. Outside, the rain had stopped and clouds had parted to show a rosy sky. ***
After dinner, Tommy, Charlotte and Maggie retreated to the attic. Charlotte lay on the floor, drawing, while Tommy and Maggie sat in the tent.
“OK,” Maggie said, “so the days really are repeating themselves.”
“And you keep forgetting your old life, little by little?”
“Well, how quickly does it happen? I’m guessing you’ve been here the shortest.”
“Actually, Jacob came after me. I think you lose yourself more quickly if you don’t resist and he just went along with it from day one. Almost like he was running away from something.”
“So that’s what you’ve been doing? Fighting it?”
Charlotte scowled at them. “Momma says ‘no fighting’,” she said solemnly.
“It’s OK Charlotte, we’re not fighting.”
“Um, 'kay,” she said and returned to her drawing.
“So, how long have you been ‘enjoying’ this summer?” Maggie made air quotes.
“I don’t think ‘enjoying’ is the right word, and why were you doing that thing with your hands?”
“What do you me- Oh, the air quotes. They mean … Look, never mind that. How long?”
“I don’t know,” Tommy said. “Numbers, remember?”
“OK, let’s try something else then. Do you get older when you’re here?”
Tommy shrugged. “I don’t think so.”
“So what do you remember from before you came here. Do you remember who’s president?”
“I’m not sure. Kind of a goofy-looking guy. Really short name.”
“Bush?” Maggie suggested.
“Yeah, that’s it. Bush.”
“That means you’ve been here m-”
“And that other guy,” Tommy interrupted, “he’d fit right in here. He couldn’t spell either.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know how to do it now, but ‘potato’?”
“Oh my god. You meant Bush One. You’ve been here for…” Maggie paused longer than she normally would have had to , “…more than 25 years?”
Tommy just sat there, looking more and more uncertain. “I don’t know,” he mumbled.
For a few minutes, they just sat there. The only sound was the scratching sound of Charlotte’s crayons and the wind picking up outside.
“So how do we get out of here?” Maggie finally asked.
“I don’t know. I don’t even know if I ever knew. It’s like I’m trapped in a dark cellar.”
“Why don’t you just go back up the stairs?” Charlotte asked, putting down her crayons.
“It’s not really a cellar Charlotte,” Tommy said with a sigh.
“Hang on,” Maggie said. She grabbed Tommy’s arm. "How did you get here?
“I’m not sure,” he said hesitantly. “It’s all so fuzzy. It’s like it’s me, but not me. Like-”
“A mirror image,” they both said.
“What do you mean?” Tommy asked.
“We try what Charlotte suggested. We go out the way we came in. We’ll just have to hope that it works for all of us.”
“So where is this way out then?”
“Up the hill and into the woods,” Maggie said vaguely.
“That’s it? We’re never going to find it in the dark.”
“OK my little munchkins, it’s bedtime,” Eliza’s voice called from downstairs.
“But mooooom…” Charlotte complained.
“Now now, tomorrow’s another day.”
“Okay,” she said dejectedly and headed for the stairs. Tommy and Maggie followed close behind.
When they came down, Eliza kneeled down and wiped a smudge off Maggie’s cheek. “I set up your bed in Charlotte’s room since you two are such good friends already.” Charlotte squealed with delight at the news. Eliza handed Maggie a toothbrush. “Now you go brush your teeth while I get Charlotte ready. And Tommy, once I’m done with Charlotte it’s your turn to have a bath.”
“Again?” Tommy whined, suddenly sounding more like a kid than before. The look Eliza gave him clearly told him that the matter was not up for discussion. “OK mom,” he said and headed downstairs. Maggie went to the bathroom and, standing on a stool, she barely managed to reach the shelf where the toothpaste was. It was hard to control the oversized toothpaste tube and she ended up squeezing out a lot more than she intended.
After she was done, Maggie took off her dress and tried to take off her diaper, but the tapes just didn’t want to come loose. She even tried to wiggle out of them, but despite feeling somewhat loose, the didn’t want to go down past her hips. Nor could she push it to the side to pee. The more she tried, the greater the urge became, until it was almost painful. She finally accepted the fact that the diaper was not going anywhere. She was going to have to wet it; and soon. Maggie was just standing still, almost holding her breath when she heard footsteps and Charlotte’s happy chattering. OK, if I wet it now, I can get changed right away. That won’t be so bad. Maggie tried to let go, but couldn’t. Then she had an idea. She sat down on the toilet. The feeling of the toilet seat was enough of a sense memory to let Maggie let go. She felt a warm rush surround her crotch and seep towards her butt. Maggie slid off the toilet, feeling the warm squish of her diaper just as the door opened and Eliza peeked in.
“So,” she asked, “are you still dry?” obviously seeing that Maggie wasn’t.
“No,” Maggie said, almost whispering. Shame and frustration at having had to wet herself almost made her want to cry.
Eliza knelt in front of Maggie and stroked her cheek. “Don’t cry, dear. That’s what they’re there for. Come along; mommy’ll make it better.” She took Maggie’s hand and led her out the door. Maggie tried to grab her dress before she leaving the bathroom. “Oh just leave it pumpkin. Nobody’ll mind.”
Eliza led Maggie down the stairs. On the way, they passed Jacob and Maggie instinctively tried covered up her bare chest and diaper. Jacob, however, didn’t even seem to notice that Maggie was topless. Once inside the downstairs bathroom, Eliza helped Maggie up on the giant changing table. Maggie winced at the squishy sensation as she sat down on the wet diaper.
“Now lie back and we’ll get you washed and ready for bed.”
Maggie lay back. Lying on the changing table wearing nothing but a wet diaper felt weird and humiliating; almost like she was on display. She desperately wanted something to cover up with. While Eliza undid the tapes and pulled off the diaper, she hummed a melody that was annoyingly familiar, but Maggie couldn’t place it. The whole situation felt so awkward that Maggie just closed her eyes. She almost jumped when she felt a warm wetness on her crotch.
“Shh baby. Mommy just has to wash you so you don’t get sore.” The childish tone only made Maggie feel more awkward. Eliza dried and powdered Maggie before quickly putting a new diaper on her. “There we are. Doesn’t that feel all better?” she asked, giving Maggie’s crotch a quick pat before helping her down from the changing table.
The new diaper was much thicker than the one she had worn before. Maggie couldn’t even bring her legs all the way together and had to waddle slightly when she walked.
“Why is it so much thicker than the other one,” she asked.
“We wouldn’t want any leaks at night, would we?”
“I guess,” Maggie admitted.
“Now, did you brush your teeth?”
Maggie only nodded in reply. She was still fascinated with the extra bulk between her legs. It felt very different from the extra thick towel diapers she had experimented with.
Eliza took Maggie’s hand. “Okay then, off to bed we go.” Charlotte was standing in the doorway to one of the rooms when they came up the stairs. Like Maggie, she was also wearing nothing but a diaper.
“Well hello there little munchkin. Why aren’t you in bed yet, and where’s your nightdress?” Eliza asked.
“It’s too hot,” Charlotte said, looking down and biting the tip of her thumb.
“I guess you’re right,” Eliza said. “But hop in bed now.”
“Okay,” Charlotte chirped and ducked back inside. Eliza and Maggie followed her.
The room wasn’t very big. There was a dresser by the wall opposite the door and a bed on either side. By the foot of each bed was a toy box. Everything was oversized and painted in cheery colours. Charlotte was already in the bed on the left. Eliza tucked them both in and kissed them good night. It was years since Maggie had gone to bed this early, but for some reason she was so tired that it didn’t take her more than a few minutes before she fell asleep.
Maggie woke up from somebody shaking her shoulder. For a moment she looked around in the gloom, having forgotten where she was, then she saw who had woken her up. Charlotte was standing next to her bed, clutching a worn teddy bear to her chest with one arm.
“What is it Charlotte?”
“Can we sleep with you? Mr Bear thinks it’s scary when it’s dark and windy.”
“OK, sure,” Maggie mumbled and lifted the duvet. Charlotte crawled into bed and lay down next to her, snuggling close. Maggie pulled the duvet over them both and wrapped an arm protectively around Charlotte who was already half asleep with her thumb in her mouth. ***
When Maggie woke up, she was lying pressed against the wall. Charlotte was lying on her stomach; arms and legs spread as if she was skydiving, yet still managing to snore softly. Maggie caught a whiff of something and made the mistake of lifting the duvet. The smell that hit her nostrils made it quite clear what Charlotte had done. Maggie carefully made her way around Charlotte to get out of bed. She looked out of the window at the beautiful day outside. The sun was shining from a blue sky with only a few fluffy clouds. She opened the window to let in the fresh air. Or let out the smell. What had that girl been eating?
Outside , the birds were singing. Maggie leaned on the windowsill and listened to the world waking up. Suddenly her crotch grew warm as she wet herself. Maggie was shocked. She hadn’t noticed that she needed to pee until it was too late. Also, she didn’t find wearing a wet diaper anywhere near as distasteful as she had the day before. This place is affecting me already. I have to get out of here.
Charlotte stirred and stopped snoring and Maggie walked over to the bed. She knelt next to it, taking care not to put weight on her diaper.
“Good morning Charlotte,” Maggie said, carefully brushing the hair out of Charlotte’s face. “Did Mr Bear sleep well?” she added.
“Morning.” Charlotte started to roll over on her back, but Maggie stopped her.
“Can you keep a secret?” Maggie asked quietly.
“Mm-hm.” Charlotte nodded.
“Me and Tommy are going on a treasure hunt today.”
Charlotte perked up. “Can I come too?”
“Of course you can, but we can’t tell anybody. Especially Eliza.”
“Mom,” Maggie corrected. “It’ll be our secret. Just you and me and Tommy.”
“Okay. So where is it?”
“Where is what?”
“Oh. Um… We don’t know.” Charlotte looked confused. “That’s why we’re looking for it. I mean, it wouldn’t really be a treasure hunt if we knew where it was, would it?” Maggie added. The answer seemed to satisfy Charlotte.
“Come on, let’s see if Mom is up so we can get you changed.” Maggie helped Charlotte up and they headed downstairs. They were halfway down the stairs before Maggie realised that they were both wearing nothing but diapers.
“Wait here,” Maggie said and darted back up the stairs as quickly as the swollen diaper and slightly too big steps would allow. She returned with a couple of nightdresses from the dresser, but Charlotte was already downstairs and headed for the kitchen. Maggie quickly pulled one of the dresses over her head and followed her. It was a little too small so she couldn’t quite get it over the diaper, but didn’t really care as long as her breasts were hidden. She didn’t really want to run around topless even if nobody else seemed to care about that.
Maggie followed Charlotte through the kitchen and out onto the porch. There, sitting on the porch swing in the morning sun was Eliza.
“Morning Momma,” Charlotte said and gave her a hug.
Eliza sniffed the air. “Smells like one of you need a change.” She looked at Maggie. “Or maybe both of you?” Eliza got up from the swing and took Charlotte’s hand. “Come on munchkin. Let’s get you cleaned up.”
It took a while, but eventually Eliza and Charlotte returned. Charlotte was wearing the same type of short dress as the day before, except it was pale yellow today, and her hair was back in pigtails. Maggie was next and in no time at all, she was washed and powdered. Eliza held up two diapers for her.
“So, teddy bears?” she wiggled one of the diapers. “Or do you want the pretty flowers?” she wiggled the other.
Maggie decided it was probably best to play along to avoid raising suspicion. She pretended to think about it for a few moments and then she gave a little giggle and pointed at the diaper with the flower prints.
“El… I mean, Mom?”
Maggie wrinkled her nose. “I don’t like dresses. Can I have pants like Maria? Pretty please?” she said, knowing that if she was going to be walking around the forest, she wanted pants and not a dress that would get caught on everything.
“Are you sure? You looked so pretty in your dress yesterday.”
“Mm-hm.” Maggie nodded.
“Well OK, but then you have to remember to let me know if you have to go poopies.”
“Like now?” Maggie asked, feigning innocence.
“Oh, you have to go now?” Maggie nodded in reply and was quickly helped off the changing table and to the toilet. Sitting down and letting go felt better than in a long time. Still, Maggie was surprised at how little it bothered her to be doing this in front of someone who was essentially a stranger. This place is really getting to me.
Minutes later, Maggie was washed, powdered, diapered and back in the kitchen. She was wearing overalls with colourful patches sewn on the bib and on one of the knees. Charlotte was sitting by the table drawing something. Maggie looked over her shoulder. In the middle of the paper was a house.
“It’s a treasure map of course. We can’t go on a treasure hunt without a treasure map”
“Ah, of course,” Maggie said. “Why didn’t I think of that?” She sat down next to Charlotte and helped her with the map, drawing trees along the edges. Eliza went back outside and for a while it was just the two of them. The house seemed almost cosy; even if it repeated the same day over and over. Stop that! Maggie shook her head to clear it.
As the others waddled through the kitchen door, Eliza got them changed and dressed and soon enough, it was time for breakfast. It had been ages since Maggie had oatmeal porridge for breakfast, but she had to admit that it was not only delicious, but also filling. By the time she was done, she felt as though she had a stomach full of concrete. Walking was almost a little uncomfortable. Eliza sent all the children outside to play while she cleaned up. Maria and Jacob found their boats and headed off for another round in their apparently eternal race.
“I still don’t see why they can’t come along,” Maggie told Tommy as soon as they were out of earshot.
“Maria would rat us out in a heartbeat. We wouldn’t be able to trust her.”
“Yeah, she’s a big, old, meanie doody-head,” Charlotte chimed in.
“And Jacob? He seems like a nice enough guy.”
Tommy nodded. “He is. But you didn’t see him when he came here. As bad as this place is, I think he had it worse back home.”
“Are you sure?” Maggie still felt bad for leaving the two behind.
“As sure as I can be.”
Maggie sighed. “OK then. So it’s just the three of us,” she said and started up the hill she had come down only the day before.
Once they reached the trees, Charlotte pulled out her map and started walking off to the left. Maggie had to stop her and point out that she was holding the map wrong every couple of minutes. As the walked deeper into the forest twigs and branches began to get caught in their clothes and the ground changed. It was no longer the smooth dirt that was easy on their bare feet. All of a sudden, pebbles and and prickly, dry grass appeared.
“I think we’re on the right track,” Tommy said. “It’s almost as if the forest doesn’t want us to walk this way.” Maggie agreed.
Charlotte sat down on a big root. “I don’t wanna do this any more. It’s no fun,” she complained. “What’s in this treasure anyway?”
Maggie saw that they were about to lose Charlotte. She sat down next to her.
“You know how it’s summer now,” she said. Charlotte nodded. “Don’t you miss the winter? Snowmen, snow angels, hot chocolate…”
“And Christmas?” Charlotte said, her eyes lighting up.
“Yeah. And Christmas. That’s what’s in the treasure: Winter.”
That seemed to be enough to motivate Charlotte so they continued onwards. After quite a while and two tears in Charlotte’s dress, they found the clearing. Maggie thought the shed in the middle looked a lot creepier now than it had yesterday.
“The treasure’s in there?” Charlotte asked nervously as she tried to hide behind Maggie.
“I think so.”
Maggie took a step forwards and all of a sudden the summer day didn’t feel quite as nice and warm. There was a clammy chill in the air.
“I’m scared,” Charlotte complained. “I don’t like this place. I want Mr Bear.”
“You can hold my hand Charlotte,” Maggie said and held out her hand. "
“M’kay,” she said, grabbing the hand, but still walking behind Maggie and Tommy. Maggie didn’t need to look back to understand that while she was holding one hand, the thumb of the other hand was firmly in Charlotte’s mouth.
“You know what Charlotte,” Maggie said, trying to sound cheerful. “I think it’s supposed to be scary. After all, it wouldn’t be a real treasure hunt if it wasn’t, would it?”
Finally, after what felt like hours, they reached the door. Maggie pushed it open to reveal a brilliant golden light.
“Do you guys see that too?” Maggie asked.
“What’s that light?” Charlotte wondered.
Tommy took a step forward. “Be careful,” Maggie warned. “We don’t know if it’ll work.”
“Honestly, either way it’ll be better than staying here,” he said and walked into the light.
“Tommy?” Maggie called after a few seconds, but there was no answer. The only sound was a steadily growing rumble behind them. Maggie glanced back over her shoulder and saw that the perfect blue sky was filled with dark clouds, and lightning flashing more and more frequently.
“Come on Charlotte. We have to go too,” Maggie said
“But I’m scared.”
“It’s OK. I’ll hold your hand all the way. And I promise I won’t let go.”
They took another step closer. Maggie held her breath as they stepped across the threshold and into the light. For a brief moment there was the sensation of falling, and then nothing. ***
A light woke Maggie up. She yawned and stretched, peering into the pre-dawn gloom to see the familiar things in her tiny apartment. Outside, the street light were swaying in the wind. Wow! That was a crazy dream. She untangled herself from the sheet and sat up. That’s when she saw it. She wasn’t wearing the towel diaper, but a big, puffy diaper with a cheerful flower print. And it was wet.