It’s impossible for someone to know what they’ll do in a crisis. Some people train for months to years just so that muscle memory and practice will kick into place; let the body take over when all the mind wants to do is fight, flee, or freeze. No amount of practice can ever truly prepare a body for reacting to trauma. When blood enters the air, bones crack, or shots ring out; when death looms large and reminds you of its eternal presence: That’s when people find out which instincts in them are strongest, and no amount of training is going to be able to stop that instinct.
It was a kind of bizarre, if infinitely small mercy that Kelly had no such training to fall back on. There was no lie that she could tell herself about what she should have done or already knew how to do; therefore she’d be able to lie to herself about what she could have done if only she had had the proper training. It’s funny in a sad way how the mind finds ways to compensate for disaster.
When Roxy got hit by that car in the middle of the cross walk. She hadn’t braced for impact. The college sophomore had been looking at her phone, checking her Twitter feed and looking at Instagram photos of the latest goth-punk trends. No one expects to die, bored, hungry for lunch, and on their way to the bus stop after a lecture on the lifecycle of the cicada.
Ironically enough, the frat boy who’d been too busy to notice the red light was probably doing something similar. The sickening thud as Kelly’s best friend was hit dead on, going heels over head over the roof and then landing with a splat on the concrete was accompanied by Kelly’s own panicked shrieks and the squealing of brakes.
Outside of the natural kinetic slapping of flesh to steel to asphalt and of bones breaking and limbs being bent in ways that nature had never intended them to go, Roxy didn’t make a sound.
The frat boy douche with the baby blue striped polo and the gelled up hair cut was out of his car and still clutching his phone, looking aghast like he literally couldn’t believe what he’d just done. Kelly couldn’t believe it either. If she hadn’t developed the habit of power walking through crosswalks and keeping her head on a swivel, even in their sleepy college town, she might have been laying there beside Roxy.
What a pair of corpses that would have made. Kelly in her light blue t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, streaks of rainbow in her blonde hair. Roxy, her best friend with enough makeup to make the already pale girl seem like a silent movie corpse in black shorts, fishnets, and knee high boots.
They’d met each other freshman year and had been oddly drawn into their differences in aesthetic rather than repelled. “Little Mary Sunshine” tinged with anger and her “Debbie Downer Goth” friend who still slept with a teddy bear. Yin and Yang.
Roxy looked like even more of a corpse now. The blood pooling out from the back of her head added an ironic splash of color. Already, Kelly was imagining herself having to find something black for a funeral. It’s funny what the mind thinks about when it’s panicked; the bizarre and surreal thoughts that chemicals induce to try and manage heart rate and adrenaline and ward off oncoming grief.
Overcome, Kelly cast aside an inevitable future and rushed to her friend’s side. “Roxy?!” Kelly shouted. “Roxy?! ROXY!” Her friend was unresponsive. Barely knowing CPR. Kelly shook Kelly’s shoulders, hoping for a response. Her best friend was stiff as the old CPR dummies from high school. Warmer though…for now.
“Roxy! Say something!” she begged. Roxy didn’t move. Her eyes remained closed and Kelly’s mind flashed back to that morning back in fifth grade when she’d found her hamster was doing more than sleeping at the bottom of its cage. She couldn’t tell if Roxy was breathing. It’s very likely that she wasn’t…
“HELP!” Kelly called out. “HEEEELP!” Why was no saying anything?! Why was no one else screaming or rushing over or getting on their phones to call 9-1-1? The hospital was just a few blocks away! There was still time to save Roxy! Still time to revive her! Still time…
It’s altogether impossible to describe exactly what sensation Kelly felt in that moment. Humanity as long and often fantasized about sixth senses; often comparing them to the five most common to our fragile and temporary condition. ‘Hearing’ thoughts, ‘seeing’ the future, ‘smelling’ death on the wind. In actuality, such descriptions do a disservice to the experience of awakening. Comparing an uncommon sixth sense with the common five inherently limits the experience.
It is not like a blind man gaining sight or a deaf one being able to hear. Those are experiences that are in the minority gaining something and joining the majority. The blind and deaf are constantly told what they are missing out on and so the narrative -as problematic as it may be- becomes one of completion.
What Kelly experienced while her broken friend bled out on the street was more akin to an earthworm gaining sight. It was something that was never expected or reasonably predicted within the human experience. It wasn’t a feeling of completion but a feeling of addition. Growing. Cancerous almost. To compare it to the other five senses, if a comparison had to be made, was most like the feeling of a sleeping limb finally getting blood flow to it; something painful and slow as the brain connects itself to something that had been previously caught off; something that despite the hurt one can’t help but push through over cutting off the blood flow.
A more apt emotional description might be comparing the sensation to passing gas through a newly installed colostomy: Most people aren’t born knowing what it feels like to essentially fart and shit right next to their navel but damn it all if it doesn’t feel like it. Can’t be prevented or controlled either once you wake up in the hospital with that bag sticky taped to your side and inflating as the whole next to your belly button starts farting for you.
Kelly felt this part of her come alive, screaming as she was on her knees next to what used to be her friend. The sound of her screams echoed unnaturally into the air, her own grief making the world seem stiller. Threatening tears, her eyes looked up and caught sight of a bird.
She stared long and hard at the bird. It was frozen in the air, suspended in the sky without so much as flapping its wings. Not gliding. Not hovering. Just hanging in the air like a bad background prop.
“W-h-a-t t-h-e-?” Her own words started to burble out disconnectedly, almost like she was underwater. The light from the morning sun refracted unnaturally, almost like it had slowed down. “h-e-l-l?” And everyone and everything around her- from the squirrels running up trees, to panicked onlookers getting out their phones to the douche who had just murdered Roxy with his car- was frozen in place.
There are no words that can fully describe what Kelly did next; least of all how she did it and how she thought to try. It felt as undeniably alien as farting through her belly button, but as relieving and involuntary as wiggling her fingers once the feeling had returned or gasping for air after dunking her head in the ocean.
In her grief and panic, Kelly reached out to Roxy’s body with more than just her hands, and took Roxy’s limp hand into her own.
Be safe. Please.
Like a vinyl record on reverse, a cacophony of panicked sounds- screams, screeches, and sickening thuds of skin on asphalt, then steel- rang out in the air. Kelly’s other five senses went haywire. The scent of exhaust and blood in the air, the feeling of gravel on her knees and the breeze on her skin, the taste of vomit and bile looming in the back of her throat, her weight crashing down on her. The refracted light and sight of her classmate dead on the ground. It didn’t transition as much as it completely ceased to be.
A blip. A stroke. Gone.
“Asshole!” Someone else’s voice called out from beside them. “Did you see that guy?” A young man wearing school colors flipped a bird. “Douche bag is gonna kill somebody!”
From their spot on the other end of the crosswalk, Kelly and Roxy watched as the car slammed on the brakes, narrowly missing a campus jaywalker. “PUT! YOUR PHONE! DOWN!”
Kelly felt a light squeeze on her hand. “Good thing, we looked both ways and crossed as fast as we could, huh?” Roxy said.
“Yeah,” Kelly replied before shrieking. There beside her on the opposite end of the crosswalk, not at all dead or injured, holding her hand was Roxy! “OH MY GOD!” She pulled Roxy in for an embrace so strong she threatened to kill the girl a second time.
“Easy, Kelly!” Roxy giggled. “You’ll smear my makeup if you cling that tight.” Gently, she pushed away, and smiled, clearly flattered by the sudden unexpected affection.
“I saved you!” Kelly blurted out. “I saved you! You got hit by that car and were dying or dead on the pavement and I-
Roxy smiled, goofily, like she thought this was all a rather amusing joke. “Kel? What are you talking about? There was no way that car was going to hit us. We held hands, looked both ways and crossed the street. Safety buddies!”
Kelly wiped away the tears that had already begun flowing previous to…to…whatever this was. “I’m sorry.” she said. “I love you.”
Roxy leaned in for a second hug, this one softer, more tender. “I love you too, bud.”
“No,” Kelly tried to explain. “You don’t understand. You got hit and maybe died and I rewound time and…” Kelly stopped her sentence in its tracks and it had absolutely nothing to do with how bonkers Kelly knew she must have sounded.
Kelly had done more than rewound time. Roxy’s entire outfit had changed. Boots melted away into black velcro sneakers. The fishnets were completely gone, and the only thing on Roxy’s legs below her thighs was a band-aid on a skinned knee. Her Goth friend now sported black denim shortalls that stopped an inch above her knees and a The Crow T-Shirt could barely be seen over the denim bib. She still had the dark eye shadow with black nails, but before she’d slammed her head into the concrete, her hair hadn’t been put up in pom-pom pigtails.
She was still unmistakably an adult. Her breasts hadn’t vanished and her voice hadn’t changed. Roxy’s fashion sense could still just as easily be sorted into the ‘Goth’ niche. But now she looked like a Goth…kindergartener? A Goth Kindergartener Tomboy?
No one else around them noticed or cared that the girl who’d been hit by the car had been unhit. There was no chance they’d notice what amounted to a wardrobe change. College students just kept strolling right past them on sidewalks on the way to class. Douchebag had kept on driving after his near miss.
“Why are you so worried?” Roxy prodded. “There was no chance that thing was going to hit us.”
“You were looking at your phone,” Kelly whispered.
Black lips twisted and an eyebrow arched. “Phone? I don’t have a phone. I’m too little to have a phone.”
“Too…little?” The words tasted like batteries on Kelly’s lips. Kelly immediately questioned why, but she wondered if she’d somehow damaged her friend’s brain. “How old are you, Roxy?”
“Nineteen,” Roxy said. “Same as you. Why?”
“No reason,” Kelly lied. “Why wouldn’t you have gotten hit?”
Roxy smirked. “Is this a test?” she asked. “Like making sure I pay attention?”
“Sure,” another lie. “Let’s go with that.” Amnesia if not brain damage was looking like a mighty high probability just then.
Roxy flopped her arms by her side and rolled her eyes as if she were an annoyed child having to recite her lessons. “We always cross the street together. I hold your hand and we look both ways and we cross as fast as we can without running. Right?.”
The brighter, happier girl went pale. The information was wrong, Roxy couldn’t be hurried for anything when she didn’t want to be, same went with her attention to her phone. The delivery of said information, the eye roll, the unconscious click of her tongue, the ragdoll flopping of her arms and the craning of her neck. That was very Roxy!
“And we always cross the street like that?”
“When we’re together,” Roxy replied. “If not you, then my Mom or Dad.”
For limited three-dimensional beings such as humans there is no such thing as intuition regarding sixth dimensional quasi-temporal reality altering mechanics. It’s a fish trying to figure out how to breathe air… Nevertheless the thought occurred to her: Kelly had done more than simply rewind time. She’d also fundamentally changed Roxy, too; changed her into the type of person least likely to get struck by a motor vehicle unawares.
She’d reached back into her friend’s own personal timeline and altered something so that she had never quite outgrown the kind of basic safety stuff that had so longingly and wholesomely been ingrained in Kelly her entire life.
Roxy was still nineteen, it was just as if a small part of her was still back in Kindergarten. “Can we go now?” she whined. “I wanna get home. I’m hungry.”
“Sure,” Kelly said. “Sure. Let’s go home.”
“I’m telling you,” Kelly said for what felt like the millionth time. “I rewound time.”
“Uh-huh,” Roxy said, clearly not believing her. “Tell me another one.” She scraped the dark purple plastic bowl and got the last bit of beanie weenies in her mouth. Roxy’s palette had gone back to kindergarten too.
Kelly struggled to find the right words: The words that had eluded her over on the bus ride back to Roxy’s house.
“Seriously. I…I…rewound time. You got hit by that car!” She motioned to the almost toddler outfit her best friend was wearing. “I rewound you. You were wearing boots and fishnets before. Not…that.”
Roxy blushed hard enough for a bit of rosy pink to shine through her makeup. “What’s wrong with what I wear?”
“Nothing!” Kelly said. “It’s just…different. Less…” the wrong word slipped out. “…mature.”
“No it’s not,” Roxy stomped her sneakered foot a tad. “I’ve always worn this kind of stuff. You’re the one with rainbow highlights and sparkles and stuff!””
“That’s not the point,” Kelly verbally pivoted. “I like the way you look now. You just don’t normally look like this.”
Roxy looked down at herself as if in deep contemplation or trying to remember something that just wasn’t there. “I’ve always dressed like this.”
“No you haven’t” Kelly insisted.
“Yes I have.”
“No you…” Kelly stopped herself. As weird as this day had been, there was no way she was going to get into that back and forth argument. “How can I prove it to you?”
A big toothy grin framed Roxy’s face, accompanied gleefully clenched fists. “Do it again! Rewind something!”
“You don’t remember this time,” Kelly said. “Why would you remember next time?”
Roxy slapped her forehead in exasperation. “Not me! Something else. You said you changed my clothes! Change some more! One’s I’m not wearing” Considering that Roxy was the one with a hairstyle no older than second grade, Kelly felt particularly foolish.
“Okay…” she said, looking around. What clothing or furniture could she alter that would prove to Roxy that she was telling the truth? Technically, Roxy didn’t look out of place in her current get up. ‘Goth Kindergartener’ was still a viable look for her. One that if she hadn’t witnessed the change herself, she wouldn’t have been all that surprised to see Roxy rocking. What was younger than Kinder-? “I got it!”
Kelly whirled around and opened the top dresser and took out a pair of white cotton panties with black skull and crossbones printed on them. Kelly had never seen her friend’s underwear before. If she had taken just a moment to ponder whether Roxy would have worn that kind of underwear before today, what happened next might have been avoided. She didn’t, though.
“My panties?” Roxy asked.
“Not for long,” Kelly grinned. “W-a-t-c-h a-n-d l-e-a-r-n!” It wasn’t hard for Kelly to reach out and rewind the cotton panties in her hands. To parallel the human experience, it was something like scratching a spot that didn’t itch.
The light still refracted and moved in strange unnatural ways and speeds. Her sound still distorted like someone was playing a Youtube clip at half speed. Spatial awareness along with the other five senses blipped out for a moment. Exactly like before. It just wasn’t as satisfying.
“One of my diapers?” Roxy asked. “What about them?”
Kelly looked at the giant diaper that was now in her hand. Just like the panties, it was now white, but with a black skull and crossbones patterned all over. Goth panties had turned into a Goth diaper. “These were panties just a second go.”
“No they weren’t,” Roxy said. “I don’t wear panties. I was never potty trained.”
“Never potty trained?” Kelly echoed. She opened the underwear drawer wider. “Then why do you have…?” It wasn’t an underwear drawer anymore. “…diapers?”
Roxy unhooked the fasteners on her shortalls. The black denim plopped to the floor. In the few seconds where Kelly’s senses were readjusting to the part of reality she’d just scratched she hadn’t yet noticed the swollen, drooping diaper sagging inside Roxy’s shortalls. She noticed it now.
Roxy was also quite well endowed. Kelly wasn’t sure if her friend had been wearing a bra a second go thanks to denim bib. It was easier to see that she wasn’t wearing one anymore.
“Yeah,” Roxy said, pointing to the pulpy puffy pampers sagging between her thighs. “You’ve changed them enough times.” She poked at her padding. “Huh. Do I need a change yet? I can never tell.”
Kelly felt like her heart was about to stop. “I’ve changed them?”
“Duh-doy!” Roxy said. “You’re my best friend and babysitter!” She waddled over to her dresser and opened the drawer next to the diaper filled one. “You’re so weird today.” She opened up the drawer and took out a pack of cigarettes. “Is this a new pretend game or something?”
“You still smoke?” Kelly asked her mouth agape.
Roxy reached for a lighter. “Don’t tell Mommy.” She got a lighter.
The weight and absurdity of everything that had tumbled out of her friend’s mouth finally hit home. “I’m your b-a-b-y-s-i-t-t-e-r?” There’s a peculiar thing about scratching. Sometimes when you scratch a spot that doesn’t itch, you trick your brain and suddenly the itch not only appears, but moves around and drives you crazy until you have to scratch.
It’s very likely that Kelly didn’t even know what she was doing as the world slowed down till even the flame from the lighter was static. She very likely didn’t consciously know she was doing it until it was too late to stop it; the metaphysical equivalent of someone with poison ivy unconsciously rubbing the back of their arms a little too rough until it progressed to picking and full on gouging at sores.
When time and reality had picked up its normal pace, every trace of her friend’s room had completely warped. The bannisters on Roxy’s bed had spread to become a crib. She was no longer leaning on her dresser drawer; it had become a changing table with the adult sized diapers stacked and within easy reach next to wipes and powder.
Roxy now sucked on a pacifier and clipped it to the collar of her Lolita dress instead of trying to light a cigarette. The t-shirt and shortalls had either disappeared, or had been rearranged to become the dress in the same way that everything else had been rearranged. Whether she knew it or not anymore, Roxy certainly didn’t wake up in diapers this morning.
“I really do need to try and quit these,” Roxy commented casually. “It just feels so good to suck on ‘em, though. Sometimes it’s better than cummies, y’know?”
The color palette hadn’t shifted at all. No pastelles. No pinks and blues to be seen. Everything was still in shades of gray, black, and white, with the brightest color being a midnight purple. Roxy’s room had shifted into an overgrown Goth Nursery, and in a matter of seconds she had been transformed from a giant Goth Kindergartener to a Goth Toddler to a Goth Baby.
“Knock knock.” Roxy’s mother came in, as bright and shiny a woman in her early forties as Kelly had ever met. The fact that she looked and acted more like Kelly most times lent into the joke of ‘Adopted Daughter’ during the rare times when all three came out.
“Mommy!” the Goth Baby ran up and flung her arms around her mother. Kelly’s blood ran cold. How was she supposed to explain this? There was no way in the world that she could explain this to Roxy’s mom. No way she wasn’t going to notice!
Roxy’s mom did notice. Just not in the way Kelly had anticipated. “Hey baby girl! How was class?” She returned the hug, holding it long enough to lift up the back of Roxy’s dress and give the back of her diaper a squeeze. “You need a change! You’re soaked all the way to the back!”
She started nudging a giggling Roxy back over to the changing table. Roxy boosted herself up and laid down.
“Mrs. Klein!” Kelly blurted. “I’m so sorry! I can explain.”
Roxy’s Mom nudged Kelly out of the way. “I’m not mad about the pacifier, Kelly.” She lifted up the front of the skirt and picked out a fresh diaper from the stack beneath her daughter. “Some habits are hard to break, even though some little girls know they’re only supposed to use their pacifiers at bed and naptime!” She playfully waggled her finger at Roxy, sending her into giggle fits.
“No,” Kelly stumbled over her own words. “I meant the diapers. And…and…”
Mrs. Klein started untaping the wet diaper. “Don’t worry. I’ve got this one. You only have to change the little sprinkler when I’m busy or you’re at class together.”
A side effect with not knowing how one has changed reality is that new and counterintuitive revelations tend to turn one into a parrot. “Class?”
Mrs. Klein finished wiping, balled up the used diaper and tossed it into the pail that hadn’t existed moments before. She unfolded the fresh diaper and slid it under her daughter’s bottom. Neither flinched nor blushed, although Kelly was making up the difference for both of them. It was like this was routine and normal for both of them. ”You’re her babysitter, yes? That’s what I pay you for. It’s not like she needs a tutor.”
“Phraight Aysh!” Roxy slurred behind her enormous pacifier.
“That’s right,” Mrs. Klein tweaked the Goth Baby’s nose. “My baby girl is getting straight A’s and gold stars all semester! All her teachers tell me so!” She reached a hand out. “Now if only she’d outgrow this dark and dreary phase!”
That?! That’s the part that she wished Roxy would outgrow?!
“MOMMEEEEEE!” Roxy whined.
“I know, I know,” her mother sighed. “This is who you are and I accept you expressing yourself.” She stuck her hand out towards Kelly. “Pass me the rash cream.”
Without thinking Kelly did. While her mother spread white rash cream over Roxy’s butt and then dusted scented cornstarch over her privates, Kelly’s mind raced and put together all the context clues she could pick up.
Roxy was still in college. Still friends with her, even though Kelly was something of a babysitter. She was still smart and still took most of the same classes as her. But she was also a giggling baby getting her diaper changed by her mother with no sense of modesty whatsoever. Just like before, her mother insisted that the Goth aesthetic was a phase, but had no problem with little girl dresses that covered the top of skull and crossbones diapers. A nineteen year old baby instead of a regressed or brain damaged woman. A literal Adult Baby.
“That’s better.” Mrs. Klein finished taping up the diaper- all four tapes, so it wasn’t like this was a giant Huggies or something- and helped Roxy off the changing table. “All done.”
Roxy gave her mother a hug. “Thanks, Mommy.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie.”
Kelly simply stood there trying to take everything in and feeling extremely uncomfortable.
The adult pivoted and addressed Kelly. “I just came in to ask you a favor. Normally I drive Roxy to class in the afternoon, but I have a Zoom meeting.” This was news to Kelly. Earlier that day, they’d been discussing Kelly bumming a ride with Roxy. Even with parking being a bitch, the afternoon bus was almost never on time. “Do you mind taking her in my car?”
“Great! Thanks!” She turned and grabbed Roxy’s hand. “I’ll help you get her strapped in.”
Kelly was about to parrot the phrase, but her mind was able to beat her mouth to the punch. Roxy might have been an adult in intellect but not in societal privileges and responsibilities. It made sense in a way; as much as anything today made sense. “Thanks,” Kelly said. “Car seats can be such a pain.”
“It’s just like with the diapers. You get used to them. You build a rhythm.”
Silently, Kelly followed mother and daughter out of the bedroom, taking quick note about what else had changed since she’d scratched this new itch of hers. She’d noted and taken for granted the various family and school portraits hanging from the walls; Roxy through the ages. Her own parents had a similar set up back home. Now, every picture of Roxy seemed to be a baby picture, even if the girl in the photos wasn’t at all a baby.
“Ugh,” Roxy sighed as the trio made their way into the kitchen. “Do we really have to take that?” She pointed to a light pink diaper bag hanging on a hook.
Mrs. Klein handed it over to Kelly and the college sophomore shouldered it like it was second nature. “Kelly just fed you an entire bowl of beanie weenies,” her mother lectured. “And your morning ba-ba of coffee hasn’t kicked in. I’m not going to have you sit in a poopy diaper all through class!”
Kelly turned her head and saw the giant high chair. Apparently she had just spoon fed her best friend franks and beans.
The thought of soiling herself in front of her peers didn’t seem to bother Roxy. “Yeah, but it’s pink! I hate pink.” Yeah. Same Roxy. “Can we get a new one soon?”
The argument didn’t slow their transition or travel speed. The infrequent, often playful arguments between Roxy and either of her parents rarely did. Her mother opened the sleek red car’s back door. Given everything else, she wasn’t surprised to see the adult sized baby seat. “But you loved Hello Kitty!
Roxy plopped down. “I was twelve!” That must have meant that Roxy had gone through a Hello Kitty phase when she was twelve. In a weird way, Kelly felt like she’d just learned something new about her friend.
Mrs. Klein didn’t lose a step. She guided Roxy’s arms through the five point harness. “It’s still a perfectly good diaper bag. I’m not replacing it and I’m not going to have you go without it after you’ve just loaded up.” She finished buckling the nineteen year old baby in; the final buckle between the legs caused the skirt to ride up even more. No one cared.
So this is what a mother-daughter relationship might look like if the daughter didn’t quite grow up. It was kind of normal looking.
It could be normal…
Mrs. Klein closed the back door and handed Kelly the keys. “Don’t worry about the gas. Just come straight home after class. I’ll have this weeks’ payment ready for you when you get back.”
“Uh…yeah. Sure.” Kelly said. Getting paid to hang out with her best friend and drive her mother’s car to boot? Maybe this was an itch worth scratching…
Getting Roxy to their Anthropology 102 class had been one thing. After unbuckling Roxy from the giant car seat, they held hands (and looked both ways before crossing the street) to class, talking as they always did. If it weren’t for the crinkle every step of the way or that she kept staring at Roxy’s black dress and pigtails, it might have been any other Tuesday on campus: Morning lecture, break for lunch, travel back for an afternoon block.
The sidewalks, walkways, and hallways were just sparse enough to where Kelly didn’t feel embarrassed for her friend. Also, this was college; a Goth Girl in a diaper (in the Humanities and History Building no less) was hardly the strangest thing seen in the University’s history. It got harder to feel like she wasn’t getting away with something when class started.
“Can I have my crayons?” Roxy had asked, pointing to her diaper bag. “I like using the red ones and pretending they’re blood.” A side pocket had a pack of crayons and a notebook filled with college level academia entirely in crayon.
The other students filed in and all said hello, too, but without further comment. Correction: Almost further comment. Kelly turned almost as pink as Roxy’s diaper bag every time a classmate called the big baby “cutie”, or “sweetie” or “hun” or any other number of sucrose infused nicknames. Roxy giggled, but continued doodling in her notes.
The fact that it was so normalized was giving Kelly second hand embarrassment. Closest parallel Kelly could draw was a recurring dream about being naked and no one noticing. It was embarrassing and anxiety inducing because no one saw anything wrong with the state of things. No one made a comment about Roxy’s dress or diaper or bows or anything. Why would they, though? As far as anyone could remember, Roxy was always like this. No one cared if a baby was dressed like a baby; that was expected.
Speaking of expected, Kelly should have expected it when Mrs. Klein’s predictions came true. In the middle of the lecture, still taking notes in crayon and sucking on her pacifier, Roxy stood up from her desk. From the side, Kelly thought her friend was just concentrating.
To be fair, Roxy was. The girl had been concentrating so hard that she didn’t seem to notice as the back of her diaper ballooned out slightly, quietly grunting behind her binky. “Kelly,” the professor said. “Word to the wise; You might want to see to Roxy before she-”Roxy sat back down in her seat, not even lifting her head at the mention of her name. “Never mind…”
Kelly lifted a single eyebrow in confusion. “Hmm?”
“You are her sitter, after all.”
“What does…?” Kelly sniffed and the absolutely vile smell of human waste invaded her nose. That wasn’t just passing gas. Her best friend had gotten up, pooped her disposable pants, and then sat back down, spreading the mess. No one seemed embarrassed for her, especially not Roxy. The boy behind Roxy waved his hand lightly in front of his face, but the level of discomfort was minimal. “Oh.”
Shouldering the pink Hello Kitty bag, Kelly got up from her seat and took Roxy’s hand one more time. “Come on, babe.” This was too weird. “Let’s go change your…” she gulped. “…diaper.” Too weird. Too fucking werid.
“I got y’all for notes!” A classmate called out after them.
Way too weird. Mentally, Kelly braced herself for having to wipe her best friend’s ass. The worst part of it was that she wasn’t nearly as weirded out or uncomfortable as she thought she’d be. If anything, Kelly was only uncomfortable in how oddly comfortable she was becoming with the idea too.
Scratch an itch long enough and it gets incredibly hard to stop.
“You’re not embarrassed by this?” Kelly asked as they walked to the Ladies’ room. She hadn’t even considered how or where she was going to change Roxy. The handicapped stall, maybe?
Roxy shrugged. “Why? It’s just a diaper change. Babies like me get them all the time.”
“That’s the thing,” Kelly tried to explain. “There aren’t any other babies like-”
“DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO WE ARE?” A voice rang out.
Three preppy co-eds- a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead, all wearing color coordinated skirts like something out of an 80’s movie- glowered over a meeker, slightly heavier girl. The heavier girl was actually shaking while the trio stared her down. “The exams aren’t inherently f-f-final,” she stuttered horsley. “There will be opportunities for extra credit…?” She held up a briefcase like it was shield.
“Let us clue you in to who you’re talking to.” the brunette spat. “Morrison, Trembly, Hogart.” She pointed to herself and her clique in turn. “There are buildings in this dump named after our families. We’re legacy.”
“Y-y-yeah…” the teaching assistant shivered. “I know. I know.”
“This class isn’t even for our major,” the redhead said
“Total crib class.” The blonde added.
The brunette looked at her friends. “I don’t recall giving her permission to speak, do you?” That shut the poor Teaching assistant up. “Let’s make this easy, honey. You give us our A’s and we don’t phone our parents so you don’t end up losing whatever scholarship landed your hand-me-down ass here.”
Kelly felt her face getting hot. Bullies were something she just couldn’t stand. Baby Roxy, either. “Bunch spoiled brats. Super immature for grown-ups.”
They were, weren’t they. Kelly felt the itch again. “One of them did say they wanted it to be a c-r-i-b c-l-a-s-s.”
This third time was even easier than the first two times. Kelly both knew what she was about to do and wanted to do it. When reality blinked back into place, the three girls had changed their tune. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that their sweater vests and matching skirts had all been replaced with color coordinated onesies and matching bows and booties.
“That is not the way to get what you want,” the T.A. said. The postures had been reversed and now the babified legacies cowered in the presence of the hardworking graduate student just trying to teach a class.
“W-w-w-we’re sorry, Miss Gertrude.” The redhead mumbled.
“Sorry isn’t going to save you from timeout, young lady,” the chubbier girl said. With a newly found (or installed) air of authority she pointed back into the classroom. “I’ve got four corners and your noses are going to be occupying three of them for the next twenty minutes.”
One minute of time-out for every year. Standard procedure.
“Are you going to tell our Daddies on us?” The blonde asked, trudging back in.
“I will if you don’t get your tush back in the class.”
“I need a chaaaaange!” The ringleader whined.
“Oh no, Heather. I’m not falling for that again. You can wait.”
“Can we at least get our animal crackers?”
“Not till after.”
Kelly smiled, feeling satisfied and strangely intoxicated by the whole thing.
“Serves them right,” Roxy said. Inwardly, Kelly agreed, even if she knew that deep down Roxy and her were agreeing about two different things. “Some babies never learn.”
“Come on, Roxy,” the reality warping girl said. “Let’s get you changed.” She had a funny feeling that there would be an adult sized changing station in the Girls’ room now. And if not, there would be.
She gave one last look over to the classroom the three bullies turned brats had just waddled into. Just before the door shut, Kelly couldn’t help but think that the inside looked a little bit more ‘kid friendly’ than the average stuffy college lecture room.
She hadn’t stopped at Roxy, so why stop at the bathroom? If certain people could be both babies and college students, why couldn’t a college also be a daycare?
From now on, Kelly knew that her life was going to be very strange.
But was strange really all that bad?