Slowly, deliberately, Serena took a sip of coffee, savoring the flavor: Two creams. Three sugars. Extra, extra caramel. Truly, it was perfect. It was a shame, almost, that she wouldn’t be swallowing this batch. She counted backwards in her head, three…two…one… and spit out the delicious beverage all over the office carpet.
“Did you…?” She stopped and glared at the intern, some barely twenty-two year old Amazon whose mother and father were rich enough so that she could afford to go unpaid for six months in the name of experience. “Did you put something in my coffee?”
The girl looked like she’d been sucker punched by a professional boxer. “What?”
“Did you…” Serena spoke slowly and deliberately, “put something…in my coffee?” Serena craned her neck upward and put her hands on her hips. Visually, it might remind an onlooker of a chihuahua yapping at a Dire Dane with neither dog realizing the vast size difference. More accurately, to the giants’ brains, it was closer to a toddler scolding an adult and the grown-up being terrified.
“Only what you asked me to put in Miss Hudson,” the intern insisted.
“Mrs…” Serena flashed her fake wedding ring. Amazons had the tiniest bit more fear of married women, and Serena had learned to weaponize that.
The intern corrected herself. “Mrs. Hudson.”
“Then why do I taste mocha?” Serena lied. Dramatically she dumped the rest of the coffee on the floor.
A more eagle eyed witness might have noticed that there was still a carpet stain from the last time this happened. “Mocha? I ordered caramel-!”
“Training chocolate?” Serena scolded. “Really? Did you really think I wouldn’t notice the taste of laxative in my coffee? I’m not some poor dumb Little freshman your Sorority sister adopted just before graduation as a present to herself because she didn’t want to have it all without ruining their figure.”
Based on the intern’s facial expression Serena had just sprouted a second head. “I…I…I didn’t…I swear. I’d never…I’d never think that. You’re very mature for your…” If Serena hadn’t already planned this next bit out in advance, the ‘m-word’ would have sealed the deal.
“For the sake of time I hope you didn’t unpack or personalize your desk,” Serena spat. “You’re fired.”
The girl ran off crying, hands buried in her face. The twenty-five year old Little walked off, the sound of her heels clicking sounded more like goat hooves to the latest crop of terrified interns. Breaking in the newbies at her family advertising firm was a favorite hobby of Serena’s. For every new batch of interns, she’d make sure to hire one more than was needed just so that she could dramatically fire them in front of everyone else; and it was always an Amazon. “Somebody clean that up.” It was a trick she’d learned from her mother. Tweeners were prepared to be fired at the drop of a hat. Littles, if they were mature enough to handle a job, were more worried about being plunked in a crib. Amazons were always shocked when things didn’t go their way; it’s why Serena did it.
A Little with authority and she wielded it like a sledgehammer. It was a wonder Serena Hudson hadn’t been adopted yet by some high and mighty Amazon who thought the Little might need a diapered attitude adjustment.
Except that she’d already been adopted.
“Phone call on line one Mrs. Hudson,” Serena’s Tweener secretary notified her. Petite, even for a Little, Serena still didn’t come up to her secretary’s chest while wearing high heels.
“I’ve got a video conference call in forty five minutes.” Serena didn’t so much as turn her head or slow her stride.
“It’s your mother, ma’am.”
Serena stopped. “Put it in my office.” She clicked into her office and climbed the footstool into her mother’s old office chair. She’d lost count of how many hours she’d sat in Mommy’s lap, learning the tricks and tools of successful management. Mommy was gone now; retired rather; though she still had a seat on the board of directors of various philanthropic endeavors. The custom made leather booster that perfectly matched the original upholstery had to suffice.
“Mommy?” she asked, her voice unconsciously raising a half-octave. Little or not, everyone becomes who they were circa age twelve when they’re around their parents. The fact that Serena had already known her Amazon parent when she was twelve only exacerbated the habit.
Like so many Littles, Serena had been adopted. Unlike her late twenties and early thirties peers, Serena had actually been adopted, not abducted. She’d been put back in diapers at age three and was allowed out of them by age five; not bad, all things considered.
The idea that Littles had Maturosis had been almost a decade away from getting deep roots or firmly codified, and Littles were just adopted for being “immature”. Maturosis or not, Serena getting trapped so early had helped her. Conventional wisdom said that Littles past a certain age were beyond all hope of truly growing up. If they couldn’t hack the real world in their teens and twenties, why bother giving them a chance in their thirties and forties? “Re-raising” Littles just meant keeping them as babies.
Being close to an actual baby at the time, Serena had been given the benefit of the doubt and had flourished under a system of private tutors, genuine parental affection, and learning from her Mommy’s and Daddy’s example. Who wouldn’t flourish?
“Hello, Siri,” Mommy said on the phone, her voice sounding pleasant, but forced. “How are you?”
“I’m well, Mommy.” Serena said. “Yourself?”
“I’m fine, dear. How are you minding the shop?”
Serena shrugged, unconsciously. “Oh, you know,” she said. “I just fired an intern.”
“Good girl,” Mommy’s voice sounded with genuine pride. “Just like we taught you. Did the old botched coffee order?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Serena leaned back in her leather booster chair, feeling proud of herself.
“I still use that one from time to time at the hospital.” The hospital was one of the places where she sat on the aforementioned board. “Accused the girl of slipping in training chocolates, I’m guessing?”
“I technically don’t need a justification to fire her,” Serena said. She shrugged again. “But yes.”
“I’m not sure whether I should discourage you from leaning into such dreadful stereotypes or be proud of you for leveraging them to your advantage.”
The Little smirked. “The latter, please.” Mommy gave no laugh or other comment. Small talk had officially ended, but Mommy wasn’t going to bring up the reason for her call. Serena had to make the first move. “I’ve got a meeting today that I need to prepare for.” She cushioned the statement by adding, ‘What can I do for you?” It was slightly rude, but power moves had to be made when talking to powerful people.
Growing up as she had, Serena didn’t know if it was a rich person thing or an Amazon thing, and frankly it didn’t matter much either way. Hurrying things along was Serena’s way of saying ‘Spit it out, Mom. What do you want? Why did you call?’.
“I just got the latest fertility results back.”
She hadn’t realized it, but Serena had forgotten to breathe. For as long as she could remember, Serena’s parents had been trying to conceive and have a biological child; an Amazon child. At twenty-five, things had improved on the anxiety front; Serena had aged out of worrying about being replaced and having to share her parents’ love and was firmly in the ‘Will this affect my inheritance’ stage. Still, she genuinely cared about her Mommy and Daddy and wanted them to be happy. There was no good answer to the question she was about to ask. “Okay. What were they?”
“Not good,” Mommy sighed audibly. Serena’s face fell. “I”m starting…my body is…” She stopped, not even wanting to say menopause. “I just feel…old, dear.” There was a pause. Growing up as she had, empathy was not one of Serena’s strengths. “I just wanted the chance to hold a baby in my arms again.”
“You could always be a grandmother,” Serena offered, and instantly regretted it. Bringing up being a grandmother to a woman who’d just said she felt old was a bad idea. That, and Serena wasn’t exactly lighting the dating world on fire. The physical mechanics of intimacy with an Amazon were… complicated; the social even moreso.
She scared off most Tweeners and Littles who might have been interested. They just weren’t on her level. Also, it was hard to get emotionally invested in anyone who could miss a second date because they screwed up and got sent to daycare.
That gave her an idea. “Why not adopt again?” she broke the silence that had followed her misstep. “It worked with me. You could even get an immature Little if you wanted. Have a forever baby.”
If Serena was supposed to feel guilty, about suggesting another Little get thrown under the stroller, she didn’t. The part she’d yelled to her intern about freshmen Littles getting adopted wasn’t exactly manufactured. Some Littles really couldn’t cut it in the big bad world of Amazons. They were lucky in a way that the only penalty for failure was a life without responsibility. It was compassionate after a fashion.
More to Serena’s benefit, a sibling that didn’t grow-up would not inherit any stock portfolio down the line. Knowing Mommy and Daddy, they’d be given a trust to pay for caregivers, diapers, formula and the like, but that would be all.
“I suppose, Siri,” Mommy said. “I suppose.” Predictably, she started brightening a tad at the idea. “It might be nice, actually. I wouldn’t have to redecorate her nursery, or worry about tutors. Never needed daycare when I was working with you. Wouldn’t need one now that I’m retired. Wouldn’t have to pay for private teachers…”
The Little executive stared at the time on her computer calculating when the best time would be to end the conversation so she could get back to work “See? You’re still a mother, and you can be a mother again.”
Mommy’s expression turned sour. ‘Oh, but there’s that law.”
“That families can only adopt one Little.” Serena imagined her mother curling her lip in disgust as she did. “Stupid goddamn beauracrats.”
“Sorry, Siri. Mommy lost her temper for a second.”
As an already adopted Little, Serena was only vaguely aware of the relatively new law. The cold harsh reality was that Littles were a kind of commodity and the government had realized that if Littles were over-babied, there wouldn’t be actual baby Littles being made for future generations of giants to pamper and infantilize.
So gone were the days where parents would walk around with Littles in double strollers, or have a gaggle of diapered thirty and forty year olds on toddler leashes. There was a time when the well to do would have an entire nursery all to themselves. But if an Amazon had so much love in their heart that they’d have to find an immature Little to baby and cosset forever, they’d have to give all of that parental affection to just one.
There were already positive results, sociologically speaking, Serena had had to admit. Littles were less afraid to approach an Amazon with a bouncing ‘baby’ Little on their lap, provided they didn’t have a particularly cossetting best friend right next to them.
Of course, with her peculiar background Serena had never had to worry about getting adopted. Amazons didn’t steal children away from other Amazons. Serena could be spanked, mouthsoaped, and put in a naughty corner, but never adopted by someone else. As soon as they found out she had a ‘proper’ Mommy and Daddy that option was off the table. As soon as they found out who her Mommy and Daddy were those other options were swept up in a flash, too.
“We’ll think of something,” Serena promised. “Exceptions can always be made. It’s not what you know but who you know.”
She could practically hear her mother nodding along. “True, true. True, true. Your father is already meeting with a lawyer. We’d like you to take part in the discussion, too. You might have some insight that could help us.”
“Would love to. I’ve got a meeting in a few minutes, however. Tonight?”
“Tomorrow would be better. Mommy said. “At the hospital.”
“Tomorrow then.” The Little executive hung up the phone and prepped for her meeting. Filing away going to the hospital in the back of her brain. Mrs. Hudson, the real Mrs. Hudson, wanted a baby and what Mrs. Hudson wanted she generally got. It’s just what Hudsons in general did.
What Serna had failed to entertain, even for a second, was that she might end up as the baby.
It was quite the motley crew that gathered the next day. One might have thought they were going to a funeral, considering how everyone was dressed in black. Perfect strangers, too. The light blonde hair Serena had been born with had turned dark brown enough to be almost black, while Daddy’s had aged to a snowy white. Mommy was still blonde, but that was thanks to her stylist, not nature.
Still, among the Hudsons, there was the familial familiarity in how they addressed and looked at each other. It was strange. Normally one didn’t see that kind of closeness between Littles and Amazons unless the Littles needed a pacifier to keep quiet and had a steady cartoon diet to keep them compliant.
Looking in the plain, but pristine business office, one might not have guessed that life saving medical decisions were being made in above, below, and around them, but even hospitals need such places: Someone had to keep the lights on, negotiate settlements for malpractice, and negotiate the budget for the coming year.
In a way that’s what the Hudsons were doing: Negotiating.
“What are our options?” Daddy started the meeting in earnest once initial introductions were made; (fat lot of good that did since Serena had already forgotten the lawyer’s name). They sat around a large rectangular meeting table with far more seats than attendees: just Serena, Mr. and Mrs. Hudson, and the lawyer. He was a Tweener, so his chair was something of a modified stool. Serena’s seat was once a highchair that now lacked the restraints and tray and was given the once over so that it had something besides pastel fabric and hard plastic. It wouldn’t do as well with stains, but the Littles who used it didn’t need to worry about diaper leaks or spilling strained peas…probably.
“I’ve had some of my people look into it,” Serena volunteered. This earned her curious glances from her parents on either side. “What? My team is normally more into finance and tax loops, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know a thing or two about a thing or two.”
Mommy and Daddy exchanged looks. “What are your ideas, Siri?” Mommy asked.
“Based on the precedent of the law,” Serena said, “it’s under the premise that one full time Little baby needs so much attention that it would be unethical to have more than one in any given family.” That wasn’t the real reason the law had been passed, obviously. The art of politics was saying one thing and everyone in power knowing its a lie but going along with it anyways. “Couldn’t the argument be that because I’m not a dependent, that my parents have more than enough resources to foster another Little?”
The bigger people’s heads were already shaking by the time she’d finished talking. “While that is the official opinion that lead to the policy,” the Tweener lawyer said, “that’s not how the law is worded. One adopted Little per family. Full stop.”
“What if I adopted a Little from an orphanage and then signed away custody to you?”
“Siri,” Daddy said, “orphanages are closing left and right. Too many empty cribs.”
“From overseas then?” Serena offered.
“Even if we were able to get away with something like that,” Mommy explained, “what would happen to you? A Little that tried to adopt and gave up? That’s not very mature, is it?”
Damn. That was a good point. Even if she couldn’t be re-adopted, that perception of her could really hurt the business. “A Tweener?”
“Legally speaking, we’re close enough to Littles that the law protects us as well.” Despite the confidence in his tone, there was a light sheen of sweat on his forehead. Unlike Serena he’d clearly not been adopted and there wasn’t anything protecting him.
“What about just adopting a regular Amazon baby?”
Mommy and Daddy stared at each other over Serena’s head, and then slowly shook theirs. “They would grow up,” Mommy said. “Once was enough.” Serena’s adoptive mother didn’t want a child, she wanted a baby. And babies eventually turned into children unless they were Littles. “And I don’t want to adopt again. Did that too.” Mommy gave her a glowing look. “And I have no regrets doing that. You’ve been a wonderful daughter, Siri. I just want to…I want to nurture and carry life inside me. I want to be pregnant.”
“Invitro?” Serena suggested. More slow headshakes.A fine layer of mist was building up in Mommy’s eyes. “No offense, Mommy, but it seems you want to have your cake and eat it too. You can’t get pregnant and have a baby that won’t grow up.”
In what could only have been stupefied shame, Mommy broke eye contact and looked away. Serena quietly hoped she didn’t get that crazy when her body started changing again.
As if in reply the door cracked open. In slid an Amazon man about Serena’s parents’ age; early to mid fifties, possibly late forties, with wispy silver hair. “Am I too early?” the man asked with a quiet shyness.
She was about to tell him that he was; this needed’t concern him, when the lawyer cut her off“No, Doctor,” the Tweener said. “You’re right on time.”
Serena raised her brow in question. What was a doctor doing here? Was this the one that had delivered the bad news concerning her mother’s declining fertility? Her concerns lessened dramatically as the man leaned over and shook every member of the family’s hand before taking the chair next to the lawyer.
“Dr. Maddox, good to see you,” Daddy said. “So…?”
“As I told you and your wife over the phone,” the doctor said, “I think we have an option regarding your wife getting pregnant.”
“Go on, Doctor.”
“Are you familiar with the work of Dr. Matilda Devereux?” Maddox asked, his gaze wandering over to the LIttle.
Of course she wasn’t, and of course her parents had been given at least the elevator pitch. This was for the younger Hudson’s benefit. Politely, Serena shook her head. “No, Doctor. What can you tell me?”
“I’ll spare you the finer details, but she’s had some remarkable success in…let’s call it ‘unbirthing’.”
“Oh no…” the gasp came up out of Serena’s throat almost involuntary. It didn’t take a…a…whatever degree this doctor had to figure out what that meant given the context. Her stomach started to turn.
“Yes,” the doctor said, not at all perturbed by Serena’s reaction. “It was invented as a way to kick start a woman’s reproductive system, but there are other implications. There have already been over a dozen recorded successes so far overseas. It doesn’t help with menopause, but pregnancy is pregnancy as far as the body is concerned. The successful implantation of a Little into an Amazon womb is no longer a dream.”
“And as far as we can find,” the Tweener lawyer chimed in, “there’s nothing illegal about it.”
“Who would dream that?” Mere moments before, Serena was talking about abducting and adopting fully grown Littles, but this was crossing an ethical line that Serena hadn’t known she’d had.
Her question went unanswered; at least directly.
The doctor’s gaze moved to Mommy. “You’ll have to be on a strict regimen of specialized medication after the implantation procedure. Even as the operation slows the baby’s metabolism, you’ll still have to feed her.”
“Of course,” Mommy said. “Shouldn’t be hard.”
“Where are you even going to find a Little to do this on?” All eyes honed in on Serena. Her mouth became as dry and coarse as desert sand. “What? No. No, no, no.” She turned in her seat and looked at her mother. “Mommy. I love you, and you’ve been great to me, but I’m not getting shoved into your body so that you can be pretend pregnant.”
Daddy’s heavy hand landed on her shoulder. “We don’t have a choice, Siri. We don’t have any other Littles and can’t adopt any more.”
She tried to shrug her father’s hand off. She failed. “No! Don’t be ridiculous. I won’t be a part of it. I don’t consent.” She glared at the doctor and repeated herself. “I. Do. Not. Consent.”
The lawyer who Serena still couldn’t remember, “Your consent, technically speaking, isn’t needed.”
“I’m an adult!” Serena shouted.
“No, Siri,” Mommy said, “You’re a Little.” Behind her sad, guilty smile, there was a hunger that Serena hadn’t seen before. It had been hidden by the looming tears.
“Your adoption papers from when you were three,” the lawyer explained, “are no different than the papers of a Little who gets adopted at twenty-five. Your Mommy and Daddy are well within their rights to revoke your adulthood from you.”
Serena’s brain barely registered when she was lifted out of the chair and pinned face first to the meeting table. “But Mommy! Daddy!” she shrieked and begged. “I proved that I’m an adult! I potty trained! I got straight A’s all through college! Stocks have risen since I took over the family business!”
“I know,” she heard Mommy say. “And this isn’t a reflection on you, dear. It’s just…it’s not personal.”
“Fuck you!” Serena shouted.
“You’re going to be so happy when all of this is over,” Daddy promised. “Your mother and I always regretted that we never got to know the real you when you were a newborn. This is our chance.”
This couldn’t be happening! It wasn’t! It just wasn’t! While Daddy pinned her face down against the mahogany meeting table, Mommy started pulling Serena’s pants down. Jarringly, her brain registered the rest of the stillness in the room. Her body thrashed for all its worth but after a certain point she was just helping Mommy get her panties down. Meanwhile the plain white wall of the meeting room was the only thing she could take in. One sense felt everything that was wrong and another saw absolutely nothing.
“You can’t do this!”
She heard the smug condescension in the Tweener’s voice. “Legally speaking, this is no different than if your parents had tried to potty train you and then go back to diapers. They just gave you a trial run of a couple of decades instead of a couple of weeks.”
“What about the company?”
“We’re retired,” Daddy said. “There are some things more important than business. Like family. Could have sworn we taught you that.”
She’d done everything right! Her entire life she’d been an Amazon in miniature and she was about to be indistinguishable from any other Little she’d crossed paths with. They all struggled and cried and begged in the end. Even her. It must be inborn; reflexive. “Please!” she pleaded. “I don’t want to go back to diapers!”
“Don’t worry,” the doctor said from behind her. He must have walked the other way around. “You won’t be. Not for at least seven months.”
Serena felt a pinch on her left butt cheek as the syringe plunged into her.
The world went away.
“How are we doing, anesthetic?”
“Mother is under, Little should be coming up.”
Serena’s brain clicked on. Anesthesia was like that. It wasn’t sleep as much as it was flipping the person’s brain on and off. No dreams. Not even the vague awareness of the passage of time. If there was such a thing as a soul, it was probably the closest someone could get to death and still be on this side of the coffin.
She opened her eyes, groaning into the bright lights of the operating room. Reflexively she tried to struggle but her limbs were tied down to the slab she was on… She could just barely lift her head and look around.
Amazon doctors were everywhere scurrying about like ants right after the mound had been kicked. Tubing and needles were inserted into her arms, seeming to criss-cross and snake everywhere. The slight tickle in the back of her throat and clogged sensation in her nose told her that she had a feeding tube shoved down her throat. The only dignity she was allowed was a petite operating gown covering her tiny fragile form. The catheter tubes broadcasted that she at least wasn’t wearing a diaper.
“Welcome back,” an Amazon in surgical scrubs said, looming over her. It was hard to tell if it was the man who had stuck the needle in her ambush. In the big scheme of things it didn’t much matter. Serena didn’t need to know who it was to let out an absolutely blood curdling scream.
The surgeon smiled with his eyes. “No need for that, little girl. “If you can understand me, blink twice.”
“Phughoo!” Serena said. Her eyes shot open. Her teeth! What had happened to her teeth? Her entire mouth sang out in unbearable pain. She’d gotten her wisdom teeth removed and had needed to subside on a diet of over the counter pain pills and frozen yogurt just to get through the rest of the week. This was like that but a million times worse. She ran her tongue along her barren mouth and tasted nothing but bloody gums and the tickling ends of stitches.
“If you can understand me,” the doctor repeated. “Blink twice.”
“Good. We need to get the anesthesia more or less out of your system before we implant you into your new home.” He chuckled dryly. “More of a timeshare, really. A rental?”
The former executive let out mewling whine, asking for explanation, or pity.
The doctor only gave one. “You may notice that your belly is slightly distended.” She hadn’t, but now that he’d pointed it out. “Don’t worry, you’re not gaining any weight, we just loaded you up via enema and feeding tube; kind of like a bear before hibernation. Took care of your hair too.”
Serena was beyond tears as a gloved Amazon hand brushed against her freshly shaved scalp. “Don’t worry,” she heard, “This part will grow back, but not as thick. Babies as Little as you don’t need thick heads of hair anyways. It’ll grow in lighter too. You’ll look even more like your Mommy.”
That was no comfort.
“In just a few minutes” the surgeon told her, “we’re going to be draining your blood through your femoral artery while we transfer some of your Mommy’s blood into you. Because of the stuff we’ve already given her, you’ll get very drowsy, but it won’t feel like anesthetic. It’ll be just like slipping into a warm bath. As we insert you, we’ll unhook you from the machines and hook you up into your Mommy. Then it’ll be her job to take care of you.”
Serena tried saying something else, but the combination of drugs still in her system, tubes in most every orifice, exhaustion from medical abuse, and lack of teeth made everything come out as just more babbling gibberish.
The entire staff just ignored her as they wheeled her closer and closer to her mother’s prone, unconscious form. “Maaaaa! Maaaaaaa!”
“She can’t hear you,” the doctor told her. “You’ll have to try again later, on your new birthday.”
She started feeling light headed, watching as the blood drained out of her. Her skin started buzzing when more blood drained into her.
Serena closed her eyes. They fluttered open when one of the needles was removed.
“It’s okay baby. Go back to sleep.”
It really was like slipping into a warm bath.
A blur of time. Less a surgery anesthetic and more of a coma. Serena was aware, but only in short bursts, like waking up from a dream in the middle of the night before plunging back to sleep. It was the reflexive kick and startle from a falling dream. It was rolling over when a limb started to tingle or a shoulder ached too much. It was screaming and startling from a night terror, only to be claimed by darkness.
There were brief moments of lucidity where the Little woman knew how doomed she was, but those were few and far between. The rest of the time that passed, she’d be half-conscious just long enough to wonder what time it was, where the alarm clock was, and what she was going to do to scare the life out of that unlucky intern she’d inevitably fire, before rolling over and going back to sleep. It never quite occurred to her that the thick heavy bed sheets draped over her head were actually made of artificial amniotic fluid.
Occasionally she’d be aware of the thump thumping in the air. It was a passing train, definitely not another heartbeat. Or she’d hear muffled voices. The walls in these overpriced apartments were too thin, and the neighbors must be throwing a party. Stupid college kids…
Serena came out gasping for breath and dripping. She’d just started trying to blink away the confusion when an Amazon sized hand turned her upside down and slapped her as hard as she could.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Serena bellowed in shock and pain. She was still too weak and disoriented to do or say anything more coherent. Huge Amazon hands laid her down on a table and started toweling the viscous stuff out of her.
“Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Hudson. It’s a girl!”
She’d barely inhaled through her mouth when a nozzle practically shoved itself up her nose. A bit of suction and mucous and more viscous fluid jolted out of her clogged nostril. Without actively thinking about it she puffed air out of her right nostril trying to chase away discomforting sensation. The action was premature, she found, as the same tube alternated to the other nostril. Someone was literally picking her nose for her!
Her protests and cries of stop simply came out as more incoherent mumbling.
Serena was disoriented by everything that was happening to her but once the baby blue nozzle stopped sucking the fluid from her nose she realized that she had been laid onto something cold as an icy chill consumed her bare naked thighs, bottom and back. Whatever she was laying on had slowly lowered itself due to her weight. She tried to lift her arms and legs to get away the cold plastic, but she couldn’t even lift her limbs!
“Weight,: one-hundred pounds.”
Her arms and legs felt like they were weighted down and made of clay. She willed them to move but nothing happened. Someone stretched her legs for her and straightened her spine. “Height, five foot two.”
Serena’s limbs weren’t asleep, either; with the Little being acutely aware of her legs being lifted up and something being inserted into her rear end. Her shrieks took on an even higher pitch with that action; the rod was smooth and cold and violating. She wanted to thrash and kick at the almost casual intrusion, but she lacked the strength to so much as roll over, let alone fend for herself. “Temperature: Ninety-eight point eight.”
Something finally clicked. She was being weighed, measured and having her temperature taken. Just like a newborn. The giant manipulating her body lifted her unresponsive legs up and she felt something soft and cushioned slid under her bottom. She felt as much as heard the soft plastic crinkle over her own incoherent wailing.
A diaper! She was being diapered!
“WAAAAAAH!” Months old memories came flooding back. No kicking, only screaming for the Little girl. Her arms and legs from months of stillness had become all but useless. She couldn’t even sit up or turn away as the fresh diaper was taped on.
Serena felt an ankle bracelet snap around her left leg. “Last name: Hudson.” The nurse called out. “First name?”
“Serena.” It was Daddy’s voice. “We’re not changing a thing about her name. She’s always been our bundle of joy.”
More crying as it was easier than ever for her to be mummified in a clean blanket and swaddled like a newborn. She was trapped. She’d grown into a butterfly, spent over half a year trapped inside the cocoon of her adoptive mother’s womb and had come out a caterpillar. Less than a caterpillar! A maggot!
“My baby!” Mommy cried out. “Give me my baby girl!” The room flew by and the open air felt frigid against Serena’s face while she was passed from giant to giant. “That’s right,” Mommy whispered. “Come to Mommy. Come on. You can do it.”
She felt something stiff and fleshy brush against her cheek. With near exhausting effort Serena turned her head and felt Mommy’s erect nipple enter her mouth. “That’s right. Go on and latch. Go on.”
Toothless, cold, and hungry, the girl sucked and sucked and sucked. The first few pulls reminded her of college dating, until the first bits of colostrum flooded her mouth. Something between forgotten instinct and desperation took the wheel from there.
“Latch.” Mommy said. “That’s right.” Serena had no choice. She suckled and suckled while her now birth mother petted the thin wisps of light blonde hair that had grown over the last few months. Were she an adult, she might look like she was just going through chemo. She was a Little, though, and so just seemed all the more newborn. “Take your first meal.” It would be the first of many. There wouldn’t even be a highchair necessary to feed her.
The meal didn’t last long. Her stomach was just as weak as her arms from disuse. The new newborn woman lasted no more than a few mouthfuls before she felt like she might vomit. Mommy didn’t force it.
Too weak to talk. Too weak to open her eyes, Serena could only listen and breathe. “How long before she can crawl again?”
“Unless you put her through extensive surgery and therapies,” a voice said. “Probably never.”
“What about tummy time?” Mommy asked.
“As long as she’s awake and supervised, you can start in a few days when you get home.”
“Good,” Mommy said, sounding satisfied. “I don’t want her laying in her bassinet all day. Solid foods?”
“Keep her on a liquid diet. Your body will provide for her if you stay on the pill regimen and your milk will come with enough calories. However, there are high calorie baby formulas that can imitate breast milk if you stop taking the medication. Either way, she’ll probably gain a bit of a tummy. Twenty to thirty pounds. Some real baby fat.”
Twenty to thirty pounds? A lifetime of diet and exercise being poured down the drain and squirted directly into her mouth!
Serena felt her diaper warm slightly, pulling her away from her silently lamenting. Was that her imagination or had she just peed a little bit? Her bladder was so weak she couldn’t tell. It didn’t fill up as much as just constantly dripped out of her.
“So she’ll be my little newborn,” Mommy said, sounding tired and happy. “Forever.”
“She’s a Little. They stay at whatever age you put them in, but with her it would take a lot of work if you wanted to treat her even a few months older than a newborn.”
“I talked with a lawyer,” Daddy’s voice made Serena’s ears twitch. “Because you’re now Siri’s birth mother, we can technically adopt again if we want to give her a bigger sibling. Maybe a Little boy this time. Or a girl if we want to still use all those frilly dresses we’ve got leftover from the first time.”
“One thing at a time,” the doctor said. “In the meantime, I think both mother and baby need their rest. It’s been a big day.”
Serena was ripped away from her mother’s arms and carried out just as she started silently hyperventilating. The quiet of the delivery room was replaced with the crying of newborns in the maternity ward. Other newborns.
The Little opened her eyes just in time to see glass walls surround her. An aquarium of a crib-an incubator- rose up around her and Amazon nurses unwrapped her from her blankets, leaving her naked save for the not-quite-fresh diaper she’d just been put in and her identifying anklet.
All around her newborn children screamed and bawled, scrunching up their faces, confronted by the shock of a confusing and frightening world. A newborn in all but mind, Serena related. What would other Littles think of her when they saw her. Probably what she thought of most before all this. “Good thing I’m not her.”
She was in diapers and definitely needed them. But she couldn’t walk or crawl or eat solid foods. She’d spend the rest of her life being carried around and breastfed. She might get the quiet dignity of a footed onesie, but it was just as likely that being swaddled in a blanket and knit cap would suffice to cover her diaper and keep her warm, if anything at all.
Painfully, aching and exhausted, Serena lifted her head up and did her best to look around. Huge familiar faces stared at her, both young and old. Children coming to see their new baby brothers and sisters. Grandparents meeting their first grandchild. It was supposed to be heartwarming but it was closer to how a zoo animal must feel.
It might have been delirium, but Serena could have sworn she saw an Amazon woman sipping a cup of coffee and smiling smugly down at her. How many interns had she done that coffee trick to? Even hospitals needed someone to fetch the coffee and file the paperwork. They had to go somewhere.
That’s when Serena messed herself. It wasn’t a big poop. Newborns’ first bowel movements never were. It still felt disgusting to Serena’s formerly adult sensibilities. With her bowels and bladder as broken as they were, it was very likely that she’d spend most of the rest of her life, such as it was, wet or messy. Wearing clean clothing around her bottom would be the exception and not the rule.
“I did everything right,” Serena thought to herself. “I was the perfect daughter, I grew up getting straight A’s, ran a business and I’m still here, lower than the lowest pants messer. I don’t even have pants anymore…” As the nurses walked away to check on other crying babies, she joined them and lent her impotent screams to theirs. The only difference was most of them would get to grow up.