Skye's the Limit

1 - No Time to Say Hello, Goodbye

“Aw, fricklestein,” I grumbled under my breath, reaching down with one hand to inspect the rip up the leg of my shorts. It wouldn’t have been quite as big a deal, I suppose, had I not just bought them earlier that week. Luckily, despite how short they were - I’m not going to lie, I consider my legs the most attractive part of me, and I don’t mind showing them off - the tear stopped short of actually revealing anything I’d prefer to leave unseen.

“What did you say?” Lela giggled beside me, adjusting her glasses. Despite having been my best friend for pretty much all my life, apparently she had never heard me curse, or had, possibly, just forgotten.

“Cheap piece of junk,” I ignored her question, my fidgeting finally drawing her brown eyes down to the site of the tragedy. “Two days. Can you believe that?”

She shrugged. “I’m seeing it.” A brunette ponytail pendulummed halfway down her back as she shook her head. “You should see about getting a refund.”

“Probably won’t do anything,” I said sourly. Annoyed, I brushed a strand of golden hair from out of my blue eyes. It was always the blonde that got in my face - the black was nice and obedient, hanging there right above my shoulders, but the one little patch of yellow right at the front I’d left alone just had to be sassy. “'Sides, I think Rita’s working today.”

“She might not be doing returns,” she suggested, so sweetly, so very naive, obviously unaware of the way the real world worked. She had such an innocent look on her face, I couldn’t bring myself to enlighten her, just smiled sadly down at her. She was about six inches shorter than me, even though she was a couple months older, and still had a smattering of freckles, and a touch of baby fat, all of which sometimes made it hard to take her seriously. It did explain why she was such a popular babysitter, however.

Speaking of which, it was about then that her latest charge, an unquenchably energetic little six year old boy, ran up to us, hands full of various leaves. “Look, look!” he called, thrusting them up into Lela’s face.

“Great job!” she complimented him, slipping a ziplock from her purse to put the leaves into. “Do you have enough for your project yet?”

He hesitated for a second or two before nodding, so Lela said, “Why don’t you go get a few more, just in case?” He nodded, then quickly turned and scampered off. At a distance, even I couldn’t deny he was quite adorable. That’s when kids are the best - when they’re far away.

“I’ve missed this,” Lela said, tucking the bag away into her purse.

“Leaves?” I teased. “There’s usually quite a few of them in the park.”

“But we haven’t been here in so long,” she stuck out her tongue. “Smart ass.”

“I’ve just been busy,” I shrugged, staring up into the branches of a nearby tree. “You know how it is… I’ve got ballet all the time, and when I don’t have that, the band’s wanting to practice, and then I still had to do homework and spend some time with Keith.”

“At least it’s summer now, right? And tell Keith you spend enough time with him in the band - you need some Lela time, too.”

I smiled. “Yeah, I’m sure that’ll go over well.”

The kid came running back while we were giggling at that, and after Lela took his latest haul, she decided it was time for them to get going. I didn’t really have anything else to do, but getting sucked into some weird daycare art project wasn’t high on my list of things to do for that day, so I parted ways with them there.

“See ya,” Lela waved.

“Bye, Skye!” the boy chirped.

“Bye… you…” I answered, drawing a blank when it came to actually remembering the kid’s name. I don’t know how Lela ever managed to keep them all straight.

I tugged gently at my shorts, wondering if I’d be able to talk my mom into sewing them up. She wasn’t a fan of them in the first place, and I’m not entirely sure she knew how to run a sewing machine, or if we even owned one. Grandma could do it in about 15 seconds, but she lived all the way across town. Not to mention that she would be more likely to throw them away if I told them they were mine. My family, if you hadn’t guessed, is a bunch of prudes.

Lela, on the other hand, was pretty good at all that domestic crap. Maybe I could take them over to her house later on. I turned around to see if she was still within shouting distance - she wasn’t - before fishing my cell out of my pocket.

As I lowered my gaze to the screen, I noticed something, or rather someone, from the corner of my eye, sitting on a park bench. I glanced back up to get a better look, and make sure it was really her. I could’ve sworn the bench was empty when we’d passed it a minute or two before, and yet there sat the girl, long brown hair blowing softly in the wind, reading.

She either always read books with similar covers, or had been working on the same book for a couple weeks now. I’d seen her a few times, almost as if she were following me around, though she never got close enough to make me too nervous, nor did she ever look up from her reading, at least while I was watching.

Still, it was odd enough that, having nothing better to do, I decided to get a little closer to her, maybe even strike up a conversation with her. At least that was my intention, until my phone began its violent spasms, nearly jumping out of my palm before I could flip it open.

“Hey, babe,” Keith’s voice came from it.

“What’s up?”

“Come on, we don’t need…” I could hear our drummer, Martin, saying in the background.

“Shut up,” Keith hissed before speaking to me again. “We were just wondering if you’re planning on coming today…”

I had already worked out what had happened, of course, so I quickly went on the offensive. “You told me we weren’t rehearsing until Wednesday! How am I supposed to keep up with all these surprise practices if nobody tells me anything?!”

I heard him sigh. “It -is- Wednesday, Skye.”

“No, it’s not,” I told him, matter of factly. “I watched The Office last night.”

There was a pause, some muffled talking I couldn’t quite make out. Finally, he got back to me with a question: “Was it on DVD?”

For once, I was glad neither of us had video phones, though I’m pretty sure he could actually -hear- my blush as I quietly said, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“See you then.”

And that was that for my investigation of the book girl for that day. Which was just as well, since, when I tried to get one last look at her, she was already gone. A moment later, so was I.

Luckily, Martin’s house was only a couple blocks from the park, and I knew the way to his basement by heart, since Keith had used to take me there to hang out, since Martin’s parents were rarely around. It was also fortunate that, other than my voice, which I was prone to carrying around with me all the time, I didn’t have any instrument to have to go home and fetch. While I would have loved to know how to play the bass, I’d never gotten around to actually learning.

They were already playing by the time I got there, Keith and Martin, with that weird Chris, who was the actual bassist. I’m not sure where the boys had found him, or where he lived - truth be told, I’m not 100% sure Chris was his name. I think that was what Keith called him when he introduced us, but I could be mistaken, and I had never spoken to him myself, or even heard him speak to anyone else.

“Glad you could join us,” Martin snarked from behind the drums once they’d finished the song, and Keith set aside his guitar, walked over to give me a kiss. While I like being on the tall side, it’s still nice to have a boyfriend who is bigger than I am - standing next to him still makes me feel a bit delicate, and even cute. His hair, which was very light brown, almost blonde, was longer than mine, and he probably spent more time on it than I did on mine, despite usually keeping it in a ponytail when we weren’t at rehearsal.

“Sorry,” I smiled up at him. “I was out with Lela. And I ripped my new shorts.”

“The ones you just bought?” I saw his eyes move downwards.

“Those would be the new ones, yeah.”

“Can you two discuss this later?” I glared over at Martin, but he was more than willing to return it in kind. “Chris has gotta be out’ve here in an hour.”

“Chill,” I rolled my eyes. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

I’m not sure if he meant for me to hear the “We were ready half an hour ago,” he mumbled under his breath, but I have a feeling he did.

2 - I’m Just A Soul Whose Intentions Are Good

“All right, it’s just about quitting time, so let’s call it a day, all right?” I clapped my hands a couple times, happy for having gotten through that sentence without making it rhyme, as it usually ended up doing, much to my chagrin. I might be teaching a bunch of kids, but I had no desire to do so while sounding like a Dr. Seuss character. Also, I’m not fond of hats. Mess up my hair.

Truth be told, as much as I hated to admit it, I was feeling a bit proud of the little brats as they filed past me, clad in their leotards and tights, little tie-on skirts fluttering. There were a couple who were getting pretty good, or at least in the range of not-bad that would lead to them being upgraded to a different class. And they’d all managed to keep their little panties dry the whole hour, for once.

At least as far as I knew. I couldn’t help but snicker as one walked by, the slight bulge of a diaper pretty evident around her bottom. She looked up at me with a hurt expression, which I countered by pretending not to know what her problem was. Seriously, she was probably at least five or six, maybe older - I never have any clue how old children actually are. And it wasn’t like she was the only one who had problems, nor was she the oldest in the class. Admittedly, the older ones, some almost teenagers, were, as a whole, much better at getting to the bathroom on time. They also tended to be fairly geeky and awkward, and probably would have rather been reading at home than with me.

I can’t say my feelings were hurt by that thought, considering I would also have rather been at home. But I got to take my own classes for free by teaching them, and I made a little spending money as well. Nothing stunning, but it’s better than flipping burgers or something. So, all in all, not a bad deal. And it gave me a healthy appreciation for the true level of Lela’s insanity, actually choosing to spend almost all of her time around these - literally, in some cases, since she babysat some of my students - loud, disobedient, leaky little beasts.

One of which had not followed the others out, and was, instead, standing in the middle of the room, glancing up expectantly at me. Perfect.

“Miss Skye?” she spoke up after she realized I wasn’t going to do so, as I was busy doing a few final warm-down stretches.

“Yeah?” I tried to avoid actually looking at her, yet that proved more difficult than you might imagine, considering the mirrors lining the walls.

“Umm… Next Monday, I’m going to visit my grandma, and she lives way over in Springfield, so I might be late.” Finally, those little green eyes vanished as she ducked her head to stare at her fidgeting foot.

“You know the policy,” I sighed. “Either show up on time, or not at all.” I guess I might have sounded a little meaner than I needed to, but I didn’t make the rules, they were the dance studio’s. Not that most teachers bothered to enforce them.

“Okay,” she said quietly, slinking off with her eyes still downcast. She wasn’t a bad kid, really - in fact, she was always very quiet and polite, and not half bad with the whole dancing thing.

“Megan?” I called as she reached the door.

“It’s Melanie,” she corrected me.

“Yeah, okay. You did good today.”

She brightened up considerably. “Really?” I nodded, and she was actually smiling when she left.

“That was very touching,” Dale clutched at his heart as he came into the room. “Are you two going to be BFFs now? Get those little necklaces, and come up with your own secret codes?” Dale wasn’t the only male instructor at the studio, but he was the only one who I was pretty certain was not gay. He made up for it by being nearly as annoying as he was cute. He was a couple inches shorter than me, despite being in his twenties, which might be why he felt the need to pick on me. Or he might have just been a prick. It’s hard to tell.

“That was the plan,” I told him. “Maybe we’ll go see the Barney movie together.”

He nodded, furrowing his brow in his own weird little way. I think he thinks it makes him look extra-serious, which is a warning sign that he’s about to attempt to be humorous. “Well, I promise I won’t tell her you’ve already been. Wouldn’t want to ruin that for you.”

“You’re a doll.” His students were starting to come in and set their stuff down, so I began my own exit. Mom was probably already waiting for me in the car.

His voice followed me as I left, and in my mind I saw him nodding again. “You speak the truth.”

I had wasted enough time that, by the time I actually left, all of my students were already gone, and their mothers as well. If this job had taught me anything, it was that parents, even when they weren’t yours, almost always had something to complain about. And everything was always my fault. One mom had even pulled her kid from my class within the first couple weeks. It hadn’t mattered much to me, though I’d been nervous it would get me fired. Luckily, and obviously, it did not, so all was good.

“How did it go?” mom asked when I climbed into the passenger’s seat. She was still all dressed up from work, and she looked quite pretty.

“It was fine,” I shrugged, fastening my seat belt so she would start the car.

Being polite, I inquired about her day, knowing that I was inviting a deluge of real estate talk. It was all right - it wasn’t like I had to pay attention to it, and it kept me from having to make any real conversation with her during the trip, leaving me free to devote all my attention to staring blankly out the window.

We were almost home when I saw her, and in my surprise, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “That’s her!”

“Patricia Hartman?” My mother sounded quite confused.

“No, just… umm… someone from school.” I settled back down, readjusting my MP3 player’s earbuds, and watched as we passed the long haired girl, reading even as she walked down the sidewalk. I tried to get a glimpse of the cover of the book, see if it was anything I recognized, but, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t. Then again, I didn’t spend much time cruising the stacks at the library, either. Big loss on my part, I’m sure. I couldn’t quite tell what the picture on the cover was meant to be - I thought it was probably one of those books that tried to seem smarter than it really was by pasting some abstract thing on the front and leaving the readers to figure out how, or if, it related to the actual text on their own.

I didn’t really have time to finish listening to even one song before mom pulled into our driveway. I could have walked, and probably should have more often than I did, for the exercise, but mom had offered to bring me home, and I figured, “Why not?”

Mom tossed the keys over the roof of my car. I caught them easily, giving her an uncertain, “Thanks,” in return. I wasn’t sure if that was really what I was supposed to say in that situation or not; maybe she should have, seeing as it was her who was borrowing my car, until hers got out of the shop. That seemed like it would be a bit awkward, though.

Even though my nose couldn’t decipher just what it was, a pleasant smell greeted me upon going in the front door, along with my dad’s call of, “Welcome home, honey!”

“Thanks, dear!” I replied, giggling as mom shoved my shoulder lightly. She was a few inches shorter than me, but probably a few pounds heavier.

I tossed my MP3 player onto my bed after going to collect a kiss on the forehead from my dad, who -was- still taller than me, and checking to see what he was making. I still wasn’t positive, but I knew that if he was making it, it would turn out delicious. I kicked off my shoes, started wriggling out of my ballet clothes so I could put on something normal, all the while heading towards my desk to see if my cell phone had finished charging yet.

Except that my cell phone was not where I’d left it. The charger was still plugged in, cord laying stretched across the desktop, but it wasn’t attached to anything. I slipped the leotard back up my arm, kneeling down to look under the desk, then standing back up to look in the drawer.

“Mom!” I yelled, storming back out of my room. Sure, she had been at work since well before I’d left, but there was no way dad would have done this by himself. It had to have been her plan, though what she was expecting to find on there, I had no idea - numbers for drug dealers, maybe? An orgy hotline? It wasn’t like she didn’t already know Keith. He’d eaten at our house a bunch of times, and as far as I knew, she liked him well enough.

“What is it, Skye?” she asked, stepping out of her room, taking off her watch.

“Is there anything you want to ask me?” I asked icily. “Anything you’re wondering about?”

Mom sighed. “Skye, what is it?”

So she wanted to pretend nothing was going on. Fine. “I want my cell phone back,” I said, holding my hand out.

She sighed again, turning back towards her room. “I just got home,” she reminded me, like I had forgotten somehow, “I didn’t take your phone.”

“How do you know it went missing when you were at work?” I inquired suspiciously. “I didn’t say that. Maybe it’s been missing all day!”

“I’m pretty sure if it had been, I’d have heard about it before now.” She used her Look on me, and her annoyance actually made me wonder if it really had been dad on his own. “I don’t appreciate being accused of things under my own roof.”

“Well, somebody took it,” I glowered, crossing my arms. “The battery died on me, so I left it here to charge, and now…” But as I spoke, glancing back towards my desk, I saw something sitting there, connected to the little black cord snaking down to the outlet below.

“And now what?”

I looked back over at her, not quite meeting her eyes. “I, uh… It must have fallen off of my desk or something… Sorry,” I managed to mumble before backing away and closing the door. Sure enough, my cell was sitting there, right where I’d left it, as if it had been there all along.

“I must be going crazy,” I said to myself, unplugging it and flipping it open. I had a voicemail waiting for me from Keith - nothing too long, just saying he wanted to see me later that night. My eyes darted over to my MP3 player as I listened to it, making sure it was still on my bed. It was.

Even so, I set my phone down on top of my dresser, where I could keep an eye on it while I changed.

3 - The Clouds Come And Go

“Look, I know you’re upset, hon,” Lela said, patting my hand, “but could you be a little quieter? Olive is trying to take a nap, you know.”

For a split second, I almost did the exact opposite, just to spite her, but somehow I managed to remind myself that none of this was actually her fault, nor was I even angry at her. I even managed an only partially hissed, “I’m not upset.”

“Whatever you say,” Lela shrugged, picking up the knife to resume cutting apples. “So, what happened after that?”

I took one of the apple slices, snapped it in half. “Nothing,” I replied, popping one of the halves into my mouth, nearly throwing the other half at Lela when she pointed a reproachful finger at me, as I’d seen her do when telling kids not to talk with their mouths full. “Except he asked me if I could drive him to some party this weekend.”

She gave an involuntary chuckle, immediately giving me an apologetic look after. “Seriously?”

“He said it, but I don’t know if he was joking or not. We were both still sitting on his stupid porch swing in silence, and you know how he hates the quiet. He did mention yesterday his parents weren’t letting him drive their car anymore, though, so who knows?” I ate my other bit of apple, rolling my eyes at Lela’s expression. “No, I didn’t say I’d do it.”

“But did you say you wouldn’t?” She raised her eyebrow briefly, before turning to set the plate, Olive snack for after she got up, in the fridge.

“Does leaving count? 'Cause I did that.”

“That might be close enough.” She smiled. “Now, are you sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine,” I told her.

“Then we’ll talk tomorrow, okay? Olive gets really needy after a nap, and I don’t need her telling her parents I spent all day hanging out with my friends.”

I sighed. “What do they care?”

“Well, I’m supposed to be hanging out with -her-, you know. Plus, her parents are actually paying me for it.”

“Whatever,” I shrugged, grabbing my purse and heading for the door. “Like I care.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” she promised.

“Whatever,” I repeated, barely loud enough for her to hear it as I closed the door behind me. Like I needed her anyway. Let her play with that annoying little Olive girl - I could certainly live, and quite happily so, without having to put up with her any more.

She was in my ballet class, somewhere in the middle, age-wise, but damn close to the bottom in terms of skill. She wore these huge glasses, and always looked uncomfortable. I’d assumed she was just embarrassed because she knew that most of the younger girls were better than her, and would continue to be so until she miraculously grew new, less klutzy, legs. But even at her house, she looked awkward, like she just didn’t fit into her surroundings.

And if she was more needy after a nap, I definitely didn’t want to stick around for that! Every three seconds she’d been interrupting me, as I told Lela about how Keith had broken up with me for no real reason, wanting more water, or to know if it was all right if she ate lunch in her room, or wanting to know why the sky was blue. Well, I don’t remember that question specifically, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she’d asked it, since she wanted to know everything else.

The first few times I just told her to go Google it, but after a few unamused glares from Lela, who would then precede to explain whatever to the girl at ridiculously great detail, I gave up, and, from then on, just sighed, folded my arms, and got real comfortable on the couch whenever I heard those clumsy little feet approaching.

Stupid kids.

And stupid boys, for that matter. I guess, if I thought about it, Keith actually having me come over to his house to break up with me was better than him just doing it over the phone. But I didn’t want to think about it. If he wasn’t going to give me any reasons for doing it, or any chance to apologize or try to make whatever I’d done wrong up to him - not that I probably would have, of course - he might as well have just left me a voice mail.

I realized I had stopped walking, and started to laugh at myself, only to find that I couldn’t. Instead, I just felt my chest heaving, inches from sobbing.

“I don’t need him,” I growled to myself. “I’m better off without him.” I didn’t really have a hard time believing that… But it was still a few minutes before I could get myself to start moving again, without feeling like I was going to fall apart. What was so wrong with me that he’d just had to get away?

And why did I even care, if this was for the best? I tried to stop, but as I walked slowly back home, my mind kept going returning, unbidden, to the subject.

The house was, of course, empty, at least for an hour or two more, depending on when dad managed to get out of work. I grabbed the remote and laid down on the couch, only to find, a few minutes later, that I’d already flipped through all of the channels, and there was exactly nothing good, or even brainlessly entertaining, on.

Though the inner debate leading to my decision was quite intense, I ended up not hurling the remote through the television screen before grabbing a Diet Coke from the fridge and closing myself into my room. There was equally nothing interesting to do there, unless I wanted to flip through the books that had been sitting on my shelf probably since I was 8 or 9.

I didn’t, nor did I have any interest in laying in bed, staring at the ceiling - too much chance of thinking about things I’d rather not, at least if I was just there, in silence. But perhaps with the right accompaniment… Much as I loved it, my MP3 player wouldn’t do the trick, either. I wanted to let it be loud, without actually blowing my eardrums out. So I pulled out my CD book, opened it to a random page, which turned out to be pretty much the last.

Of course, the first CD I saw while flipping through my collection was one of Keith’s. I stared at it for a minute or two, unsure of what to do, or even what to think, and then nearly put them all away. First, I took Keith’s CD out and threw it to the other side of my bed, like a Frisbee.

I cracked a little smile; there was no reason to be down, after all. Why should I let him ruin my afternoon?

The next page held another of his CDs, along with one I decided would work for background music, while I continued to look through my collection. It was surprising how many of his CDs I’d ended up with. I guess I’d borrowed them to rip onto my MP3 player, then forgot to give them back. I could be vindictive, pretend I didn’t know what he was talking about when he inevitably asked for them back, maybe put a couple through the microwave and toss out the rest, but I was better than that.

I had almost made it to the beginning when I spotted a CD I didn’t recognize, mostly plain silver, but with a ring of red. Curious, I replaced my (nearly over) current selection with it, only to find that the music, while nice, was equally unfamiliar.

I guess Olive was still being “needy”, because it took Lela a few rings to answer her cell. “Are you okay?” she asked, all urgent and scared, like she thought I was calling her from the edge of a bridge or something. Just how delicate did she think I was?

“I’m fine, Leels,” I rolled my eyes. “Look, did you ever lend me a CD with this, like, red ring on it?”

“What?”

“It’s silver, and it has a red circle.”

She paused for a second, though my assumption that she might actually be thinking about my question was shattered when I heard her whispering, “Oh, that’s pretty, sweetie.”

“You know, a CD,” I reminded her. “It’s round, got a hole in the center, makes…”

“I don’t think it’s mine,” she interrupted. “Is it what you have playing now?”

“Yeah,” I said, holding the phone closer to the stereo for a second. “Sound familiar?”

“Nope, not mine. It’s probably…” She cut herself off. “Hey, did you find the cookies I made you?”

“What? You made me cookies?”

“I snuck them into your purse. Thought they might cheer you up a little.”

“If they’re shortbread, I’ll love you forever.” I dug through my purse, eventually finding a little container.

“Hmm… Well, I was going to give you more tomorrow if you came to see me, but if you already love me forever, what’s the point?” I smiled a little at her giggle. “Look, I have to go. You sure you’re all right?”

“Would you please stop asking me that?” I sighed, starting to get annoyed.

After we hung up, I stared at the CDs for a little longer, before deciding I’d gotten far enough for one day. It wasn’t like Keith was breaking down my door to get them back or anything.

I ended up back outside, not entirely sure how or why I’d made that decision. My car wasn’t there, of course - mom’s car was still in the garage, probably would be for a little while longer. Had to replace something that seemed pretty important, since its name had two complicated sounding words.

I picked a direction - any of them other than the one that went by Keith’s house was fine - and started to walk, not really paying any attention to anything I was passing. So it came as quite a surprise when I nearly ran into somebody only, when looking up to apologize, to realize it was the reading girl.

She stared at me with a blank, almost awed, expression, mouth hanging ever so slightly open. I honestly don’t know what came over me.

“Why the hell are you following me, you freak?!” I screamed, right in her face. “What do you want from me?!”

I shouldn’t have been surprised that she turned and ran after that; I was more surprised to find myself following her. Her legs weren’t quite as long as mine, but she was quite fast anyway, and much better at dodging around the other people hanging out on the sidewalks, like they didn’t have anything better to do. I nearly knocked a couple kids down, which slowed me enough that she managed to get up the steps and into the library, which I doubt I’d have even noticed otherwise.

I forced myself to calm down as much as possible, not wanting to get thrown out before I reached my prey, while my heart did its best not to explode in my chest. The library was, as usual, not particularly busy, which made it easier to hear where the girl was, even though she was doing her best to be quiet. It also made it harder to pursue with any kind of speed, since I knew if I wasn’t careful I’d just bring the librarians down on me, thus prematurely ending the hunt.

I tiptoed through non-fiction, listening to her footsteps a few shelves over. Turning slightly, I could see her, or at least a strip of her chest, against which she was clutching that book, through the empty spaces between tops of books and bottoms of shelves. She was breathing hard, finally giving me reason to believe I wasn’t horribly out of shape for feeling a little tired.

She was walking the opposite direction as me, and a little faster. If it came down to it, I could probably have caught her if I’d turned around, met her when she hit the aisle. Instead, I kept going to the aisle on the opposite end of the shelves, turned the corner and stopped, peaking again to make sure she was still there. Sure enough, she was, and now just right on the other side of the shelves I was looking through. She’d stopped moving, was now just standing there, all wide eyed, shaking.

Part of me felt bad; it wasn’t too difficult to ignore that part until later. After all, she’d been following me for way too long for me to consider it a coincidence. Didn’t I deserve to know what in the world was going on?

I took it even more slowly then, keeping her in my sight in case she should happen to hear me and dart. Her gaze kept leaping all over the place, and a couple times I was certain she’d seen me, but it wasn’t until I was almost to her that I saw her eyes widen in fear.

Knowing my luck had run out, I jumped forward, snaking my arm through the shelf, taking out a few of the taller books on it in the process, and grabbed her arm. She gave out a strange sound, like a wounded animal, and began to writhe wildly.

I could hear the librarians descending on us, so, when her arm broke free of my grip and she took off, I somehow resisted the urge to give chase, pleased enough with her expression of terror. That is, however, not to say that I minded the little bonus of noticing that she’d dropped that book of hers.

“Did you see what got into that girl?”

I glanced over with a blink and an innocent shake of my head to the librarian. “No clue,” I said. “Can I help you pick those books up?”

“Well, sure,” the old woman smiled.

I had knocked over more books than I’d realized, and, somehow, even after seeing her with it so many times, I couldn’t quite remember what it actually had on the cover. Just some random thing, against what I thought might have been a blue background. There were a couple that looked familiar, so I left them until last so I could decide between them.

Finally, the title of one caught my eye. “Oh, this is just what I was looking for!” I chirped, a little too loudly, earning myself a disapproving glare.

“That’s kind of an odd spelling,” she said, though, once we were at the circulation desk.

“It’s how my name is spelled, actually,” I told her.

“Oh! How interesting!” And, amazingly enough, she actually did sound interested.

“It’s just a weird coincidence,” I said, mostly to myself. It would be a neat little curiosity, perhaps, if the person who had been reading it last hadn’t been stalking me.

I managed to make it out of the library, just barely, before cracking open the book. I was tempted to flip through, hoping for some pictures, but decided instead to start with the first page, not sure what I was expecting to find. Certainly not what I actually found, anyway, that’s for sure.

“‘Aw, fricklestein,’ the girl grumbled under her breath, reaching down with one hand to inspect the rip up the leg of her shorts. It wasn’t that the girl particularly minded showing off her legs - they were, undoubtedly, the best part of her otherwise large and gangly body - but she’d just bought the shorts three days ago.”

I stared at the words for a few minutes, unblinking. I tried to tell myself it was all a coincidence again, but the words dried up in my throat. What was going on?

I tried to read on, but my head was already swimming, and the words began to blur and dance until I felt dizzy enough to fall over. I decided to put it off until I got home, and could devote more time and energy to it. So, I closed “Skye’s the Limit”, and started the slow walk home, alone with my increasingly confused thoughts.

4 - Feels Like I’m Livin’ In The Middle of Doubt

It seemed to be a theme for me that day, and not a particularly original one, but that didn’t change the fact that I found myself storming out of Mrs. Brown’s office in the dance studio and slamming the door. To be honest, I likely could have avoided that, if I hadn’t done it earlier in my classroom, and I might have been able to prevent -that- if it weren’t for an earlier incident with Lela. If I had just taken the time to think about it, I would’ve recognized how ridiculous the whole thing was, considering what had set it all off, but I wasn’t quite ready for such introspection.

“Hey, Skye, what…?” Dale started to say before I brushed past him, hardly in the mood to trade barbs with him, nor to answer why my classroom was empty while there was still half an hour until his class. He wasn’t about to let me go that easily, however. He reached out, grabbed my arm, tried again. “Skye, what in the world is going on?”

It started at some little girl’s house, some kid I didn’t actually know, though that honestly wasn’t hard to believe, looking at her. To put it kindly, she wasn’t the most… athletic of children, and I couldn’t quite imagine her as even a preliminary a form of ballerina as the kids who passed through my class. Lela had introduced us, of course, but I can’t say that I remembered the girl’s name, and I find it doubtful that she was interested enough in me to even listen to my name.

Lela and I hadn’t really been doing anything special, but I would have been doing straight up nothing if I hadn’t been with her. Much like it had been the past few days, when I’d gone to find her at wherever she was babysitting that day. The people in this house didn’t even subscribe to any interesting magazines, so I’d been stuck looking through the newspaper, listening to the music from that CD I’d found the other day - it was strangely relaxing, so I’d decided to rip it to my computer, which, oddly, couldn’t find any information on it, then put it onto my MP3 player - and snacking on one of the shortbread cookies Lela had baked for me.

Unsurprisingly, there was no interesting news to be reported that day, nor, did it seem, any other day. It was amusing to skim through the movie listings, for a minute or two, wondering if I should even bother trying to see if Lela wanted to go see anything that weekend. Even if the answer was yes, we’d probably have to see some kids’ show, since, chances were, she’d be babysitting. Again. I’d asked her once what she did with all of the money she made, but she hadn’t answered that any more than she would tell me why she worked so much. Her parents were pretty well off, after all, and it wasn’t like she ever had free time to go out and spend much of her hard earned cash.

“Do you wanna catch a matinee Saturday?” I’d asked finally, deciding the momentary conversation it would spark would be a better diversion than trying to muddle through some old woman’s article on the correct way to plant tulips.

“Is there anything good playing?” Lela had glanced up from the game of Candyland she and the girl were playing on the coffee table.

“That’s not the point,” I’d rolled my eyes. “We should just go to the movies together, you know? We used to go all the time!” That wasn’t strictly true, but I remembered going with her family a couple times when we were little, back when the theater was in a completely different and far cooler building, even if it’d had much fewer screens.

“So that means there isn’t anything good, huh?” she’d asked, sharing some secret smirk with the girl.

“Oh, come on,” I’d whined, moving from the armchair I’d been sitting on, flopping down on the couch behind her, at least until she cleared her throat and I sat up with a sigh, to get my feet off the upholstery. “You’re no fun, you know that?”

She’d smiled at me, friendly enough, shaking her head slightly. By all accounts, her comment was innocent enough. Unfortunately, I hadn’t quite been able to see it like that.

“You know,” she’d said, moving her piece on the board, “maybe I should start charging your parents.”

“What?”

She’d shrugged, pulling another card from the deck. “Well, all this time I’m spending with you, it’s almost like I’m babysitting -you-.”

I didn’t say anything for a while, but I’m pretty sure she could feel my eyes boring into the back of her skull, because she turned around. “I was just joking…” she’d said upon seeing my expression.

“Yeah, whatever. If you want me to leave you alone, just say so.”

“Why would I want that, Skye? Come on, it was just a stupid joke.”

But I couldn’t help thinking of the book, and what I’d read there. “Skye,” the passage began, “was often afraid that her friend, despite being the more physically child-like, saw her as just another kid to watch, and that was part of the reason they had stopped hanging out as much. Perhaps, that part of her mind thought, Lela was finally accepting that Skye was growing up, and, as such, wasn’t interested in being around her anymore.”

Ever since reading that, I’d been trying to convince myself I didn’t really think that way, nor did Lela. After all, it was just a book, right? Never mind the fact that it had described me and Lela exactly - it wasn’t like we were unique, no matter what our kindergarten teacher had tried to tell us. And never mind that it had detailed the incident with my shorts, though at that point things -were- getting a bit freaky. But I’m not the only person in the world to rip an article of clothing in the park, I’m sure. To be honest, I hadn’t gotten any further than that before stuffing the book into a desk drawer.

Hearing Lela say that, after reading that part of the book, was too much for me, I guess. “I have to go,” I’d told her stiffly, getting back off the couch and heading for the front door.

“It was just a joke!” she’d repeated.

“Yeah, you’re a freakin’ comedian,” I’d said, before slamming the door shut behind me. I don’t think I really intended to be quite so dramatic with it, but it was a windy day outside.

By the time my ballet class rolled around, even I had to admit that I wasn’t in the best of moods. And, considering I hadn’t done anything else that day besides mope, occasionally staring at the drawer I had hidden book in, it was pretty clear what I was unhappy about.

To me, at any rate. My students weren’t in the loop, so when I saw one doing pretty much the complete opposite of what I had just told them to do, I don’t think she picked up that my yelling at her was more me working out my own frustrations than me actually being angry at her. I didn’t really get a chance to find out for sure, however, before she ran out of the room in tears.

“If anyone else here can only listen as well as her,” I’d told the rest, “get out.”

One timid little girl, not particularly talented, took my advice.

“Well then,” I’d said, “now we can all concentrate.”

But any expectations that the remaining students would perform any better were quickly shattered. “Did you practice what we learned last time?” I’d demanded after a particularly frightful attempt from them of reproducing it. A couple of them were actually honest, shaking their heads shamefully. Some of them nodded. Most of them didn’t do anything.

“You can’t just do this during class and expect to get it!” I could remember all the hours of training I’d done, and felt a bit like an old woman, though I managed to prevent myself from saying, ‘Kids these days are so lazy! Back in my day…’, out loud. “I can’t teach you anything else until you learn this!”

I’d turned the music back on and walked past the rows of confused girls, following me with their eyes. By the time I’d gotten the door open, one of them had the courage, and stupidity, to ask, “What are we supposed to do?”

“Practice!” I’d barked at them. “Get it right so you don’t waste my time next class, too!”

But I wasn’t going to be there for the next class; I could tell that pretty much as soon as I closed the door, only to find Mrs. Brown, the owner of the dance studio, waiting for me in the hall. The angry looking parents, two of which already had their sniffling kids with them, were a pretty big clue as well.

So, when I left Mrs. Brown’s office, I can’t say that I was in the best of moods, nor that I was thinking straight. The latter was made perfectly obvious when, after a minute or two of glaring at Dale after he’d asked the question, I suddenly found myself kissing him.

I pulled away, just as surprised as he appeared to be. “I-I have to go…” I said, blushing, before I turned and ran away from him, trying to ignore the desire to lean back in towards his lips. What was I thinking?! I didn’t like Dale… I liked Keith. Even if Keith didn’t like me, which I still couldn’t bring myself to believe, not after how long we’d been together.

I slowed down pretty quickly, as soon as I’d gotten out of the building, a little annoyed at myself to find that I was kind of disappointed he hadn’t followed me. I stared back towards the door, but the only people to come out was the mother of one of my students, with her daughters in tow. I’d seen the older daughter before, since she was in my class, and pretty decent, but I hadn’t seen her younger sister. Even I had to admit she was pretty cute, if a bit silly looking dressed as she was, with a tutu skirt on over her cut-off jean shorts, which were themselves over a pair of rainbow striped tights.

I shook my head, telling myself I hadn’t really wanted to see anybody else anyhow, and turned around to start the walk home. After a couple minutes, I thought to pull out my cell and call mom. She didn’t answer - probably in a meeting or something - so I left her a message, telling her I didn’t need her to pick me up at the studio.

I thought that I was walking slowly, just trying to clear my head, but even so I managed to beat my mom home. I went straight to my room, closed the door - quietly, this time - and over to my desk. I stopped there long enough to question what the heck I was expecting. Did I really think the book actually had all the answers, or -any- answers, for that matter? It was just a book, that, by some weird coincidence, had a few similarities to my life. That was it.

But, of course, if that was the case, then there would be no harm in looking at it, now would there? Surely after the first few pages I’d realize that those coincidences were just that, when that Skye and Lela went off and had some kind of strange, magical adventure together.

I’m not sure if I was expecting the book to have vanished or something, but I felt a sigh of relief escape my lungs when I opened the drawer and found it still there. I started by just opening to the first page again, making sure that it was still the same, then I started to flip through it.

I stopped a little ways in, a certain paragraph catching my eye. “She stormed out of the house, slamming the door on her way. The sound scared her, so, in her mind, she blamed it on the wind, assuring herself that she wasn’t -that- touchy about having her fears confirmed. It became much more difficult for her to believe that, however, when she found herself still angry enough by the time her ballet class had started to start taking it out on her students. All of whom, most likely, Lela would rather spend her time with, since their parents -would- - and in most cases, did - compensate her for paying attention to them.”

I very nearly closed the book then, and I considered following that up with setting it on fire, though I didn’t actually go through with either. How could this be possible?

Still, I had pretty much been hoping for something like that, something to tell me that there was more to the book than just featuring characters that were similar to me and Lela. But now that I had that confirmation, I had a new question. Had I gone too far, or not far enough? What question was I really looking for the answer to?

Finally, I decided to go back a few pages. I had intended to go a little further, but Keith’s name came up quicker than I’d expected.

“'Listen, guys,” Keith said from the shadow of the doorway, not even daring to go inside, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’

‘What the hell are you talking about, man?’ Martin asked. ‘You already did it. She was holding us back and you know it, man.’"

I stopped there, staring down at the words in shock. Was that what they really thought? -I- was holding -them- back? Please… My singing was no worse than Martin’s drum playing. Maybe I wasn’t perfect, but did they seriously think they could find someone better in this town?

“‘Yeah, I know,’ Keith agreed with half of a shrug, though his shoulders didn’t quite find their way back down. ‘But I can’t be around all this, not now. It reminds me too much of her.’”

My heart stopped there, along with my eyes, while my brain did its best to censor out the first part of his response so it could focus on the end. He missed me!

Martin and Chris must have forced him to break up with me, I decided. One of them probably had some hot chick they wanted to impress, and they were planning on offering to let her take my place in the band, once I was out of the picture. That had to be it!

But now that I knew it, what was I supposed to do with that knowledge? I couldn’t very well go up to Keith and say, “Hey, I read in this book I found that you still liked me, so why don’t we both tell the stupid band to go screw itself so we can go out?” If he missed me so much that he couldn’t stand to be in Martin’s basement, though, maybe just seeing me would be enough to make him do all the work for me.

Of course, I couldn’t just go over to his house, not without some sort of an excuse. I sighed, eyes wandering around my room while I tried to think of one, until they landed on the stack of Keith’s CDs sitting by my CD book. Perfect.

I started to stand, only to pause over the book for a moment. Should I look forward, and see if this was a good idea? Maybe just a peek, to be sure? Would there even be an answer there? I hadn’t gotten far enough into the book to know if there was anything in it past that day; even if there was, would looking at it, especially if it told me that going to see Keith now was a bad plan, change things? If that changed things, had my looking at the part that told what happened in the basement while I wasn’t there done anything?

Honestly, thinking like that made my head hurt, and wasn’t getting me anywhere. I slipped a bookmark in, then closed the book and stashed it back in my desk drawer. There was only one more of the cookies Lela had made me left, so I decided to eat it for good luck, and resolved to call her back - she’d left me a few voice-mails that afternoon that I’d ignored - and apologize when I got home.

“I’m going for a walk!” I called towards the kitchen after quickly changing into some normal, slightly nice, clothes. “I’ll be back in time for dinner!” I didn’t wait for an answer.

I noticed my hands were shaking when I opened the door, so I put my earbuds back in and started playing the music from that CD again to try and calm down. I’d have to remember to ask Keith where he’d gotten it, or at the very least, what group it was.

A block or so away, my car pulled up next to me. “Where are you going?” my mom asked through the window.

“Just going for a walk,” I told her.

“Do you want a ride?”

I shook my head. “I’ll be back for dinner.”

She nodded, pulled back out into the street. I watched her drive away, then continued on towards Keith’s house, turning the volume on my MP3 player up a little to try to cover up the sound of my heart thumping in my chest.

5 - The Past Ain’t Through With You

I blinked a couple of times, a great number of questions running through my head, not the least of which was, “Where am I?”

Looking around gave me a quick, quite basic answer - on a sidewalk - but that didn’t help me very much. It seemed like a familiar sidewalk, yet there was something strange about it, something that made it feel unfamiliar at the same time. That feeling only grew worse when I stood, making everything start to spin slightly.

I reached up to take my earbuds out, wondering if it might not help to be able to hear as well. It might have worked better, were I on a less boring street, but it’s the thought that counts.

I was starting to get a headache just from looking around, as my eyes tried to take in everything, something it normally would have had no problem with, but now, when everything looked wrong in some way I couldn’t quite place, I wasn’t surprised. I wanted to sit down; other than the sidewalk, however, there wasn’t really any place to do so.

What had happened to me? My memory felt fuzzy, hard to focus on. I wondered briefly if I’d gotten mugged, but that wasn’t really the sort of thing to happen in this place, certainly not while it was still bright out.

So what then? I could recall looking at the book, and grabbing the CDs, and heading out, and I thought I remembered a car pulling up next to me, but there didn’t seem to be anything connecting any of that with where I was now. In fact, I realized, looking around, I didn’t even have the CDs anymore. Had I gone to Keith’s already? Why couldn’t I remember it? Could it have gone -that- badly?

But wait, there was something else, something right on the edge of my memory. I had a feeling it was important somehow, if I could only figure it out. I decided to sit down after all, even closing my eyes as I did my best to concentrate, putting everything into trying to salvage that one piece of the puzzle, before it was too late and my memory erased it forever, overwriting it with some insignificant little thing, like how many lights were on in the house behind me, or the sound of a car a few streets over, or the shape of the mailbox a block down.

That last thought made me pause, heart fluttering momentarily as I realized that perhaps it was a clue to what I was trying to remember. Before I could figure out how, unfortunately, I found myself pulled out of my meditation by a sudden feeling of warmth around my bottom.

My eyes sprang open as I forced my bladder back under my control. I hadn’t had an accident in… well, I couldn’t even remember how long! Certainly, a very long time. What was wrong with me? How serious was whatever had caused this sudden loss of memory?

I glanced down at the crotch of my pants, making sure I couldn’t see a wet spot there, while lifting my bottom and feeling there as well. Luckily, it seemed as if I’d stopped myself before causing any serious damage to anything beyond my panties - not that that wasn’t bad enough. But while I was checking, I noticed a few other things.

First of all, my pants had seemed to have grown appliques of ladybugs on the pockets, staring up at me with smiling faces. Secondly, my shirt, which was a bit low-cut, I admit, had grown an extra patch of fabric, nullifying that act of immodesty. However, the third thing made that rather irrelevant, as I realized that, somehow, I no longer had anything to show off with a shirt like the one I had originally put on.

My hands darted up to my chest, as if expecting to find my breasts hiding there. “Wh-What’s happening?” I asked out loud, followed by a gasp as I heard how high my voice had suddenly become. A slow, impossible realization dawned on me considering why everything had seemed so odd when I’d come to, or whatever I’d done. Everything looked huge, far bigger than it should.

I reached up further, to my hair, pulling some in front of my face. All of it was blonde, as was the handful from the other side I looked at. My hands looked smaller, too, more soft and fragile somehow, my fingernails painted bright pink, a color I hadn’t tolerated in years.

“Oh, crap,” I whispered, letting go of my hair before clenching my little hands into fists. “What the hell is going on?!” At another time, it might have been funny to hear my kiddy voice cursing, even as lightly as that, but I wasn’t in the mood to be amused.

It was the book. It had to be. This was some kind of punishment for looking at something I wasn’t supposed to, and trying to use that knowledge for my own gain. I should never have chased that girl down… She was probably a guardian angel or some weird thing like that.

Or… Even if it wasn’t the book’s fault, it had to have the answer as to what actually -did- do it. Right? And some way to change me back. Assuming, of course, that I ever could do that… Then again, if the book was somehow the cause of this in the first place, would trying to solve it with the book just make things worse? Or maybe using the book like that was something she wasn’t supposed to do, so there wouldn’t be anything in it about this at all.

Of course, it was possible the book had no connection to this whatsoever. But people didn’t just become younger, no more than they just found books about their own lives. Having both things happen to you, in so small a span of time, seemed like much too big a coincidence to ignore.

But really, I reasoned, people -didn’t- get younger. That was impossible on a whole other level than the book, since I’m pretty sure it broke a few laws of physics or something. I was dreaming, most likely, or I’d done some weird sort of drug while I was at Keith’s - which probably meant we had patched things up, at least. A quick and painful pinch ruled out the first.

Common sense should have ruled out the second, since, as far as I know, Keith wasn’t into any crazy, illicit substances, nor would I normally have partaken in them if he’d offered. If he was, though, and we’d just made up, then I guess I might have been a little more willing to try. I must have been…

But that didn’t help me at the moment. What was I supposed to do? Should I go home, not knowing what I was going to wind up seeing next? If this stuff was powerful enough to make me actually -feel- like my body had changed - I tried to ignore that I’d never heard of anything that powerful, consoling myself when I failed by reminding myself I didn’t have an extensive knowledge of such things - who knew what would happen? My parents were going to know something was up if I started seeing my food get up and dance on my plate or something, because I doubted I could just pretend that I -wasn’t- seeing something like that.

I’d just go back to Keith’s, then. I’d call my parents, tell them I was going to eat at Lela’s, maybe even spend the night, then head over there. I could get an explanation of just what the hell he’d given me at the same time. It was as good a plan as I was going to come up with, so I reached into my pocket for my phone.

But what I found there wasn’t my phone. Sure, it was -a- phone, and it probably worked, but it was much clunkier, and cheaper looking. My real phone was probably made mostly of plastic, too, but it wasn’t nearly as obvious as it was on this one. I flipped it open, and was greeted by a couple frames of an animated sun smiling and waving at me.

My stomach began to tighten up into a knot. “I’m going crazy,” I mumbled out loud. Maybe I should have Keith come get me instead of trying to make it to his house… If he wasn’t fried, too.

His number wasn’t listed in my contact list, though, nor were the vast majority of my friends’ numbers. Home was right on top of the list, with my parent’s cells under that. My grandparents were in there, too, but other than that, the only other number was Lela’s.

I tried to remember Keith’s number, but all I could come up with was the area code, and the first four numbers, which didn’t do me a lot of good. I looked through the phone numbers again, and finally I bit the bullet and pressed dial.

“It took you long enough,” Lela answered her phone, sounding a little annoyed. “I was wondering how many times I was going to have to call and apologize to your voice mail…”

“Lela, you have to come and get me!” I blurted out, surprised to find myself sniffling. “I don’t know what happened, but I’m freaking out!”

“Calm down,” she ordered, going into the voice she used when she was babysitting. Any other time, I’d have found it annoying, but it actually was a little soothing. “Where are you?”

I glanced up and down the street, trying to figure out the answer. “I-I think this is Oak Street.”

“I’ll borrow my mom’s car,” she said. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Thank you,” I sighed in relief. “Thank you so much.”

“No problem,” she assured me. “See you in…”

“Oh!” I interrupted. “Can you call my parents and tell them I’m eating at your house tonight?”

She paused for a moment before answering. “Are you?”

“Yes?”

“Then I guess I can. Just sit tight.”

I hung up, set the phone down on the sidewalk beside me, and hugged my knees to my chest. How did I get myself into this stuff? Or, rather, why did I let myself get talked into it? Was I really that helpless to Keith’s (admittedly not-inconsiderable amount of) charm? I had only let him talk me into trying marijuana once while we were going out, but after getting him to take me back - or perhaps during the course of convincing him to do so? - I’d let him talk me into whatever this was? How desperate was I?

It literally was only a minute or so before I heard a car on the street, and looked over to see that it was Lela’s mom’s. It might as well have been Lela’s, really, since her mom and dad worked the same schedule and rode into work together in her dad’s car, but every once in a while her mom would take it out somewhere. A moment later, I heard my phone ring.

“Your parents were acting really weird,” Lela informed me as soon as I answered. “But it’s fine. You’re clear for staying over tonight if you need to, too.”

“Thanks…” I said, confused. “But why are you calling to tell me?”

“Well, I’m on Oak Street, but I don’t see you, so where do you think you really are? I thought you might mean Oak -Drive-, but that’s all the way on the other side of town, and…”

“I see you,” I told her, feeling the knot in my stomach twist, and tears start coming to my eyes… “I’m right here!”

“Where? The only person I see outside is some little girl…” She stopped as she saw me wave to her, then her voice took on a chilly air. “Is this some practical joke?” she demanded. “You really had me scared, Skye!”

“It’s not a joke,” I whimpered, star

1 Like

Skye’s the Limit

6 - I Watch the Ripples Change Their Size

I glared over at the clock, as if I was trying to force my mind to see it, register the time, and realize that there was absolutely no reason for it to be so tired at this hour. However, that didn’t stop a yawn from forming at my mouth, spreading out into a stretch that reached down to the very tips of my toes. Probably, I thought resentfully, my younger body was simply used to being put to bed around now.

I remembered that in the summertime when I was little, my parents had always been pretty lenient about bedtime, and, since I was generally good about going to bed at a decent hour, they usually didn’t even bother to remind me that it was getting late. I’d tried to stay up late a couple times, but that had always ended up with me falling asleep anyway, usually in some awkward position, like sitting at my desk, so I would usually go to sleep at around the same time as my parents made me during the school year. Not that this body had been through more than one, perhaps two, school years.

If there had been anything to do, I might have been able to stay at least a little more awake, but, at the moment, I wasn’t about to leave Lela’s room. Preferably at all, though I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Once Lela got back from my house with the book, and my toothbrush, I’d make a dash for the bathroom to brush my teeth and relieve my aching bladder, which had felt full almost immediately after her parents had gotten home, and I’d hidden out in her room with half of my sandwich. I guess I should have had her act as a lookout for me, before sending her off to my house, but at the time it seemed a better idea to have her get the book.

She’d been, of course, skeptical when I told her about it, and I hadn’t thought I’d be able to convince her to get it until I thought to ask for my own toothbrush as well. I’d tried to explain that, assuming this wasn’t some whacked out drug trip, the book probably was somehow the cause of my condition - or would be able to explain it, at any rate - but, as increasingly frustrated as it was making me, I had never really got the sense that Lela believed me about it. I guess it was, somehow, harder to believe in than me losing however many years.

She’d humored me, though, and claimed she’d bring it back with her; I guess I didn’t exactly doubt that, yet I was glad it wasn’t actually hidden, or else she likely wouldn’t have wasted the time to look for it. Or maybe she would, just to get me to shut up about it.

I gave a huge gasp, feeling myself flinch, when I heard the knock on the door. My bladder spasmed, but I managed to get it under control, though it cost me the time and concentration it would have taken to answer first.

“Are you in there?” Lela’s mom had a chance to call first, now, the doorknob beginning to turn.

I jumped off the bed and threw my body, as little help as it would be, against the door. “I’m fine!” I yelled back, perhaps a little louder than I needed to. “I… umm… I’m getting changed!”

There was a pause, though at least she stopped trying to open the door, allowing me to relax a tiny bit. “Wasn’t Lela going to get your pajamas for you?”

Fricksticks. “I’m… I’m trying on one of her shirts,” I improvised. “She said I could borrow it, if I want, but I wanted to make sure it fit first.” Not that her clothes would normally fit me, but she did have a few things in her closet that were a couple sizes too big for her.

“Are you sure you’re fine?” she asked after another stretch of silence. “You sound a little…”

“I’m fine!” I shouted back, again probably trying too hard to compensate for my younger voice. “I just… have a cold!” It only took me a couple seconds to realize how stupid that was, so I followed it with, “But I’m not contagious or anything! Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get Lela sick or anything!”

Her voice sounded doubtful, but luckily, she decided to leave it alone. “Well, it’s nice to have you over!” she told me. “Have a good night, sweetie!”

“Thanks!” I listened as she walked away, then sank to the floor with a relieved sigh. Lela had some nice carpet in her room, soft and fluffy, so that your feet just kind of sank into, made you feel like you were walking, or sitting, on a cloud. It was kind of what I imagined the floors in those padded rooms of insane asylums were like, though, which seemed rather appropriate. Probably annoying to vacuum, too.

I glanced around the room again, as I began to squirm with the pressure in my bladder, trying to keep myself from thinking about it too much - but not too little, either. How could the owner of this room, I wondered, think of -me- as a kid? You know, back before I -was- one…

She still had the same poster hanging over her desk that had been there the first time I’d seen her room, a unicorn rearing up, and, in all honesty, looking rather fierce. For a unicorn. Her calendar, a little to the side of that, was displaying a picture of a pair of kittens sleeping, curled up with each other, in a basket. She had a row of stuffed animals on the desk itself, leaning against the wall, which were in addition to the ones she had on the top shelf of her bookshelves, and the couple still on her bed.

I guess, technically, they weren’t overly strange things for a teenaged girl to have in her room, but you wouldn’t find them in mine. Well, other than my teddy bear, whom I’d had since I was a baby. That was different, though.

As I was considering that, I heard something above my head, and, before I had the chance to deduce what it might be, I found myself on my back in the hallway, once again fighting to keep my shocked bladder contained. I wasn’t pleased with the amount of effort it took, but at least, in the end, I won, before scrambling back into the room and glaring daggers up at the confused Lela.

“What in the world are you doing?” she asked, setting a paper grocery bag down on her bed and starting to sort through it.

Luckily, since she was busy with that, she couldn’t see my blush. “I… er… I kinda forgot your door opened out,” I admitted sheepishly.

I was expecting, even bracing myself for, her to giggle at that; instead, she turned to me with an odd look on her face. “Are you feeling okay?”

“Of course not!” I fumed. “How can you even ask that?”

She shrugged awkwardly. “I meant relatively…”

“Did you get the book?” I asked, crossing my arms impatiently.

She hesitated, which pretty much answered my question right away, certainly much better than her actual response of, “Why don’t you go get ready for bed first, and then I’ll explain. Okay?”

If I hadn’t just narrowly prevented an accident a few moments before, and wasn’t sure how much longer I could wait before doing so, perhaps a little less successfully, again, I would have protested. Since I had, I found myself nodding, which led to Lela thrusting a pile of clothes and various toiletries she’d just taken from the bag into my arms.

“What are these?” I asked, looking down at the pink fabric I’d just been handed. It certainly wasn’t anything -I- owned.

“They’re pajamas,” she told me, sounding as if her patience was starting to run thin - because, obviously, this was so much tougher on her. She could be such a drama queen sometimes.

“Yeah, but…”

“Skye!” It wasn’t a shout, not quite, but it still made my heart skip a beat as I automatically started to apologize. I managed to stop myself, and found enough righteous indignation at her speaking to me like I really was a willful child to give my own voice some edge.

“Are you going to check to see if your parents are out there first?”

As infuriating as her last comment had been, it wasn’t nearly as unsettling as the sympathy I saw in her eyes. “I don’t think you need me to do that.”

“Why not?” I demanded. “I don…”

“Just go, Skye,” she ordered, but more gently. “I’ll explain when you get back. You should be able to reach the sink on your tip-toes… I’m sure we could find a stool or something if you need it, though. I just didn’t think I needed to drag yours back with me.”

“That’s not mine,” I tried to explain, but decided it could wait for later when my bladder twinged again, and, despite my reservations, opened Lela’s door and dashed for the bathroom. Technically, though, it was my mine, from when I was little - it was my mom’s fault it was still sitting in the bathroom, however.

My trip down the hallway was rather anticlimactic, considering how long I’d been fretting over it. From the sound of things, Lela’s parents were watching TV in the living room, not staking out the bathroom, waiting to see why I had been hiding in their daughter’s room all night instead of at least greeting them.

It was strangely unsettling to see how big everything in the bathroom appeared to be, driving home just how messed up this situation was. I could barely see the top of my head in the mirror, and even that was making me feel a bit dizzy. The toilet looked gigantic, to the point that I was a little afraid I was too small for the seat, though once I had hopped up there, that was, of course, not the case.

As I sat there, finally able to let my bladder release, I noticed that the wet spot on the panties around my ankles was bigger than I’d thought, and I wished I had thought to ask Lela to bring me fresh ones. She probably had, for the next day, but those weren’t going to do me any good until I was back in her room. My pants looked a little damp, too, but I knew her better than to doubt she’d brought a clean pair of them, even though, to be honest, it had slipped -my- mind.

After I had finished up on the toilet, I couldn’t stand the thought of pulling my wet clothes back up my legs, so I kicked them off - after all, even if I found the idea of going without underwear unsavory, it was just a couple yards back to Lela’s room. I cleaned myself up as well as I could with toilet paper and a bit of water from the sink, which I could just reach, as it turned out, before washing my hands.

I had planned on immediately starting on brushing my teeth, doing my best to do so without allowing myself a clear look at myself in the mirror, but the latter part of that failed before I could begin to implement the scheme. A little girl’s face was staring back at me, her big eyes watering as I watched, her tiny nose dotted with light freckles. She was, admittedly, kinda cute, but I could feel my stomach churning as I looked at her.

“Why are you here?” I asked her, starting to sniffle.

She didn’t answer, just stood there and stared, making my head feel like it was spinning from the sheer disparity of what was in the mirror, compared to what I was used to.

I steadied my body on the sink, hardly having realized I was starting to fall until I did so. I gave myself a moment or two to calm the rest of myself, then decided that, hey, I probably still had mostly baby teeth, so I could be satisfied with just a very quick brushing.

I tried to avoid seeing my body, after stripping off my shirt, pulling the pajama shirt on quickly and intending to do so with the pants as well, until I bent back down to get them, and saw the white thing that had been nestled between the two halves of my pajamas. My first thought was that perhaps Lela was more prescient than I’d given her credit for. And then I touched them, intending to pick them up.

I pulled my hand away, as if they were hot to the touch, feeling myself trying, once again, to start crying. It wasn’t panties after all. I reached out again, picking it up this time. It wasn’t a diaper, at least, yet they weren’t that far off. I didn’t keep up with kids’ disposable underwear, but I thought it might be a Goodnite.

I pulled up the pajama pants, left my toothbrush and -paste on the sink, so I could hold my wet things and dry ones in separate hands, and stormed back to Lela’s room.

“Is this some kind of joke?!” I demanded, fully intending to throw the garment, whatever it may be, at her, though I was still trying to juggle everything at the time, so I mostly just ended up dropping my shirt and the Goodnite rather undramatically. She was apparently expecting this, though, and had the good grace to pretend to be embarrassed at being called on it.

“It was with your pajamas,” she tried to explain, apparently forgetting that we were talking about -my- stuff.

“No,” I corrected her, “it wasn’t.”

“Yeah, sweetie, it was,” she contradicted me, sitting down on her bed. “I think you’d better sit down.”

“I’m sick of this,” I told her. “Just tell me what is going on!”

She closed her eyes briefly, like I’d seen her do when trying to keep her cool. “Skye, this… thing, whatever it is… It goes a lot deeper than you think. I got to your house, and your parents were acting really odd, with all these rules about what you could eat and when, and… Well, anyway, when I got to your room…. It wasn’t your room. I mean, it was, but it was decorated differently, and all of your clothes were different, too. I saw that there were Goodnites with your pajamas, and I thought that maybe it might be a good idea to bring one, just in case, you know?”

“I’m not a baby,” I reminded her. “I’m the same age as you, and…”

“And it looks like,” she broke in, staring pointedly at the clothes still in my hands, “that it was a good idea.”

I stopped with a blush. “That was just…” I could feel my bottom lip quivering as I tried to say it.

“I know,” she said softly. “I know, Skye. And we can get those all cleaned up for you tomorrow. But you’re not used to that body, and if you had Goodnites… Well, don’t you think we should play it safe?”

I stared down at my feet, unable to bring myself to nod, no matter how good an argument I knew she was making.

Her mattress squeaked as she got off her bed. “I’ll get those to the laundry room,” she said, lightly tugging my pants away from me. “There’s a pair of panties in the bag for tomorrow. Why don’t you decide what’s best and get changed, okay?”

I stared down at the Goodnite, wondering if I was going to be able to bring myself to put it on. The door opened behind me.

“Wait,” I said, turning to her. “What about the book?”

She shook her head. “There weren’t any books in your desk, hon.” She shrugged, half-smiling down at me. “Sorry.”

7 - All the Pretty Flowers in the Dust

I awoke to the scent of baby powder, immediately sending my heartbeat sky high. I hadn’t gone back more, had I? I was still a little girl, as much as I disliked even that, and not a baby girl?

But when my common sense began to return, my memories came with it, including the one about watching Olive getting changed into a diaper, complete with baby powdering, before we were put down for a nap. I could remember feeling superior for only being forced to wear a Goodnite, and then feeling a little sick to my stomach that I could find any way at all to get pride out of that.

Olive was lying on her bed, eyes still closed, chest moving slowly up and down. She had offered to let me use her bed, too, but since I hadn’t been planning on going to sleep anyway, I’d let her have it, while Lela set up a little nest of blankets on the floor.

“Just lay down,” she’d told me gently, after I tried one more time to beg her to let me stay out in the living room with her. “I can tell you’re feeling tired, hon. A little nap never hurt anyone.”

“Lela,” I whined, but her warning glare cut me off, reminding me, as I’m sure she intended it to, of her threat before we’d come here. I don’t know why I’d listened to it at all, except that I didn’t want to go back home yet, to have to see what had become of my room, my life.

So I’d agreed to do what she told me, to set a good example, under threat of a spanking. Since we both assumed the kids would just think I was some new charge of hers, she didn’t want me giving any of her kids the idea that -they- didn’t have to obey her, even though, I’m sure, she’d never actually spank them. It seemed patently unfair, and, honestly, I thought she might have been taking this whole situation too far… But then she offered to split her babysitting money with me, so I’d ended up agreeing.

And in the end, it shouldn’t have mattered - when we got to Olive’s house, Olive, now a few inches taller than me, had given me a strange look, then glanced up at Lela and asked, “What happened to her?”

I’d turned bright red, trying to pull myself even closer behind Lela, in my little pink shortalls and white shirt, wanting to vanish. “It’s hard to explain,” Lela had said simply. “But she’s a kid now, so I want you to be nice to her, okay?”

Olive had looked me up and down skeptically before shrugging. “Do I have to play with her?”

“No!” I’d growled at her from behind Lela, although I felt a little like I’d just been punched in the stomach, and was surprised to feel a tear at the corner of my eye.

“Yes, you do,” Lela contradicted me, pulling me away from her, and pushing me over towards Olive. “I expect you both to be perfect little angels, just like always.”

Olive had beamed, grinning stupidly up at Lela. I’d been less pleased, but, not wanting to cause trouble right out of the gate, I’d nodded, telling myself I’d just keep an eye on Olive, like a mini-babysitter. That must be, I realized, why Lela was paying me - because I could keep an even closer eye on Olive, and any other kids we babysat together, than she could.

Olive, still tickled pink, led me to her room, where I almost took off my sandals, until I thought about how much taller still she would seem if I did that. “So…” I’d said, watching her dig through her desk drawers, “I bet you’re wondering how I became a little kid again.”

She’d just shrugged. I guess maybe she’s still young enough that this sort of thing doesn’t seem all that strange - after all, it happens in the movies every now and again. I’m not entirely sure when kids start differentiating reality from stuff they see on TV or whatever.

It was just as well, I suppose, seeing as I didn’t have any kind of explanation for her - or for myself, for that matter. “Well, whatever,” I’d said. “So, what do you do in here all day?”

She’d shrugged again. “I dunno.” She’d found a few coloring books in her desk, and a box of crayons, which she set down gently on the floor.

That wasn’t too bad, I supposed. “Okay, let’s color.”

“Go ahead,” she’d nodded, sitting down at her desk and switching on her computer. I’d somehow not noticed that there - I guess it hadn’t seemed too odd just sitting there, but seeing her start to use it reminded me how little she was, and how strange it was for her to have a computer already. I couldn’t remember how old I’d been, but I knew I was much older than her when I’d gotten mine. Speaking of which, if my room was as different as Lela had claimed, would my computer even still be there? I hadn’t thought to ask her, my mind too busy worrying about the book.

The book! I’d glanced up at Olive’s computer, a plan forming. If the book really was gone, and not just somehow transported to another part of my room, then maybe I could just order another copy. And hope that it didn’t make things worse… At the very least, I could read it and figure out what had happened to me, which was the first step to finding a way to reverse it. Or I could cheat, and read about how I did that, but I would probably save that for a last resort, in case the book told me that I -never- got back to my correct age.

“Hey, Olive,” I’d said, walking up behind her chair. “Can I use your computer for a minute?”

She’d just shook her head. “I just got on,” she’d whined. “Go color.”

“I need to use your computer,” I’d insisted, stomping my foot to make the stupid kid realize how important this was. “Just let me use your stupid computer!” I’d yelled when I just gotten brushed off again.

“What are you two doing in here?” Lela had demanded, suddenly appearing in Olive’s doorway.

“I need to order another copy of that book,” I’d explained to her. “But Olive isn’t letting me use her computer.”

“I just got on,” Olive complained.

“Is that true?” Lela had asked me, and I nodded slowly. “Well, then you can wait your turn, now can’t you?”

“I guess,” I’d sighed. “Or I could use the family computer!”

“No, I don’t want you running all over the house,” Lela had stopped me at the door. “Just stay here.”

“I wouldn’t be all over the house!” I’d insisted. “Come on, Lela!”

“I hope you aren’t arguing with me,” she’d said in her quiet voice.

I’d rolled my eyes. “No, I’m not.”

“Good,” she’d smiled, patting my head. “Now why don’t you color?” I’d brushed her hand off my head, glaring up at her angrily, but I’d still sat down and started flipping through the first coloring book. “Don’t let her try to bully you.” I’d assumed she was talking to me, though when I glanced up, I saw she was looking at Olive. “If she does, you make sure to tell me, okay?”

“Okay,” Olive had nodded.

I’d seethed on the floor for a while, but that soon grew quite boring, and Olive had showed no signs of growing tired of playing some dumb game on her computer, so I’d opened the box of crayons and started coloring. Hunching down over the book wasn’t the most comfortable position, however, and I was pretty sure that was why my crayons kept slipping outside of the lines, so I’d lain down on my stomach finally, my legs almost automatically popping up behind me, swinging back and forth in the air as I worked.

I must have gotten pretty engrossed in the coloring, since the next thing I knew, Lela was back at the door, telling us it was time for lunch. I thought that maybe afterwards, while Olive took her nap, I’d get to hang out with Lela, hopefully near wherever Olive’s parents kept their computer, but, of course, Lela had other plans.

I glanced up at Olive’s desk, then back over at her. Still sleeping. I got to my feet carefully, untangling myself from the blankets. As I got more awake, I began to notice an annoying fullness in my bladder, which actually made me feel a little better. If I had to pee now, then I had obviously kept my “bed” dry once again. I had told Lela both times that I didn’t need any stupid Goodnites, and I had proven that I really didn’t both times. Maybe she’d actually listen to me the next time.

Luckily for me, Olive didn’t have a password on her computer, like I did, so as soon as I moved the mouse, her desktop popped up, adorned with a drawing that I supposed was meant to be her house and family - it looked like her art skills were on about the same level as her dancing skills. I could feel the pressure quickly welling up in my bladder, but I didn’t want to risk waking up Olive by opening and closing her door, so I told myself that I could wait. After all, I was sixteen years old; surely I could keep from wetting my pants for two minutes while I loaded up Amazon.com.

Except that there was no icon for Internet Explorer on her desktop. I looked across the row of icons again, reading the caption for each one, just to make sure, and to see if perhaps she just had a different browser. Still nothing.

I was bouncing a little by then, almost subconsciously, while I pulled up her start menu and started looking through the programs listed there. Surely she had to have something… Didn’t she? But I didn’t notice anything there, either. So, finally, I just double clicked on her “My Computer” icon, and went into her hard drive. Sure enough, inside of Program Files, there was an Internet Explorer folder.

“Finally,” I growled under my breath. I opened it, then, at last, opened the program. It took a few seconds to load, during which I noticed just how bad my need to go to the bathroom had gotten. I pressed my legs together, staring back at Olive desperately. I was almost there now, but was it worth risking an accident to finish up, when I could just as easily…

Just as easily what? I didn’t know if I had a computer in my room now, and I highly doubted I would be allowed to use my parents’ computer without their supervision. I might be able to convince Lela to let me use Olive’s parents’ computer later on that day, but it was hard to tell, since my earlier attempts hadn’t exactly gone well.

“I’m sixteen,” I reminded myself out loud. I could wait another minute. But when I glanced up at the computer screen, Internet Explorer was telling me “This page cannot be displayed.” And when I typed in Amazon’s address, it told me the same thing. I hit refresh, then hit it again, and again, more desperate each time. What was wrong with the stupid thing?

After the fourth or fifth try, I read a little more of the error page, which suggested that I check my connection settings. Sure enough, when I looked down at the taskbar, there was no icon indicating an Internet connection of any kind. “Oh, come on,” I whimpered softly, once again pulling up the start menu, this time checking the Network Connections path. I stared at it for a few moments before it truly sunk into my mind that it was completely empty.

And so, I realized a moment later, was my bladder. Or it was trying to get that way, at least. I jumped to my feet, trying to force my body to stop as I dashed across the floor, but before I was even halfway to the door, I could tell it was hopeless.

“Damn it,” I sighed, slowing down and then just stopping, letting my body finish up. I guess Lela had been right the night before - I really wasn’t used to this stupid body.

I stood there for a minute or two, not sure what to do, until I heard footsteps approaching the door. I hurried back over to the computer, turned the monitor off, then practically dived back into my little nest of blankets.

“Time to get up, you two,” Lela called, giving us a few seconds before turning on the lights. I yawned and stretched, saw Olive doing the same thing above me. “Did you have a good nap?”

“Uh-huh,” Olive chirped, pulling up her T-shirt. “And look, I’m dry!”

“Great job, sweetie!” Lela smiled, hopping over to her to give her a hug. “Do you want to get changed back yourself?” Olive nodded happily, going over to where her dresser, on top of which her panties and shorts had been left when she’d gotten diapered. Then Lela turned to me. “What about you?”

I blushed, staring down at the floor. I had no doubt that she would check, no matter what I said, since she had that morning, so lying wouldn’t get me anywhere. Even so, telling my best friend that I’d wet my pants wasn’t exactly something I looked forward to doing.

“It’s okay, Skye,” she said gently, kneeling down next to me. “You can tell me.”

I still couldn’t bring myself to look at her, but somehow my throat formed, “Uh-huh.”

“Uh-huh?”

Was she being willfully dense? “Yes, I wet my bed!” I exclaimed, perhaps trying to convince myself with the added volume that that really was what happened. “Are you happy now?”

Lela reached forward, folding me into a hug, and I realized I was starting to sniffle. “It’s all right, Skye,” she cooed.

“I’m fine,” I lied, though I didn’t bother to push her away. “I just want out of this stupid Goodnite.”

“Okay,” she nodded, going to get my pair of panties from the top of Olive’s dresser, too. I hadn’t been too keen on the idea of wearing just a shirt and Goodnite, so I’d convinced her to let me sleep in my shortalls. “The bathroom’s right down the hall to the left.” I smiled up at her, relieved she wasn’t insisting on changing me, as I’d been afraid she would.

“Do you want a snack?” she asked as I reached the door. I turned back and shrugged. “Well, if you don’t, Olive’s parents keep their computer in the room right across the hall from the bathroom. If you promise to stay in there, you can use it.”

Finally, she’d come to her senses! “Thank you!” I squealed, giving her a big hug.

She giggled. “Sure thing,” she said.

I got myself cleaned up quickly, then went to check out the computer. The chair seemed really high, but I managed to climb up onto it. The computer booted up pretty quickly, and immediately showed an Internet connection.

Amazon loaded up in a flash, and, after a couple of tries, my fingers constantly trying to hit all the wrong keys clumsily, I managed to type in “Skye’s the Limit.” There were quite a few hits, but none of them were the right book, so I went on to the next page.

I was just finding that my hands were getting used to manipulating the mouse again much quicker than I had anticipated when I heard the door open behind me. “Just hold on a minute,” I called, to Olive I assumed, though I’m not sure what I thought she would be doing there. “I just got on!”

But the person who cleared her throat was -not- Olive. I turned around, finding Lela standing in the doorway, hands on her hips. “Get off the computer, Skye.”

“But I just got on!” I told her. “Come on!”

“Skye…” That was her warning voice, so I hopped down from the chair reluctantly.

“What?” I asked. “I’d really like to get this stupid book ordered as soon as I can, you know. I…”

“Were you really asleep?”

“Huh?” I blinked, trying to decipher the question. “When?”

“When you had your accident,” she answered. “Did you have it when you were asleep?”

“Of course,” I lied.

“Then why,” she inquired, “did Olive tell me she saw you playing with her computer before you did?”

“She was awake?” I asked, before I could stop myself, then clamped my hands over my mouth as my face turned bright red. “I… I mean…”

“This is the second time, Skye,” Olive said, shaking her head. “I really don’t think I can let you run around someone else’s house if…”

“It is not!” But then I remembered that I -had- wet myself, just a little, the night before. “Last night doesn’t count!” I corrected myself.

“Yes, sweetie, it does. Look, I know this isn’t your fault, but I still have to do something about it.”

“Do… what?” I started to back away from her, already afraid of the answer.

“I didn’t want to tell you this,” she said, following me, “but Goodnites weren’t the only thing I found in your dresser.”

My lower lip began to tremble. “Don’t say that,” I whispered.

“I’m sorry, Skye.”

“Lela, don’t,” I begged her. “I’ll be more careful, I promise! Please, don’t do it!”

She practically had to drag me back across the hall to the bathroom. I stood there in front of her, mortified, tears streaming down my face, as she undid the shoulder straps of my shortalls and let them fall to my feet. I grabbed her hand when she reached for the waistband of my panties, only to have it easily pushed off.

“Lela, stop it! I’m not a baby!” I wailed.

“I know,” she told me gently. “Look, it’s okay. It’s not a diaper, sweetie.” I glanced over at what she was holding. It wasn’t a diaper, no, but it was the next worst thing. “They’re Pull-Ups, see?” she asked, shaking them slightly. “They’re just like your big girl panties, just a little thicker, that’s all.”

“I don’t want to wear them!” I insisted, stomping. “I’m not gonna!”

“Yes, you are,” she insisted, forcing one of my legs off the floor to slip the Pull-Up over. I stomped down, angrily, catching her finger under my foot. Suddenly, I found the world spinning, and suddenly I was laying over Lela’s lap.

“What are you doing?” I asked, trying to look behind me. “Lela, what are you…” I got cut off by my own, surprised shriek of pain as her hand came down on my bare bottom.

“Are you going to behave yourself?” she demanded. My sullen lack of an answer got me another swat.

“Yes,” I sniffled.

“Good,” she said, and I felt her forcing the Pull-Up over my feet. “If you do something like that again, we’ll do this in front of Olive.”

I swallowed nervously, let myself get stood back up, didn’t try to fight her as she tugged the Pull-Up up into its proper place. In the back of my mind, I could vaguely recall her telling me earlier in the day that I was going to be helping her babysit, not get babysat myself. Unfortunately, I was too scared to point that out to her.

8 - I’m Useless, But Not For Long

“Look, Skye, I’m sorry,” Lela said, re-balancing the paper bag she’d brought from my house the night before in her free hand. “Maybe I got a little carried away.”

“A little?” I glared up at her, rubbing my bottom lightly, even though it didn’t actually hurt anymore, at least not physically. “You made me wearing a frickin’ diaper!”

“A Pull-Up,” she corrected me. “And I’m sure your parents would have done the same thing.”

“Would they have spanked me?” I demanded.

“Well, no, probably not,” she admitted. “And I said I was sorry. I just got carried away, okay? It won’t happen again.”

“It better not,” I grumbled. “Or the Pull-Ups, either.”

She hesitated. “Skye, you know I can’t promise that. If you’re going to have accidents, you need some kind of protection, whether you like it or not. I won’t tell your parents, though, okay?”

“Fine,” I sighed. “I won’t tell them you spanked me.” Honestly, I don’t know how much they’d really care, considering it hadn’t even been that much of a spanking, but I couldn’t risk them firing Lela. They’d just hire another babysitter, after all, and they wouldn’t know who I really was. Nor would they be likely to believe me if I told them. And if I -did- tell, she would just tell them the circumstances, and I could end up in Pull-Ups for longer than an afternoon.

“Well, I’m glad we settled that,” Lela said with a smile. I couldn’t quite tell if she was being condescending or not, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, since we were nearly back at my house.

My hand tightened around hers as we approached, my legs taking smaller and smaller steps. Lela slowed down in response, watching me curiously, but not bothering to ask what was wrong. It was, I imagine, pretty clear. My feet stopped altogether at the edge of my lawn, and we stood there for a time, just staring at the front door.

“You can’t stay at my house forever,” she told me finally. “I’m sure your family wants to see you, too.”

“Not yet,” I shook my head. “I can’t do it yet.”

“Okay,” she said gently, squeezing my hand in support. “What do you want to do instead?”

I shrugged. “Anything else.” Ideally, I could have been searching through the book for a solution to my little… ‘problem’, but it had vanished, at least according to Lela. I didn’t really have any reason not to believe her, though it was, of course, possible that she just hadn’t looked in the right place. However, if it wasn’t there - and to check that for sure would require me to go back into my house, which I was trying to avoid - then perhaps it was back where I’d gotten it.

And so I suggested, “Let’s go to the library.”

“All right,” she shrugged, looking a bit confused. “If you really want to…” She started off down the sidewalk, my feet coming unstuck to follow her as she flipped open her phone and called my house. It was a quick conversation, which I tried not to listen in on too much, not wanting to hear Lela talking about what a good girl I had been that day. “I just have to get you home before dinner,” she told me at the end.

“Hopefully it won’t take that long.” But, of course, with my luck, it probably would.

“You’re sure you wanted to come here?” she whispered, just inside the library. “We passed the park on the way and…”

“Yes, I’m sure,” I said a bit testily.

“Okay,” she shrugged. “Have fun.”

First, I checked the shelf where I’d found the book, but, of course, it wasn’t there. It took me a few moments of checking all the shelves around it, in case it got put in the wrong place, to recall that I hadn’t gotten off the shelf at all, just picked it up after running into that girl.

Well, that was fine. I went over to the little row of computers, hopped up onto a chair in front of one, and pulled up the electronic card catalog. Unlike Amazon, however, “Skye’s the Limit” brought up exactly 0 results. I tried taking the e out of my name, and got a few hits, but, from their plot summaries, I could tell none of them were the right book. Still, I wrote down their call numbers on one of the pieces of scrap paper they kept by the computers, just in case.

Before I could go try to find them, though, I started up Firefox and pulled up Amazon. I got the same results I had last time, except that this time, I was able to go through all of them to see that my book wasn’t there. At all.

“Son of a bitch.” I barely kept myself from slamming my fist down on the computer table. What was going on? Had the book somehow erased all reference to itself? Was I just going crazy?

Before I came to any conclusions, I decided to take my own advice to Olive a few days ago - was it really just a few days ago? - and Google it. Just the title by itself brought up a few thousand results too many to be useful, but adding “Keith” helped a bit. Throwing in “Lela” brought it down to a manageable level, though I almost tried searching again with my own name, before realizing how stupid that was, since it was already part of the title.

It still took a few pages before I saw something that looked like it could be referring to the book. The link to me to a site, not Wikipedia, though it looked an awful lot like it.

“Skye’s the Limit,” it said, “is the story of a teenaged girl called Skye. When Skye’s boyfriend, Keith, breaks up with her for no apparent reason, her life is turned upside-down, and she turns to her best friend, Lela.”

It was almost completely useless, though it was nice to know that there was still evidence that it existed. And then, as I thought that, a picture loaded on the side of the page. It was a woman, maybe in her mid-twenties, with brown hair and brown eyes. She looked strangely familiar, though I couldn’t put my finger on why. I moved the mouse over the picture, missing it the first time, left it there until the alt-text popped up.

“Lydia Newman,” it read. “The author of Skye’s the Limit.”

The name sounded familiar, too, so I wrote it down, and was about to do a search for it when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I gasped and jumped, spinning around to find an amused Lela there. “We need to get going,” she told me.

“But we just got here,” I protested.

“I need to get you home,” she said, holding out her hand. I closed the browser with a sigh and got down from the chair, sticking the paper into my pocket and taking her hand.

“Do you know,” I asked her as we were leaving, “a Lydia Newman?”

She thought for a moment before shaking her head. “I don’t think so. It sounds familiar somehow, though.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “I know.”

My body slowed down as we approached my house, but at least it didn’t stop completely this time. Lela held the door open for me, and I stepped inside, looking around nervously. Other than being bigger, it didn’t seem all that different, not yet anyway, but that didn’t do anything to ease my tension.

“We’re here!” Lela called, stepping just inside the door.

“Hey there!” my mom, who also looked bigger, answered, popping out of the living room. “Did you girls have a good day?”

I nodded and Lela said, “Yes,” and then, “See you tomorrow, Skye,” and then set the bag down and abandoned me there. I guess since it was my own house, it technically isn’t considered abandonment, but that’s what it felt like.

Mom held her arms out, and I stared at her for a few moments before going over for a hug. Every step made it feel as if she had grown another foot taller than me, until, once I was finally right in front of her, her arms about to close around me, I thought that maybe she had become roughly ten feet taller overnight. “Did you have a good time last night?”

“It was okay,” I said.

“Aww, what’s wrong?” she asked, pushing me away from herself, holding me at arm’s length.

“It’s nothing,” I shook my head, even though I wanted to scream, ‘Why aren’t you freaking out?!’ But, in her mind, like in most everyone else’s, apparently, nothing was wrong. “I just feel a little sick.”

“Well, maybe you should go lay down,” she suggested. I nodded, grabbed my bag of stuff from in front of the door, and slowly made my way back to my room.

The doorknob seemed so high now, so far away that I was afraid to even try to reach up for it, scared that it would be out of my reach. I heard my mom approaching, however, which got me to get over my fear and quickly duck inside, shutting the door behind me.

But what waited beyond was even worse. It was as if a can of pink paint had exploded inside my room, coating everything. My bed was the same, but the bedspread had the Disney Princesses on it, and was, of course, pink. My posters were now of unicorns and rainbows and that kind of crap.

My head began to spin as I tried to take in it all, nearly making me lose my balance as I walked over to my dresser. I was -just- tall enough to be able to see into the top drawer, but I tried the one below it first, the one where I kept my pajamas. Sure enough, there was a stack of Goodnites in there, next to nightshirts with more unicorns, and kittens, and one that just said “Princess”, with the i dotted in a tiara.

The drawers below weren’t all bad; there was still some denim in there, mostly cut-off shorts, along with the pinks and the yellows. My closet was mostly the same. There was a cute little denim jumper that was actually kinda cute, though it looked like it might be a bit short. There were quite a few rather frilly little dresses, and a tutu. It wasn’t quite as bad as I had feared.

At least until I went back to the dresser and slowly pulled open the top drawer. At first, it wasn’t too bad, either - some tights, including a rainbow striped pair, some gratuitously cute panties I normally wouldn’t be caught dead in, but that at least were real underwear, some socks. And then I saw them. More Pull-Ups, like the ones Lela had made me wear that afternoon, sitting there, staring back at me, like they had some kind of a right to be in -my- underwear drawer.

And then, there at the back… A diaper. No, not just one, but a stack, small, but still far too many. I stumbled backwards, shaking my head as it began to spin again. I sat heavily on my bed, trying to steady my gaze, as the whole world seemed to spin around me, mocking me.

“This isn’t happening,” I whispered to myself. “This isn’t happening.”

I fell back onto my bed, squeezing my eyes closed; everything was still there when they opened again.

“Are you feeling all right?” Mom asked from the other side of my door, knocking lightly and then opening it a tad. She might have opened it further, if I hadn’t left the bag sitting right in front of it.

“I’m not hungry,” I mumbled, curling up on my bed, facing away from her.

I heard the bag being pushed across the floor by the door, and then her hand was on my forehead. “You don’t feel warm,” she said, then moved her hand down to my feet, taking off my sandals. “Is it just your tummy that hurts?”

“It doesn’t hurt,” I told her. “I’m just not hungry.”

“All right.” She bent over, kissing me on the top of my head. “Get some rest, sweetie.”

But once she had closed the door, I got up off of my bed and went over to my desk, pulling open all of the drawers frantically. They looked a lot like I imagined Olive’s looked like - full of coloring books and crayons, and construction paper and glue sticks and safety scissors. But not the book I was looking for.

I pulled the piece of paper from my pocket, laid it on the desk. Lydia Newman… I glanced over at my bookshelf, to see if maybe she had written anything else I had, but there were just a bunch of kids’ books there now, of course. I wanted to scream, even though I knew it would just bring my mom, and maybe my dad, back to my room to see what was wrong.

I didn’t. Instead, I crept out of my room as quietly as I could, down the hall. I could hear mom and dad in the kitchen, talking, so I allowed myself to speed up as I went into the living room, snatching up the phone book from the coffee table where it, and the phone, resided.

Back in my room, I tossed the book onto my bed while I grabbed the piece of paper and a crayon, then joined it, sitting cross-legged as I flipped through the pages, looking for the N’s. And there she was, in black and white, a Lydia Newman. It wasn’t necessarily the same one, of course, but it was too big of a coincidence for me to ignore, especially when I saw that she lived only a few blocks away.

“Lydia Newman,” I said out loud, tasting the name on my tongue. Why did I still feel like I knew her from somewhere? Who was she? Did she know the truth about what had happened to me? And, more importantly, could she help me reverse it?

1 Like

Skye’s the Limit

9 - The Threshold Is Breaking Tonight

“I told you, no,” Lela repeated, starting to sound exasperated. “Now please stop asking me.”

“Come on!” I pouted, setting my sandwich - peanut butter and jelly, with the crusts cut off, apparently because that was just how Lela was used to making them - down onto my plate. “Don’t be a bitch.”

“Skye…” Lela started to reprimand me before remembering that her other charge, some baby I hadn’t seen before, was taking a nap. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t have minded doing the same thing, even though I’d put myself to bed even before my parents could start pestering me about it being my bedtime, and woke up only when my mom popped her head in to check my forehead again before heading off to work, leaving me in Lela’s care.

“You -know- this could be my ticket out of this!” I took a sip of my water, managing both to spill it on myself and then almost knock the glass over when setting it down. I brushed the water off the front of my T-shirt - plain yellow, even though Lela had suggested one with a unicorn - and glared across the table, daring Lela to suggest that maybe I should be using a sippy cup.

“I don’t know any such thing,” Lela sighed. “I’m not going to let you go bother some poor woman just because she happens to have the same name as the author of some book that you say existed.”

“It -does- exist!” I slammed my fist down on the table, pleasantly surprised at how loud the resulting sound was, no matter how much it hurt.

“Of course it does,” she back-pedaled. “But…”

“It has to be behind all this,” I said before she could suggest otherwise. “What else could be? And why else would it have vanished?”

“Well, probably for the same reason that everything else in your room changed.”

I rolled my eyes. Obviously, she just didn’t get it. “Whatever,” I sulked, picking my sandwich back up and slouching down into my chair.

“Come on, Skye, don’t be like that. I’m sorry.” But she didn’t sound that way. After a few moments, she shook her head and stood up, heading over to the kitchen to straighten it up. I ignored her, staring down at my food as I heard various drawers opening and closing, and then heard the sink running. I flinched when she called over to me, “Do you need to go to the bathroom?”, something she’d taken to asking me far too often, though, I have to admit, it had kept my pants dry a couple times that morning.

Unfortunately, those “pants” were Pull-Ups. I’d insisted that I hadn’t had any accidents the evening before, but I really hadn’t been awake much longer after she took me back to my house, so that wasn’t overly impressive. Even more unfortunate, however, was the fact that, this time, the reminder came too late, and that I hadn’t even realized that until she asked, causing me to squirm a bit, preparing to shout back my answer. It must have happened during the argument, I realized, when I had been too busy concentrating on getting Lela to stop being so stupid.

“Did you hear me?” she asked, peeking her head back into the dining room. I nodded, prompting a, “Well?”

“No, I’m fine,” I told her, squirming slightly in my seat, getting a raised eyebrow in response. I blushed, wishing I could sink into the floor. How did she know? Well, other than all that time she spent babysitting, but surely I wasn’t acting like an actual kid.

“Skye…”

My lip trembled a little as I stared up at her. I knew that she was probably just used to dealing with this kind of thing with actual kids, and that was the only way she knew how to deal with it, but that didn’t make it feel any less humiliating. “I’m sorry,” I sniffled involuntarily.

“No, I’m sorry,” she said gently. “I didn’t mean to upset you…”

“It’s not you,” I sighed, hopping down from my chair. It was, really - if I had been alone, I probably wouldn’t have cared, but that wasn’t likely to happen, so I guess out of all the babysitters I could have had, she was the one I’d most want around for all this. “I’ll go get changed.”

“You done eating?” she asked, and I nodded, prompting her to collect my dishes. “If you keep the volume low, you can watch some TV while I finish up in here, okay?”

I reminded myself that I was lucky to have someone who knew the truth about my age, biting back a reply about how I didn’t need her permission, and went off to the living room to grab my backpack, which I had left sitting next to my flip-flops. I had only brought a couple of spare Pull-Ups, in the hopes that I would be a little more used to controlling my younger body, so there was just one left after getting myself changed. Lela had wanted to pack my backpack for me, even going so far as to open up my underwear drawer before I practically shouted that I was perfectly capable of doing it on my own.

I walked to the living room, standing next to the coffee table with the remote in my hands for a minute or two, staring down at it, and over towards the kitchen. Finally, I switched the TV on to whatever channel the baby’s parents had been watching last, put my flip-flops on, then crept over to the front door, opening it slowly, just enough to slip out, and closing it behind me just as slowly.

I pulled the paper out of the pocket of my cut-offs as I approached the house’s mailbox, trying to figure out which direction I would need to head. I stared back at the house, making sure Lela hadn’t heard the door and come to investigate, shaking my head at the sight of her mother’s car in the driveway. If she had just agreed to take me, we could have been there so much sooner… And if I was still big enough to reach the pedals, and see over the dashboard, I could have stolen the keys from her purse and driven myself.

Since she hadn’t, and I wasn’t, I just had to hoof it, running at first, to try and get as much distance as possible between me and Lela before she noticed I was missing. You always hear about how energetic little kids are, but I suppose that was balanced out by how tired I was, and how much shorter my legs were, since I hadn’t gotten all that far before I had to slow down.

It was a pretty nice day, so there were kids playing outside every now and then, and usually some teenager watching them, or at least vaguely near them. I always sped up a little when I approached, not wanting to catch the attention of any of them. When I was sixteen, I didn’t give them a second thought, but now that most of them were bigger than me, I found myself feeling a little scared at the very sight of them. I was sure the babysitters were going to ask me what I was doing wandering around all alone, and it felt as if all the kids were staring at me, either wondering who this new little girl was or, like Olive the day before, recognizing me and wondering how I had suddenly become younger than most of them.

Of course, it’s hard to tell how many of them paid me any mind at all, as most of them were engrossed in whatever little games they were playing. However, there were a couple that I know for certain noticed me, as I was alerted to that fact by a sudden spray of wet water hitting me straight in the chest.

“Hey!” I exclaimed, glaring over at the culprits.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” one of them yelled back, her voice sounding strangely familiar. “I didn’t mean to… Miss Skye?”

“Megan?” I gulped, stepping further away from her, feeling a little queazy as I looked at her, so that finally I just glanced down at my feet instead. How could I have possibly gotten so small?

“Melanie,” she corrected me, stepping closer, water gun in one hand. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I told her. “I…”

“That’s not her,” another voice said snidely. I glanced up to see another girl from my class, also holding a water gun, one whose name I could never remember, but who I thought I remembered seeing run out in tears during my last class.

“Yes, it is,” Melanie told her. I blushed, shuffling my feet.

“Nuh-uh,” the other girl responded. “She’d be yelling at us by now if she was.”

I hadn’t been -that- mean! “Hey!” I protested.

“Shut up,” the girl said nastily. She always had struck me as a brat.

“You shut up!” I shot back, putting my hands on my hips. I wasn’t about to take that from a little kid, whether I was one now, too, or not. I prepared myself, just in case she tried to hit me or something, now that she had a couple inches on me, but I wasn’t ready for what she actually did.

“Look!” she declared, pointing at me. I glanced down at myself, confused, then turned bright red as I saw that my shirt had ridden up far enough to show off the top of my Pull-Up quite plainly. I tugged down on my shirt desperately, but it was too late. “And she was always picking on Laurie for havin’ accidents, too.”

“I wasn’t picking on her…” I tried to defend myself, only to get a blast of water right in my face. I sputtered, wiping the water out of my eyes, only to get my shorts shot.

The girl said, “Oh, look at that,” or something to that effect, though it was hard to make out, since she was impersonating me, I guess. “How can you expect to learn how to dance if you can’t even keep from peeing your pants?”

“I never said that!” I protested, stomping my foot, getting only another mouthful of water in response. “Stop it!” I squeaked, looking over to Melanie for support. After all, I’d always been pretty nice to her, since she wasn’t half bad, but she was just standing there, giggling. “This isn’t fair!”

And then Melanie raised her gun, making me think for a moment that she had decided to even the odds a bit, but she aimed hers at me as well, and then both let loose at the same time. “Stop it!” I screamed, before finally realizing there was no reason for me to just stand there. I tried to turn and run, only to slip in the puddle growing around me, falling hard onto my butt. I could feel the cold water soaking through my shorts, shivered as it reached my skin, and more of it rained down on me.

In the back of my mind, I knew I could just stand up and walk away, but my body didn’t seem capable of doing that, or of doing anything other than uselessly bursting into tears. At least that stopped my two tormenters, as they glanced at each other, bewildered.

“What are you two doing?” came the voice of my rescuer, barely audible through my blubbering. “Leave her alone! I’m surprised at you, Melanie!”

“I’m sorry, Miss Lela,” Melanie squeaked.

“Go on, get out of here!” The two girls did Lela’s bidding, the nameless one giggling as soon as she thought she was out of earshot. Lela knelt down in front of me, brushing my tears, and the rest of the water, out of my face, so that I could see she was holding her actual babysitting charge in one arm. I stared up at her, lip quivering, half expecting her to yell at me, too.

“Come on, honey,” she said instead, holding out a hand. “Let’s go.”

I took it gratefully, tears starting to run down my face again. I was even more sure that I was being stared at on our way back, but, even so, it didn’t bother me as much, knowing that Lela was there. I was more bothered by how little ground I had managed to cover in my escape, and how quickly we were back at the baby’s house. Lela put him back into his crib, leaving me standing, shivering wet, in the bathroom, somehow not even thinking about getting out of my wet clothes until Lela came back to help me.

“I didn’t bring any spare clothes,” she apologized, slipping my backpack off of my shoulders and setting it on the floor before lifting my shirt up over my head and draping it on over the curtain rod for the time being. “Sorry.”

I sniffled, trying to unbutton my shorts by myself, only to have my fingers keep slipping off. Lela waited patiently until I gave up and let her do it, pulling the shorts down to reveal my Pull-Up, flowers already faded off, though I wasn’t completely sure if that was the cause of liquid from within, or without. I let her dry me off, too, not sure I could have moved even if I’d wanted to.

She picked up my backpack, fishing out the last Pull-Up. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to run around in just this until your clothes dry.”

“But, Leeelaaa,” I pouted.

“I’m sorry, Skye,” she said gently, “but if you hadn’t run off like that…”

She was right, of course, as hard as it was for me to admit. “Fine,” I sighed.

“Good gi…” she started to say, then thought better of it and just smiled at me, setting the Pull-Up down on the edge of the sink while she grabbed my clothes and headed for the laundry room to throw them into the dryer.

I stared over at the Pull-Up, briefly flashing back to my ballet class, staring down at all the little kids who wore “protection” with disdain, hardly able to believe there were so many children that old whose potty training was still so shaky. And now, somehow, I had become the one being stared down at, being made fun of. Had all of those girls felt as helpless as I had?

I was still standing there, frozen, when Lela came back in. “Aren’t you ready yet?” she asked. “Do you need some help?”

“Yes,” I whispered. “I need to get out of this.”

“Okay, honey,” she said quietly, kneeling down and starting to rip the sides of my Pull-Up.

“No, not this,” I protested. “I need to talk to Lydia. I need her to tell me how to change back.”

“Skye, you know…”

“I need it, Lela,” I pleaded, falling onto my knees and staring up at her with watering, puppy dog eyes. “Please, if you’re really my friend, you’ll take me.”

“Of course I’m your friend,” she said with a sigh. “If you really think it will help, I’ll take you.”

I fell into her arms, mumbling thanks as I started to cry again. She held me for what felt like a long time, and then, the next thing I knew, I was waking up on the couch, covered in a blanket. I pushed it back, finding myself clad in only the last dry Pull-Up underneath.

I sat up sleepily, rubbing my eyes, then hopped down, wandering through the house, looking for Lela. I found her in the nursery, cooing softly at the baby while she changed his diaper. She turned around when I entered, not quite able to keep from giggling.

“Whasso funny?” I asked in the middle of a yawn.

“Nothing,” she answered, too quickly.

“Don’t you dare say I look cute,” I warned her, glaring.

“Okay, I won’t say it,” she said, but started to giggle again. I rolled my eyes and left, almost going to look for the laundry room, to see if my clothes were dry yet, but instead decided to go see what was on television.

The answer was: Nothing much. Still, I managed to find something halfway amusing, and quickly found myself completely transfixed by it, likely helped by my still being a bit sleepy. In the back of my mind, I was aware of my body squirming, seemingly of its own volition, and of my tummy grumbling every now and then, but I was becoming more and more engrossed with the TV, its pretty colors swirling and dancing and….

“Whatcha watching?” Lela asked, suddenly breaking me free.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, turning over towards her for a brief moment.

My tummy grumbled again, eyes going wide a second before they made it back to the screen. I scrambled off of the couch, almost falling, which probably would have been disastrous, made a mad dash for the bathroom.

“What’s wrong?” I heard Lela calling from behind me, before I closed the bathroom door. I tugged down my Pull-Ups, hopped onto the toilet, just in time. It was probably a good thing I hadn’t been wearing my shorts, I realized, since I wasn’t sure if I’d have even had time to get those down.

“That Lydia woman better have some answers,” I said to myself. “That was too close…”

But when we showed up at her house later that afternoon, she just looked down at me, confused. “What’s that, little one?”

“Your book!” I repeated, starting to get frustrated.

“Now, Skye,” Lela lectured, patting my hand gently, “Calm down. This nice woman let you into her house…”

“Oh, is your name Skye, too?” Lydia asked, staring down at me with a smile from the big armchair across the coffee table from her sofa, where she had sat Lela and me. “Did your big sister read it to you?”

“No! I read it! Myself!”

“Oh,” she said in surprise. “That’s quite impressive.”

“No, it isn’t!” I yelled. “Why won’t you listen to me?! I’m sixteen!”

“Skye!” Lela reprimanded me. “I’m sorry, Miss Newman.”

“Shut up, Lela,” I snapped. “Look, I need to know what happens in your book! I need to know how to reverse this!”

“This what?” Lydia blinked. “I’m sorry, I’m just not following.”

“How do I grow up again?!” I demanded.

“I don’t…” Lydia shook her head, then turned to Lela. “What does she want?”

“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!” I screamed.

“Skye, please, calm down. Let me handle this.” Lela laid her hand on mine until I took her advice, leaning back into the couch and staring at Lydia. “This is going to sound strange, Miss Newman, but did the main character in your story regress at any point?”

“What? No, of course not.”

“That’s bullshit!”

“Skye,” Lela warned, glaring at me threateningly.

“She’s got quite the mouth on her,” Lydia shook her head. “Kids these days…”

“Tell me about it,” Lela rolled her eyes. “I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s all right,” Lydia nodded. “Anyhow, no, my book is based on the summer I was sixteen years old. I only picked the name Skye because I thought it was pretty. I didn’t mean to take your name, little one, or to confuse you. You see…” And she started to lean in, probably about to go into some explanation of the difference between fantasy and reality.

“But it all happened to me!” I protested, not bothering to mention I had only looked through the first couple chapters. “All of it! How…”

“Lots of teenagers have similar experiences,” she shrugged. “Of course, you have quite a ways to go before being a teenager yourself. Maybe your big sister here told you about some things that happened to her, and…”

“Oh, I’m not her sister,” Lela interjected. “I’m her babysitter.”

“Sorry,” Lydia smiled. “Your babysitter, then. Maybe she told you something similar, and you had a dream, or something. But I promise you, that book has absolutely nothing to do with you.”

“It wasn’t a dream!”

“Thank you, Miss Newman,” Lela said, grabbing my wrist before I could jump across the coffee table at the woman. “I’m sorry about all this. You know kids.”

“Oh, it’s quite all right,” Lydia assured her. “It’s always nice to meet fans, especially ones so young and bright and imaginative. Maybe she’ll be a writer one day.”

“Maybe,” Lela agreed, before dragging me out of the house and putting me into the car.

“Thanks for all the help in there!” I exploded, slapping her arm. “Why did you tell her you were my babysitter?”

“I am now,” she said calmly, buckling herself in. “She obviously doesn’t know what’s going on - I’d rather she not think I’m crazy, too.”

“Too?” I glared over at her. “I’m not crazy!”

“I know you’re not,” she sighed. “But you were sure acting like it in there. You can get away with it, since you’re just a kid, but…”

“I am NOT just a kid!”

“Then would you please stop throwing a tantrum like one?” I started to open my mouth to yell something back at that, before realizing that she was right, so instead I just sank back into my seat, folding my arms and sulking in silence for the rest of the ride home.

10 - I’ve Been Hiding Under My Skin

I stared up at my ceiling boredly, waiting to be called to dinner. My mom was still worried that I might be getting sick, even after I insisted that I was fine. I kept expecting her to pop back into my room to check on me, but she must have been busy helping my dad finish cooking.

I had found that staring at the ceiling was about the best thing I could do - even when I’d physically been sixteen, it had still been just as far above me, so I didn’t get the same queazy, dizzy feeling I got when I looked at most anything else. I’d changed into panties as soon as I’d gotten home, of course, but I had to admit that I almost wanted to be in Pull-Ups instead. After all those accidents and close calls, I wasn’t sure if feeling a little more grown up was worth how much worry and concentration I had to pour into staying dry.

I winced, hardly able to believe I was thinking that way. What was wrong with me? I was starting to sound like Lela, who had suggested that very thing to me on the ride home.

My door finally creaked open, and mom peeked her head in. “Dinner time, Skye.”

“All right,” I nodded.

After a couple moments, she asked, “Are you feeling well enough to join us, hon?”

I shrugged listlessly, but I really was feeling hungry, so I followed it up almost immediately with a nod. “I guess.” I stood up and she reached down, laying her hand across my forehead. “I still don’t have a fever,” I told her.

“Nope, doesn’t feel that way,” she agreed. “Maybe it’s…”

“I’m fine,” I said, trying to sound as convincing as possible. As fine as I could be, all things considered. “Don’t worry.”

“That’s my job, kiddo,” she smiled, mussing up my hair. “So,” she said, starting down the hall, “how was your day?”

“I’ve had better ones,” I grumbled. “But I guess…” I stopped as I felt a warm wetness starting to flow down my leg. If I had been smarter, I would have kept quiet, ducked into the bathroom, did -something- other than gasping.

“What’s wrong?” Mom turned around quickly, eyes frantic. “Are you…” I tried to cover up the wet spot with my hands, but I was too late, succeeding only in drawing her attention to it.

Stupid Lela was right, I realized, standing there in the middle of the hall, blushing, while my mother stared at my wet pants. I should have just worn the dumb Pull-Ups.

“Skye,” she scolded, “what is going on?”

“I-It was an accident,” I stammered. She must be used to that sort of thing, considering all the various kinds of protective undergarments there were in my dresser.

And yet, the look on her face was, very clearly, shock. “What have you and Lela been doing?” she asked. “Have you been going to raves?”

“Raves? In the middle of the day?” I raised an eyebrow, wondering just what my mother thought raves were, before realizing, “You really think my babysitter would take me to a rave?”

“Babysitter? Skye, what in the world are you talking about?” She stepped forward, grabbing my wrist, and for a moment, she didn’t seem quite so tall anymore, her hand not looking nearly as huge around my arm. I stumbled, probably would have fallen if she hadn’t been holding on to me. “What have you been doing, young lady?”

“Nothing,” I protested weakly. “I don’t… I can’t…”

The world swam in front of my eyes, the hallway seeming to change size erratically. “I need to go lay down.” I pulled free from her, which took a lot less effort than I would have expected, and wobbled back down the hall.

But then, as soon as I got back yo my room, it all got worse. I saw my posters flashing between what they had been when I was sixteen, and what they’d turned into a couple days before. My computer flashed into being, along with all the other crap I kept on my desk. Everything seemed to shrink, then grow, then shrink again. I felt dizzier than I ever had before, my head and my stomach spinning in opposite directions until I fell to my knees, threw up, and blacked out.

“There she is,” I heard my mother say gently, brushing a strand of hair out of my face, with a hand that no longer seemed gigantic.

“What’s happening?” I asked, looking around. I was still on the floor of my room, which was, once again, definitely my own room, not some kid’s, and which had apparently already been cleaned. I glanced down at my body and, other than the wet spot on my shorts, I looked sixteen again. “Am I sixteen again?” I asked groggily.

“What?” Mom looked up at dad, who I suddenly noticed standing behind her, confused, then back down at me. “Skye, I want you to tell us the truth….”

“No, I haven’t been going to raves or taking drugs,” I rolled my eyes. “Don’t you remember the past couple days? I was a kid again!”

“Maybe we -should- take her to a doctor,” my mom glanced back up at my dad.

“I don’t need a doctor!” I insisted, sitting up. “I just…” Suddenly, I sprang to my feet, hurrying over to my desk and throwing open the drawers. The book still wasn’t there. “Damn it!”

“Skye, I want you to tell me what is going on this instant!” mom demanded.

“I…” I shook my head, not sure how to answer. “I’m just not feeling well,” I said finally. “I just need to lay down.”

Dad nodded, helped mom to her feet, though she was obviously not convinced. “There’s something she isn’t telling us!” she hissed at my dad. “Something is going on!”

“Get cleaned up,” dad instructed me. “We’ll talk about this later.”

I nodded blankly, walking over to my dresser, nearly tripping on my bedpost. My mom was right - something -was- going on, but I didn’t know any more about it than she did. Had it all been some kind of a warning from the book? And was everything back to normal now?

But when I pulled open my underwear drawer, I saw that, in fact, it wasn’t. The tights were still there, but, much worse than that, so were the Pull-Ups, and the diapers. But they weren’t baby diapers, as the ones I had seen the day before had seemed to be. No, on closer inspection, these were the adult - or, I guess, youth - version of those things, decorated to resemble, quite closely in fact, something a baby would wear. But now that I looked at them more closely, I could see that it was just a sticker along the tape panel.

The Pull-Ups, however, seemed to be the real thing, exactly what I had been wearing for the past couple of days. I held one up to my waist curiously, surprised to see that it would still fit me. It might have been a little tight, but, thinking back, they always had been.

What did it all mean? Had the book made the Pull-Ups magically re-size so I could still wear them? If so, why hadn’t it just made bigger versions of actual baby diapers? Something didn’t seem right….

I looked through my other drawers, unsurprised to see Goodnites sitting next to my pajamas. The kiddy shirts were still there, and still big enough to fit me, but now I noticed that my old clothes were still there, too. And, really, I wasn’t sure how they couldn’t have been there all along, since the drawer would have looked rather empty otherwise. I threw open my closet, only to find the same thing.

“I’m not going crazy,” I whispered to myself. “I’m not going crazy.” I repeated that to myself as I grabbed a pair of panties, ones without any cute designs, or frills, or ribbons, or anything like that, and another pair of shorts, and headed to the bathroom.

I stumbled over the stool I’d found - and then left - in front of the sink the night before, almost falling flat on my face. I was surprised neither of my parents had moved it out of the way, but, then again, they usually just used the bathroom off of the master bedroom, so they might not have even noticed it sitting there.

I stripped off my clothes and stepped into the shower, shaking my head. “I’m not going crazy,” I said again, turning on the water and letting it beat down against my skin, closing my eyes and staring up into it as it rolled down my face.

Suddenly, my eyes shot back open - quite stupidly, considering I was still facing the shower head. I turned away quickly, shaking my head to try to get the water out of my eyes.

I -wasn’t- crazy, I had realized. After all, Lela had been there almost the whole time. I cleaned myself off, jumped out of the shower, dried myself hurriedly, threw my clothes on, dashed for my room, tripping on the stupid stool again, this time unable to stop myself from falling.

“Are you okay?” Mom came rushing from the dining room, helping me to my feet. “Why do you have your old bathroom stool out, honey?”

“I didn’t…” I tried to explain, then shook my head. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Skye, you know that if there’s something wrong, you can tell me, don’t you? I’m here for you, no matter…”

“I know, I know,” I rolled my eyes. “I’m sorry, but I really need to talk to Lela right now.” I ran back to my room, snatching up my phone.

It took me a couple tries to dial her number, my fingers constantly trying to hit all the wrong digits. Finally, I got it right, held the phone up to my ear and impatiently listened to the other end ringing. Was she eating? From what I could recall, her family usually ate later than this, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if this once they….

“What’s up, Skye?” her voice came through, loud and clear.

“I-I don’t know,” I said nervously. “I’m not sure what’s going on, Lela.”

“Shh,” she cooed. “It’s okay, sweetie. Did you have another accident?”

I sighed in relief, nearly hanging up on her instantly before realizing just how rude that would be. “No, it’s nothing,” I told her. “Look, I gotta go.”

“Tell your mom and dad I’ll be by early tomorrow,” I heard her say.

So she -did- remember. I wasn’t sure if that made me feel better or not, but it was nice to know I hadn’t imagined it all.

Then again, she apparently still thought I was a kid. Hadn’t I sounded different? I could have sworn that my voice had been higher, squeakier… I knew I hadn’t said much to her right then, but surely she would have noticed something was off. Wouldn’t she?

I sat down on the edge of my bed, burying my face in my hands. That hadn’t helped at all; I was even more confused now than I had been before. I wanted to scream, to cry, to do -something-. But what I really wanted was answers.

I started to pick up the phone again, only to set it back down. If Lela hadn’t noticed anything the first time, why would she a second time? No, I was just going to have to go see her in person.

“I’m going to see Lela,” I called as I headed for the front door.

“Oh, no you’re not,” came my mother’s reply. “We need to talk, young lady. You’re going to stay here until…”

I didn’t even bother trying to argue with her, just continued on my way. I knew there was no way I could explain what was going on, not until I knew for sure myself.

Lela’s mother answered the doorbell. “Oh, hello, sweetie,” she smiled. “Lela didn’t tell me you were coming over.”

“She didn’t know,” I said. “Can I talk to her for a minute?”

“Of course. Lela!” She stepped back, letting me in the door, though I only came in a few steps.

“Oh, hi, Skye,” Lela said when she saw me. “What are you doing here?” For all the time I’d had to think during the walk, I still couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to ask, or, rather, how to ask if she still thought I was a little kid. “Are you okay? You were kinda weird on the phone… -Did- you have another accident?”

I backed away from her, clearly having my answer, though I still wasn’t sure what it meant. I was looking down at her again, like I always had been able to when I was sixteen, and yet she was still acting like I was little. What was going on?

“Skye, honey, what’s wrong?” she asked, moving closer to me. “Come on, you can tell me. Do you need to go to the bathroom?”

Things started to fall into place, ever so slowly. If she didn’t notice anything different… Did that mean nothing -was-?

I turned and ran as fast as I could. I had to know the truth; I had to know what had, or hadn’t, been happening to me the past couple of days. There had to be someone else I could talk to, someone else who had seen me. There was Olive, of course, and Melanie and that other girl, but, as I thought back, they had never really seemed all that phased by my sudden regression. The parents of the kids Lela had babysat had only seen me for a moment - Olive’s mother had asked Lela if I was the helper she’d mentioned on the phone, but that was about it. I had barely been around my own parents, and, while I thought they had been treating me more like a kid, I wasn’t sure now… My mom always got that way, to a certain degree, when I was feeling sick.

In fact, there was only one other person that had, for sure, treated me like I really was the little kid I’d seen myself as. The one person who I had been sure knew more than she’d let on.

Lydia Newman.

11 - This Is So Not Life At All

“Come on in,” Lydia called from inside the house, as the door swung open under the force of my knocking. “Let’s get started.” I hesitated, wondering who she was actually expecting, then did as she’d said.

She was still sitting in the same chair she’d been in when Lela and I had left, sipping slowly from a coffee mug. She glanced up from it, then over towards the clock hanging on her wall, in the shape of a cast iron sun. “Well, look who’s all grown up. Nice to see you again,” she said with a smile, setting her cup down on the coffee table. I couldn’t help but think that there was something familiar looking about her, with those brown eyes and brown hair, but I couldn’t quite place it. “And right on time.”

“Huh?” I blinked a couple of times, staring at her. “You were expecting me?”

“Of course,” she replied. “And I’d prefer if you didn’t sit on the couch, if you wouldn’t mind. If you must sit, there’s a nice seat for you over there.” She waved over towards the corner of the room. Both of the walls were covered in bookshelves, and on the floor sat an old, dusty, cardboard box. I took a step towards it, curious, before I could see the pink, bunny themed potty chair inside.

My head snapped back over towards her with a glare to meet her smile. “I’m sorry,” she shrugged, not sounding particularly apologetic. “Just a little joke.”

“Who the hell are you?” I demanded. “How did you know I thought I was a little girl this afternoon? Why did you play along?”

“So many questions,” she shook her head. “Patience, dear. We have a whole chapter, pretty much.”

“A chapter?” What was -that- supposed to mean?

“It means,” she answered, making me wonder if I’d spoken out loud, “that we have plenty of time for me to explain all this to you. Though, really, it’s all very simple. I knew what was happening because I made it happen; I played along because I needed you to believe for just a little longer.”

“I knew it!” I yelled triumphantly. “I knew you and your stupid book made me think I was a kid!”

“No,” she replied calmly, picking up her mug again, “that was your little friend, Lela.”

“But you just… How did…? Why would…?”

“I guess you -should- sit down,” she sighed, gesturing towards her sofa. After a moment, I took her invitation. “I guess I should start by telling you that you aren’t real.”

“Uh-huh,” I rolled my eyes. “Whatever you say.”

“You don’t have to believe me,” she said. “And you won’t, not yet. Gives me more of a chance to explain.”

“If I’m not real, then what am I?” I demanded. “You think I’m a character in one of your books?”

“Yes, you are,” she answered. “Skye’s the Limit. You’ve read some of it.”

“But that was just…” I started, shaking my head.

“Some teenagers do have similar experiences,” she said, “but how many do you know that have identical ones? You’ve been wondering how a book could mirror your life so closely ever since you started reading it, haven’t you? What did you think the answer was going to be?”

“I… I didn’t know,” I shook my head. “But I didn’t… No, that can’t be true! Why would you write about me?”

“You seemed like an interesting character,” she shrugged. “And it had to be someone.”

“But why would you write about this stuff happening to anyone?”

“There are people who like that sort of thing,” she said. “People not unlike your friend, Lela. Some of them would like to experience it themselves, too, but not her. No, she just wants to see it happen to other people, and you just happened to be the first on her list. You have no idea how annoyed she is that she hasn’t gotten you into diapers yet.”

“You’re crazy,” I declared, standing up. “Lela would never do that! She couldn’t! -Nobody- could…”

“She could, and would, and did. A little hypnosis and some drugs go a long way.”

“What? That doesn’t even make sense! Hypnosis doesn’t work that way! You have to want to do whatever you’re told to do… And what kind of drug…?”

“Maybe you did want to,” she suggested. “In the back of your mind. Maybe you’ll come to enjoy it. But really, it doesn’t matter; that’s just a minor detail.”

“You can’t just ignore that!” I protested.

“I did,” she replied. “It was easy. I can do whatever I want, you know.”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, yeah, because you’re the author, right? Well, if you can do anything, why not just make me -really- turn into a kid, instead of just thinking I did?”

She waved a hand dismissively. “That’s a whole other thing. It’s all right, but, really, that’s the sort of thing you need a slightly better explanation for, and who needs that? And, besides, Lela sees little kids having accidents all the time - what difference would one more make to her? No, they want to see someone your age in diapers.”

“You’re crazy,” I told her, heading for the front door. “I’ve had enough of this.”

“No, you can’t leave yet!” she protested.

“And why not?” I asked, turned around to face her again. “Are you going to make me stay with your ‘author powers’ or something?”

“No,” she said, looking straight at my crotch. “I was waiting for that to happen.”

I looked down, surprised, just a moment before I felt my bladder give way yet again, soaking through my shorts. A shiver ran up my spine, and I couldn’t find any words to fit the moment.

“A residual effect of the hypnosis,” Lydia noted. “Among other things. A bit cheap, I admit, but I couldn’t just let you break free of it completely. What fun would that be?”

“This can’t be real,” I shivered, staring down at myself. “This can’t be….”

“I already told you it wasn’t,” Lydia interrupted. “You just won’t listen to me.”

“I have to go,” I said slowly, tongue feeling thick and heavy, like my mouth was full of molasses.

“You already did,” she teased.

My limbs had a difficult time moving as well, but somehow, I managed to use them to turn back around, towards the door.

“Hey, what are you doing?” Lydia asked, sounding, for the first time, genuinely puzzled. “We still have another page or two left!”

Each step felt a little easier, as if I was somehow pulling free of some invisible bondage. I half expected Lydia to try to stop me, but she never moved from the chair, even as I struggled to pull the door open. Right before I pushed the door closed again, I saw her slump forward, body folding in half in a strange, impossible way.

“You get back here!” another voice yelled, slightly muffled, and then I saw someone crawling out from inside of the author. It took me a moment or two, but I finally recognized her as the girl who had been following me, carrying the book. Had that really only been a few days ago, now? It felt like months and months.

The fresh air outside seemed to wash away the heaviness in my body, allowing me to hurry away from the house, even though all I really wanted to do was sit down and try to figure out what was -really- going on. For all the ridiculousness of Lydia’s story, I had to admit that I didn’t have any better of an explanation for everything that had happened to me, nor for the book.

The book. If nothing had really changed with my room, then where had the book gone? And, for that matter, where had all of those new clothes come from? As far as I knew, the only people, other than my parents, who would have been in my room between the time that I had “regressed”, and the time Lela took me back home was Lela.

But why would she have had those clothes? And why would she take the book? It didn’t make any sense, not unless….

No, Lydia was just insane, and she probably had something hallucinogenic in the room that had made me see that girl. There was no way that I was just a character in some story. But, even so… Those clothes, and diapers -had- come from somewhere.

Luckily, Lela answered her door this time. “Skye, your parents are worried sick about you!” she said in greeting. “They just called me and asked if you’d come over here, and… Oh, -Skye-, not again!” I followed her gaze, realized she was looking at the wet patch on my shorts. “I told you to wear your Pull-Ups, didn’t I? Though if it’s getting this bad, maybe you should…”

“Don’t you dare suggest diapers to me,” I growled. “Just give me the damn book.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked, playing dumb, and badly.

“Don’t play with me, Lela. I know what you did.” I was hoping that she would stare at me blankly, ask what I meant, do -something- to make me doubt Lydia’s words.

She turned white as a sheet. “But how? It shouldn’t have worn off this soon!”

My hand clenched into a fist, but I managed to keep from using it, somehow. “Give me the book, Lela.”

“All right, all right.” She ducked into her house, then returned a few moments later, holding Skye’s the Limit. “Look, Skye, I’m….”

“Just tell me why,” I cut her off.

She shrugged. “I don’t know, Skye. I just… I always wanted to see you like that. And my dad works at a pharmaceuticals company, you know, and when I heard him talking about a drug that enhanced hypnosis, I… Skye, please, just let me keep the book! It’s incredible. I didn’t believe you at first, just thought you were making it up for some reason, but I took it, just in case, and… You wouldn’t believe how accurate it is, Skye. It’s like magic, or something.”

“Did it tell you I was coming to get it back?”

She shrugged sheepishly. “I hadn’t gotten that far yet.”

I started to turn around, to leave, then spun back around and hit her square on the jaw. She fell to her knees, stunned. “Then I guess it didn’t tell you about that, either,” I said coldly. I kicked her in the stomach. “Don’t you ever come near me again,” I threatened. “Never. You hear me?”

“Skye, come on!” she begged, gasping for air. “You’re my best friend!”

“No, I’m your experiment,” I spat back at her. “And I’m done pissing myself for you. Hope you got enough of a show, because it’s over now!”

I managed to keep myself from hitting her again, helped quite a bit by the sounds of her parents stirring in the house, wondering what in the world was going on now.

“You make me sick,” I told her, shaking my head.

And then I left, turning my back on her for what I hoped would be the last time, wishing I had done it a few moments earlier, before the tears started spilling from my eyes.

12 - And I Feel Fine

“‘Did it tell you I was coming to get it back?’ Skye hissed, her hand curling into a fist at her side. She had been too much of a wimp to take her aggression out on the person who really was to blame for her troubles, but when it came to someone smaller than her, it was much easier to find her courage.”

I sat on the curb, staring down at that passage in the fading daylight, waiting for the street light in front of the little general store across the road to come on. On the next page, I could see a description of my exodus from Lela’s house, my aimless wandering until I had finally decided to crack the book open again.

Everything was in there, from my visit to Lydia’s house, to my “early” exit, complete with the split second sight of the girl crawling from out of Lydia’s skin. Everything. Lela had been right - it -was- like magic.

But did that mean Lydia had been telling the truth? Could she have been? I could’ve sworn I’d heard real surprise in her voice when I left. Was she just that good an actress? Or was she wrong? Maybe there was another author, one writing a story about -her- story, somehow, that was really the one calling the shots.

My head was starting to hurt, just thinking of that. It was just easier to think of the book as magic, and carry on believing I was a real person, not just a character in a story, suffering because of the whims of some sadistic person with a pen, or a keyboard.

I almost looked back, wanting to see just how accurate it really was, wanting there to be something it had gotten wrong, to prove Lydia wrong, to show myself that it was all just a huge coincidence, but I couldn’t bear reliving the past couple days, and my slipping back into childhood, even if it had all just been mental. In fact, I think that thought just made it worse.

So, instead, I flipped forward. If everything kept happening like it did in the book, what was going to happen to me next? Would things get better for me? What did I have to look forward to? It was rather unfortunate that the first passage that caught my eye and made me stop, aghast, was:

"Skye’s face, still bright red, turned to the floor, unable to bear the sight of her mother’s pitying gaze, though the puddle under her feet was not much of an improvement. How could her body have betrayed her like that? Of course, it should hardly have been a surprise to her. It was as if she had never truly gotten her real body back, like the hypnosis was still there, just hidden more deeply.

"Nothing worked the way she wanted anymore. She found herself constantly knocking things over, bumping into walls and doorways, tripping over everything and nothing. Even if she’d still had her job, she was hardly coordinated enough to be qualified to -take- her class, much less teach it. And as for her bathroom habits, she needed only to keep staring at the floor to see how much of a hit those had taken. Tears clouding her eyes, she looked a little further up, focusing instead on the black circle on her thumb.

‘Skye, sweetie, it’s all right,’ her mother assured her, giving her a big hug. ‘I wish you hadn’t lied to us, but I understand. This must be humiliating, having accidents at your age.’

Skye rolled her eyes. ‘Of course it’s humiliating,’ she thought. It was especially embarrassing after having just told her parents that all of the diapers and things they’d found in her drawers while looking for drugs or whatever were there because she just liked the wear them. Her body had chosen the worst possible time to contradict her, though she wasn’t sure if she was grateful for that or not… Would she rather her parents think she -liked- wearing diapers, or that she -needed- to be wearing them?"

I had to stop reading, flipping a few dozen pages forward. It had to get better - didn’t it? Though I had resolved not to think of it in that way, I still found myself thinking that this mystical “audience” Lydia had spoken about would surely get tired of reading about accident after accident, would want something new. Some of them had to care about me enough not to want to see me reduced to that, bumbling about, trapped in my own body.

"Her hand froze on the bathroom’s doorknob, then tightened as she felt her body suddenly giving up on her. She felt the seat of her Pull-Ups expanding out, quickly filling with the contents of her bowels. It was over in seconds, but it felt like hours as she stood there, hardly able to believe what was happening to her.

"She knew that she should go and clean herself up, that if she was quick, her parents might never find out about this. She knew that, and yet, she still found herself collapsing to the floor, her hand still clasped around the doorknob so that she found herself pulling the door open as she descended, then slamming it closed again as she lost her balance, falling straight onto her squishy bottom.

“Her lip quivered for a moment, long enough for her to desperately try to stop herself, and then she threw her head back and began to wail. It was all…”

“No!” I gasped, trying to ignore my currently quivering lip. “No, this isn’t going to happen, it can’t…”

“She’d seen them in her underwear drawer for so long, taunting her, but she had never dreamed that she would ever actually wear one. It had seemed too ludicrous, too far-fetched, even for a life that had turned as crazy as hers,” the next page said.

“Stop it!” I yelled, not realizing just how stupid that would have sounded, seeing as it wasn’t like anyone was forcing me to keep reading. And yet, I still did.

“She whimpered softly as, overhead, her mother unfolded the diaper, the plastic coating crinkling softly in her hands. This wasn’t a Goodnite, or even a Pull-Up, something she hated but could at least reason was meant for someone a bit older than an infant. This was a diaper, a real diaper,” it taunted.

I threw the book down, barely able to make out the words through my tear-blurred eyes. It stayed open to the same page, the dying light still bright enough for me to make out the last few sentences.

“The padding pushed her legs apart, as the cool plastic rested against her tummy. She looked up at her mother with pleading eyes, begging her silently to stop, to give her another chance, but all she heard in reply was a light ripping sound from the first tape, before the side of the diaper was pulled up and over. The other side came in even more tightly, trapping her within….”

Luckily for me, that was the end of the page, sparing me from any more of the grisly details. My eyes started to drift back to the opposite page, but before I could read any more about sitting in a messy Pull-Up and crying, I reached down and, finally, flipped the book closed.

“It’s not true,” I said to myself. “It’s not going to happen, not like that. It can’t…” I got up, tried to kick the book, but missed completely, very nearly losing my balance. “I’m not going to let it happen!” I screamed at it. “Do you hear me?!”

It, of course, did nothing, just sat there. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, really. It isn’t like it could talk or anything - much as I hated it at that moment, it was just a book.

My eyes widened ever so slightly. Just a book…. I swooped down and grabbed it, then took off across the street. A bored looking girl, not much older than me, glanced up when the door chimed, announcing my arrival.

“Can I help you find anything?” she mumbled, barely understandable.

“Do have have bens?” I asked, then blushingly corrected myself with, “I mean, pems?” I flushed a darker shade of red, took a second to calm my tongue. “Pens.”

If the girl had found any humor in my inability to speak correctly, she hid it quite well as she blandly pointed towards the other end of the store. “Over there.”

“Thanks,” I called over my shoulder as I scrambled across the store. Sure enough, there next to the charcoal and lighter fluid, was a tiny section devoted to school supplies, full of scotch tape and Elmer’s glue, and, at one end, pens. I glanced over my shoulder, making sure the girl hadn’t suddenly gotten interested in her job, then grabbed a package. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my wallet with me, so I couldn’t exactly pay for them, so I was afraid the store would just have to live with a bit of theft.

Even she would likely notice me trying to pull open the plastic surrounding the pens, so, instead, I carefully clicked one of them open, then slowly pressed it against the packaging.

Once I had the pen free, I set the rest of them down, moving to a different part of the aisle, so the girl might think I was actually shopping. Then I opened the book.

"‘You’re sure this is what you want?’ the woman asked as she handed the CD over to Lela.

"‘Oh, I’m sure,’ Lela grinned as she stared down at it, watching her hard-earned babysitting money slip into the woman’s pocket. ‘You can’t imagine how sure I am.’

"‘If you say so,’ the woman shrugged. ‘Just as a warning, though - this Skye person might ask about me. It’s just a little side effect of the subliminals. If it gets too bad, feel free to bring her by.’

"Lela nodded, trying to act as if that made any sense to her. ‘All right. Thanks, Lydia! Really, you can’t imagine how great this is.’

“Lydia watched the girl run off, taking a sip of her tea. ‘Oh, I think I can, Lela,’ she said with a wink.”

My pen hung over the words, waiting to strike through them all, to mark them out, but something held me back. It felt too much like a time traveler in a science fiction story changing the past, something they were always warned not to do. I wasn’t sure what else could possibly change if I just kept Lela from buying that stupid hypnosis CD, but I didn’t think it was something I wanted to risk.

I scanned forward, looking for something more recent, pausing for a moment on my day with Olive.

"Olive glanced up at Skye as she tried to cower behind Lela. It was almost comical, considering how much taller Skye was, but the obvious fear on her face kept Olive from laughing.

"‘What happened to her?’ Olive asked, trying to sneak a better look. Skye was wearing a pair of pink shortalls, more like something a toddler would wear than what Olive had ever seen someone as grown up as her in. Could she be playing dress-up? Olive liked to put on her mommy’s clothes and pretend she was grown-up… Maybe this was the same thing, but in the other direction.

"That made even more sense with Lela’s answer. ‘It’s hard to explain, but she’s a kid now, so I want you to be nice to her, okay?’

“Olive considered just saying no, remembering how mean Skye had always been to her, but she didn’t want Lela to think that -she- was a bad girl. ‘Do I have to play with her?’”

I flipped forward more, coming across my confrontation with Lela again, and then, finally, found the part with me standing in the general store. I started to turn the page, look for the part I hadn’t seen yet, where my parents confronted me about the Pull-Ups and such in my dresser, only to stop right where it told me to.

“Skye’s eyes stopped halfway down the page,” it read. "Her palms were starting to sweat as she stared down at the book, remembering everything she had seen that came later on, everything she wanted to avoid. She had hardly read all of it, but she was more than convinced that there was nothing good coming her way. So why not just get rid of it all at once, give herself a fresh start?

"She pressed the pen against the page, hand shaking. If she hadn’t just done so such a short while ago, she probably would have wet her pants again as the tension coursed through her body. Then, suddenly, she slashed across the page, taking out the whole line.

“Or so she expected. Instead, when she looked back at the page, there was no mark, nothing to suggest she had done anything. She tried again, more frantically, then dove back for the package of pens, getting out another, but it proved just as ineffective.”

“No,” I whimpered. It had to be lying, to try and stop me before I had a chance to do it. I drew a shaky line through the words, but no ink came out. “Come on!” I rubbed the pen back and forth on the page, trying to get anything from it, just the slightest dot of ink. Nothing.

I dashed back to the other end of the aisle, clumsily pulling out another pen. “Write, damn it!” I growled. It didn’t listen.

Desperately, I grabbed a Sharpie, fumbled it free from it’s plastic and cardboard prison. I drew a circle on my thumb, just to make sure it was working, then tried the same thing on the book. Nothing.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the girl at the counter asked. “Are you gonna pay for that?”

“No,” I replied numbly, not even bothering to lie. “No, I’m not. I’m sorry.”

I grabbed a grill lighter as I left, the sight of the girl starting to come around the counter putting a bit of spring back into my step.

The sun had gone the rest of the way down, and the moon hadn’t yet come out from behind the clouds. It was turning into a chilly night, though the shiver running up my spine wasn’t from that, seeing as I’d had it since before leaving the store.

I let the lighter’s packaging fall to my feet as I pulled it free. It was too dark to read the print on the page I opened the book to, luckily, though the glow of the flame at the tip of the lighter let me make out a couple words, “diaper” and “helpless”.

I shoved the lighter right between them. For a few moments, I thought it would be just as ineffective as the pen, and then, by some miracle, the paper began to glow.

I started to smile as the first flame popped into being, then began to spread across the page, blackening it ever so slightly. “There,” I said softly to myself. “It’s done.”

I was able to smile for a few seconds at least, even started to chuckle.

Then I heard the screaming. I turned quickly, bewildered, finding a little family, a mom and dad in their early twenties and a little girl, maybe four or five, out walking their dog. Or they were, I assume, but at the moment, they were frozen still, pointing up at the sky. I followed their fingers, gazing up.

A gasp escaped my lips, unbidden. The sky was on fire. I could see the corners of it starting to curl up already, revealing only blackness above, as the flames spread quickly, engulfing clouds and stars.

The little girl started crying.

I glanced back at her. She was so small, I realized. So tiny, and so scared. Was she just a character, too? When she was off the page, did she exist? Did anybody?

Or were they like me, convinced that they were real, that their lives were their own? Did she have dreams? Did she want to grow up to be the President? Did she want a pony with wings, and a unicorn? Did she love her parents as much as I loved mine?

Did she deserve to be erased? To be burned from existence with the rest of this world?

I listened to her cry, every wail pulling at my heart. There were so many people like her, I realized. I ran into so many people, saw so many on TV, on the Internet. Did they all deserve to die, just because I didn’t like the way my story was headed? Was my happiness really worth so many lives?

I threw the book to the ground, stomping out the flames. I watched the page slowly uncurl, turn white again, at least around the words, as the sky overhead healed itself as well.

Behind me, the parents were calming their little girl down. I picked up the book with a sigh, headed back towards them. “Here,” I said, kneeling down in front of the girl. "This is for you.&quo

2 Likes

Skye’s the Limit

Sweet, I get to be a first reply for once!

What can I say?

Maybe: A beautifully written story, complete with twists and turns deserving of the highest praise. I can read most stories here and tell with-in a page or two where it’s going.

But this…. This kept me guessing from the first few paragraphs.

And the end. Wow.

Brilliant story.

Perfect pace.

Thank you for writing this.

Skye’s the Limit

This is simply the finest creative writing I have ever had the pleasure to read on one of these forums.

I am gobsmacked.

Skye’s the Limit

Great story.

Skye’s the Limit

I like the ending, though I think that the phrases need a little tidying. It needs to be more beautiful at the end. The bit about the lighter dropping could be prettier, for instance.

Well done though.

Holy shit

That was one of the craziest things I have ever read. There was a lot of Inland Empire/Mulholland Dr. kind of Lynchian stuff going on with regard to the meta-thinking that forces the reader to realize that they are reading a story. I can’t even imagine what it was like to be the author writing this, having a dialog within the story with the fictional character they had created. I mean, how weird to think that when any of us write about some unfortunate character loosing bladder control that we are doing them the kind of cruel disservice that Lydia was doing to Skye here.

“There are people who like that sort of thing,” she said. “People not unlike your friend, Lela. Some of them would like to experience it themselves, too, but not her. No, she just wants to see it happen to other people, and you just happened to be the first on her list. You have no idea how annoyed she is that she hasn’t gotten you into diapers yet.”

I mean … wow. Having to explain to your character why you have written them into a humiliating fetish story? And realizing that the people like Lela who are getting frustrated at her not being in diapers yet include you, the reader? I have to admit it is a little disturbing to think of the character I am reading about resenting me for wanting to read about them. It puts that part about her hitting Lela into a totally different context. It is like she is hitting the reader for wanting to see her in diapers.

And the ending, with the realization of why she is named Skye? I mean … god damn. It’s almost a shame that you are writing for such a niche audience because this story so accurately captures the feelings of weirdness and guilt that come with the territory when you are ABDL. I mean, who hasn’t been through the binge and purge thing because of those feelings? The fact is though, that the single greatest thing about this story is the fact that it is written by an ABDL for other ABDLs. It wouldn’t be what it is without that.

I guess I’ll wrap this up by saying that if the ABDL community ever does get out into the open the way the GLBT crowd has and people start to examine our history, this story is probably going to be regarded as the first really mature piece of literature to come out of it.

I hope that last part doesn’t come off as just flattery. Let me just say, my hat goes off to you.

Skye’s the Limit

I have to tell you this story is AMAZING. I couldn’t believe how captivated I was. I mean, it flows so well and everything comes into one piece at the end. I’d love to see it continued. And I must say, although odd, my favorites lines from the whole story were

"She knew that she should go and clean herself up, that if she was quick, her parents might never find out about this. She knew that, and yet, she still found herself collapsing to the floor, her hand still clasped around the doorknob so that she found herself pulling the door open as she descended, then slamming it closed again as she lost her balance, falling straight onto her squishy bottom.

“Her lip quivered for a moment, long enough for her to desperately try to stop herself, and then she threw her head back and began to wail. It was all…”

“No!” I gasped, trying to ignore my currently quivering lip. “No, this isn’t going to happen, it can’t…”

“She’d seen them in her underwear drawer for so long, taunting her, but she had never dreamed that she would ever actually wear one. It had seemed too ludicrous, too far-fetched, even for a life that had turned as crazy as hers,” the next page said.

“Stop it!” I yelled, not realizing just how stupid that would have sounded, seeing as it wasn’t like anyone was forcing me to keep reading. And yet, I still did.

“She whimpered softly as, overhead, her mother unfolded the diaper, the plastic coating crinkling softly in her hands. This wasn’t a Goodnite, or even a Pull-Up, something she hated but could at least reason was meant for someone a bit older than an infant. This was a diaper, a real diaper,” it taunted.

I threw the book down, barely able to make out the words through my tear-blurred eyes. It stayed open to the same page, the dying light still bright enough for me to make out the last few sentences.

“The padding pushed her legs apart, as the cool plastic rested against her tummy. She looked up at her mother with pleading eyes, begging her silently to stop, to give her another chance, but all she heard in reply was a light ripping sound from the first tape, before the side of the diaper was pulled up and over. The other side came in even more tightly, trapping her within….”

Or more my favorite paragraphs. Anyway, this is amazing and keep on writing. :smiley:

Skye’s the Limit

I have to tell you this story is AMAZING. I couldn’t believe how captivated I was. I mean, it flows so well and everything comes into one piece at the end. I’d love to see it continued. And I must say, although odd, my favorites lines from the whole story were

"She knew that she should go and clean herself up, that if she was quick, her parents might never find out about this. She knew that, and yet, she still found herself collapsing to the floor, her hand still clasped around the doorknob so that she found herself pulling the door open as she descended, then slamming it closed again as she lost her balance, falling straight onto her squishy bottom.

“Her lip quivered for a moment, long enough for her to desperately try to stop herself, and then she threw her head back and began to wail. It was all…”

“No!” I gasped, trying to ignore my currently quivering lip. “No, this isn’t going to happen, it can’t…”

“She’d seen them in her underwear drawer for so long, taunting her, but she had never dreamed that she would ever actually wear one. It had seemed too ludicrous, too far-fetched, even for a life that had turned as crazy as hers,” the next page said.

“Stop it!” I yelled, not realizing just how stupid that would have sounded, seeing as it wasn’t like anyone was forcing me to keep reading. And yet, I still did.

“She whimpered softly as, overhead, her mother unfolded the diaper, the plastic coating crinkling softly in her hands. This wasn’t a Goodnite, or even a Pull-Up, something she hated but could at least reason was meant for someone a bit older than an infant. This was a diaper, a real diaper,” it taunted.

I threw the book down, barely able to make out the words through my tear-blurred eyes. It stayed open to the same page, the dying light still bright enough for me to make out the last few sentences.

“The padding pushed her legs apart, as the cool plastic rested against her tummy. She looked up at her mother with pleading eyes, begging her silently to stop, to give her another chance, but all she heard in reply was a light ripping sound from the first tape, before the side of the diaper was pulled up and over. The other side came in even more tightly, trapping her within….”

Or more my favorite paragraphs. Anyway, this is amazing and keep on writing. :smiley:

Awesome XD

Very cool story, so many paradoxes it would be crazy if something like this were to happen for real.

Lovely story :smiley::+1: