“Stay in here for a second for me, okay?” I smiled as sweetly as I could at Nancy, sitting her down on the closed toilet. She stared up at me innocently, but it was impossible to tell if she’d really understood. I closed the door as I left, figuring that would at least slow her down, and hopefully be noisy enough to allow me to catch her before she got into any trouble.
Still, I didn’t want to leave her alone for too long, so I hurried into the living room, snatching up her bag from the floor in front of the couch. I needed something dry to change her into for long enough to take her out to the drugstore and pick up some diapers. I’d almost stopped on the way home, but I didn’t want to take her out of the car and into public while she was still wet, and, despite having just done so, I didn’t want to just leave her sitting in the car. I hadn’t had a choice before, and, other than the guy with the scar, there hadn’t been anyone else around. It was hard to tell who’d be wandering through the parking lot in the middle of the night. I could only hope that the diapers would be easy enough to find that I could get Nancy in and out quickly, without an accident.
As I unzipped the bag, emblazoned with a “N. Thompson” across the side, however, I realized I didn’t have to worry about that - and that wasn’t a good thing. As I caught the first glimpse of the bag’s contents, my breath and hand froze, until I forced the latter to keep going, despite it beginning to shake, to confirm what I was seeing, as much as I didn’t want to.
I dropped the bag, scooting across the couch, away from it as it tumbled back to the floor, a cascade of thick, disposable diapers that had certainly not been in there earlier flowing from it. “No,” I shook my head, feeling tears start to fall from my eyes. “This isn’t happening!”
And yet, no matter how hard I stared at them, the diapers were still there, along with, I saw after moving the bag with my foot, a bottle of baby powder, a box of baby wipes, and something pink and frilly that looked almost, though not quite, like a T-shirt. It was unmistakably something meant for a baby, but big enough for Nancy. “It’s not real,” I told myself anyway, hoping that insisting upon it could make it true. “I’m dreaming.”
When a pinch failed to wake me up, my mind finally got the better of me, and started to consider what this meant. I knew I had seen the bag before we left, though I couldn’t recall if it had been before or after she’d finished putting the costume on. It could just be a part of whatever spell had been on that… Or it could be something new, something he’d done for revenge with his dying breath, or whatever. Either way, with him gone now, seeing those diapers there on the floor made the whole situation feel much more permanent.
I kicked out at them, scattering them across the floor even further, before grabbing a throw pillow and squeezing it to my heaving chest, curling into a ball on the couch and crying. I really had done it this time. I’d doomed my best friend to a life of going to the bathroom in her pants and needing bibs to keep her clothes clean when she ate and afternoon naps for at least another few years - or maybe the rest of her life. I’d only wanted to protect her… I hadn’t meant to kill him, or even hurt him that badly. I just wanted him to leave us alone, that was all, and I’d screwed up everything because of that. I couldn’t even ask for her forgiveness - though I knew I didn’t deserve it - since that blank stare of hers was all I could really hope for in response.
How was I going to break this news to her family? How do you explain something like that? They’d probably just think I’d let her get brain damaged some way, which was certainly easier to explain, if not any better of an alternative. And how would I explain it to -my- parents, as hers would certainly tell them what they thought I’d done to their daughter. I don’t even know what kind of explanation they’d come up with for her state, but I had a feeling it would be the sort of thing you could get thrown in jail for… As far as I could remember, I’d never even seriously thought I’d wind up in prison for something I’d done, before that night, and yet in those few hours, I’d been worried about it twice, and for pretty good reasons both times.
I forced myself to stop thinking about it, and once I’d managed that, to stop crying about it. Yes, things looked grim, but I had things to take care of before I could allow myself to break down completely. I knelt down, gathering up a diaper, the wipes, and the powder, then picking up the pink thing, realizing that it was a onesie, the ruffles centered on the butt. It was actually kind of cute, and while I probably could have found something of mine she could fit into, I had a feeling it would work much better. That was assuming, of course, that it wasn’t cursed as well.
I stared down at it, feeling the thin material in my hands, along with the cool, smooth surface of the diaper. They’d just magically appeared in Nancy’s bag… What were the chances that they -weren’t- enchanted in some way? Who knew what would happen if I put them on someone already under a spell. It could make it even worse, though I wasn’t sure, off the top of my head, how that was possible. Then again, I didn’t have many other alternatives, and, all in all, it would be easy enough to test the magical-ness of the clothes.
I swallowed, setting them down on the couch and standing up, starting to shed my costume. It was the least I could do for Nancy, after all. In the back of my mind, I almost wished that the clothes were cursed, that I deserved it for what I’d done, though part of me pointed out that the real reason I wanted that was so I could escape the burden of the various sins I’d committed that night. Leaving her locked up in the bathroom probably wasn’t the best idea, but I wasn’t sure where else she’d be any safer, without any supervision. I’d be the one with the whole run of the house, after all - no telling what I could get into. It was getting surprisingly late, though, so chances were decent that we’d both fall asleep before getting into too much mischief, and then my parents would be home sometime the next morning to find us. A rather humiliating prospect, but I wouldn’t care, not then. I wouldn’t care about anything anymore.
In fact, I was probably more embarrassed by standing there, in my living room, stark naked, than I would be at that. I knew I was alone, but it was still a strange sensation. I thought about writing a note, to at least attempt to explain to my parents, or anyone who would listen, what had really happened that night. But who would believe it?
I spread open the diaper, listening to it crinkle under my fingers, so thick and strange, so completely different from my regular - or formerly regular, I suppose - underwear. I sprinkled a bit of baby powder onto it, just in case it was part of the “outfit”, then lowered my bottom onto it. My palms started to sweat as I clumsily taped the sides up, trying to align them as best I could, which wasn’t particularly well, as it turned out. Then I grabbed the onesie, pulling it over my head, lifting my bottom long enough to slip the cloth underneath.
“Here goes nothing,” I told myself, aligning the first snap. If I had been standing, it would have been hanging well below my diaper, but I didn’t think that would matter too much. The first snap closing sounded like a gunshot, and I flinched nearly as much as I would have if that had been what it was. The second was, if it was possible, even louder.
My whle body was shaking by the time I reached the fifth, and final, snap. “Nothing’s going to happen,” I whispered, unsure whether I really believed it, or even wanted to. I squeezed my eyes shut as my fingers squeezed together the two halves of the fastener, and the sound echoed in my ears for an eternal moment, while I mentally said goodbye to myself.
But I was right, as it turned out, and nothing did happen. I could obviously tell that I didn’t feel any different, and by virtue of being able to think that, I was fairly sure that meant my mind was still intact. I slowly opened my eyes, only to be greeted by the same old living room, the diapers tossed about the only thing that made it any different than usual. I got to my feet, feeling the diaper crinkle between my legs. Other than that oddity, they felt just as steady as before. In a way, I almost felt disappointed.
I reached down for the snaps, ready to go get Nancy cleaned up, now that the test was through. I saw something else, however, hiding beneath the bag, and I picked it up curiously. It turned out to be a pacifier. As a sudden feeling of calm washed over me, I brought it up to my lips. I could feel it - this was it, the missing piece. I stopped myself short, however, that feeling of certainty and finality changing my mind about something.
I half-walked, half-waddled, to my room, fishing a notebook from my desk and grabbing a pen. Whether anyone would believe it or not, I felt like I needed to put my story down in words, before it was too late. If I didn’t, everything we’d been through that night would have been for nothing. I wrote for a long time, wanting to get every detail right, even the ones I was embarrassed to admit - after all, by the time anyone read it, I’d be beyond caring.
Finally, I set the pen down, and, with a soft, contented smile, picked up the pacifier. The rubber bulb slipped past my lips, then my teeth, invading my mouth, which started to suck on it almost instantly, as if by instinct. I closed my eyes again, the darkness closing around me as I faintly heard the clock on the mantle back in the living room begin to chime midnight. I felt my skin begin to crawl, sure that was a sign that it was beginning to work. I began to shiver again, uncontrollably, as I gave myself in to it. In the distance, I thought I heard a sound, perhaps a door opening.
Was it Nancy? Perhaps the spell only worked on one person at a time… Maybe I had freed her after all.
And yet, no matter how long I seemed to wait, nothing more seemed to happen. After what seemed a long time, I heard the sound of Nancy’s Mary-Janes approaching my door, and I reluctantly opened my eyes, expecting to see her puppy dog eyes staring at me, asking why I’d left her there, on her own, all this time.
Instead, she asked, “What in the world are you wearing?”
“You’re all right!” I exclaimed, leaping off the chair and over to her in a single bound, pacifier falling from my lips on the way. I wrapped my arms around her, dragging her down to the floor. “Oh my God, you’re all right!”
“Yeah, I’m fine…” she said, puzzled. “But I think I sat in something, because my butt’s all wet…”
I couldn’t help but giggle at that, relieved that the whole thing seemed to be over. “Yeah, you did. I’ll throw your costume in the washing machine,” I offered. “You might want to take a shower, too.”
“Yeah, I was planning on it. I was just looking for you to see what was up first. My clothes were scattered all over the place, and you were nowhere to be found… I wasn’t sure…”
“Your clothes?!” The shock shot me to my feet, and propelled me back to the living room, where, sure enough, the diapers had transformed themselves back into her regular clothes. I looked at them for a few moments, just long enough for Nancy to catch up with me, and then started to laugh.
“What is wrong with you?” she demanded, shaking me slightly. “And why are you dressed like that?”
I calmed myself down, trying to come up with an explanation. How much of the night did she actually recall? “Don’t you remember?” I tried, shrugging. “I decided I liked your costume so much, I’d get one that matched. They didn’t have any in my size, though.”
She stared at me for a long couple seconds, during which I was sure she was about to declare that a lie, then she shook her head. “Oh yeah, of course. Silly me…” She gave it her best fake laugh, but I knew those missing memories were already starting to bother her. But, if she ever tried to ask me about them, I wouldn’t tell. It was over now, for real… No need to burden her with it.
We both got changed, then, true to my word, I stuck the costumes in the washer, though I left it off so Nancy could take her shower first. I did my best to stay up, but the night had been far too long, so I called through the bathroom door for her to turn on the machine for herself, and shuffled up to bed. I expected the man with the scar to be there, waiting for me in my dreams, but fortunately for me, that night I was wrong.
If Alice had stayed awake just a little longer, perhaps she would have seen her friend step out of the bathroom, carefully peeking her head out, then following with her whole body, carrying an overnight bag embroidered “N. Thompson.” The shower was still running, helping to block out the sound of her feet as she snuck through the house, past the living room, where the second bag, its contents still scattered haphazardly about, lay, then outside.
The moon was shining bright, and she shivered at the cold in her thin pajamas as she made her way to the mailbox. All in all, the night had turned out fairly well. She felt a little disappointed at the lack of real babysitting, once they’d gotten back, but at the same time, she knew that would have been pretty weird, and she wasn’t at all sure she’d have been able to keep the act up through that. She’d almost broken at the crash, before Alice had wandered off into the night, but since everything had seemed okay once she got back, and Nancy woke back up, she’d kept going. After all, as long as they were both okay, it would have been a shame to give in then, after fate had handed her such a great coincidence, playing straight into her silly little story.
Alice had seemed really freaked out by the whole thing, which was, of course, the whole point. It -was- a little odd that Alice had decided to put the onesie and such on herself, however. Nancy wasn’t sure what to make of that. Could her best friend really be a TB, too? Maybe someday she’d get up the courage to ask her.
But she wouldn’t be doing that anytime soon, so she stuffed the bag of diapers into the mailbox, to retrieve it on her way back home the next day, then started back towards the house, and the nice, warm shower, allowing herself a chuckle at a job well done.