The Special Exhibition

[beginning of a new story. my first go at story writing so curious where people would like to see it go next]

The Special Exhibition

Part 1

“The Diplodocus longus was one of the most abundant long-necked dinosaurs, which we call sauropods, in the Morrison Formation. Its pencil-like teeth were only in the front of the jaws and were used to strip leaves off of low-growing plants.”

The monotone voice of the docent echoed through the cavernous main hall of the museum, which was lined with dinosaur fossils that towered over Rachel’s slight frame. For weeks she had begged to be taken here, and once she had gotten her way had even counted down the days until the excursion was set to take place. Yet now, precisely as her wish had come true, she was seized with fear.

It was not the dinosaurs that scared her, however. While she could hardly concentrate on the docent’s little speech, she found the massive sauropods endlessly fascinating. What filled her dread was something far more mundane: the large fountain soda she had at lunch. It had started out like any other soda: crisp and thirst-quenching. The problem was evidently just how good it was. The tasty liquid she had so quickly gulped down had now formed what felt like a reservoir in her bladder. And with so much to see at the museum, she had easily ignored the mounting pressure. But she could not ignore it any longer. If she did not act soon, there were going to be problems.

The first of these problems was that, as time was running out, she was far away from anything that looked like a bathroom. Her eyes scanned the hall in vain for signs, but to no avail.

The second problem was that the Goodnites she was wearing under her shortalls, and which she had been so proud of earning back the right to wear, were no match for the flood that she could sense was coming. She tried pitifully to clench her bladder muscles, but that only made the urgent “gotta pee” sensation worse.

But the stakes were higher than that. After all, the Goodnites were but a “trial run” for Rachel. She had earned them outright, but she knew in the back of her mind that she had to prove she could make it to the potty without incident and with zero leaks. The next error meant that this pair of Goodnites would be her last. It would be back to diapers for sure. As they said in the game of Monopoly, Do not pass Go, do not collect $100.

Worst of all, at 27, Rachel knew she was far too old for all of it. The accidents, the Goodnites, the threat of diapers, even the being led by the hand through the museum by her boyfriend Paul, who was tender and warm, but not boundlessly patient. But it might all be fine, she thought, if she could just find a bathroom. Though as the docent began directing them to the next stop in the guided tour, her chance at finding relief seemed to slip further and further away.

As they walked on with the rest of the docent’s group to the next gallery, Rachel became more aware of the whooshing sound her Goodnites were making against her shortalls. She hadn’t noticed it that morning as her mind had been completely fixated on the trip itself. But now it seemed almost deafening. She was nearly certain that a mother and her son in the group had taken notice. Or maybe it was just the stress playing tricks on her mind. In any case, the sound she heard, coupled with the feeling of the liquid sloshing around in her bladder, was all she could think about.

“Hear that? Pterodactyls next,” Paul mentioned excitedly, oblivious to her inner torment.

“Uh sure, it’s just. Do you think we c-could find…?” Rachel stammered, her face now flush.

“Hm? You ok?”

“Never mind. It’s nothing.” Rachel had no desire to inform Paul of the predicament she now found herself in. After all, she had insisted that morning that Goodnites would be just fine for the excursion. She had accumulated a solid track record. As he held out the Goodnites for her to step into that morning, Paul had joked that they should hang the kind of sign you’d see outside an old factory: “___ Days Since Last Accident.” Though in Rachel’s case the number would have certainly been in the single digits. Still, progress was progress, she told herself. She hardly needed to tell anyone she had to “use the potty.” Like any grown adult, she could simply do it. As soon as she found one.

As the crowd slowly moved through the hallway that led the next gallery, two completely unrelated events made short work of what she thought was a sensible plan.

In retrospect, the first of these seemed trivial. The high volume of patrons in the museum had slowed their group down significantly, almost to a standstill. From the corner of her eye she spied a water fountain operated by a foot pedal, which a group of schoolchildren had taken turns pumping. For a moment, the ambient noise of the museum dropped off so that the sound of the water, hissing and trickling out of the fountain, was all Rachel could hear. Her right hand, still clenched in Paul’s left, grew sweaty. Had she been able to think about it for a minute, she would have remembered that she should try to pay attention to something, anything, else. Innocent as it seemed, the tinkling noise of the water was triggering a response in her she could not control. The more she heard it, the more urgency she felt in her nearly bursting bladder.

As the pressure mounted, she reminded herself that the Goodnites did have a “just in case” role to play here. She could let a little bit of pee out, nothing major, anything to reduce the pressure she felt. As she gave in to the urge, she felt a small dribble release into her Goodnite, which quickly soaked it up and expanded.

She could not have predicted what would happen next. Somewhere far off in the museum, she did not know precisely where, what sounded like a gigantic metal door suddenly slammed shut with a resonant thud, a thud so loud it elicited an audible gasp from the crowd, some of whom actually impulsively ducked for cover.

Within seconds, everything returned to normal, as the patrons realized there was no immediate cause for alarm. The docent’s group slowly moved into the next gallery.

But it was too late for Rachel. The sound had startled her bladder past the point of no return. What had started as a controlled dribble had become a flood of warm pee that surged into Goodnite, which bulged and sagged profoundly under the accumulating weight.

All of this happened so instantaneously that she barely had time to register it before she felt Paul tugging at her hand as the group walked around them towards the next exhibit.

“Everything ok, Rach?” Paul asked, now on heightened alert for signs of trouble.

Rachel nodded, trying to play it cool as she sheepishly followed hand in hand.

“You sure?” He asked again, with an elevated vocal tone that gave away his suspicions and caused Rachel’s face to flush redder still.

Wrapped up in the instant, Rachel nodded again. Yet in truth, she lacked all certainty. If Paul had pressed her on the question, as she knew he might, she would not have been able to say for sure whether or not she had finished peeing her pull-ups.

Part 2

It was in that instant Rachel realized that this humiliating ordeal had at least been partly her fault. Over the last six months, her bladder control, already middling in the best of times, had been reduced to that of a toddler. She had taken a new data analytics job last year that allowed her to work from home. While she initially disliked the isolation of the new gig, she eventually came to bask in the freedom it provided. She could wake up a little bit later than usual and make a slow start to her work day,ambling over to the computer sometimes just wearing tights or sweatpants and a t shirt, to lazily read emails while she waited for her coffee to brew.

But working from home also meant that she had little need to either hide or control her incontinence, which had, after disappearing shortly after she turned twelve, mysteriously returned in her mid-twenties. On the days when no virtual meetings were scheduled, she might spend hours working in nothing but a tank top and a thick nighttime diaper. This often meant that she would find herself lost for hours typing up a report while forgetting her bladder completely. Then, at the sound of a text notification, she would snap out of her trance to find her diaper soaked to capacity, sometimes even leaking onto her swivel chair. After a few such episodes, Rachel had broken down to buy some disposable pads to place on the chair “just in case.”

None of this posed much of a problem for Rachel, as long as she was working from home. And Paul, whom she’d met in an online forum earlier that year, was more than just tolerant, he was her champion. She’d been nervous to tell him about her “little secret” at first, taking the risk of going out while unprotected. Yet as early as their third date,which they spent drinking wine and playing Scrabble on her living room floor—he’d demonstrated his ability to pull off an effective diaper change after Rachel had, in the midst of stringing together a complicated triple-word score, completely flooded her blue jeans.

But as those first dates turned into the weeks and months that made up their blossoming romance, the novelty of the situation, dealing with little accidents in the middle of a movie or extra padding to protect against bedtime leaks, and gave way to nerves. Things reached a critical point when a few of Paul’s closest friends announced a week-long backpacking trip over the summer. He really wanted her to come along. But they’d need to pack light, which meant that there would be little room for Rachel’s bulky nighttime diapers.

She’d tried to tell him that it was fine, that he should just go without her. Her little problem wasn’t really so little, and it wasn’t going away any time soon. But Paul was insistent. He’d read some study or other online and had figured out a way to “retrain” her bladder in time for the trip. He bought a childish “potty chart” from an online store. That made her grimace. What softened the blow, however, was Paul’s system of positive reinforcements. He’d had her set up an Amazon wishlist and fill it with all of her desires, ranging from the modest (a fancy box of herbal tea) to the extravagant (a brand new iPhone, which she badly wanted). Each successful trip to the potty meant a bigger reward.

Alongside the behavioral incentives came a new approach to protection. Paul insisted that she forego her thick diapers in favor of far-less-absorbent Goodnites. At first, Rachel had protested. Shifting to Goodnites almost guaranteed she’d make a mess of the furniture or risk an embarrassing accident at the grocery store. It wasn’t worth it. Plus, the little faux-underwear design were so childish. They were worse than diapers, actually, because they were trying so hard to be what they weren’t.

Yet, as Paul saw it, thick diapers were a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Their super-absorbency prevented Rachel from noticing when she was actually wet. Goodnites, on the other hand, would help her feel when it was time to go, while still containing leaks better than an adult pad or pantyliner. As for the designs? “They look cute on you, Rachie,” he said when after he’d helped her step into her first pair, which featured bright white stars against a purple night sky trimmed in pink.

She had blushed, not only at the use of the nickname he’d given her, but also at what she saw in the mirror. In truth, Rachel hadn’t much considered how she looked in diapers before. Since her incontinence had returned, she simply regarded them as a fact of life. With her new job, she rarely had to worry about a diaper bulge under her skirt at work. When it came to dating, she quelled her nerves by carefully vetting potential boyfriends. Paul had passed her tests.

But now something had changed. Or rather, Paul in spite of his generosity and sweetness had made it clear that he wanted her to change. He’d never said so explicitly, nor had he ever spoken an uncharitable word to her. But he’d rushed quickly into the “retraining” business without ever really consulting her. He had presented it as a done deal, something she’d naturally be excited to do so that they could go backpacking. But, truth be told, she wasn’t sure his method would work. It was a long shot. Even in the best case scenario, she still might have an accident or two on the trip, which meant that his friends would know that he was dating a person with the bladder control of a child. A tormenting voice in the back of her mind asked her torturous questions: Would little Rachie break down and cry on the trip after going pee pee in her pants? Would Paul have to apologize to his friends as he led her off into the woods for an emergency diaper change?

And so Rachel, who once exuded confidence and self-love despite her weak bladder, became seized with anxiety. Standing in front of her bedroom mirror wearing only a white t shirt and bedwetter pants, she had felt like a little girl again. Had she raised her thumb to her lips, the effect might have been complete.

The harder she tried to get out of this headspace, the more it seemed to confine her. Each time she had an accident was more embarrassing than the last. Upon realizing that she’d lost control at work she’d bury her face in her hands and sprint to the bathroom as warm pee trickled down her leg.

As her worries mounted, her performance at work suffered. She’d miss deadlines and fail to respond to client emails. During one zoom meeting, her co-worker Cori – the type of person who was overly competitive but not particularly smart – called her out for not paying attention. As the days before the backpacking trip passed by, she had been lost in thought worrying about it. While reading emails one morning, she’d found herself aimlessly sucking her thumb.

At this point, even thinking about the trip made her nervous. The promise of ‘performing’ for Paul’s friends was hardly an incentive to stay dry. Oddly enough, what increasingly mattered to Rachel were the rewards on her Amazon wishlist, which glittered in front of her like jewels. She could have almost anything she wanted, she told herself, if she just kept up the good work.

But as Paul clocked it, her progress was not quick enough. Her win rate had definitely improved, in part because the threat of a leaky Goodnite had definitely forced her to be more diligent about running to the bathroom when the need arose. But, despite the positive reinforcement, which had run up his credit card statement, Rachel had, well, plateaued. She still averaging 1.5 accidents a day, and they were significant ones that the Goodnites alone could not contain—as the carpet stains in her office could attest to. He worried to himself that at this rate, even if her performance improved, the trip might turn out to be a dumpster fire.

Things came to a head one Thursday evening. Paul had come home at around 8 pm after a long day at his advertising agency to find Rachel on her living-room couch, engrossed in a Netflix documentary.

“Rachie, I’m home,” Paul announced as he came through the door.

She seemed startled, quickly turning away from the show and jumping up from the couch to face him.

“Oh gosh. I didn’t…” she stopped and looked for down for a moment. “I didn’t hear you come in. How was your day?”

“Fine,” Paul said, somewhat suspiciously. “Is everything ok?”

“Sure, just watching this documentary, on uh…” she motioned to the television, “have you seen this one?”

“Rachie, are you sure there’s nothing wrong?”

“I’m fine — just…”

“Rachie, are you wet again?”

“No! Paul, come on. Seriously? I’m dry. I was actually just getting up to go to the potty, er bathroom, when you came in,” she backed away uncomfortably, the sound of her Goodnites crunching against her gray sweatpants.

“So you won’t mind if I check, then.”

“Why can’t you just trust me? I’m a grown woman, Paul,” she said, though now she was striding away to the back of the apartment, where the bathroom was.

“Not so fast.” Paul caught up with her in the kitchen, grabbing her hand. As it happened, he didn’t even have to check. A small dark stain had begun to form on the back of her sweats.

“Let me go,” Rachel shouted, “I need to go to the…”

But when she turned around and saw Paul’s face, she knew that he knew. She buried her face in her hands and began to sob. Paul put his arms around her and kissed her cheek which was wet with tears.

“It’s ok, hey I’m not mad. You didn’t do anything wrong,” he said, patting her back to reassure her. Yet the back-pat soon traveled south to become an under-the-sweatpants pull-up check.

Within a few seconds of inspection of Rachel’s sagging (actually still dripping) Goodnite, Paul’s tenderness turned to a feeling of betrayal.

“Rachie, you are soaked!” He exclaimed.

“But I just had an accident,” Rachel sobbed, ringlets of chestnut hair covering her tear-stained face.

“Rachel, I wasn’t born yesterday. This isn’t just a one-off accident. I would Your pull-up is too full and heavy for that.”

“That’s not true! I can explain.”

“Ok. Can you explain to me why you’ve just been sitting on the couch all evening watching tv and, and, and…uncontrollably wetting yourself?”

She stood there sniffling, but was otherwise mute.

“Can you explain to me how we’re going to go on this trip in a month?”
At this she resumed her sobbing, burying her face in Paul’s chest.

“I’ll be ready,” Rachel pleaded, “I promise.”

As she said this, her Goodnite’s last defenses gave out. A trickle of warm pee, which had been steadily flowing down her leg, was forming a puddle on the floor.

Paul didn’t want promises. He just didn’t want to have to get out the mop. It was at this point he conceived of a modification to his positive reinforcements. They would need to start over not from square one, but from “square negative ten”. Rachel would be no longer eligible for any of the prizes in her Amazon wish list until she could keep her Goodnites dry for a week. But that was not all. She would now no longer eligible for the Goodnites. Until she could stay dry for a whole day, she would be returned, instead, to her thick nighttime diapers 24/7. Paul would take some sick leave so he could stay home and monitor her progress.

“Come with me,” he told her, as he walked towards the back of the apartment. When she started to turn towards the bathroom door, he stopped her.

“No, no.”

He led her further on to her bedroom. After quickly retrieving two of Rachel’s disposable mats from the closet, he unfolded them and laid them down on the bed.

“Hop up,” he instructed matter of factly.

“Paul? What’s going on here?” Rachel asked.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he said, putting his hands in the air. “You were right all along about the Goodnites. We moved too fast, flew too close to the sun. I think you’re not ready for them yet.”

“What do you mean not ready?”

“What I mean is that, I think we need to give diapers a try again. Let’s just take it one day at a time, huh?” He left out the part about the rewards. He didn’t want to freak her out. What he really wanted, more than anything, was to change her before she got a rash.

“No,” she stammered, stomping her foot down. “Paul, don’t be ridiculous. I’ve been making progress! You said so yourself.”

“Right, well there’s progress and then there’s progress, Rachie. And come on now, you’re going to make a mess.” He pointed to the pee that still dripped onto his girlfriend’s foot.

“Fine,” she said, giving in, comforted at least by Paul’s admission that he had been wrong from the start.

With that, Paul crudely yanked down her sweats, exposing her now swollen and bursting Goodnite. In the split second before she laid down on the bed, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She looked pathetic, less like a twenty-seven-year-old data wizard and more like a little girl who had barely graduated to training pants.

She sat bow-legged on the bed while Paul hunted around for her changing supplies. Within a few minutes, he had gathered up a plastic bag, wipes, powder, and one of Rachel’s thick nighttime diapers. Not having seen one in a minute, she thought to herself that it looked thicker than she remembered.

She had little time to think about this, however, as Paul quickly ripped the sides of her soaked training pants before lifting up her bum to pull them off her, careful not to allow the excess liquid to pour out before stuffing the shameful item into a plastic bag.

Again, Rachel covered her face with her hands, simply not wanting to be present in her body at that moment. But she was startled awake by the feeling of the cold wipes Paul used to clean her up diaper area before lifting her legs into the air to wipe her bum. With a swift motion, Paul fluffed out her diaper under her and brought her legs back down. He was a marvel of efficiency, she thought. In fact, the whole thing reminded Rachel of one of their early dates. Her sadness left her, replaced by a little joyful flutter in her chest. But she could hardly experience the little moment of nostalgia before, to her horror, she realized that she had let a little residual pee had escape into the still-open diaper.

“Rachel…” Paul glared down at her. But then the strangest thing occurred. His eyes met Rachel’s and the magical sensation she had felt for a second traveled up an invisible thread to him. He smiled. “What am I going to do with you?”

She looked around and shrugged her shoulders with a little giggle. He gave her tummy a light and loving pat.

After generously applying some powder, Paul again lifted Rachel’s legs into the air. From the corner of her eye, she noticed an object she had not seen when he returned to the bed initially, a slim white square rectangle, which he laid into her diaper before setting her back down.

“This is just…a precaution,” Paul assured her. “But given what I’ve seen tonight, it might be a necessary one.”

Her mind could not fully process what was happening just yet. Then Paul pulled up the insert between her legs to make sure he had positioned it right. It felt thick, and once he’d begun taping the diaper up around her, she noticed this even more. She could now hardly close her legs. When Paul stood her up, she confirmed this. She could now feel the plastic thickness around her with every step as she waddled to the bathroom to brush her teeth. She gulped, feeling no small amount of fear, hoping this new routine wouldn’t last longer than a day.

As it happened, Rachel’s return to diapers lasted a bit longer than she hoped. Home from work, Paul kept a hawk-eye watch on her, interrupting her coding work with regular diaper checks. The bad news was that even a minor accident, the sort that resulted from an unexpected sneeze or cough, meant that a resetting of the clock. The good news was that Paul’s close attention kept her alert and not overly focused on work. As a result, she found that it was easier to respond to her bladder’s signals. And, odd as it was, she actually looked forward to returning to Goodnites, if only so that she could walk normally again.

What added to her motivation was an announcement she’d read online of a new exhibition of dinosaur fossils at the local science museum. As a girl, she’d watched Jurassic Park dozens of times and had become fascinated with the world of paleontology, a subject she continued to keep up with as an adult. Recently she’d heard about some discoveries of fossilized fish in North Dakota, which had led scientists to new conclusions about the precise timing of the asteroid that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. It was springtime in the northern hemisphere when the asteroid hit. Some of those fossils, she learned, would be on display at the exhibition.

But there were two problems. First, the tickets for the exhibition were expensive and Rachel was low on cash. Second, she hardly wanted to waddle around the exhibit with a thick nighttime diaper bulging out from her clothes.

There was only one solution, which she proposed to Paul. First, she pledged to stay dry for three days in a row, after which she’d be able to wear Goodnites once again. As she saw it, with Paul’s added attention, and with this added motivation, not a backpacking trip, but a trip to a museum, she’d have no problems meeting the goal. Once she gained back her Goodnites privileges, she’d delete her Amazon wishlist. In exchange for keeping her Goodnites dry for a week, she asked for only one thing: tickets to the exhibition.

Paul had his doubts about Rachel’s abilities, but agreed anyway with a dubious “we’ll see.”

Yet to his surprise, she did it. And before they both knew it, Rachel was driving them both downtown to the museum, with the windows down and the radio blasting on a fine spring day. At a red light she knocked her knees in excitement. Gone were her bulky diapers. In their place were Goodnites, which fit trimly underneath her shortalls.

Sitting in the passenger seat, Paul was somewhat less confident. This was their first big outing in a long time. The museum would be crowded. And against his explicit wishes, Rachel had downed a coliseum-sized soda at lunch.

Paul was glad that, unbeknownst to Rachel, he had come prepared.

[to be continued]

Part 3

The whole chain of events came flooding back to Rachel in the museum hallway as she stood there frozen, almost fossilized, in the instant, helplessly wetting her pull-ups.

“Rachie? Earth to Rachie.” Paul tugged at her hand, which snapped her out of her trance.

“Yeah hi.” She said, trying to play it cool. But the reality was dawning on her that they would have to start walking now to the next part of the exhibit. And she was in no condition to be walking. She knew that her Goodnites, however absorbent they promised to be, were no match for her 27-year-old bladder. The first step she took, she’d out herself. There was, she’d determined, no earthly way of walking normally in a soaked and sagging pull-up. With the wet undergarment swelling up between her legs, she’d be forced to lurch forward in a slightly crablike manner. And that was the best-case scenario. But walking could also make things worse. An ill-conceived move might well cause a leak. And then there was gravity, which she could already feel was causing her heavy Goodnite to slowly slide off her bum.

Faced with the whole “moving” problem, Rachel did the only thing that made sense. She planted her feet firm and stayed put.

“Let’s let these people past us,” she pleaded with her boyfriend, whose patience was now at an end.

As far as Paul was concerned, Rachel had been raising yellow flags all afternoon. It wasn’t just that she had downed the massive fountain soda with abandon, she had also turned down his offer of a bathroom pit stop before the tour. She had wanted to take a look in the gift shop, unsure if it would be open when they were finished. But as he looked at her in the hallway, planting her feet and refusing to move into the next gallery, all he saw was one gigantic red flag. He came towards her and whispered in her ear.

“Rachel. I’m not going to beat around the bush and I’m only going to ask you this once. Did you pee in your pull-up? I won’t be mad if you did, but I need you to be honest with me right now.”

Rachel was, it had to be said, a horrible liar. At her slickest, her face would nakedly betray her words. In most situations, this turned out to be a very good quality. Because she knew she was a horrible liar, she simply told the truth. But with so much on the line, and still under the delusional assumption that she could make it to the bathroom to take care of things, she felt that she had no other option.

“I’m fine, really.”

What betrayed her, however, was not her face, but her Goodnites. As she predicted, they were not up to the task today. And before she could explain herself, the telltale spot began to appear on the leg of her shortalls.

“That’s it.” Paul yanked at Rachel’s hand and began dragging his 27-year-old girlfriend to the exit. She tried to protest, but she soon realized she had bigger problems on her hands. As she feared, walking was not doing her any favors, especially at the pace Paul was moving. Her swollen Goodnite was now sagging to such an extent that the fully saturated padding began to leak even more on her shortalls, which now bore a comically large “peed my pants” stain for all the world to see. A stream of warm pee continued to trickle down her leg. Would it ever stop? And where was Paul taking her exactly? She couldn’t say. All she knew was she wanted to be out of public soon. No, not just out of public, out of existence. She was too embarrassed to live. She wanted, just like the dinosaurs in the next room, to be extinct. At least they never had to go through this. And to top it all off, she now felt herself crying.

“What’s the matter?” asked the evil little voice in her head. “Is the big girl gonna cry because she went pee pee in her diapers?”

To which Rachel could only respond, “Sir, that is exactly what she is going to do.”

Before they could reach the family bathroom, the world had just one more humiliation in store. Seeing them exit the gallery, the old man who worked as a security guard—clearly oblivious to the situation in front of him—absent-mindedly asked Paul and Rachel if they’d enjoyed the exhibition.

“Well we were,” Paul brusquely mentioned within earshot of at least three families milling about, “until someone had a little accident.”

With that, Paul dragged Rachel into the family restroom.

Extinction would have been a blessing, she thought.

[to be continued]


Part 4

The family restroom was dark when they entered. Then, suddenly, their entrance triggered bright, almost blinding motion-censored fluorescent lights which illuminated a bright white room. Rachel breathed a small sigh of relief, grateful that it was a single-occupancy bathroom. While she doubted that her public humiliation was really at an end, she hoped that it might at least abate temporarily.

Then there was the matter of Paul, who hadn’t spoken a word to Rachel since they left the gallery. And he seemed not merely cross but genuinely enraged at the whole situation.

As Paul himself saw it, he was not so much enraged as he was disappointed. He was not really surprised that Rachel had not been able to control herself. After all, it was the prospect of the museum trip itself that had been keeping her on the up and up of late. Now that she had received her reward, no external incentives remained for staying dry or, apparently, properly attending to her bladder. What was more, she was plagued that afternoon by the rapt attention she could devote to work. The dinosaurs and their extinction were clearly of endlessly fascination to Rachel. Once in their midst, she had little attention to spare on anything else, least of all her fluid intake or her need to visit the bathroom, both of which she seemed to have minimal care for in the first place.

Yet while Paul could not call himself surprised, he was nevertheless worried. The backpacking trip with his friends was now certainly off. The problem was not, he told himself, that he was embarrassed of Rachel’s weak bladder, or even of her lack of intrinsic motivation to make it to the potty at the age of 27. It was that the trip itself would be essentially impossible to pull off if they needed to pack her diapers and changing supplies. No way they were carting that stuff up a mountain and carting a trash bag full of soiled diapers back down.

This was only partially true. Paul was a bit embarrassed. Everything about his relationship with Rachel had made sense to him in theory. There was no disputing that Rachel was brilliant, funny, charming, and affectionate. All of that he took for granted. And her “potty problems” as he sometimes called them? They were no trouble at all. He loved the tenderness he found himself able to display during diaper changes. Loved the patience and kindness she inspired in him. He loved her not in spite of her problem, but for her whole self. But then came the nagging fear. He started playing out the scenario of having to explain that they’d need to take a pit-stop so he could change his adult girlfriend’s diapers. Was he really up for that? He could not honestly say.

But as he looked down at her, in the state of misery she now found herslef, another feeling overcame him altogether. He was ashamed of himself. Why had he so rudely dragged her out of the exhibit? Why had he insisted on the obviously doomed plan of retraining her bladder in the first place? And why, above all, had he gone out of his way to embarrass her in the hallway? What kind of monstrous freak was he? Here she was, the woman he cared about, standing humiliated in a soaked pull-up and all he could think about was a stupid backpacking trip? Who, really, was acting like the child here?

But he couldn’t wallow right now, he resolved. He had work to do. He’d done enough damage for the day, damage which he now feared was irreparable. He had to cut his losses and get her the hell out of there before she died of shame. At the moment, what mattered was the task of getting Rachel changed. Luckily, and for some reason he could not quite figure out, the changing table in the restroom was not one of those child-sized items that folded out from the wall. Instead, it was a full-length counter built into the room, equipped it seemed for a person of any size. Maybe there were new requirements in place? In any case, this made things a lot easier.

“Ok,” Paul said to Rachel, who was still in shock from their brief encounter in the hallway. Before she knew what was happening, he was unhooking the straps on her shortalls to pull them down. Without knowing quite was she was doing, she stepped out of them, with Her shoes and socks—still slightly damp, still on. She caught a glimpse of herself in the full-length bathroom mirror. Her face, wet with tears, was now roughly the shade of the hot pink t shirt she wore. Below this hung her swollen Goodnite, whose white patches had been shaded yellow and whose owl-print design had clearly faded. Is this how she would look to Paul’s friends on a camping trip, a fully grown adult in a little girl’s costume, crying because she’d wet her diapers? She closed her eyes and put her thumb in her mouth. None of this had been her idea anyway. She was fine before Paul came along. She accepted herself and her condition. Accepted that she needed diapers and was clearly not suited for the Goodnites she was now wearing. It was, in the end, the idea of his stupid backpacking trip that had led to the chart and the rewards and the punishments and now the mortifying situation she had found herself in. She resolved, right then and there, that this would be the last time she tried to conform to someone else’s expectations of her. Whatever her bathroom abilities, she was her own woman, and if his friends couldn’t accept that she might need some protection on their trip, tough luck. She could change herself from now on, thank you very much.

Before she could continue with this train of thought, Paul had taken her hand and motioned for her to lay down on the adult-sized changing table.

“I’m fine, Paul. I brought another Goodnite, so I’m just going to take this one off, put my clothes back on and we can go. We can be done with this.”

“Rachie,” Paul said soberly, “I think we both know that the Goodnites Era, that’s over now. Look at you. You’re soaked. You’re not ready for them yet. And that’s ok, but…”

At that moment, as if on cue, Rachel’s pull-ups, which had already been sagging off her bum, now fell to the ground with a definitive squish.

“But we need to get you changed into something more absorbent,” Paul continued.

Rachel, now too mortified to even look at him, closed her eyes and did what he said.

The table was cold to the touch, much like the wipes Paul now applied to her diaper area and bum. To soothe herself, Rachel instinctively drew her thumb to her lips. Normally, Paul would have said something. But now, it seemed useless. She probably needed all the comfort she could get. But he nevertheless felt at the end of his wits. Would their relationship last the rest of the day even?

Paul went through the rest of the changing routine as normal. First came the diaper, then the powder. When he got to the absorbent insert, Rachel looked up at him briefly with eyes that pleaded for him to forego it.

“Just this once,” she whispered.

“Come on, Rachie. We’ll be out of here in no time.”

He placed the insert in Rachel’s diaper and, after she compliantly lifted her bottom, he pulled it up until he was sure it would reach all the way up to her waistline.

Once he’d taped her up, Rachel propped herself up on her elbows, dazed, woozy even.

“Hang on, just a sec,” Paul said. From his bag he produced a brown pair of tights that belonged to Rachel.

“Look I didn’t doubt you at all, I want you to know,” he said. “But I brought all this stuff just in case.”

Strangely, she felt some of her resentment towards Paul drift away. This was such a considerate gesture, she thought. Now, at least, she wouldn’t have to wear a stained pair of shortalls out of the museum.

“Thanks,” she said as he helped her pull on the tights over her bulky diaper.

While she was thankful she could wear dry clothes for the short walk out of the museum, she now regarded herself in the mirror again. To her horror, the tights clearly showed off her diaper bulge. And, as before, the thick nighttime diaper with the absorbent insert forced her to walk in a duck-like waddle.

“Alright let’s get this over with,” Paul said as he finished gathering up their things and heading for the door.

To Paul’s surprise and Rachel’s horror, after opening the door, they found a woman and her toddler-aged son about to enter. In fact, had the woman not paused, they would have faced a head-on collision.

“Oh I’m sorry,” the woman said, “I was just about to change my son’s di-…Rachel?”

A thousand thoughts raced through Rachel’s head. Who was this woman? How did she know her? Was this some sort of cruel coda to the whole affair? Had the gods not tortured with her enough today? Couldn’t she be extinct already?

“Oh my god, Rachel it’s me, Cori. From Data Solutions? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in person. But on Zoom?”

“Oh God,” Rachel thought. Cori — her co-worker, her less-than-average competitor, the person she probably saw virtually more than any other employee. The person who might just be promoted, despite her obviously limited skills, before Rachel. More than that, Cori now had a front-row ticket to the most humiliating day of Rachel’s life. How grand.

Luckily for Rachel, Cori was not that bright. Or the situation before her was too absurd, too utterly weird for Cori to be able to process instantaneously. She seemed not to see anything amiss.

“Oh hey Cori,” Rachel managed to spit out. “Hey, uh we gotta go, I’m not feeling so hot.”

Paul nodded a quick hello and pushed past the woman and her son.

Yet the worst was not yet over.

Cori, who had a reputation for having “no filter”, just saying whatever came to her mind, called after the couple in a voice that felt to Rachel as if it were loud enough to be heard from two galleries away.

“Oh my god Rachel. Are you, uh, are you wearing a diaper? Did your boyfriend just change your diaper? Did you just get your diaper changed?” She nearly snorted with laughter.

Paul snapped. He left Rachel standing in the middle of the hallway, thickly padded under her tights and on the verge of tears, and strode right back to Cori.

“Now you listen to me," he said in a gruff whisper. "What’s going on for her is completely her business. Not yours. But I’m not surprised you’re a complete bitch. That’s often how people like you cover up for being mindless and uninteresting toads. If I hear that you so much as whispered about this to your dog, we’re going to have problems, lady. Understand?”

Cori’s mouth was agape. Actually so was Rachel’s. Paul swiftly marched back to her and took her hand. They walked briskly out of the gallery, or as briskly as they could given that Rachel’s diaper caused her to waddle.

[to be continued — just one more section, the conclusion, to come]

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There are way too many writers on these sites who can’t write description as strong as this. Welcome!

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Nice writing, I’m looking forward to the conclusion here! :slightly_smiling_face:

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[and now for the dramatic conclusion!]

Part 5

When they made it back to the car, Rachel tossed her keys to Paul without speaking a word.

“No problem, I’ll drive,” he said.

When he got in to the driver’s side door, he found that Rachel had already put on a sweatshirt and pulled up the hood. She then silently moved her seat into the recline position and turned on her side so that she faced the door, placing her hands underneath her head as a makeshift pillow.

“Rachi—Rachel,” Paul started.

But she didn’t want to talk right now. She wanted to sleep. She wanted to dream about the asteroid which had wiped out the sauropods and all the other dinosaurs. Maybe it was time for an encore. But most of all, she didn’t want to think about the thick nighttime diaper between her legs, and how everyone from the security guards to the docents to all the members of her company’s regional office now probably knew that she was wearing it and, more importantly, that she needed to wear it because she couldn’t be trusted to not pee her pants at a moment’s notice. And she didn’t want to wonder what might happen if she drifted off to sleep on the ride home. Would she find herself gazing up at Paul this evening, her legs in the air, waiting for yet another wet diaper to be changed?

“Look, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” Paul said.

Rachel turned around in her seat, the sound of her diaper crinkling on the upholstery. “Are you seriously going to do this now?”

“Do what now?” Paul said. It sounded innocent enough.

“Break up with me, duh? Look, I get it. You want someone you can go backpacking with, build a tent with, climb mountains with…without having to worry about changing their damn diaper. I’m sorry I can’t be the girl you want me to be. I’m sorry I can’t handle a day in Goodnites. I’m sorry you had to waste your hard-earned money on the museum, and the prizes, and the potty chart, and I’m sorry you had to get in my coworker’s face to defend your big blubbering baby of a girlfriend. Ok? If you’re going to do this, don’t drag it out. Let’s just get it over with so you can drive me home and I can get my soggy little butt out of your life forever.”

She hadn’t even been looking at Paul as she said this, but he was now in tears. “Well good,” Rachel thought, “that makes two crybabies. At least I can get the satisfaction that he’s going to feel ashamed and guilty for a few days.”

“Look,” Paul sniffled, “what I was going to say was that I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“For…everything. Look I’ve been asking you to be someone you’re not and I don’t even know why.”

“What do you mean?”

“The backpacking thing, the Goodnites, the training…Look, I thought, I convinced myself it was what you wanted, or that it was for your own good. But I was lying to myself. I was making it all about what I wanted, or what my friends wanted, or what I thought they wanted. The person I thought you needed to be. But I was wrong, dead wrong.”

“I thought the trip was really important to you,” Rachel began, pushing her seat up into its full upright position.

“It was, I mean, it kind of is.”

“Uh huh,” Rachel groused, skeptical of where this was going.

“But it’s not more important to me than you being who you are. I’m not afraid of that or embarrassed of that. And if my friends can’t hack it, too bad.”

“Who says they deserve to hack it? Also, don’t go all after-school special on me, Paulie,” Rachel said, ribbing him for good measure.

“Look, I know I messed up today. I shouldn’t have gotten mad — I shouldn’t have outed you to that security guard.”

“Yeah I’ll accept a bit fat apology for that.”

“I’m sorry, Rachie. I…”

“Yeah, I’m not sure I’m ready to forgive you just yet.”

“I get it. Look, I wouldn’t have been surprised if you didn’t want to see me again after all this. But I meant what I said. I’m proud of you and I love you.”

“I’m sorry, Paul, my head is like spinning. Was it not like 15 minutes ago you were embarrassed to be seen with me in the gallery?”

“I know. But when I saw how you looked up at me in the bathroom, I was so ashamed of myself. And then, when your co-worker teed off on you like that, I could hardly restrain myself. No one has the right to talk to you like that.”

“Yeah, that was…kind of sexy,” Rachel admitted, bringing her hand to Paul’s cheek and stroking his face.

“I know you might not be able to forgive me right now, but do you think you’ll ever be able to?”

“Mayyyybee…we’ll see about that Paulie” Rachel tutted, imitating Paul’s disciplinarian voice.

“I wasn’t going to show you this until we got home, but I figured now might be the best time for an olive branch.”

Paul retrieved a small paper gift bag from his knapsack and handed it to Rachel. She quickly tore at the tissue paper to find, to her delight, an extraordinarily cute stuffed Pterodactyl.


“I saw you looking at in the gift shop and I couldn’t help myself. Also I found out from the docent that there’s a new dinosaur documentary coming out. Everyone loves it apparently. I think David Attenborough is narrating. Anyway, I found out where we can watch it when we get home, I mean, or at some point…whenever you want.”

“Pauul,” Rachel cried out, her eyes welling up with tears.

She leaned over to kiss him and he put his arm around her to rub her back.

When they pulled back from each other, Paul looked at her sincerely and said, “Ok, so I guess I’ll just drive you home now and you can… just call me and let me know what I can do to make it up to you.”

“Ok, stop your groveling,” Rachel teased. “Let’s go home and watch this movie and maybe I’ll let you make me dinner,” she laughed a bit.

Paul breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh Rachie, Rachie, Rachie…”

He put the car in gear and pulled out of the parking garage and Rachel reclined her seat again to lay down, clinging tightly to the Pterodactyl.

Within a mile or two, she would slip into an afternoon nap. She dreamt, as it happened, not of the dinosaurs or extinction, but of a campsite in the woods beside a gently babbling brook. The remaining contents of her bladder soon escaped into her thick nighttime diaper.

She’d need someone to change her when she got home. And now she knew she had just the right man for the job.


Cute ending, I liked this! Hope to see something else from you down the road! :slightly_smiling_face:

thanks – was my first time, so can’t really say i knew what i was doing – especially on the ending (maybe overly abrupt and too easy) but i appreciate the encouragement.

The ending worked for me. I honestly find that the most difficult thing to write. Beginnings being the second most difficult. If I can commit a couple pages to the story it usually gets easier. But endings… I always agonize over them, and have definitely messed up a couple of them on first try. This was a great first piece!

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this is a good story, looking forward to reading more.