I was purposely trying to fulfill the trend of not continuing a story after it wins the Story of the Year award, but Amber was begging me to continue. After all, we haven’t even reached prom yet.
(or “How I Ended Up at Prom in Diapers”)
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Minutes later, I found myself back in the principal’s office. I was sweating nervously. I had found myself in this room twice in the same week, which was two more times than I had ever gone to the principal at my old school.
“You look familiar,” Principal Dixon said.
“I, uh, you talked to me on Monday,” I stammered out. “I’m the new girl, remember?”
“Oh right,” he said, except this time around his mood did not lighten. “I remember now. The one without a diaper. Don’t tell me you’re strutting around without one again.”
“Not quite,” the att said, who was leaning against the doorway. “She screamed a profanity in the gym.”
Dixon raised his eyebrow. “Which profanity?”
The att blushed. “I’d… rather not repeat it.”
“Well would you like to tell me, young lady?” he asked me.
I bit my lip down. Was he asking me to repeat the word that landed me here in the first place?
“That’s what I figured,” he continued. “Listen, Miss McCormand, once again you fail to understand the rules of our high school. I’m sure wherever you came from you could mutter whatever you wanted and no one would bat an eye, but we hold a high standard for our students at Timberly High. It is the school’s duty—no, it is a personal duty—to protect the innocence of each student, and I can’t have you go about screaming whatever you heard on TV last night. Understand?”
“I’m really sorry, sir,” I said. “I never ever say that. I was just provoked—”
“I hope you know this kind of behavior can get you suspended,” he interrupted.
I gulped. Mom was already unhappy that I ended up in the office the first time. She’d probably kick me out of the house upon hearing I was suspended.
“But you’re lucky it’s Casual Friday and I’m in such a good mood. One week’s detention, starting Monday.”
“One week?” I rebutted.
“Let’s not make it a month,” he said. “Now please, be off. The both of you. I have a kenken—I mean, papers—to finish.”
The att escorted me back down the hallway. She was a young chubby lady with a strong grip, and her hold on my arm was a bit uncomfortable.
“Could you maybe let go of me?” I asked coldly.
She ignored my question and looked at her watch. “Well there’s still about half of naptime left. I don’t want to bring you in and disturb the other students, but I suppose you could rest on a table in the changing room.”
“I think I’ll be fine without it,” I commented.
“Nonsense. You’re clearly too cranky to not have it.”
“I’m ‘cranky’ because I’m having a bad day!”
“Amber?” I heard someone say. I turned around to see Miss Hart standing there, holding a vase in her hand. “Is everything okay?”
I was speechless. I felt like a criminal being exposed to my favorite teacher.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to say a word. “I’m just taking this troublemaker back to her nap,” the att said.
“I’ll take her off your hands,” responded Miss Hart.
“She’s a student in my next class and I could use her help,” Miss Hart interrupted. “Those paints don’t mix themselves, you know.”
“Whatever,” said the att, letting go of her stronghold on my arm. “They do not pay me enough to supervise these brats.”
Once the att was out of distance, Miss Hart turned to me. I wondered how much I was blushing.
“Come on, Amber,” she said. Rather than pulling me along, she did a simple friendly motion with her hand, and so I followed. As we walked, I stared only at the tile patterns on the floor. I was too ashamed to look up at her. It was only a brief walk to the art classroom, but the stroll of silence felt like an eternity.
Inside her classroom, Miss Hart had me sit down at my table. Instead of letting me be, she pulled up another student chair and sat directly across for me. I finally looked up. I saw no anger in her eyes. No disappointment. No scolding look. Not even pity. Just a sparking look of curiosity.
“So what’s going on?” she asked. “How’s your first week been in Timberly?”
How has my week been? How could I answer that? There had been so much going in this week I didn’t know where to begin. Do I tell her how awkward it was to be forced into diapers in the middle of the school day? Or rather the fact I woke up this morning having used it without consciously knowing? Maybe I could tell her how my mother was going crazy enforcing these stupid rules? Or how I completely flipped out in front of half the school?
But I couldn’t think of anything to say. So instead, I broke down into tears.
Not that it helped at all; it just made me feel even worse. What was wrong with me? I never cried, not even in private and certainly not in front of someone else. But it felt like the only thing I could do. I struggled to get a word out of my mouth, but it all came out as incoherent bawling.
But Miss Hart was not one to judge. Moments later, I felt her arms wrap around me. “Shhh, it’s going to be alright,” she consoled.
I sniffled. Her hug warmed me up, and I began to feel better.
Miss Hart released her arms and went towards her desk to fetch a box of Sneezex. As she handed me the tissues, she spoke up again. “I know what it feels like to be in a new place. I moved to Timberly when I was around your age too.”
“Really?” I coughed out through my sniffles.
“Yep, all the way from Galveston, Texas, which I assure you, is nothing like Ohio. My parents were both dentists, apparently something Timberly was lacking at the time, and they were offered jobs here. They must have been amazing jobs because we packed up and moved almost immediately after I graduated from junior high. I had to leave behind my friends, my Sunshine Girls troop, and even my ‘boyfriend.’” She emphasized that last work, motioning a quote-unquote with her fingers.
“I was a mess at first,” she continued as she walked around the room. “I was shy meeting new people and completely disappointed when I found out there were no Sunshine troops here. But I found a way to take my mind off things.”
“What?” I asked.
She plopped down on my table a giant sketchpad and a pack of graphite pencils.
I opened up the sketchpad. A blank leaf of white paper invited me to mark it up. I looked back at Miss Hart, who now had a big smile on her face. “What should I draw?” I inquired.
“Oh, just whatever comes to mind,” she responded.
So I took a pencil and hit the pad. I don’t know why, but the first thing that came to mind was Tasha, playing with her dolls just the night before. I started off by sketching the armchair in my living room, just so I had a good idea how I should scale Tasha when I drew her.
The drawing did preoccupy my mind, as I soon stopped sniffing or caring about all the events that happened earlier in the day. My attention was solely on this drawing. As I worked, I heard the bell rang. Students began to pile into the classroom. Every few seconds I glanced up, but not a single person paid attention to me. It seemed that nobody thought it was odd that I was already sitting I here, nor did anyone care about my outburst earlier.
When I saw that people were grabbing an assortment of art supplies, rather than sitting down and waiting for Miss Hart to begin her lecture, I began to understand that Casual Fridays were a freeform day in class. Either students could work on a project they needed more time on, or they could create something new just for fun or practice.
Miss Hart walked around the classroom through the period, commenting on her students’ work or guiding them in any way possible. For the most part she left me alone, but around forty-five minutes in I felt her presence behind me.
“That looks great, Amber,” she remarked. “Is that your sister?”
“Wonderful detail around the eyes,” she continued. “It gives her a very realistic look, and not at all uncanny. Do you draw from memory often?”
“Not usually,” I said. “I usually have to see the object, or I just draw abstract.”
“When you finish the sketch, you should add some color. Oil pastels might be a nice touch.”
I admired my work. It was far more detailed than anything I had drawn recently. Considering how rarely I even draw humans, it was a nice compliment to hear what she said. It occurred to me even though I was drawing a memory from last night, I had placed Tasha in our old living room, not our Timberly one.
The bell rang before I had a chance to even think about color, but I knew I would have another opportunity to work on the drawing later. I ripped my work from the sketch pad and stuck it in my portfolio folder, which Miss Hart kept along with the other students’ folders in a locked shelf. As I handed her the folder, we exchanged smiles. In just one hour, she completed enlightened my mood. No, it didn’t solve all the problems I was dealing with. But it had distracted me enough to the point I didn’t care at the moment.
A few minutes later, I found Kamila waiting outside the locker room for me, looking as jumpy as ever.
“What’s up?” I asked.
Kamila could barely speak she was talking so fast. “Rumor has it some girl in the small gym said… said…” She dropped to a whisper. “The F word.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Who told you that?”
“Everyone. It’s all people were discussing in bio.”
“Don’t remember that,” I answered. “I must have been asleep.”
“Weird,” said Kamila, dropping the matter entirely as we walked into the locker room. To my surprise, no one was changing into their green and white uniforms. Instead, I saw girls in strange blue diapers stepping into one-piece bathing suits.
“Let me guess,” I started. “Swim day?”
“Oh whoops, I should have told you,” Kamila reprimanded herself. “Yeah, Fridays are when our class goes to the pool. It’s the best!”
“But I don’t have a bathing suit on me.”
“Well you don’t technically need one,” said Kamila. “We only have to wear a shirt and a diaper.” She could tell I looked uncomfortable by this, so she added, “But you can borrow my extra suit.”
I smiled. “Thanks, Kamila.”
As I opened my locker, I found a small yellow package labeled as “Mini Waders for Teens.” Tearing it open, it revealed a thin blue diaper.
Kamila noticed I was staring at my new present. “That’s a swim diaper,” she said. “Regular ones explode in the pool or something. At least that’s what they tell us; I don’t really believe it. I’ll help you if you help me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Personally I prefer someone diapering me than doing it myself. They don’t have atts in here to help out.”
“That doesn’t weird you out at all?” I inquired. It was one thing for the adults in the gym to be changing us while we were asleep, but it was completely different version of weirdness to imagine all the students changing each other.
But Kamila just gave me her usually blank look. “No… not really,” she said. “Here let me help you. Lay down on the bench.”
I laid down and Kamila promptly removed my pants and ripped off my diaper. I blushed hard, partially because of the cold air on my skin but more because another girl my age was looking at and working around my privates. I saw that no other girls were looking or caring, so I tried to stop caring too.
Kamila took the blue diaper out of the package, unfolded it, placed it under me, and did her thing. As she applied the last tape, I heard her giggle.
“What?” I said.
“Your face is so red,” she said as she tried to stifle her laughter. “Alright, now me.”
I told Kamila that my earlier attempts in the week to put on a diaper were a complete failure, but she assured me that it was way easier doing it on another person. I didn’t quite match the record time she diapered me, but a minute later we were sporting matching undergarments.
She tossed me an extra swimsuit, and I smiled. It was a one-piece with pink and white stripes, and it looked silly compared to the two-pieces I was used to wearing. But I reminded myself that, just like the diapers, everyone was wearing this kind of thing.
I put the swimsuit on, we heard Coach Green give us the “two minutes 'til roll call” warning, and Kamila led me through a different exit that brought us to an indoor pool. I breathed in the smell of chlorine; I don’t know why but it’s a scent that has always calmed me.
Some people were just sitting on the benches, but a lot of kids were already in the pool. A group of boys were playing a toss up game with a foam football, while a group is another corner played what seemed to be Marco Polo. On the deeper end, a few girls were doing laps.
I saw Alexis sitting on the edge of the pool towards the middle, her feet dipped into the water. She and her friend were sitting there in silence, watching the wet ripples.
“Hang on a sec,” I told Kamila. “There’s something I should do.”
I still have no idea what inspired me to do this. Maybe Miss Hart’s pep talk gave me a new confidence I didn’t know I had. Maybe the smell of chlorine was messing with my mind. Or maybe I just did not want to end the week with an enemy. But I walked over to Alexis and sat down beside her, dipping my feet in the water too.
“Hey,” I mumbled.
Alexis looked up from the water and stared straight at me. She did not respond or make any faces, but her beady blues eyes proved that I had her attention.
“Listen, I’m really sorry about earlier,” I began. “I was in a bad mood, and I didn’t mean to yell. I think you got the wrong impression of me on Monday, and today didn’t help either. Can we start over and be friends?”
Her eyebrows furrowed and she continued to stare without a word. Her silent friend had no response either.
“I tried,” I said with a shrug. I pushed myself up from the edge to stand back up. Not sure what I was expecting her to say, but I guess I expected something. Anything.
As I turned to walk away, I felt something latch onto my ankle. I immediately lost my balance and fell backwards.
Into the pool. With a giant splash.
It took me a few seconds to reorient myself and get my head out of the water. The area of the pool was a few inches too deep for me to stand in, so I quickly grabbed onto the nearest ledge.
When I managed to rub the water out of my eyes, I saw the visual of Alexis and her friend laughing at me.
“I don’t want to be friends with you, loser,” she said. “Especially not a swearing, clumsy freak like you.”
A whistle blew from the distance. “Griffler, don’t think I didn’t see that!” I heard Coach Green shout. “Leave her alone.”
Alexis and her crony ran over. Kamila ran over to me and helped pull me out of the water.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I looked over to see Coach Green scolding Alexis and the other girl. Even with an adult shouting at her, she looked completely unfazed.
“One day she’s going to get what’s coming to her,” Kamila said.
“Yeah?” I answered. “And what’s coming to her?”
“A bad case of diaper rash.”
Together we giggled and enjoyed the rest of class.