I opened my eyes after waking up, and found myself in my own room… and dry, too. But it was about quarter past three in the morning- why was I awake? And then I realised that I needed to go to the toilet- something I had forgotten to do before going to bed. I cursed my stupidity and then considered my options. If I wanted to use the toilet, I’d have to untape the nappy. Afterwards, if I left it off, there was still the possibility of wetting the bed, so I’d have to try and tape it up again. I was tired and didn’t feel like getting out of bed at all, never mind wrestling with the tapes in a sleepy state. On the other hand, I could actually use the nappy. I wouldn’t wake up dry, which was what I’d been hoping would happen- it would help to confirm my theory. But since I’d woken up instead of just wetting the bed, then surely that was enough… Did I dare to do it? I tried to let go while I was lying down, but I couldn’t, though I was really feeling the need to go. I swung my legs out of bed and imagined myself on the toilet, and my body allowed me to empty my bladder.
The warmth of my pee around my private parts brought back memories of when I’d wet myself as a little girl, and I couldn’t help but feel again some of what I’d felt then- shame and embarrassment. But there was no fabric to cling to me unpleasantly- just soft padding to soak it all up. I curled up afterwards and went back to sleep fairly quickly. When I awoke once more, it was time to get up- and I was in the same bed again. It was a relief to have another day of being normal and being myself, though first I had to dispatch the used nappy, which wasn’t a fun task.
The rest of the day was uneventful, I suppose. I thought a bit more about whether Ellie and I would swap over again or not… it wasn’t something I would wish for, because it had been incredibly disorientating. And if it didn’t happen again for a long time, I could be pretty sure that I didn’t need to keep wearing protection at night time. That thought made me feel a lot happier. I remembered how happy Ellie was, though, that she had a day of freedom, and I felt guilty that I wanted to deny her the chance to experience that again.
When I dressed for bed that night, I didn’t feel so bad when it came to putting on the nappy. The unhappiness and negativity which had surrounded me like a grey mist had lifted enough for me to see the sunshine beyond, and I could look forward to the next day. That was in vain, as it turned out.
I stared up at the dining room ceiling, and for a second I wished it could fall down on top of me and crush me, just as my hopes had been crushed by waking up in Ellie’s body. This was not where I wanted to be.
A similar morning routine to the one I had experienced three days ago followed, except without the laxative suppository. I couldn’t escape being Ellie until I went to sleep tonight, and the sense of helplessness did nothing to improve my mood. Ellie, in my body, was exuberant, when she came down for breakfast she was almost bouncing- a complete contrast from how I’d been feeling even as myself. However, she was able to see that I wasn’t happy, and she did spend a lot of the day with me, playing board and card games, watching TV and making sure I didn’t feel too bad- and that it wasn’t too obvious there was something wrong. We talked about school, as the holidays would be ending soon and I would be going back as normal. Ellie probably wouldn’t go back straight away, because they needed to arrange some more practical details and support so she’d be able to manage.
I wanted to ask Ellie if she had any control over when we swapped over… I hadn’t wished for it, but maybe Ellie had. I didn’t, though, because I still felt guilty that I would begrudge her the normality she wanted and clearly enjoyed. And she had been really nice to me, all day.
The following morning I woke up in my own bed… and naturally, wearing a wet nappy. I had expected to be myself again that day, but I couldn’t feel that happy about it; I knew there was a good chance I would be swapping back again soon enough. Talking about school had also worried me, since I certainly didn’t want Ellie going to school as me. I cringed at even the thought of the chaos she could cause- mistakes she’d make, people she could upset or insult. If she had any control, hopefully she’d realise it would be a stupid idea. I didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t trust her, but she’d always been more reckless and impulsive than me. Her loss of freedom and independence with the accident had held her in check, but now she had the chance to gain a bit back she was even less likely to think before acting.
I spent the day with her, as she had with me. It didn’t feel totally right though, and I noticed acutely the difference in how we interacted now that we were no longer physical equals. I didn’t feel wholly at ease, even though I tried to avoid it, and at the end of the day I felt again that the bond between us was changed forever. The next day was pretty similar, but the following day I woke up in Ellie’s room again.
I resolved to try and talk to Ellie to find out if she was deciding when we were swapping, because I was very anxious about school. When I tried in the afternoon that day, she became uncomfortable when I tried to talk about it and refused to tell me. I got angry with her and we had an argument. My parents didn’t actually think anything was wrong, though, because we had always fallen out over things before- they thought it was pretty normal. I realised how dependent we were on each other: that is, how dependent the one of us in Ellie’s body was on having the other for company and support. But in turn, I was depending on her not doing anything stupid while she was me. Luckily for her she didn’t have to worry too much about the other way around, since there wasn’t an awful lot I could do when I was stuck in a wheelchair for a limited number of hours a day and the rest of the time lying in bed.
That night, after I had been changed for bed, Ellie came in to the converted dining room bedroom wearing a dressing gown with its belt tied around her waist and with slightly wet hair- she’d had a bath about an hour before, I guessed, having heard the water running.
“It’s been so long since I got to have a proper soak… I’m sorry, Beth, about before. Let me get in with you tonight?” Ellie asked.
“Um, okay.” I replied, somewhat bemused by her request which threw me off taking in much about her apology. Then she untied the dressing gown and let it fall to the floor, revealing that she wasn’t wearing any clothes underneath.
“Ellie!” I exclaimed. “I wish you wouldn’t do that…”
“What? It’s perfectly normal to wear just a dressing gown after having a bath. It’s only you that would be bothered, you prude.” Ellie responded. She was among the supplies now.
I reddened, and muttered that it was my body that she was using, so could she respect my wishes. But I don’t think she heard, or she ignored me again. She always had been more comfortable being naked than I had.
Ellie had pulled out one of the nappies and was putting it on herself. She then took out a nightgown identical to the one I was wearing, and put it on.
“There should be just about enough room… I’d better be careful, though. It wouldn’t be much use if you were to fall out of bed, you wouldn’t be able to get back in again.” Ellie said.
“Well, that depends whether you’re being me or you.” I began to say, before Ellie interrupted.
“Whatever- if you need help getting back in, you ask me. And if I need help, I’ll ask you.” Ellie was climbing into bed and pushing my legs over. I made some space for her by moving my top half over as best I could. Even if we were a bit short with each other, I was glad of what she was doing, and we cuddled up as we had when we were much younger and fell asleep.
[This chapter feels a bit slow, I know, but I’ve almost finished chapter 5 which is both longer and has more stuff happening in it. ]