Departure day arrived for the excavation team which meant that Serena would get dropped off at the Roman household. She anticipated this day and worried excessively due to her enuresis. She decided that she would try to put her pull-ups on in a bathroom to keep it hidden from Bethany. She felt shame when she thought about it which she tried to suppress.
“Hey, Serena. All packed up?” Analeise asked.
“Yep, good to go,” Serena responded.
They walked to the car. “Remember to call if you need anything. Or if you just want to check in. Do you have your time zones memorized?” Analeise asked.
“I do,” Serena smiled proudly. She had learned when the best times to call Italy were.
“Smart girl,” Analeise praised.
They drove for about twenty minutes. They arrived at the Roman’s house. As they unpacked Serena’s luggage, Bethany ran out to greet them. She gave everyone a big hug. “Serena!” she exclaimed.
“Hey, girl, good to see you!” Serena smiled brightly.
They hugged tightly and brushed cheeks. “Let me help with that,” Bethany said. She grabbed a suitcase.
Serena’s stomach twisted in a knot. She wondered if that was where she had packed her pull-ups. She realized there was nothing to worry about because she knew that Bethany would never violate her privacy by snooping. They lugged all of Serena’s things into Bethany’s room. Serena was surprised to see a bed set up for her. They were going to have her sleep on a trundle bed, but Victoria wouldn’t have it.
Serena set her backpack down on the bed and her subconscious sent a warning signal. She thought she heard the faint rustle of a rubber sheet. The same kind she had on her bed at home. She blushed and her stomach sank. She wondered if they knew about her condition.
“Should we go say goodbye to your mom and dad?” Bethany asked.
“Sounds good,” Serena feigned composure.
“Bye, Serena. I know you’ll be good,” Zachery said.
“Bye, daddy. I love you,” Serena said.
“I love you, too,” Zachery said. He hugged Serena.
“Norma said she would speak to you privately later. Be a good guest and do whatever she says, okay?” Analeise said.
“Okay, I will,” Serena said obediently.
They hugged, kissed and said goodbye.
“Bye, daddy. I love you,” Bethany said.
“I love you, too,” John said.
“Bye, father. Stay safe,” Victoria said.
“Will do, Victoria,” John said. “Take care of things here.”
“Always,” Victoria replied.
Norma, Victoria, Bethany and Serena waved as Zachery, Analeise and John drove away.
“Serena, we’re so happy to have you as a guest,” Victoria smiled. “While you’re getting settled in, think about what you’d like for supper tonight. We’ll make anything you want.”
“Sure,” Serena nodded, “thanks, Victoria.”
“You’re welcome,” Victoria said. She walked back into the house.
The emotional ups and downs left Serena feeling drained. She kept thinking about her need to hide her bedwetting as well as how nice it was to spend time with friends. She got overwhelmed so she decided to stop and just breathe for a moment.
“Is everything alright, Serena?” Bethany asked concerned.
“Yeah, I think I’m just really emotional because I realized I won’t see my parents for a while,” Serena lied.
“I know, right? I don’t think I’ve ever been away from my dad for this long,” Bethany said.
“Well, I’ll be alright,” Serena said. “Should we go out and see your mom and Victoria?”
“Yeah,” Bethany said enthusiastically.
“Hi, girls,” Norma welcomed.
“Hi, Mrs. Roman,” Serena replied.
“You can call me Norma if you want. Whatever you’re comfortable with,” Norma smiled.
“Serena, are you getting hungry?” Victoria asked curiously.
“I am, actually,” Serena said.
“Good, good,” Victoria said delighted. “What would you like for supper?”
“I couldn’t think of anything. Honestly, just a frozen pizza or whatever would be fine,” Serena said.
“We can do that,” Victoria said. She nodded at Norma who nodded back. “What toppings on that, please?”
“Hawaiian?” Serena asked.
“Excellent choice,” Victoria said astounded at Serena’s answer. “Why don’t you two beauties run along for now? We’ll call you when it’s ready.”
“Come on,” Bethany said excitedly. “I wanna show you this new game I’ve been playing.”
“Sure,” Serena nodded.
Bethany and Serena ran to their room where she showed her the MMO. Serena was amazed by the graphics and how fun it looked. “Do you wanna play?” Bethany asked.
“You’re so good at it, I don’t know if I could keep up,” Serena said.
“It’s okay, you can start from the very beginning. Victoria is letting you borrow her laptop so we can play together. What do you think?”
“Okay,” Serena nodded. “If I’m just starting out at the beginning stages I think I’ll be fine.”
Bethany guided her through character creation and watched Serena play and figure things out for herself. She answered any questions as they went along. When Serena got the hang of it, Bethany returned to her own station and found Serena in-game so they could do quests together.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Victoria and Norma planned the evening meal. “If you start on the dough, I’d like to run to the market to fetch fresh ingredients,” Victoria said.
“Of course,” Norma said. “Drive safely.”
“I will,” Victoria said.
Norma mixed the dough and kneaded lovingly. She set the dough aside to ferment. Victoria arrived at the organic grocery store. She went to the produce section to select tomatoes and a pineapple. She picked out what she judged to be the best ones. At the meat counter, she smiled at the worker. “Good afternoon.”
“Good afternoon, miss, how can I help you?” The woman smiled back.
“Two pounds of sliced prosciutto, please,” Victoria said politely.
“How’d you like the cut on that?” the worker asked.
“A little on the thick side. Whatever you think. It’s for pizza,” Victoria instructed.
“Very good, miss,” the worker said.
The worker expertly sliced and bagged the meat. Victoria thanked her cordially and then walked to the beverage section. She picked out two bottles of sparkling juice. Finally, she went to the dairy and picked up a block of their most expensive mozzarella. She checked out and drove back home.
In the kitchen, she cleaned the produce. She used the tomatoes as well as spices they had on hand to make the sauce. Norma sliced the pineapple while Victoria sliced the prosciutto. Victoria added her own personal magic as they went along. She blessed the food and drink to be nourishing to her and her loved ones.
“We’re hungry!” Bethany called from her room.
“Perfect,” Victoria called back without missing a beat.
The pizzas went in the oven and Victoria set the sparkling juice on ice. She set the table with plates and wine glasses. She poured each a dipping cup with buttery garlic sauce that she made herself. The oven timer went off. She opened it to see that the cheese around the edges was golden brown. She was delighted with their creation.
“Serena, Bethany, Dinner is served,” Victoria called.
The girls quickly walked to the dining room. Serena’s eyes lit up at the spread. She immediately knew this wasn’t just some frozen pizza. “Did you order in?” she asked excitedly.
“No, they are homemade,” Victoria informed.
“You made these?” Serena asked bewildered.
“Of course,” Victoria nodded. “We so rarely get to cater to such a lovely guest.”
Serena felt the energy of Victoria’s compliment move through her chest. “Thank you so much,” she said sincerely.
“Yeah, thanks mom, thanks Victoria,” Bethany smiled.
“Serena, would you like white grape or apple?” Victoria asked. She motioned to the bottles of sparkling juice.
Serena looked at the bottles. “Oh, no, I don’t think my parents let me,” she shook her head.
“It looks like champagne but they are non-alcoholic,” Victoria explained.
“They’re like a fancy soda,” Bethany added.
“Oh, cool,” Serena said. “I’ll try white grape.”
“Very good,” Victoria said. She twisted off the cap and poured Serena a full glass. “Bethany?”
“Same kind, please,” Bethany said.
As they ate their meal, everyone talked about how good it turned out. They all had another glass of sparkling juice for dessert. Everyone sat for a long while and enjoyed the after-dinner conversation. Eventually, Victoria said, “mother, Serena, we’ll give you space to go over some things. Bethany, show me that game you’re always playing.”
“Sure,” Bethany said. She was excited that Victoria was interested in it.
“How are you feeling about all this time away from your folks?” Norma asked.
“Well I told Bethany earlier that I was nervous, but I’m having such a good time that I’m not too worried about it anymore,” Serena smiled warmly.
“Good,” Norma smiled back. “You’re mom did tell me that you wet the bed occasionally and that protection was a bit of a touchy subject.”
Serena looked down at the table. “Yeah,” she said.
“Bethany used to wet the bed, you know?” Norma informed.
“Yeah, but I bet she doesn’t anymore. Seriously, I’m so old for it,” Serena complained.
“Well, I dunno. She did use to wear pull-ups to bed, so you have that in common,” Norma said encouragingly. Serena looked down and didn’t say anything. “After I spoke with Analeise on the phone, I was going to try to keep it a secret but Victoria became privy. She can be nosy. And now Bethany knows too.”
“Really?” Serena asked worried. She was even more embarrassed.
“Then Victoria had this wild idea that Bethany should consider wearing protection to show solidarity. She thought it over and eventually agreed to it. They both really care for you,” Norma said.
Something shifted in Serena. She didn’t know what it was at first but she let it linger. It welled up inside and then something drove her to approach Bethany.
“Are you alright?” Norma asked concerned.
“Yes, I am,” Serena answered softly. She continued down the hall undeterred. By the time she reached Bethany’s room, tears streamed down her cheeks. She walked right up to Bethany and gave her a big hug.
“Oh,” Bethany said surprised. “Thank you.”
“Mm-hmm,” Serena said tearfully, “thank you.” She hugged Bethany for a moment and then whispered, “that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.”
“Oh,” Bethany realized. “Did my mom tell you about the pull-up thing?”
Serena pulled back from Bethany and looked at her with tearful eyes. She nodded.
Bethany smiled. She was so glad to have made the right decision. She was even ready to forgive Victoria for being manipulative.
Victoria looked on with delight. She reveled in the energetic exchange that took place before her eyes. She took pride in the fact that she had facilitated it. “Thanks for showing me your game, sister. Sweet dreams, girls,” she said. She gracefully exited. She walked to the office and booted the family computer. She signed up for an account on the game.
In Bethany’s room, the girls calmed down. They logged on to the game for a bit longer. After a while, Norma came in and said, “time to start getting ready for bed, girls.”
“No, can’t we stay up late tonight?” Bethany pleaded.
“If you get ready for bed now, you can stay up until eleven,” Norma said.
“Yay! Thank you, mommy,” Bethany said. She typed ‘AFK’ into chat and rushed off to the bathroom. Serena grabbed her suitcase and followed close behind. Serena was surprised when Bethany removed her pants and underwear. Bethany pulled out a white package from the cupboard which Serena identified as absorbent underwear. Right away she saw that its appearance was more mature than her pull-ups.
Bethany tore open the pack, removed an underwear and pulled it on. Serena looked on bewildered at the gesture. Bethany saw this and asked, “what?”
“Oh,” Serena startled, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. I just kind of zoned out.”
“It’s okay. I’m just a little nervous,” Bethany admitted.
“I’m the one who should be nervous. Mine look like baby diapers,” Serena said. It felt good to express her embarrassment. She opened her suitcase and retrieved a pull-up.
“Oh, no big deal. I used to wear the same kind,” Bethany admitted.
“Really?” Serena asked.
“It’s what I thought I was gonna be wearing. I was furious when I found out that ‘nosy’ Victoria ordered me adult diapers,” Bethany said.
“I see that,” Serena laughed. “I think I’ve seen the commercials for those.”
“Does she think I’m an old granny or something?” Bethany joked.
Serena laughed. The girls donned their pajamas and went back to their room. They were both eager to get back to their game. At her prescribed bedtime, Bethany said, “mom said we have to go to bed now.”
“Yeah, that’s cool. I’m starting to get really sleepy,” Serena said. They logged out and hopped into bed. “Hey, Bethany?” Serena asked.
“Thanks again,” Serena said sincerely.
“I was happy with my decision when I saw your reaction. Don’t worry, we’re in this together,” Bethany assured.
“Good night,” Serena said. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Bethany said.