“You can’t do this!” I whined, wincing as the car went over a bump, jarring my tender bottom. “This is kidnapping!”
“No,” the girl replied, “this is what you get for telling lies about my baby sister and getting her into trouble.”
“But they didn’t!” I protested. “They were the ones lying, not me! I didn’t do anything wrong!”
She didn’t seem interested in hearing my side of the story. Instead, she looked over at me, for a moment or two too long, and asked, “You’re Holly, right?” There didn’t seem much point in not nodding, so I did. “My name is Shelly,” she informed me, “but you’re going to be calling me Ms. Shelly, like the other kids, you understand?”
I nodded again, getting a look that told me that wasn’t good enough in return. I tried a simple yes, then was met with approval when I mumbled, “Yes, Ms. Shelly.”
“The girls wanted me to put you in with the three year olds,” she told me, “which might not be a bad idea.” I blushed as she gave a pointed look to my still exposed diaper, frantically tugging my dress down over it. “But I’m in charge of the four year olds, so that’s where you’re going to be instead. If you cause any disruption in my class, I won’t hesitate to put you in the corner like one of the other kids. From what I hear, you’re some kind of a genius, so I’m sure you’ll know all about what we’re talking about, but the other kids might not, so let them participate, understand? You’re not here to learn about how the leaves change color this time of the year, you’re here to learn a lesson about what a bratty little girl you were apparently acting like. So your job is to sit quietly and watch, and not make a fuss. And maybe pick up a few potty training tips.”
I blushed at that, fiddling with the hem of my dress again. “I don’t need these,” I was quick to inform her. “It was just a misunderstanding…”
“Right,” she scoffed. “We have a few kids still in training pants, but you’ll be the only one in diapers. Even so, I expect you to use the bathroom when you need to like the other children. Do you think you can handle that?”
Once again, a nod was deemed not answer enough, so, cheeks burning, I had to say, “Yes, Ms. Shelly,” feeling very much like one of her four year olds. If I had really been a fourteen year old, or younger, as Molly and her group had thought me, I probably would have been even more mortified, though I could hardly imagine how that would feel. Just as soon as I got my old life back, I was going to report this bitch to her boss and get her fired. There was no way she should be allowed to do something like this just to help her little sister get back at someone… But I wasn’t about to say that to her now.
I passed the rest of the ride in uncomfortable silence, though I had to bite back a groan as I saw the sign for the Mt. Pleasant Nursery School appear before us. If I thought it would do any good, I’d have begged her to stop this now, but instead I just tried not to think too much about what was about to happen. She got out of the car and then helped me out, gripping my hand tightly as she walked inside, through the halls, and to a darkened room. It smelled like Play-Doh and crayons, and, despite what she’d said about her kids being potty trained, faintly of stale urine. She led me to the desk at the front and stood me there as she had a whispered conversation with the girl sitting there, watching the squirming children laid out in the dark.
After a moment, they began going around to all of the kids and gently waking them up before turning on the lights, letting me see the room in its full glory. There were chalkboards hanging around the room, many of them covered in crazy stick-man drawings and other random bursts of color, clearly done by the children. Where there weren’t chalkboards on the wall, there was shelves, stocked with toys and fingerpaints and all sorts of childish activities. Above them, the alphabet wound its way around the room several times in a cheery, bubbly font. Several large, brightly colored, low tables ringed the room, surrounded by small chairs.
I watched awkwardly as the kids got up from their nap mats and sleepily moved them to a pile in one corner of the room before getting in a line in front of a door which I could see once Ms. Shelly’s assistant unlocked it and opened it was a bathroom. It was nice not to be the most childishly dressed student anymore, though that victory felt hollow since my outfit was also not, by any means, the most mature, not to mention the diaper beneath it.
Finally, once all the kids had been shuffled through the bathroom and sat at their tables, Ms. Shelly returned to me, putting a hand on my shoulder. “All right, class!” she said, firmly but gently. “We have a new student with us today! Her name is Holly!” I blushed, hanging my head slightly as the kids all mumbled their hellos. “Now, she’s a little older than you all, but she’s… special… so I don’t want you to treat her any differently from anyone else, all right?”
“Yes, Ms. Shelly,” the class said, their response that time much more united and practised.
“You go sit over there,” Ms. Shelly instructed, pushing me off toward an empty seat at a table of giggling girls. Remembering my experience with Molly, I was a little unsure, but I still toddled over to them when my apprehensive glance back at the teacher was met with a pointed glare.
“Umm… Hi…” I told them bashfully.
“I’m Susie,” one of the girls informed me matter-of-factly. “You smell like my baby sister.”
I flushed at this information, fidgeting in my diaper, knowing it was probably all the powder and oil and lotion she was smelling. It did have an infantile scent to it, though I’d barely had time to think about that. Now that it had been pointed out, and by a toddler at that, it was my nose could notice. “Oh,” was all I could think to say, though Ms. Shelly was talking, so they weren’t really paying attention to me anyway.
“I’m sure you all know it, but what is this, class?” She held up a picture of a tree, which was identified quickly and chaotically as the kids clamored over themselves vocally to prove they recognized it. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the simplicity of it, hardly able to believe I was reduced to sitting in a class where this was going on. “Very good! What is this part called?” she asked, pointing to the trunk. The answers were a little more sporadic this time, but once one of them started to say it, more joined in. She worked her way up to the limbs, and finally to the leaves.
Bored, and in pain as the small, hard plastic of the chair pressed against my twice spanked bottom, I began to squirm in my seat, sure my table-mates were looking over at me because they could hear my diaper crinkling, but unable to stop looking for a way to soothe my aches. I was sure I had hit rock bottom, that it wasn’t possible for someone my age to feel any more babyish, until Ms. Shelly called me out. “Holly, do you need to use the potty, dear?”
My face turned bright red as everyone seemed to look at me at once. I shook my head, wanting to hide under the hot pink table. “Please sit still, then,” she said before continuing.
While I knew it was silly to assume anything about these little brats and their attention spans, it wasn’t lost on me that I was the only one who had been called out specifically about needing to use the restroom, and I had a feeling at least some of them noticed it, too. Susie, in particular, seemed to be watching me closer.
Self-consciously, I sunk down into my little plastic chair, comforting myself with the reminder that these were just babies, that it didn’t matter what they thought of me. “Just stupid babies,” I confirmed to myself, too caught up in everything to realize I was mumbling it out loud until I saw the hurt look on Susie’s face. I knew I should apologize, but it wasn’t my fault! I shouldn’t have had to be there, to deal with this! It was Ms. Shelly’s fault for agreeing to bring me here, Molly’s for being a vindictive little bitch, the nanny’s for taking me to high school in the first place, and Holly’s for tricking me into this whole mess. And definitely not mine. I sulked as I contemplated that, tuning out the boring lecture for as long as I could, until the kids started getting involved again.
“What kind of colors do you think the leaves change to?” she was asking, getting all kinds of absurd answers like purple and white, making me think they were just shouting out their favorite colors. Ms. Shelly, for her part, was very patient with them, not telling any of them they were wrong, simply nodding and instructing them to wait their turn. Once they were all done, she said, “How would you like to go see what colors you can find?”
The kids, of course, were ecstatic. Once they had calmed down, she told them, “Well, Ms. Marian is going to take you out into the backyard to look at the trees there, while I stay here with Holly. Since she missed naptime, she’s going to have to stay here. Now, whoever needs to use the bathroom, line up at the door.”
I noticed, of course, that she’d asked all the kids at once about the bathroom, rather than singling them out, and, furthermore, that she’d called it a bathroom rather than the potty. I was sure some of the kids had noticed, too, especially Susie, who I was feeling more suspicious of all the time.
“Come on, let’s get you a nap mat,” Ms. Shelly said as she showed up at the table, leading me away from the girls. I glanced back at them as I toddled away, feeling, as silly as it was, that they were up to something.
“You aren’t really going to make me take a nap, are you?” I whined once we were away from the other kids.
“You’re acting like you need one,” she pointed out, “so you bet I am. I don’t tolerate brats in my class, no matter how old they really are.” I opened my mouth to protest, and she closed it with a single look. “Don’t you argue with me, young lady.”
So, as the rest of the class bustled outside, I drug the soft mat into the middle of the floor and laid down on it. It had been a long day, and it was nice to be able to lie down on my stomach and take some of the pressure off my bruised backside, but the indignity of the situation made it difficult to appreciate any of that.
Then I heard a small knock on the classroom door, and when I opened my eyes, I saw one of the girls from my table came in, walking up to the desk. “Can I use the bathroom?” she asked.
“Didn’t you know you had to go when everyone else went?” Ms. Shelly asked, and the girl shook her head. “All right, then… Here you go.” She handed the girl a keychain with a pink, knit bunny head at the end, and the girl scooted off to the bathroom door. “Why are your eyes open, Holly? You’re supposed to be napping.”
I grumbled and shut my eyes, squirming. I knew there was no way I was going to be getting to sleep, not only because it was the middle of the day, but because there was just no way of getting comfortable enough. Even when I wasn’t sitting on it, my bottom was radiating pain, and I was sure a good portion of the warmness in my diaper was coming from that. And then there was the growing fullness in my bladder. This was probably going to be the best chance I got to ask to go, while everyone else was away, which would make the question a little less humiliating, but I had a feeling I’d only get berated for not being asleep.
After a minute or two, I heard the bathroom door open and shut. “It looks like they’re all still right outside,” Ms. Shelly said, and opening my eye a little showed me a sliver of sunlight as she pulled the curtain on the window aside. “Do you want me to go with you, Carla? Holly will probably be all right here by herself for a minute.”
“I know the way!” Carla chirped, and then she was gone.
I felt strangely jealous as I watched her go. It wasn’t that I wanted to join a bunch of pre-schoolers in staring at a bunch of trees, but it still would have been better than lying there, diapered, doing nothing, being lorded over and watched like a hawk by a girl probably five or more years my junior.
“Eyes closed, young lady!” she snapped.
And the worst part about it was that I was too scared to do anything but follow her orders right away.