Lucy glared at the open doorway for a moment, her blood – and cheeks – boiling at the thought of that girl telling her to just stay there in her nightshirt and diaper, like a little toddler. She had no doubt Kari was enjoying all of this…
She sulkily stormed to her closet, ignoring the babysitter’s instructions, pulling out a pair of pink denim shorts and a yellow shirt with an adorable puppy on the front. The shorts were tight, pressing the diaper’s padding against her with every little movement, letting the padding peek out of the legholes, leaving her with a very obvious bulge. There wasn’t much she could do about it, unfortunately… These diapers were meant for bedtime, where her sleepers could easily accommodate them. Her daytime clothes usually only had to hide training pants.
She shook her head, glancing at her reflection in the mirror. She looked just as childish as she had in her nightshirt, maybe more… But Kari had told her not to do it, so the thought of defying her made her feel slightly better, at least until the smaller girl returned with a small, cartoon-decorated plate full of apple slices.
“What are you wearing?” Kari asked with a little pout. “You’re supposed to wait until you eat to dress up! What if you make a mess on your clothes?”
Lucy scowled. “I won’t!” she insisted, but that didn’t seem to satisfy the babysitter. She knew she shouldn’t care… But she was already going to be telling Mommy about her accident, and she didn’t want to give her even more ammunition. “B-Besides, I only put this on, ’cause…. Because I’m going outside to get the mail!”
“Ohh, okay,” Kari nodded. “I’m sure you’re not at all just going to play in the puddles… Are you allowed to do that on your own?”
“Of course!” Lucy huffed. “I do it every day! I’ll be back in a minute!”
She started to march out of the room, only for Kari to call, “Oh, Lulu?”
Lucy rolled her eyes, spinning back to the girl. “What?!”
“You need your shoesies, silly!” Kari giggled, holding up Lucy’s shoes. “Sit on your chair and I’ll get you taken care of.”
Lucy blushed deeper at having overlooked something so simple. “I… I can do it myself,” she said.
“Nonsense, get up here! I have to take care of my sweet girl!” Kari smiled, patting the pink, plastic chair. Lucy sighed and walked over to it, sitting down and letting Kari slide the shoes onto her feet, pulling the velcro straps tight and then smoothing them down into place.
“There, now we’re twins!” Kari laughed, lifting her own foot, which was clad in a velcro shoe of its own. Lucy felt the slightest pang of jealousy – her own shoes were just plain purple, while Kari’s were pink and sparkly, decorated with Disney Princesses. They were very clearly meant for kids, yet there was no denying that they were adorable. If you were going to wear those sorts of shoes anyway, you might as well go all out. “Except I know how to keep my panties dry,” Kari added with another giggle. “Aww, don’t be sad… Everybody learns at different rates… I’m sure you’ll get there someday!”
Lucy glared at her, seething. Part of her wanted to grab the smaller girl and shove her into her crib, watch her struggling to escape… Lucy had trouble getting out herself, there was no way Kari could do it. Lucy could leave her there until Kari agreed to give her the training pants back, or do whatever Lucy wanted, or until Kari wet herself. She had no doubt that wouldn’t take long at all…
But she knew her Mommy would be angry when she got home and Kari told on her. And there was no way the little brat wouldn’t tattle on her… A shiver ran up Lucy’s spine as she thought about the punishment she’d be in for after that. In all honesty, she wasn’t sure what Mommy would do, but she was the adult, so Lucy was sure it wouldn’t be pleasant. She even, despite herself, felt a pang of fear looking at little Kari, standing there, knowing that she was the babysitter, she was the one in charge, even though there was no doubt that Lucy could trap her right then and there and have the girl at her mercy.
“I’m going to get the mail,” Lucy pouted, stomping out of the room.
“I’ll find you a nice, dry outfit to change into when you’re done playing in the puddles!” Kari chirped, shuffling over to the closet and starting to dig through it.
Lucy didn’t particularly want to see what the girl was going to find for her; she had a feeling the rest of the day was pretty much already set now, as she heard Kari gasp and coo as she sifted through clothing. Lucy headed through the house, opening the front door to see that the rain had mostly moved on, leaving only a few slow drips as she stepped reluctantly out onto the porch. The sky was still dark, the clouds a strange, almost unnatural color, but they seemed mostly harmless at the moment.
They lived far enough outside of town that there weren’t many neighbors… However, that only meant that the ones they had knew her pretty well. She was pretty sure they’d all be at work right now, but if she was wrong… Her cheeks began to light up anew as she fidgeted, diaper crinkling loudly under the tiny shorts. She usually only wore these at night, at home, away from prying eyes… Now, without thinking, she’d volunteered to parade outside in them!
She stood still, biting her bottom lip. She could always claim the mail hadn’t gone yet, or that they hadn’t gotten anything… There was no law saying she had to go out there in the open. On the other hand, if she didn’t, she either had to go inside and risk Kari hearing the front door open again and go play dress-up with her, or stand here on the porch, which wasn’t that much better if anyone really was watching her. She might as well get this over with…
She sighed, bracing herself for a split second before hopping down the two steps of the porch onto the sidewalk, splashing cold rainwater onto her bare legs, making her giggle quietly before she took off. The front yard wasn’t huge, but it was long enough that she had some ground to cover before she could turn around and run back to the door. Her heart pounded as she moved, her speed slowed by the bulk between her legs, her face heating up as each rushed step caused a new crinkle.
There was still no sign of anybody else on the street as she reached the mailbox, nearly falling as she tried to stop and turn at the same time so she could yank open the door. She hadn’t been expecting anything, though it was still disappointing to look in and see what looked like a bunch of boring bills and ads, nothing exciting at all. She was starting to reach inside to grab it all and make a run for home when she glanced up and behind the mailbox, behind her house, up into the sky.
It was there. Her thumping heart stopped for a moment as her jaw fell open. Streaking across the sky, brighter than any she’d seen before, with the possible exception of one, was a rainbow. She shouldn’t have been surprised – after all, she was an adult, she knew how and when rainbows appeared – but this one was different. She could tell just by looking at it.
Her eyes darted back towards the house; Kari was probably still looking through her clothes. Surely, she’d be none the wiser… She looked back at the rainbow, its colors still standing out against the dark clouds like lasers, as if they were there to guide her away, to where it ended…
She remembered being an actual kid, running through these fields behind her house, trying to find that end, and the pot of gold she knew had to be hidden there. She was an adult now, even if her clothes might not make it evident… But this was no ordinary rainbow. She was sure, if she looked hard enough now, she could see exactly where that rainbow landed, out there in the woods… She couldn’t really see it, no matter how hard she squinted, yet she had no doubt she knew the spot well.
She could see it in her mind’s eye, if not her physical ones: a large, circular clearing in the middle of the woods, with no stumps, no holes, nothing to indicate that any trees had ever grown there, despite being all around. Growing up, the kids had always said it was a spot where witches gathered to do dark ceremonies, summon demons, do whatever else it was that witches did… Lucy had never believed it – or she’d never admitted to it – but whenever she walked through the forest, she always tried to avoid it as much as possible.
She’d been there, of course, as a meeting place for illicit teenage parties, or a place where friends had insisted on playing with Ouija boards – she’d always been more scared of what the other girls would think if she refused to show up than of any actual danger that might be lurking there – and some other desperate, futile trips; for the most part, she didn’t like to step foot in it if she could avoid it. She could see it, though, practically glowing in the rainbow’s light, lit up in every color at once.
And there, in the center, the pot of gold that would give her one wish. Most anyone else her age would say it was silly to believe, but all she had to do was think of that image in her mind of the circle… It had to be there. It just had to.
It wasn’t far out to the circle… She could check it out, just to make sure, and be back… Well, definitely before Mommy got home. Kari would surely notice eventually, but she thought Lucy was out playing in the puddles, as if she really were just a silly little kid. Surely, Lucy could get far enough away from the house before the girl wondered where she was and began looking out in the yard… And, if she found that gold and got her wish, then it wouldn’t matter if Kari would have tattled on her for ‘running away’…
She didn’t even bother closing the mailbox door as she brushed past, eyes fixed firmly on the rainbow blazing through the sky. She was pretty sure Mommy paid most of those bills automatically, and nobody cared about those ads – there were more important things on her mind as she snuck around her house and broke into a jog through the back yard and into the tall fields of corn beyond that.
They’d been getting quite a bit of rain recently, including that day, and the corn had been soaking it all in, apparently. It had also been a long time since Lucy had bothered to go out to the woods, but she was certain she still remembered the way… Didn’t she?
Her Mommy, and all the parents in the houses around there, had always warned her not to play around in the fields. It was dangerous, they said, lots of farm machinery or whatever that could hurt them… She’d also heard plenty of stories about the farmer who owned the field, who she’d never met. Supposedly, he hated trespassers… There was a path to the woods if you went all the way around the field, but nobody ever used that, even if they were supposed to.
Lucy certainly hadn’t planned on it, since it would take far longer than just cutting through the field. The further she went in, however, the taller the corn seemed, and denser… It almost felt like it was forming walls all around her, trapping her inside. She could barely see through them, and while she could look up and see the rainbow to figure out the general direction, that was about it.
It started getting harder and harder to push through the stalks leading her towards the woods, until, finally, she tried to push them aside, and they refused to budge. She frowned, trying again with the same result. She frowned and kicked at the corn with her muddy tennis shoes; that didn’t help, either.
Maybe Mommy was right this time… Maybe, at least this time of year, it was better not to bother with the field. As she turned back towards her house, however, she saw that the corn had formed just as solid a wall there, too. She gasped, turning in a circle, seeing that she was boxed in on all sides but one… That one side led to what seemed like a long corridor, with a few empty spaces leading to other corridors… It looked, for all the world, like a maze…. And, from what she could see, the only way out of here was to go through.
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