I winced slightly at the suggestion. "Well, I'll see," I told her, edging towards Mona's room. The door opened with a creak, audible, but not quite enough to wake her from her rest, blanket wrapped around her sleeping body, pillow soaking up the drool dripping from the corner of her mouth. Waking her before she was ready was a pretty sure way to get myself yelled at, and I didn't trust her to be alert enough to recognize that I was on the phone, and thus she should probably keep her big mouth shut.
I closed the door behind me, taking a few steps away before saying, "She's elbow deep in our rice crispie treat pan, she said to give you her love. No, we didn't think to soak it in soapy water after we finished with it. Yes, I know it makes it a lot easier. Yes, I'm going to go help her clean up. I know, mom. Yes, I'm still listening to her. I'll tell her. Love you, too. Bye, mom."
I flipped my phone closed, sliding it into the pocket of my jeans with a sigh. Mona's bed squeaked softly as she turned over in her sleep, mumbling softly. I stared at her door angrily for a moment before heading to the kitchen, for real this time, reaching back down into the warm, sudsy water to fish the washcloth out so I could continue my work. I'd almost finished up the dishes from last night, the ones Mona had told me she'd do, since I'd done the cooking.
Not that I'd honestly been expecting her to do so; someone once said that insanity is doing something over and over, and expecting different results. I don't consider myself crazy. If I did, it would probably not be a good thing for me to be handling the large knife I'd used for slicing tomatoes the day before.
Apparently it was a bad idea anyway, as the sudden sound of footsteps behind me caused me to jump as I was cleaning it, slicing the tip of my middle finger. I dropped the knife back into the water, bringing my finger up into my mouth, which quickly filled with a combination of iron and Ivory. It wasn't particularly tasty.
"You scared the shit out of me!" I berated Mona, around my finger.
"Language," she shook her head in mock disapproval, still clad in her Rainforest Cafe nightshirt. "Where did you learn that kind of talk, young lady?" She wasn't all that much older than me - three years, though those years were enough to allow her to drive, and left me waiting another eight months before I could even officially start learning.
Everyone always said that we look exactly alike, though I could never see it. She was always a few inches taller than me, which still only put her at about five feet and a half feet, with a little more weight, but in all the right places. Our hair was almost exactly the same shade of brown, except that hers was curlier, whereas mine was mostly just straight and flat and boring. Whenever I looked into her clear blue eyes, though, it felt like staring into a mirror. Mostly, though, I doubt anyone would mix us up, unless they forgot which of us had been born first. And, really, with a name like Isabella, it was pretty easy to assume, just from that, I was the older one, but one look at us would quickly clear that up.
"Did we get anything good in the mail, Bella?" she asked, sinking down into one of the chairs around the kitchen table. "Haven't you been out to get it yet?" she inquired in response to my shrug.
"I'm getting to it," I said defensively, heading out that way. "Maybe you could finish up the dishes while I'm out there? There's only a few left…"
"Oh, you're doing a fine job," she waved her hand dismissively, flipping through yesterday's paper. "Wouldn't want to throw off your groove."
The sun was high and bright, and hot. My t-shirt seemed to glue itself to my almost as soon as I stepped outside, instantly reminding me why I'd been spending so much time inside with Mona the past week. A couple houses down, I could see some kids playing in a sprinkler, laughing and jumping about. I don't know where they got the energy, but they were making me feel tired just by watching them.
The mailbox was practically empty, and at first glance I thought it was. I checked again, just to be sure, this time noticing the postcard from some cable company. It was hardly worth walking all the way down the driveway for, but since I was already there, I grabbed it anyway, before pulling that day's newspaper from its box.
A couple of houses over, there was a squeal as one of the kids knocked another down onto the soggy ground, forcing whoever was watching them, be it older sibling or babysitter, to stand up out of the shade of the porch, and give them a stern warning before turning to see me. She reached down into her pocket; a few moments later, I heard the sound of the Ode to Joy coming from my own.
"I thought that was you," Julia's voice said through my cell. "What's up?"
I shrugged. "Getting the mail," I told her.
"You didn't get anything good."
"Thank you," I stuck out my tongue, though I wasn't quite sure if she was close enough to notice. I'm sure she picked up on my intention, anyway, which was good enough.
"So, what are you doing tonight?" she asked, walking back over to the porch and sitting down. "We still haven't taken advantage of you having that big ol' house all to yourself, now have we?"
"I don't have it all to myself," I reminded her.
"Oh, Mona doesn't count," she said. "It's not like she'd snitch to your parents if we had a teensy party. Especially if we invited her."
"We're not having a party," I told her firmly.
She sighed. "You're being very selfish about this. You've been given a great gift, you know - why don't you want to share it? That's what any real friend would do."
"Bite me, Julia," I snapped. "It's bad enough cleaning up after Mona. I'm not about to let a bunch of high schoolers come and trash my house, too."
"You wouldn't have that problem if you didn't let her walk all over you," she shook her head.
"I don't let her walk all over me!" I said defensively. "It's just… If I don't do it, nobody else will, and then mom and dad will come back to a war zone, and they'll never leave us alone again. She might not care, since she's going off to college this fall, but I do."
"Are you still cooking for her, too?" she asked, half-mocking.
"Goodbye, Julia." I started to flip my phone closed.
"I'm just saying, you know, if you're babysitting her, you really should ask to get paid."
I paused for a moment, phone half closed, before my curiosity got the better of me. "What did you say?" I asked, putting the phone back up to my ear.
"Huh? I dunno… I just said that if you should ask your parents to pay you for babysitting her. I mean, I don't really do that much more than you're doing for Mona for these brats," she nodded towards her little brother and sister, still splashing under the sprinkler, "I just make sure Faith doesn't wet her pants or anything. And I make… Well, not a lot, but something, anyway."
A slow smile began to crawl across my face, an idea forming in the recesses of my mind. "Julia, sometimes you're a genius."
I rolled over in bed, pawing ineffectually at the blaring alarm clock on the table beside me. On my second or third try, I managed to hit the snooze button, giving me enough time to recall why in the world I'd set it for nine in the morning in the middle of summer.
Even so, I couldn't keep myself from wondering if I couldn't do it later, at a more reasonable hour, or maybe the next day. But when the alarm began to go off again, I turned it off with a sigh and got out of bed, throwing on some shorts and a tank top before heading into the bathroom to take brush my teeth, and take care of some other business.
I was pretty sure that it was far too early for Mona to be woken up by anything short of an earthquake, but just in case, I kept my sandals off until after sneaking across her room, careful to avoid the random piles of clothes and magazines that dotted the floor. I had been afraid that I'd have to search the the drawers in her desk to find what I was looking for, but, luckily for me, everything was sitting right on top, out in plain sight.
I pawed through her purse, cringing as the motion set her keys to jingling, even though I was glad for the confirmation that they were in there. I heard a movement from behind me and turned quickly, putting on my best innocent expression, but she was still fast asleep. I found her license as well, before picking up the whole purse and starting for the door. After a step or two, I turned around and grabbed her new digital camera, a graduation present, too. It could be quite beneficial for me to have, now that I thought of it.
The sun had yet to become too scorching, so there were quite a few more people out of their houses than I expected, mostly kneeling in their flower gardens or trimming their hedges. I hesitantly returned a wave one of them sent my way, half expecting for her to come racing across the street at the sight of me unlocking the door of Mona's car and getting in.
I cringed as I pulled the door closed, and as I put the key into the ignition and turned it, listening to the engine roar to life. But Mona did not come bounding out of the house, demanding to know just what I thought I was doing, nor did any of our neighbors seem to find it strange enough to warrant an investigation. Luckily, Julia was either still asleep, like a sane person, or still inside. I'm sure she would have had to know what was going on, if she'd seen me, and probably would've insisted that she go along.
I looked down at the steering wheel, took a calming breath. Mona could do it, so could I. Dad had given me a few basic lessons, even though I didn't have my permit yet, and he claimed I was better than Mona had been when she started.
I quickly reminded myself which pedal was which, then, finally, put the car in reverse. It gladly complied, helped by the fact that our driveway was on a downward slant towards the road. I slammed my foot onto the brake, gave my heart a moment to slow back down to a reasonable speed, checked the mirrors, then lightly let up off of the brake pedal.
Once I had the car onto the road, and moving forward rather than backward, it became much easier. A little too easy at times, as I had to make an effort to avoid going over the speed limit, since, Mona's license or not, I preferred not to attract any attention to myself.
I hit McDonald's first, getting an Egg McMuffin and some orange juice, though I couldn't quite work out how to enjoy either without nearly running the car off the road, so I sadly let them sit there, growing cold and warm, respectively, until I had found my next destination. While the store I was going in didn't seem particularly busy, the stores around it were, so I was quite pleased to find two empty spots in front of it.
I thought I'd done a pretty good job of getting into one of the parking spaces, though, as I sat there eating my breakfast, I was informed differently. I got honked at a couple of times, and one lovely lady asking me, rather loudly, to, "Learn to drive, jackass!" I decided it was better not to tell her I planned on doing that next year.
As it turned out, I really hadn't done that well after all, as Mona's car was kind of halfway in both of the spaces, but I was happy that I hadn't hit the car on either side, and didn't want to risk doing so with a do-over. After a quick detour to a garbage can to get rid of my McDonald's trash, I headed into the medical supply store.
It was even less busy than I had expected. For a minute, I wondered if I had gone into the wrong door, and had somehow found myself in some office building. There was only a small row of cubicles and a desk, at which a woman who looked rather secretary-like was sitting, boredly. I started to head towards one of the cubicles, wondering if they just kept all of their products in there for some reason, away from prying eyes, when the secretary cleared her throat.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
"I'm just looking," I told her, blushing a little, feeling as if I'd just been caught doing something naughty.
"What are you looking for?"
I decided against telling her I'd just find it myself, instead walking over to her desk. I was quite glad I'd done so once I had, since I could then see into the first cubicle, where an older man was typing something into a computer. Luckily, I was kept from looking like too much more of an idiot when I noticed the business cards on her desk, clearly stating that I was, indeed, at Bayside Medical Supply Company, saving me from having to ask.
"Well… Heather," I said, leaning on her desk in what I hoped was a nonchalant way, checking her card again to make sure I remembered her name correctly, "I'm looking to buy some incontinence supplies." It was a phrase that I was rather proud to have known, as it sounded much more dignified than the alternative.
But, of course, Heather had to ask, "What kind?"
So I'd had to say, "Diapers," anyway, face turning light red, especially so right before I clarified, "They're not for me, I just…"
Fortunately, Heather stopped me. "We don't sell that kind of thing here."
My brow wrinkled. "Then what do you sell?" I asked.
"We sell medical equipment," she answered. "Like CPAP machines and wheelchairs." She smiled at me patronizingly, saying the second one slowly, as if to make sure I could figure out what that was, since I must have looked rather bewildered after the first.
"Oh." I felt as if my face were generating heat, and I wanted nothing more than to sink into the floor. But if I was going to go through with my plan, I had to ask something first. "Where might I find that sort of thing, then?"
"Rite Aid should carry them," she said. "Wal-Mart would, too. Or Target, or any place like that."
"Seriously?" I turned a darker shade of red, hardly able to believe that I'd let that slip out. It was like I was trying to make myself look like an idiot. "I mean… Thanks."
"No problem," Heather shrugged. "Good luck with all that."
I considered repeating my earlier statement that they weren't for me, but I was already halfway to the door, and I didn't really feel like shouting that back over to her, so instead I hurried out and back to Mona's car.
I glanced down at my watch, surprised to see it reading almost 11:30. I knew I'd spent a lot of time in Wal-Mart deciding just what I needed to get, and what would be going too far, but how had it gotten so late? Normally, I'd have plenty of time, but the day before, she'd been up not much later than that.
I stopped the cart at the back of Mona's car, wondering if I should unload everything into there or not. It was hard to tell if Mona would be awake yet or not… If she was, then she'd know I'd taken her car already. She might not check the trunk, to see if there was anything in there to indicate what in the world I'd been doing, but I had a feeling she would. And if she wasn't up, putting everything in the front with me would mean a quicker trip from the car back into the house.
So I tossed my bags into the front passenger's side seat, shoved the cart into its corral, and started up the car. Of course some jerk had decided to pull into the space in front of me so that I had to, once again, back out. At least I was getting some good practice in, I told myself.
And, honestly, the whole driving thing wasn't nearly as hard as people made it out to be. As long as you paid attention to what the cars around you were doing so you didn't crash into them, it was pretty simple. I was feeling pretty good about it, with the air from the open windows blowing my hair, one of my favorite songs playing on the radio, and nobody else trying to keep up with me to make me nervous. I could definitely see why people enjoyed driving. Too bad I couldn't legally do it for another few months.
Mona wasn't standing in the driveway, waiting for me, which was a good sign. Julia wasn't out in her yard, either, which also helped, since I'd rather not explain any of this to her, either, even if it had been her words that had originated my plan. I decided to leave the bags in the car for the time being, while I headed sneakily into the house, and straight to Mona's room. I knocked lightly enough that it shouldn't wake her, but hopefully loud enough for her to hear if she was just laying there, trying to go back to sleep. When there was no response after a few moments, I let myself in.
She didn't even stir. I put her purse back anyway, just in case I tripped or something and woke her up suddenly, but now that I'd seen that, I was starting to feel almost eager to put my plan into action. I could probably even get everything done before she got up, rather than having to wait for the next morning, as I'd feared I might have to. I might have to hurry, though, as having Mona wake up in the middle would mess up my plot pretty severely.
I went out to Mona's car and retrieved the bags, waving merrily to Julia and her little brother and sister, who were just coming out of their house. Luck was definitely on my side that day, I decided, and that was enough to make up my mind for me.
It was time to teach Mona a lesson.
Mona's sleepy, confused voice was a bit muffled all the way in the living room, but it was enough to tell me that it was all about to start. My heart began to race, tiny beads of sweat running down my palms as I wondered if I had been wrong, if this hadn't been just a stupid idea in the first place, if I was going to be able to pull this off.
I heard her push her door open angrily, starting to stomp through the halls. I sat still, waiting as I heard her rampaging through the halls, likely poking her head into various doorways, before finally starting to come closer and closer to my real destination.
She didn't seem to notice me at first, as she began to turn away towards the kitchen before glancing back at me, and advancing accordingly. "What in the bloody blue hell is going on?!" she demanded.
I didn't answer, just kept staring up at her, wide-eyed.
"I'm trying to get some sleep," she continued, "and I hear this crazy screaming sound, like…" She finally looked down at me, really looked, and stopped dead in her tracks, both verbally and physically. "What in the world are you doing?"
I stared up at her, bottom lip quivering, before letting out another wail, the first of which had been used to wake her up in the first place.
"Bella, what are you doing?" she asked again, apparently looking for a more coherent response. I sniffled, then started to cry. Being able to do so at will was one of those talents I had that I never expected to be of any use, seeing as I hated performing in front of people, making a career as an actress unlikely. But a private show, for just my sister - now that was another story.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" She was starting to get annoyed now, as she reached out and grabbed my wrist, pulling me to my feet. "Get off the floor. What are…" I could clearly recognize the moment she noticed the diaper beneath my T-shirt, since it was accompanied by her eyes growing nearly as wide as mine, and her hand suddenly letting go of me. I let myself fall back down onto my padded bottom, punctuating it with another particularly loud wail.
"Why are you wearing a diaper?" But I just sat there, legs splayed in front of me, crying. "Isabella, shut the hell up and answer me!"
That only made me cry more loudly, which I could tell was starting to frustrate Mona, but at the same time, I thought I saw a little fear beginning to creep into her eyes. "Would you stop crying?!" For a moment after I didn't, I was sure that she was going to slap me, her arm moving back with frightening speed, only to stop, the panic taking over. "Isabella," she asked finally, "what's wrong?"
I glanced up at her through tear fogged eyes, then over at the coffee table, on which was sitting a pacifier. "Okay, this is messed up." She stood up, holding up her hands in surrender. "I don't know what you're trying to do, but it isn't funny." But when I didn't stop crying, she went over and picked up the pacifier. "The neighbors are going to think I'm killing you," she pleaded. "Just be quiet! Whatever's bothering you, we can talk about it like adults." And when that didn't work, she stuck the pacifier tentatively into my mouth. I quieted down instantly as I started to suck on it.
"All right, are you done now? Will you stop playing around and tell me why you're wearing a diaper?" I ignored her, crawling over to the coffee table and indiscriminately pulling on a pile of magazines, sending them all sliding to the floor. "Stop that!" she demanded. I giggled as well as I could around my pacifier, knocking over another stack. "Isabella, I swear to…"
But she got cut off by faint strains of Vivaldi. She hurried back to her room, returning at a more leisurely pace with her cell held up to her ear. "No, I don't know why she has her cell phone off, mom." She glanced down at me deviously. "Oh, she's fine," she said. "She made some… interesting clothing choices today, but I think it fits her. What am I talking about?"
She looked down at me for a long moment, as if daring me to snap out of whatever I was doing, admit I was just messing with her. But I knew that it wasn't mom on the phone - her ringtone was the Mexican hat dance. Chances were that it had been a wrong number, or a telemarketer, and she'd just hung up on them, and gotten an idea to try to fool me.
"Diapers, of all things. Yeah, I thought it was kind of weird, too, but you know how she is. I'd let you talk to her, but she's just been crying all morning, so I don't think it would do much good. All right, I'll do that. Love you, too!"
She closed her phone, making the mistake of letting me see the outside screen right afterwards, which was showing the clock, same as always, not the icon that showed that she had just hung up. She must have really thought I was an idiot to think I would fall for that.
"Mom says hi," she lied. "And she told me I should check your diaper to see if that's what's bothering you."
In all honesty, I'd kind of hoped she wouldn't think to do that, though of course I'd considered the possibility, and I'd spent a few moments in the bathroom with a razor preparing for it, making sure that if she did see me down there, it wouldn't be much different than it had last time she'd done so. Not like that made it any easier, though. It was hard to keep from shaking as she approached, hooking her fingers around the waistband at the front of the diaper.
"Did my baby sister go pee-pee in her diapers?" she cooed mockingly, obviously waiting for me to give in and tell her to stop. I almost did, almost decided that this was too far, but I forced myself not to. For a moment, I thought that my lack of action would be enough for her, and then she gave the diaper a tug. "Looks dry from here," she said, before moving around behind me and doing the same in the back.
I waited until I felt the diaper snap back into place before crawling over to the bookshelf and starting to pull the books off the bottom shelf. "Isabella, stop it!" Mona demanded, apparently done trying to shame me into submission. She gathered up the magazines and tossed them back onto the coffee table, then walked up beside me, starting to re-shelve the books I'd taken out. "You're making a mess!"
I decided to leave it at that, crawling off while she finished putting the books back, heading for the kitchen next. I sat down on the floor, plastic cover of my diaper sliding a little more than I'd expected on the linoleum, and took out my pacifier so that I could start to cry again.
I could hear Mona's groan from the other room, and half expected her to ignore me, especially when I heard her footsteps moving back towards what I assumed was her room, and then to the front door. I was glad I had hidden her camera, since that would keep her from being able to take blackmail pictures of me to force me to give up, but I had just enough time to worry that she was going to call Julia over instead, to use her to get me to stop this, before she was standing in the doorway, alone. "What happened to all of your underwear?" she demanded, hands on her hips. "I looked in your dresser, and all I found was diapers."
The answer was that I'd put them all into a duffle bag and hidden them in the closet of our guest room. I didn't tell her that, of course. Instead, I kept crying.
"Are you hungry, too? Is that it?" I stopped crying for a moment, to which she nodded in understanding, pulling open the refrigerator and looking inside, seeing, first and foremost, a baby bottle filled with milk. "Do you want this?" she asked, handing it to me when I nodded eagerly.
It turned out to be rather hard to drink from, as I could only get a little bit of juice to come through the nipple, and I actually was feeling pretty thirsty, but I decided I could live with it. Mona dug through the fridge, setting containers of leftovers on the counter, until she found a jar of applesauce. She got one plate out of the cabinets, on which she put some macaroni and cheese I'd made the other day, a piece of chicken, and some peas and carrots, and stuck it in the microwave. She set the applesauce on the table, along with a spoon.
"Can you get up into the chair?" she asked. I climbed up into the chair obediently, nearly tipping it over on myself a couple times before she helped me. By then, the timer on the microwave had gone off, and she retrieved the plate, steaming, and smelling rather good. "It's too bad you're just a baby," she said, "or you could have some of this."
She opened the applesauce, dipped the spoon in. "Open wide," she smiled at me, bringing the spoon up to my mouth. "Here comes the airplane!"
I opened my mouth, but only about half of it actually made it into my mouth, the rest of it falling onto my shirt. "Silly baby," she shook her head. "Too bad we don't have any bibs for our baby, now isn't it? Oh well… It's not like babies need to wear shirts, anyway." And before I knew it, she'd pulled my T-shirt up over my head, leaving me naked except for my diaper.
My hands twitched upwards before I could stop them, my face starting to turn red against my will. "What's the matter, baby?" she asked, obviously noticing my self consciousness. "Babies don't care if they run around naked. They don't have anything to hide." She looked down at me, making my face darken even more. "Neither do you."
She shoved another spoonful of applesauce at me, but this time I was too surprised to even open my mouth, so the entire thing ended up dripping down my front, feeling cold and slimy against my skin. "Oh, oops," she shrugged, faux innocently. "We'll just wipe that up with a washcloth when we're done."
I could practically feel myself shrinking as I sat there, letting her feed me. Part of me was screaming to give it up, that it wasn't going to work, that it had been a stupid idea in the first place, no matter how smart it had seemed the day before, but the rest of me was feeling rather speechless, not to mention hungry, the Egg McMuffin seeming to have come so long ago. I glanced enviously at her plate of real food, though I tried to avoid staring when she took a break from feeding me to feed herself.
"This is pretty good," she told me. "It's too bad a baby like you won't get to enjoy this for a few more years, now isn't it?" I keep myself from nodding, just barely. "But I'm sure you'll be old enough for it sometime."
She patted me on the head, gave me one last spoonful of applesauce, then shut the jar, getting back up to put it into the fridge. I stared hungrily at her plate, especially the half finished piece of chicken she'd left, hardly paying attention as I heard her say, "Oh, did you drop your paci?" A few moments later, I heard the faucet run and a bit after that, the fridge door opened and closed again, but I didn't think anything of it until she shoved the pacifier into my mouth. I gagged at the nasty taste, but she was still holding it into my mouth, keeping me from spitting it out.
"You know what else babies aren't old enough to do?" She leaned forward, putting her face almost right into mine. "Driving. They're much too young to do that, now aren't they?" I froze, stomach churning, and not only because of the nasty taste that now seemed to be coating my entire mouth. How had she found out? "They also don't steal their big sisters' money to pay for their diapers, I'm pretty sure. Not without some kind of an explanation."
She waited another moment before pulling the pacifier back out of my mouth, keeping it close at hand as she watched me expectantly. "I'm going to pay you back!" I sputtered. "I have the money in my savings account, I just didn't think I'd have time to…"
She gave a gasp of fake shock. "When did you learn to talk? It's a miracle!"
"Mona, let me…"
"Explain? Why, I'd love to hear why you stole my money and my car to go get diapers. Really, I'm sure it's a great story."
"Because I was tired of doing everything for you!" I said, surprised at how much anger I heard in my voice. "This whole week, you haven't lifted a finger, just expected me to wait on you hand and foot, and I was sick of it! I felt like your babysitter! So I thought I'd show you what that felt like!"
Truth or not, I could tell right away that it was the wrong thing to say. "What, since I'm not OCD about making sure the house is absolutely spotless, I'm a baby? Since I thought maybe you were old enough to cook for us every now and then so I didn't have to do it all the time, I'm acting immature?" She didn't wait for an answer. "Well, you know what? Since you think I haven't been pulling my weight, I'll do better. In fact, I want to make sure you can relax and enjoy yourself, since you had to work so hard this past week."
"That's all I wanted!" I smiled at her, glad that, despite her anger, she'd seen my point. "I didn't think you would listen if I just came out and said it."
"Now, why don't you go get changed, and then we can talk about this like two grown-ups, okay?" I nodded, hopping down from the chair and hurrying back to the guest bedroom, starting to feel a little nauseous. I pulled the duffle bag out of the closet, set it on the bed, unzipped it, pulling out the first pair of panties I saw, feeling rather glad to be getting out of this diaper already. I hadn't been sure how long it would take Mona to get the point, especially since I hadn't expected to end up having to come out and explain it to her, but I was definitely glad it hadn't taken any longer.
And then Mona snatched away the panties, stuffing them back into the duffle. "I'll be taking those," she informed me triumphantly, picking up the bag.
"Hey, what are you doing?" I asked, running after her. "Give me those!" But I had to stop when she got to the front door, throwing it open so that anyone could have seen inside. I squeaked, ducking behind the couch. She left the door open, making the sound of her trunk opening and then slamming closed perfectly and terribly audible. When she came back in, her hands were empty.
"Oh, and by the way," she said, pushing the door closed, "the next time you borrow somebody's car without asking, you might want to make sure the park it in the same place it was when you found it. Then maybe it won't be so obvious that you took it."
"I won't take your car again!" I promised. "Give me my underwear back!"
"Oh, I was going to," she said, she shaking her head. "I was going to make you change back into them to see if that would make you act like a big girl again. But you had them hiding from me then, and now… Well, I changed my mind. You spent my money on those diapers - you're gonna use them, baby sis."
"No," she shook her head. "I don't want to make you feel like a babysitter again. So now you get to be the baby. Let's go clean you up so you can take your nap."
"Shush. Come on." She held her hand out for me, but when I didn't take it, she came over and grabbed my wrist, tugging me into the kitchen, where she ran a damp washcloth across my chest. "Isn't that better?"
"Mona, I'm sorry about what I said," I sniffed. "I didn't mean it."
"I'm glad to hear that," she said, clearly unconvinced. "But I mean this. Now come over here." She reached into the junk drawer, pulling out a roll of packing tape.
"Wh-What are you going to use that for?" I asked, stepping away from her.
"I just want to make sure the baby doesn't wriggle out of her diaper while she's taking her nap."
"Fuck you!" I spat, reaching down to the tapes on my diaper. "Maybe this wasn't the best idea, but…"
She was on me before I could finish pulling a single tape loose, the packing tape sticking it back to the front of the diaper even more securely. She wound the tape around my waist a couple times, pulling it tight, ignoring my attempts to break free from her grasp.
"Now sit down!" she commanded, forcing me down onto a chair when I refused to comply, and going to the fridge, pulling out a bottle of castor oil. I felt myself gagging again, finally recognizing the taste that had coated my pacifier, which she then picked up from the edge of the sink. "You know babies don't use that kind of language…" she said ominously.
"Mona, I'm sorry, I…" And then my mouth was full of pacifier again, dripping with a fresh dose of castor oil.
"Now, you're going to take a nice little nap," she told me, sitting back down across from me. "And you're not getting up from it until you're ready for a diaper change." She smiled evilly. "Not that that will take long, I'm sure."
My stomach roiled, and I had a bad feeling that was exactly what she was talking about. I'd considered wetting my diaper, if I had to, but never that. I could feel the tears running wildly down my face. For a split second, Mona's face softened, and I was sure I had her.
Then she patted my head. "Don't be sad, Bella. If you're a good girl, I won't tell mom and dad anything about your little adventures. Now run along to bed."
I got to my feet numbly, starting to shuffle across the floor. Behind me, the Mexican hat dance begins to play.
"Hey, mom. Yeah, we're doing fine. Bella? Well, she's taking a nap, so that probably why her phone's off. She was pretty sleepy - she had a busy morning. Yes, I remember that the trash goes out tonight…."