Spirit of Christmas


Louis was just a basic guy, late twenties, average height, looks that were neither decidedly good nor bad; nothing special about him. As far as everyone else was concerned, he was pretty normal, and as far as he was concerned, it was perfectly fine for them to think that. Everyone had their secrets, and he preferred to keep his to himself.

There was one secret in particular that he had successfully kept hidden for his entire life, and that was his interest in diapers. He’d known he was different since he was around twelve, but it took a couple more years before he came to understand that he liked diapers; he liked the idea of wearing them, he liked the idea of using them, and he even liked the idea of being a baby again—or at least young enough that it would be acceptable for him to wear diapers all the time. For several years he’d thought he was a horrible pervert, and it wasn’t until he discovered the existence of Adult Baby, Diaper Lover communities that he realized that he was just a regular pervert.

It helped a little to know that there were others like him, but given that it seemed impossible for him to ever meet any of those people, the help didn’t go very far. It seemed that not only was he doomed to carry along his uncomfortable kink, but that he was also meant to carry it alone. Time went on, and Louis felt a little more alone with each passing year, a feeling which was only amplified with the annual, celebrated reminders.

Christmas was just around the corner, and with it the new year, which promised to be just as void of anything interesting as the last year had been. This Christmas was especially unpleasant, as he would be spending it entirely alone. He didn’t have enough money to go home and see his parents, and his apartment was too tiny, and too crumby to ever imagine inviting them over—not that they’d come if he did. This wasn’t the first Christmas he’d spent alone either, and he didn’t imagine it would be the last. Today was December 23rd, and already he just wanted the holiday to be over. Ideally, he’d rather be able to enjoy the holiday, but that wasn’t going to happen, so he’d just as soon be rid of it.

He wasn’t excited; he hadn’t decorated—why bother; he wouldn’t be getting any gifts—no friends, no family coming to visit; he hadn’t bought any presents—no one to give them to, and they’d be shit anyway ‘cause he didn’t have much money; again, why bother? The whole Christmas cheer thing was for kids and privileged people; he wasn’t either of those. Christmas had no meaning other than to remind him—by way of city-wide decorations, themed displays in nearly every store, and awful, incessant, Christmas music played from every possible speaker—that he couldn’t participate. To Louis, the Christmas spirit was a lie; the truth being that Christmas was cold and… just cold.

~


Louis found his eyes drooping occasionally as he drove home. It had been a long day, and he was more than a little tired. Tomorrow would be another long work day, but he wasn’t sure if that was a such bad thing. Sure, he didn’t really want to work on Christmas Eve, but his bank account told him that he could work day and night until the new year and still not have anything to brag about. Louis was poor, and the dead-end job he worked was barely enough to make ends meet. The pay wasn’t much, and the work sucked, but he didn’t have any other options. “Fuck Christmas anyway” had been his response when his boss told him that he’d be working on Christmas Eve. Louis had even offered to work on Christmas day, but had been denied.

The first thing he did when he got to his apartment was take a quick shower to remove the smell of cleaning chemicals and whatever other filth he’d come in contact with that day. The irony didn’t miss him that some of the smells he was trying to remove might be replaced almost immediately. Even though he had to work tomorrow, there was still enough time to enjoy a little indulgence. From a half-empty package under the bed, he pulled one adult diaper. Of course, it wasn’t anything special; just a pharmacy brand, as he didn’t have enough money to afford a premium alternative—even less, one of the amazing ABDL diapers for which he longed. But even this was enough to help take a bit of the edge off, and after slipping into his pajamas he was finally feeling pretty comfortable. He enjoyed the bulk between his legs and the telltale rustle as he moved about the small kitchen. The cushion around his bottom was the softest thing he’d come in contact with all day by a wide margin. Unlike almost everything else, it soothed rather than scraped or cut. He almost wanted to climb in bed right away, and curl up under the covers, but he opted instead for a quickly microwaved dinner while he browsed the internet for something of interest.

That particular something was a story; a story about a young boy whose babysitter was treating him like a baby, dressing him up in diapers and cute outfits and making him play with baby toys. The more Louis read, the more his mind wandered. The thought of being that boy excited him in more ways than one. But as he read, he also began to feel shame creep into his mind. In the midst of his enjoyment, he couldn’t escape the feeling that he was being watched. At first he tried to ignore it, but it grew until he stopped reading and leaned back with a sigh. This was the one thing he could genuinely enjoy, and now his mind was burying that enjoyment under a mountain of guilt. This type of feeling didn’t usually come until after he did, so why now? Was he not allowed to enjoy even a little bit of escapism?

Feeling heavy, he got up from his seat and turned, heading back to the kitchen; but he froze in his tracks at the sight before him.

“Do not be alarmed.” A voice spoke, but its origin didn’t source from the unbelievable oddity which was now centered in the room; instead, it seemed to come from everywhere else, even from within Louis’ own mind. The voice seemed to be flat and yet echo, a thunderous roar and a muted whisper all at the same time; it lulled him to trust, drove him to fear and suspicion, but still addressed him as if its command was a simple request between friends. The thing that spoke was a murky colored shape which seemed to reside so undeniably still in the center of the room that it nearly made its surroundings sway in motion by comparison. Light seemed not to affect it, but passed through as though it were a cloud. However, it was definitely solid, as Louis could very nearly feel its presence from across the room.

“What the fuck?” He stumbled back, gasping and looking around for a way out or something to defend himself with.

“Stop.” The being spoke again, not in anger or superiority, but perfectly flat, without any bias or ulterior intent.

Louis stopped. In his mind, he was trying to convince himself that he had stopped by choice to obey, that this being was clearly dangerous, and that his best chance at survival was to avoid agitating the thing. He didn’t want to believe that this being could command his mind directly, but the idea stayed in his head regardless.

Sensing that Louis was unable to properly comprehend its form, the being changed, morphing into something that resembled countless layers of translucent cloth, draped over a lumpy mass. This new shape was different with each passing moment, drifting like a tree in a breeze, yet it never moved; it very well could exist outside of time, projecting itself anew into each passing instance, but never once flowing from one to the next. It neither floated above nor stood planted on the floor, but its lowermost point anchored it in place, as though the being was entirely unaffected by gravity. In the center of it was a hole through which nothing could be seen.

Louis understood that this hole was the being’s ‘eye,’ as it was clearly staring at him, studying him, scrutinizing him. At first, the shape was studying him the same way an animal might approach a stranger, but the longer it gazed, the more it knew about Louis, and the more its gazing turned to close inspection. Starting at his head, Louis felt the being’s gaze touch his every hair individually as it scanned for knowledge and history. His mind was read in an instant, yet the being continued its steady progression toward his feet. The being could clearly perceive his every feature, so it was no surprise when it took obvious note of the diaper beneath Louis’s thin pajamas. Worse, the being, though entirely alien, knew exactly what significance the diaper held. Louis felt heavy shame.

Once finished with him, the being began scanning the room, reading it’s current state as if it told the entire history of the place. Even though the ‘eye’ was looking around the small room, it never looked away from Louis, watching him as if it expected him to make a break for the door. Finally done searching the room, the eye’s gaze settled on the computer screen. The story Louis had been reading was still displayed, and the being quickly read it. In a flash, the being’s entire attention was back on Louis himself. It knew what the story was about, it knew what Louis had been doing before it had arrived. It knew that Louis had been reading a story about a child, and it knew that, to Louis, the story was some form of pornography. Louis felt the being’s gaze upon him as if his own parents were standing right there, knowing everything that was going on, their eyes filled with disappointment as they disowned him without a single word.

Louis wanted to die at that moment, more than ever. This unearthly being had seen and understood all of his deepest secrets, surely it would soon pass judgment. But Louis suddenly felt himself loosed of the bonds that held him still. The being was prompting him to speak. He didn’t want to speak, nor even look up from the floor. Standing there in his loose-fitting pajamas and obvious diaper bulge, he felt every bit the helpless child of his fantasy. Struggling to build his courage, he finally spoke, his voice wavering, his legs wobbly. “What are you? What do you want?” Louis waited for angry wrath and judgment.

“I am a spirit.” The same stoic voice came flat, lacking the all the qualities Louis excepted. “I have come to show you things, and I have come to tell you things.”

Louis, surprised that the being had any interest in talking with him, now found his mind filled with questions.

The being spoke again. “I am a spirit of Christmas. Yes, I have seen everything you are and everything you have done.”

Its words were want of reassurance, but they weren’t damning either. The first thing that Louis thought of when the being described its nature was A Christmas Carol and the spirits that appeared within that story.

“Yes, something like that.” The spirit answered Louis’ thoughts. “I am sometimes called the Ghost of Cold Truth. But enough of that. Come, I have things that you must see, and things that you must hear.”

Louis wasn’t very much interested in some sappy lesson about Christmas morals, but he preferred it to the likely alternative of divine wrath or some similar form of supernatural punishment. “Wha—”

In an instant, both Louis and the spirit were no longer in Louis’ apartment. There was no flash of light or clap of noise, nor any sensation of motion, but they were now in an entirely different location. As best he could tell, the spirit had transported them to a small public restroom. Louis reeled immediately upon taking his first breath in this new environment. The room reeked, and it was at that point that he began to more closely inspect his surroundings. In short, the restroom was dirty; uncleaned, poorly maintained, and generally revolting.

In one corner was a large trashcan, overflowing with paper towels which were also scattered across the floor around it. The nearby sink was thickly skinned with residue from countless washings of dirty hands; the adjacent soap dispenser was not only empty, but also broken, still barely hanging on the wall. Along the back wall was one toilet, one urinal, and the broken remnants of a fold down baby-changing table. The urinal had a few dozen cigarette butts inside, and below it was a large yellowish stain and puddle. Laying on the floor next to the toilet was the handicap rail, which had been broken off from its mounts; and, as evidenced by the amount of filth collected on top of it, this had happened a long time ago. The toilet itself was far and away the dirtiest thing in the room, though Louis was surprised to see relatively clean water inside the bowl. He guessed this indicated that the toilet was still functional, not that anyone would want to use it. Like the urinal, it featured heavy staining around its base, as well as the occasional stray piece of toilet paper. It wasn’t very surprising that someone—or someones—had urinated all over the top of the toilet, but even Louis wasn’t expecting to see actual excrement smeared on seat.

Just after Louis had finished taking in the details of the room, the door was flung open and he watched as a woman rushed in along with two children, one blond boy who looked about the age of nine, and a girl—maybe three—who she carried on her side. The woman ignored Louis and the spirit, nearly walking into them as she urged the boy ahead of her. Both of them reacted noticeably to the smell.

“Come on Dave, I know it’s filthy, but we don’t have time to find anything else.” She gave the boy a gentle nudge while she turned and locked the door. The girl in her arms was crying.

The spirit drew Louis’ attention away from the scene for a moment. “They cannot see us, nor can they hear us.” It answered his unspoken question. “Just watch.”

Louis turned his attention to the boy, who was looking very distressed as he stared at the toilet.

“Mom,” he whined, pointing to the toilet. “I can’t—”

“Hold on honey,” his mother was looking very stressed, but managed to hide it from her voice as she tried to reassure the boy. For a second, she tried to set her daughter on the ground, but quickly realized the girl wasn’t wearing any shoes. Flustered, with no clean place for the girl to stand, and no time to think, she kept hold of the girl as she looked around the room. First she went to the for the toilet paper, but the dispenser was empty. There were, however, a few paper towels, which she grabbed. Leaning heavily in order to keep her balance, she bent down and quickly set to scrubbing the caked-on filth from the toilet seat.

“Mom, hurry,” the boy whined urgently, more loudly than before. He was holding his stomach tightly.

“Just hold on, this’ll only take a minute.” His mother still did her best to keep her voice calm. She was also quietly trying to soothe the girl in her arm, who by now, was crying loudly.

“Mom!” he pleaded again. And again, his cries were louder than before.

His mother, who was scrubbing more frantically with each cry, still managed to give a calm reply. “I’m almost done. Try thinking about something else.”

“Mom.” Again he called out, but this time was hardly more than a whimper.

His mother turned, noticing the change in tone. “Honey?”

The boy was crying softly, standing, half squatting, still clutching his stomach. The pleading, defeated look on his face made it obvious what had just happened.

His mother knew as soon as she saw him. “Oh no, Dave, are you okay?” She gave up cleaning and rushed over to him, putting a hand on his shoulder.

By now, he was sobbing openly, sniffling, trying to form words. “I’m… I’m sorry,” he choked on his words, “I couldn’t—”

“Look at me, honey; don’t worry,” his mother soothed, pausing with a heavy sigh before continuing. “It happened, okay. Let’s just work on getting you cleaned up.” For a moment, she started looking around as if to find something, but soon turned back to Dave. “Okay, hang on, the van’s right outside the door. I need to grab a couple things, stay right here; I’ll be back in a sec.”

Dave didn’t move; he just kept crying and watched as his mother left the room. She opened the door, momentarily revealing the sidewalk and parked minivan beyond. A dark stain was now visible in the seat of his pants and partially down one leg.

His mother returned a short time later, but Dave was still crying. She now had a large tote bag hung over her shoulder, and the girl she was carrying now wore shoes. “Here you go Amy, Mommy’s gonna have to put you down for a minute.” She set the girl on her feet and set the bag on the edge of the sink. Immediately, the little girl wanted to be picked up again, and began tugging on her mother’s pants. “No, Amy, I can’t hold you right now. Dave, sweetie, why don’t you start taking off your shoes.”

“It’s icky…” Dave stared at the floor.

“Listen—” His mother started to snap at him, but caught herself and forced a softer tone. “Honey, I know, but I can’t clean you up with your clothes on. Just stand on top of your shoes when you get them off; don’t stand on the floor, it’s filthy.” The little girl, Amy, was still pulling at her pant leg, but she kept rummaging through the bag.

Carefully, Dave slipped out of his shoes and stood on them. His mother then came over and helped steady him as he slipped out of his pants. Both his pants and underwear were a complete mess, and his mother hung them over the edge of the sink. He just stood there awkwardly, naked from the waist down, unsure what to do next.

His mother had returned to digging through her bag until she produced a washcloth. Turning the knobs on the faucet, she soon discovered that the sink wasn’t functional; she gave if a hard smack before giving up. Fishing through the bag again, she dug out a package of baby wipes. It took many wipes to get Dave cleaned up—he didn’t help much but just stood there while his mother wiped him. Eventually, he was clean, surrounded by a rather sanitized aroma which barely managed to ease the otherwise choking rankness of the room. He was was left standing on top of his shoes while his mother peeked out the door. “I’m gonna grab some clothes for you, just stay here and watch Amy for a minute.” Seeing that no one was around, she darted outside again, only to pop in shortly thereafter.

Dave—who was holding his sister’s hand, stopping her as she tried to chase after their mother—looked up when she returned.

“Dave, where’s your bag?”

“What?”

“Your bag of clothes, Dave. Did you move it somewhere?” There was a hint of impatience in her voice now.

“No, I—”

Before he could finish, his mother had disappeared again, this time longer than before. Finally she returned once more, looking rather flustered—but not entirely empty handed—for her efforts. She locked the door behind her and turned to her children.

Dave looked a little wary that his mother hadn’t brought any clothes with her. He spoke cautiously. “Mom?”

“No Dave, your bag isn’t anywhere in the van. I don’t have any spare clothes for you.” She tried the sink again to no avail. “We’re in the middle of nowhere and everything is closed for Christmas anyway… and even if I could get these clean, they’d still be too wet to wear.”

Dave didn’t know what that meant for him, this was evidenced by his look of confusion. “What am I gonna wear, Mom?”

His mother didn’t respond, but proceeded to collect his dirty things and bundle them into first one plastic bag, then another; both of which she tied tightly. Reaching once again into the bag, she took out a diaper and turned toward Dave. “Let’s see if this fits.”

“Mom, no! I don’t wanna wear a diaper!” Dave burst into tears. “I didn’t mean to, Mom; please don’t make me wear that!”

“Davey, honey, this isn’t a punishment,” she crouched in front of him, trying to encourage him with a weak smile, “but this is all I have. When we get to my parent’s house, I’ll borrow some clothes for you, but you can’t go naked, so you’ll have to wear this for now.”

Dave continued to mewl, but obeyed and let his mother put the diaper on him. The process was a little difficult since he was standing, but the diaper fit quite well after some adjustment. Finally, his mother tied one of her shirts around his waist, covering most of his legs, at least in front. Once he was as covered as he was going to be, he was led back toward their van. He darted quickly through the cold evening and climbed into his seat where he also covered himself with a blanket.

“I promise honey, no one will find out.” Their mother sounded tired as she lay Amy across the seat and began changing her diaper. “I’m sorry this happened, honey, but there’s nothing else we can do right now.”

As the family drove off, Louis knew why the spirit had shown this to him. He’d known diapers were coming almost as soon as the scene began, and he was ashamed to admit that the scene had begun to interest him. Still, he really didn’t need to be told how wrong it all was—he’d known that for a long time.

“It is troubling that you presume some judgment upon you,” said the spirit. “I have much yet to show you, and that which you are to understand is easily missed.”

~


Hours later, the van finally pulled up in front a large house. Night had nearly fallen, and the light outside was dim, but they were now greeted by the warm glow as it shone from the windows, spreading across the deadened grass like a splash of gold. Dave sat nervously in his seat, now visibly conscious of the diaper he was wearing. He had been talking excitedly about visiting with his cousins, but now he didn’t seem to want to move from under his blanket. His mother was in the middle of pulling Amy out of the car when the front door of the house swung open, sending a new beam of light cascading down the path—a woman appeared in the doorway and started toward them.

“Mom!” Dave started to panic. “What about my pants?”

“Um, just wait here for a minute, I’ll sort something out with aunt Isabella.” With the diaper bag on one arm, and Amy on the other, his mother shut the door behind her, leaving Dave alone as she went to meet the woman.

In the dark, Dave waited silently for his mother to return. Occasionally, he would fidget, readjusting the blanket over his legs, tucking the edges just a little farther underneath him. Finally, light from the open door caught his attention and his whole countenance rose when he saw his mother appear. But his cheer was soon to leave when he saw his mother was not alone. The other woman was with her, and she was the one carrying a pair of pants. Tears filled his eyes and began to stream down his face. Both his mother and the other woman were surprised to find him crying when they reached the car.

“Mom, you… you said no one would know!” His outburst further stunned the two women.

His mother reached forward, speaking softly as she tried to calm him down.

“But you promised!” He cried and pulled away, dragging the blanket with him.

The other woman leaned in toward him. “Dave, it’s me, your aunt Isabella; I used to change your diapers when you were a baby, this is nothing new to me.” Her curly hair bounced as she tilted her head to once side, “think about it, how else is your mother going to borrow pants for you if she won’t tell anyone why she needs them?”

Dave quieted.

“And look.” She held out the pants. “These are even stretchy enough to fit over your diaper.”

Dave’s eyes shot toward his mother, a wounded expression on his face. “No underwear?” he asked quietly after taking a few moments to digest what was happening.

“Sorry sweetie, you’ll have to wait until your clothes are clean. It shouldn’t be too long.” His mother offered a reassuring smile.

Aunt Isabella was still leaning over the seat. “Don’t worry, these pants are nice and soft.” She rubbed the cloth in her hands. “You’ll probably forget you’re wearing a diaper before long. Now come here and let me help you put these on.”

“No! I can do it myself.” Dave snatched the pants from his aunt.

“Dave! Don’t—” his mother began to scold him, but Isabella pushed her back.

“No, it’s okay Martha, he’s just embarrassed is all.” She turned back to Dave. “You go ahead and put those on by yourself, but if you need help, just ask. I’ll be right here, helping your mother unpack the van.”

After fighting for some time, all while trying to keep himself covered by the blanket, Dave eventually managed to wriggle into the pants and get them pulled up around his waist. They were a pair of navy blue sweatpants, and while they were a little loose, they also didn’t entirely mask the shape of the diaper underneath. Now clothed—and looking much more cheerful for it—Dave helped his mother carry the last few things into the house.

Isabella took them to a room upstairs, “you’ll be staying in here.”

His mother set the last suitcase on the bed. Dave was about to leave, but she stopped him. “Don’t you have something to say to aunt Isabella?”

“Thanks for letting me borrow the pants.” Dave kept his voice quiet, casting glances toward the door.

“No problem kiddo. Your cousins are playing video games in the den, I imagine you want to go play with them.”

Dave nodded and exited the room, but not before his aunt landed a light swat on his behind.

His mother called after him. “Have fun Dave, I’ll come find you when the laundry is done.”

Dave made his way down the hall toward the stairs, he slowed as he passed the next room, where three of his older cousins were hanging out. All of them girls, they were all lounging across the bed; only one of them noticed him at the door. Jumping up, she crossed the room to the door. She was several years older, and significantly taller, with long brown hair cascaded over her shoulders. For a moment, she just stood there loftily staring down at Dave. “Only girls are allowed in here.”

Dave took a step back, “Josephine—” but the door was shut in his face. He dawdled a few moments before continuing downstairs.

The stairs led down to the front door and foyer, across which were entrances to several rooms. Voices drifted from the rooms toward the back of the house, many conversations overlapped, occasionally being drowned out by squeals, giggles, or cries from young children. Somewhere beyond one of the doorways must have been the kitchen, because from it drifted the powerful and sweet aroma of freshly-baked gingerbread. This, mixed with the pine and cedar scent from decorative trees and evergreen wreaths, gave the whole house a decidedly festive atmosphere.

In the den, some of his other cousins—boys who looked closer to his age—were gathered around the TV playing Super Smash Bros. He lingered silently in the doorway, not moving, looking very hesitant about proceeding. After some time, he took a deep breath, adjusted his pants, and quietly approached the other boys. There were four other boys in the room, all huddled in front of the TV. Two of the boys looked a bit older than Dave, but the other two appeared to be roughly the same age. None of them noticed Dave enter, nor did they notice he was standing behind them until the blonde boy at the end of the row was eliminated from the match.

“Oh, hi Dave, I didn’t see you come in.”

“Hey Elijah.” Dave said, then addressed the group in a louder voice. “Can I play?”

“Sure, you can take the loser’s controller,” the eldest boy said, having just been eliminated himself, he was now digging through a bag of Chex mix. “And by ‘loser,’ I mean Elijah. You can’t have my controller ‘cause this is my game.”

“Whatever, loser,” called the short-haired boy at the far end of the row. “Just ‘cause you own the game doesn’t mean you’re not trash at it.”

In response to the taunt, the older boy delivered a smack to the head of the instigant, followed by “Shut up Tom, you and Nathaniel ganged up on me once Elijah was out.” The older boy then arose and left the room toward the sound of other voices. “I’mma get a drink. Don’t start until I get back or I’ll slap your shit.”

Dave approached cautiously at first, taking the controller offered by Elijah and taking a seat on the floor in front of the TV. His face brightened as they started to play, and it wasn’t long before he was laughing and carrying on with the other boys. They were so engaged with their game that they didn’t notice Josephine, the girl Dave saw upstairs, enter the room behind them. She stood right behind them but didn’t say anything until Tom swore after being eliminated.

“Watch your mouth, Tom.” She snapped, giving him a whack to the back of the head.

“Ow, what the hell?” He spun around, suddenly having to defend himself from a follow-up attack. The blows stopped when he kicked Josephine in the shin.

“You little piece of crap,” Josephine stepped back, out of reach of Tom’s legs. “I was gonna ask if you nerds wanted some food, but if this is how I get treated, you can get it yourself.”

“What? You hit me first!” Tom threw his hands up.

“Mom made a bunch of little sandwiches and stuff.” Josephine spoke over her shoulder as she left room. “She says not to load up on snacks; you have to eat some real food too.”

Elijah, who wasn’t playing that round, got up. “I’ll go get some for everyone.”

“Hurry back if you don’t want to lose your spot,” Nathaniel said. “Dave’s about to get his ass kicked.”

“Am not.” Dave shot back. However, it wasn’t more than two minutes before his character was eliminated and the victory went to Nathaniel.

Nathaniel leaned back with a smug grin. “Suck on that.”

“Whatever, you just win ‘cause you use Meta Knight.” Dave dropped his controller, only for Tom to snatch it up right away.

“Wrong game, moron, you’re thinking of the old one.” Nathaniel stopped to mildly choke on a mouthful of pretzels before turning back to the TV. “Meta… Meta Knight’s not even that good in this one.”

“If you’re not playing this round, I’ll take your spot.” Tom was already changing the selected character.

“Go ahead, I gotta go to the bathroom.” Dave finished the last of his soda before leaving the room and heading down the hall. This hall lead to the other end of the large house, passing the stairs and front door before reaching the bathroom around the corner. Dave was moving quickly, and nearly bumped into Josephine, who was coming back down from upstairs. He ducked around her and continued on his path, but she called after him.

“Hold it right there, mister.” Her authoritative voice stopped him in his tracks.

“What—” He spun to face her, but she was already right there beside him.

“Just a sec,” she dismissed his inquiry, grabbing him by his shoulders and spinning him around again. With Dave now facing away, she grabbed the waist of his pants. “I gotta see something.”

“Hey!” He jerked free and retreated quickly, but she was on him again, this time grabbing him around the neck.

Josephine ducked a wildly swinging arm, let go of Dave’s neck, and yanked his pants down with both hands; all in a quick series of motions. “Ah-ha!” She stood back triumphantly, letting him go completely. “I thought I saw a diaper peeking out.”

Dave had tears in his eyes, but he said nothing as he quickly tugged his pants back into place. He just stood there, waiting to see what Josephine would do next.

“I can’t believe you’re wearing a diaper, that’s hilarious.” She scoffed. “What, aren’t you potty trained yet?”

“Yes,” Dave said through his tears, making a noticeable effort to keep his volume low. “You don’t understand—”

“I understand you’re wearing a diaper.”

“I’m not,” he hissed.

“Oh really?” She crossed her arms, looking down at him with an eyebrow raised. “You want me to pull your pants off again? ‘Cause I know what I saw under there and it was definitely a diaper.”

Dave hesitated for a moment, glancing around as if a suitable excuse might be laying on the floor. “I’m just wearing it until my clothes are clean. I don’t need diapers; these are Amy’s. My underwear is in the washing machine, it wasn’t—”

“No.” She took a step forward, causing him to retreat. “If if your underwear is in the wash, then it’s probably ‘cause you wet your pants, and that’s why aunt Martha put you back in diapers, ‘cause you pee your pants like a baby.”

“No, you don’t—”

“Oh yes I do.” A wicked grin spread across her face. “I tell you what, I’m gonna go tell all the other boys that you wear diapers.”

Dave went silent, shock upon his face.

“As a matter of fact, if you try and walk back in there.” She gestured over her shoulder toward the den. “I’m gonna pull your pants down and show everyone your diaper. You can try and tell them you don’t wear diapers, but I think they’ll believe their eyes instead.” She paused, letting her words sink in.

“Don’t.” Tears streamed down Dave’s face. “Please don’t—”

“But wait!” She cut him off once again. “You know… there is a way you can get me to keep it a secret.”

Dave looked confused, but he didn’t back away as she stepped closer.

“Wouldn’t you like me to keep your diapers a secret?” She leaned in close.

“They aren’t my—”

“Wouldn’t you like me to keep your diapers a secret?” She enunciated. “Would you like it if I didn’t go in there and show everyone the diaper that you’re wearing right now? Because you are definitely wearing one and we both know it.”

Dave was silent again.

“Well, do you? Do you want me to keep this a secret?”

Dave’s tearful eyes met hers. “Yes.”

“Then you have to promise to do whatever I say.”

Dave hesitated, but there was just a faint hint of hope in his eyes.

“That’s right. If you promise to do whatever I say, I promise not to tell the other boys about your diapers. Does that sound like a deal?”

Dave nodded slowly.

“Good, now come with me, we’re going to my room.” Josephine started toward the stairs.

“Just a sec, let me—”

“Oh, I see how it is. You don’t want to do what I tell you.” She changed directions in a flash, now making quick strides toward the den. “I guess I’ll have to go tell everyone about your diapers.”

“No, wait!” Dave launched after her, grabbing her by the hand.

But she turned on him as soon as he was close, grabbing him by the shirt. Staring daggers, she pulled him in close. “I wasn’t joking, kid. When I said we’re going up to my room, I meant we’re going right now.”

He backed away as soon as she released him, but she advanced, herding him toward the stairs. He got the message quickly it seemed, because he soon turned around and trudged up the stairs. She was right at his back the whole time, a hand out in case he changed his mind. He stopped in front of the bedroom door—which now had a handwritten note stating “no boys allowed” taped on it—but she quickly pushed him inside. The room was large, with a massive bed dominating its center. Along the left side of the room was a dresser and vanity, while the other side was occupied by two inflatable mattresses. There were two girls lounging across the bed, playing with their phones. They were both blonde; one with short curls, and the other with long, straight hair—the curly-haired girl appeared to be the eldest of the two, and the both of them looked at least a few years older than Dave; still, Josephine was older and taller than them all.

“What’s he doing here?” The long-haired girl asked, sitting up from her heavily relaxed position.

“Little Dave here decided he didn’t want to play with the bigger boys any more, so he came to play with us. Isn’t that right?” Josephine’s overly sweet tone was contradicted by the rough shove with which it was punctuated. Dave was sent stumbling forward while she closed the door.

“Is your mom making you play with him?” The other girl rolled her eyes. “’Cause I’m not.”

Josephine faked sadness at the refusal. “Are you suuure you don’t want to play, Betty?” She added a mischievous smile. “He’s very well behaved, you know.”

Betty stopped pulling at a curl, apparently having caught wind that Josephine was hinting at something. “Why?” Her now-curious eyes studied the taller girl, trying to discern what was really going on.

In response, Josephine pivoted bodily toward the other girl, who was still leaning back, playing on her phone. “Odella, would like anything?”

The girl looked up from her phone, seeming rather annoyed to be disturbed, but now evidently confused.

“A drink maybe?” Josephine offered. “Or how about something to eat?”

Like the other girl, Odella studied Josephine for a moment. She grunted a quick response. “Sprite.”

“And Betty, would you like something as well?” Josephine turned back to face the upright girl.

“Not thirsty.”

Without missing a beat, Josephine continued. “How about we just get you a Dr. Pepper, and I guess I’d like a cup of eggnog. And while we’re at it, why not get some of those little sandwiches too, since that’s why I was going downstairs in the first place.” She spun to face the boy at her side. “You got all that, Dave? Now get moving.”

“What?” Dave looked totally confused.

“Oh my gosh.” Josephine rolled her eyes dramatically. “I said one Sprite for Odella, a Dr. Pepper for Betty, eggnog for me, and get some sandwiches while you’re down there—six should be enough.”

“But—”

“Dave, you remember our deal, right?”

Dave nodded right away, shooting a quick glance toward the other girls, who were now most definitely interested in the scene before them.

“You remember what I’m going to do if you don’t do what I say?”

His eyes went wide.

“Good, now get going, we’re hungry. And don’t mess it up.”

Dave started to bolt for the door but stopped. “Um, Josephine… what did you want again?”

“I swear…” She let out a frustrated sigh. “Listen, I’m only gonna say this one more time. Odella wants a Sprite, Betty gets a Dr. Pepper, I want eggnog, and we each get two little sandwiches—that’s six in total, since you’re a moron. Now if you don’t get back here with all that stuff in under five minutes, I’m going to march down those stairs, into the den, and tell everyone about you-know-what.”

With that, Dave took off. Hurrying down the stairs, he nearly lost his footing when his socks landed on the smooth floor in the foyer. A detour around the den brought him to the kitchen where he passed right by his mother. She called after him, but he either didn’t hear, or deliberately ignored her. It didn’t take him long to find the requested sodas, but getting eggnog meant he had to ask one of the adults to get a cup for him. The elderly lady who helped him moved rather slowly, which had him fidgeting impatiently while she poured the eggnog. Finally, he collected a plate from the island and stacked a bunch of little sandwiches on top.

Making his way back to the girls’ room, there were more than a couple times where he nearly dropped everything, but a few quick adjustments managed to keep everything together. Josephine was standing beside the bed, looking rather impatient as he entered the room. The other girls had moved, and were now sitting on the edge of the bed, greeting him with curious gazes.

“You’re late.” Josephine stated, closing the door behind him, but not collecting any of the items he brought, instead leaving him with the difficult and continued task of not spilling everything on the floor. “I said to get back here in five minutes or else. And look,” she glanced at her phone, “it’s been almost six minutes.”

Horror fell over Dave’s whole countenance, but he didn’t say a thing.

“But first, let’s see what you got.” Josephine collected the drinks and handed them off to the appropriate girl; the eggnog she held onto, taking a sip before taking the plate of sandwiches. “Well, it looks like you got everything, I guess won’t go downstairs.”

Dave didn’t reply. The relief on his face said enough.

“Well girls, what do you think?” Josephine faced the others, sweeping her hand toward Dave as if presenting a prize.

The curious looks hadn’t left either of the girls’ faces; Odella eventually spoke up. “So… is he really wearing a diaper?”

Josephine nodded, which caused the other girls to recoil in surprise. Dave already looked horrified, but this exposure was clearly too much, and he burst into tears. Josephine’s smile grew wider as she absorbed the reaction of her audience.

Dave turned to her with a fiery expression “You told them!?”

“Sure, why not?”

“You promised you wouldn’t!”

“No I didn’t.” She bent to meet his eye level. “I promised not to tell the boys downstairs; I didn’t promise not to tell anyone else. But don’t worry about that, ‘cause I made Betty and Odella promise the same thing. None of us will tell the boys downstairs about your diapers… just so long as you do whatever we say.”

“That’s not fair!”

Her tone became threatening. “Well, if you don’t like that, we could carry you downstairs and pull your pants down so all the other boys can see your diaper. Would you like that instead?”

Not surprisingly, he disagreed.

“Good.” She rose, patting him gently on the head. “Now I think Odella had a little trouble believing me when I told her you wore diapers. Odella, do you have a request for our obedient little baby here? Remember, he has to do anything you ask, or else. Go ahead, try him out.”

For a moment, it looked like Odella was going to shy away from following her older cousin’s lead. But her reservations only held out so long and curiosity got the better of her. “Dave,” she said, having trouble not erupting into giggles. “Show us your diaper.”

“Dave,” Josephine prompted, after several moments of inactivity. “She just gave you a command. Now are you going to obey, like you promised, or are we gonna have to take a trip downstairs?”

Dave’s face was scrunched up, tears streaming freely down his face. “I hate you.”

“Show us your diaper.”

Slowly, and while crying harder than before, Dave lifted his shirt and pulled the waist of his pants down far enough to expose the waistband of the diaper underneath. Both of the other girls gasped and giggled, but Josephine wasn’t satisfied.

“We can’t see it,” she said in a sing-song. “Show us the whole thing.”

“Please Josephine; come on!”

“You know what, go ahead and take your pants all the way off.” Josephine crossed her arms over her chest.

This time Dave moved a little more quickly. The sweatpants slid easily to the floor where he left them. A motion from his primary captor prompted him to lift his shirt and spin around. He was rewarded with the sound of giggling laughter, followed by cooing and patronizing baby-talk. Just when he was about to reach for his pants, Betty grabbed them and tossed them on the bed behind her. He was about to protest, but she cut him off.

“No one told you to put those back on.”

“Why is he in diapers anyway?” Odella interrupted the continuing laughter. “Isn’t he like ten or something?”

“Oh, he’s been having a lot of accidents so his mom put him back in diapers. I think he likes it though.” Josephine shrugged, smiling directly at Dave, as if daring him to protest. He didn’t.

“He certainly cries like a baby,” Betty scoffed. Then, with a sudden idea, she held up her phone and snapped a few pictures. “But he sure is cute when he pouts like that.”

“Aw man,” Josephine sounded sincerely concerned, drawing the attention of the other two. “I almost forgot our sign.” She swung the door open, which caused Dave to duck away from it. “See, ‘no boys allowed.’ I guess he can’t stay in here… unless.”

“Unless what?” Betty asked, mock curiosity and a wicked grin telling that she knew Josephine would continue regardless.

“Unless he wasn’t really a boy.” Josephine met the grin with one of her own. “Betty, you’re not much that much bigger than Dave, you think you got anything a little more appropriate to wear in the girls room? And Dave, go ahead and take your shirt off too.”

While Dave was sobbing his way through another disrobing, Betty had retreated to the corner of the room, where she began digging through a large suitcase.

She soon emerged with something bright red. “Actually, I have this hideous thing my step dad got me.” Holding it by the shoulders, she let unfold what appeared to be a Santa Claus themed dress, red velvet, with fuzzy white trim at the hem. “I’m sure as hell never gonna wear it myself ‘cause it’s disgusting. But I think it’ll look adorable on baby Dave.”

“Arms up.” Josephine commanded, slipping the dress over Dave’s head as he complied. The dress was a good fit around his body, and the skirt came down to his knees. Without pausing, Josephine proceeded to pull a matching short cape around Dave’s shoulders, tying it at the neck, leaving the large fuzzy pompoms to dangle at the end of each ribbon.

“Aww.” They all cooed at once.

“He’s so cute.” Josephine’s voice was patronizing. “Aren’t you just the cutest thing?”

“Oh, I just had a great idea. Give me a minute, I’ll be back.” Betty disappeared through the door.

Odella climbed back to the other end of the bed, reclining into the small mountain of pillows. Josephine started to move away, but Dave stopped her with a desperate whisper.

“Josephine,” he shot a glance toward Odella, who was already absorbed in her phone. “I… uh…”

She looked annoyed. “What is it?”

He kept speaking in a whisper. “Can I take this off?”

“No, I just put it on you.” She turned away dismissively.

“Please,” he raised his voice just a hair, “I gotta…”

Josephine stopped and turned to face him once more. “You gotta what?

“I gotta go to the bathroom.”

This got Josephine’s full attention, and she crouched next to him. “Use your diaper,” she locked eyes with him. “That’s why you’re wearing it.”

His quiet “but…” dispersed uselessly into the air.

Josephine had risen, crossing the room to retrieve her glass of eggnog and recline against the vanity. She locked stern eyes with Dave, who could only return with a sad, pleading expression. Once or twice, he looked over to Odella, who wasn’t paying attention, but otherwise kept his gaze fixed on Josephine. He didn’t say a word, likely not wanting to alert Odella, but tried to beg excuse from his sentence. Josephine didn’t budge, her face remaining stone-like, no matter what desperate expression he made. Eventually, her unyielding glare proved victorious, leaving Dave to hang his head. A minute later, he was crying loud enough for both girls to hear.

“What’s the matter, baby?” Josephine’s concern sounding almost sincere.

He raised his head, facing her with a look of defeat. No response.

She smiled knowingly. “Aww, I know that face. Did someone have an accident?” A flick of her gaze caught that Odella had looked up too; her smile widened.

Dave’s face turned sullen.

“I asked you a question, Dave.” Josephine was unaffected by Dave’s attitude; her tone remained bright. “Did you have an accident in your diaper?”

He still didn’t respond.

“If you aren’t going to tell me, I’ll need to come over there and see for myself.” She pushed off from the vanity.

He hastily took a step back. “Alright, I had an accident.”

Josephine paused in her step. “Nope, not good enough anymore. I need to see it.”

Dave took another step back.

“Either show me right now, or I’m coming over there.”

Dave hesitated for a moment, but ultimately obeyed. Without a word, he lifted the hem of the dress, revealing a sagging and swollen diaper underneath. Odella wore a look of shock, but Josephine wore a satisfied grin.

“See? It’s a good thing you were wearing a diaper.” Josephine gestured to a cushioned stool by the wall. "Why don't you have a seat and wait until Betty comes back."

Sitting down with a huff, Dave propped himself on his elbows and sulked. He wouldn't make eye contact with either girl, despite the fact that they continued to talk amongst themselves, occasionally pointing and gesturing in his direction. He just sat there, hunching lower and lower until Betty returned. When she did, she came with an armful of stuff, most of which she promptly deposited on the bed.

"Is the baby hungry?" Betty set the last of her items on the dresser, these included a plate of chopped veggies, four jars of baby food, a bottle of milk, and some utensils.

"I don't wanna wear this anymore."

Dave's whining was completely ignored. "Yes, I think he’s hungry," Josephine mimicked Betty's overly sweet tone. " But first, Dave, go ahead and show Betty what you did."

Dave shot back a sullen set of eyes, but once again lifted the dress without any further protest.

"Aww, looks like the baby had an accident.” Betty said. Unlike Josephine, her overly cheerful tone wasn’t tinged with malice, but instead evinced genuine interest, almost as if she now saw Dave as an actual baby. “Do you think we should change his diaper?” She turned back to Josephine.

“No.” The older girl motioned for Dave to come over. Pulling out the chair from the vanity, she patted the seat.

Dave stopped in front of the chair and scowled up at Josephine. “I don’t wanna wear this anymore.”

“That’s too bad, ‘cause you’re going to wear it until I say otherwise. Now sit.”

Once Dave was in the chair, she grabbed a colorful bib from the small pile of goodies that Betty brought. While Josephine tied the bib around Dave’s neck, Betty collected the plate of veggies and a spoon from the dresser.

“Open up.”

Dave hesitated, the spoonful of steamed carrots hovering just in front of his mouth. Betty started to pull the spoon back, but Josephine’s hand firmly gripping Dave’s shoulder changed his mind—he opened his mouth and accepted the food as it was given. A second later he made a face and began to cough, trying not to spit food everywhere.

“Here.” Betty took the bottle of milk and poked nipple into his mouth. Dave tried to reach up and hold it, but Josephine caught his arms and pushed them down to his sides. Betty nodded a quick thank you before returning her attention to Dave. “No no, babies don’t hold their own bottle. Now drink up.”

Josephine whispered into his ear. “If you behave nicely, I might even give you a reward.”

Dave relaxed a little and continued sucking on the bottle. Betty didn’t pull it away until he was more than halfway finished. After that, she went right back to feeding him spoonfuls of steamed carrots which, of course, were no longer steaming. He grimaced with each bite, but kept eating without protest. When the carrots were gone, he was once again offered the bottle of milk, which he drained, and then they moved on to peas.

“I’m going downstairs for a sec, I’ll fill this up.” Josephine took the empty bottle. “You girls want anything?”

The two other girls declined.

“Please, I don’t wanna eat that.” Dave recoiled as Betty set down the empty plate and picked up the first jar of baby food; there were three more still on the dresser.

Betty tilted her head to the side and scrunched her face in an exaggerated expression of concern. “Now Dave, you don’t want me to go and tell Josephine you’ve been a bad baby, do you?”

Dave shook his head rapidly.

“Good,” her face instantly returned to its cheery countenance.

Betty fed him the entire jar of baby food, then another. The more he ate, the harder he swallowed with each bite. His eyes started to water and he would sometimes whimper between bites. There were now two different colors of mush all over his face, as Betty seemed to have no intentions of giving him small spoonfuls. Not matter how wide he opened his mouth, some of the thick paste always managed to miss, ending up on his face or dribbling down his chest.

“Good thing we got you this bib, or you’d end up with food all over your pretty dress.” Betty opened the third jar. “Hey sis, you wanna take a turn feeding him?”

“Nah,” Odella didn’t look up from her phone.

By the time Josephine returned, Dave was choking down the last scoop of baby food; one jar remained. His eyes lit up when he saw the bottle of milk, and he tried to reach for it, but Josephine pulled it away.

“Well well, it looks like someone likes drinking from a baby bottle after all.”

“Please, this tastes so bad; I can’t eat any more.” Dave’s tear-filled eyes pleaded to Josephine.

“Okay, you don’t have to eat any more, but you do have to finish this bottle.” She teased the bottle just out of his reach. From the bed she picked up a washcloth and began wiping his face clean. At first he squirmed and pulled back, but that stopped quickly after a harsh look from Josephine, who kept wiping until he was all clean. Raising Dave from the chair, she led him over to the bed where she took a seat partially sideways, her feet hanging over the edge. Laying him down and guiding his head to her lap, she pushed the bottle’s nipple into his mouth and he began to suckle. “See, isn’t that nice?”

A couple of times Dave tried to move, tried to spit out the nipple, but Josephine held him in place and held the bottle to his mouth until he was finished.

“I wanna hold him.” Betty had been sitting on the other side of the bed, but clambered across, next to Dave. Josephine acquiesced, and Betty took her spot. With no more bottle, Betty produced a pacifier and popped it into Dave’s mouth. “No talking Dave, just lay here quietly. You probably need a nap anyway.”

For a time, Dave just lay there with an uneasy look on his face, but gradually relaxed. The girls carried on about nonsense or played on their phones quietly. Eventually, Dave started fidgeting and grumbling again, finally spitting out the pacifier.

“I don’t wanna wear this stuff anymore; I want my clothes back.”

“Hmm,” Betty appeared to think for a moment. “I bet he wants to get out of that wet diaper too.”

Josephine too took a moment to think before responding. “Okay, you can have your clothes back, on one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“You have to come downstairs with me.”

His eyes widened at this, Josephine just smiled back.

“I’m going to give you your clothes, but then we’re going downstairs. There’s something you have to do.” Josephine got up and collected the articles of clothing from around the room. She held them out toward Dave. “Once you do that, I’ll let you change out of your wet diaper too. What do you say? Otherwise we’re just gonna keep you in that cute dress all night.”

Dave looked worried, “what do I have to do?”

“You’ll find out.”

Dave nodded warily, taking the clothes from Josephine. He quickly put them on, removing the dress after his pants were on. His shirt had somehow collected a large smear of food down the front, but he wasn’t able to ask how it happened. Betty took the dress and Josephine started herding Dave toward the door. Downstairs, the adults were scattered around the kitchen and adjoining dinning room area, talking in groups. Dave’s mom was standing in the middle of the kitchen, talking with two other women.

“Do you have to pee?” Josephine asked, whispering in his ear.

Dave nodded.

“Okay, here’s what you gotta do. You’re gonna go over to your mom and ask her if it’s okay if you keep playing upstairs with me. I’m sure she’ll say yes, but it really doesn’t matter. After you ask her, then just wet your diaper again, right next to her.”

Dave turned to her in surprise. "What? No, my mom’s gonna find out."

Josephine laughed it off. "No she won't"

"She will."

"No, she won't. Now listen, all you gotta do is wet your diaper again. When you're done, just pretend like you're crying. I'll come over and get you." She started pushing Dave forward, but he resisted.

"What about my mom?"

Josephine rolled her eyes, "if she notices, just tell her you had an accident."

"But then she'll know—"

"Listen, she won't believe you. Even if she does, I'll come over and tell her we're just playing a game. Even if everyone else in the room notices, just tell them you're playing a game with me. Don't tell them anything else. I promise, I'll make sure they don't find out, and you won't get in trouble no matter what happens. Got it?"

"But—"

"But shut up.” She grabbed him by the shoulders. “Look, I do a lot of babysitting, so I know how to deal with kids and I know how to deal with parents. This one kid even broke a lamp, but I talked to his parents and he never got in trouble. You wanna know why?"

"Why?"

"Cause he did what I said, he let me do all the taking. Little kids like you always say stupid stuff and then you get in trouble. Now get over there before I decide to take your pants off right here. You want me to do that?" She grabbed the waist of his pants.

He gripped her hands, his eyes pleading. "No."

“Okay then,” she released one hand, which she then used to feel the front of his pants. “And this better feel more wet than it does now, or I’ll know you’re a liar.” Finally, she released him, sending him forward with a gentle push. “Now go.”

He stopped again, and turned back, barely a step out of Josephine’s reach. “Please, Josephine, I don’t wanna do it. Can I—”

Josephine had him in a flash. Before he could respond, she had already worked his pants down several inches. “What about this? Should I do this?”

“Stop… no—”

“Then are you going to do what I said?” Even as he gripped his pants, she wouldn’t let him pull them back up, leaving most of his diaper exposed.

“Josephine, please!” He kept tugging at his pants whilst glancing around in a panic. His whining had become more desperate. “Let me go.”

She just inched the pants down further.

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it! I’ll do it.” He squirmed. “Just let me go.”

She lowered his pants another inch. “Are you really going to do it?”

“Yes. Josephine, please!”

Casually, purposely taking her time, she pulled his pants up and into place. Still holding him for a moment, she looked him in the eyes and smiled, then let him go. “Why don’t you go get yourself a cookie first, it’ll help you calm down.”

Dave backed away, warily approached his mother, who didn’t seem to notice him. No one in the room seemed to notice him. Following Josephine’s suggestion, he got a cookie from the island and took a bite. Loitering for a minute behind his mother, he soon finished his cookie and grabbed another. Quickly finishing that too, he cautiously approached his mother.

“Mom?”

She barely heard his quiet voice, slowly looking around the room before discovering him. “Yes, Dave, what is it?”

“Is… is it okay… um. Can I keep playing upstairs with the girls?” He lowered his head immediately upon finishing, raising it again momentarily to add a “please.”

His mother paused for a moment, clearly caught off guard. “Uh, sure, I guess. Are they okay with you playing up there?”

He nodded.

“Well, then I guess it’s fine.”

With his first task done, Dave turned around and got another cookie, his mother turning away too, back to the other women. He stood there for a minute before looking to Josephine who pointed sternly back toward him. Still holding the unbitten cookie, he closed his eyes and relaxed. A few seconds later, he startled and took a couple steps back, bumping into the island as he did so. Two dark patches had appeared near the crotch of his blue sweatpants, one on each side; and they quickly expanded, traveling down the legs to where a small yellow puddle was forming around his feet.

“Dave!”

Dave’s eyes shot open, looking up to see his mother starting down at him.

Wearing a shocked expression, she rushed over to him. “Oh my goodness, Dave! What the hell are you doing?”

Tears filled Dave’s eyes as he stared up at his mother, unable to speak a word.

“Sweetie, what happened?”

Dave sniffled before answering. “I… I had an accident.”

His mother had grabbed some napkins and was starting to soak up some of the puddle when one of the other ladies put a hand on her shoulder. “Martha, don’t worry about this little mess, I’ll take care of it. You go ahead and get him cleaned up.”

“Thank you so much.” She turned back to Dave. Quickly blotting his pants to make sure nothing more dripped onto the floor, she picked him up and carried him out of the room. In the bathroom, she set him down and began pulling his pants off. “Dave, what’s going on?”

Dave whimpered. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” His mother untaped the heavily-sagging diaper and set it to the side. “This is absolutely soaked, did you even try to make it to the toilet? And how did this happen?” She pulled at the stained shirt. After giving him a quick wipe with toilet paper, she removed his socks—which were also wet—and had him sit on the toilet. “Wait right here, okay, I’ll be right back. Your clothes should be dry by now anyway.”

Outside the bathroom, she let out a tired sigh. Shaking her head, she turned and headed farther down the hall. Around the bend, the hall led to a mud room which exited the back of the house. Next to the mud room was the laundry room, which also featured a utility sink and a closet full of various cleaning products. Martha opened the dryer and was surprised to find it empty. Next, she checked the washing machine, which was also empty. “What on earth?” She said aloud, beginning to look further around the room. She checked the trashcan, under and behind the sink, between and behind the washer and dryer, inside several cabinets, and even in the adjacent mud room. With a frustrated sigh, she went quickly back toward the bathroom where she’d left Dave. Halfway there, she was spotted by Josephine, who quickly came up to her.

“Hey, aunt Martha, can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure Josephine, but only for a minute,” she was clearly trying to hide her frustration, but it was still evident in her tone. “I’m kind of dealing with a mini-disaster at the moment.”

“I saw that Dave had an accident and it’s just…” Josephine looked away, hesitating, wringing her hands. “I feel kinda bad about it. It was kinda my fault.”

"It was?" Martha looked confused.

"Yeah, I should've changed his diaper earlier. I'm sorry." Speaking meekly, she offered an apologetic smile and sorrowful eyes.

"Changed his diaper? You know about his diaper?"

Josephine matched Martha’s look of surprise. “Yes, why?”

"He was only wearing a diaper because we had a little incident on the way here and his clothes got dirty,” Martha’s brow wrinkled in thought. “Somehow his clothes never got packed into the van so that’s all I had to put him in. He doesn't need diapers or anything. How did you know he was wearing one?"

Isabella came down the hall, stopping next to them, waiting while Josephine spoke.

"Oh, well he came into our room cause he didn't want to play with the other boys or something—I don't know. Anyway, it was easy to see he was wearing a diaper in the first place. Like, I do a lot of babysitting, I know what a diaper looks like, even under clothes. But when he came in, he showed his diaper to us and it was definitely wet when he showed us.”

"Is this Dave you're talking about?" Isabella asked.

Josephine nodded.

“He showed you his diaper?” Martha interjected, Josephine nodding again.

Isabella now wore the same confused look as the other two. "When did all this happen?"

Josephine shrugged. "I don't know, a while ago, maybe a couple hours. I don’t know why he showed it to us. He didn’t say much, just that he didn’t want to play with the other boys.”

“And he was wet?” Isabella shot a knowing look at Martha. "I'll bet that's what he was trying so desperately to hide from us when we were out by your van."

Martha sighed heavily, looking as if someone had dropped a large weight upon her. "Isabella, did you happen to take Dave's things out of the dryer? They should be dry by now, but there's no sign of them anywhere."

"No, I haven't been back there since you arrived." She detected that something was amiss. "Why, what's happened?"

Martha’s shoulders slouched as she sighed. "Dave's had another accident, he leaked right through the diaper."

"Oh my word, has this been happening a lot?"

"No, Dave hasn't had any accidents for a long time, right up until tonight."

Josephine cut in, "He must just be too excited about Christmas."

"More likely he got too involved in those video games. I swear, I can never peel my youngest away from them." Isabella shook her head slowly, then began again in a sympathetic tone, "Martha, I don't mean to offend, but maybe it might he wise you keep him in diapers, just for a while longer. We should definitely give him some more reminders to use the toilet, but if he's had this many accidents so close together, a little extra protection won't hurt."

Martha kneaded her brow. "You're right, but I hate to do this to him, especially around Christmas and all. I just can't see why this is happening all of a sudden."

“It’s not your fault.” Isabella put a hand on Martha’s shoulder. “He’s old enough that he should know good and well when he needs to use the bathroom.”

“I’m just worried that he’s sick or something.”

“It’s just carelessness, unfortunately. If he doesn’t want to wear diapers, he should put less effort into playing games and more effort into remembering to use the bathroom.” Isabella nodded solemnly. “He needs to learn a lesson, don’t beat yourself up about it.”

Dave’s mother still didn’t seem convinced.

Josephine stepped closer, having been somewhat pushed aside by her mother. “How about you let me watch him for a while?”

“Oh, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”

“It’s no problem. Like I said, I babysit kids all the time. This is probably just a combination of excitement for Christmas and playing with his friends, and who-knows how much candy and sodas he’s had; I’m sure all that sugar isn’t helping. Plus, boys his age can easily get too involved in stuff, he’s not the first one to have accidents like this.” She looked to her mother, who shrugged, then back to Martha. “I’ll take care of him, you probably need a break anyway. I’ve even got some spare clothes I think might fit him—if he doesn’t mind them being a little girly.”

“Are you sure?” Martha looked uncertain.

“I insist. The other girls and I will keep him with us—he’s already been up there with us for a little while anyway. Maybe we’ll play some quiet games or something so he can calm down.”

“She’s good with kids,” Isabella added. “And you owe it to yourself to take a break sometimes, let her take care of it.”

“Okay. Thank you so much, Josephine,” relief washed over Martha’s face in a wide but tired smile. “Let me go get him cleaned up and he’ll be all yours.”

“I’ll grab something for him to wear. Give me a sec, I’ll be right back.” Josephine disappeared up the stairs in a flash.

Isabella walked with Martha to the foyer where she’d left Amy’s diaper bag. She put a hand on Martha’s shoulder. “With kids, it’s always something isn’t it?”

“You’re so lucky to have a responsible girl like Josephine.”

“Indeed I am. Come join us in the sitting room when you’re done, I’ll get you a glass of wine and we’ll see to it that you get a few moments of peace.” Isabella chuckled to herself and left Martha, vanishing around the corner, back toward the more populated wing of the house.

A minute later, Josephine came back down the stairs. “I’m so sorry, all I have are these, but I don’t think he’ll want to wear them.” The items in question were a two-piece light pajama set. The top was white with a reindeer stitched into the front, the bottoms were red with snowflakes printed all over.

“Oh, no, they’re fine. Thank you so much.” Dave’s mother took the clothes. “Just give me a few minutes and I’ll bring him upstairs.”

In the bathroom, a hint of urine hung in the air, detectable even through the scent of cinnamon air freshener. Dave was still sitting on the toilet when his mother returned. Propped on his elbows, he looked up with a worried expression that didn’t brighten when he saw the clothes hung over his mother’s arm. They clearly weren’t his and he knew it.

“Did you have to go any more?”

He shook his head.

“Then hop off and come over here.” His mother laid the pajamas over the edge of the sink. She sighed as she inspected his shirt once again. “I really don’t know what’s gotten into you. Come on, arms up.” She tugged the shirt up and off, tossing it aside with the other wet things. From her bag she pulled the package of wipes. It wasn’t long before she had wiped all up and down his legs. She left him standing there while she wiped around the toilet seat, setting him on it again once it was clean. “Go ahead and try again while I get all this cleaned up.”

“But I don’t have to go.”

“Just try.” She sounded a little agitated. Pausing and taking a deep breath, she repeated, softly this time, “just try.”

She continued by wiping his feet and the ground where he’d been standing until all traces of pee were gone, the wipes themselves leaving their own distinct scent in the air. Following that, she wrapped up the wipes in the diaper and put the whole thing in a plastic bag. Retrieving a second plastic bag from the diaper bag, she bundled up the dirty clothes too.

“Can I put my clothes on now?”

His mother looked at him, holding the gaze for several second before turning away without answering. Going into the diaper bag once again, she pulled out and unfolded the changing mat. “Come here.” She waited for him to come close, then caught him up and laid him down with the mat underneath. Surprised, he lay still for a moment until she pulled out a clean diaper.

“Mom, no!” He pulled away, trying to scramble backwards upon seeing the diaper. “Please don’t—”

But she caught him and dragged him back, pinning him down. “Don’t you dare fight me. Now you lay right there and don’t move.”

“Please mom, I don’t wanna wear that. I wanna wear my underwear again. Please.” Tears welled up in his eyes.

“Honey, you’ve been having a lot of accidents recently. I want you to try and make it to the bathroom, but these are just in case.” She began unfolding the diaper. “I can’t have you peeing all over my parent’s furniture or wetting any more pants we have to borrow. Don’t make this difficult. Now lift your bottom.”

Dave sniffled, hesitated, then finally lifted his bottom. She wasted no time, and slid the diaper underneath. A few moments later, she had taped the diaper snuggly in place and was pulling him to his feet. Tugging at the leg cuffs, she made sure they weren’t caught inside, and then she reached to grab the pajama pants. Held up, they unfolded, revealing the all-over snowflake print and lacy ruffles at the ankles.

Dave recoiled at the sight. “Where are my clothes?”

“I don’t know honey, someone moved them.” She began bunching up the legs, holding them out for him to step in. “You’ll have to wear these for now.”

“But these are girls’ clothes.” He stepped back, stomping his foot. “I’m not wearing them.”

“Dave,” his mother spoke bluntly. “You managed to go through two pairs of pants in one afternoon. You’re nine years old now, you shouldn’t need diapers either, but I put you in one, thinking you’d only be wearing it until your regular underwear was dry. But what just happened? Dave, tell me.”

“It was an accident.”

“Exactly. You had an accident—two, in fact. That’s why you don’t have any other clothes to wear; that’s why you’re wearing a diaper. If you want to complain to someone, complain to yourself. I’m sorry honey, but I’m not the one ruining all your clothes. Now, these may be girls’ pajamas, but they’re still just pajamas. You can wear them even though you’re a boy.”

“But—”

“No buts Dave. These are on loan from your cousin Josephine.”

Dave looked surprised.

“That’s right. She’s been very gracious in letting you borrow these, and I don’t want to have to explain another pair of wet pants to someone. Now come over here and let me put these on you.”

Dave obeyed, holding his mother’s shoulders while she tugged the pants into place. They were just about the right length, but were rather tight. The shape of the diaper underneath was largely evident, and they didn’t come up high enough to keep the diaper’s waistband from peeking out. Next, she helped him slip into the shirt, which, while it did hide the diaper’s waistband, did nothing to obscure the obvious shape around his bottom.

“Now listen, I know you’ve already been playing with the girls upstairs, but Josephine has offered to watch you for a while, so I want you to behave while you’re with her, okay?”

His eyes widened. “Josephine?”

“Yes, Josephine, your cousin. The one who’s lending you these clothes—which you’d better thank her for—and the one who’s going to watch you for a while so I can actually visit with my family. I don’t want to hear any bad reports from her about your behavior, so you just keep quiet and do as she says. She’s in charge, understand?”

Dave nodded.

“Say it.”

“I understand.”

“Good.” His mother collected the rest of her items and together they left the bathroom. Josephine was coming back down the stairs when they reached the hall.

Josephine’s face lit up when she saw them. “There’s my little cutie, all dressed up in his Christmas best.”

Dave shied away, but his mother urged him forward. “Go on.”

Josephine reached down and grabbed Dave’s hand firmly, pulling him to her side. She pointed to the diaper bag. “Do you want me to keep that with me… just in case?”

His mother hesitated for a moment. “Sure,” She handed over the bag. “There’s wipes in the middle, and diapers in the inside pocket. But, uh… let’s hope you don’t need them.”

Dave’s already flushed face turned several shades darker. “Mom!”

“You behave. I’ll be asking Josephine for a report on your behavior, and I don’t want to hear about any whining.” She pointed a finger at Dave, both warning and commanding. “And don’t forget that those are her pajamas you’re wearing. What do you say to her for letting you borrow them?”

“Thanks.”

“Say it properly.”

“Thank you for letting me borrow your pajamas.”

Josephine smiled cheerfully down at him.“You’re welcome Dave. I think you look super cute in them.”

Dave’s mother spoke again. “And thanks again for watching him. Just come get me if you need anything.”

“Okay, aunt Martha.” Josephine guided Dave to the stairs, letting him go up first. His diaper rustled against the light fabric of the pajama bottoms, easily audible to anyone close by. When they were outside of her room, Josephine stopped him and crouched down, close to his face. “You hear that? Your mother wants a good report about your behavior. Do you know what that means?”

Dave nodded, a fearful look upon his face.

“That’s right, it means you’d better do what I say or you’re gonna be in big trouble.” Her wicked smile was back. “Now let me ask you something: did the other boys find out about your diapers?”

“No.”

“And did you get punished for ruining another pair of pants?”

“No.”

“And do you know why?”

He didn’t respond.

“Because of me. I made sure no one else found out about your diapers. I even made sure your mom didn’t punish you, not even when I told her how you behaved earlier.” She narrowed her eyes. “You understand? I can make things good for you, or I can make them really bad. So if you don’t want things to be really bad, I’d suggest you do what I say without complaining about it.”

Dave stammered a feeble “okay.”

The strong smell of nail polish hit them as soon as they opened bedroom the door. The window was now open and Betty—who had been doing her nails—jumped up when she saw them. “The baby is back!”

Odella rolled onto her side. “What the hell happened?”

“Oh nothing much, Dave had another accident and his diaper leaked all over the place.” Josephine beamed. “I told his mommy I’d take care of him.”

“I told you we should’ve changed his diaper.” Betty climbed off the bed. “But he looks even more cute in those PJ’s. Just look at that little diaper butt. I bet you could see that a mile away.”

“Well, that’s why I brought his diaper bag this time.” She gave Dave a good swat on the behind. “So I can change his diaper when he needs it.”

“I think it’s crazy that a ten year-old still needs diapers. How long has he been like that?” Odella looked skeptical.

“A few months I think.” Josephine shrugged, making her way across the room to take a cookie from the plate on the dresser. “I didn’t ask too much.”

“That’s not what you said earlier.” Odella turned to Dave. “Is that true? Do you wear diapers all the time?”

Josephine shot him a look that the others didn’t see, nodding affirmatively.

He kicked at the ground, “yes.”

“Why? Like, can’t you tell when you need to go?”

Again he caught a look from Josephine. This time, she shook her head the tiniest amount. “I don’t know,” he said.

Odella went back to her phone. “Wow, just wow.”

“Yeah, his mom kinda wants to keep it a secret. So, you know, don’t tell anyone.” She turned back to Dave with a smile. “But you don’t have to be embarrassed around us, we’re here to take care of you. Just tell us when you need your diaper changed, okay?”

Betty, who had come around behind Dave, pulled at the back of his diaper, causing him to yelp and jump away. “Nope, he’s still clean.”

“Of course he is, he just got his diaper changed.” Josephine chuckled. “Betty, why don’t you get him another bottle of milk, and get us some more cookies while you’re at it.”

“Or maybe,” Odella said from across the room,“you could send Dave again, like you did earlier?”

Dave’s eyes widened in horror, causing Josephine to chuckle again.

“Nah, I think we’ll keep him right here.” She pulled Dave along, leading him to the bed.

“It’s no bother,” Betty cheerfully bounced away.

Josephine guided Dave and had him sit next to her, propped up on the mountain of pillows at the head of the bed. With an arm around his back, she cuddled him closely, popping the pacifier into his mouth while cooing softly. Dave grumbled from behind the pacifier, but a tight squeeze on his shoulder silenced any further complaints. Betty took Josephine’s spot when she returned, this time cradling Dave between her legs, his head resting back against her chest; she also swapped the pacifier for the bottle she’d brought. Josephine took a seat, cross-legged at the Dave’s feet, and began painting her nails while Dave slowly sucked on the bottle.

“Oh, I have a fun idea,” Betty said after a while. “How about we paint Dave’s nails?”

Josephine kept blowing on her own nails for a minute. “That’s a great idea.” She moved closer to Dave’s feet, but he tried to pull away. Quickly catching a foot, she pulled it to her. “Don’t struggle. If you spill this on the bed, I swear I’ll tell your mom.”

Dave let out a pitiful whimper, but relaxed his foot into Josephine’s grip. Slowly, tiny stroke by tiny stroke, his toenails became a rich crimson. First his left foot, then—after being instructed not to let his nails touch anything—his right foot followed suit. All the while, he managed to provoke several slaps to his legs, Josephine’s hands on his feet kept tickling him, causing him to twitch involuntarily. Betty thought it was funny, but Josephine didn’t agree.

“You’re doing a good job,” Betty took the bottle when it was empty, immediately replacing it again with the pacifier. Reaching over the side of the bed, she pulled out a Nintendo 3DS and handed it to him. “Here, you can play with this since you’re being such a good baby.”

“Nope, not yet.” Josephine took the handheld and set it aside. The momentary brightness on his face was gone again. “We have to do his fingernails first.”

Dave sulked, but let his hand be pulled out and worked on. This time Josephine opted to file his nails a good deal before she even reached for the polish. Betty retrieved the 3DS and started playing it with her arms wrapped in front of Dave; she was playing Animal Crossing. Every now and then, she’d quietly ask him where he thought she should put furniture or plant flowers. All he could do was mumble under his pacifier and point with his free hand. Eventually his free hand became the one with fresh nail polish, and a while after that, both hands had painted nails.

Eventually, they decided his nails were dry, and let him play the game by himself. Josephine began fiddling with Betty’s toenails, commenting on how she’d picked the entirely wrong color. To this, Betty only grumbled, saying that Josephine didn’t know the first thing about color. Odella chimed in, siding with Josephine, provoking Betty to reach over and slap her on the arm. In response, Josephine clutched Betty’s foot and began tickling her.

Betty squealed and began kicking. “Stop, stop!”

“Not until you admit that black looks like garbage on you.”

“Okay fine, it looks like garbage!” She kicked, but the tickling continued. “Stop! I swear, I’m gonna pee if you don’t.” Another hard kick forced Josephine to let go. Betty quickly rolled Dave out of her lap and got up.

“What’s the matter Betty, do you need diapers too?” Josephine called after the girl as she left the room.

“Bite me,” was all that came back through the open door.

“Speaking of diapers, how’s yours, Dave? Did