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    [Complete] One Last Day of Summer

    So, I'm trying something new here. Any and all comments are welcome.


    One Last Day of Summer

    Lacey was frustrated. It had been a long day of boring lectures. Lacey felt that if somebody could make even the 1960s sound like a boring time, they really shouldn't be allowed to teach. Especially at the beginning of the semester. They'd pose a suicide risk for the students. She had told her boyfriend Robin that over lunch. Well, he wasn't really her boyfriend; they were more like friends with benefits. He had made all the right, sympathetic noises, but she knew he'd been ogling one of the new psychology professors. Lacey had to snap her fingers in Robin's face to wake him up. She had said that she didn't really blame him for looking; after all, it was impressive how she looked like she was in her early thirties while she had to be at least a decade older, but that hadn't been true. She had been feeling down and looking for some sympathy, not a not-quite-boyfriend who couldn't keep his attention on her for two minutes. In hindsight she regretted not just getting up and leaving right there and then. Instead she had played the part of the loyal friend and stuck around until Robin had had to leave for class.

    After that, Lacey had had to endure another couple of classes that thankfully weren't quite as bad as the history lecture, but they had still been annoyingly tedious. Add to that four hours of work, and by the time Lacey returned to her tiny apartment, she was just about ready to strangle someone. She really wasn't cut out for work in the retail sector, particularly during back-to-school sales. Even flying around Azeroth on her favourite World of Warcraft character failed to relax her. There was really only one thing to do: Lacey went to bed early.

    For Lacey, getting ready for bed when she was feeling like this was a little more elaborate than normally. She started by pulling out the bottom towel from the neatly folded stack in her tiny bathroom. It was the biggest and softest of them all and she always made sure to put it at the bottom of the stack so she wouldn't grab it by mistake. Lacey moved the table out of the way, pulled out the sleeper sofa and quickly made the bed. Next she spread the towel out on the bed and folded it several times. After stripping, she sat down on the towel and pulled it up between her legs. She slipped her feet into a pair of oversized granny panties and pulled them up so they held the towel in place.

    Lacey didn't need the diaper, but for some reason she liked the feeling of being padded; she always had. The thicker the better. If she couldn't bring her legs together, that was perfect. She had lost count of how often she had woken up with most of her duvet stuffed between her legs when she was younger. As she grew older, she had begun to do it intentionally before she fell asleep. At first just using a blanket or her duvet, but eventually she switched to towels. Lacey had never shared this with anyone, but whenever she was stressed or upset, the temptation was always there. And more often than not, she acted on it.

    Lacey could almost feel the tension leave her body as she lay on her bed, the evening sun peeking in around the edges of her curtains and the warm summer air making a slight sheen of sweat appear on her skin. She slipped a hand inside her diaper and lazily played with herself while she listened to the traffic outside. Eventually, she drifted off to sleep.

    Lacey awoke with a start and found she couldn't move. She was completely paralysed as a cool draught raised goosebumps on her clammy skin. Some oddly calm corner of her mind worried how it would look if somebody saw her like this: Wearing a big diaper and with one hand inside it. If Chris saw me like this, I'd never hear the end of it.

    Lacey's thoughts were interrupted by a metallic gurgling sound. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the mirror next to the door. It looked less like a mirror and more like a vertical pool of mercury. Part of its surface was oozing down the wall to form a shiny puddle on the floor. Then something rose out of the puddle; human-shaped, but with a mirror finish. The annoyingly detached and nerdy part of Lacey's mind noted that it was just like the T-1000 terminator. Its surface dulled and it turned around and it was... her. It looked exactly like Lacey. It was wearing the same bulky diaper and granny panties; it even had the same tattoo of a fox barely visible over the waistband of the panties, except it was on the wrong hip.

    The mirror image walked over to the bed and sat down next to Lacey who pretended to be asleep, peering out through almost closed eyes. It wasn't very hard since she couldn't really move anything else anyway.

    "Oh stop that," the mirror image said. "I know you're awake." She reached out and brushed the hair out of Lacey's face. Lacey felt her muscles relaxing as the paralysis began to fade away. She tried to pull her hand out of her diaper, but the mirror image stopped her. "Just leave it there for now. We both know you like that."

    "How?" Lacey whispered.

    "Well, duh! I thought that'd be obvious by now. I know that your cellphone pin number is your birthday backwards, divided by three. I know you almost flunked history last term." The mirror image reached down to touch her own tattoo. "I know who held your hand while you got this and how you still have a bottle of her shampoo in your bathroom." She stroked Lacey's cheek. "I know everything about you because I am you."

    "I meant how is this poss.. Hang on, I do not have a bottle of Sookie's shampoo," Lacey protested.

    "No, you're right. It's her conditioner. But that's not what's important; nor is how I'm here. What matters is why I'm here."

    "And why is that?" Lacey was slowly trying to slide away.

    "You had a crap day. you were annoyed that summer is almost over and that you're back in school with all the drama that entails. You wanted some sympathy and maybe a good hug, but that dumbass Chris was too busy thinking about that hottie professor."

    "Yeah," Lacey admitted reluctantly.

    "So I'm here to make you a deal." The mirror image took Lacey's hand in hers and looked into her eyes. "Do you remember when you were little? When summers lasted almost forever and you didn't have to worry about anything?"

    "Yeah?"

    "Wouldn't you like that again?" The mirror image slowly stroked Lacey's hand. "No stupid job or classes to go to; no responsibilities. Not a care in the world."

    "Mm-hm," Lacey said dreamily

    "I can make it that way again," the mirror image said and rose from the bed. "Take my hand."

    In a daze, Lacey swung her legs out of bed and got up. She walked behind the other Lacey towards the mirror, holding her hand.

    The mirror was so narrow that her mirror image had to step through it sideways, vanishing through the slowly rippling surface. When she pulled Lacey along and her hand made contact with the mirror, she expected it to feel cold, but it didn't. It felt more like a warm, heavy mist or fog. Lacey closed her eyes as she stepped through and when she opened them again she was still standing in her apartment, except it was different somehow. It took her a couple of moments to notice a magazine on the table, but then she realised that everything was mirrored.

    "Come along now," said the mirror image. Or was Lacey the mirror image on this side of the mirror?

    Still holding the other Lacey's hand with one hand and holding up the sagging towel diaper with the other, Lacey followed Other Lacey through the door. They emerged in the middle of a small clearing surrounded by trees. Looking back, Lacey saw a small shed. Other Lacey was saying something, but Lacey was still mesmerised by the surroundings. She bent down and picked one of the flowers next to her bare foot.

    "It's incredible. This even smells real." Lacey breathed deeply smelling grass and wildflowers.

    "It is real," Other Lacey said. Now come along. There's somebody I want you to meet."

    ""Like this?!?" Lacey suddenly became aware of what she was wearing.

    "Oh, nobody will mind. No worries, remember?" Other Lacey took Lacey's hand and pulled her along into the forest.

    When they came out of the forest, they were at the top of a small hill. Below them was a large house, a pond and a large garden with big trees. "We just missed lunch, but there should be some food left."

    When they came closer, Lacey realised that everything about the house was a little scaled up. The windows were just a foot higher up than usual, the door was bigger, the steps up the porch was just a little too high to easily walk up. It all gave her the distinct feeling of being smaller than usual.

    Other Lacey opened the door and walked in, pulling a acutely self-conscious Lacey along. Inside was a kitchen with the same oversized tables and chairs. There was a giant of a woman putting plates and glasses in the sink. She must have been almost seven feet tall and looked like she was in her early fifties. She had that air about her that grandmothers do, even though she was a little young for it.

    "Hey Mom, look who finally came to join us," Other Lacey said. She turned to Lacey and whispered: "Her real name's Ella, but she likes it when we call her Mom."

    "Lacey!" Ella exclaimed and came over to give Lacey a hug. "We've been waiting for so long. Let me have a look at you." Lacey unsuccessfully tried to cover up her bare chest and the diapers. "Nonononono, that simply won't do. Come with me, dear."

    Ella took Lacey's hand and led her out of the kitchen and down the hall to a bathroom. "You hop up here," she said and patted what looked like a piece of the kitchen counter. Lacey realised that it was a giant changing table and just stood there in front of it, dumbstruck. "Oh come on now. You're a big too big for me to lift you."

    Lacey looked around and saw a stool next to the changing table. She used it to clamber up onto the table and sat there with her feet dangling over the edge.

    "Lie back dear," Ella said as she grabbed Lacey's legs and slid her further back. Lacey lay back on the smooth, warm surface. "Are you still dry?" she asked and unceremoniously slipped a couple of fingers inside Lacey's diaper.

    Lacey jumped. "Hey," she blurted out. "Of course I am."

    Ella pulled the granny panties and towel diaper off Lacey in one quick yank, leaving her naked and desperately trying to cover up. "Oh come now. It's nothing I haven't seen a hundred times before," she said. "Now lift your butt."

    Without thinking Lacey did as she was told and Ella slid a diaper under butt. She quickly pulled it up between her legs and taped the whole thing in place. The whole operation took only seconds. She helped Lacey sit up and Lacey looked down at the teddy bear print. This is so weird. She reached down to touch it, somehow doubting that any of this was real. The plastic backing rustled softly when she did.

    "Now, let's see if this doesn't fit you." Ella held up a light blue summer dress. She slipped it over Lacey's head and helped her with the sleeves before helping her down from the changing table. "Now you go outside and play with the others."

    Lacey walked back to the kitchen and out onto the porch, wondering what Ella had meant by 'the others'. But once she set foot outside, she heard excited voices from the other side of the house. She tip-toed to the corner and peeked around it. By the pond she could see four children playing. No, not children. They were adults dressed as children. Then it struck her: So was she. Lacey crept closer, ducking behind bushes until she was close enough to hear what they were talking about. It seemed the three of them, two girls and a boy, were having an argument about some kind of race in the brook that fed the pond. Eventually, they decided that the only way to settle it was another race. They picked up their crude wooden boats and ran upstream.

    "I can see you, you know." Lacey froze. "Oh come on. That blue dress isn't exactly camouflage."

    Feeling like she had been caught trespassing, Lacey slowly emerged from behind her bush to see who had spoken. It was another boy. No, not boy; man. He was maybe in his late twenties, average height, a little chubby, with a deep tan and mop of curly brown hair. All in all not entirely unattractive, Lacey thought. He was sitting on a stone with his knees pulled up and his arms around them.

    "Um, hi?"

    "Hi, I'm Alastair."

    "Lacey."

    "So, you're gonna want to have a seat for the today's grand final of the race," Alastair said wearily. "I think the score is like a thousand points to Francine and a thousand points to George."

    "So they're tied?" Lacey sat down on the stone next to Alastair.

    "I have no idea, I've lost count. But they should have time to finish before the rain starts."

    "What do you mean?"

    "See that cloud over there?" Alastair pointed towards the mountains in the distance. "The one that sort of looks like a fish."

    "Yeah?"

    "When it's on the other side of that mountaintop, it'll start to rain."

    "How do you know that?" Lacey looked at Alastair.

    He sighed. "That's how it is every day. It'll start to rain and we go inside to play. It'll stop halfway through dinner."

    "What do you mean 'every day'?"

    "Every day is the same here. I've tried to figure out the routine, but this place get inside your head. Makes you forget numbers and letters and-"

    "Who're you?" A voice interrupted from behind them. Lacey turned around to see one of the two girls that had run off earlier.

    "Uh..." Lacey was a little thrown by the childish appearance of the young woman. While she might be around twenty, she was wearing a pink dress so short her diaper peeked out below the hem. She had mussed-up, blonde hair and a couple of dirty smudges on her cheeks and forehead.

    "Charlotte, this is Lacey," Alastair said. "Lacey, Charlotte."

    "Like the thpider," she lisped

    "She's been here a while," Alastair whispered. "Like I said, this place gets inside your head."

    "Will you be my friend?" Charlotte looked up at Lacey with a wide-eyed, innocent expression.

    "Um, sure," Lacey answered.

    "Yay!" Charlotte shouted and threw her arms around Lacey to give her a hug. The unrestrained enthusiasm surprised Lacey, but she returned the hug, rubbing Charlotte's back.

    "Does this mean you'll stop bugging me now?" a voice asked snidely. When Lacey looked to see who had spoken she saw a girl with olive skin and long black hair. She was wearing overalls and a red t-shirt and was carrying a wooden boat.

    "I guess you must be Francine," Lacey said. "I'm Lacey."

    "Ooooo, look at you talkin' all fancy," Francine replied and rolled her eyes.

    "Don't listen to her Lacey. She's just being a meanie," Charlotte said, frowning at Francine. She grabbed Lacey's hand and pulled her towards the garden. "Come on, I wanna show you something."

    Charlotte dragged Lacey around the entire garden, showing her the apple tree and the patch of strawberry plants. She was just about to lead Lacey back to the pond when the first raindrops began to fall. Lacey glanced towards the mountains and just like Alastair had said, the fish-shaped cloud was just past the top of it.

    Lacey followed a squealing Charlotte back to the house. She darted from tree to tree in an attempt to stay dry in the steadily increasing downpour. Charlotte on the other hand danced along the path and jumped in a couple of the small puddles that had formed by the time they reached the porch.

    When they reached the kitchen, Francine and George were sitting by the kitchen table colouring. George was concentrating with his tongue out. Alastair was nowhere to be seen.

    "Where's Alastair?" Lacey asked.

    Francine gave her a quick look before she returned to her colouring book. "Momma's changing him."

    Charlotte had already climbed onto one of the oversized chairs and started hoarding the blue and green crayons, but Lacey didn't feel like colouring. So she decided to explore the house instead. She found a large living room on the ground floor and bedrooms and an additional bathroom on the first floor. When she made her way up the steep staircase to the attic, however, she found something odd. Somebody had tied some string between the backs of two chairs and put a blanket over it, creating a small tent. Well, small compared to the chairs; it was more than big enough for Lacey. The tent itself wasn't really all that strange, but inside she found a shoe box filled with papers. Leafing through them, Lacey saw mathematical equations and calculations far more advanced than what she understood, but the closer she came to the top of the stack, the simpler the maths became. Eventually, the numbers were replaced by unidentifiable squiggles and then there were drawings of flowers. Bluebells to be precise. Sometimes a single flower, other times whole fields of them.

    "Do you like them?" Lacey almost jumped out of her skin. Charlotte was kneeling in the opening to the tent. She crawled in and sat down next to Lacey, taking the stack of papers from her.

    "You did that?"

    Charlotte nodded. "I wasn't very good at first, but Momma said that if I practised I would get better. And I did, see?" She picked up a new drawing from the floor outside the tent and held it up for Lacey. It was a picture of two stick figures in a green field dotted with blue flowers. One was wearing a pink dress and the other a blue one. "I made it for you," Charlotte said.

    "Um, thanks."

    "Come on, Momma said it's dinnertime." Charlotte crawled out of the tent, giving Lacey a perfect view of her soiled diaper as she did.

    The two girls joined Alastair and George in putting away the crayons and colouring books. They were almost done when Ella and Francine came back from the downstairs bathroom.

    "OK, anybody else need a change before dinner?" Ella asked matter-of-factly.

    Charlotte looked away and scraped her foot on the floor. "Me," she said quietly.

    "Charlotte made a stinky! Charlotte made a stinky!" Francine began singing.

    Lacey could see that it upset Charlotte who looked like she was about to burst out in tears. For some reason she felt oddly protective of her. "Quit picking on her."

    "Yeah," Alastair chimed in. "Stop being a meanie."

    "Francine!" Ella said sternly.

    Francine stopped immediately. "Sorry," she mumbled, not sounding very sincere. Charlotte however didn't notice and went off with Ella.

    Lacey sat down next to Alastair. "So you're all wearing diapers?" she asked quietly.

    "Yeah. That's the first thing to go. Then it's numbers and letters like I told you. And finally you don't even remember anything from before." He nodded slightly towards Francine and George.

    "That doesn't sound so bad. I mean, apart from the diapers this place doesn't sound all that bad."

    "Are you kidding? It's the same day over and over and over. The rain starts at the same time every day." He pointed out the window. "And by the time Mom puts the rest of the food back on the stove, it'll stop raining. Then just after sunset it'll get kinda windy. Tomorrow morning, just after breakfast, a big fish is going to jump in the pond, and so on and so on. Every day is the same and every day you feel a little of yourself slip away."

    "How long have you been here?"

    "Shhh," Alastair said as Ella and Charlotte returned. "She doesn't like us talking about that."

    Charlotte sat down next to Lacey. Her face was cleaned up and her hair was in pigtails. Ella looked at Lacey. "How about you dear? Are you sure you don't need a change?" Lacey nodded. "OK then," Ella said and began putting plates on the table.

    During dinner, Ella had the children talk about what they had done that day. The stew was tasty, but a little bland. After they were done, Ella rose to put the big pot back on the stove. Alastair gave Lacey a nudge and glanced towards the window. Outside, the rain had stopped and clouds had parted to show a rosy sky.

    ***

    After dinner, Alastair, Charlotte and Lacey retreated to the attic. Charlotte lay on the floor, drawing, while Alastair and Lacey sat in the tent.

    "OK," Lacey said, "so the days really are repeating themselves."

    "Mm-hm."

    "And you keep forgetting your old life, little by little?"

    Alastair nodded.

    "Well, how quickly does it happen? I'm guessing you've been here the shortest."

    "Actually, George came after me. I think you lose yourself more quickly if you don't resist and he just went along with it from day one. Almost like he was running away from something."

    "So that's what you've been doing? Fighting it?"

    Charlotte scowled at them. "Momma says 'no fighting'," she said solemnly.

    "It's OK Charlotte, we're not fighting."

    "Um, 'kay," she said and returned to her drawing.

    "So, how long have you been 'enjoying' this summer?" Lacey made air quotes.

    "I don't think 'enjoying' is the right word, and why were you doing that thing with your hands?"

    "What do you me- Oh, the air quotes. They mean ... Look, never mind that. How long?"

    "I don't know," Alastair said. "Numbers, remember?"

    "OK, let's try something else then. Do you get older when you're here?"

    Alastair shrugged. "I don't think so."

    "So what do you remember from before you came here. Do you remember who's president?"

    "I'm not sure. Kind of a goofy-looking guy. Really short name."

    "Bush?" Lacey suggested.

    "Yeah, that's it. Bush."

    "That means you've been here m-"

    "And that other guy," Alastair interrupted, "he'd fit right in here. He couldn't spell either."

    "What do you mean?"

    "I don't know how to do it now, but 'potato'?"

    "Oh my god. You meant Bush One. You've been here for..." Lacey paused longer than she normally would have had to , "...more than 25 years?"

    Alastair just sat there, looking more and more uncertain. "I don't know," he mumbled.

    For a few minutes, they just sat there. The only sound was the scratching sound of Charlotte's crayons and the wind picking up outside.

    "So how do we get out of here?" Lacey finally asked.

    "I don't know. I don't even know if I ever knew. It's like I'm trapped in a dark cellar."

    "Why don't you just go back up the stairs?" Charlotte asked, putting down her crayons.

    "It's not really a cellar Charlotte," Alastair said with a sigh.

    "Hang on," Lacey said. She grabbed Alastair's arm. "How did you get here?

    "I'm not sure," he said hesitantly. "It's all so fuzzy. It's like it's me, but not me. Like-"

    "A mirror image," they both said.

    "What do you mean?" Alastair asked.

    "We try what Charlotte suggested. We go out the way we came in. We'll just have to hope that it works for all of us."

    "So where is this way out then?"

    "Up the hill and into the woods," Lacey said vaguely.

    "That's it? We're never going to find it in the dark."

    "OK my little munchkins, it's bedtime," Ella's voice called from downstairs.

    "But mooooom..." Charlotte complained.

    "Now now, tomorrow's another day."

    "Okay," she said dejectedly and headed for the stairs. Alastair and Lacey followed close behind.

    When they came down, Ella kneeled down and wiped a smudge off Lacey's cheek. "I set up your bed in Charlotte's room since you two are such good friends already." Charlotte squealed with delight at the news. Ella handed Lacey a toothbrush. "Now you go brush your teeth while I get Charlotte ready. And Alastair, once I'm done with Charlotte it's your turn to have a bath."

    "Again?" Alastair whined, suddenly sounding more like a kid than before. The look Ella gave him clearly told him that the matter was not up for discussion. "OK mom," he said and headed downstairs. Lacey went to the bathroom and, standing on a stool, she barely managed to reach the shelf where the toothpaste was. It was hard to control the oversized toothpaste tube and she ended up squeezing out a lot more than she intended.

    After she was done, Lacey took off her dress and tried to take off her diaper, but the tapes just didn't want to come loose. She even tried to wiggle out of them, but despite feeling somewhat loose, the didn't want to go down past her hips. Nor could she push it to the side to pee. The more she tried, the greater the urge became, until it was almost painful. She finally accepted the fact that the diaper was not going anywhere. She was going to have to wet it; and soon. Lacey was just standing still, almost holding her breath when she heard footsteps and Charlotte's happy chattering. OK, if I wet it now, I can get changed right away. That won't be so bad. Lacey tried to let go, but couldn't. Then she had an idea. She sat down on the toilet. The feeling of the toilet seat was enough of a sense memory to let Lacey let go. She felt a warm rush surround her crotch and seep towards her butt. Lacey slid off the toilet, feeling the warm squish of her diaper just as the door opened and Ella peeked in.

    "So," she asked, "are you still dry?" obviously seeing that Lacey wasn't.

    "No," Lacey said, almost whispering. Shame and frustration at having had to wet herself almost made her want to cry.

    Ella knelt in front of Lacey and stroked her cheek. "Don't cry, dear. That's what they're there for. Come along; mommy'll make it better." She took Lacey's hand and led her out the door. Lacey tried to grab her dress before she leaving the bathroom. "Oh just leave it pumpkin. Nobody'll mind."

    Ella led Lacey down the stairs. On the way, they passed George and Lacey instinctively tried covered up her bare chest and diaper. George, however, didn't even seem to notice that Lacey was topless. Once inside the downstairs bathroom, Ella helped Lacey up on the giant changing table. Lacey winced at the squishy sensation as she sat down on the wet diaper.

    "Now lie back and we'll get you washed and ready for bed."

    Lacey lay back. Lying on the changing table wearing nothing but a wet diaper felt weird and humiliating; almost like she was on display. She desperately wanted something to cover up with. While Ella undid the tapes and pulled off the diaper, she hummed a melody that was annoyingly familiar, but Lacey couldn't place it. The whole situation felt so awkward that Lacey just closed her eyes. She almost jumped when she felt a warm wetness on her crotch.

    "Wha-"

    "Shh baby. Mommy just has to wash you so you don't get sore." The childish tone only made Lacey feel more awkward. Ella dried and powdered Lacey before quickly putting a new diaper on her. "There we are. Doesn't that feel all better?" she asked, giving Lacey's crotch a quick pat before helping her down from the changing table.

    The new diaper was much thicker than the one she had worn before. Lacey couldn't even bring her legs all the way together and had to waddle slightly when she walked.

    "Why is it so much thicker than the other one," she asked.

    "We wouldn't want any leaks at night, would we?"

    "I guess," Lacey admitted.

    "Now, did you brush your teeth?"

    Lacey only nodded in reply. She was still fascinated with the extra bulk between her legs. It felt very different from the extra thick towel diapers she had experimented with.

    Ella took Lacey's hand. "Okay then, off to bed we go." Charlotte was standing in the doorway to one of the rooms when they came up the stairs. Like Lacey, she was also wearing nothing but a diaper.

    "Well hello there little munchkin. Why aren't you in bed yet, and where's your nightdress?" Ella asked.

    "It's too hot," Charlotte said, looking down and biting the tip of her thumb.

    "I guess you're right," Ella said. "But hop in bed now."

    "Okay," Charlotte chirped and ducked back inside. Ella and Lacey followed her.

    The room wasn't very big. There was a dresser by the wall opposite the door and a bed on either side. By the foot of each bed was a toy box. Everything was oversized and painted in cheery colours. Charlotte was already in the bed on the left. Ella tucked them both in and kissed them good night. It was years since Lacey had gone to bed this early, but for some reason she was so tired that it didn't take her more than a few minutes before she fell asleep.

    Lacey woke up from somebody shaking her shoulder. For a moment she looked around in the gloom, having forgotten where she was, then she saw who had woken her up. Charlotte was standing next to her bed, clutching a worn teddy bear to her chest with one arm.

    "What is it Charlotte?"

    "Can we sleep with you? Mr Bear thinks it's scary when it's dark and windy."

    "OK, sure," Lacey mumbled and lifted the duvet. Charlotte crawled into bed and lay down next to her, snuggling close. Lacey pulled the duvet over them both and wrapped an arm protectively around Charlotte who was already half asleep with her thumb in her mouth.

    ***

    When Lacey woke up, she was lying pressed against the wall. Charlotte was lying on her stomach; arms and legs spread as if she was skydiving, yet still managing to snore softly. Lacey caught a whiff of something and made the mistake of lifting the duvet. The smell that hit her nostrils made it quite clear what Charlotte had done. Lacey carefully made her way around Charlotte to get out of bed. She looked out of the window at the beautiful day outside. The sun was shining from a blue sky with only a few fluffy clouds. She opened the window to let in the fresh air. Or let out the smell. What had that girl been eating?

    Outside, the birds were singing. Lacey leaned on the windowsill and listened to the world waking up. Suddenly her crotch grew warm as she wet herself. Lacey was shocked. She hadn't noticed that she needed to pee until it was too late. Also, she didn't find wearing a wet diaper anywhere near as distasteful as she had the day before. This place is affecting me already. I have to get out of here.

    Charlotte stirred and stopped snoring and Lacey walked over to the bed. She knelt next to it, taking care not to put weight on her diaper.

    "Good morning Charlotte," Lacey said, carefully brushing the hair out of Charlotte's face. "Did Mr Bear sleep well?" she added.

    "Morning." Charlotte started to roll over on her back, but Lacey stopped her.

    "Can you keep a secret?" Lacey asked quietly.

    "Mm-hm." Charlotte nodded.

    "Me and Alastair are going on a treasure hunt today."

    Charlotte perked up. "Can I come too?"

    "Of course you can, but we can't tell anybody. Especially Ella."

    "Who?"

    "Mom," Lacey corrected. "It'll be our secret. Just you and me and Alastair."

    "Okay. So where is it?"

    "Where is what?"

    "The treasure."

    "Oh. Um... We don't know." Charlotte looked confused. "That's why we're looking for it. I mean, it wouldn't really be a treasure hunt if we knew where it was, would it?" Lacey added. The answer seemed to satisfy Charlotte.

    "Come on, let's see if Mom is up so we can get you changed." Lacey helped Charlotte up and they headed downstairs. They were halfway down the stairs before Lacey realised that they were both wearing nothing but diapers.

    "Wait here," Lacey said and darted back up the stairs as quickly as the swollen diaper and slightly too big steps would allow. She returned with a couple of nightdresses from the dresser, but Charlotte was already downstairs and headed for the kitchen. Lacey quickly pulled one of the dresses over her head and followed her. It was a little too small so she couldn't quite get it over the diaper, but didn't really care as long as her breasts were hidden. She didn't really want to run around topless even if nobody else seemed to care about that.

    Lacey followed Charlotte through the kitchen and out onto the porch. There, sitting on the porch swing in the morning sun was Ella.

    "Morning Momma," Charlotte said and gave her a hug.

    Ella sniffed the air. "Smells like one of you need a change." She looked at Lacey. "Or maybe both of you?" Ella got up from the swing and took Charlotte's hand. "Come on munchkin. Let's get you cleaned up."

    It took a while, but eventually Ella and Charlotte returned. Charlotte was wearing the same type of short dress as the day before, except it was pale yellow today, and her hair was back in pigtails. Lacey was next and in no time at all, she was washed and powdered. Ella held up two diapers for her.

    "So, teddy bears?" she wiggled one of the diapers. "Or do you want the pretty flowers?" she wiggled the other.

    Lacey decided it was probably best to play along to avoid raising suspicion. She pretended to think about it for a few moments and then she gave a little giggle and pointed at the diaper with the flower prints.

    "El... I mean, Mom?"

    "Yes dear?"

    Lacey wrinkled her nose. "I don't like dresses. Can I have pants like Francine? Pretty please?" she said, knowing that if she was going to be walking around the forest, she wanted pants and not a dress that would get caught on everything.

    "Are you sure? You looked so pretty in your dress yesterday."

    "Mm-hm." Lacey nodded.

    "Well OK, but then you have to remember to let me know if you have to go poopies."

    "Like now?" Lacey asked, feigning innocence.

    "Oh, you have to go now?" Lacey nodded in reply and was quickly helped off the changing table and to the toilet. Sitting down and letting go felt better than in a long time. Still, Lacey was surprised at how little it bothered her to be doing this in front of someone who was essentially a stranger. This place is really getting to me.

    Minutes later, Lacey was washed, powdered, diapered and back in the kitchen. She was wearing overalls with colourful patches sewn on the bib and on one of the knees. Charlotte was sitting by the table drawing something. Lacey looked over her shoulder. In the middle of the paper was a house.

    "What's that?"

    "It's a treasure map of course. We can't go on a treasure hunt without a treasure map"

    "Ah, of course," Lacey said. "Why didn't I think of that?" She sat down next to Charlotte and helped her with the map, drawing trees along the edges. Ella went back outside and for a while it was just the two of them. The house seemed almost cosy; even if it repeated the same day over and over. Stop that! Lacey shook her head to clear it.

    As the others waddled through the kitchen door, Ella got them changed and dressed and soon enough, it was time for breakfast. It had been ages since Lacey had oatmeal porridge for breakfast, but she had to admit that it was not only delicious, but also filling. By the time she was done, she felt as though she had a stomach full of concrete. Walking was almost a little uncomfortable. Ella sent all the children outside to play while she cleaned up. Francine and George found their boats and headed off for another round in their apparently eternal race.

    "I still don't see why they can't come along," Lacey told Alastair as soon as they were out of earshot.

    "Francine would rat us out in a heartbeat. We wouldn't be able to trust her."

    "Yeah, she's a big, old, meanie doody-head," Charlotte chimed in.

    "And George? He seems like a nice enough guy."

    Alastair nodded. "He is. But you didn't see him when he came here. As bad as this place is, I think he had it worse back home."

    "Are you sure?" Lacey still felt bad for leaving the two behind.

    "As sure as I can be."

    Lacey sighed. "OK then. So it's just the three of us," she said and started up the hill she had come down only the day before.

    Once they reached the trees, Charlotte pulled out her map and started walking off to the left. Lacey had to stop her and point out that she was holding the map wrong every couple of minutes. As the walked deeper into the forest twigs and branches began to get caught in their clothes and the ground changed. It was no longer the smooth dirt that was easy on their bare feet. All of a sudden, pebbles and and prickly, dry grass appeared.

    "I think we're on the right track," Alastair said. "It's almost as if the forest doesn't want us to walk this way." Lacey agreed.

    Charlotte sat down on a big root. "I don't wanna do this any more. It's no fun," she complained. "What's in this treasure anyway?"

    Lacey saw that they were about to lose Charlotte. She sat down next to her.

    "You know how it's summer now," she said. Charlotte nodded. "Don't you miss the winter? Snowmen, snow angels, hot chocolate..."

    "And Robinmas?" Charlotte said, her eyes lighting up.

    "Yeah. And Robinmas. That's what's in the treasure: Winter."

    That seemed to be enough to motivate Charlotte so they continued onwards. After quite a while and two tears in Charlotte's dress, they found the clearing. Lacey thought the shed in the middle looked a lot creepier now than it had yesterday.

    "The treasure's in there?" Charlotte asked nervously as she tried to hide behind Lacey.

    "I think so."

    Lacey took a step forwards and all of a sudden the summer day didn't feel quite as nice and warm. There was a clammy chill in the air.

    "I'm scared," Charlotte complained. "I don't like this place. I want Mr Bear."

    "You can hold my hand Charlotte," Lacey said and held out her hand. "

    "M'kay," she said, grabbing the hand, but still walking behind Lacey and Alastair. Lacey didn't need to look back to understand that while she was holding one hand, the thumb of the other hand was firmly in Charlotte's mouth.

    "You know what Charlotte," Lacey said, trying to sound cheerful. "I think it's supposed to be scary. After all, it wouldn't be a real treasure hunt if it wasn't, would it?"

    Finally, after what felt like hours, they reached the door. Lacey pushed it open to reveal a brilliant golden light.

    "Do you guys see that too?" Lacey asked.

    "Uh-huh."

    "What's that light?" Charlotte wondered.

    Alastair took a step forward. "Be careful," Lacey warned. "We don't know if it'll work."

    "Honestly, either way it'll be better than staying here," he said and walked into the light.

    "Alastair?" Lacey called after a few seconds, but there was no answer. The only sound was a steadily growing rumble behind them. Lacey glanced back over her shoulder and saw that the perfect blue sky was filled with dark clouds, and lightning flashing more and more frequently.

    "Come on Charlotte. We have to go too," Lacey said

    "But I'm scared."

    "It's OK. I'll hold your hand all the way. And I promise I won't let go."

    They took another step closer. Lacey held her breath as they stepped across the threshold and into the light. For a brief moment there was the sensation of falling, and then nothing.

    ***

    A light woke Lacey up. She yawned and stretched, peering into the pre-dawn gloom to see the familiar things in her tiny apartment. Outside, the street light were swaying in the wind. Wow! That was a crazy dream. She untangled herself from the sheet and sat up. That's when she saw it. She wasn't wearing the towel diaper, but a big, puffy diaper with a cheerful flower print. And it was wet.


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