- Adult Baby
- Diaper Lover
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**BEST wishes on the procedure IF its needed**Yes, I'm nearly 37 weeks. (almost full term) and have a possibility of being induced between today and a week from now due to pre eclampsia. Yay, gestational hypertension! Lol only because then I get to meet my lil girl sooner than expected
Thanks for your support and help in writing my first shared story. I've made some changes to help with the early pacing (my personal biggest gripe) and added some further character development. Hopefully this will address some of the constructive criticism I have received on the early chapters. Chapter One has had the most changes, because I felt torn between writing something simple and cutesy and something slightly more complicated. And slightly more complicated (while still cute I hope) has won the fight. I'm going to move Chapter Two into a second post. Originally it was attached to Chapter One in the first post. Anyways, your support and guidance is soooo greatly appreciated. All your comments, good or bad, have helped me to hopefully become a better writer.
A special thank you to JubeyKitty, Teddy, and Albasion for their input and suggestions for a better story. Also a big thank you to Tripped and/or whichever mod will end up helping me post these changes and update my story.
So far, Ryan Mulligan had seen death only three times.
The first time was when he was eight, staring at his goldfish, floating on his back in the little glass bowl. He'd tapped on the glass a few times and then looked over his shoulder at his mother in great confusion. She'd frowned at him. The second time was in the sixth grade. A thin boy named Andrew went out sick and never came back to sit behind him again. After a month of his absence, Ryan had gotten suspicious. During the drive home from school he asked his mother where Andrew had gone. She simply frowned at him again. So the final time, at the age of twenty-four, when his mother frowned at him over the white sheets of his grandmother's hospital bed, Ryan was pretty sure her outlook was not good. Two weeks later, Ryan went to his first funeral. He'd spent nearly the entire gloomy ceremony with his head bowed down, floppy brown hair falling into his eyes. He repeatedly tapped his fingers against the side of his pants. Pinky, ring finger, middle finger, pointer finger, thumb. Then he paused, tapped his thumb a second time, and went back the other way.
This was one of the things he did when he was a little uncomfortable. It was imperative to his safety that he did, in fact, tap his fingers the exact right way whenever his brain requested it of him. So he also tap tap tapped his fingers and escaped into a daydream through the entire reading of the will. It wasn't until he heard his sister squeal that he dropped back into the real world. "Are you serious? Ryan gets the house?"
"You and I have already got our own houses, Sarah," said Ryan's mother. "It's only fair."
"But, she's kidding, right?" asked Sarah.
"Enough," said Ryan's mother. And that was the end of that.
Sarah was a few years older, already married, and she did indeed have a house of her own. Mostly her own, that is. Part of her house was owned by the bank, as parts of most people's houses are. Ryan got a good deal - no bank owned any part of grandma's house. Ryan's house, he realized, smiling. No longer would he wake up to the high heel clomps from the apartment above him, or have to wear headphones every time he watched television for the benefit of the apartment beside him. He'd have to get a different job, he realized, but that was part of the good news, too. Working as a waiter was not particularly suited to his skills, and he was glad to be getting out before he burned somebody's lap with steaming hot soup. Better jobs surely awaited him in this new town.
So then there was the move, which consisted of one Toyota packed to the roof and a six hour drive that left Ryan with a headache. His GPS began getting confused about the second he passed a big green sign that said Welcome to Northbarrow. Underneath the gold lettering it said in white blocks with black numbers: Population - 832. He imagined that tomorrow an old man with a bucket of paint would come around and change it to 833. Maybe not. He was technically taking his grandma's place. Old people are always moving on to make room for the new ones.
There were bluebirds sitting on the old-fashioned lamppost just before the cobblestone walkway. The comforting sight very nearly took his headache away. He stretched his legs and found the energy to unpack the car, leaving the little foyer with a ticking grandfather clock now stuffed with boxes and bags. From all the lifting and trips back and forth, Ryan was so tired that his eyes stung and his back ached. He fell asleep on top of the fluffy white comforter without even taking off his sneakers.
Being an adult can be hard. Don't let anyone tell you any differently. But it was especially hard for Ryan, who suffered from an obsessive compulsive disorder so bad that he had to talk to a therapist once a week and take at least one pill a day. When things got to be their worst, and all he could do was gulp for air, there was a special bottle of pills. And he nearly dipped right into it today. Ryan had to unpack, clean up the house, and decorate it to less geriatric standards, all while trying to find a new job so he'd have electricity next month. And like he'd always done, Ryan became a slave to the details of things. Instead of browsing the classifieds, he spent an hour trying to unstick ribbon candy from a pretty crystal bowl, untangling stockings from the shower rod, and organizing a big drawer full of family photos. And that made him miss his grandma, of course. Those sorts of things always hurt more than funerals.
It was sometime after he burned his lunch in the unfamiliar oven when Ryan felt like dropping into the fetal position and crying. Normally if he was here, in this house, his grandmother would be the one cooking. And she never got angry when Ryan would watch over her in the kitchen, asking that she wash her hands more often than she'd care to normally. Sometimes it felt like she was the only one who understood his needs at all.
Ryan opened a window to clear the slightly smokey kitchen, eyeing the pretty yellow house next door. It had a white picket fence all around it and two chipmunks chased after each other in the flowers. Most importantly to Ryan, everything was in its right place. It was the rare circumstance of perfection. He used his phone to snap a picture of this idyllic house, making sure to get the bird feeder in the shot, where one red robin pecked for his lunch. That was when the doorbell rang and nearly made him bang his head into the window frame. It had three musical bings like little bells. Bing bing bing.
That was when he met Dorie, the young lady who lived in that very picturesque dwelling. They were nearly eye to eye, seeing that Ryan was somewhat small and Dorie was somewhat tall. They were both five foot eight. She stood on his grandmother's welcome mat in an old-fashioned blue dress with big buttons. The ends of her blonde hair were flipped upwards in a curl, and her lips were painted a pretty red. Ryan couldn't help but to check down the street, making sure all the cars hadn't turned into big boaty things. It seemed the time disturbance had only occurred inside of Dorie, though, and nothing else was affected. "Hi! I'm Dorie Jones, from next door." She pointed to the yellow house with the white picket fence.
"Oh!" said Ryan. Then he suddenly dropped eye contact because he got shy around new people, especially if they were attractive women around his age. The best quip he could make right now involved how he totally took a picture of her house a minute ago, and that would sound extremely creepy. "I'm Ryan, uh, Mulligan."
"I know," said Dorie. "I've brought you a casserole and apple pie. You know, like a welcome to the neighborhood. People don't do that enough, anymore."
Ryan was pretty sure people didn't do that at all anymore. But that made him like her a little more. The quirky girls always caught his fancy.
Dorie's hands were covered in oven mitts, protecting her skin from the hot casserole dish. Ryan tried to help by getting the warm pie tin off the top and opening the door a little wider. Before he could get more than a thank you out, Dorie was speaking again. "She talked so much about you. Your grandmother. Don't tell your sister, but I think you were her favorite. She called you sweet little Ryan and whenever she said your name she smiled. 'Look out for my sweet little Ryan,' she'd say, when she was just starting to get sick. Oh my goodness, what's burned?"
Ryan felt his cheeks flushing from the sweet little Ryan comment. But he didn't feel like tapping his fingers or finding an excuse to escape. It was alright, the way Dorie said it. Even when she remarked on his poor job of cooking, she wasn't rude or judgmental about it. "I burned my lunch," said Ryan. When it happened, he wanted to just give up everything about life, but now he kind of breathed out a quiet laugh.
"Oh my," said Dorie, holding up a charred black stick from the baking pan.
"It was supposed to be french fries. I found them in the freezer."
"This oven's off, you know. Runs hotter than it says. Your grandma was going to remodel the kitchen, and get everything upgraded. But..."
"But she got cancer," said Ryan.
"Yeah," said Dorie. "Are you okay?"
When he was little, his big sister Sarah had told him that if he had to sneeze and didn't want to, all he had to do was stare at the ceiling and say pineapple in his head. After a while Ryan learned that it could sometimes stop him from crying, too. So his eyes focused on the ceiling and he said pineapple pineapple pineapple and soon the tightness in his throat faded away. "I'm just hungry," he said.
"Good thing I made you some green bean casserole," she said.
"That's my favorite of all the casseroles."
"I know," said Dorie. She smiled at him, and found two plates in the cupboard. "This is your grandma's recipe."
Though he longed to ask how much, exactly, she knew about him, Ryan just made polite conversation while they ate together. It turned out the Dorie was a dancer and would love to find professional work, but didn't want to move into the big city where all the best jobs were. Her real job was as a dance teacher, helping little girls in tutus learn to spin on their toes.
"I just like it so much in Northbarrow," said Dorie. "Everyone here knows everyone else. It's so nice knowing there's a friend around every corner. It makes me feel safe."
"That sounds nice. I'm a big fan of feeling safe."
"I ran away once," said Dorie. "When I was about nine, I packed my book bag full of clothes and I tried to go to Philadelphia - where all the action was. I hitched a ride from a kind old lady, and she drove me around town a while and bought me ice cream and we had a long talk about how dangerous it is for nine-year-old girls to be hitching rides from strangers and trying to go to the city all alone. Then she took me back home and I thought my dad would be furious but he seemed pretty calm. It turned out she called him from the ice cream parlor so he wouldn't worry."
"Aw, that's nice," said Ryan.
"Anyway, that lady was your grandma. Mary."
"Yup," said Dorie. "That's part of the reason why I took to looking after her when she started getting sick, before she went to the hospital. I lived next door by that point, anyway, so it only made sense. Neighbors ought to look out for each other, you know?"
"Yeah. Sometimes she talked about you, but whenever she mentioned your name I thought she was referring to an old friend of hers. I mean, an old friend."
"Well I am seventy-eight," said Dorie.
"What? Are you?"
"Twenty-five," she said, smiling. "You're the most gullible person I've met, maybe. That was supposed to be one of those obvious jokes."
"It's just that there's so many possibilities in the world," said Ryan. "I mean, like, if the giant squid exists and black holes are real then maybe there's a genetic mutation that made an old person look really young."
"That's a good point," said Dorie.
"I should have visited my grandma more than I did," said Ryan. It seemed off topic, by now, and it was, but it had been on Ryan's mind since the day of the funeral.
"Why didn't you?"
"I was afraid," he said. Dorie put her hand on top of his, for a reassuring pat. Then she got up and cut out two pieces of fresh apple pie.
It was while Ryan had his first mouthful of the best apple pie he'd ever tasted, when Dorie further alleviated his troubles. His hunger no longer an issue, now she focused on his job prospects. "I'm friends with a couple who're looking for someone in IT. That was your major in college, wasn't it? Internet technology?"
Even though Ryan had not yet had a career other than waiting tables, his real specialty and his college major was indeed computers. His grandmother had apparently bragged of her grandson's collegiate abilities, at some point. Surprisingly, Dorie must have been paying attention.
That afternoon, when Ryan called the number penned on a torn off piece of envelope, he realized that Dorie had essentially found him the only job for his field at all in this small, rural town. His bosses would be Mr. and Mrs. Parker, who ran a business out of their house selling homemade clothes for dogs, cats, bunnies, and even tiny little dresses and sweaters for hamsters and mice. They wanted Ryan to make them their own online store, fully functional and secure for their customers. After that, he'd be around to maintain it and be their one-man technical support team. It wasn't the highest paying job in the world, but it was more than fair and Ryan would mainly work from home. And most importantly, with this job Ryan wouldn't have to carry precarious trays of food through a crowded restaurant.
"Ed, this is Mary's grandson - the young man Dorie told us about," said Mrs. Parker.
"Oh, right, yes, Dorie's friend," said Mr. Parker.
Ryan hoped Dorie would be his friend, one day. So far she really seemed more like a guardian angel that his grandmother set into place. He adjusted his tie, looking between Mr. and Mrs. Parker, hoping they would ask the kinds of questions he'd prepared for.
Instead, they had completely forgone the job interview. He got the job the second Mr. Parker said that a friend of Dorie's was a friend of his. "Welcome aboard, Ryan!" They shook hands. This firm handshake marked the first time since the drive up to Northbarrow that Ryan felt like a fully capable adult.
"Do you have any pets of your own?" asked Mrs. Parker.
"Not yet," said Ryan.
"Oh you simply must get one!" she said.
"I've always wanted a mouse," said Ryan.
Ryan's favorite time of night was twilight, when the sun's already sunk but the sky's not dark enough for stars. He roamed around his lawn, checking out the shrubs and the hedges. They were overgrown and pointy, really standing out in contrast to Dorie's immaculate yard. "Nice night, huh?" That was Dorie, who stood by her bird feeder, filling it to the brim with seeds.
"It feels like summer, already," he said. There were tree blossoms and fresh grass scenting the air, so it even smelled like summer.
"We've only got another month until it's official," she said. "How do you like it so far in Northbarrow?"
"The people are really great, here. Like you..." he said. Then he gasped, as though trying to suck the words back into his mouth. "I mean, like how you helped me get a job. Which was great."
Not the smoothest of verbal corrections, but Dorie seemed to pay it no heed. She spun the cap back onto her bird feeder, and headed over to Ryan so they wouldn't have to talk so loudly. "Those hedges," she said, shaking her head.
"I wish I had a light saber," said Ryan. "Then I would just... phhvvvzzzuu! Phhvvvzzzzzuu!"
He imitated swiping those hedges into nice straight lines, and then turned to Dorie so he could apologize for being an embarrassment of a human being. But Dorie just laughed, holding up her own imaginary light saber. They broke into an impromptu fight, which culminated in Ryan dropping to the ground and holding his side.
"You've won this battle," he said, his voice an overly dramatic rasp. Then he stared at the lamppost until his eyes lost all focus.
"You were a worthy adversary," said Dorie. She attempted to close his lifeless eyes with a sweep of her palm. Ryan once read that in real life you can't close a dead man's eyes. They'll just keep popping open again. But Ryan played along, keeping his eyes closed and trying not to laugh. Dorie began something of a soliloquy, lamenting the war and her hand in Ryan's departure. "If only there was a way to bring him back," she said. Then she tickled his ribs and Ryan squealed, scooting backwards on the grass. "I've done it!"
They had coffee together that night. Their small talk turned into deeper conversation before they knew it. "Once," said Dorie, "I heard this Buddhist saying. Live every day like your hair was on fire."
"Live every day in terror?" asked Ryan. "Way ahead of you. I think I do that naturally."
"No, just live life to the fullest... and don't just sit there. Do things. Don't wait for things - go out and get things. Live every day like it's your last day on earth."
"Don't you think that maybe that'll lead to dangerous behavior? Like, if I knew I would die tomorrow, I wouldn't be afraid of anything. I'd... do whatever I wanted. I wouldn't buckle my seatbelt, anymore!"
"Well you should definitely buckle your seatbelt," said Dorie. "I mean, just because you'll die tomorrow doesn't mean you should go on letting yourself fly through windshields."
"But I always think I'll die tomorrow, or today, or any minute. That's why I'm like this."
"I think that, too. And that's why I'm like this."
"I probably should have had decaffeinated," said Ryan.
"I could go for one more cup if you're interested."
"Yeah, sure," said Ryan, refilling their cups with fully caffeinated coffee after 8:00pm. "I'm living on the edge!"
Dorie laughed; a sound Ryan particularly loved to hear, especially when a joke of his made her do it.
Until midnight that night, Ryan kept acting like himself. He was nerdy and anxious and quite a bit childlike, and Dorie didn't roll her eyes or groan. Not even when he made a reference to Doctor Who. Being with her felt like a relief. She was like the sun breaking through the clouds. It made him feel more alive than he'd ever been before.
"I think I'm in love with my next door neighbor," said Ryan. His new therapist nodded, writing something down in her notebook. "It's a crush, probably. It feels like that. But maybe it's love, though. It could be, right? Could it be? Anyway, I think I love Dorie."
"Why's that?" asked Doctor Fowler. "What makes her special to you?"
"She played with me."
Ryan felt a blush rising to his cheeks. He was always a blusher, and being fair-skinned only made it more pronounced. "I meant that she had an imaginary light saber battle with me, instead of scoffing or, like, yelling at me to grow up. ...I feel like I can be myself around her, without being ashamed."
"Ashamed of what?"
"Why are you ashamed to be yourself, Ryan?"
"I don't know," he said. But he did know, really, and was too ashamed to tell his new therapist. So he went with the generalized version; the nutshell. "Everyone always believes that being yourself is the best thing. And they say that to each other and they tell that to their kids. Just be yourself, and people will like you. But that's not really true, you know? What they really mean is that you should be just the right amount of quirky. But not too quirky. If you're too much 'yourself' then people stop liking you. So when I was hanging out with Dorie, I kept thinking I'd crossed a line, and was too myself. But it was okay, with her. Maybe she's just a really great liar, or something, but it seemed like we really clicked. Like maybe we were the same amount of weird, inside, so it was okay. You know?"
There were a few more notes scribbled into her notebook. He'd had quite a few therapists, and they always seemed to take the most notes during the first visit. "How is everything else so far?"
"I'm getting kind of stressed out with everything else," he said. "It feels like I'm barely keeping my head above water."
"There's this list of life stressors, Ryan, and you've experienced a lot of the worst ones, all at once. You've just moved to a new town, hours away from your family and friends, and you've also just gotten a new job. And this is right after a death in the family. You need to focus on taking care of yourself, during this transition. Especially because of your history. Do things that relieve stress. Let's talk about that. How do you relieve stress?"
Ryan licked his lips. "Uh..." he said. "You know. Video games."
By the weekend, Ryan was exhausted. He'd done a ton of work on the house, nearly getting it to the point of being a house he could call his own, as well as countless hours building the structure for the Parker's Pretty Pets web-store. He hardly had five minutes to himself that week. And twice Mr. Parker called him over because he couldn't get his DVR to record Survivor.
Nearly to the point of being frazzled, Ryan did something he hadn't ever told anyone about. In his bedroom, he pulled off his clothes other than his briefs, and dressed himself back up in blue footie pajamas. They were spotted with colorful trains, each with three little puffs of smoke. It felt so warm and soft against his skin, and just felt so right all around, that Ryan immediately felt his muscles growing less tense. He set himself up in the den, curled under a white blanket that his grandmother had knitted and sat his old one-eyed teddy bear on his lap, just under his left arm. On the coffee table sat a big sippy cup of apple juice. Technically it was a 'thermos' but it drank and felt an awful lot like a sippy cup, which made Ryan feel happy. He looked to his side to check on his new mouse, who was named Algernon and wore a tiny red sweater. Swag from work. Algernon was currently working out on his wheel. Ryan looked back to the television and pressed start on his video game controller.
A full hour of bliss ensued. It didn't matter what video games he played in this state. They didn't have to be from his childhood, but the act of playing video games in his footie pajamas with a blanket, his bear, and a handy sippy cup nearby, was what always put Ryan at ease, no matter how bad his troubles were. He never told any therapists, or his mother, or anyone at all. It was far too embarrassing to speak of.
When he heard the bing bing bing of his doorbell, his heart fell and melted in the pit of his stomach. He paused the game, but his blood went a little cold. In order to get upstairs and change his clothes in a hurry, he'd have to pass three or four windows. He'd forgotten to lower the shades in this new house, other than the ones in the den. His apartment never asked so much of him. All the windows were several stories up. Someone would have had to climb up the building to his balcony to have spied on him. But now, he was in serious trouble. So he did the best he could think of, and wrapped himself up head to toe in that white knit blanket. It had to be Dorie, which was possibly the person he least wanted to know about this. By now he would consider her a friend that he hoped would be, one day, his girlfriend. And who would date the guy who currently wore footie pajamas with trains on them?
When he answered the door, he possibly looked sick. His face went a little pale from the fear of being discovered, and usually people who can't stand an unblanketed short walk to the front door are several degrees into a fever. Ryan hoped that was what Dorie would think, anyway. And she did. "Aw," she said, "Are you okay?"
"Well..." said Ryan.
She pressed the back of her hand against his forehead. "You feel a little warm. I was going to ask you if you wanted to see a movie with me and a few friends, but..."
"Yeah, I'd better not," said Ryan.
"I'm going to cancel tonight, too," said Dorie. "Let's get you some chicken noodle soup."
"Oh, don't do that, it'll be okay. I'll be okay. Go see your movie! Have fun."
"Don't be silly, Ryan," said Dorie. "We'll get you right as rain again and maybe we can see the movie tomorrow night instead."
Before Ryan could think of a good reason why she shouldn't stay, Dorie was already putting her purse down and hanging up her jacket. So he stayed there, tightly clutching his blanket around his shoulders. So occupied with hiding his footie pajamas, he'd forgotten about the bear and the sippy cup. He thought he could explain them, which he tried, in fact, the moment Dorie walked into the den. "Is this your bear?" she asked, holding the raggedy one-eyed toy up.
"I um," said Ryan, trying to hide the sippy cup behind the couch. "I guess... yeah."
"That's so sweet," said Dorie. "Don't be embarrassed. I think it's sweet that you kept your old bear around. It's very sentimental."
"Thanks," said Ryan.
"Let's get you comfortable here, and I'll find you some soup. You have soup?"
"I have chicken flavored Ramen in the pantry."
"That's probably good enough," she said.
She jogged upstairs to fetch him two pillows from his bed, and apparently a thermometer and Tylenol from his medicine cabinet. If there was one thing Ryan didn't like about Dorie, it was how she seemed to have little understanding of boundaries. But then again, she was only trying to help someone who she thought could be very sick. So she fluffed up his pillows, he laid down with his blanket still wrapped around him, and then before he could stop it a thermometer was placed under his tongue. "Let's see how bad it is," she said.
Ryan nearly whimpered, knowing it would say something around 98 degrees and the jig would be up. But he was torn. He kind of wanted this. He liked Dorie doting on him and taking care of him. Also, it seemed to make his footie pajamas that much more comfortable. It was like his mind bounced between feeling a little elated to feeling terrified, just back and forth like that.
Dorie stuck his teddy bear near his chest, just by his elbow. If he wasn't busy hiding his pajamas he would have grabbed it and held it close. Well, maybe not in front of Dorie. "There you go," she said. "He'll make you feel better."
He almost spilled all the beans at once. He almost said that it did make him feel better and actually he was wearing footed pajamas with trains on them and there was a sippy cup poorly hidden behind the couch. But he knew better. Someone who had an old teddy bear lying around was almost normal compared to spending hours at a time full on regressing back to young childhood. Dorie pulled the thermometer from his lips when it beeped.
"98.7," she said.
Oh terrific, thought Ryan, I'm only point one degree feverish. "I guess the fever went down," he said.
"Yeah. I guess so. You playing video games? Killing aliens?" At least the video games didn't have to be justified. Tons of full grown adults played video games without ever having to explain themselves.
"Not aliens. Zombies."
"Why's the blood blue? Did these zombies used to be royalty?"
"No," laughed Ryan. "If you're not good with blood or if you don't want your kids seeing that much real violence, the game lets you change it to blue or green, you know, less blood-like."
"You're not good with blood?"
"I'm a fainter," he admitted.
"Even when it's fake?"
"Sometimes even then," said Ryan, looking towards the door. Whenever he was embarrassed he found himself looking for an exit before he knew what he was doing. He'd been looking at doors a lot this night.
"Wow," said Dorie. "I've heard of that. Never met anyone like that before, though. I'll get you that soup. You're probably hungry if your fever broke, right?"
"I am pretty hungry, actually," said Ryan. "But it's alright, I mean, now that I'm not as sick. I can make the soup, or whatever."
"You're still getting back on your feet! I'll make it for you. Just relax. Play your game or something."
It was a shame that this perfect bowl of Ramen would cause such grief. It smelled delicious, like far more carefully selected herbs sat inside than that single square packet of salty flavoring. Dorie had even poached this beautiful egg in it, its yolk golden orange. He'd never himself figured out how to do that. But when he sat up excitedly at the sight of this fantastic meal, Ryan's blanket fell right off his shoulders. His little footie pajamas were revealed all the way to his hips. At first he nearly got angry at them, going around showing people that part of him was still about four years old. Dorie smiled, and then covered her smile with both hands.
At the sight of what looked like clear mockery, Ryan made the worst mistake of all. He turned that inner anger to Dorie. "Stop! Don't laugh at me. Stop laughing! I didn't even ask you to come here. You just barged in my house and took over and... just get out! Get out of here! Go away! Don't come back!"
She looked hurt. Her eyes went round and she dropped her hands from her lips. No longer was there a smile, there. Dorie squinted at him, her hands trembling slightly. "I saw the sippy cup behind the couch," she said, because she was now pretty angry, too. That seemed sufficient. Ryan dropped forward to sink his head into his arms, and Dorie made a hasty exit.