42) Little Fur’s Productions Top Of The World
Artwork by Lucca
Video by Pandr
Written by: Personalias
It had been Valentine’s Day when she had become a woman. She was 15 and the wait had been well worth while. Robbie had taken her out to dinner, and a movie. He had been a gentleman the whole night. After the movie, he took her out to lovers’ lane. He lowered the roof of his convertible so that they could see the stars.
It hadn’t snowed that night, so the sky was clear. It was so still cold though, so they cuddled up close together. One thing led to another (doesn’t it always), and he started kissing her neck. Everything tingled. Everything. She felt his hands, his gentle touch as he nibbled on her ear. She melted for him. He could have asked for the world, and she would have given it to him. All he had asked was for her to get into the back seat with him and turn him into a man.
She was saving herself for marriage. That’s what she told her parents, and all of her friends at school. But right then, she didn’t care. She was going to marry Robbie Simmons anyway, so it didn’t matter when they consummated their love. She was invincible.
She didn’t know then that months later Robbie would bail on her as soon as she told him what he had done to her. Deny the whole thing. Call her a whore and a slut. So she said the only word she could thing of. “Yes.”
Robbie scooped her up in his arms, and carried her out of the front seat, like a groom carrying his bride across the threshold. Then with a playful growl, he plopped her down in the backseat, hiked up her poodle skirt, and ripped her wet panties off of her so he could go to work.
Nearly 60 years later, it was still not lost on Lysa Strata that it was that one moment that changed the direction of her life, and after life. She had taken her first steps to claim her womanhood by letting someone hike up her skirt and remove her soiled undergarments so he could go to work. Now the same thing happened to her every day. Now though, her skirts were shorter and her panties were thicker; and nine out of ten times it was a different type of wetness between her legs.
Lysa had had many things in life and death. Beauty, energy, guts, determination, intuition, even brains. Judgment had never been her strong suit though. Her judgment was how she had ended up getting pregnant, running away from home, and dying on the street failing to birth her baby. Her inability to make good decisions was about to cost her again, dearly. This time, it would hurt someone else, too.
When Dante had first come in, she put on the tough girl act, the Rosie the Riveter. If this guy was going to turn out to be another Jamal then she was going to make sure he was afraid of her and listened to what she had to say.
Goddamn Jamal! This was his fault as much as hers. If anyone in Limbo deserved to be relocated to Hell, it was him. If one of the conditions of Limbo wasn’t forgetting how to dress and undress, Jamal would have raped her. Lysa had never been so glad to be diapered as she had on that day.
So she wove her little stories, leaving just enough truth in them, emotionally speaking, to resonate as fact. She resented her parents, perhaps unjustly so, so she made them the incompetents and villains. The Judy’s had insisted that Caroline was her sister for so long, that that lie was pie. And if she had had the courage to kill herself that day, she would have. Instead God did it for her. Lysa was tough, a survivor, and this new fish was going to know it.
But then, in the course of a day, something happened. He got with the program, and actually treated her like a person. Certainly not like Midori back in her prime. And the way he looked at her in the tub that first night: It was like how Robbie looked at her when they first started going steady and he offered her his ring. After she put out, Robbie never looked at her that way again.
She was going to tell him the truth the next morning, but then Dante came and told her about that dream of his. The same way she had run to Jorge after her first night in Limbo. He didn’t want a girl. He wanted a big sister. But he kept looking at her like that. The only reason he respected her was because of the shock and awe she gave him that first day. So she continued to Rosie it up for him. More bad judgment.
Then that snake in the grass got in Dante’s ears and told him just enough to unravel everything. Now she was just Lysa again. Lysa the failure. Lysa the screw-up. Lysa the Liar. She had almost gotten used to that title. It was appropriate to how she survived.
Dante avoided her the next day, even when they were put in the playpen together. He wouldn’t talk to her, wouldn’t look at her. Wouldn’t even acknowledge her presence. Lysa had slapped him once, to get his attention. He just glared at her and started crying his head off. That had earned her a five minute time out. Not worth it.
The other survivors weren’t treating Dante well, though. They had witnessed the break down where he beat himself in the face. They had heard his wailing carry on through the night. They knew. Word was out: Dante was damaged goods. They gave him the same treatment that he had given her. Idiots. Like they didn’t have issues of their own. It’s not like they’d catch it.
Worse yet, they gave her the cold shoulder, too. Jamal had acted fast and pointed out how Lysa the Liar‘s plans were backfiring on her again as she laid crying in the fetal position. Monster. Of course he was glossing over why she reacted by retreating back into herself. Son of a bitch was trying to go for a double play and get both of them to crack. Good luck fucker. She wasn’t much of a teacher, but she had been a great student.
The next day, Lysa had managed to sharpen a crayon to a decent point with her teeth and then jam it into Jamal’s eye before he could react. That got her another spanking and an all day time out. That wasn’t good for Dante. Isolation only sped the process up.
Dante was slipping: She had seen the signs. First he started wetting and messing himself without realizing it. Then his emotions got harder to control and he became subject to mood swings. The cry fest was only the beginning of that. If something wasn’t just right for Dante, his lip would start quivering. Left unattended, he’d whimper and eventually all out cry till a Judy came to check on him. Then they’d feed him, or change him, or tickle him, or give him a new toy- he started playing with the toys a few days ago-, and Dante would be back to himself again. Lysa had gotten a front row seat to one of those incidents while she was perched on the naughty stool the next day.
Vivian was seeing it too, but she didn’t interfere; she just went back to her paints. Selfish bitch. Why was Lysa the only one in this place that looked out for someone by herself. Then again Vivian might not realize that it hadn’t always been this way, poor girl. What was Kevin’s excuse though? AIDS as far as she knew didn’t make you forgetful or stupid. Every survivor, had at least one big baby in their care group anyways. It’s not like they didn’t know what was happening, either. Did they really think they’d catch whatever was making Dante regress?
Next came the oral fixation. Dante put everything in his mouth that he could get his hands on. The Judy’s safety-pinned a pacifier and a ribbon to his shirt so that he’d always have something to suck on. Most of the time, that kept Dante calm. Most of the time.
Then came the baby talk. Not quite gibberish, but people seemed to develop cute little speech impediment as their personalities slid backwards . Dante was no exception. “Pwease tawk to me, guys! Pwease! He had begged as he crawled after a group of survivors like a lost puppy, looking for a home. Complete and utter assholes.
After that, starting yesterday, came the echolalia. As the prisoners approached the threshold of no return, they started losing words, and so just mimicked other people and used their words instead. “Uh-oooh! Wooks wike someone had a’ accident.” Dante said as a Judy checked his diaper. “Time foh a change.” It was bad enough he was turning into a parrot; but the intonation was all wrong too. He didn’t understand everything he was saying, but got the gist and delivered it as best he could, kind of like a bad Shakespearean actor.
Then came the loss of speech completely; and soon after, came the big sleep. They’d go to sleep, and when they woke up, they were a baby. Midori had actually made it till her bedtime, staying awake through naps before she disappeared forever and was replaced by big, stupid, goofy, loveable Dori.
Even with all of this, Dante stubbornly refused to talk to Lysa. It was like his pride wouldn’t let him. He’d rather sink into oblivion than accept her help, her meddling. Had Lysa hurt him that bad? Was what she was doing really all that wrong? What were a few white lies between friends? So what if she lied about who she was and how she got into this little corner of the after-life? It’s not like she had lied or sugar coated the other stuff.
Then again, she realized, how did he know that? Maybe she had a little growing up to do.
It had taken a total of two weeks after the massive public breakdown for Dante to get this far. That made it about a month, since Dante had arrived, the cutoff point for most new fish. The three other big babies that shared mealtimes with Lysa, Midori, and Dante had already crossed the threshold. They were ahead of schedule. They must’ve been suicides. Now they were some of Midori’s best friends, giggling and rolling around on the floor with her. They fit right in.
But it wasn’t playtime right now. It was just after breakfast, and the milk was wearing off. Dante, Lysa, and Midori were all in their giant playpen together. Ironically, or rather, appropriately, they were all dressed the same as the day they had met. Midori in her pink shirt with bows in her hair, sucking on her paci and playing with some blocks that their Judy had tossed into the pen. Lysa was in her too short baby dress, her hair up in stupid pigtails. Dante was in his baby blue onesie.
Instead of asking questions though, Dante was just staring out through the mesh of the playpen. What was he doing? What was he thinking? Was he even fighting it? Had he just given up. Lysa had to meddle. She had to set things right. Somehow.
She crawled up to Dante. As if sensing her presence he tensed slightly. If he had hairs on the back of his neck, they would be standing at attention, his body language read. Good. He hated her. That meant he was still inside there; she had something to work with.
“Dante?” she said. Trying to get his attention. “Dante?”
“Dante?” he echoed back. He didn’t turn around.
Lysa looked up to the ceiling. “Please, Lord,” she whispered, not daring to finish the thought. She shouldn’t pray, here, right now. If everything was to be believed, what she wanted was going against the divine plan. No point in asking the Big Guy upstairs to sabotage his own workshop.
“Dante, please turn around.” she said. It was more of a request. The kid needed kid gloves right now. Rosie the Riveter would just drive him away. Dante, looked over her shoulder, and slowly.
“Tuhn awound.” Dante growled back at her. As far as Lysa could tell, Dante was only echoing now. He was close to the threshold; too close. She’d never forgive herself if she didn’t try, though.
“Dante, I’m sorry.” she plead. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t want you to end up like this. I didn’t want US to end up like this. I’m so sorry.”
“I huwt you,” was all he said back. Lysa didn’t know if she should take that as a threat or an angry agreement. Even now on the brink, he wouldn’t actually listen to her. How infuriating could you get? Here she was still trying to help him, and even in his own limited way, he defied her. This must have been how Frankenstein’s Monster felt towards his creator: Angry and bitter, and driven to spite Victor Frankenstein for the lot in life it had inherited. But why did Lysa feel like she was the monster, right now?
“Damn it Dante! Stop copying me and talk to me! TALK. TO. ME. You’re not some dumb baby, now prove it!” Lysa ripped out her ribbons and undid her pigtails. She always did that when she was stressed. This was the top of the list.
“Damn it blabble abble abble abble ubble mama goo!” Dante shot back. His eyes widened with surprise and he clapped his hand over his own mouth . Baby babble. The last stage before the end. That had woken him up.
“No!” Dante yelled, “nabba gabba gabba!” His face turning red from frustration, his hair getting mussed as he pulled on it in frustration. “Frug ug ug ug ug, moogoo!” He slapped the mat for emphasis. In a fit he threw himself on the floor. The Judy did not come though. She just stayed in her rocking chair, peering into the playpen and watched intently.
SHE KNEW. IT WAS COMING AND SHE KNEW.
Dante screamed, and cried, and bawled. But all that came out was baby babble. A look of certainty and horror crossed Dante‘s face. The end was coming. He knew it too. He rolled on the ground and kicked his feet to try and fight it off, but there was no stopping it. The death of his adulthood was imminent.
It reminded Lysa of the scene from Pinocchio where the bad little boy was turning into a donkey. Nothing short of the blue fairy would be able to stop it or reverse it at that point. She hung her head in shame. She had lost again. Another playmate of hers would regress all the way and leave her alone. She had failed Dante. All she could do now was comfort him till the end.
She held open her arms wide for a hug. “I’m so sorry, Dante.” she whispered. Dante crawled over and accepted her hug. He whimpered in her ear, scared. Terrified really. And who could blame him? Not Lysa. “I know. I know. Midori went through the same thing. I was there for her,” she lied. “Now, I’m here for you.”
His whimpering quieted as she stroked his hair and rubbed his back. Dante’s adult mind was dying; going to sleep forever. Time for her to accept it and brace herself. The world blacked out around them. Time lost meaning. Lysa was vaguely aware of the Judy coming into the pen and then carrying Midori out. Maybe the angels did have a little mercy in them. She was being allowed to be alone with Dante in his final sentient moments.
Dante pulled back. His eyes looked tired, and scared. He was exhausted. The sleep was coming. Not bothering to babble, Dante pleaded to her with his eyes. All Lysa could do was shake her head. “I’m sorry Dante. There’s nothing I can do now.” She breathed in sharply and held her breath to keep from sobbing.
She adjusted herself, so that she was sitting on her heels. She guided Dante’s head onto her lap and laid it there. Lysa caressed his brow as he looked up at her. Time to give Dante a proper sendoff, to sing him a lullaby for the big sleep. But not a child’s lullaby. He didn’t deserve that indignity.
Lysa had never heard of his favorite song before he had told her. And “You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated” didn‘t really sound appropriate. But she didn’t really know any appropriate songs. Then like a boulder, it hit her. She’d sing him her favorite song. Not just her favorite song…but a song about her. She might not have written it, but it fit. The last thing Dante, the real Dante would hear, would be Lysa’s song.
“Do you like songs, Dante?” Dante meekly nodded up at her. Somehow, he knew what was coming too. Or maybe Lysa the Liar was lying to herself to make herself feel better. She sang for him.
“Say it’s only a paper moon,
Hanging under a cardboard sea.
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me.”
She sniffled a little. His eyelids were starting to droop. She went on.
“Yes, it’s only a canvas sky,
Hangin’ under a muslin tree.
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me.”
Getting there. She could see him smile faintly as his eyes closed and her vision blurred.
“Without your love,
It’s a honky-tonk parade.
Without your love,
It’s a melody played in a penny arcade.”
His breathing was slowing.
“It’s a Barnum and Bailey world,
Just as phony as it can be.
But it wouldn’t be make-believe-
Her voice caught in her throat. Dante lay in her lap, sleeping peacefully. Good-bye Dante. Lysa looked up to the sky, hoping no one saw her right now. She started to blink away her tears. She’d have another baby on her hands soon. It wouldn’t do any good to have lil’ Dante see her crying.
Then she heard it.
“If you believed in me.”
Lysa looked down. It was only five words. Five little words and six little notes. But they were the most beautiful six notes Lysa had ever heard. Dante’s eyes were opened. He smiled meekly back at her, but his eyes had a spark to them.
“Hey Lysa,” he whispered. “I think I found two of my anchors.”
“DANTE!” she screamed. Tears rained down from her face, and she bent over and showered him with kisses. They rolled around the pen, giggling like idiots. Like lovers. Then they did something more. If one of the conditions of Limbo wasn’t forgetting how to dress and undress, they would have done a LOT more. The spanking and ten minute time out they both got for “wrestling” was totally worth it. Totally.
All through the rest of the day, Dante’s songs rang out through the nursery. Some say even the magic that filtered outside sounds from the cubicle walls couldn’t keep it out. Some songs, Lysa sang along with in harmony, others she sat in awe of him and just listened. But Dante never stopped singing. Some say, on that day, even the Judy’s paused and heard something more than just baby babble.
Written by: Personalias
Dante sat in the stroller, eyes blank. Time and feeling had decided to take a backseat yet again. His intellect though was already playing catch up. It all made sense, now: The baby instinctively reaching for Lysa’s breasts, Lysa’s death glare at the wet nurse, Jamal’s crack about maternal instinct. Lysa saying she would never lactate, get pregnant or have her period AGAIN. God, how could he have been so naïve? (To be fair, he thought the AGAIN only applied to her period.)
Even the Judy’s insistence on Caroline being Lysa’s baby “sister”, made some sense. The Judy’s were determined to baby everyone, and no matter what the figure of speech was, babies simply couldn‘t have babies. That just wouldn’t go with their methods or programming or whatever it was that made them do what they do. So instead, the Judy’s created a lie, and Lysa went along with it. But why?
“Lysa,” Dante said, feeling an ache as his emotions thought to creep in. “why the hell did you lie to me about who Caroline was?” Lysa looked deep into Dante’s eyes, her pigtails framing her face. Her tough façade melted, and she became softer. Her lip quivered a little.
“I was scared to tell you,” she said. “I thought you would judge me. That you’d condemn me as some whore who got knocked up and not listen to what I have to say.”
“Really?” Dante asked.
“Really.” Lysa said. “I told Dori the truth about me, and she completely turned her back on me. She thought, she was better than me. She ignored everything I had to tell her; everything that Jorge had taught me before he finally ran for it.
“Without me, or anyone else, she slipped away. First she started wetting and not realizing it, then she started baby babbling. Then one day she went to sleep, and when she woke up, she was pretty much like you know her now. She’s a lot nicer to hang out with now, but I still miss the real her, even if she was a bit of a bitch.”
Dante couldn’t imagine Midori as anything other than a babbling kidfant. Had Midori once been a regular girl? A raver maybe, or a bit of a know-it-all catty bitch? The Midori he knew was such a simple creature. All she was concerned with was attention, affection, and what she could and could not put in her mouth. Little things like who you were before she knew you or what was going on in her underwear didn’t matter to her.
“I didn’t want that to happen to you, and it was still the first day,” Lysa told him, “so I lied to make things simpler.”
“Simpler?” Dante asked. “What do you mean?”
Lysa’s eyes remained sincere; honest. Her jaw set. “If I had told you that my parents had given me up for adoption when I was little, because they couldn’t afford me, AND that I was an unwed teenage mother, AND that my foster father and foster mother were the ones that were arguing that night…about me and my daughter. Would you have believed me?”
“Yeah…” Dante said. Lysa pinched his cheek a little bit and gave her sad smile as they were rolled back into the Limbo nursery. It was just after nap time, and so the nursery was opened up into a free for all; toys and babies scattered all over the place.
“Well then,” she said. “That means you’re either a horrible liar, or a really swell guy, Dante.” Her eyes darted down, the sad smile still on her face. She was glowing, really. Well, not literally…but…skip it. As soon as she was unbuckled from the stroller, she leaned over and gave Dante a peck on the cheek. Awesome.
He was about to reciprocate when the Judy lifted him out of the stroller and shifted him over to his hip; the front of his diaper squishing as she moved him. Oh yeah. That. Lysa was helped out of the stroller, and crawled away to go play. Dante was carried over to a nearby changing table and was laid on it.
As the Judy undid the tapes, Dante buzzed at having just been kissed. It wasn’t much of a kiss, just a peck on the cheek, really. Still, it felt amazing. With him figuring out how to use the potty today, and then feeling Lysa’s soft lips on his cheek today might be the best –
“Looks like someone likes having their diaper changed!” the Judy noted Dante’s growing erection at the thought of his playmate. Dante grimaced slightly at that comment, made worse by the cold wipes beings dragged across his groin. He was aroused because a girl that he liked had kissed him, not because he had peed his Pampers! (Wait, these weren’t Pampers. Not Huggies either. No diaper brand really looked like these things. Cherubs? Angel’s Choice? Cushies? Naw. Who would name a diaper brand that?)
“Wow, Dante,” the angel went on, “we made it just in time, bubba. You were THIS close to leaking.” She finished wiping Dante, balled up the used diaper (Bambino? Cuddlez? Comfies? Oh Skip it! A baby diaper is a baby diaper), and threw it in a nearby trashcan. “You must be dehydrated, mister.”
Hold on. Dante could have sworn that not twenty minutes ago, Judy had proclaimed Dante only “a little wet.” Had Dante really wet his diaper even more since he was checked? He hadn’t even noticed. Was everything he gained while around his grandparents leaving him already? He took his thumb out of his mouth when the Judy offered him up a bottle of apple juice. (When the hell did he stick his thumb in his mouth?!)
He sucked down the apple juice as his bum was lowered onto a fresh diaper. How do you use the potty? Remember. Remember. First you need to- his stream of thought was interrupted by another stream coming out of him. “Whoopsie!” the Judy giggled as she quickly and deftly yanked the diaper up to block the air born urine. Most of it was soaked up by the diaper. Just a little got on the changing table and the floor. None of it, of course, got on the Judy.
Dante giggled, then gurgled a bit around the nipple of his ba-ba. He was drinking juice-juice and going pee-pee at the same time. That felt good. And Mama Judy was so silly! She was making those faces at him while she held the front of the diaper down to cover him up. “Geez, Dante”, Mama Judy smiled sweetly down at him. “you could give me a little warning next time.” Dante smiled up at her. “You couldn’t have done that earlier? Or at least wait till I had the diaper all the way up? Oh well,” she smirked, peeling the sodden garment back, “here we go again.”
Something was wrong. Dante shook himself awake and yanked the bottle from his lips. He wasn’t even drinking milk, and was acting like a complete idiot. Going pee-pee while drinking a ba-ba…fuck…urinating while drinking, was something Midori would do, not Dante. He wasn’t even paralyzed on the changing table, he realized. He had had almost total motor control while the Judy was changing him. It seemed anytime he let his mind wander, babyish thoughts and tendencies came right in and made themselves at home in his brain. He might have had a brief respite by the gates of Heaven, but back in Limbo, he was still making negative progress.
The Judy finished changing him for the second time in a row, and sat him down on the floor. Dante quickly crawled over to a corner to sulk in peace. He didn’t want Lysa, or anyone seeing him like this. The fact that he was dressed like Tommy Pickles, and had no way to hide his diaper made him feel more self-conscious after what had just happened. If he had been wearing shortalls or even a onesie, he could have maintained some form of dignity. Instead, all he had on was a T-shirt that came down to his belly-button, and a bulky diaper on full display between his legs.
Speaking of which, the bulk between his legs seemed a little, well, bulkier. Was he wearing a thicker diaper? Were they padding him up because of his extra wetting? Or worse yet- Dante remembered something about newborn diapers being relatively bulkier- were they getting him ready for the…DON’T. EVEN. THINK. ABOUT. IT.
Dante poked at his crotch and experimentally tried to bring his legs together. All the same. No difference. Just his imagination. The extra puffiness was just in his head. Jamal Adams crawled up to his corner of solitude. As always, Jamal wore his usual asshole smile, as well as a white t-shirt and denim shortalls. (Son of a bitch). You could barely see where the diaper was unless you knew what to look for.
“Heeeeey buddy,” Jamal said, all teeth, not even trying to conceal his insincerity. “Hoooow-ya-doin?” he sang.
“Fuck off, dude. I’m in no mood.” Dante tensed, “I know what just happened by the changing table, alright. You can go around making fun of me. Just leave me alone.”
“For the record, kid,” Jamal replied, “it’s not like everyone just stops and watches every time the Judy’s gather ’round you so they can see you humiliate yourself.” he paused. “But yes, I did see it, and likely so did most of the playroom the way you two were carrying on. Her all cheery and giggly that you were pissing into the wind, and you acting like you…that is to say, a freakshow baby.”
Dante just stared at him. It would be so totally worth it to punch him in the face. Right now. One swing.
“Anyway,” Jamal went on, ignoring Dante’s death glare, “I just thought I take my time to say my goodbyes.”
“Where are you going?” Dante asked. Shit. He just walked into that one.
“I’m not going anywhere, kid.” Jamal answered, “It’s you.” (Told ya.) When a kid starts acting like well, how YOU were just a minute ago without the aid of angel milk, that means their getting close to the threshold.” Dante was confu-
“And before you cock an eyebrow and go ‘Threshold?’,” Jamal interrupted Dante’s train of thought, “let me break it down for ya. You‘re close to crossing the line, kid, that point of no return. A few more awkward steps, and everything that you are takes a permanent vacation, and everything that you were circa- I‘m guessing 1995?- takes up residence. Nice knowin‘ ya kid.”
Dante bit his lip. He wanted to argue, but he couldn’t right then. He just couldn’t. Jamal tilted his head, and an emotion that might have been sympathy crossed his face.
“Well this isn’t nearly as fun as I thought it would be,” he said. He sat against a wall so that he was more or less sitting beside Dante instead of in front of him. “Look kid,” Jamal said, dropping his arm around Dante all chummy-like, “if it makes you feel any better, it’s not really your fault. You never really stood a chance.” Dante didn’t reply or ask. He just listened.
“I’m guessing you had a relatively normal and stable life, am I right? Sure I am.” Jamal went on, not waiting for Dante to respond. “Your parents loved you, you loved them, all that good stuff. Kids like you? You don’t last here in this place. You just don’t. You have all of these happy, fuzzy memories of child hood. That way, it’s easier to slip back into those old roles. You secretly want to, even if you don’t want to admit it.” He took his arm away.
“Me and the rest of us who survive here- not so much. None of us had it good back then, so we keep our sanity now. Take Kevin over there.” he pointed to Kevin, the play-doh kid. “Kevin died of AIDS, before they even really knew what AIDS was. Bad blood transfusion or something.
“He was so angry with life that he got kicked out of 3 different schools for fighting. Funny thing is, everyone was so scared of catching his AIDS, that nobody ever fought back; they didn’t want to make him bleed. He told me once that he started making the play-doh people when he was a kid to use them like voo-doo dolls on the kids he picked fights with.
“Vivian,” Jamal pointed to her who was even now making an exquisite piece of art using nothing but finger paint and construction paper, “is a genius. But she has a rare mental disorder that makes it impossible for her to differentiate the passage of time. If you pissed her off once a year ago, all of those feelings, all that anger, that hurt, is just as fresh to her now as if you had just insulted her today. Even I don’t mess with her. I hear the painting helps with that though. Meh.”
“You know what little Dori was?” Jamal asked rhetorically. “A schoolgirl. An average school girl that had the bad luck to get hit by a drunk driver. But she’s all better now. And soon you will be, too.” Midori was busy rolling on the floor and giggling at the top of her lungs.
“And what about you?” Dante asked. “What’s your story?”
“I’d tell you kid.” Jamal answered, “But seeing as how you just got changed into a fresh one, I’d hate to ruin it by telling you. Besides, you forgot to ask about your little Lysa.” Dante’s eyes narrowed. “I saw the kiss. Good huh? That kiss means that she has you wrapped around her finger. Did she tell you that you were a swell guy? She loves that line.”. Dante wanted to tell Jamal where he could stick it. He wanted to punch Jamal’s teeth down his throat, but something made him stay silent and still.
“Lysa’s the oldest kid still sane in this place.” Jamal whispered, “She’s a true survivor. Fuck, she might be my role model if she wasn’t a sociopath and a compulsive liar.” He shot Dante a smile. It wasn’t friendly. “She tell you one about how her dad killed her little sister, then she killed him and offed herself in grief?”
“It was her daughter, and her foster father.” Dante growled.
“Oh, so you already caught her in that first lie, eh?” Jamal hissed. “That’s her favorite. You must have had her cornered for her to whip out her backup. If you call her on that one, she does a one-eighty and is the hooker with the heart of gold. You really think she killed herself?”
“She did kill herself,” Dante insisted.
“Wake up kid!” Jamal practically shouted. Then backed down to a whisper. “Suicides don’t last here. They don’t make it a month, yet alone close to sixty years. Self-haters didn’t have the will to go on in the first life. Why would they persevere in the after-life? Besides, she keeps fucking one big thing up.” He shuffled around so that he was looking Dante straight in the eye.
“When she told you that story? Did she say she cut her wrists like this?” He dragged his fingers across his wrist, just like Lysa had. Dante nodded. “Where have you been dude?” Jamal said. “Everybody knows, that for wrist slitting it’s go ‘down-the-lane’ not ‘across-the-street‘”. He mimed slitting his own wrist downward. “It’s like she almost wants to get caught.”
He was right. How had that slipped by him? “How do you know all this?” Dante asked.
“Because, kid.” Jamal looked Dante straight in the eye. “Once upon a time, I was you. When I first got here, they put me in that playpen with Lysa and Midori and I heard the same lies that you’ve heard. About keeping control, accepting it, not thinking of escape, fighting it by not fighting. Sound familiar?” Dante must have nodded with his eyes if not with his head.
“Yeah, I thought so.” Jamal nodded. “New fish always get brought to Lysa, especially the fighters. Because she cracks them. By the time she’s done with them, they‘re nothing more than Dori over there. She destroys your sense of self better than the Judy’s ever could just by babying you.
“I don’t know if she’s a screw up, or plays the Judy’s game so that they go easy on her, or what. Truth is, I don’t care. But Lysa gets respected around here because she’s the litmus test that determines whether or not you keep your shit together in here.”
“Wanna know how I passed?” Jamal asked, grinning wickedly. Dante shook his head. Jamal answered anyway. “I beat the shit out of her. When I realized what she was doing to me; that I was becoming more infant than man, I knew I had to break ties with her. Had to get her voice out of my head. So I beat her. Badly.” Dante’s eyes went wide. The lump in his throat expanded. He started to sweat.
“I won’t go into the details, but it was pretty fucked up.” Jamal grinned like the Cheshire Cat. “Good thing nobody can actually die here, and the Judy’s can kiss it all better in an instant. But the real finishing touch? I bit off her ear and swallowed it. She got it back, eventually. Best change I ever had. Heheh, why do you think Lysa trained Midori to be her attack dog?” There was silence for a few minutes. Jamal, a cat staring at Dante as if he were a piece of meat. Dante, a mouse hearing about salvation from the Devil.
“Then what happened?” Dante finally asked.
Jamal’s face softened, his grin becoming a thin smile. “I got my freedom. The Judy’s whooped up on me. Put me in time out and did some extra punishments, but it all went uphill from there, friend. They decided me and Lysa should be separated; so I was assigned to a new playgroup. Now sure why I’m telling you all this. Just, you know…food for thought.” If it was possible to swagger and crawl at the same time, Jamal would have just done it.
Dante sat there. Stunned. Amazed. Disbelieving. He didn’t want to believe. But too much of it made sense. He brought his knees up to his chest and hugged them hard, as if they were his anchor to reality. He buried his face and closed his eyes, trying to shut out his senses. Maybe he fell asleep. When next he knew, Lysa was sitting next to him.
“You okay, Dante?” she asked. Dante just looked at her. His vision blurry, his eyes glassy. Had he been crying? He couldn’t remember?
“Why did you lie to me?” he whispered. Lysa brushed his almost too shaggy hair out of his face and looked him in the eyes.
“Sweetie, I already told you. It was the first day.”
“I meant today,” Dante pressed. Lysa looked confused. Hurt even. Was Jamal the one who was manipulating him? Had he fallen for some cruel practical joke? No. “You didn’t kill yourself. You cut your wrists the wrong way for you to bleed out.” Lysa shook her head, spasmed really.
“No, I said I slashed them left to right, not up to”
“It’s up to down to bleed out.” Dante growled. She HAD lied to him. She didn’t know the first thing about what she was speaking of.
“Oh,” Lysa paused. “Then it must have been the gunshot-”
“The gunshot?” Dante interrupted. “The one that killed your father?”
“It backfired on me when I went to shoot my dad again. I was dying anyways, so I slit my wrists to speed the process up. Make it less painful, you know.”
“You just told me this afternoon, that it was your foster father that you killed. That’s why your real parents were in Heaven.” Lysa’s jaw dropped. He had her trapped. He had her trapped and he hated it. Lysa bit her lip and bowed her head.
“Fine, you want the truth? Here’s the truth: I’m a royal fuckup. Just like you. My parents loved me, and gave me everything I ever wanted. Then I went and got pregnant.” Lysa looked up. Tears were flowing down her cheeks.
“I was lucky. I didn’t start showing till about six months. By then, everyone in school knew it, but my parents were clueless. It was…a different time then.” She wiped away here tears as more came seemingly unbidden.
“I was too ashamed to tell my parents, so I ran away. I lived on the streets doing…things…things I’m not proud of.” The phrase “hooker with the heart of gold” echoed in Dante’s mind. “I didn’t live well, but I lived. You’d be surprised,” she sniffed, “there’s a demand and a market for everything, even underage pregnant…” she sobbed a little, not finishing her sentence.
“I died giving birth to Caroline out on the streets. No hospital would take me. I never even got to feed her.” she cried. “And now we’re here. Forever. Because of me she never even got to have a life!”
Dante deadened himself inside. This was just too tragic to be true. He fought every compassionate instinct, every impulse to hold her and tell her it was okay. “You expect me to believe that story?” he managed to choke out.
“It’s the truth,” she whispered. “I swear. The only thing my parents ever did to me was let me choose whether or not I got baptized.” Either she was telling the truth, or she was a brilliant liar. No. Nononono. Fuck her. She lied to him She was probably lying now.
She must have sensed this. “You wanna know what my real anchor is, Dante?” she said wiping her nose on her sleeve, her face beet red. “Guilt. I’m the biggest screw-up in Limbo. Not only did I trap my daughter here, but almost every single person I’ve tried to help has ended up like Dori. I don’t deserve to check out mentally or escape. I don’t deserve to let go of that guilt.
“I tell those stories and lies about myself to try and help people. No one wants help from the screw-up. You feel sorry for the screw-up, but you never rely on them. Even if a screw-up is saying the exact thing you need to know and hear, you’re gonna ignore them. I didn’t want you to think I was a screw-up Dante. I wanted to help you. And now that I know you, I don’t want to lose you!”
She was baring her soul to him. But all Dante could feel right now was resentment, anger, rage. She had manipulated him so that she could feel better about herself. That no good little bitch. He had almost fallen in love with her, and all he was to her was a pet project to improve her track record. “Say something, Dante” she whispered, “please talk to me. I- I’m sorry. I…I…I…I lo-”
“- And you’re going to fail me too so you can have more guilt to hang onto? Is that it?! I’m part of your pity party?!” Dante couldn’t let her finish that sentence. He’d have been trapped forever if she had finished that sentence. Lysa just shook her head. She was biting her lip so hard, a bit of blood trickled out. “You gonna keep telling me lies? Distract me till I end up like Dori? That way you can teach me pet tricks so I’ll bite and cry on command too?!”
Lysa pleaded with him. “That’s not it at all! Please….just listen to m-”
“FUCK YOU!” Dante roared, “YOU DON’T GET TO BE THE VICTIM HERE. YOU AREN’T THE VICTIM! YOU NEVER WERE! YOU’RE JUST A STUPID SPOILED WHOR-”
Lysa’s hand came right across Dante’s face. The whole play area stopped. Silent. Everyone was looking at them. There was no covering it up this time. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Jamal, smiling, giving him the thumbs up. Now was the time. It was now or never.
Dante reared back his hand, clenching it into a fist. Lysa shrunk back. “You talked to Jamal,” she whispered, her voice quavering with fear.” Dante clenched his fist, and closed his eyes, and swung. His aim hit true.
Dante Willis broke his own nose as he punched himself in the face. He couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t bring himself to hit her, even after the truth came out. He hated her right now. Hated her lies, her meddling, her stupid fucking pigtails. Note amended: FUCK. HER. But he couldn’t bring himself to strike her. It was wrong. He was not Jamal Adams and he never would be, even if meant he was doomed to become a baby.
Blood gushed from his nose and his vision flooded with saline. Lyrics danced around his brain as he continued to brutalize himself. “I wanna put my tender, heart in a blender, watch it spin around to a beautiful oblivion. Rendezvous then I’m through with you.” Great. Just great. Here he flipping out, and the best his brain could manage was Eve 6. Lysa just staid there, crying, pulling on her pigtails as she curled up in a fetal position; reliving a past trauma she had suffered.
Judy’s rushed to Dante. They kissed his nose and it healed. Even the blood was instantly gone. He didn’t care. He kept crying. They checked his diaper and found him dry. He kept crying. They blew raspberries on his tummy. He giggled for two seconds as a wave of happiness surged through him, and then cried harder.
They were forced to treat him like any mother without super powers would. All they could do was just take turns holding him, and try to comfort him with their presence and touch. He let them. He didn’t put up a fight. If he cried loud enough, the mommies would pay more attention to him, and he needed attention right now. At least the Judy’s were honest in their intentions. You knew what to expect from them.
Dante Willis cried all through dinner, all through bath time, and eventually bawled himself to sleep. He didn’t know whether his tears were that of a whining child or of a heart-broken man. And that was what scared him the most.
Draw by: toddlergirl
Please not this is not a drawing that i have made and the character is not me.
Petie have already watch this Doll packing machine and i think he dont wont to see it again. I only hope the found him before the send out this doll to the store. But it should be a nice drawing if the dont find him in time.
You can see the first pitcher on this link: http://www.myabdllife.com/2012/09/24/dolly-petie/
A MP3 Download – Instant Baby Sleep Sound Track
This was something new. How can a baby fall asleep to this sounds? Maybe the sounds should simulate some sort of car sound or something. Wounder how many parents have found this to work for there child.
This site seams to be working whit some similar products.
Written by: Personalias
Dante immediately told Lysa the next morning about the horrible nightmare he had had the next morning. “Don’t let it rattle you,” Lysa had told him. “It was just your typical survivor’s dream. We all have it from time to time. It’s perfectly natural.”
“But it seemed so real,” Dante had said to her.
“Homesickness is a bitch.” she smiled sadly. “Anyways, let’s just focus on you getting used to this place.”
It had been a little over two weeks since then. Much like spending two weeks at summer camp, where you’re kept constantly busy and away from everything and everyone that was familiar, it felt much longer. Two weeks of constant babying- the scheduled feedings, the naps, the stupid activities and playtime, and of course the diapers- made Dante feel like he’d been there for a month, not half of one.
After a rough first day, Lysa and Dante had really hit it off. They did everything together. They played, ate, and bathed together, but mostly they just talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. Dante felt as if he already knew more about her than he knew about any other girl he had ever met. (Not hard, considering his past, but still cool.)
They knew each other’s favor color, (Him: Blue Her: Purple), favorite book, (Him: I am the Cheese. Her: Frankenstein) favorite movie (Duck Soup for both of them oddly enough.) and favorite song (Him: Gotta’ Keep ’Em Separated. Her: Paper Moon). For her part, Lysa was fascinated on what had been going on in the living world when last Dante left it. So intense was her questioning, that at times it felt more like an interrogation at times.
“Who’s the president, now?” she asked one day.
“Barack Obama.” he answered.
“Of America, I mean.” she clarified.
“No, that’s his name. He’s black…er…Negro” he replied. Lysa rolled her eyes.
“I know what ‘black’ means, you big dope.” Lysa informed Dante. “I’m lost to current events, not language. Wait. Black President? Seriously?”
Lysa thought about it for a moment then tilted her head sideways. “Huh…neat.” That was pretty open minded for a girl who had died the same year Brown v. The Board of Education was decided.
“What kind of music do people listen to, now?” From president and straight to top 40. That was how Lysa’s mind worked.
“Um…let’s see,” Dante began. “There’s a lot. There’s Alternative, Punk, House, Acid House, Metal, Hip-Hop, Folk, R&B, Blue Grass, Pop, Blues, Electro, Dub-Step, Fusion, Ska, Gangsta Rap, Grunge, Goth, Industrial, Goth-Industrial, Alternative Hip-Hop-”
“Stop!“ Lysa cut him off. “What I really wanted to say was, ‘Is Rock n’ Roll still around?’”
“Yeah, that’s what I just said.” Dante remarked. “Rock n’ Roll kind of evolved and split off into a bunch of different branches and some new styles were invented and thrown into the mix. Your Rock n’ Roll is all on the oldies stations now.” That that had him a playful shove that knocked him flat. Playful. Yeah. At least she had been smiling that time. Consult mental note made on first day.
The only thing that interrupted their long talk sessions, was Lysa’s visits to the newborn room. She visited Caroline once a week. Unlike the first time, she visited her baby sister alone, leaving Dante and Midori without her presence.
That didn‘t mean Dante was ever truly unsupervised though. Another Judy always came to watch over Dante while Lysa and the Judy in the nursery scrubs had been gone. One time, the Judy with the green dress had babysat him, and brought over her wards. Dante had tried to explain things to the other kids- as an act of kindness- but none of them seemed to buy it or even want to talk about it. They had completely rejected any and all outside help. By then, they had all also developed an unconscious need to have something in their mouths at all times. Dante didn’t bother to learn their names. Soon enough, he figured, they wouldn’t need them anymore.
As Dante sat in the highchair today, awaiting his next dose of mush and milk, he couldn’t get Lysa out of his head. All and all, she was pretty damn cool. Not just for a girl, for anybody. If only. Crap. Was he starting to crush on a dead chick? Worse yet, was he starting to get a crush on a girl who- were she still alive- was old enough to be his grandmother? Was Lysa a G.I.L.F. ? One thing at a time, Dante. One thing at a time.
The Judy’s had also caught on to their blossoming relationship…friendship. The Judy who watched over them regularly had dressed them similarly every day this past week, usually modifying them so Lysa’s outfit was decidedly more feminine. When Dante was put in a green onesie, Lysa had been dressed in a pink one with a completely pointless skirt attached.. When he had been dressed in a blue romper with a baby bee on the front, she was put in a pure white romper with a violet on the front. When she was clothed in a frilly purple dress with puffy sleeves, they dressed him in Navy Blue Shortalls with a baby polo shirt (Yes, something resembling pants!)
This morning, as Midori chomped away on her not-quite-baby cereal in her bib and yellow checkered sun dress, Dante and Lysa were wearing solid, blue and purple baby t-shirts and diapers. What sicko invented these, anyways? The shirts didn’t even pretend to cover their diapers. The hemline of the shirt literally stopped centimeters from the diaper’s waste band. There was literally no concealment whatsoever. If he and Lysa had been wearing shirts like that as teens, he would have been called gay and she a slut. Right now, they were “adorable”. Stupid fucking backwards double standards.
That was another thing- the weird backwardness of babyhood: As an adult, (or at least close to one), Dante would go to a special table to eat all his meals. A while later, when the food worked its way through his system, he would go sit on a special chair designed to get rid of the mess that his body produced. Now, as a giant baby, Dante went to a specially designed chair to eat all his meals, and later, after the food worked through his system, he would go to a special table designed to clean up the mess that his body produced. All he needed right now was a bad Russian accent, and he could be a big baby Yakov Smirnoff. (In Soviet Russia, Diaper Change You!)
Hmmm, maybe that was Dante’s anchor, social commentary and ironic inner monologues. Heh. An ironic anchor. Word play. Loved it. That was another obstacle: Dante had yet to find an anchor; something he was so passionate about that it made up a piece of his adult identity that he could cling to instead of regressing.
He tried painting, but it did nothing for him. He just wasn’t any good at it.
“It’s not about talent,” Vivian the painter girl had told him. “It’s about loving what you’re doing. I couldn’t paint for beans when I first got here. I had always wanted to try though. This is what a decade of practice will do for you.” she held up a finger paint recreation of Van Gough’s “Starry Night”.
“It’s not even about improvement.” Kevin the play-doh kid added later that day. “I’ve been here for about 18 years, and this stupid doll is the best thing I can make.” He pointed to the Mr. Bill look-alike, as well as several more identical versions on the plastic play mat. “The thing is, every day, this junk gets torn apart, rolled back into little balls, and stuffed back into the containers. My goal is to see how many I can make in a given day. Maybe eventually, I’ll make so many that the nursery will run out of play-doh, or the Judy’s will get tired of cleaning up after me and leave these creepy little things be. I know it’s a Sisyphean task, but it keeps me going.
“What? I died as a nine-year-old, so I can’t know the meaning of the word ‘Sisyphean’ ?”
Even Jamal had added in his two cents. “Look man, find something to pass the time besides cuddling with teddy bears and pissing in your britches. This place is like any joint; you can make it if you just find a way to pass the time without losing your mind. Oh yeah, and fuck you.”
Dante had tried everything with little to no success. Forget learning sign language. Playing with blocks has the exact opposite effect on him as he felt especially juvenile with those. He must have played with blocks a lot as a real infant. He had never had any little brothers or sisters, so playing with actual babies just felt awkward and bored him to tears. Even his walker was losing its initial thrill. Playing pretend car just didn‘t compare to the genuine article and made him seem more infantile. He needed something real to hold onto.
Speaking of “pretend”, playing “Dress up” seemed asinine to Dante. He was already dressed up like a baby, why did he need to dress up even more? Oh look…he put on a hat, now he’s a baby policeman. Oh joy, a white coat, now he’s a baby doctor….woooooh. (Thank goodness he hadn’t regressed too far, so he could still maintain a difference between “dressed as a baby” and just “dressed”.)
But Dante had regressed, anyway. Not as fast as some had, though. The three rebels from his first day now sat comfortably in cradling high chairs, dressed in baby clothes and bibs and behaving well. When they talked at all, it was in short bursts with infantile language and pronunciation, such as “Pwease” and “Fankyou”. Dante swore he saw the Judy in the green dress mouth the words “Not long now” to her fellow angel nannies.
Dante was slipping, still. He could feel it. On more than one occasion, Dante had been genuinely surprised when a Judy checked his diaper and found it wet. Originally, he had enough warning from his bladder to know that the dam was bursting. That was happening less and less.
Now he was constantly worrying whether or not he was wet or dry. He literally had to rub the front of his diaper to be able to tell. Hell, he was beginning to be unable to tell the difference between wet and dry at all! Even the smell of a wet diaper didn’t register to him anymore. It was like when you’re in a chain smoker’s house so long that you don’t notice how everything in there smells like smoke until you step inside into the clean fresh air.
Yesterday, he was sure that he had pooped his diaper and not realized it. He had just zoned out for a moment- no more than a daydream- and when he came to, he was sitting in his own mess.
What was creepier; strange, alien thoughts were creeping into his head. Thoughts like: “What would that taste like if I put it in my mouth?”, or “If I cry loud enough, mommy will pay more attention to me.”
He kept most of this from Lysa as much as he could. She didn’t need to worry about this. She needed him for companionship, just as badly as he needed her for staying sane. She already knew he was looking for an anchor and hadn’t found it, yet. (She being as close as he got to an anchor right now.) No need to worry her with some kind of countdown clock
Oddly enough, immediately following breakfast, Dante and his friends did not get a bottle of milk. Instead they were taken directly to their playpen while the Judy in the nursery scrubs bustled around, making herself look busy. That was weird, normally right after breakfast was bottles and burping, following by trip time as the angel milk affected their minds.
“What’s going on?” Dante asked Lysa once they were set down in the pen.
“Must be communion day,” Lysa whispered back.
“Like with the wafers and grape juice?” Dante asked.
“No.” Lysa smiled. It was a sad smile, nervous too. “It’s where they take us to right outside the gates of Heaven and we visit with our relatives that made it in.”
Really? Dante would get to see someone who wasn’t in diapers that wasn’t a Judy? “Don’t get too excited though,” Lysa cut off Dante’s train of thought. “They still see and talk to us as if we were babies. Personally, I think it’s just another elaborate form of brainwashing.”
Meanwhile, the Judy was busy stuffing two diaper bags full of supplies.
“Let’s see,” the Judy said to herself, “Wipes? Check. Bottles of Juice? Check. Bottles of Milk? Double Check. Baby food? Check. Pacifiers? Check. Toys? Check. Book? Check. Changing mat? Check. Extra clothes in case of an accident? Check. What else? Oh my God!” The Judy laughed at herself. “Diapers! I almost forgot the diapers. How silly of me, they would have killed me if I hadn’t packed any diapers. Helllooooo Judy!” she smacked herself lightly in the forehead.
“It’s the closest thing a lot of these Judy’s get to a day off.” Lysa told Dante. “Not that they really need one.”
“Huh,” Dante remarked, “Why is she only packing two diaper bags, then?”
“Midori’s not going,” Lysa said quickly.
“She doesn’t have any ancestors that are in Heaven?” Dante asked.
“Well,” she thought for a moment, “she’s been dead for only a little over 11 or 12 years. Her parents are probably still alive. Her grandparents might be too.”
“What about other ancestors?” Dante asked.
Lysa shrugged. “For some reason, they never introduce you to people in your family who died before you were born. Same thing goes with family members that never knew you existed.”
Dante scratched his head at that. “I guess long lost relatives are too much of a hassle.” Dante chuckled at a thought. “Heck, if you take the Bible literally, we’re all descended from Adam and Eve.”
“Yeah,” Lysa allowed herself a smirk, “I guess there’s something to be said against extended families. Besides, wouldn’t it suck to find out that you and I were somehow distantly related?” She winked at him.
“Uh huh,” Dante nodded, starting to drool slightly. “Wait, we’re not related, are we?”
“No.” Lysa laughed. “At least you don’t look like anyone from my family.”
Speaking of which…“Wait, why are you going?” Dante questioned. “I thought you said your father killed your family.”
“Yes,” Lysa rolled her eyes, “and we all know that murdered people don’t go to Heaven.”
Before Dante could ask any more questions, their Judy came, scooped the two rugrats up, and buckled them into the twin stroller, diaper bags loaded. Midori waved goodbye from her playpen, as the Judy in the green dress wordlessly approached and they strolled off. As their stroller was wheeled around the corner, Dante and Lysa were pushed out a door that definitely hadn’t existed until right before that moment.
After weeks indoors, the blast of sunlight, tyrannical sunlight…barely did anything to Dante. It was actually surprisingly gentle. He wasn’t blinded at all. Dante winced from expectation, more than from anything else.
Dante looked around from the stroller. Below his feet, was what looked like smoothed blocks of paved concrete, like a sidewalk. It wasn’t very wide, either. Dante estimated that maybe two strollers of this size could fit on it, but not much more. The Judy was walking on the right side of the sidewalk, and since Dante’s baby blue half of the stroller was on the left, he was on the inside of the track.
Looking outward, on the left and right of the floating sidewalk, Dante saw a ten foot drop, and only clouds after that. No ground or sky below, only clouds. You couldn’t see anything else. It was like all of those cartoons of the afterlife, where angels walked on clouds as easily as if they were solid. Only difference here, no on was walking on these clouds.
“Where is this?” he finally asked Lysa.
“They call it the narrow path.” she said. Well named.
“Aaaand, what happens if you go off the narrow path?” he wondered.
“You fall.” Lysa told him flatly. “Very. Very. Far.” Dante didn’t need to ask any more questions on that.
About twenty feet ahead, Dante could see another stroller, with a Judy pushing it. Ahead of that stroller in the distance, was another stroller. Beyond that was another stroller. Dante was pretty sure that behind them, soon enough, would be another stroller. They moved steadily for about 15 minutes of relative silent.
“So,” Lysa broke the silence, “who do you think you’re going to meet here? Why are you coming along for communion?”
Dante shrugged and searched his memory. “I dunno” he said finally. “My parents aren’t dead yet. I hope. Maybe they died in a car crash coming to try and save me. Maybe they committed suicide. Probably not, though. I hope.” Dante didn’t like the idea of talking about his mom and dad being dead. It felt like he were wishing death upon them. Then again, it wasn’t so bad if you ended up in Heaven. Limbo or Hell though…Dante shuddered.
“If they killed themselves and were older than us, they probably wouldn’t have gone to Heaven.” Lysa added. “But don’t’ worry. You’re young to be dead right now. So it’s probably not them.” Lysa was probably right. Who could it be though?
What must have been Heaven came into view in the distance. Tall spires and glorious palaces rose on the horizon. Bright lights and auras shone forth. There were two suns right now. Dante didn’t know how he knew, but this was Heaven. It’s like how one knows Disney World as soon as the giant Mickey ears come into view. There was something hardwired into his brain to recognize this place and know what it is. This though was the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, Disney World, and the Emerald City of Oz all rolled up into one and multiplied times infinity. Since the Tower of Babel, no human language has been able to accurately describe Its grandeur.
Just as it came into sight, the strollers ahead of Dante seemed closer. Just like at Disney, the line was starting to slow down and condense. Dante heard the crying of other babified Limbo inhabitants as the line grew more packed, their Judy’s doted on them as if they were just fussy infants, which most were- in mind if not always in body.
“Sooo…” Dante asked to break the silence. “You ever been in?”
Lysa smirked. “Nope. Never will either. They’ll let moms, dads, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents come out and play with us, but we never get to go in. At least the walls aren’t too high so we can see some- Turn your head!” She cut herself off as her eyes widened. Dante immediately snapped his head around the other direction. Lysa was peeing.
A few minutes later, their Judy checked their diapers and declared both of them wet. She pressed a button on their stroller and their seats tilted back. Then she came around and changed them. Dante and Lysa held each other’s hands while the angel did her work. Proclaiming both done and “aaaalll better”, she balled up the used diapers and tossed them over the side of the floating sidewalk. Dante watched as the clouds swallowed them up.
“You know you could have told me you were wet too,” Lysa chided Dante. “I would have looked away while you were going.” Dante looked ashamed. Dante hadn’t even realized he was wet. “Typical boy,” she giggled nervously, “you’ll go anywhere in front of anyone.” Her giggle didn’t hide anything. She knew he was starting to lose it. She knew.
As they got closer, the clouds rolled up next to the sidewalk and were replaced by green grassy fields. Lush, green grass rolled around with big shady trees. It looked a lot like an old fashioned park. All around, Dante saw families playing with children. As expected, regardless of actual physical age, each “child” was dressed as though they were no more than a year old. Dante even saw some actual newborns being cradled. Sad to have died so young, but at least they were with their parents now.
“Let me guess,” Dante said turning his head to Lysa, “Elysian fields?”
“Got it in one.” Lysa confirmed. “Though I’ve heard the Judy’s refer to it as ‘The Garden’ before. Probably Eden.”
“Either way,” Dante added, “it’s the archetype of a natural paradise.”
“Yeah,” Lysa agreed, “I can think of worse places to spend time away from the nursery at.” Dante couldn’t argue with that.
The sidewalk ended at a patch of grass. The gates of Heaven were still far off in the distance, but Dante saw no further strollers. There was a small tent labeled “Limbo Stroller Parking” that Dante saw another Judy push an empty stroller into it. Looks like he was now at the front of the line.
Two figures walked up to the stroller. A man and a woman; vaguely familiar. The woman had her gray hair put up in a bun. She had laugh lines on her face and silvery gray eyes. Her blue blouse and ankle length gray skirt complimented her sandals and unpainted toe-nails. The man kept his white hair trimmed short and close cropped. His blue eyes didn’t match his red and white checkered shirt. Nor did the shirt go particularly well with his blue suspenders, gray pants, and black loafers. Still, he had a self-assured smirk that Dante had inherited and a nose that unmistakably belonged to his father.
He remembered! His Grandparents! It had been over a decade since he had seen either one alive. His grandfather had died of cancer when he was a little over two years old, and his grandmother had died from a stroke two years later. As a result, most of Dante’s memories of them weren’t actual memories, but stories that his parents had told him so often, that the stories had become the memories.
They looked almost exactly like they did in his baby pictures. Old, but fit, strong, and healthy. If there was such a thing as being “in their prime” and “elderly” at the same time, these two looked it.
As soon as he recognized them, Dante’s hands shot down to cover his diaper. “Don’t bother,” Lysa told him flatly. “It’s not like they recognize you as anything other than a baby, anyways.
His grandma ran towards the stroller. “My grandbaby!” she squealed as she repeatedly pecked his cheeks and forehead with kisses. She smelled of lilacs. His grandpa strolled up and knelt down; he smelled of tobacco and peppermint.
His grandpa took Dante’s hand in his own and said, “Well hello there, grandson.” before dramatically grasping his arm in mock pain. “Ow, ow, ow!” his grandpa said, withdrawing his hand and shaking it in the air as if it had been in a vice. Dante hadn‘t even squeezed. “Quite a grip yah got there. Yer gettin’ strong, yessir.” Dante wasn’t sure what to do, so he just stared. “Hmm,” his grandfather said when Dante didn’t respond, “he used ta love that one. “
“Frank,” Dante’s grandmother said to his grandpa, “he was two back then. Now he’s too young to get that joke.” So they did remember him being older. For some reason, they only thought he was a baby now. Did senility develop and carry on after death? Grandma unbuckled Dante from the stroller and hoisted him up on her hip with nary a groan or grunt. She shouldn’t have been able to do that.
Maybe the Judy’s weren‘t actually super strong. Maybe something had been done to Dante and the other “babies” do make them easier to move and pick up. Or maybe this was all an elaborate disguise and attempt at deception. Who says that angels couldn’t shape shift?
The Judy handed his grandfather the blue diaper bag. She started talking to them. “I made sure to pack everything you’ll need for the day. Diapers, wipes, bottles, toys-”
“Thank you kindly, Miss Judy.” Grandpa said cutting her off. “But we’ve had yungins before, ma’am. We can handle ol’ Dante for a couple a’ hours.” The Judy smiled graciously and nodded. The three of them turned away and began to walk through the fields. Dante looked back and saw another elderly couple approach the stroller and pick Lysa up. They looked about Grandma and Grandpa’s age. They must have been her grandparents.
Grandma carried Dante as easily as any Judy. Grandpa was constantly shifting the diaper bag from shoulder to shoulder, never comfortable. “Geez Molly,” he joked, “I think they packed enough stuff in this baby bag to make a whole ‘nother baby.”
“I offered to carry the bag, Frank,” Grandma replied, “but you insisted.”
“I did.” Grandpa confirmed, giving Grandma a smirk, his eyes gazing lovingly into her eyes.
Grandma returned the smile and patted Dante’s bum. “His mother and I had just managed to get him out of diapers when I last saw him.” she sighed, “Now he’s right back in them.”
“Why do you s’pose they’re turned back into babies anyways?” Grandpa asked.
“Some things we weren’t meant to know.” Grandma answered. “Maybe it’s to lessen the pain from being separated from the Heavenly Host. Maybe things are just simpler at this age.”
“I’m not a baby,” Dante jumped into the conversation. “Seriously, I’m not. I’m just dressed as one.”
“That’s right, Dante!” Grandma cooed at him. “You’re just our little man, now. Oh but you’re soooo cute!” Great. They acted as though he were a baby too. Maybe these two really were Judy’s. The Judy’s ignored his speech and treated it as baby babble. Then again, the Judy’s refused to acknowledge that he was ever anything other than a baby. When he had first arrived in Limbo, one had looked at his soiled briefs and insisted that they were a ruined cloth diaper. Grandma remembered him being potty trained at one point. Fuck. It was getting harder for Dante to remember being potty trained.
“How do you think Bob and Julie are holding up?” Grandpa asked, continuing the conversation.
“Not well I’d imagine,” Grandma said.
“Nope. I reckon not. We’ll have to pray for them- see if we can convince an angel to watch over them for a while.”
They came to a shady oak tree. A checkered picnic blanket that matched Grandpa’s shirt and straw basket waited for them. There were even some backless benches nearby to sit on.
“Here we are.” Grandma announced. “And it looks like everything is where we left it.” She set Dante down in the middle of the picnic blanket.
“Course it is, Molly,” Grandpa chuckled, “who ‘round here would steal anything?”. He set the diaper bag down by the edge of the blanket.
“Oh quit picking on me!” Dante’s grandmother slapped Grandpa playfully on the shoulder. “Anyways, it’s time for Grandma to play with her grandbaby!” She sat down in front of Dante and covered her eyes. “Wheeeere’s Grnadma?” she said. She uncovered her eyes. “There she is!” She repeated the game. “Wheeeeere’s Grandma?! There she is!”
Dante just stared at his grandmother and shook his head slightly. “Seriously Grandma? Seriously?”.
If she didn’t understand the words, Grandma obviously understood the tone. Her face drooped a little in disappointment. Then she tried covering his eyes. “Where’s Dante?”
Dante felt a little guilty. It wasn’t her fault that he wasn’t actually a baby. A normal baby would have found this entertaining as all hell. A very small part of him that he was fighting was enjoying the attention, even if he did know where Dante was. He decided to humor her a little bit.
“There he is!” she squealed as she uncovered Dante’s eyes. Dante made his eyes widen in surprise and a big stupid grin spread across his face as he giggled and clapped his hands. Grandma’s face lit up, and she covered her eyes again. “Wheeeeeere’s Dante?”
Dante rolled his eyes, while his grandmother’s She was getting more of a kick out of this than he was. This must have been what it was like for Lysa when she faked baby to get something from the Judy‘s. This time though, it wasn’t to manipulate someone as much to make them happy. This process repeated itself for lightning rounds of “patty cake”, “got your nose”, and “bouncy bouncy“ as he was bounced up and down on Grandma‘s knee. It’s a good thing he was already dead, because Dante’s overriding thought was “Somebody kill me.”
Dante’s grandfather took Dante off of Grandma’s knee when she was done. “Oh come on Molly, he might be a baby again, but he’s not a baby baby. He‘s too old for most of this stuff.” Grandpa paused for a moment. “But you know what he’s not too old for?“ He flashed Dante that inherited smile of his. “A piggy back ride!”
Dante was almost immediately slung over his grandfather’s back, his hands hanging on for dear life, while his legs were supported. Grandpa took off running and Dante bounced along for the ride. The wind whipped through Dante’s hair as Grandpa dashed through the field at incredible speed. For an old, dead guy who died of lung cancer, Grandpa had the stamina and speed of an Olympic athlete. Heaven must have a heck of a health plan and Grandpa had cashed in on the gym membership.
Now THIS was fun! Other families pointed, smiled, then quickly became blurs in the distance as Grandpa long distance sprinted past. Dante couldn’t help but shriek with delight. This was the closest thing he had had to a thrill ride or roller coaster since he had died. This was a rush!
Much too soon, the ride stopped, and Dante was back at the picnic blanket with Grandma. Grandpa was panting heavily, though maybe a little too heavily to be real.
“Strained yourself, didn’t you?” Grandma smiled.
“Jest a little,” Grandpa panted. “I’m too old to be a good piggy.” he said, Dante still on his back. “Buuuut…I’m a terrific horsie!” Grandpa dropped to all fours and started trotting around the picnic blanket.
“Hahahah!” Dante laughed. This was hilarious. This was great. The weird part was, Dante didn’t feel like this was causing him to him to regress. He was enjoying this, but it was because of pure nostalgia. They were treating him like a baby, sure, but for some reason, it felt like they were treating him like a baby person, not just some dumb pet.
“Careful now!” Grandma warned, as Grandpa bucked and Dante rolled right off of Grandpa’s back, tumbling to the blanket covered ground.
“He might be a baby again, Molly,” Grandpa said. “but he’s still all boy.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Grandma agreed
They started talking about bringing a push cart on his next visit, something to really get momentum. Dante started to zone out. He felt like something was off. He felt plugged up, like something was blocking his own personal feng shui. Like he was a clogged up pipe. All it would take would be one final blow. On instinct, Dante decided to blow. He imagined himself blowing air through his entire body, and moving all of the negative energy out. His cheeks puffed out like he was holding his breath.
Grandma and Grandpa stopped their conversation to look at Dante, on all fours with his cheeks puffed out. “Awww, look at that, Frank,” Grandma said, “ just like when Bobby was that age.”
“You know what that means,” Grandpa chuckled and shook his head.
“I know. I’ll get the diaper bag.”
There. All done. All cleared. Dante felt great now. His Grandma had already spread out a changing mat behind him and pushed Dante back onto it.
“Hey what gives?” Dante yelped in surprise. Then Dante felt the mess spread in the back of his diaper as he was laid down and the smell his nose. Oh. Oh. She had already laid aside a fresh diaper and a tub of wipes.
Dante hid his face in his hands.. He had already accepted the Judy’s as basically nanny robots. But his grandparents seemed like actual people. Not only had he pooped himself without realizing it- again- but now actual people were going to wipe his ass for him.
He grit his teeth, as Grandma opened the diaper and used the front of it to wipe the bulk of the poop off of him. He felt a lump form in his throat as his gag reflex kicked in- a mixture of the smell and his own humiliation. “Wheeeeere’s Dante?!” was all his Grandma said, his face behind his hands, as she dragged cold baby wipes across his backside.
“Heh,” his grandfather smirked, looking over Grandma’s shoulder, “must take after his mother‘s side of the family.” HUH?! Was his grandfather laughing at the size of his penis?! Now that’s just plain messed up! Dante uncovered his face just long enough to give Grandpa a complete and total death stare.
“Oh Frank, hush.” Grandma shook her head as she finished wiping Dante. “Bobby was the same way at this age. Most babies are. You’re so bad!” Grandpa just shook his head and smiled.
“Now hold on, Molly,” Grandpa interrupted as Grandma was about to unfold the new diaper and slide it under Dante, “don’t wrap him back up just yet. Why not let him crawl around and be a little jaybird for a while?”
“But Frank,” Grandma asked, still keeping an eye on Dante’s privates, (she had already raised one baby boy, an unguarded penis could be a dangerous thing) “what if he has an accident?”
“Nothing we can’t clean up.” Grandpa said. “We’re outside anyhow. ‘S not like there’s any furniture around for him to ruin. Besides,” he added motioning to the balled up diaper that Dante had just made a deposit in. “I think the worst of it has passed.”
Grandma thought a moment. “Well all right,” she finally said, pulling Dante up into a sitting position and yanking his shirt off of him. “Besides, he‘s probably kept in diapers 24/7 in the nursery. Kids need a little personal time every now and then.”
“And,” she added as Dante rolled over, “he does have the cutest little tushie.” She gave it a playful smack on his but. Dante braced himself. Nothing happened: He didn’t fall down. He didn’t go limp. He just kept crawling. Interesting. So anyone could pick him up and tote him around, but only Judy’s could spank him.
Dante should have felt embarrassed, but after pooping in front of his grandparents, and being on the receiving end of a size joke, being naked in front of them didn’t rank that high. That and after two solid weeks of padding between his thighs, and nothing but indoor/outdoor carpeting and padded playpens to craw on, being naked and rolling around in the grass was too much of a highlight.
It was positively electrifying. Every blade of grass tickled his bare skin. Sweat trickled down his skin as he crawled through the blades and dug his fingers and toes into the sod. He felt alive. All the while, Grandma and Grandpa followed close behind him, talking about nothing in particular, and laughing as Dante experienced the simple joy of being naked in a field. This must have gone on for what was at least an hour.
“Let’s walk with Grandma!” she said as she hoisted him up by the armpits. Rather than picking him all the way up, though, she supported him under the arms and let his feet brush the earth. She was helping him walk! The soles of his feet came alive as he trod upon the earth. All the while, his grandmother encouraged him.
“That’s it, take another step big boy.” she said as he clumsily put one foot in front of the other, only her support keeping him from falling. “That’s a big boy! Walkin’ for Gramma!” Grandpa, started walking backwards, coaxing Dante closer with each step, only to take a step back as Dante grew closer.
“That’s right, feller!” Grandpa coaxed, “Come an’ get me! Come an’ tackle yer ol’ Grampa!”
They were definitely no Judy’s. Real parents encouraged their kids to grow up and become more independent. The Judy’s did everything they could to remind you that you were still a baby to them. Right then, Dante knew he loved his grandparents, and regretted them dying when he was so young so that he never got to know them. At least now he had a chance to get to know them, even if they would never actually meet the real him.
Suddenly Dante felt something wrong. Floodgates were about to open. He was about to pee! Reflexively, he reached down and grabbed his penis, pointing it away from his grandfather. A stream of urine gushed out, just barely missing Dante’s grandfather.
This was weird. He felt the surge of relief come upon him as he emptied his bladder on the grass, but not the accompanying feeling of warmth or wetness around his crotch. He was doing an open air whiz, and it was wonderful!
“Ha ha ha!” Grandpa laughed as he moved out of the way to avoid a golden shower. “So you and Julie managed to potty train him, huh?! Looks like the ol’ boy still has some moves left!” Dante felt a surge of pride well up inside him. Grandma giggled behind Dante as he finished his wee.
Then he remembered! This is what going potty was like! You had to stand in front of the potty, use your hand to aim your pee-pee towards the water, and then go tinkle! It was all so simple! How had he forgotten how to do that? “What next?” he wondered as his stream slowed to a drip.
Then the bridge to a Good Charlotte song came to his mind. “Shake it once, that’s fine. Shake it twice, that’s okay. Shake it three times, you’re playing with yourself.” Dante took his penis and shook it twice before letting it drop.
“Bwahahahaha!” Grandpa about fell over as he saw this. “I’m tellin’ you Molly, the kid’s a natural!”
Dante grinned from ear to ear in victory. He had remembered how to potty! Timing, aim, and bladder control were still an issue, but it was a step in the right direction. Wait till he told Lysa about this!
“Okay, I think that’s enough close calls for one day” Grandma laughed, as she picked Dante up and carried him back over to the blanket. She laid him down on the blanket, and unfolded the diaper she had set aside earlier and slid it under Dante’s bottom as she lifted his legs.
“Still,” she went on as she re-diapered her eighteen-year-old grandson. “Maybe we can stop by the preschool next month and pick up some Pull-Ups or a practice potty.”
“You think we could find any training pants small enough for him?” Grandpa asked as Grandma finished fastening the tapes “Or a seat that won’t swallow him?”
“Oh, I doubt we could REALLY potty-train him again.” Grandma said, reaching for the baby t-shirt. “But I bet if we timed it right, we could teach him to go whenever we sat him on a potty.” Dante let this run through his mind, as he was re-dressed.
Him. Sitting on a potty. Maybe even with a pair of blue Pull-Ups around his ankles, their learning designs not yet faded. His hands up in the air in victory as his urine splashed against the plastic bowl instead of into padding between his legs. To dream the impossible dream.
“Time for a little lunch,” Grandma said. Grandpa walked over and picked up the picnic basket, getting out sandwiches and some bottled waters. Grandma sat on the blanket, and spread her legs into a “V”. She sat Dante in between her legs and held him gently. Grandpa rummaged through the diaper bag and brought out a jar of baby food, a baby spoon, and two bottles; one juice, and one milk.
Dante’s stomach growled loudly and both of his grandparents smiled. “I think he’s all empty ,” Grandma said, dipping the spoon into the mush, “so it’s about time we fill him back up.” Still sitting in her lap, Grandma offered spoonfuls of the mouth exploding baby mush to Dante. Dante gratefully accepted every spoonful. Grandma was right there to catch all of the spill-out and didn’t miss a drop. She was an old pro at this, after all.
While he ate, Dante’s grandfather chomped into a baloney sandwich. Every now and then he would stop long enough to lean over and hold another sandwich to Grandma’s lips and let her take a bite. Grandpa was feeding Grandma, and Grandma was feeding Dante. None of this wasn’t an act of babying, an act of establishing dependence and dominance. This was all an act of love. This was one of the few moments that Dante could remember since coming to Limbo, that Dante felt good, instead of just not bad.
A thought occurred to Dante: Maybe his grandparents could be his anchors. They didn’t make him feel especially like an adult, but they definitely didn’t make him feel much like a baby. Not the way the Judy’s did anyhow. But could he last and keep his sanity if he only got to see them once a month?
When Dante had finished his mush, his Grandma picked up the milk filled bottle and offered it to Dante‘s lips. Ohnononononono! He was enjoying this moment too much to want to trip out on angel milk.
“It’s too warm for milk anyways,” Grandpa said when Dante violently shook his head “No!”. Grandma put the bottle down, and instead offered him a bottle of apple juice instead. Dante greedily grabbed the bottle, and washed down his meal, allowing himself a satisfied sigh as Grandma rubbed his tummy.
Two weeks of supernaturally enforced conditioning can’t be counteracted with just a few hours of genuine parental love, however. So within a few minutes of finishing. “Looks like Dante’s about ready to check out on us.” Grandpa observed
“Oh let him sleep,” he heard Grandma say as he drifted off to sleep, a relaxed smile on his face.
Dante was moving when he woke up. He was being cradled in Grandma’s arms as they walked back towards the narrow path back to Limbo.
“Days like this make me wish we had had more when we could,” he heard his grandmother say.
“Yep,” his grandfather agreed. “So, how do you think he died so young? And not baptized?”
“Hush now”, he heard Grandma say, “he’s woke up. We’ll just have to ask Bobby when he gets here someday, God willing.”
The Judy in the nursery scrubs was already waiting with an empty stroller when Dante and his grandparents approached.
“Here you go,” Grandma said as she handed Dante back to his captor. “I think he’s a little wet. We can change him here before you go if you’d like. The Judy placed him back in the stroller and checked his diaper.
“Don’t worry about it,” the Judy said to Grandma as Grandpa loaded the diaper bag back on the stroller. “Like you said, he’s only a little wet, and these things can take a lot of punishment.” She patted the front of Dante’s diaper. “I’ll just change him when we get back to the nursery.”
“Did you have a good time with your grandparents?” the Judy cooed. Dante nodded “yes“; for their sakes, not for hers.
“Bye Dante, see you next month!” his Grandma said as they both waved goodbye and walked back towards the shining city in the distance.
“Bye Grandma! Bye Grandpa! I love you!” Dante shouted out, even though he knew, it would only come across as baby babble. “Love you too, Dante!” Grandpa’s voice came echoing back. Was this what Midori went through for real?
The two elderly people who picked up Lysa came back with her soon after. “We’re not late, are we?” the old man carrying Lysa on his hip asked.
“Nope,” the Judy said, “you’re just in time.” Lysa’s grandfather placed Lysa back in the stroller and buckled her up himself. Her grandmother gave her a quick peck on the cheek. Lysa for her part, seemed very nervous. “Bye bye, Lysa. We love you.”
“Love you too,” Lysa mumbled, as the old folks walked back towards Heaven. Then the Judy ruined everything.
“Wave bye bye to Mommy and Daddy, Lysa!” she said. Mommy? Daddy?! Something was not right, here. Dante knew it. He didn’t want to, but felt compelled.
“Lysa, what’s going on?” Dante asked as the stroller turned around and started heading back to Limbo.
“What do you m-m-mean?” Lysa stuttered, her eyes darting around. She started chewing on her lips.
“The Judy called those two old people your mom and dad.” Dante told her.
“Yeah, and…?” Lysa took a big gulp.
“You told me that your dad killed your baby sister and your mom. Then you killed him, and then yourself. If that’s true, what is your dad doing in Heaven? Why are your parents so old? From your story, they couldn’t have been more than in their 40’s when they died; probably younger. Why are they so old? And why isn’t Caroline with us visiting your parents with you?”
Lysa looked away. In a tone that Dante could barely hear, she said “Because of the rules. They never knew about her when any of us were alive.”
“Your mother and father never knew about the existence of your baby sister? Of Caroline?” Dante couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Then it all clicked.
“Yeah,” Lysa said, still looking away. “I’m not really Caroline’s sister. I’m her mother.”