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Hii Selena here ~

Not letting Avery do the upload again so that everything gets posted correctly hehe. But also Avery is very distracted and this can lead to somewhat late uploads (ooooppppssss). But enjoy~!

xoxo,
Avery (& Selena )

 

***

Chapter Seven: A New Normal

The morning started off with a blur the moment Zoe was woken up by her dad. She looked over at Zara in the bed across the way and nearly snickered at the sight. Zara looked no better than she felt and there was no denying it was way too early o’clock.

It had been decided at some point during the drive that they would leave as early as possible with the idea that they would be at Aunt Beth’s house early enough to settle in. If all went well, they would arrive early enough that they could also have dinner. However, at that very moment, Zoe was questioning why any of them thought that would be a good idea at all as she tried to peer at the numbers on the front of her phone trying to tell her the time. Numbers that were currently very happily telling her it was 4 am.

Zoe couldn’t help but feel that the way the numbers were practically dancing in front of her eyes was mocking her. She couldn’t say that she was too amused with them.

In a sleep-induced hazy fog, Zoe stumbled through her usual morning routine. She first brushed her teeth before joining the others in eating a small breakfast consisting of water and a day-old bagel. When breakfast was finished, Amelia subtly sent Zoe over to the bathroom with some slight finger pointing and a nod of her head.

Amelia, following closely behind Zoe, stepped into the bathroom behind her, closing the door and locking it.

“Did you sleep well, Zoe?” Amelia asked, giving her half-awake daughter a gentle smile. Zoe gave Amelia a half-asleep unamused expression and an eyeroll. “Okay, okay, I know it’s early,” Amelia sighed, suppressing a yawn. “But let’s get you ready for the day.”

Knowing what to expect, Zoe went into autopilot. She dutifully lowered her pants and let her mom take over the rest of the process. She still wasn’t entirely used to it, but with how tired she was, she was just letting things happen. Zoe couldn’t find it in herself to care or be too embarrassed or have any other feelings regarding her padded underwear of choice.

“Oh, Zoe!” Amelia exclaimed with a big smile. “Well done! You managed to stay dry the entire night!”

“Uhm…yeah?” Zoe replied, her tired brain slowly trying to process what her mom said before finally realizing. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, I did.” Zoe was unable to prevent the small smile of glee that crossed her face or the blush that crept up her cheeks. A hint of confusion flashed through her brain at the thought – why did she feel so happy getting praise for something that should have been normal at her age? Although despite the embarrassment, she couldn’t help but admit to herself that she enjoyed the praise a lot.

It was nice getting the love and affection that she craved, albeit in an unorthodox fashion. As a young child, she had always tried to be independent, but in doing so she had also become slightly distant from her parents, preferring to go through things alone.

Over the past few years, Zoe had realized from other people’s experiences and stories that she dearly missed the feelings of being taken care of. She enjoyed the small compliments for things that she did well.

The counter argument that Zoe had with herself was that she had strived to be independent for years and that normal girls her age shouldn’t be proud of having a dry night. Reminded of her mother’s words, Zoe felt her current thoughts were refuted. Since yesterday, she wasn’t treated like a normal 19-year-old. She was treated like a 19-year-old that couldn’t hold her pee nearly long enough to get to a bathroom. As far as she was concerned, she should act like that.

So, with that in mind, Zoe felt that it was okay to feel happy and that she should enjoy what was happening.

Realizing that her mom was waiting on her, Zoe forced herself to focus her eyes a little, her cheeks still flushed with embarrassment.

“Penny for your thoughts, dear?” Amelia asked softly.

“I just dozed off a bit,” Zoe answered with a small shrug, adding a yawn for emphasis. “It’s really really early.”

“Hmm,” Amelia hummed to herself. “It definitely is. I think because you’re so tired you should probably sleep a little in the car. I think we can leave this diaper on for now since it’s still dry and we can change it when we stop a little later, okay?”

“Oh,” Zoe said in surprise. “That sounds logical I guess,” she added with another yawn. Pulling her pajama pants back on, Zoe walked back into her room, delighted to find that Zara wasn’t there. She knew it wouldn’t last very long, but so far Zara hadn’t seen her recently in her diaper and she didn’t mind delaying the inevitable.

Grabbing her jeans from the previous day, Zoe found that they were a bit more difficult to pull on over her nightwear. The overnight diaper was fuller and more padded than her daytime diaper and it made her jeans tighter than expected. She managed to pull them over her padded butt, zipped and buttoned, and she couldn’t help but take a quick peek at herself in the mirror. So far, so good.

When Zoe stepped out into the corridor, she found Zara waiting with their dad.

“Come on,” Zack said, quietly clapping his hands. “Let’s get to the car, everyone. I think your mom’s probably checked us out by now.”

It turned out to be true and within 10 minutes of stepping out into the still-chilly, exceptionally early morning air, they were back on the road, moving closer and closer to their final destination in Vermont.

The second half of the trip started off as well as the first half. By a complete miracle, Zoe managed to relax enough to gain a few more hours of sleep in the car meaning that Zack and Amelia were able to enjoy the relative quiet and peace of the road before daylight broke. They were only occasionally disturbed by some gentle snores or other sleepy noises that their daughters made in the back seat.

Zoe was awoken as the sky started to brighten up, somewhat surprised by the sun seemingly making its sudden appearance. It had only felt like a few minutes had passed since she last looked out the window to find it still pitch black. Now, a pale winter sun was brightening up the scenery that passed by in a slight blur before Zoe managed to adjust her eyes.

Noticing that she had to go quite badly, as per usual when she woke up, Zoe sat up a little straighter, her eyes still closed, completely unaware of everyone else. For the next few minutes or so, Zoe struggled with herself, still pretending to be asleep before deciding whether she should torture herself by hanging on for no reason at all. She had her diaper on, so why not use it?

Or should she just relax and let it happen? To Zoe, the answer was surprisingly simple.

Zoe was slightly shocked at just how easy it was to actually give in and decide to let go. But at the same time, she felt just as comfortable as she did in her dorm room, and since she was still tired, she didn’t care as much about what others thought.

As the next twinge hit her bladder, instead of tensing up, Zoe relaxed herself purposely. She was instantly rewarded with the still new, yet increasingly familiar warmth combined with the pressure against her jeans as the diaper fought to contain the flood. For a moment, it felt never ending, but it stopped just as suddenly as it started.

The rest of the morning continued much the same with the family’s SUV encountering surprisingly little traffic along the way and making steady progress. In the back, Zoe didn’t manage to get back to sleep, but she did manage to doze on and off in a comfortable half-asleep, half-awake state. Despite barely being awake, she couldn’t help but feel slightly relieved when the car finally pulled into a rest stop.

Unbuckling herself, Zoe hopped out of the car with some difficulty courtesy of the expanded diaper that she was wearing. The rest of the family follower suit, stepping out of the SUV. Zack groaned slightly as he stretched his muscles and Zara leaned heavily against the side of the car, still tired. Somehow Amelia seemed to be perfectly all right, looking on at her family with a faint smile. Zoe, in the meantime, gingerly felt her butt, noting how much the padding beneath her had actually expanded.

Zoe bit her lip as she tried to figure out what to do. She didn’t particularly want to undergo a changing in public, but she would definitely feel a lot more comfortable changed. With a resolute sigh, Zoe approached her mom.

“Mom? Can we go to the bathroom?” Zoe asked before lowering her voice even further. “I kinda need to change.”

“Sure, Zo,” Amelia answered before heading in the direction of the bathrooms. As they approached the bathrooms, Zoe felt that it was very clear what was going on as they passed by other people in the rest stop. She felt as though she would never live down the feeling of people not exactly outright staring, but definitely looking at her curiously to try and discover her little secret.

“Mom, everyone is looking at me,” Zoe whispered anxiously.

“Oh, honey, I’m sure that it’s fine,” Amelia said reassuringly, taking a look around herself. “It doesn’t look like anyone’s looking at all.”

However, Zoe didn’t really feel appeased and was glad when they found a family bathroom, the door lock clicking open. Zoe quickly followed her mom in, sure that they got some questionable looks as they entered. At this rate, Zoe was worried that her face would permanently be colored in a red hue.

Stripping down in front of her mom was at least mildly less embarrassing than being outside the bathroom. Despite it still being awkward, as they were still trying to figure out the best way to go about the changes, it was at least decently swift. Amelia was getting more practiced with the adjustments to changing daughter who was a lot taller now then when she last needed to be changed as a little girl. Although luckily for Amelia Zoe never really grew tall to begin with.

As Zoe pulled her pants back on, she decided to ask her mom the one question that was burning in her mind ever since she agreed to go back into diapers.

“Hey, Mom?” Zoe asked, worrying her lip between her teeth for a moment. “Do you think it’s possible I can get a room by myself at Aunt Beth and Uncle Tommy’s house?”

Amelia hesitated for a moment as she set about cleaning up their space in the bathroom. “Uhm,” Amelia said slowly. “I can try to ask, but with Marc and Sophie coming along with your cousins it might be a bit of a stretch, love.”

“Oh, yeah,” Zoe said quietly. “I get it. Well, I guess we’ll see.” Zoe tried to shrug it off nonchalantly, but deep down she was terrified of the prospect of being stuck in diapers in a room with all of her cousins and Zara. But the truth was there wasn’t much she could do about it right now and all she could do was hope for the best. With a sigh and after making sure all evidence of what had just transpired was gone, Zoe unlocked the bathroom door and stepped out in a fresh, way less obvious diaper.

Zoe felt a lot more comfortable changed, but she still got some odd looks from others in the area took in a clearly young adult woman stepping out of the bathroom with her mom. The only telltale sign that anything out of the ordinary occurred was the semi-permanent blush on Zoe’s face which told part of the story. The slight edge of her diaper peeking above her waistband told the rest. But Zoe luckily didn’t know or realize that one.

While Zoe and Amelia walked back to the car, ready to embark on their journey again, Zoe spotted Zara sitting on a nearby bench using her phone as a mirror.

“What are you doing?” Zoe asked, already knowing the answer.

“Just trying to fix my hair,” Zara answered as she combed her slender fingers through her hair. “All of this travel and the weather is making it frizz everywhere. I can’t post a single thing on Insta because of it.”

Zoe sighed, tilting her head slightly as she studied Zara’s nearly platinum colored hair. She couldn’t see any sign of frizz in her sister’s bleached hair. Somehow, despite the work that was done, Zara’s hair always seemed to be perfect. Touching her decidedly brown and not frizzy hair which was tied back in an attempt at a messy bun, Zoe shrugged.

“Your hair looks fine to me,” Zoe said, not bothering to stick around to hear Zara’s response and instead taking the short walk back to the car and enjoying the heat.

The rest of the trip went fairly straightforward. They chose to drive a bit longer between rest stops with Zack and Amelia taking turns driving to speed up the remaining journey from Dayton to just outside Rutland, Vermont. Without any delays or traffic jams, the time was approaching 5 pm and Zoe was starting to feel cranky.

“Mom, how far is it until we’re at Aunt Beth and Uncle Tommy’s place?” Zoe asked with a whine.

“Should be another 15 minutes or so,” Amelia responded, glancing at the GPS from her place behind the wheel.

“Can we make one more stop?”

“Why would we make one more stop?” Zara interjected, her tone snappy from sitting in the car for so long. “It’s like…15 minutes. What’s the point of another stop when we’re like right there?”

“Zoe?” Amelia asked, ignoring Zara. “Is there something that can’t wait until we get to your aunt and uncle’s house?”

“I mean…” Zoe stuttered out before taking a deep breath. “We haven’t really stopped much and my diaper is uhm…it’s kind of wet.” Zoe felt her cheeks flush as she felt Zara’s eyes boring a hole into her head. “And I kind of don’t want to arrive there in a soaked diaper.”

“I mean maayyybbbeeee you should have thought about that before you went back into diapers like a baby,” Zara scoffed.

“I am not a baby,” Zoe snapped.

“You are too!” Zara mocked. “Otherwise you would have been able to get to the potty in time,” Zara added in a sing-song voice.

“Shut up, Zara,” Zoe retorted, unable to really form a better comeback as her face started to burn even more. “At least I don’t have to kill my hair to look nice!”

“You bi-”

“Zara, before you finish that word, I suggest you think real hard about what the consequences would be if you did,” Amelia interjected. “Both of you knock it off now. It’s less than 15 minutes before we get there, and I don’t want any fights.” Amelia let the silence in the backseat settle before glancing over at Zack. “What do you think? Okay with another quick stop?”

“Fine by me,” Zack shrugged. “Lead the way and we’ll just make it quick.”

“Okay,” Zoe replied.

“I know she has to face it eventually, but I think it’s fair to give her at least one more stop before having to see everyone, right?” Zack added. “Plus, with Zoe wearing protection, it’s saved us load of time today. Even before her issues I remember having to stop every hour and a half – maybe two hours if we were lucky.”

“Yeah,” Amelia replied. “So let’s get on with it. I think there’s a rest stop close by.”

Zoe sighed in relief. She knew there wasn’t any escape, but arriving to the house in a soaked diaper didn’t seem like the first impression she wanted to deal with and it felt daunting. So after a quick stop at the rest stop, the family arrived at the house 20 minutes later.

With a yawn, Zoe stepped out of the car. Her calves her sore, her butt was sore, her head hurt, and parts of her body that she didn’t expect to hurt were aching. Not only that, she was very aware of what she was wearing underneath her jeans.

At least Zara had been quiet after their parent’s stern warning. Not that it would last.

As Zoe looked at the other cars in the driveway, she noticed a car with Massachusetts plates. That meant that her Uncle Marc and Aunt Sophie had arrived with her cousins.

Approaching the door with heavy bags in tow, the door swung wide open, revealing her beaming aunt.

“You guys made it!” Beth said, with the biggest smile Zoe had ever seen.

“Yeah, we did,” Amelia said, giving Beth a big hug.

Zoe followed suit, giggling as Beth swept her into a rocking hug. Beth had always been her favorite aunt, having many happy memories at the house during both the summer and winter, sleeping over in Vermont between the forests and mountains.

“You guys look absolutely spent,” Uncle Tommy said with a chuckle, walking into the hallway to greet everyone before pulling Zack into a firm “man hug.”

“Hey, brother,” Zack responded, thumping Tommy on the back. “Next time you guys can drive to Topeka. See how you like it. I think those two nearly killed each other.” Zack jerked a thumb over in Zoe and Zara’s direction.

“Is that so, ladies?” Uncle Tommy asked with a mock stern look. He held it for only a moment before bursting out into a laugh and smiling. “Then better get in and unwind. Everyone else arrived except for Julia. She’ll be driving in tomorrow.”

The De Luca clan followed Beth and Tommy to the living room where they were greeted with a chorus of happy hellos and big hugs. Alice launched herself off the couch, tackling Zoe into a tight hug.

“Zoe!” she shrieked. “You’re here!”

“Oof,” Zoe said as she nearly fell over from Alice’s exuberance. It had been quite some time since they had all seen each other, and little Alice, to Zoe’s dismay, was slightly taller than her. Damn Mason genes, Zoe thought to herself. Why are they all so tall?

“Wow, Alice,” Zoe said, holding her 14-year-old cousin at arm’s length. “You’ve grown a lot since I’ve seen you last.”

“And you haven’t grown a bit,” Alice countered with a grin causing them both to laugh.

“Zoe? Do you have a moment?” Amelia asked, peeking her head around the corner from the hallway.

“Uhm, yeah, I guess,” Zoe replied. “Why?”

“We’re trying to get rooms organized,” Amelia replied. “It’s quite a full house so Beth is trying to spread everyone around.”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Zoe said joining her mom in the hallway. Amelia beckoned for Zoe to follow her upstairs. As they walked upstairs, Zoe wondered what the big fuss was. They usually all tended to pile into one room, stuffing it full with mattresses.

At the top of the stairs, Zoe noticed that Beth was waiting outside one of the rooms, a curious look on her face. The expression on Beth’s face hit Zoe hard as she realized what was happening. Zoe’s anxiety hit full force and she shot her mom a nervous glance. Taking a deep, but subtle breath, Zoe tried to hide her panic. She was not ready for what was about to happen.

“Hey, Zoe,” Beth said softly. “Your mom said that there was something that you needed to tell me.”

“W-w-why do I n-need to t-t-tell it, Mom?” Zoe stuttered out, grimacing at the way she stammered. She could feel her breathing and heart rate start to quicken. Amelia placed a gentle hand on Zoe’s shoulder, giving it a soft squeeze.

“Because it’s your secret to tell, honey, not mine,” Amelia replied.

“B-but it’s r-really emb-ba-ba…embarrassing.”

“Zoe, whatever it is, I’m sure that no one would judge you,” Beth added. “I know I certainly won’t.”

This was not what Zoe had in mind when she started to wear diapers. But then again, she realized that this was also what was going to happen at some point. As much as she wanted to keep it a secret, it wasn’t going to stay secret for very long. How did she ever think that she was going to hide it from everyone?

Deciding to just get it over with, Zoe stammered out as quickly as she could. “I have to wear diapers cause I have too many accidents,” Zoe said in one breath before rushing off to the bathroom.

Beth was quiet for a moment before looking over at Amelia. “She has to wear diapers?” she asked, wincing as they both heard a retching noise from the bathroom.

“Yeah,” Amelia sighed. “Just after midterms, Zoe was sick and after that she started to have accidents. We took her to the doctor last weekend, but they don’t know what’s going on either. So, for now, this is the solution that we came up with for Zoe.”

After a few moments, Zoe left the bathroom, looking exceptionally pale with panic still in her eyes. She couldn’t bring herself to look up at her aunt, but Beth placed herself in front of Zoe’s vision.

“Hey, don’t worry,” Beth said with a smile. “I imagine that this can’t be easy for you. But your secret is safe with me. We’ll see if we can go ahead and keep it safe for you, okay? So what do you need from us?” She looked over at Amelia for guidance.

“Well, ideally, Zoe would get a room alone,” Amelia admitted. “I know that it’s a longshot with so many of us, but it would make things a lot easier. And a mattress protector would probably be good to have, just in case. Which is also why we decided to tell you now.”

“Hmm,” Beth hummed in response. “A mattress protector is easy. We have some here at home, but a room alone? I don’t really think that’s possible.”

“Oh,” Zoe said quietly, looking down at her feet. She hadn’t expected it, but her mom’s request had made her slightly hopeful.

Suddenly Beth’s eyes lit up. “Well, maybe it actually works out,” she said almost to herself, looking oddly happy. She took a quick look around to make sure that no one else was in earshot. “She could just stay with Alice in her room. It would solve one of our biggest issues, actually.” Noticing the confused expressions on both Zoe and Amelia’s faces, Beth continued, speaking quietly. “Alice has been absolutely dreading the idea of having everyone over. She was excited of course, but she’s been having a lot of anxiety. For the past few months, she’s been, well…she’s been struggling a bit at night. We don’t know if it’s from her having nightmares or just from growing up and the havoc that causes on a body, but she’s been having nighttime accidents again.”

She turned to Zoe with a bright smile. “But if you’re also in diapers, I’m sure that it would make it a lot more comfortable for you to share a room. I know it would definitely help Alice feel better so that she feels a little less alone. You don’t have to tell me more or tell Alice the details about what’s going on, but at least there’s one other person who will understand.”

Zoe felt her panic start to subside a little, despite the semi-permanent blush on her face.

“Yeah, that would be okay, I think,” Zoe whispered.

“That sounds perfect, Beth,” Amelia added. “Thank you for helping us. I had no idea about Alice.”

“Yeah, well, we haven’t really talked about it with anyone either,” Beth sighed. “For obvious reasons, of course. You know how people get.”

With the decision of her rooming situation decided, Zoe felt her body fill with relief. It could be all right, Zoe decided. She was sure that everyone else would find out eventually, but maybe she could just roll with it, especially if she wasn’t alone. Her aunt seemed understanding, so maybe the others would be as well. And perhaps just letting it happen would be better than getting so anxious that she threw up again.

“I’m going to go brush my teeth,” Zoe announced, running downstairs to grab her bags that were stuffed in the hallway. She carried them back upstairs and to Alice’s room which looked like a stereotypical 14-year-old girl’s room with Harry Styles posters all over the place. Zoe snickered as she took a look around, shaking her head.

Zoe went into her bag and pulled out her toothbrush and toothpaste. As she straightened up, she couldn’t help but take a look over at Alice’s bad. Beneath the fitted sheet, she could see the edge of a plastic cover that looked similar to the one she had at home. She wondered if it was crinkly like hers or if the top was fabric.

Shrugging a bit, Zoe made her way to the bathroom to finally brush her teeth and get the awful taste out of her mouth.

The holiday was going to be a rollercoaster, but she would just have to take things as they came.

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