I was hoping to post this whole story at once, but things have been pretty hectic lately, so I'm not sure if I'd have it done by Christmas or not. So, to have at least some of it up by then, I'm splitting it up after all. I still hope to have it all done by the 25th, but I can't guarantee that...
Chapter 1 - Mommy Dearest
"Weird," Phoebe mused out loud as she stared at the box with its blank return address field. Her apartment was still full of boxes - she'd just moved in a few days before - and while there were a lot she should have been working on opening, this was the one that intrigued her the most. Her first piece of mail here, and not only wasn't it junk mail, it was a package!
With it being a week from Christmas, it made perfect sense that it would be a Christmas present, except that her mother had already given her presents to her before she'd moved, and, as far as Phoebe knew, she was the only person who had her new address. Not to mention that the shipping label had been printed out, and her mother was nowhere near technically competent enough to pull that off, though it would make sense that she would forget the return address. Of course, there was only one way to find out, but, unfortunately, the box was taped quite securely, and she'd been eating fast food since she'd moved, too busy to unpack all her kitchen stuff, or go grocery shopping.
She picked the box up and gave it a shake, then ran her fingers along the layers and layers of tape keeping the thing shut, looking for a loose end. After a minute, she shrugged and dropped the box with a thud on the counter, turning her back on it to start looking through her other boxes, unfolding their tops in search of her knives. She gave a little jump as she heard another thump behind her, turning to see the box on the floor. She shook her head, chuckling to herself, hardly able to believe how freaked out she'd felt over something so silly. She just wasn't used to living on her own yet... Though she could have sworn the box was far enough from the edge of the counter that it shouldn't have just fallen like that.
"Here we go!" She smiled as she produced a yellow-handled steak knife, kneeling down in front of the box and slicing it open. When she opened the top, she was greeted first by a Christmas card, a generic picture of Santa in his sleigh on the front, though it was clearly bulging, something else having been shoved inside. Beneath it was a mass of wadded newspaper, far too much to be able to tell what else the box contained. She picked up the card, opening it carefully to keep the papers that had been folded inside from falling onto her floor, then reading the inside.
The card's blandness extended beyond the cover, it turned out, to the simple "Merry Christmas" on the inside. Beneath that, however, was a message she certainly had not expected to see, written out in careful, precise handwriting, "Love, Daddy." She dropped the card like it was toxic, wrinkling her nose in distaste and disbelief, hardly able to restrain herself from taking the cell phone out of her purse right then and calling her mother. What was wrong with that woman?! Phoebe had never known her father, and her mother knew quite well that, at this point, she had no real desire to change that, even though, lately, he had started taking an interest in it himself. Her mother kept telling her to give him a chance, and she kept telling her mother no... Why would she give him her new address?
Her good mood immediately evaporated, and she kicked the box across the kitchen's slick, linoleum floor, towards the garbage can. She had to admit, part of her was curious as to what he thought would make up for two decades of ignoring her, but her pride was strong enough to beat back her inquisitiveness... At least until she heard the rustling. It came several seconds after the box thunked against the counter, way more time than it should have taken anything inside of it to fall over. What was even stranger was the fact that it didn't stop.
Surely he hadn't... But she rushed over to the box, just in case. She hadn't seen any air holes, nothing that would suggest that something living could have made the journey in anything resembling comfort, but it sure sounded like he had put something alive in there. Her skin crawled just a touch as she remembered horror stories, probably - hopefully - just urban legends about people finding hoards of spiders or cockroaches or whatever in all sorts of things, but she told herself that if this was a kitten or something, she couldn't just leave it trapped in there.
Now that she'd given herself leave to care about what was inside more than who had sent it, her curiosity was back full force, and she was pretty eager to see what it could be, though that hope was tempered with just a hint of fear. She wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it wasn't the feel of hair as she pushed aside paper. Her apprehension began to grow when she saw what looked like the back of a tiny person's head. It was a doll, of course, she knew that, and yet, once she had cleared enough paper away to see it, the thing turned, looking straight at her with a loud, "Mama!"
Despite knowing that had to be what was inside, she still found herself stumbling backward at the movement, tripping over her own feet and landing on her backside with a shocked, "Shit!" It looked like an old fashioned baby doll, crafted out of plastic, its painted on blue eyes staring blankly at her, until the eyelids bobbed down for just a second. It looked very much like it had come from fifty years ago or more, but it was obviously much newer than that, because, even half mired in the newspaper-filled box, it was moving quite smoothly, enough so to be just a little freaky to Phoebe.
It didn't help that the doll looked eerily like her. Other than being nothing more than paint, the eyes were the same color, and its pale face was dotted with freckles, just like her own. While its hair was pulled into pigtails and her own was just loose, hanging down not quite to her shoulders, both were the same shade of red, and both had bangs. It was definitely more than a little unsettling, even as she wondered why in the world her father would get her something like that. She supposed her mom could have sent him pictures of her, which could explain the resemblance, but that would mean that he had to have some idea of how old she was, right? Why would he think she would want some stupid doll?
"Mama!" the doll repeated, lifting its little plastic arms up in the air. At the very least, it didn't seem as if that part of it had been made to imitate her. It was hard to tell for sure, since it's always hard to judge how you sound to others, but she was positive her voice was nowhere near that high and squeaky. Based on her or not, though, it sounded far less mechanical, and more real, than she would have liked. It was amazing how far kids' toys had come since she was a little girl, but she was very glad she hadn't had one of these when she was younger; she was pretty sure it would have given her nightmares.
Considering how eerily familiar it looked, it seemed wrong to just throw it away now. She wondered if her mother would want it - it would serve her right to be stuck with the weird thing after what she'd done. Hell, she'd probably like it. It was almost too bad she'd already given her mother her Christmas presents, though maybe she could save it for her birthday, if she could stand having it in her apartment until then.
Her apartment. The thought made her feel so grown-up, so mature. It was almost enough to make her forget that she'd just been given a baby doll as a Christmas present, and once she reminded herself, she made sure to mentally add that it was from a parent who didn't know her at all, and had no idea how independent she was.
"Mama!" the doll cried a third time, more shrilly and insistently this time.
"Fine!" Phoebe snapped, getting up and lifting the doll out of the box. At first, she'd thought the doll was wearing a white dress with pink polka dots, but as she saw more of it, she realized it was a nightgown. Only the chest - and, as she fully extracted the doll from its prison, she saw a strip of them along the bottom hem as well - was polka dotted. The rest of the gown was covered in little pictures of cats saying "Meow!" and hearts. The border between the two designs was marked on one side by a yellow bow, and the sleeves and neck were lined in pink satin. Under the nightgown, where Phoebe couldn't quite stop herself from looking, it was in something too thick to be anything but a diaper. It was supposed to be a real baby doll, she realized, just as she spotted something else in the box, something that turned out to be a little baby bottle, a tiny bowl and spoon, and a few packages of "baby food". The top of the bottle looked as if it came off, and the mouth had been moving when it spoke, so she had a feeling that, if she were so inclined, she could feed the bottle to the doll... Which probably also meant that whatever she gave it would have to come out somewhere, which likely explained the diaper, including the spares she found near the bottle.
Even that wasn't all that was in the box, however. She could see just a glimpse of it and, thinking that maybe it was her real present, she set the bottle and the doll down on the floor and pulled the rest of the paper out of the box, revealing first a tiny doll's bed with a safety rail that snapped into place, and then, to Phoebe's surprise, a nightgown just like the one the doll was wearing, only in her own size. The idea of wearing the same thing to bed as her doll might have been cute a decade and a half ago, but now she simply rolled her eyes, hardly able to believe her father could have imagined she would want this.
She set the box's contents aside while the doll toddled around the room, only then picking up the papers that had been inside the card. The first page was written in Chinese, illustrated with a group of cryptic pictures that she couldn't quite make out, but luckily, the second page seemed to be a translation:
Three Simple Rules for Taking Care of Your Dolly:
1. Do not leave her alone! She is too young to be left by herself!
2. Change her quickly! She doesn't like her diaper to stay wet!
3. Keep her in bed from 8 at night till 8 in the morning! Good girls go to bed early, and need lots of sleep - and that includes you!
"Yeah, I'll be sure to do that," Phoebe rolled her eyes, tossing the papers into the box. Was her father really so clueless that he thought she would want this? She understood that he'd been off partying or whatever for twenty years instead of being around kids, but he couldn't possibly be that clueless, could he? If he really thought she was about to start carting around a baby doll with her everywhere she went, especially one that looked like her, or even that she was going to put it to bed, he had another thing coming.
She got up off the floor, grabbing the box and tossing it into the garbage before going to the living room and plopping down on the couch with her tablet to check Facebook. She really should unpack more, and she told herself she'd do it later, but she knew that it was more likely that she would put it off yet again instead. As she flicked through her news feed, she wondered if she should have kept the instructions to give to whoever she unloaded the stupid doll on, but it wasn't like they were important or anything. If she gave it to an adult, they were sure to ignore them, and if she found a kid to give it to, surely they would know how to play with a doll.
She was just getting comfortable, curling up on one side of the sofa, when she heard a loud crash, followed by the doll's cry. She sighed, curling herself up a little tighter in annoyance, only half-listening as the crying turned to giggles, followed shortly by another crash. "For God's sake," she grumbled, tossing the tablet onto the couch and getting up. She was sure the thing had just been bumping into things, yet she arrived in the kitchen just in time to see the doll reach up with its little plastic arms and shove another one of her boxes over before breaking out into laughter.
"What the hell?!" Phoebe stomped over to the toy, aghast. What kind of a company would make something like that?! Who would knowingly inflict that kind of chaos upon a parent who already had a little kid to deal with?! It seemed needlessly cruel, and definitely not what she needed around her apartment. "Cut it out!" she demanded, despite feeling absolutely ridiculous for making any kind of demand of a doll. The thing looked up at her, with its youthful approximation of her face, and giggled again.
"Okay, nope," she shook her head, grabbing the doll up. "Not doing this." The doll squirmed and whined in her hands as she pulled up its nightgown, searching its body for an off switch, her dislike for the designers growing when she came up empty. There was nothing, not even under the thing's diaper, not even a battery compartment.
"Baba, mama!" the toy demanded loudly. "Baba!"
"Will you leave my stuff alone if I give you your stupid bottle?" Phoebe hissed at it, grabbing the bottle with a sigh. She set the doll down on the counter as she unscrewed the top of the bottle and filled it with water, then tried to hand it over. The doll's little arms reached up, but its hands were just plastic, so it seemed to have trouble grasping it, meaning she was stuck holding the bottle as the tiny mechanical mouth opened and closed, water pouring into it. "Are you happy now?" she asked once it was over.
"Wet, mama!" the doll announced.
"Well, what did you expect?" she rolled her eyes, snatching up the doll and taking it over to the trash can, where she pulled the box it had come in back out. "I guess you can stay in here until I find you a new home, so you don't knock over anything.
"Wet, mama!" the doll shrieked, before starting to cry loudly.
"Ugh!" There was no way she was changing a baby doll's diaper, not at her age. It was bad enough she'd somehow convinced herself to give it water, but that was far enough. Despite what the "rules" had said, she knew it was just water in the doll's diaper, and it wasn't likely to hurt the plastic at all, so she ignored it as much as she could. After a few minutes, she had a brilliant idea, picking the doll back up and carrying it over to the bed the thing had come with. The rules had also mentioned putting it to bed, so surely there was something in the bed that would turn the toy off.
At first, nothing seemed to change, the doll just tossing and turning and trying to get back up, but once Phoebe had snapped the rails into place, her hunch was proven right, and the doll's eyelids slid shut. "Finally!" She shook her head, almost wishing she did speak to her father, to give him a piece of her mind over this annoying, completely immature and inappropriate gift he'd given her, but she supposed she would just have to settle for saying that all to her mother and having the woman relay the message. She almost picked up her phone to send the message right away, but managed to stop herself, knowing it was probably better to give herself time to calm down a little.
Instead, she decided it was finally time to go see the city's Christmas light display, something she'd kept putting off. She was running out of time now, however, if she wanted to get it done before the holiday, so, with nothing better to do, she grabbed her purse and headed back outside, texting her best friend, Joan, as she went. She had yet to really begin to feel the holiday spirit, and this latest gift hadn't helped at all, but maybe the lights would. They'd always used to do the trick, anyway. Going with Joan and her daughter was also bound to help.
Joan was a couple years older than her, and while Phoebe didn't usually like kids, she had to admit that her little girl, Trixie, was pretty cute. She was almost six, and while she could certainly be as loud and annoying as most of the kids Phoebe had experience with, most of the time she seemed to be fairly quiet, and much smarter than Phoebe would normally give someone her age credit for. She was certainly still young enough to really enjoy going to look at Christmas decorations, though, and Phoebe's mood definitely increased as she listened to the child oohing and aahing behind her.
She went with them to McDonald's afterward, a solution to her problem presenting itself as Joan complained about how she still wasn't sure what to get Trixie for Christmas while the little tyke ran through the play area a few feet away. "I just got this weird doll, and a bunch of junk that goes with it if you want that," Phoebe was happy to offer.
"Hmm... Maybe," Joan contemplated. "What does it look like? Do you have a picture?"
Phoebe couldn't help blushing a little. "Well, it looks a little like me."
Joan raised an eyebrow. "Really? And where did you get this? Are you sure you should be giving it away? It sounds like someone wanted you to have it."
Phoebe squirmed in her chair, shrugging. She supposed that was true, but it didn't change her mind. "That doesn't matter. Look, do you want it or not?"
Joan shrugged. "Can you send me a picture?"
"Yeah, I guess. I really just want to get rid of it. It's kind of creepy."
"Oh, so you want to pawn it off on me? Thanks," Joan teased her.
"Only because it looks like me!" Phoebe insisted, deciding to leave out the whole crying part. It was a little mean to spring that on her friend, but she'd already dealt with a real baby, so Phoebe was sure she could handle it. Phoebe supposed it might still be a little strange, seeing her best friend's little girl carrying around a doll that almost seemed based off of her, but it was better than having it in her own apartment, that was for sure. However, Joan was insistent on actually seeing it before she decided whether to take it or not, so Phoebe resigned herself to having to keep the thing at home for at least another day as Joan drove her to her house, where Phoebe had left her car.
Still, there was a pretty good possibility that she was going to be able to get rid of the doll, so she was in a much better mood as she drove back to her apartment, at least until she got off the elevator on her floor and found most of the lights in her hall had seemingly burned out while she was gone, the few that weren't out flickering ominously as she walked past. She thought back to the lobby, confirming to herself that those lights had been fine. She considered heading back to the elevator to go complain, but as she turned around, the doors closed with a ding, darkening the hallway that much more as it took away its light, heading back down to the ground floor.
Her hands were shaking a little as she reached into her purse for her keys, getting a very strange feeling from this whole ordeal. Things only got worse as she approached her door and found it standing open. "Nope," she shook her head, dropping her just discovered keys back into her purse and starting to search for her phone again while she began to turn to head back to the elevator. There was no way she was going in there now!
"Is this your place?" Phoebe jumped at the voice, though more at the sudden appearance of the source of it, a woman who had appeared right behind her without warning. In the dark, it was hard to make much out, but Phoebe could see a mass of blonde hair, a pink dress with an apron over it, a pair of heels, and a strand of pearls around the woman's neck, all of which made her appear like a shadowy version of the quintessential 50s housewife.
"Yes, but..." Phoebe started to answer.
"I'm so sorry, I had to get the super to open your door. I live right next door, and I heard your baby crying, and I knocked and knocked and just didn't get an answer. I couldn't believe you would just leave your little one there all by herself! But there was nobody else there!" The woman's head tilted down, taking Phoebe in. "You look quite young to be having a baby, so I'm sure you just don't know the proper way to find a reliable babysitter. It's not your fault yours left on you, but you really should be more careful when you choose them!"
"What?" Phoebe's head was spinning a little as she tried to figure out what the woman was talking about. She looked at the open door again, making sure it was her own. "I didn't hire any babysitter..."
"Of all the irresponsible things!" the woman huffed. "What were you thinking, young lady?!"
Phoebe shrunk back a little at the chastisement. "I-I don't have a baby!" she squeaked.
That was the wrong thing to say. The woman sputtered for a moment, then, without warning, she grabbed Phoebe's ear and dragged her away from her door. She was wearing gloves, it turned out, as Phoebe felt cloth against her ear rather than flesh, but her grip was much harder than Phoebe expected, leaving her little choice but to stumble along beside the woman, stammering out protests as she was pulled into the next apartment. Considering how old fashioned the woman was dressed, Phoebe was surprised how modern the apartment looked, though she got to see only a glimpse of it in the dark as she was guided through it and into the kitchen.
"I will not tolerate a mother saying things like that!" the woman declared, and, a moment after she released Phoebe, leaving the girl to rub her poor ear, she shoved a bar of soap into her mouth and shoved her into the corner of the kitchen. "I ought to spank your backside bright red for that!"
Phoebe squirmed at that, reaching up to take the soap out of her mouth, confused and starting to get angry. "What the hell are you talking about?! It's not a baby, it's just...!"
Before she could finish, the woman was beside her, snatching the soap back out of her hand and jamming it back into her mouth, though this time she didn't just leave it there. As Phoebe whimpered and fidgeted helplessly, the woman began pushing the bar in and out, all around the girl's mouth, coating her tongue, the roof of her mouth, the back of her teeth, and everywhere in between with the stuff, Phoebe's protests only churning it up more and turning it into a mouthful of suds that dribbled down onto the front of her shirt, even after the woman stopped, positioning Phoebe back in the corner, soap back in place and not going anywhere this time.
"Never let me hear you say that about your baby again, young lady!" the woman scolded her. "I went in to check on that poor thing, and you'd just left her in bed by herself, and in a wet diaper to boot! You're lucky my daughter's been out of diapers for years, or I would have you in one in a second to show you what it was like!"
Phoebe's heart thumped loudly in her chest, a hundred confused, conflicted thoughts clouding her mind at once as she fidgeted in the corner, feeling the front of her shirt growing wetter as the soapy saliva continued dripping from her mouth. When she tried to reach up to wipe her mouth, the woman was there in an instant to smack her hand away, and Phoebe shrunk down momentarily, afraid she had earned another scrubbing. She had barely even heard the woman come up behind her, she had just seemed to appear in total silence, though once it was done, Phoebe was sure she could feel the presence lurking right behind her, as she felt her mouth begin to burn slightly, her discomfort growing with every mounting second.
When she stepped forward again, Phoebe flinched slightly, not sure what she had done now, only for the woman to remove the soap. "Did that do its job?" she asked.
"Yes, I'm sorry!" Phoebe exclaimed, inadvertently letting out another stream of bubbly drool down the front of herself. The woman led her to the sink and gave her some water to rinse her mouth out with, and then guided her back to her own dark apartment. The woman didn't bother to turn on the lights, yet she seemed to know the place better than Phoebe, navigating it flawlessly, having to pull the girl along a couple times as she tripped over boxes. Phoebe was rather surprised to find that her destination was her guest room, a place she had used purely as a place to store some of her boxes.
But now, in the light shining in from the window, she could see the doll bed she had set up in the kitchen, purely to keep the doll quiet. The doll was still lying there, "asleep", as Phoebe was shoved towards it. "Apologize to her," the woman demanded.
Phoebe turned around in shock. Surely now the woman had to see that it was just a toy! It was obvious! Then again, it should have been even more-so when the woman moved the bed in here. She knew it was stupid, but this was her own apartment now, and she wasn't about to let some insane woman intimidate her here. "Listen, lady, I don't know who you are, but this is just a doll! A stupid, creepy doll!" She picked the doll up out of the bed, its eyes sliding open as soon as she did, prompting a, "Mama, wet!" that grated on Phoebe's nerves, making her even more upset. In the light, it almost looked as if the doll were glowing, but she was too annoyed to give that much thought as she yelled, "If you're not out of here in 30 seconds, I will call the police! I have had enough of this!" The doll repeated what seemed to be the only thing it could say until it got changed, which set Phoebe just far enough over the edge to toss the thing onto the floor.
It was the wrong move. "You're the one who should have the police called on you!" the woman declared, rushing forward and grabbing Phoebe's hand, twisting it behind her back and forcing her down, bending her over one of the boxes. Phoebe yelped and cursed and threatened, but only for another moment or two, before she felt the woman's hand slap against her backside, far harder than she would have expected, had she even thought that such a thing was possible. "That is no way to treat your baby!" Phoebe tried desperately to wriggle her way free, but the woman was too strong, even before the spanking began. And once that started, there was no hope.
Phoebe had thought the first smack was bad, but that was nothing compared to what the woman had in store for her after that. She cried out in shock and pain as the woman's hand landed across her bottom, gasping out an ill-advised, "You wouldn't dare!" before the woman showed her that she would, indeed, do far more than dare. It was clear from the start that there was no escape for Phoebe, that she was no match for her opponent. She didn't even have time to resolve not to let the woman see her cry before she realized tears were already streaming down her face, and in a matter of minutes, she was kicking and screeching like a helpless child as the woman reddened every inch of her derriere. The next day was going to be a very uncomfortable one at the office, especially if anyone asked her why she was fidgeting so much in her chair.
She was almost sure she could see things moving in the darkness of the room, a luminescent form zooming past and quivering before other shadowy figures began scattering off in different directions, but the whole night had been so surreal, and it was so hard to see through her tears, that she wasn't sure whether to take that sight at face value or not. By the time the woman let her up, and she stood there, rubbing her sore bottom, staring up at the woman, still crying, she felt every bit like an ill-behaved six year old, so if she had been imagining things like one, that wasn't much of a leap.
"You're lucky, young lady," the woman informed her. "Next time I see you treating a child like that, your pants and underwear are coming down!"
Phoebe cheeks flushed. She hadn't thought there was any way for that to have been more humiliating, but she had not even considered that. She hated the idea of anyone seeing her naked - she certainly didn't want this big, beautiful woman to do it, and definitely not for that purpose!
"Now, you are going to apologize to your baby and change her diaper like a good mommy, aren't you?"
Phoebe knew it was likely meant as a rhetorical question, but the burning sensation in her rear was enough to prompt a swift, "Yes!" in answer as she wiped her eyes and nose, scanning the room for the doll. It was standing by the bed, and the light still made her think it might be glowing, just slightly. Swallowing what little pride she had left for the day, she knelt down, staring it in its plastic face. "I'm very sorry for how I treated you," she said, the trauma enough to keep her from feeling quite as insane to be doing this. "Let's get that diaper changed, okay?"
She picked up the doll and laid it on the bed, plucking one of the rails out and tossing it aside, pushing its nightgown up to expose the diaper. It was surprisingly well made for doll clothes, looking quite similar to an actual diaper, with velcro standing in for the tapes. The water that had filtered through the doll earlier was mostly dry by that point, but with the woman watching, Phoebe didn't dare mention that, or do anything but grab another diaper from the stack beside the bed and slide it onto the doll's plastic bottom, fastening it snugly into place. She glanced anxiously behind her, hoping that would satisfy the woman, but she could barely see her features at all in the darkness, and, to play it safe, she decided to give the doll a hug and apologize again. "I'll never do that again," she promised.
"That's better," the woman nodded. "Now, I hope I don't have to come back over here... And you had better hope so, too. I think for now, you'd better get to bed. It's nearly nine o'clock, far past the time that good little girls should be in bed."
Phoebe bristled slightly at that, but not enough to talk back. Honestly, after everything else, it seemed a silly thing to push her luck with. "Okay," she agreed. "Good night!"
Thankfully, the woman accepted that and left. Phoebe gave the doll a dirty look for starting all this, fighting the urge to open the window and throw the thing out. She had enough presence of mind to think about what that could mean if the woman came to check on her again, or if the woman got up before her and found the doll outside, which also made her worry about what would happen if she gave the doll to Joan. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea...
She shook her head. What was she thinking?! She wasn't going to let this stand! She probably should go straight to the police, but instead she resolved to call the super the next morning, see if she could get the bitch evicted, or, if not, get moved to a different apartment herself. She was still mostly packed, after all, though she would still run the risk of bumping into the woman... Maybe the cops would be better after all.
But not that night. As much as she hated to admit it, despite how early it was, and how much she didn't want to obey the woman's order, she was feeling pretty wiped out from her little misadventure, and going to bed sounded very nice. She reached down to try to pick the doll up to put it back to bed, but it darted away. "Whatever," she rolled her eyes. "Maybe this is a good place for you, anyway." It was on the opposite wall as the woman's apartment, so she shouldn't be able to hear the doll anymore, and it was far enough from Phoebe's own bedroom that she didn't think she would be able to, either. She pulled a few boxes in front of the door as she left - she didn't think the doll was tall or articulated enough to open the door, but she didn't feel like taking chances - and slunk to her room.
To her surprise, the nightgown that matched the doll's clothes was lain out on her bed. She wasted no time snatching it up and tossing it onto the floor. There was no way she was going to dress herself up like that damn doll. Instead, she stripped out of her clothes, taking a moment to wincingly peek at the damage that had been done to her tush in the full length mirror on her closet door, and put on her own pajamas, a cami and tiny shorts in leopard print. It was a bit chilly for them, but they were what she had unpacked so far - though she could have sworn she'd gotten more out - and, frankly, she wanted something as far from the childish nightgown crumpled on her floor as she could get. Besides, she told herself, she liked having to cuddle up under a bunch of blankets anyway.
After doing just that, she stared out at her clock, rolling her eyes as she saw how early it was. What was she doing? She was neither 8 nor 80, there was no reason for her to be in bed this early! But now that she was in it, it was so much warmer than the outside air, so she decided she could stay for just another minute or two, and then she'd get up and actually get something done. But, of course, that never happened, and before she knew it, she was fast asleep.