Responsibilities

Avery Chisholm had just turned seventeen. She was a responsible and somewhat bookish young lady and the eldest of three children. Her younger half-brother, Presley, was less than a year her junior and he resented that Avery was considered the oldest and the most responsible. He blatantly refused to care for their youngest half-brother, Cody, who was only five.

Their mother, Kat, was a single mother who had fallen on hard times since Cody’s father had left the family to pursue a mail order bride in Tampa. Though Cody’s father had paid off the house, Kat was rarely able to make payments on time for every other bill she had coming in on a meager cashier’s salary.

Avery worked part-time at the video store and babysat her youngest brother when their mother worked weekends. She didn’t mind so much; Cody was easier to handle than Presley… and he was completely verbal. The only downside was that Cody rarely spoke. Kat was unable to hire a speech pathologist on her wage. Cody’s father, though he had the money, no longer wished to visit his son and only sent child support payments through the mail, which ended up paying for groceries and Christmas gifts most of the time.

Presley and Avery were less fortunate. Kat had given birth to her first child when she was just seventeen and was unable to get child support from Avery’s father at the time. She was no longer in contact with the family either. Presley’s father had attempted suicide shortly after Presley was born. His father had been in and out of the mental health facility for at least sixteen years. Kat managed to marry and divorce the father of her second child within a year.

It was Friday afternoon and Avery had just come home from school to find an empty house. Presley’s backpack was laying on the floor, books pouring out of it – he was already out drinking with his punk friends. There was a note on the round, wooden coffee table that read: “Avery & Presley – please pick up your brother. Had to take another shift at CostMart.” Scrawled in red underneath their mother’s note, Presley had written “FUCK THAT” in capital letters. Avery groaned and set down her backpack. She would have to walk almost all the way back to school to grab Cody. She wished her mom had just phoned the school, but then she remembered their phone had been cut off due to delinquent payments.

On her way back up the road, Avery stopped at the corner store and picked herself and Cody up a soda. She checked her watch: 3:17. Hopefully the kindergarten teacher hadn’t left for the day. She hoped Cody didn’t have them call home to see when Mom was picking him up. Avery was easily embarrassed by the family’s financial situation. She wished her attitude could be more like Presley’s; he seemed to own being poor. He didn’t care what anyone thought. Avery just wanted to be normal. She started running towards the school, hoping desperately that Cody was okay. She ran past the old office and down the hall to the kindergarten class, pushing the door open excitedly. Cody was the only kid still waiting. He was staring intently at a book about dinosaurs.

Mrs. Keefer, who had been teaching kindergarten probably since their mother had gone to school, stood up from her desk. “Avery! You made it.”

“I’m so sorry Mrs. Keefer – I must’ve forgotten it was my turn to pick up Cody-”

“It’s quite alright. Your mother let us know this morning that she may be late to pick him up this afternoon.” Mrs. Keefer smiled sweetly as if she knew Avery’s life story and felt nothing but sympathy for her.

Avery smiled awkwardly, “Let’s go, Code.” She held out her hand for him to grab. “Let’s grab your backpack and coat…”

Cody didn’t even look at her. “Dinosaur,” he said.

“Cody, come on. We have to go home. You can read the dinosaur book when you come back to school on Monday.”

Cody shook his head and stayed put, still reading the book.

Avery groaned. “Please Cody! I have a surprise for you for the walk home.”

Cody didn’t move.

Mrs. Keefer came over and knelt beside Cody. “Cody, you need to listen to your sister. I know how much you like the dinosaur book, so how about you borrow it for the weekend? If you take good care of it, maybe you can keep borrowing the books you like.”

Cody tore his eyes away from the book and nodded happily. “Dinosaur,” he said excitedly, flapping his hands. He followed Avery to his cubby and put on his coat and backpack without a fuss.

“Thank you,” Avery called to Mrs. Keefer. She whispered to Cody, “Say thank you.”

Cody waved at Mrs. Keefer, but stayed silent.

As they walked down the road, Avery handed her little brother a can of cream soda. “Don’t tell Mom about this. I got you this soda from the store. Sorry for picking you up so late…”

Cody smiled, showing all of his teeth.

Avery downed hers pretty quickly and tossed the can into the ditch. She didn’t want her mom to see either empty can. She didn’t want her mom to know she was spending even one dollar on soda. She felt instant regret after drinking it though. Avery hadn’t gone to the bathroom all day and the urge hit her like a brick wall. She pressed her thighs together for a minute but kept walking, picking up the pace ever so slightly.

Cody was lagging behind and when she tried to push him, he just walked slower. He stopped completely for a minute and handed her the empty soda can.

“Done already?” she asked.

Cody nodded and watched his sister chuck it into the ditch.

“Alright, do you wanna race me home?”

Cody shook his head.

“Well, I really need to get home; I have a lot of, uh, homework…” Avery wanted to tell her little brother how desperate she was to go to the bathroom, but then realized how weird that would sound. She doubted he would even care. She winced and crossed one leg over the other, still squeezing her thighs. She released and started walking as fast as she could, but realized Cody wasn’t following. “Come on, Code! We need to get home!” She turned around, beckoning her little brother.

He dragged his feet, slowly catching up to her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, “Are you feeling okay?” Avery pressed on her crotch, hoping to god nothing was leaking out.

Cody shook his head. Avery instantly regretted giving him a sugary soda. He probably had a stomach ache, but Cody would never articulate when he wasn’t feeling well.

“We’ve gotta get home then. You can lay down and I can…” Avery felt another pang of desperation and squeezed herself again, biting her lip. With her other hand, she grabbed Cody’s arm and yanked him down the road. “Come on, we’re almost home.”

It wasn’t even a block before Cody completely stopped. He started whining.

“Cody please! We’re almost there!” Avery was almost bursting; she could feel a whole day’s worth of pee sloshing around inside her.

She looked down at her brother, who was doing a much more obvious potty dance. He looked up at her, holding himself with both hands.

“Do you have to go pee-pee?” Avery squeaked.

Cody looked worried and nodded yes.

“Let’s go. Now!” She grabbed his arm and pulled him all the way home, trying hard not to think about the fact that they only had one bathroom. Avery thought about going in the yard, but could see the Brownstein kids next door playing in their yard; she would have no privacy.

Avery burst through the front door and ran to the bathroom, pulling Cody with one hand and holding herself with the other… but the bathroom door was locked. She could hear loud punk rock blaring from the tinny headphones of Presley’s walkman which lay on the floor outside the bathroom and the faint sound of urine splashing the toilet bowl.

“Presley! Hurry up! Cody really needs to go!” she shouted, banging on the door.

“Fuck off!” Presley called back, “I’m pissing!”

Avery gritted her teeth and pressed on her urethra. She felt a spurt of urine release into her panties. Her shorts had a small, nearly unnoticeable wet spot, but her panties at this point were soaked through. She looked down to see how her little brother was doing, but he had run off somewhere. “Cody?” she called. Avery didn’t want to move, but knew she had to. She unbuttoned her shorts and shoved a hand down between her underwear and shorts. Sliding the gusset to the side, she held herself tightly. Stepping very carefully into the kitchen. “Cody?” she called again. She looked out the window into the backyard and saw her little brother peeing against a tree, totally unaware and uncaring what the Brownstein kids would think or say. Avery wished so desperately that she could do the same. She felt another gush of pee cascade down her fingertips. She winced and tried to adjust her legs, but nothing helped. She could feel herself losing the battle. She tried to walk back to the bathroom, but another wave of excruciating desperation hit her and she stumbled to the floor. Another, much more intense burst of pee splashed out, drenching her hand and her shorts. Avery shed a tear. She wanted to make it. She could hear Presley opening the door. She pressed her legs together and tried to get up, but all was lost. Presley emerged from the single bathroom as Avery begrudgingly let loose the floodgates between her shaking legs.

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