Lesley noticed Ellie’s pout as she sidled up alongside her, and could sense a teenage strop in the offing.
“What’s the matter lovey, is everything ok?” She prompted, smiling and slipping a companionable arm around the young girl, hoping to head-off any potential confrontation before it started.
Recoiling slightly from the unexpected gesture, and not feeling in the best of humour, Ellie glared at Lesley, before grunting “It’s my Dad, he’s so embarrassing! Anybody would think I was a little baby or something. Honestly!”
Doing her best to look sympathetic, whilst having a good idea what this may all be about, Lesley gave her a quick squeeze of reassurance. “Has this got something to do with what happened back at the cinema, sweetie?”
“What?!” Ellie spluttered, torn between shock and abject horror. Surely Lesley couldn’t possibly know, could she?
“Don’t look so worried, Ellie, it doesn’t matter, these things happen. And your Dad doesn’t think you’re a baby, he’s just looking out for you. That’s kind of his job, you know. And judging by the young lady you are growing into, I’d say he’s doing it pretty well, wouldn’t you?”
Ellie just shrugged, feeling absolutely mortified and just wishing that the ground would swallow her up. She knew Lesley was right, and agreed completely that her Dad was pretty amazing, but her embarrassment and shame was overriding everything else in her mind. Here she was, 13 years old – practically an adult – and she’d wet her pants not once but twice, all within a few hours, and in front of her old teacher as well as everybody else. No, it was worse than that, she’d not just wet her pants, but her old teachers daughters pants too!
“I won’t tell anybody if you won’t, and don’t worry about your Dad either. But I do think you owe him an apology, don’t you? Especially as he was right, so he really didn’t do anything to deserve being spoken to like that.”
“I know, I’m sorry, and I’ll tell him too. But…oh Miss..sorry Lesley, what about Lucy’s pants? I’m so so sorry, it’s bad enough that it happened at all, but…”
“I promised I wouldn’t tell anybody, Ellie, and I won’t. Not even Lucy, she doesn’t need to know does she? They’re just wet pants, they’ll wash, then nobody will be any the wiser. Look, stop over thinking things and go and sort things out with your Dad, he looks pretty miserable to me right now.”
Turning her head, Ellie could see that Lesley was right, her Dad was looking very downcast, his brow furrowed and she almost thought she could see tears glinting in his eyes, although that couldn’t possibly be the case because she’d never known her Dad to cry before, not ever. Slipping her own arm briefly around Lesley’s waist, Ellie gave her a little squeeze of thanks, before dropping back and falling into step alongside her Dad, who didn’t speak but looked down at her, a little surprised that she was back – her moods and tantrums usually lasted much longer, and it was inevitably he who had to back down in order to get things back on track.
“Daddy…Dad, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have stomped off like that and shouted at you. I know you were only trying to help. You…” her voice started to crack with emotion, and tears rolled down her cheeks as her shamed bubbled over within her “…oh Daddy, you were right. I’m sorry I lied to you, I was just so embarrassed.”
Graham was almost overcome with emotion himself, surprised by this sudden, frank admission and contrite apology, which was so unlike Ellie’s usual teenage reaction. Feeling sure that Lesley was somehow behind this, he glanced up and caught her eye as she was looking back, watching the scene unfold. Wordlessly he thanked her, sure she had understood, before kneeling down beside Ellie and drawing her into a hug. “Ellie, love, you know you never have to hide anything from me. It doesn’t matter what it is, you can tell me anything. I’ll never judge you, but I can only help if I know what’s the matter, can’t I? You’re not a baby anymore, but you’re still my little girl, and I just want to protect you and keep you safe. I just want to do anything that I can to help you.”
Now openly sobbing, Ellie threw her own arms around her Dad, and squeezed him tightly, burying her face into his shoulder and feeling tears running down his cheek as he hugged her. “I love you Daddy. I’m sorry, I should have told you the truth, I know I should. But I’m 13, I shouldn’t be having accidents, and I was so ashamed of myself for wetting myself. It was my own fault, I knew I needed to go but I got too into the movie, and then before I realised anything, it had happened. I didn’t even know I’d done it until it was too late, and then I was scared of everybody finding out. I don’t want the boys to know Dad, please, please don’t tell them.”
“Sweetheart, please try to calm down, nobody else is going to know anything, and we’ll say no more about it. I think you’ve learned your lesson, so it’s forgotten about. But please remember you can tell me anything, it hurts me more when you lie or try to hide things from me. Now, dry those eyes and let’s catch up with Les and the boys, I think they went into that arcade over there.”
Nodding, Ellie released her grip around her Dad, but slipped a hand into his as they began walking again. “Thank you, Daddy, for everything. Do…do we have to go home now, because of what happened?”
“Well, that’s up to you. We can head home if you want to go and get cleaned up and changed into some dry clothes, pr I can go and buy that nightie for you again from the gift shop and you can wear that for the…”
“No, no anything but that! Let’s go home, I’d rather that than the shame of wearing that thing, everybody would laugh at me, and then the boys would know what had happened anyway. I’m sorry for ruining the day and making us go home early, I didn’t mean to have an accident, honest Dad.”
“Hang on, hang on, you didn’t let me finish!” Graham chuckled, winking at Ellie as he spoke. “I was going to say, or we could go back over to the some of the water rides again. You’ll probably get soaked, but it will wash you off a bit, and help hide that wet stain too! Better a soggy trip home covered in water than, well, anything else. What do you say?”
Not quite able to believe her good fortune, Ellie nodded eagerly and ran ahead to find Lesley and the lads, excited to be staying and going on more rides, although Graham did notice her subconsciously feeling the back of her leggings as she ran away, and saw her face fall a little as she realised the extent of the wet patch which she’d thought had been invisible.3
Audio Version of Chapter