The Strange, Unforgettable Little World of Tyson Liston

Part II: The Stapler Thief

Photo by Everyday basics via Unsplash

“Son! Have you seen my stapler?”

Roger looks all over their cabin-style home for his favorite stapler. He has a project he’s working on and one of the key tools to use is his heavy-duty stapler. Their home is quiet — only the hum or the a.c. unit can be heard. Dena and Celia are both out doing the weekly shopping, so he and Tyson are manning the fort.

“Son! The stapler, have you seen it?!”

Tyson is fiddling with a few knick-knacks for his train set — careful not to misplace anything. Since he found out the magical toy comes to life when no adults are around, he is adamant about being discreet. He is mindful of how he explains what he’s doing and why. The last thing he needs is for his parents or sister to begin snooping around his “secret place.” He barely hears his father as he enters the family room.

“Shh! I think I hear my dad coming.” He warns Tyson#2 as he risks his existence to listen carefully for Roger.

“Son. Hey, Tyson, buddy. Did you hear me? Have you seen my stapler? I am working on a project for your mom and I need it.”

“No, sir. I haven’t seen it. I thought Celia had it last, but then again, Mom likes that stapler too.”

“Oh, God. If your mom had her hands on it, there’s no telling where it is by now. I’ll just wait until they come back from the store and I’ll ask her about it. How’s the train set?”

Tyson watches his dad’s eyebrows arch in a peaked position — eager to hear his report about his grandpa’s gift. The old man did a little two-step when he heard the whistle blow last night. Tyson was going to have to keep his eyes on him.

“It’s great! It’s the perfect gift! I’m nearly done setting up the village.”

Roger tousles his son’s hair, turns on his heels, and walks briskly down the hall to the kitchen. Tyson checks on Tyson#2 and finds him standing by the window.


Photo by Brandon Morgan via Unsplash

“Hey, there. What are you doing?”

“That thing your dad’s, (well, our dad) looking for. Is it big, pink & white, and has a floppy, sharp edge?”

“Yes! It’s his favorite stapler! Why?! Have you seen it?”

Tiny Tyson has a look of guilt plastered on his face. He tries to find the right words to explain to Tyson the whereabouts of the stapler.

“Well, yeah . . . kinda. Johnny Boots, Tommy Townes, Mikey Loops, and me — we dragged it out back, made ourselves a diving board for the pool. It’s so hot out. We were going to put it back later, didn’t think anyone would miss it.”

“A diving board? You guys could’ve gotten hurt. Do you even know what a stapler does?”

“Well, it’s a pretty good diving board right now.”

Tyson waves Tiny Tyson off with the flick of his hand. He leans his head over the roof of their tiny home, looks to his right, and locates the stapler.

“I’m putting this back where it belongs. This isn’t a toy.”

“You sound like one of the grownups.”

“Well. Well . . . Someone needs to be a grownup in this here village. You can’t go stealing things or taking them without asking. You’ll get me into big trouble if you do.”

“Okay, calm down. I didn’t know it would stir up such a fuss. I’ll be more careful.”

Tyson runs as quickly as he can to his dad’s tool shed. He finds his toolbox, lifts it quietly, and places the stapler in the upper compartment. Roger circles back around for one more check.

“Buddy, I can’t believe this. I’ve looked everywhere. Are you sure you haven’t seen my stapler?”

“I’m sure, Dad. Have you checked your toolbox?”

“I did! That’s the first place I looked. I’ll go and give it another look-see, though. Couldn’t harm things at all.”

Roger shuffles off to his tool shed, picks up his toolbox, and breathes out a sigh of relief. His stapler sat perfectly placed in the upper compartment.

“Found it!” He yells to his son excitedly.

Tyson looks at Tiny Tyson, stifles a giggle, and signals him to be quiet.

“Shh, that’ll be our little secret.”

And it was.


Part I

Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

 

 

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Beware of Stormy Weather

Musical Selection|Jill Scott: Not Like Crazy

Beware of Stormy Weather

Flash Fiction

Photo by engin akyurt via Unsplash

They’d tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen. I was drawn to her, like bees to honey — connected without thread and I knew once we kissed, that’d be the end of me. I remember the day we met. Her wild hair was blowing in the wind, her lips quivered and I wanted to place a single finger on them to steady their tremble.

It was a cold, blustery day, the sun decided to sleep in longer than usual. We met on the A-train. She entered from the platform and scanned the guts of the mighty beast headed East towards Grove Street. Her eyes landed on me. I moved my backpack from the only free seat remaining and she plopped her mother’s gift of an ass down next to me — thighs thick and welcoming. I tried not to stare. We were too close not to talk. I broke the ice.

“I’m Cash. What’s your name?”

“I’m Stormy. Weather. Stormy Weather.”

My eyes widened. I thought she misspoke or maybe I didn’t hear her correctly.

“Come again?”

“You heard right the first time.”

“No shit!? So, there’s a story behind this, right? There’s gotta be a story.”

“If you wanna call two teenagers high off Quaaludes and weed, bumming it out in my dad’s bungalow, who named their firstborn while listening to Jefferson Airplane a story, then yeah. There’s nothing moving about it. They were young, high, horny, and there was a storm. Factor in my dad’s last name — Weather, and you’ve got ‘Stormy Weather.’”

I watched her mouth as she spoke. She had a chipped tooth. Her tongue also looked pierced. I didn’t wanna stare but I did.

“Stare harder and I’ll have to charge you.”

She smirked in a sexy, inviting way. I wanted to know more about this woman sitting next to me on the A-train. Where was she from? What did she like to do? Why did she smell like the first day of summer back in ’88?

So fresh and new . . .

“Anyway, enough about my name. Who gets branded with a name like ‘Cash’ and doesn’t talk about it?”

“We can talk about it. ‘Cash’ is short for ‘Cashion’. My last name is ‘Day’. If you want me to take it a step further, I’ll share my middle name too. ‘Free.’ So, ‘Cashion Free Day’ at your service.”

She was now the one staring and I gotta tell you, something in me stirred up quicker than I could tame it. She smiled and I noticed two deep dimples crown her cheeks. I waited for her to speak.

“Okay, so there’s a story, right?”

“Touché. My parents are hardcore activists and human rights officials. They spearheaded a non-profit organization, the whole nine . . . When I was born, they cashed in on their loan approval and sought freedom from the average 9-5 everyone else seemed to work. Thus, the names ‘Cashion’ and ‘Free’ were given to me. I have my mom’s last name. They never married, but they’re still together.”

“Well, what’s your dad’s last name?”

“Bottoms.”

We laughed. A few people on the train looked up from their devices to catch us locked into each other. They quickly went back to ignoring us.

“Well, Stormy. The next stop is mine. When’s yours?”

“It’s mine as well. You wanna grab a bite to eat? My treat. I know this little soul food spot — a hole in the wall, but the collard greens and mac-n-cheese are heaven-sent.”

“How do you know I don’t already have plans?”

“I just know.”

“Oh? Is that right?”

“That’s right, cuz whatever plans you have, they’ve now been changed.”

She winked at me, that same smirk covering her face. I was gonna fall for her and there’d be no stopping it. The train came to a halt in the station. The squeaky doors opened and we exited. I turned to look at her in full view and that’s when it happened. She kissed me. Not just a peck on the lips, but an open-up-your-damn-mouth-and-let-me-in kiss. I fell in sync with her. My hands strayed away from my sides, finding her mid-back, then resting there. Her tongue was definitely pierced. I was in trouble.

Deep trouble.

“Here, lemme put my number in your phone.”

“Okay.”

“When we’re done with dinner, you can call me to set up our next date.”

“You don’t waste any time, do you?”

“I don’t, especially when I want something or someone.”

She wanted me and I wanted her and all we had in common so far were crazy names given to us by our parents. Still . . . I was caught up and there was no turning back now, not even if I tried.

“Be careful. I might bite. Aren’t you even a little scared?”

“I bite harder. And no, I’m not scared.”


I am sitting in this god-awful butcher shop, waiting for the cuts of meat my mom ordered and a woman who looks just like Stormy walks by. I got a glimpse of her profile — no deep dimples. She stops to look into the windows — pork’s the special for the afternoon. Larry, the butcher, always puts a huge sign out with a list of specials and a bonus $3 off, if you can guess what the next day’s special is. This woman, although not Stormy, struck up so many memories of her within me.

I thought back to that first day on the A-train. How she moved fluidly — one with the world, without even thinking about it. And I smelled her. I could taste her. I remembered everything about each moment we shared.

Three years later, she left me for a woman she met on the #2-train named ‘Dawn Knight’ and I’ve had this damn dark cloud over my head ever since.

*Ping* “#15! Order up! A pound of steak, a pound of pork chops, and two pounds of thick-cut beef bacon.”

A damn dark cloud.


Originally published in Prism & Pen via Medium.

The Strange, Unforgettable Little World of Tyson Liston

Flash Fiction

Photo by Jarod Lovekamp via Pexels

Tyson’s Grandpa Joe bought him a Hornby Collection Br Class 5MT 4–6–0 Era 11 Model Train and a small, unique village to accompany it for his eighth birthday. Tyson’s dad, Roger, put the old locomotive model set together for his son. They sat alongside the living room couch, sprawled out on the cool hardwood floor, creating what they believed to be art. Tyson looked on in amazement, eager to commandeer the train from his dad and shout “Vroom-Vroom” and “Choo-Choo” as loud as he could. The village had little trees, people, railroad crossings, businesses, and tiny homes cramped in five separate boxes. It also included a conductor and engineer — in their very own boxes.

When Roger finished, he stood up, signaled his son to do the same, and they each ogled the scene before them. They salivated in wait, invigorated by a deep passion and connection between father and son. Roger gave Tyson the thumb’s up, and he jumped straight into action. He stepped away from his son, satisfied with his endeavor.

Alone with his prized possession, he bid the conductor to conduct, the engineer to navigate, and looked in on his village people and their families. He was animated in his voice-overs and fancied every piece before his eyes.

“Attention all passengers, this is your conductor speaking. We have several stops ahead of us and the first will be Quantum Row. Please have your tickets ready for verification and do enjoy the ride.”

Tyson blew heavy breaths from his thin lips, giving his best impromptu steam of the engine and roared on with a deep, guttural whistle from his belly. An avid fan of The Polar Express, he pulled on the hem of his t-shirt and threw a baseball cap on his head. He tapped the bill just as a conductor would. He channeled Tom Hanks as he continued.

“Tickets, please. Tickets, please. Have your tickets ready.” Just as he was beginning to fake verify tickets, the train moved on its own. The conductor sprang to life. He looked into the homes of the village people, and they were alive as well — moving on with their days as planned.

He rubbed his eyes. He shook his head. He stood up and looked down at the toy set and all its pieces, then kneeled back down for a closer look.

“What . . . what did you say?” Tyson looked at the conductor with both fear and excitement in his eyes.

“I said, tickets, please, young man! Where is your ticket?”

He sprang up quickly as straight as an arrow and fumbled around the living room for a piece of paper. Surely, the conductor wouldn’t care about his fake ticket — he just needed to have one. He chewed the inside of his cheek, nervously bent back down to the conductor’s eye-level, and handed him a small, ripped off piece of paper.

“Thank you, young man. You may take your seat.”


Photo by Felix Mittermeier via Unsplash

He sat down, slightly overwhelmed by the actions of his toy train set and its accompanying pieces, but he was definitely curious. He peeked into the windows of the village people. A family of four — mother, father, son, and daughter, were having breakfast. His gargantuan head and pool-sized eyes frightened them as he stared at their seemingly normal life. The mother screamed and pointed directly at him. The father bolted upright from his seat and raced toward the window — shouting boisterously at Tyson.

“Hey! What are you doing there?! What in heaven’s name? What are you?!”

Tyson backed away from the window and crawled a few inches to his right. Another family seemed to settle in for the evening. A mother, a daughter, a cat, and a dog. No father. No son. Just a quiet evening for them — or what looked like it. He lingered on and noticed the mother and daughter resembled his mother and sister. He leaned in closer and gasped unexpectedly.

“Mom! Celia! What is go-in-g on . . . What’s happening?”

He searched each room of this home with darting eyes. If his mother and sister were there, surely he and his dad had to be around somewhere. But how could he be in two places at once? This place didn’t even look like their actual house. He lifted the roof of the tiny home and searched each room, growing even more curious as he scanned the area. He found a strong, stout, and handsome man clearing boxes from the family room’s floor. He also found a little boy standing next to him.

“Dad? Hey! Hey! That’s me! How is . . . What is . . .? This can’t be happening.”

Little him looked up and nodded in his direction. He moved closer and opened his mouth to speak. Tyson pulled himself together, eager to hear what this tiny version of him had to say.

“So, you can see us? Can you hear us? Can you hear me, I mean . . . Can you hear you?”

Tyson nearly fainted. He rubbed his eyes in a hurried motion, bit the inside of his cheek once more, and fell back on his bottom.

“This can’t be real. I’m asleep. I’m asleep. Wake up. Wake up, Tyson!”

“You’re not asleep, silly. This is our world. We created it. Didn’t you know this would happen when you and Dad began setting up this place?”

“But, how come Dad can’t hear me or Mom or Celia? Why only you? I mean, me. I mean . . .”

“Grandpa Joe made us. He blew magic dust behind my ears and gave me the ability to hear and see you — me. I’m the only one in our family who can.”

Grandpa Joe was a jokester, but magic dust? Talking miniature versions of him and his family? A conductor who sounded and looked like Tom Hanks?! He would have a talk with Grandpa Joe, but first things first.

“Will you always be . . . you know — um, alive,” He asked Little Tyson. He twiddled his thumbs as he waited for the answer.

“As long as you are, I will be.”

“But, I’m gonna grow up. I won’t stay eight years old forever. Will you?”

“You must ask Grandpa Joe about that. He whispered nothing to me about growing with you — me.”

Tyson could hear his dad’s footsteps coming toward them. And as quickly as the action started, it phased into nothingness. The train stopped. Families froze in place. And Little Tyson stood by the window, a clever smirk covered his face.

Tyson placed the roof back onto his family’s house. “What a strange, unforgettable little world,” he mumbled.

Roger was interested in knowing what his son thought about his birthday gift. He patted his belly lightly and brushed his left hand over his beard to smooth it before speaking.

“So buddy, whachu’think?”

With an intense interest in his eyes and a glow all about his small body, he repeated — this time, so his dad could hear, “What a strange, unforgettable little world.”


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

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Creative content straight from the mind of an innovator trying to shift the world with her writing.

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Absent-minded

silhouette of man holding two childrens on shore during daytime
Photo by Jude Beck via Unsplash

Hurriedly, he slathered butter on the toast & shoved the kids out the door.

“Come on girls, quickly! You don’t want to miss the bus!”

The girls followed behind him, their bare naked bodies bopping in sync with Daddy. He thinks, has he forgotten something?

He has.


This microfiction piece is in response to a Twitter #vss365 prompt. The word: slather.

Young Minds of Medium Featured Piece #3

Subodhini Vignesh (Subo)  is a young one I am happy to have in A Cornered Gurl. She is encouraging, strong-willed, open-minded, and takes on a challenge like it’s second nature to her. She recently turned sixteen years old and the second way she decided to respond to the Young Minds of Medium What Do You Miss Most During This Pandemic call was to write about how she experienced her birthday this year. Her first submission was just as detailed and definitely a gut-punch, but this piece truly touched my heart as I read it. I give you, “My Sweet Sixteenth Birthday . . .”


My Sweet Sixteenth Birthday

Young Minds of Medium Missed Things Call

My Birthday Cake ❤|Photo credit: Author’s Dad

A few days ago, I found myself sobbing under my covers at night, with the rest of my family in a deep slumber. Until that moment, I hadn’t felt dejected for not being able to celebrate my 16th birthday with all my close friends and family. I felt a little lonely, but this wasn’t only because of the future physical absence of my friends on my special day; this would be the last birthday I’d be celebrating in India before shifting to another country, and my friends wouldn’t be there. They would forget me soon anyway, might as well celebrate what had once been- the celebration of the end of years of friendship and memories.

When I woke up the next morning, 15th May, I no longer felt the sadness that had fueled my tears; instead, I felt stupid and a bit embarrassed to take responsibility for the thoughts that had clouded my more rational reasoning. My friends would never forget me, even if I’m 1000s of kilometres away. So what if they are absent for a little cake cutting? There are still so many memories of them I can hang on to. It isn’t really their fault they can’t come — it’s beyond any of our control. It’s okay to feel bad for their absence — it’s human.

Out of sight, but not out of mind.


As of 15th May, I had zero expectations for my birthday — that is what my parents and my brother had fooled me into believing. I’m generally good at putting pieces together, so hiding something from me isn’t a piece of cake; it turns out, they hid an entire cake. That night, my parents, my brother, and I were watching a 1980s Rajinikanth movie — it being a reason to keep me up till 12 o’clock.

May 16, 2020- The Birthday

When the clock struck twelve, all my friends and family stood at my doorstep ready to wish me a happy birthday, and the beautiful blue dress my fairy godmother had gifted me turned into my rags, leaving me with only one glass slipper. Nah, not really.

My brother and my parents gave me the gifts they had secretly brought home, and all of them sang the happy birthday song at the top of their lungs. I was awestruck, to add to this, several of my relatives and buddies had swarmed my landline and Whatsapp with their wishes and love.

I had expected them to forget my birthday, yet they had won my heart with all their love.

I woke up to a video my friends had curated; it began with a picture of me in a ridiculous pose and sunglasses and then a series of pictures where each of them held an alphabet to spell “Happy Bday”. I was delighted and a bit surprised because, to be honest, for the last three months I hadn’t had a proper conversation with many of the girls — except maybe some Whatsapp “Gm’s” and “Bye’s.”

One of the most significant moments of the day was by one of my best friends. She had created an entire card and left me a long beautiful message which got me to smile so much that my jaw hurt. She and I were going to take completely different paths in our lives, and our personalities don’t really coincide, yet we are thick as thieves. I have always known that even if we end up in different parts of the planet we’d never lose touch. The gift of sweet words she had given me a pleasant reminder of our togetherness and friendship which will last forever.

She’d be amongst the ones I will miss the most, but never forget.

In the evening, I cut a delicious cake my parents had smuggled home. I was courted by my grandparents, cousins, and best friends singing the birthday song through video conference.

Throughout the entire day, I felt special and a little spoiled — a break from my scheduled day.

For me, my birthday was a refreshing reminder that everything will be fine soon, and until then, we are in this together.


I am not forgotten, I am loved — this is all I needed to know.


Stay Home. Stay Safe.
Have Hope.


Author’s Note: I would like to apologise to those who believe that, in this period where several are losing lives, I shouldn’t babble about something as childish as a birthday. This is a tough time for all of us, even me, and I wish to share the little insignificant moments that make my life more joyous. Through this pandemic, we all have different problems with varying magnitudes; each a story unique to the individual. This is part of my story.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.