Chapter 1 (Something To Truly Be Thankful For)
I sigh as I type away at the Lenovo ThinkPad sitting in front of me. I smile at the picture of my brother Brian appearing on the screen next to the green program window titled: Welcome To Childhood Inc – Have A Childhood Again. Brian’s a six foot tall cream colored male with blue eyes, wearing a green sweater and blue jeans. “I can’t wait to see Brian again. I wonder what he’ll think of me being a toddler though. I guess I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.”
My name is Stacey Ayodele. I glance down to my body and scan my milk chocolate skin while I pat the black afro resting atop my head. Currently, I’m a 27-year-old adult in a world that’s falling apart, but with a single press of a button on this website I’ve been searching for for the past five hours, all that will change.
I smile as I read out the display before me:
Childhood Inc - Have A Childhood Again
User: Stacey Ayodele
New Age: 4
Potty Training: No
Diaper Brand of Choice: Pampers
Caretaker of Choice: Brian O’Brien
I rub my chin as I read the conditions, “So this website has the power to tap into the universe via the Hydron Collider and take me to a parallel world where I can live as a toddler forever with my assigned caretaker and their family. How is this supposed to work? This is gonna be so cool!” I dart my eyes around my bedroom and wag my tongue at the Aquarius poster my mom bought me, “I don’t care. As long as I never have to be an adult and hear their nagging again, I’m happy.”
I press enter and straightaway I see a toddler waving at me in the screen. I blink twice at the purple T-shirt hovering above their belly button and the Pampers Cruisers diaper hugging their waist. I stop waving and realize that the toddler in the reflection of the monitor is ME! “PERFECT! THE WEBSITE IS WORKING!” I glance down and my eyes widen at the pudgy toddler legs greeting me, “WOW!” were the last words that left my room before I vanished in a cloud of white light.
Date: Thursday 25-Nov-21 07:41 (Thursday, November 25, 2021, 7:41 AM)
Location: Brian’s Residence, Skyward Villas Apartments, Kirkwood, Missouri, United States of America
I open my eyes as the light fades, and I dart them around the gray hallway filled with doors on either side of the gray tile floor I’m standing on. “So, this must be where Brian stays at…an apartment complex. Different from the home he had before. A voice told me that I should find apartment 511 and that my new life would begin there.” I dart my eyes across the doors to the left and I smile when I see a 511 on a door along with a purple diaper bag in front of it, “FOUND IT!”
I blink twice at the diaper bag and spot my name on the flap, “That must be my new diapey bag.” I giggle when I hear the duck sounding toddler voice as I swing the diaper bag over my shoulder and wobble as I adjust my waddle to maintain the bag on my shoulder, “It’s a little heavy. This parallel world site thought of everything.” I even have the higher pitched duck voice of a toddler. AWESOME!
I waddle-run toward the door and giggle at my short stature compared to the doorknob. “I guess that makes sense.” I knock three times and backpedal whilst adjusting my diaper bag over my shoulder, “Briiiian! It’s meeeee…” I giggle and smile, showing off my mouthful of baby teeth.
Brian turns the stove down and heads toward the front door whilst his green T-shirt flutters and his blue jeans hug his lower body, “Coming…That sounded like a toddler. Who could be at the door…
” He opens the door and blinks three times at the chocolate skinned, afro haired, dark brown eyed toddler boy standing before him. Brian rubs his eyes but the toddler wearing a purple T-shirt and Pampers Cruisers diaper doesn’t disappear. So I’m not dreaming.
He tilts his head as he scans the toddler up and down and his eyes widen when I repeat my nickname that he gave me: Stacinator. Brian swallows the lump in this throat, “Stacey?” That can’t be him. He’s supposed to be an adult. How…how is he a toddler standing before me right now? How is that possible?
I giggle and nod, “Uh huh!”
Brian kneels to take the diaper bag sitting to my right onto his shoulder and ruffles my hair, “Happy Thanksgiving, Stacey. Come on in. When you said you were coming over for Thanksgiving, I didn’t expect you so early, or so small.”
I giggle as I step through the doorway and take notice of the layout of Brian’s apartment. To my left rests an entry way to a kitchen that sports a stove on the far right, a sink in the center, and several cabinets directly through the doorway. To the left of the doorway rests the fridge and a countertop while to the right of the doorway rests more empty countertop space. In my direct eyesight rests a couch and table in the center of the room, while a 50-inch TV is mounted on the wall across the room from the couch, “Wow…”
I waddle toward the TV and spot three doors resting to the right half of the giant room, “What’s behind these doors, Brian?” I turn from the doors and spot the curtains against the back wall of the apartment to my left, “What’s behind here?”
Brian sets my diaper bag on the couch and follows me over to the three doors. He points to the left door, “That’s my bedroom.” He ruffles my hair and points to the middle door, “That’s the bathroom.” He pokes my nose and points to the right door, “And that room is a surprise.” Brian turns toward the back wall I’m pointing at, “That’s the curtains leading to the balcony.”
I turn to Brian with wide eyes, “A surprise! Can I see it?” I jump up and down and repeat “Can I?” each time I land.
Brian catches me in the middle of my fifth jump and boops my nose, “Not yet, Silly. It’s called a surprise for a reason.”
I giggle as Brian sets me on my feet and I dart my eyes around his apartment. I waddle over to the curtains at the back wall and pull them open to reveal a sliding door that separates the apartment from a vast outside balcony adorned with a waterproof hardwood floor. Wow...this balcony is huge, like ten times the size of normal hotel balconies!
I sniff twice and waddle into the kitchen, the smell of food diverting my attention from the vast miniature backyard extending from the apartment. I lick my lips at the glass bowl of macaroni and cheese resting on the left-hand counter. I turn to the said counter to scan the empty fridge doors. “Brian?”
Brian walks into the kitchen and shuts off the stove, “Yep?” He hums as he pulls a pumpkin pie from the oven and sets it atop the stove. “What’s on your mind?”
I turn to Brian and my eyes widen at the twin pumpkin pies resting on the right side of the stove, “How long have you been up cooking?”
Brian rubs the back of his head, “Well…since around 5AM. But hey, it’s almost finished. I had a tough time finding a turkey though. So…” Brian kneels before the oven and pulls out a roasting pan containing a small chicken. He smiles as he sets the pan to the left of the pies. “I got a chicken instead.”
I lick my lips and smile, “It all looks so good!” I dart my eyes around the kitchen and return them to Brian, “Is it just you and me this Thanksgiving?”
Before Brian can answer, I hear a knock at the door. I waddle out of the kitchen and head toward the door, “Who is it?”
Denis chuckles and raises an eyebrow at the toddler voice answering the door. A toddler? I wonder who that could be. He knocks again whilst a gentle air-conditioned breeze ruffles his red sweater and blue jeans, “It’s Denis.”
I jump toward the doorknob, “Brian! Brian! It’s Denis!” I stop jumping and turn toward Brian as he approaches the door, “I couldn’t reach the doorknob.”
Brian ruffles my hair and lifts me into his arms, “Can you reach now?”
I giggle and swing my legs whilst my Pampers crinkle, “YEAH!” I smile as Brian inches me toward the door, and I turn the knob. My smile widens when the door opens, and Brian sets me on my feet so I can see his older brother. The only differences between Brian and Denis that I can clearly see is Denis’ darker brown hair compared to Brian’s blond, and Denis’s dark brown hair that coalesces into a full beard instead of Brian’s tamed shorter beard.
Denis glances down at me and kneels whilst flashing his light blue eyes, “Hey Stacey, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen you. Last time we saw each other you were a lot taller. Now,” Denis pokes my belly and smiles when my giggles grace his ears, “you’re an adorable, little Pampers wearing toddler. What happened?”
I turn to Brian and raise an eyebrow, “I’m surprised you didn’t call him to let him know.”
Brian chuckles, “You just got here. Heh…I was kinda still shocked that my best friend showed up as a toddler. Plus, I’ve been cooking so I didn’t have time to call him.”
Denis chuckles and lifts me into the air, “So you’re a cute toddler now. Well, I bet this is better than worrying over being an adult huh?”
I smile and nod as Denis sets me on his shoulders, “Uh huh!” I dart my eyes around the apartment and glance down to the six-foot drop that I’d experience should I slip. I rest my head on Denis’ and wrap my arms around his neck, “Do…don’t drop me.”
Denis holds onto my legs and shakes his head, “I would never.” Denis lifts me off his shoulders and sets me on my feet, “What made you think?”
I shake my head and avert my eyes to the hard wood floor whilst pressing my index fingers together, “I…I guess when I became a toddler the emotions that come with this smaller body kinda took over for a second. I…I still have my adult mind, but yeah…” I sigh and train my neutral eyes on Denis, “Toddler fear just rushed over me all of a sudden.”
Denis ruffles my hair, “I understand.” and kneels to pull me into a warm hug. “Well don’t you worry. Brian and I will always be on the lookout for what’s best for our adorable little brother.” Denis releases me from the hug with a loving pat to my bottom and walks over to the living room couch to sit down.
I train my eyes on Brian right as he heads toward the middle of the three doors sitting to the right of the living room, “Brian…where ya going?”
Brian stops at the door and opens it fully allowing me to see a portion of a tub and an inside closet, “Bathroom, Stacey. I’ll be out momentarily.” Brian enters the bathroom and shuts the door behind him.
“Oh…” I giggle as I turn to the living room couch and waddle-run toward Denis, “Brian’s apartment is really big!” I stop in front of Denis and rest my hands on his knees, “Where’s your mommy and daddy? Are they not coming for Thanksgiving?”
Denis shakes his head and lifts me into his lap, “It’s just the three of us this Thanksgiving. Mom and Dad decided to have a honeymoon in the Cayman Islands for their anniversary. They got married over twenty years ago today you know.”
“Oh…” I rise in Denis’ lap and boop his nose, “I got another question.”
Denis rests his strong hands under my armpits to steady me in his lap, “What’s that?”
Brian exits the bathroom and smiles as he watches Denis and I talk, “I’m glad Stacey decided to come over for Thanksgiving.” He heads toward the kitchen and darts his eyes over the food. “Now to prepare for the meal. Heh…I guess I started a little too early.”
Denis smiles as he watches me sit down in his lap, “What did you want to ask me?”
I point to the right door sitting across the room amongst the other two doors, “I know where the other doors go to. Where does that one go?”
Denis boops my nose, “It’s a surprise.”
I cross my arms and pout, “Brian said the same thing.”
Denis chuckles and tickles my armpit. He smiles when I giggle and jump out of his lap, “Did I find a giggle spot?”
I smile toward Denis, “Maybe.”
Denis smirks as he rises from the couch, “I guess I’ll have to tickle you more then.” Denis stomps toward me and chuckles.
“WAAAAAAAAAAA!” I waddle-run away from Denis while his stomping echoes across Brian’s apartment.
Date: Thursday 25-Nov-21 10:38 (Thursday, November 25, 2021, 10:38 AM)
Location: Brian’s Residence, Skyward Villas Apartments, Kirkwood, Missouri, United States of America
Brian chuckles as he leaves the kitchen and finds me giggling as I sit atop Denis’ chest while Denis lies on his back in front of the TV. Brian walks over to us and taps my shoulder, “Stacey…”
I train my smile on Brian, “BRIAN!” and waddle over to wrap my arms around his leg. “Hee…hee…I love you, Brian!” I train my smile up at him and giggle, “What is it?”
Brian lifts me into his arms and rests me on his hip, “It’s time to eat.” He smiles down at his older brother, “Come on, Denis. I’ve caught the Crazy Toddler.”
Denis chuckles as he rises to his feet and follows his younger brother into the kitchen, “Thanks, Brian.”
My eyes widen when I see the giant rectangular table resting to the far right of the kitchen surrounded by two chairs on each side. My eyes narrow when I notice one of the chairs has a purple plastic booster inside it, “Wow!” I blink twice at the chicken sitting in the center of the table surrounded by a glass bowl of macaroni and cheese, a glass bowl of mashed potatoes, a glass bowl of steamed broccoli, two pumpkin pies, and a glass bowl of dressing.
I lick my lips as Brian sets me in the boosted seat on the right side of the table, “It all looks so good!” I giggle as I watch Brian slice some of the chicken and place it on a plate for me, “Thankies, Brian. Can I have macaroni and cheese and some broccoli?”
Brian prepares my plate with a sizable helping of both macaroni and cheese and broccoli. “And here you are.” He sets my plate in front of me along with a fork and a baby bottle of lemonade, then he moves to prepare his and Denis’ plates and drinks.
I scan the baby bottle sitting next to my plate and blink at it. I guess Brian got it from my diaper bag. I always wanted to be a toddler and drink from a bottle. I pick up the bottle and smile as I drive it toward my mouth. I smile around it as I suckle and the tasty lemonade caresses my tastebuds. I pull the bottle from my lips and set it down next to my plate, “Yummy!”
Brian ruffles my hair and takes the bottle so he can fill it up, “Glad you like it.” He sets the refilled baby bottle next to my plate. “Your diaper bag had everything an adorable toddler like you needs. I found like twenty baby bottles in there. Denis filled them up with lemonade, chocolate milk, and strawberry watermelon juice and put them in the fridge for you.”
I turn to Denis as he walks over to us, “Really? Thankies, Denis!”
Denis ruffles my hair, “You’re welcome, Stacey.” and moves to prepare his own plate.
I dart my eyes between Denis and Brian as they sit down to my left and right respectively with their piled high plates. “Thankies for inviting me over for Thanksgiving, Brian.”
Brian smiles at me and chuckles as he watches me dig into my food, “You’re welcome, Stacey.”
Denis smiles as he wipes his mouth and ruffles my hair, “Anytime, Stacey. So…um…how did you become a toddler?”
I giggle as I finish off my broccoli and train my happy eyes on Denis, “I don’t remember.” I smile toward Denis and giggle as I swing my legs allowing my Pampers to crinkle, “I’m glad I’m a tot now though.”
Brian smiles as he finishes off his plate and heads toward the kitchen to begin the dishes, “I’m glad you’re happy, Stacey.” He hums as his brother brings his dishes into the kitchen and he continues washing them. When he finishes, he heads into the living room to sit on the couch. I never thought I’d see Stacey as a toddler, and on Thanksgiving too. I’m glad to see him again this year, but what could have happened between our visiting Forest Park and now that would have made him a toddler?