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An Open Letter to the Demonic Voice in My Child's Toys

Photograph by Twenty20

Dear Demonic Voice in My Kids' Toys:

You haunt my nightmares. I hear your voice in the dead of night. I think you are a murderer and I make my husband go downstairs and check it out. He refuses, because he is weak. So I go. And it turns out it's just you. Maybe the batteries are malfunctioning. Maybe you got bumped when an errant toy fell. Maybe you are a murderer. Are you?

"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10!" You cheerfully sing as the orange lights blink in the dark.

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Did you kill a man and your soul is now trapped forever inside every single awful toy that my kid's clueless and "fun" aunt buys them?

Or did you get your job another way? Were you just the talentless niece of the CEO? Your fathers were brothers and rivals. Your father lost when your grandfather promoted your father's brother over him. Your father never forgave his brother, named Stewart, probably, so he put all his hopes in you. You were so talented, everyone said that as a child you could sing. So there were lessons and plays. You were Annie in the community theater production. You were gonna be big. But then you didn't get into Juilliard. There were years of failed Broadway try-outs. Eventually your father went to Stewart, begging for him to help you.

"You owe it to me for all you've stolen from me," your father growled.

You hear your voice coming out from the toy box, strangled from a dying battery and it all washes over you—the potential, the regret.

Stewart relented. He felt guilty after all and they were looking for voice talent and he said you could sing some of the songs.

You were paid well to stand in a dingy recording booth and sing "Row Your Boat" while a tired producer yelled, "SING MORE LIKE A GROWN UP WOULD SING IF THEY POOPED OUT A BABY AND HAD HORMONES AND SHIT! AND MAYBE A TOUCH OF DARKNESS IN THEIR HEARTS."

And then afterward, he'd invite you to his apartment and you'd go. Oh, you'd go.

The job was never the big break you hoped it would be. Record executives were not impressed by your voice filtering out of a vibrantly purple dog who can sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in Spanish. You did score a lot of pre-recorded voice gigs for credit card companies. And you didn't mind, because there was the heroin.

You got money. But you spent it all. You married a marketing executive from a credit card company. You live in Park Slope now, pushing an overpriced baby stroller, demanding that your nanny not forget to take your son out without his pork pie hat. "Hats are a part of Kale's brand," is a thing you say about your 2-year-old, who owns only wooden toys. They're never plastic and they never make a sound.

And for the most part you are fine.

There is yoga and the Farmer's market, your vegan diet and your capsule wardrobe. The only time you pause to think about what could have been is when you go on a playdate to a home where they allow plastic toys and you hear your voice coming out from the toy box, strangled from a dying battery and it all washes over you—the potential, the regret. Your father's dying wish to avenge Stewart. You will not avenge Stewart.

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I don't judge you, voice inside my child's toys. I just want to know you, and in knowing you, avoid being murdered by the demonic spirit that you probably are.

Please, please, don't kill me.



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