So when I was about 7 years old or so, I had these two babysitters. They were siblings (brother and sister) and they lived upstairs from us. I lived in a two-family house at that time (and every time after that, actually…). They were probably teenagers. I don’t remember playing with them. I don’t remember laughing with them. All I remember is this: I was in bed, and I heard the faint sounds of screaming coming from the TV. Curiosity set in, as it always does with children. While I didn’t know the word ‘horror’, I knew in my gut that that was the genre they were watching in the living room.
I crawled down from the top bunk of my bunk bed, trying not to make a peep. I mean, as if they cared anyways. Their attention was rapt by this terrible 80s horror film, as mine would soon be as well. I tip-toe toward the doorway, and slowly pulled myself around the wall to see with my own eyes what was being watched in the living room. And there, before me, is Child’s Play (1988). My eyes were fixed, though all I wanted was to look away, to run back into my room and pretend I hadn’t witnessed what director Tom Holland ingeniously decided to do with children’s dolls.
But I couldn’t move. I watched as the father in the film was being choked by Chuckie as the rest of the family screamed in astonishment. I remember a knife, wild red hair on a doll, crazy furious eyes, and a blue and red striped shirt. After I watched this attack scene, I slowly slid out of the doorway, so as not to alert my negligent babysitters of my presence. I crept back into my bed, and lay with my covers tightly over my head, beads of sweat building on my brow and on the nape of my neck.
Over the years, as I started receiving beautiful American Girl dolls – Felicity, Addy, Samantha – I had this sense of impending doom lurking inside of me as the lights went out each night. The inanimate girls stood on my dresser, smiling, with very real-looking eyes. It took everything inside of me to get to sleep each night and trust that these dolls wouldn’t be laying next to me or sitting beside me inexplicably by morning.
Then, one day, I decided to give in to the anxiety, to take action in the name of a good night’s sleep. I said goodbye to the beautiful dolls, packing them up in their rightful boxes like premature coffins. I brought them into the basement, and laid them down to rest.
My mom was confused. “Sweetie, you don’t like your dolls anymore?” “No mom, I don’t.” And we left it at that.