To All the Toys I've Loved Before

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Creative Nonfiction
Blue, the Dog:

You really broke my heart, but I know it wasn’t your fault. I cried when you came back. It just seemed so innocent, and the neighbor girl was my best friend. I trusted her. I shouldn’t have. I should let you cling to that bookshelf you loved so much. I didn’t play with you too often, I simply let you perch. I stared at you and you stared at me. Blue, bright, beautiful. I was Steve and you were my dog. We didn’t interact much because we didn’t need to. As long as you were there, I knew that I was assuming this role of a green-shirted detective who would search for clues around our childhood home. But then, a simple question: “Can I borrow it?” It wasn’t a contract. I didn’t tell her how she should have treated you, or when she needed to return you. She was bound only by childhood responsibility, which, in legal terms, means little to nothing. I really shouldn’t have been surprised when you showed up three weeks later and you were irredeemable. Mud and dust were caked into your formerly blue fur, and now you were gray and brown and putrid. She had no shelf for you. She left you in the garage and forgot about you. In retrospect, maybe I could have made it work. At the time though, I just couldn’t stare at you like that.

Robot (?):

The one that got away. How did you get away? Seriously. How? We went camping for one weekend, and you’re GONE. Was it burglars? As a trembling six-year-old, that’s the only solution that made sense to me. Burglars, envious and treacherous, broke into our home and, ignoring the television, jewelry, and stereo, ripped you from my home out of pure jealousy. We looked everywhere. We would have called out your name, had you one. We tore the house apart, and with every tossed aside piece of furniture, the idea of burglars was solidified further in my mind. It only brings me comfort now to know that no one will ever have what we have. Their envy was futile. They could always try to reignite the sacred bond, but nothing would come close to the adoration we had for each other. Maybe you should think about that next time you try to rob me, huh burglars?


I was the one that ended this one. For a while there, I looked forward to nothing more than recess with the girls. We were raising a community. We would clink our devices together, and you would visit your other virtual friends on a daily basis. The keychain-sized machines made for great house parties. I took great care of you: feeding, bathing, letting you socialize. Just like a parent should. You would inevitably grow to adulthood, you would hatch an egg, another one of you would be born, and the cycle of baby showers with the recess girls would continue. I had no time for playing on playgrounds: you, my pet, had gatherings to attend to. But just as you would grow up and move on, so I grew too. Eventually it came to my attention that maybe the other guys thought I was weird. I was worried they would resort to calling me childish, girlish, or something worse. So I feigned negligence. I pretended to stop caring. I kept you from you friends, locked away somewhere where I could slowly choke out your battery. Those recess girls? They weren’t your friends anymore. After a time, pretending to care turned into genuinely not caring. A brutal end. You perishing alone with no friends helped me to stay afloat, preserving my own. I’m sorry it had to end this way, but I thank you for at least dying quietly.


An abusive relationship. I invested so much in you, and you betrayed me. Should I have known better? Maybe. I wasn’t so much interested in you as I was interested in having an excuse to grow my hair out, wear skinny jeans, and cuss at the apathetic table during lunch. Perhaps I was doomed from the start with such misaligned intentions. Perhaps if I was more interested in actually riding you, I would have taken the precautions to counteract gravity. But hey. You deserve some of the blame too. You should have told me who you were, how you acted. You should have warned me that you don’t stop. I should have ridden a bike if I wanted to be safe. Or a scooter. You know, something with brakes. Something for people with loose jeans and short hair. Those are the type of people who need brakes. People at my particular eighth-grade lunch table? They’re not the types of people who ask for the consent of stopping. They go all the way and don’t care. I suppose I should have known that. With a mouth full of gravel, I finally learned who you were. A bad prostitute. I began to doubt if those 200 dollars were worth it. As the ER doctor wrapped a cast around my arm, I thought about selling you, but what good would that you? You’d probably just hurt someone else. Plus, when the lunch table asked me where you were, how would I answer? How would I justify the lack of names on the cast, the Friday nights with my parents, the contemptuous bus rides home? How would I rectify the general dissatisfaction? I was a rebel, but you were my cause. My crux. You bastard.

3000+ Piece Box of Legos:

What to say? You were never consistent, but you were consistently there. The box advertised 1500 blocks, but as I threw new pieces into you, you morphed from this perfectly proportioned preset to something more grotesque. I was always collecting, gaining new sets and tearing them apart, and you became my disposal bin of sorts. A brown wheel, a strange laser, the extra pieces from the Bionicles, some construction figurines, some Mega Bloks (to this day I have NO idea where they came from), etc. You never rejected anything that came your way. The good bits were used often, so you were left to hold the uglier parts. And even though you were filled with junk, nothing gave me more joy than sifting through you and wondering what I could make of all this. All good toys are defiled and defaced over time, but, unlike the others, you benefit from that. You morph, you grow, you adapt. I sift through you. A thread through time. I dump you out on a Saturday morning as I watch cartoons in my Batman pajamas. I cross examine you as I try to construct the perfect city for an elementary school project. I pose you as my teenage friend and I use your figurines to make sloppy videos. I pull you from the top shelf of my former room to show you to my little nephew. I sift. I always sift.