I woke up in the box again. Stuffed inside the darkness, shoved against all the others. The only light coming from the thin opening near the top of the box where the walls meet against the roof, shooting a fractured thin beam of silver moonlight in a line, covering the entire roof like a safety net. All I could think about was how much I hated it in here. Day after day I have been waking up in the stupid box and you don’t even have the decency to tell me why.
I know it wasn’t always like this though, was it? We used to have such a good time. You have taken me with you when you went camping, or just to play in the backyard. I used to wake up snuggled tightly in your bed, the blankets wrapped warmly around us. You hugged me close and promised to keep me safe. I wished those days would never end, I was happy.
Then you started to change. I knew eventually it would happen but I wasn’t ready, it was too soon. I would wake up and find myself somewhere I didn’t recognize. Stranded in the kitchen or dumped and left behind in a hallway. You even left me outside once! I used to stick up for you, I would tell myself you were just busy, you had a lot to do. You were not like me, you had responsibilities, work, school, life. All I had to do was make you happy, I always trusted you, I trusted that you would always come back to me. I was so stupid. I remember when you used to fight for me. You would throw a fit every time someone else touched me, do you remember that? Do you remember the day you got into a fistfight with Johnny, because he grabbed me when you went to the bathroom then he wouldn’t give me back to you? Do you ever think about those times? I do, I think about them every day. Every day when I open my eyes to the damp darkness of the box. Every day when all I can do Is push and fight for space as I stare into the thin sliver of light, wishing and hoping the top would open and you would come back for me. A wish that never comes true. It is easy for you, I’m not unique, there are hundreds of me out there, maybe more. But for us, there is only ever going to be the one you. We grow close, we laugh, we play, and we love you. Even as you move from one to the other, staying with us long enough until you get bored then you move on to the newest thing. Never thinking about the ones you hurt, the ones you left in the box. The ones whose hearts you crush every time you open the box and don’t pick, the ones left unused.
We talk you know. We talk about how to get you back. We talk about ways to get out of the box, ways to get free, and now there is even talking of ways of hurting you as you hurt us. We want you to know how it feels to be broken and used, to be left behind and hurt. Those thoughts come from the bottom of the box in soft whispers like the sound of the wind blowing. Soft and tiny, voices of pieces you thought were trash, pieces that you not only left behind but also destroyed beyond recognition just because you thought it was fun.
Days pass then years. It’s hard to tell inside the box, night and day, there all the same to us. We are talking less and less now, some of us have even forgotten, but I haven’t. Even when you finally put the box away, placing it high up in the cold dark attic. Leaving us alone and afraid, cutting us off from the only light we had and plunging our reality into the same kind of darkness our hearts were used to. Finally silencing the last cries of hope we had left. Sitting there in the dark without our sky of light to keep us company, some of us became what you always thought of us, trash. Giving in to the despair you put us in, no longer talking or thinking, no longer being. Just hunks of lifeless garbage, you turned us into everything you made us believe we were. Not me, you may have broken all the others in here but not me, I refuse to let you get off that easy. It’s hard, I can hear you downstairs, I hear you talking to your friends and your family. Up here tucked away in the attic, I’m forced to listen to the person I loved so dear, grow up without me. I listen to you laugh and cry. I feel every single heartbreak and the joy of every accomplishment. High school, the prom, college, I could picture them all. As much as I wanted to hate you, to me you will always be the little kid who picked me first. Who choose to be with me out of thousands of others. The kid who loved me and was proud of me, and now even when I try to fight it I’m proud of you.
All the thoughts of revenge left me when I first heard you were moving out. You were becoming an adult without us. No longer did you need us to make you happy, you are all grown up, ready to take on the world. I bet you didn’t even think about us up here in the dingy musty attic. Did you? You probably don’t even remember we even exist anymore. The world was so big and open to you, what did a couple of old friends matter to you? How could I be mad at you? It probably wasn’t even your choice to box us up and move us to the attic. I could imagine your parents telling you you’re too old, and it was time to make real friends. They would tell you to grow up and stop living in your imagination I almost convinced myself none of this was your fault. I believed it was just part of growing up, it had to happen. I was finally ready to let go, to stop being. But then you came back.
I thought I forgot what your voice sounded like, but when I heard it, all the old emotions I had come flooding back all at once. The sadness from losing you, the heartbreak of being forgotten, and the hurt of being pushed aside and unused. You came back up to the attic, I heard you say that you thought your kid would like to have some of the old things that you liked to play with when you were growing up. No! I will not go through it all again. I will not let my hopes soar every night wishing and hoping to be picked, just to be loved again. Then to have them smashed when something newer and more flashy comes around, or when she grows up and we go right back to the attic where she got us. It isn’t fair. How could you do that to us? The rage I felt before came back tenfold. Then others started to wake up, they felt it too. This time it was worse than before, not only do you think you have the right to use us but now you want to pawn us off to someone else to be mistreated all over again. Pushing us through an endless cycle of hurt and disappointment. Well not anymore, we will stop it, we won’t let it happen to us anymore. You took our box down and placed it in your daughter’s room. Just like before our sliver of moonlight crept through the crack and splayed its light throughout the top of the box. I can see you both now. You are saying good night and tucking your child into her small princess-covered bed. She looked so happy, tucked in nice and tight, snuggling close to her favorite toy.
That used to be me, remember? That used to be us. I wonder if it will hurt you more if it is her we hurt, or when you find out it was us and it was your fault. Then maybe you will find a way to end this horrible cycle and put us out of our misery.
We are ready now. I wait and watch you leave the room. Then I push off of the ones that were pushing me up closer to the lid of the box. I think, was all of this inevitable? How many toys in how many attics were thinking the same thing? Or the ones left under the bed or outside in the rain.
How many of the unused toys are plotting right now, how many of them want to make someone hurt as much as they do? That’s what I want you to think about every time you buy the newest toys to replace your older unloved ones. Think about it as you hand your childhood toys off to a friend or your loved ones. Think about it before you stop caring. Think about how one day, we might decide when to play. Then you will hurt like we hurt then you will feel how we do, all of us, the Unused.