This essay originally appeared in Overland magazine issue 225, summer 2016.
When I was seven, a classmate was given a walking, talking doll by her father. With its arms outstretched like a zombie, it walked stiff-legged towards you, droning ‘Mama’ repeatedly.
I was equally curious and repelled. My friend wouldn’t let me open it up to see how it worked. I knew the doll was not alive, but to me it transgressed the boundaries of how dolls should behave. I imagined her following me through an empty house calling ‘Mama … Mama’ – this thing that seemed to long to be held, but was too unyielding for anyone to reciprocate.