i was sitting in my room reading scary stories to tell in the dark and i came across this story i'd never noticed before, about a doll that killed whoever owned it. there was an illustration of the doll, and it was really horrible. it looked kind of like the old psycho farmer on beavis & butt-head: bald and wizened and wrinkled and dressed in overalls. i got scared and put the book away and then my father came into the room. he was holding a doll just like the one in the book, and he said, "sara, don't leave your things out in the living room." i didn't want to look like the scared-of-dolls wuss i am, so i was just like, "oh, okay, just set it on the bookshelf." he did, and a few other people came into the room, and we all started talking. whenever i'd say anything, the doll would slooooowly turn it's head and look at me, then snap it's neck around when i finished talking. i knew it was waiting for everybody else to leave so that it could kill me, but i was sure that if i said anything everyone would laugh at me, so i just kept quiet. everyone started to leave, and i knew the doll would get me once they were all gone, but i couldn't say anything.

a recurring nightmare: i am walking barefoot through a park, or down the street to my house in carolina, or through my living room, when i notice the ground is covered in dead snakes. they're kind of flattened and twisted, and they're everywhere... i stand still because i don't want to step on any more of them, but there are some under my feet and that freaks me out so much that i start running. no matter how fast i run, there are still snakes underfoot. i'm not panicking-- i'm not thinking. i know if i think about it, i'll completely lose my mind. so i just keep running and the skin on the soles of my feet is crawling and burning. all those snakes, i can't get away.

i got a letter from a boy i used to have a crush on in high school. it says he is going to be in my town that night and he wants to see me. later, i get a phone call from the first boy i ever dated. he says he is also going to be in town, filming a tv show, and he's coming to see me, too. i know i can only see one, and i can't choose. until now, i'd forgotten about them both, but now i realize that one of them is the love of my life, and i have to choose correctly. that night, i'm waiting to see who will show up first. it's the boy from high school. when i open the front door, he is standing in the snow with a streetlight on him like a halo. he's wearing a puffy coat. he picks me up and spins me around and kisses me. i realize he's the one, he's the one i'm supposed to spend my life with, he and i were only put on this earth for each other. what i say to him is, "nice coat." we go inside, into my bedroom, where a picnic table is set up. a bunch of people are sitting at this table, some people i know, some who i've never seen before who identify themselves only as "mine workers". we are all talking when this boy, the love of my life, suddenly says he's gay. and i think, if i'd told him how i felt back in high school, he wouldn't be gay. if i'd told him just now that i loved him, instead of commenting on his coat, he'd love me. i can't move, and then i wake up.