There is a dream Minnie has that recurs throughout her life. She is standing in front of a dilapidated farmhouse. Half the fence is down and old machinery rusts in the yard. An old mangle lies on its side. It’s a small, two story 1800s house with a round attic window that is smashed in. Bits of ornate Victorian gingerbread still cling to the eaves, dressed with windswept cobwebs. Rain soaked curtains flutter from the open windows. She’s afraid to go in, yet she goes in every time, drained of resistance and willpower.
She walks up the worn, creaking porch stairs, with the weeds poking through the cracks and pushes open the unlocked front door. There’s only the sound of angry bees drinking from the weedy flowers outside. Their incessant hum seems to grow louder and more mechanical as she reaches the foot of the main staircase and looks up. She knows there is something up there, something bad…yet she must go up because she always goes up. Because her whole life is about going up there. She can see her hand on the broken balustrade as she walks up: it is trembling. But she also feels strangely calm. As if something is finally going to happen that will end these dreams forever.
She ignores the second floor with the damp, stained mattresses and the mouldy smell along with the rodent droppings. She heads deliberately for the narrow attic stairs. The chipped door at the top of these stairs beckons her and she hesitates a moment before pushing it open. There, amidst the torn wallpaper and exposed wooden frame, stands the one-eyed doll. The doll’s long, frilly Victorian dress is ragged and filthy. Its hair is wild and uncombed, as if it had been dancing in a frenzy the moment before the door opened. It stands like a marionette about to be cut from its strings. The doll is waiting, and appears resigned. The menace of the empty eye socket in the cracked face takes Minnie’s breath away. A looming shadow suddenly falls over both of them. The doll reeks of death. Imminent death. Minnie’s death. She always awakes at this point, bathed in sweat. Only this is no longer a dream. This is finally real. Her skin tingles. She pants in her excitement.
She had arrived in the remote country town this morning. She had yelled at the real estate agent to stop the car the moment they drove by the house from her dreams. She had been unable to run away from the mystery. It must mean something. And it must be inevitable. The doll peers at her, its head to one side, sad and helpless. A shadow falls over the vacant eye. Minnie feels the breath of the agent behind her, hot and moist, as he pulls out a knife from his black coat while saying, “has anyone told you that you’re a pretty, pretty lady….”