I am in my childhood home.
It is night.
The deck door, which accesses the living room, is open and the screen door is, stupidly, unlocked. When I see the man there, I know he is dangerous. I know he means harm. And I know that I can’t prevent him from coming in.
I don’t know who else is home other than Mariel, who is in my bedroom, asleep. I do not want the man to know this. He attacks me immediately and I fight back, which is futile. I manage, though, to pull him out to the carport, where he slings me over his shoulder. In the now-familiar trope of nightmares I’ve had since childhood, I open my mouth to scream “Help!” (though my current “helps” are in both English and Spanish), producing no sound. It has always been this way, wasting my energy on calling for help, never able to fully articulate the cry. Every 10 efforts produce a weak noise, which makes the attacker stronger; he knows he is in a powerful position. He also knows we’re geographically isolated; no one would help me even if I could make a sound.
I manage to pull free of him and make a run for the neighbor’s house, in indescribable agony over the decision to leave Mariel behind. Leaving her while I go for help is my only chance, I think, but what if he goes back inside? What if he finds her?
Next, I am in a Puerto Rican police cruiser with three officers: two men, one woman. We are driving past my parents’ house and I tell them “My daughter is there; please stop so we can get her!”, but they keep driving. They say we have to do the paperwork, that they can’t take any action unless everything that has happened has been documented.
What bothers me is that I wake up then, not knowing whether my choice to leave her was right.