Maria Gomez struggles to find the man who raped her eleven-year-old autistic daughter who is unable to speak.
I am in the forest, struggling to catch my breath. I can hear his loud footfalls behind me, and I stumble further still through the cold darkness that envelopes me. I know that it is futile to run, that the chase is just delaying the inevitable. But I can't give up, I am clinging for dear life on to my final shred of hope. His voice resonates in my ears. the sound of my defeat, and his thick arms are around my waist.
Maria puzzles over the hastily scribbled note she found in her daughter's schoolbag. She does not quite know what to make of it, whether or not she should be concerned. She skims through it again, and makes up her mind to speak to her daughter about it.
"Briar," her mother calls. The girl wanders into the room, her blonde hair gently framing her face. Her wide brown eyes wear a blank look, though it does not come as a surprise to Maria. It has been the expression Briar has worn since she was diagnosed with autism when she was three.
"Briar," her mother lays a hand on her daughter's shoulder, who in turn just stares at it. "Briar, can you tell me what this is all about?" She holds up the wrinkled sheet of paper. The girl stares at her feet, then turns to face her mother. She is trying to say something, but cannot find the words within her head.
"Dream. Just... dream. Justdream. Justadream. Justadream," the girl has worked herself into hysterics, and Maria was not sure who Briar was trying to convince anymore, Maria or herself.
"Should I be worried? I mean, its not like she's never thrown a fit like this before. But the letter..." Maria trails off, not sure how to finish.
"Perhaps it would help if I saw the letter in question," the psychiatrist suggests. Maria eagerly hands over the now-tattered piece of ruled paper.
Dr. Becker skims through the note, then reads it again.
"At this point, I'm not sure if this was one of your daughter's dreams, or if it really happened, or if she is simply trying to capture your attention. Often children like Briar feel unheard, and act out to get the attention of their parents, teachers, etcetera. I would suggest bringing Briar in to see me, so we can find the source of this confusion." She looks up over glasses at Maria, who nods quickly.
"Yes, yes, should have thought of that myself. Well, then, I will bring Briar with me for my session on Thursday."
Maria drives home, at a loss as to what to do next. Over the eleven years Briar has been a part of her life, Maria has done everything in her power to make a life for her daughter, a future. She remembers that day, sitting in the office of yet another specialist. Watching her daughter play, it was nearly impossible to accept her fate. But Maria has done everything for Briar, everything she can do.
She opens the door to the sound of her daughter crying, and rushes over.
"Sweetheart, what's wrong?"
But there are no words, even if Briar was able to tell her mother.