One more hour, I pleaded with the god of dreams. This is what he gave me:

One sunny day, I’m driving down I-5 to drop off pizza to a friend on a whim. The next, I’m fighting to stay alive in this compound run by a mad dictator with a hair-trigger disposition.

On my drive, I see random cars getting stopped by a roaming group of pistol-toting bandits. They drag out the drivers and shoot them, pointblank, all along the side of the road, as I frantically try to remember where I’m supposed to go.

My cell phone is my doom. This is what the villains use to locate the rest of us in a hunt and trap mission.

I find myself watching a friend (Tina??) tearfully make gnocchi, because I’m supposed to do the same flawlessly. Only I can’t because… This fucking dictator just shot his ex-girlfriend — a gorgeous Victoria Secret type blonde in real fur, the only real person representing a shot at saving us all — in the face. He expects me to make gnocchi out of her bleeding flesh, only… her flesh makes the dough hard to adhere.

He’s doing this to see my reaction.

I keep trying to press the dough and the flesh together, trying to ignore the red streaks everywhere, my hands shaking, my heart pounding out of my chest, my gag reflex in full gear, while this dictator breathes me in from the neck down to the shoulders.

The next thing I know, after the second bag of finished gnocchi that I know I sure as hell didn’t make (where’s Tina??), I’m plotting our escape. The children first. The women, his bitches, sniff out the plan and cut some of us off. They prepare for our elaborate torture and execution.

My husband and I turn toward the last closing exit, out there on the bustling streets where the children run to find the police and new identities. He makes it out, but I am left behind, fretting halfheartedly about letting the children go first, afraid I won’t be able to endure.

I did the right thing. I just wish it wouldn’t hurt so much.

Wait, there’s another plan. I remember more of it as I run as fast as I can toward this pantry in the back of a forgotten kitchen about to be remodeled, hoping his bitches have forgotten it too. They loudly describe what they are going to do to me in front of him, but I’m no longer there.

I’m inside this dark square of a pantry, looking up at the rectangle of light in the ceiling, the only way out, a long shot. I hear my husband’s voice in my head as I climb, no time to think or second-guess or freak out that they are right behind me.

I push the light, which opens up into another room, climbing through. I climb and I climb each room through each light until the last one, the fourth or fifth. I remember having to place one of the light slabs sideways below me quiet as a mouse. This last light leads me over the edge of a tower in progress.

It’s a tower of concrete blocks. On my side are construction workers who are oblivious to me. The drop is huge. I know I will instantly die on the landing, but I jump anyway, trying to stay as close to the wall down as possible, vaguely hearing the screams of outrage in the main lobby farther back.

Just as I brace myself for impact, halfway down I see the nail and I see my husband clinging to an outcropping, his arms stretching out. He’s so brave. But am I?

He catches me and we run for freedom.

This is how I know I’ve made the right choice in this lifetime to marry him.


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