1 : A place where one lives; a residence
2 : The physical structure within which one lives, such as a house or apartment
3 : An environment offering security and happiness
1 : an act of invading; especially : incursion of an army for conquest or plunder
2 : an action or process which affects someone’s life in an unpleasant and unwanted way
3 : an intrusion or encroachment
As Irma lay sleeping in her bed the window was slowly pushed up from the outside. A young African American man wearing a beanie hat pulled low over his ears looks in the window. He pushes the window up further to fit his torso through.
Crawling in through the now open window he stands over Irma and reaches down to grab her shoulder. Irma is a heavy sleeper and doesn’t notice. The young man is wearing a dark jacket and pants. He puts a knee on the bed and rolls Irma on her back. He puts his hand on her throat as he brings his face close to hers.
Irma is startled awake and finds herself staring at a stranger in dark clothing kneeling on her bed with his hand on her neck. She lives in a dangerous neighborhood – she’s lived here for 46 years and has watched the slow decline; more gang violence, bars appearing on windows, pit bulls behind locked gates and friends moving away after having their houses burglarized. She’s had this nightmare before but it’s different this time; nightmares stop when you wake up – this one is just starting.
The man says something to her but she’s deaf – has been for years now and the hearing aids just don’t help any more.
She’s prepared for this moment, having run the scenario a hundred times in her head. Irma swats the stranger’s hands away, to his surprise. He didn’t think a woman in her 80s could move that fast. She reaches over to the side table for her knife.
She sits up on the bed pointing the knife at the intruder. He’s scared – not of the old lady in front of him but of the 12-inch kitchen knife being waved in his face. He yells out the window to his friends.
Even more frightened now, Irma grabs her walker with her left hand and stands up. The intruder is backing away from her – the knife has him concerned. In slow shuffling steps she backs the intruder out of the bedroom and towards the living room. She’s having a hard time seeing him – he’s wearing dark clothes, the house is dark, and in the excitement she didn’t think to put on her glasses, even though they were right next to the knife on the side table.
She wants to get to the phone to dial 911. She knows she won’t be able to hear what the 911 operator says but just dialing it will ensure that someone arrives. It’s becoming increasing difficult for a woman living alone with only the occasional neighbor to check on her these days.
Irma makes it into the living room while pushing the walker with her left hand and frantically waving the knife in her right hand. She’s been able to hold off the intruder for the last minute. Suddenly the room is awash with light. The front door has been forced open and men start streaming into the room; the intruder’s friends have broken the door down!
Irma is blinded by the light in the room yet realizes that she’s surrounded by more intruders wearing dark clothing. She is unable to hear anything and she is without her glasses. The men are between her and the telephone. She was scared when she saw the stranger kneeling on her bed, now she’s terrified. This nightmare has turned into a horrible reality.