Journey of the Sparrows
The next day I again went to work with Alicia. I circled around the man with the white hair as I entered the factory room and didn't look up as I worked. The other women stared down also, and there were no sounds except for the buzzing of the sewing machines and an occasional siren outside. We all worked on the same dark green cloth, and I had to squint to see the seams. I glanced at Isabel once. During the morning and early afternoon, the man with the white hair didn't come near me. Then, through the sides of my eyes, I saw him cross the room and move behind me. "Get up and come with me," he said.
I panicked and looked up at Alicia. Her face was white and she started to get up. "Now!" he ordered. I pushed my chair back, my heart pounding, and followed him into a little hall behind the main room, out of sight of the other women. The man laughed and grabbed me by my shoulders, and as I twisted to get away from him, he snarled, "You're illegal. I can do anything." He laughed again, and I smelled the Guardias and saw the blood as he reached for my breast.
I screamed, "Stop! Don't!" and swung out hard with my fist, smashing him in the nose. He slapped me across my face, but I twisted away and kicked him in the leg and screamed, "Stay away!"
I ran through the other room. Alicia threw my coat at me, and I saw Isabel and the other women cluster by the door to the back hall, making it hard for the man to follow me. I slammed out the sewing-room door, practically fell down the steps, and ran out of the building into the cold. Finally, I stood, shivering and shaking, waiting for the El. We had almost no food, I thought, little money, and now I didn't have work and wouldn't be paid.
From Chapter 6 in Journey of the Sparrows. (1991)
Used with permission of the author.