My mother and I are in my old Alero, driving along the back roads of Lexington, Tenn., which is not terribly far from my family's house in Saltillo (think somewhere between a dozen and twenty miles). She's at the wheel, and we're chatting it up, when she gives the car a bit of gas to go over a hill, and we go flying, Dukes of Hazzard-style, through the air over a rain-filled gully at the foot of the hill, and crunch down on the asphalt several feet later. We're kinda laughing about my mom being a speed demon (in real life, she's anything but), and she continues to push the pedal as we vroom over still more Lexington hills. Except this time, something's off and we slide off the road and into the woods and the car loses its balance and we begin flipping, side over side, end over end, flip after flip after flip, our faces coming within inches of the damp forest floor, our car crunching on top of rotting logs and musty piles of leaves. The roof of the car has either been obliterated or my Alero acquired a sunroof (or would it be moonroof? and wtf is the difference?) in the dream, because I can look up and see the earth as our heads go rushing toward it on each flip.
I look over at my mother to make sure she's okay — she seems to be — and wince upon each new impact because at any minute a rogue branch or something could come crashing through the windshield or roof and plunge right into our faces.
We finally, after what seems like dozens of harrowing flips — land bottom-side-up and somehow we're both able to climb out the side — either through the window, which has been busted out, or through where a door was ripped off. How we're both able to walk, I'll never know. "I'm never riding in a car again," I wearily tell my mother, with thoughts of my real-life previous wreck in my head.
Apparently in order to get to safety and to get to where we can call 911, we have to swim through this murky black lake. We're already wet, I imagine from sweat and the dampness of the forest, so we just wade in and head for the far shore, which, I notice, is my great-grandmother's yard and house (which means we flipped in that damn car for at least 13 miles). My mother swims ahead of me. It's almost like in the dream my mother is me, or a different version of me, because every time I look at her, I see her, but it feels like I'm looking at me. She certainly acts more like me than she does my actual mother.
Anyway, we're swimming through this gross stagnant lake in the middle of the night (what's more terrifying than swimming through some random lake? Doing it at night) and I start thinking about all the gross things that could be in this lake, and my pace slows as I get bogged down with the psychological weight of everything that has just happened. Plus my foot has gotten tangled in some branches from a tree under the water, and I can't get the cluster of branches to fall away so I can swim freely. My mother yells back some encouraging words (like "Hurry up" or "You're gonna make it! Just keep swimming!") and sure enough, we finally make it to shore and I pull the slimy cluster of branches off my foot just in time to hear mom say something about leeches.
Which, I think I should point out, may just be the first time I've ever dreamed about leeches, but I'm fairly sure that it won't be the last.
I'm like, "Um, did you just say you saw leeches on you?" And before I could hear her reply of, "No, I had thought so but I don't see anything," I had already pulled up my shirt and unbuttoned my jeans to have a good look to make sure none had shimmied their way into areas that would have been most painful and embarrassing to address later.
We're at my great-grandmother's house (which is not fronted by a lake in real life), soaking wet and exhausted. My mother takes out her phone but I fear that she won't get any reception or that her phone will be waterlogged, so I go inside Granny's house — with the full knowledge that she's dead and no one lives there anymore, or maybe someone lives there but that it's someone I don't know — and am pleasantly surprised to see a portable telephone sitting on the coffee table. I take it outside and realize I don't remember the address of my grandmother's house. Actually, I do remember it — the real-life address — but when I run down to peek at her mailbox, I realize the address is different now.
I dial 911. The operator is a mild-mannered woman who doesn't answer like any 911 operator I have ever heard before. There's some noise in the background — something about the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his church — but I tune it out and tell the woman that we need to report a wreck. I give her the address I saw on the mailbox.
She is quiet for a bit and then begins treating me as if I am a senile old lady. "Ms. [I can't remember what she called me, but it felt like she was referring to Granny], have you had anything to drink tonight?"
"No, my grandmother has been dead for a year (not true; it's been three years); this is her granddaughter! My mother and I have just been in a bad wreck!" I say emphatically, not believing the 911 woman can't wrap her mind around what's going on.
"This is her granddaughter? Ma'am, has Ms. [Granny] had anything to drink tonight?"
I become delirious with frustration that she is deliberately misunderstanding me.
I'm sobbing, even though we don't seem to have been hurt in the wreck (aside from a gnarly cut on the palm of my hand that seems to be packed with grime and dirt) and don't really need medical attention, but I still feel like we're supposed to get some rescue people there immediately.
"We have been in a really bad wreck and we need some people to come help us," I weep at the stupid 911 lady. "Why won't you send anyone?" I look at my mother, who seems to have gotten through to someone on her phone. Which is a Razr (Motorola best be cuttin' me a check for product placement in my dreams). "They don't believe me!" I wail. My mother looks annoyed yet nonplussed.
The lady offers platitudes and words of false comfort, but ultimately, she's not sending anyone because she doesn't believe me.
Then I get fucking angry, even though I'm still shaking and sobbing.
"Ma'am, what is your name?" I bark at the 911 lady. I can feel her getting nervous. She mumbles something that I have trouble hearing. "WHAT?! Say that again, please." She says it again but I can't for the life of me make it out. It sounds like a jumble of syllables not meant for English-trained ears. I ask her to spell it, but I can't hear what she says in reply. It's like my ears have stopped working. I can hear, but I can't understand.
I've almost reached the end of my rope with this woman, and I yell at her that I can't wait until someone important hears about what a bitch she's being. And then I wake up.