My mom and I are driving out into the country. We get off the Anderson Rd. exit in Mt. Vernon.
We're heading north on a gravel road, surrounded by evergreen trees. The lighting makes me think it's around early afternoon. We are traveling and someone (not Mom or me, maybe just my thoughts narrating) is telling us about this park, kind of an attraction, where people can go see old buildings/houses in the forest.
As we drive, I can see just past the tree line, a row of houses. They remind me of the migrant worker homes near where I grew up in Burlington. The small shacks are colored with deep burnt red paint and have single pane glass windows with yellow tinting the corners. A few windows are cracked but not as damaged as I would have expected and I'm disappointed that they might not be as interesting and scary (which is the only reason I would ever want to go to a location like this at all!!--Like, Northern State Mental Hospital in Sedro-Woolley--If I'm gonna drive out there, I wanna see some scary shit).
We pull up to the park entrance and Mom turns the car around so the front faces South. She parks so close to the car in front of her. Their bumpers less than an inch apart. Mom is driving her old light blue station wagon. The car she parked so close to looks like Austin's navy blue subaru wagon (but Austin's not here).
Mom's car is now facing the opposite direction. We're standing behind it under the hatch back door, stuffing our purses under coats and blankets already in the trunk and taking out our cameras.
Mini Time Travel
(Like I only moved a few minutes forward)
We are walking on the pathway (about as wide as the gravel road, but covered in brown, dead pine needles) and there is a group of people standing, frozen, staring in to the forest to the right of myself.
The people are dressed in stereotypical tourist gear: white tees tucked into khaki cargo shorts, socks and sandals, khaki fisherman hats and large lens cameras hanging from thick straps around their necks.
They're looking into the trees and one whispers, almost inaudibly, "Do you see the moose?"
I look down and see Mom's white tennis shoes stepping from the pathway onto the softer forest floor. It is almost spongy and absorbs her light impact. A fine dusting of dirt and brown needles sprinkle on her toes. I lose myself in the slow-motion of her shoes for a moment and remember the dangerous creature lurking nearby.
My eyes raise slowly and as my pupils adjust to the darker lighting, I see a large tree. It's trunk is wide. (Think two refrigerators side by side.)
There is movement, barely, a vibration in the forest. Then I see a large moose face peering around the tree base. The size of just his head scares me and my brain starts searching for information regarding the proper techniques for avoiding an aggressive moose: I don't put my hands up and try to look "bigger" to scare it off--that will challenge it. I can't look it in the eye. Do I get in fetal position or is that just for bears? Do I run?
I look to my left and my mom is walking ahead of me, barely, at a slow and casual pace. She's looking down at her camera and fumbling a little with the strap. "Mom." I whisper as loudly as I can through my teeth. She keeps walking. "Mom, there's a moose." A little louder. No response. "Mom, there's a moose!!" I scream, terrified. The moose's stance goes from "alert" to "I'm going to fucking kill you" and it stamps its front two hooves simultaneously with locked knees and charges, hot breath being forced from his giant nostrils.
I turn to my right towards the car and both front and back doors are wide open. An inviting safe haven. There is nothing blocking the entrance, no seats, just an empty shell (it makes me think of a cargo van). I think of Mom as I jump into the car (but I don't see her get in with me).
Then I wake up.