The wipers slap furiously, whipping back and forth like wild things, but the windshield remains a murky puddle before my eyes. I lean forward and push my chest against the steering wheel as I try to see what’s ahead. The curving road is pitch-black—dark and shiny—and the blindingly bright headlights of the vehicle tailgating me don’t help.
Why did I take this road? And why am I driving so late at night? I adjust my rearview mirror to subdue the lights, and then I step on the gas in an attempt to outrun the impatient jerk. Or maybe I should just pull over. But where?
Just when I think I’ve lost my tailgater, a truck barrels down the road toward me, its lights glaring straight into my already compromised vision. The wimpy wipers don’t help
at all, and I can barely see as I start to brake because it looks like the truck has crossed the centerline into my lane. It feels like he’s hurtling straight toward me—a headon
about to happen!
I jerk the steering wheel to the right and swerve off the road, hitting the gravel shoulder at about fifty miles an hour and totally out of control. Then in the same split second, certain that my car is about to dive into the steep ditch and roll, I crank my steering wheel back to the left and careen across both lanes of the highway, crashing straight through the end of the guardrail, almost as if it’s not even there.
There’s this moment of eerie silence as my car, free of gravity, plunges into thin air and total darkness. But when it lands, it’s like an explosion. And the jolt to my body is shocking then numbing. I can’t breathe. It feels as if someone has a pillow over my face, and my chest and head ache from the impact. Something cold and wet creeps up my legs like the fingers of death. I try to kick whatever it is away, but my legs are pinned to the seat, unable to move.
I free my arms in an attempt to fight off this thing that’s suffocating me, but it seems to deflate just as quickly as it came—the airbag. I peer through my shattered windshield. My left headlight illuminates what appears to be water running swiftly all around me. And I remember, yes, the Willamette River runs along this stretch of country road.
My car’s not fully submerged in the river yet, although the front end is partially in the water. But I feel the car shift, as if the wheels aren’t on solid ground. I force the gear into reverse, hoping that I can back up, but the movement makes the car lurch forward. I prepare myself to be swallowed by the river. Stuck in this car, my death trap. How long does it take a vehicle to sink? How long does it take to drown?
A new rush of adrenaline hits me. I’m not ready to give up. I push the button for the electric windows, but they don’t budge. I attempt to force open the door, but it’s stuck tight. Even if I got it open, I can’t free my legs from whatever pins them down.
The water’s up to my waist now and numbingly cold. Or have I lost all feeling in the lower half of my body? I’m not sure if it’s the dashboard pressed down against my thighs. Or maybe it’s the engine. I don’t know. But I know that I’m trapped.
It seems almost silly, but it’s as if time stands still, and I begin to analyze how I got to this place. I made a bad decision tonight. I didn’t have to take this road. But don’t we all make bad decisions sometimes? Why this? Why me? Why now?
I look up and catch my reflection in the cockeyed rearview mirror. But it’s not my face I see. I blink then stare back into the mirror. Who is this woman staring back at me?
At first she seems old, maybe fortysomething, and then she seems young, like my age. Finally I realize that it’s not me at all—it’s my friend Kayla Henderson. Her blond hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and her dark brown eyes are full of fear with tears streaming down her cheeks. An image of pure terror and desperation.
And that’s when I wake up.
My heart still pounds frantically as I sit up in my bed and look around, making sure that I’m still in my own room, safe and warm and dry. I wiggle my toes. Just fine. Nothing to be afraid of. It was only a dream…just a dream. But an unusual
dream. What does it mean?
I glance at the clock. It’s 5:31 and too early to get up. But going back to sleep seems unlikely too. So I turn on the light by my bed and, out of habit, reach for my Bible, opening it to a very familiar section marked with a red ribbon.
Oh, I know these words already. My dad was the first one to read this portion of Scripture to me, back when I had my first unusual
dream. And it was Dad who encouraged me to memorize this Scripture as well as others. “Write them in your heart,” he’d said. My dad seemed to be the one person who really got me back then, back when this whole thing seemed to start up. But it comforted me to know that he seemed to understand and even respect what he called my “gift.”
So I read this Scripture now, hearing the words almost as if Dad were here right beside me, quietly whispering them to me. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God,and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. And it shall come to passafterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and yourdaughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shallsee visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days willI pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:27–29, KJV)
“That’s exactly what God is doing in you, Samantha,” Dad told me the first time I proudly recited this Scripture.
“What do you mean?” I asked, although I felt fairly sure that I knew.
“God’s pouring out His Spirit on you. Giving you visions and dreams.”
“But why? Why did God pick me
Dad just smiled. “He must’ve known that you have the right kind of heart, honey. And He designed you in such a way that you could handle something of this magnitude. Just trust Him.”
I close my Bible as well as my eyes, trying to remember the details of the dream that just interrupted my sleep. Why does it seem unusual? Was it supposed to mean something?
Some kind of message? Was it really from God?
I get out of bed and walk back and forth in my room, running over the events of the dream, trying to sort it out, to discern whether it’s something to be dismissed or something I should pay attention to. I mean, sometimes I have dreams that are simply dreams. Other times…well, those are different.
Obviously my dream involved a car wreck. It was nighttime, and the car went into the Willamette River. And it seemed like Kayla Henderson was involved. Is it possible that Kayla was driving? That she’s been involved in a real accident? That could explain why she’s been missing these past few days. Maybe her car is sitting on the bottom of the
river right now. Or maybe I’m just blowing this all out of proportion. Sometimes I wonder why God can’t just get a loudspeaker or a TV series or a big billboard that would grab everyone’s attention and just make Himself perfectly clear.
Yet even as I try to make light of this, the chilling thought of poor Kayla being the victim of a horrible accident, sitting pinned in a car at the bottom of a river, sends a serious shiver down my spine. I pull on my sweatshirt, stick my feet into my UGGs, and go out to the kitchen, where I turn on the lights and start to make a pot of coffee.
My mom always appreciates it when I do this, not that I do it too often, but I nearly drop the glass coffee carafe when I hear the deep sound of a man’s voice talking behind me. I almost think that it’s God. But I turn to see that it’s only the TV.
Sometimes when my mom’s feeling extra stressed, she’ll set it to turn on at six in the morning. She calls it her “gentle” alarm clock. Although the tone of this dude’s voice feels anything but gentle. Still, he’s got my attention, and I stand there holding the half-filled coffee carafe as I listen. “Breaking news near Fremont early this morning,”
he says in an urgent voice. “Forty-six-year-old Cindy James lost control of her Nissan on wet roads, crashing through the guardrail and plummeting thirty feet into the Willamette River shortly before midnight last night. The accident occurred just five miles south of Fremont. Fortunately for Ms. James, two other drivers witnessed the wreck and immediately called 911. Gary Forsythe of Gresham and Hank Burns of eastern Washington scaled the steep riverbank to see the car partially submerged in the turbulent waters. Swift-thinking Burns then managed to return to his truck to get a chain and a rope, which the two men were able to secure to a nearby tree and her bumper, preventing the small car from being completely submerged and swept away by the current.”
As he describes the wreck, some footage is being shown, and it seems very similar to how it was in my dream. Although the perspective is different. And there’s another thing. Instead of Kayla Henderson in the driver’s seat, it seems it was this Cindy James person. They show a photo of someone I’ve never seen before. Or maybe it’s the person I got a glimpse of just before I saw Kayla.
But now I question whether I really did see Kayla. Maybe I just imagined it was her because I’ve felt so concerned about her ...