Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | February 15, 2008

The Highway

Bennington, VT. June 5, 2003.

Bennington Flowers

The following story is a dream I had last night. Surprisingly, the plot of the dream made a lot of sense… but it was very, very sad.

Dad told us to kill the vermin. There he was, shivering in the trap, cute as could be. But he was digging up the whole farm and devouring the baby peppers and peas and knocking over the corn. It was him or us, Dad said.

“We should drown him,” I told my sister. But I sure didn’t want to be the one to hold him under.

“What about the highway?” Rachel asked.

We lived out in the middle of nowhere. No other houses or farms for miles, just cornfields and dust as far as the eye could see, all divided down the middle by the highway.

“If he makes it across the highway without getting splattered, I say he deserves to live!” I said.

Rachel grinned and picked up the trap, “Come on, Hannah! Let’s watch him try to outrun the trucks!”

There was a good sized group of cars was approaching. Rachel opened the trap and tossed the creature towards the road. We ducked back, watching, waiting. He almost made it–but then a red sedan came barreling down on the poor guy, and I had to close my eyes. Next thing I knew Rachel pushed me, hard.

“Run! Oh, damn it. Oh God!” Then I didn’t know if my eyes were open or not. Sometimes things were black and sometimes red and that sedan, it wasn’t on the highway anymore, it was right in front of me and Rachel was somewhere far away.

“Hannah? Hannah! Is that you?”

It was my Mom’s voice, and finally I opened my eyes and knew they were open. The red sedan was upside down in the ditch by the highway. Rachel was lying nearby, and she was red, too. I stood up, feeling light and heavy at the same time.

Mom and a stranger carried Rachel up to the house. I walked.

“What happened?” I asked.

“This creature ran out in the road,” said the stranger, her voice high and hysterical. “I swear I didn’t see you girls. God, what have I done?”

Mom said nothing, but got out her sewing needles and a medical kit and laid Rachel on the porch swing. She had been a nurse a long time ago. She wasn’t afraid of blood. Rachel was moving now, moaning and crying.

“We should call an ambulance,” said the red sedan woman. I showed her our phone, but no matter what numbers she pushed, nothing happened. An ache grew in my chest, but I said nothing. It felt like fear, nothing more. “Your phone’s broken! Do you have neighbors? Is there a pay phone nearby?”

I shook my head. No neighbors.

Then mom called from the porch, “it’s ok, Rachel will be fine. It wasn’t too deep.” I went out to see and sure enough my sister was trying to smile.

“It’s just my leg, here, and my chest,” Rachel said. “Mom says I’ll have a big scar, and I can’t walk on the leg for a while. Are you ok, Hannah?”

I nodded, but the ache was still there.

The stranger left when Dad came in from the fields. Dad said nothing about the vermin, just hugged me tight–it hurt, but I didn’t say–then rocked with Rachel and kept saying “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.” Mom cleaned up as best she could and dinner was whatever we could find left over. I ate nothing. The food looked like sawdust.

It wasn’t until the next evening Dad noticed that I hadn’t eaten since the accident. All day I’d felt lighter and lighter, like I might float away. But I didn’t dare say anything. I thought it was just make believe, that it would go away. But then Dad was looking at me, asking me what was wrong, and when I tried to breathe it felt like the air was leaking out inside my chest. I’d breathe and breathe and the air wouldn’t go anywhere and pain was shooting through my chest. Was my heart unraveling?

“It hurts to breathe,” I said.

Dad lifted me like I was nothing but a feather and carried me out to the car.

“We’re going to the doctor.”

“But that’s…” I couldn’t finish the sentence. The pain was eating up my heart and lungs.

“Two hours. One and a half if drive too fast,” Dad said.

We turned out onto the highway, and I closed my eyes. I knew then that the pain would stop. All I had to do was step away from it, onto that highway of beautiful golden light leading far, far away.

The doctor told my Dad it was more than he could handle. Maybe if we’d come right away, but the internal bleeding was already too much. He was surprised I was still alive. He called the hospital while Dad cried and stroked my hair

The golden ribbon of highway stretches on a long, long way. But I’ll keep walking until I find my way home.



  1. wow, Kathryn… this almost made me cry. I like the last two sentences alot, though I almost don’t want to hear you say that she died; I’d rather figure it out from those sentences.

  2. hi Kathryn, Suzanne sent me the link to read this. It’s so strange how real dreams can seem.. reading the way you described the aching makes me feel it in my own chest. I also find those last two sentences very beautiful. keep it up! 🙂

  3. Suzanne – I took out that line. I agree, it’s better ambiguous.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: