Highway 35

February 7, 2010
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The temperature dropped slowly below freezing and the rain on Highway 35 turned into a dangerous slush. Kyle Penn felt the back of his Chevy Caprice fishtail and he thought about slowing down. It was already so late though. When he glanced nervously at the glowing digital clock on the dashboard, he saw that it was 6:15.
Kyle gripped the steering wheel tighter as he stared blindly at the gray stretch of road in front of him. He didn’t even know how much time he actually had. When he spoke with Doctor Blake on the telephone, he’d said it wouldn’t be long. Kyle knew that already though, because he could feel her slipping away with every second that passed. So he gently applied pressure to the gas pedal.
Kyle felt the wheel twist against his grip as the tires spun on the slick black concrete, but he just pressed the pedal deeper to the floor. He looked at the clock again and it was 6:17. It was only two minutes, but that could be a lifetime he would never get back.
Ignoring the freezing rain coming down in hazy sheets, Kyle drove even faster. He wouldn’t let her leave without him. He wouldn’t let her go with telling her goodbye. As he recklessly accelerated, Kyle felt his cell phone vibrate in the left pocket of his Faded Glory jeans. He tugged in free and looked at the caller I.D. It was Meredith and the only reason she would call was if he was too late.
That was impossible though, because Kyle would know if she were gone. The world would feel different if she was missing from it, and it still felt exactly the same. Highway 35 looked just as gray and icy as it had minutes before. So he ignored the phone, and continued to press down on the gas as the clock ticked to 6:20. That was when the right wheel of his Chevy hit a patch of black ice and Kyle lost control as the vehicle.

***

Kyle crossed his arms and looked out at the endless span of Highway ahead of him. It was completely empty. Not a single car came or went in the strange weather coming down. Pulling the hood of his H&M sweatshirt up, Kyle considered his options. He could climb back into his totaled Chevy Caprice or he could walk through the sleet that most people wouldn’t even want to drive in. Neither option was an inviting alternative, but costly time was still ticking by. Even though Kyle wasn’t staring at a clock, he could feel each second inching past him. She wasn’t gone yet, but it felt close. It felt like she would be leaving so very soon.
Kyle didn’t realize he was running until he felt himself almost slip. His legs were moving faster and faster and Kyle had to struggle to keep his footing. As he ran, his breath came out in harsh, unsteady puffs. The air was so cold he could see it forming small white clouds in front of his face. That and the rain coming down blurred his vision, so he didn’t see the car coming until the last second. It sped forward in the gray mist like a phantom and Kyle expected it to pass by him. Then the tires squealed unexpectedly and the taillights burned red. The car backed up rapidly and came to a stop only a few feet away from where he stood. Holding perfectly still, Kyle watched as the driver’s side door opened and she jumped out.
“Kyle,” Cassidee shouted running to him.
He caught her in his arms and pulled her tightly against him. He kissed her already rain soaked hair and asked desperately, “Cassidee, how are you here? Your sister called me and said that you went into remission. She told me we were losing you.”
Cassidee’s eyes shone with unnatural brightness as she gently cupped his face. Her voice shook when she said, “Kyle, they did lose me. I died... So the more important question is why are you here?”
Kyle looked behind him at Highway 35 and whispered, “there was an accident and I…I wasn’t going to let you leave without me…”
Cassidee took his hand and twisted their fingers together as she led him to the waiting car. He got in beside her and together they drove into the slush that was turning back into rain. The time on the dashboard was 6:20.





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