The Highline Highway

Driving across the country had been Jacob’s idea, but Sheila was the one who insisted they return along the Highline Highway. Throughout the trip she’d navigated and he’d done most of the driving, a compromise he’d insisted on to keep her from behind the wheel where she turned into someone else altogether: obscene, misanthropic, possibly homicidal. The route she plotted was circuitous—revenge, he suspected—always avoiding interstates, opting instead for old two-lane highways. The Highline fit right into that.

Jacob had suggested they just go south a bit, get on I-90, which would take them through Bozeman. He’d show them where he’d lived and the stadium where he’d played corner back for the football team. But Sheila said no, they’d stay up where they were. They hadn’t come on this trip for a nostalgia tour.

Other than the miles that passed through Glacier National Park, there was nothing to look at except endless fields of low-cut barley, broken only by the syncopated thuds of telephone poles, and pathetically small towns named after lonely men. Sheila said, “I can see why you left this place.”

“I didn’t live here. Bozeman’s in the mountains.”

“I know, I know, so pretty, all that skiing, blah, blah. But this,” she rapped the window with a knuckle, “is what I always sort of imagined. This is what I thought you were running away from.” Her window was cracked open and dark hair blew around her face. She kept pushing it behind her ears, but in seconds it was free again.

“It sure is bleak,” he said, to get her to be quiet, though he wanted to say he hadn’t been running away from anything.

This story appears in the anthology, Forty Stories, published by Harper Perennial. The story can be read in its entirety, along with the rest of the stories in the book, here:

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