Blow Out the Candles by Erik Arneson

Detective Peter Eckert looked down at the girl and shook his head. “I know her,” he said to his partner. “Hannah Kean. Used to be in youth group with Jess.”

Eckert had met Hannah three years ago. She was 14, eyes bright and eager, ready for life’s adventures. A couple days after Christmas the next year, he saw her loitering outside a convenience store, eyes glassy and addled and holding only a flicker of the spark he remembered. Eleven months later, she paced next to a bench in Monument Park on Lehman Street. Her vacant eyes served as foggy sentinels on the lookout for something, anything, that promised to satisfy her unquenchable craving.

Now 17, eyes forever milky and dull, Hannah lay on the pavement next to a Dumpster in an alley six blocks from her church. Eckert examined the fingers of her right hand, which formed a weak fist resting on her chest. He’d never know that her final instinct had been to clutch for the gold crucifix on her necklace, a necklace no longer there because she had traded it for the speedball that took her life.

13 thoughts on “Blow Out the Candles by Erik Arneson”

  1. Like an artist sketching a sad sad picture. It made me think immediately of so many of my kids’ friends who I knew when they were in elementary school but by the time they were 16 I could barely recoginize because of all the damage they’d done to themselves.

  2. Like lightning flashes, these images stay burned in the retinas. The first line of dialogue turns haunting in a piece this short. Nicely told.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *