When Danielle imagined the girl who had died, she pictured her standing in the tall grass on the hill at the edge of the amusement park, her brown curls and the hem of her flouncy skirt blowing in the breeze. The hill overlooked the town of Eden Grove, and in the evening light, with the wind blowing—for it had been windy—she must have already looked, to anyone below, like an apparition. The decrepit hulk of the Haunted Hotel rose up behind her. It was, Danielle admitted, a cliché place to die. But what in Eden Grove was not a cliché? That night the antique car club had met in the parking lot of the library, popping open their hoods along a block of Victorian B&Bs festooned with American-flag bunting in honor of Memorial Day. The girls of Danielle’s graduating class were trying on their silk-and-taffeta prom dresses in front of bedroom mirrors, dreamy and excited. And Danielle’s own best friend was backwards on Joey Marshall’s lap in the front seat of his white pickup truck, the skinny strap of her tank top fallen halfway to her elbow. This was Eden Grove. Whether you were living here or dying here, nobody would be surprised by how you were going about it. But something that night, no doubt, was amiss. Lacking much in the way of confirmed information, Danielle patched together her theory. She called it “How It Probably Went Down.” And so there stood Elisabeth Glass, who would not be fifteen until August. She had curly brown hair that the wind blew, in tendrils, over her face. She had hazel eyes that were large and black-fringed, and a chin perhaps a bit too weak for her heart-shaped face. She stood looking down at her hometown as though she were already in heaven, and for the occasion she was nicely dressed: the flounced corduroy skirt, a close-fitting pink T-shirt, flip-flops with daisies on the toes. The clasp of her gold cross necklace was engraved with the date she was saved. These were facts. The newspaper had printed an article, and a missing-person report had run on the morning news, only once before her body was found. And in any case, Danielle had seen her many times in the hallway at school. The girl’s face came easily to mind. And so. The grass was thigh-high, like wheat. Elisabeth said a prayer inside her head. Perhaps she wondered whether any prayer she had ever said had ever gotten out, or whether it had always been like yelling down one of the tunnels under the river bridge, where your voice echoes and echoes but ultimately goes nowhere. And then she turned and entered the Haunted Hotel through its unlocked back door. Although she felt a numbness that had begun in her heart and radiated outward, she sang quietly as she walked through the dark and cobwebby rooms: I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me. She climbed the stairs, and the screech from the squeakers built into the floorboards sounded, to her, like guinea pigs. She may have run her fingers along the wall, although no tracings or streaks could be linked to her fingerprints. She continued singing: I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. Alone now in the first bedroom to the right of the stairs, she sat on the edge of the maroon-draped bed and looked out the window at the moon. It had risen just high enough to be visible, and against the cobalt sky its patches of gray looked like something slowly decaying. She laid the note she had prepared on the night table, scribbled on a page torn from her devotional book, beside a set of fake dentures bobbing in a glass of water and a voluptuously dripping candle, and shifted her body to the center of the bed. She sang: Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me. With that, she flipped open her Swiss Army knife key chain and slashed her wrists—left, right, an ambidextrous girl, very talented in that way and in many others—flopped back on the bed, and waited impatiently to die. Read more. . .