When he was twenty-five, Henry Skinner killed a man.
It was an accident. Driving in the dark, Henry couldn’t make out the figure on the road until the last minute. Not charged with any wrongdoing (it was technically the pedestrian’s fault), he was able to walk away.
But as we learn in Amber Krieger’s winter 2010 Carve offering, walking away does not necessarily equate to moving on. Now at seventy-five, Henry remains haunted by the spectre of that pedestrian about whom he knows very little, other than that his name (whether it is his first or last, he is unsure) is Parker.
Krieger’s story gingerly explores the idea of legal versus moral culpability. In essence, just because Henry had no intent to kill Parker and is legally able to get off scot-free, at the end of the day the fact that he killed a man lingers on. How does someone live with himself, carrying that on his shoulder on a daily basis? Henry serves as a pathos-inducing exhibit of how such a life-changing event still echoes after fifty long years.
The story offers an interesting array of supporting characters, from Henry’s solicitous wife Helen (whom we only come to know of through snippets of phone conversation), his elusive daughter Jeannie, as well as, in the story’s climax, two Jehovah’s witnesses he encounters at the park offering promises of saving people’s souls.
By story’s end we are left to ask: “But can Henry’s soul actually be saved?”
Read “It Was So Long Ago” to find out.