Innocent Little Candy Hearts


Vivian Guo, Author, 8th grade

It was Valentine’s Day, and she was roaming through the streets of New York, trying to find a place to eat that wasn’t crowded with couples. Stumbling upon a small cafe on the corner of a street, she entered with the hopes that she could find a nice coffee and perhaps a pastry to enjoy. The place was dimly lit and not very decorated, but the smell of coffee and sweets filled the air and she sighed in delight while sliding into a chair in the back of the shop, placing her bag under the table.

There were only about ten tables in the shop, and just a few people sat around the room chatting aimlessly with their friends or date. She chose to sit close to a large window that lined the wall, and she started looking at the small menu provided. There was a small basket of candy hearts in the center of the table – one of the only signs in the shop that it was Valentine’s day – and she started mindlessly eating a few, the sweet taste that filled her mouth making her smile.

As she took her fourth one, she caught a glimpse of what was written on the candy. It was simply the word “cat”, and she looked closely at it in confusion. Maybe a part of it faded? No, that wouldn’t make sense, what kind of message contains “cat” in the first place? As she pondered over the strange word on the heart, she heard a soft meow from under the table. A gray and white tabby was rubbing against her ankles, and it playfully batted at her hand when she reached down to pet it. That’s such a strange coincidence, she thought.

Curious, she picked up another heart and examined it. This one said “rain”. As she shook her head in disbelief at how ridiculous these messages were, she heard the soft pitter patter of raindrops hitting the window next to her. It was just perfectly sunny, how in the world did it suddenly start raining?! Her next candy heart said “spill”, and a few tables over, she heard the crash of a mug tumbling to the floor, and a waitress apologizing for spilling the hot coffee on a customer’s shirt. A sense of uneasiness washed over her, but she took another candy, which read “flower”. Looking around, she couldn’t see a single flower in the shop, and no one seemed to be pulling out flowers, much to her relief. She was just starting to relax again, but as she turned around, she started to panic when she found a single daisy that had appeared on her forgotten menu.

She was extremely confused, and she was starting to grasp the fact that these weren’t just coincidences – making her anxious yet even more curious. Heart pounding in her chest, she hesitantly looked at another candy, which simply said “waiter”. She looked behind her, and a waiter was currently making his way to her, smiling gently. She gave him a tentative small smile, but her mind was elsewhere. As he approached, she turned around in her chair to look at him.

“Do you know what you would like to order, miss?” He asked, pulling out a small notebook. She randomly gave an answer, pointing at the first things she saw on her menu.

“Wait!” she blurted out as he turned to leave.

“Yes?” he asked, confused at her sudden outburst.

“I, uh, how-” she started stammering a response, and he raised his eyebrow expectantly. “Where do you get these heart candies from?”

“I’m just in charge of placing them on the tables, but I can ask my manager. Is there something wrong with them?”

She looked back at them to convince herself that maybe she was just imagining things, and that there was nothing wrong at all. However, her gaze landed on one amidst the rest, one that simply said “death”. She felt as though she couldn’t breathe, with the panic rising in her throat and the blood pounding in her ears. Horrified, she slowly turned towards the waiter, eyes pressed together as if she could just open them and wake up from a dream. When her eyes did open, all she wanted was to squeeze them shut again out of fear.

The waiter’s eyes had turned a deep, glowing blood red, and his mouth was contorted into an evil grin that sent shivers down her spine. She scrambled back and fell off her chair, but as she made to sprint for the door, a hand grasped her forearm tight enough for his nails to draw blood. Wincing in pain, she frantically tried to pry away from him, but to no avail. Looking around helplessly, she realized that the cafe was completely empty, and there was not a single person in sight who could help her. The waiter had pulled out a long, sharp dagger, and she could see her terrified face reflecting back at her. His arm moved almost too quick for her to see, and hot red pain suddenly seared out from her chest, where a handle now protruded.

She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, and she fell to her knees screaming. She felt like her entire chest was on fire, and she could see the blood now pooling on the ground beneath her. Gasping for her last breaths of oxygen, her mind began to slip away and she welcomed it, as it was dulling her pain and taking her away.

Opening her eyes one last time, she saw one more small candy fall out of her loosening grasp. Right before she had scrambled away from the waiter, she desperately grabbed at the first thing she could, which happened to be one of the candies that insisted on cursing her. Not wanting to let go, she kept a tight grip on it through everything, even as she was dying. Now, as it fell out of her hand, as her chest screamed in agony and she longed to surrender to death, her eyes focused on the small red font that was written on the candy.


She jolted up from her position on the floor, gasping and on the verge of screaming. She looked down at her chest. No knife, no blood, no sign at all of what had just happened. The people in the cafe were looking at her. What people in the cafe? They’d all left! She quickly scanned around the room, and realized that it was also bright and sunny outside, and there was absolutely nothing that could signify that it had even drizzled in the past few hours. What’s happening? How am I still alive?

A waiter was making his way towards her, a polite but concerned expression resting on his face. It was the waiter. The one who had lured her in with his gentle smiles and innocent confusion, then stabbed her ruthlessly with a malicious smile on his face. Blinding terror gripped her heart, and it took all her willpower not to scream.

“Are you okay?” the waiter asked her as she backed herself against the wall, shrinking away from him.

“The- the candy hearts, they-” she broke off, pointing at them but unable to finish her sentence. He walked over to them, looked into the basket, then looked back at her with confusion.

“What’s wrong with them?”

Shocked, she rushed over to the table and grabbed a handful of candies, scanning them quickly. She couldn’t believe it. They were completely normal, with phrases such as “be mine” and “I love you”. The other customers watched with confusion and wariness as she threw the hearts onto the table, staring at them for a moment longer.

Then she quickly gathered her bag and ran out of the cafe and through the streets of the city, leaving behind a table scattered with innocent little candy hearts.