The Miracle Stealer

The Miracle Stealer by Neil Connelly Read Free Book Online

Book: The Miracle Stealer by Neil Connelly Read Free Book Online
Authors: Neil Connelly
“Please God, let Daniel live.” I repeated it over and over, for hours really, and I rocked with a rhythm like when I ran, until finally my body surrendered to exhaustion.
    I woke up when the drilling machine shut off, and I was worried about what the silence meant. The second rescue tunnel had taken twice as long to finish, but it was done. I crawled down off my rock and pushed through the small crowd to see the giant tripod they’d set up over the new opening. The winch at the top looked like an oversize reel from a fishing rod. A second miner appeared, dressed just like the first: a harness of thick black straps and a hard hat with a light on it. Someone snapped the metal line from the reel onto the harness, and just as the sun sliced through the pines, he was lowered into the second tunnel. This was going out live on all the television networks that had cameras there. The same viewers who’d woken up the day before to the first news of the disaster were now watching to see the outcome.
    The second rescue tunnel was farther away from Daniel’s tunnel than the first, so that miner had quite a way to dig sideways. Because everyone was straining to hear the miner on his walkie-talkie, somebody cut off the power generators and the fairy fort filled with an eerie silence. But then all of us gathered around the hole turned to a strange sound—a soft chanting rising up from the meadow. Down in the open field, my mother and Mrs. Wheeler and the Cullen sisters and Mr. Hogan and the Abernathys and maybe two dozen others had fallen to their knees and joined hands in a prayer circle. In the early morning mist coming off the lake, they sang hymns in hopes of persuading God to resurrect my baby brother. It’s all on the video.
    On the other side of the hole, my father shook his head.
    Twenty anxious minutes later, the miner radioed up, but the crackling static couldn’t be understood. And then the winch was reeling slowly backward and I realized they were drawing himout. I expected he was coming out to take a break or get other equipment. His hard hat appeared and then his whole body, dangling in the air.
    His back was turned to me at first, so I didn’t see him clutching Daniel. But over the weeks and months to come, I saw that snippet of film so many times that now it’s part of my memory of the actual event. These are the images I share with the world: Daniel’s blackened face. The harsh scrape on his bloodied cheek. His head strapped to the board for his own safety. And his dark brown eyes, blinking and wet, but proof positive that he was alive.
    Everyone cheered and screamed and wept with joy. Even the big men. They all cried like babies.
    I’ll bet you saw all this, but you never saw me, did you? That’s ’cause I stayed off to the side, out of the camera’s view. I leaned into the fist-shaped rock and bowed my head. I imagined God watching over us all and I thanked Him. Daniel had been saved and my prayer had been answered. Despite all the troubling thoughts I’d had during the long night, when my brother emerged unharmed from that hole in the morning brightness, I felt certain that God was really looking out for us after all.
    The wind picked up and the pine trees above the fairy fort shivered, and the breeze brought that smell to me: vanilla. It was the same thing I would smell when Miracle was born, and later too. And to this very day, I’m not completely sure what to make of it.

    T he morning after I had my run-in with the Scarecrow and Volpe up at St. Jude’s, my mother drove Daniel over to the Abernathys’ with a bowl of potato casserole to welcome the family home. When I told her my plans to head in to the Gazetteer , she said she could drop me off, even though it was out of her way. I told her I’d be fine on my own and walked into town alone. In the office, I locked the door behind me and kept the blinds down. Gayle typically

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