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An Unexpected Blessing

RETURNING CHAPTER 10

By PATRICK CABELLO HANSEL

Agnes led them down the alley to 29th Street, then scampered over to Bloomington, and down the steps to the Greenway. Luz followed quickly, with little Angel in her arms. Big Angel slipped on the leftover ice on one of the steps, and slid on his butt most of the way down. His adrenalin was pumping so hard, he didn’t notice the pain, or the wetness in his pants.

When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he couldn’t see anyone. He thought he had lost the rest of his family, and fear gripped his entire body.  Oh god, no! he thought, I can’t do this.  There was icy fog along the Greenway, and try as he might, he couldn’t see anyone in any direction.

Then Agnes called his name.

“Angel,” she shouted. “We have to hurry!”

She was under the 15th Avenue Bridge, and moving fast. Luz was struggling to keep up with her.

“How can that old lady move so fast?” Angel said, out loud, and started running. He slipped again and fell in a slush pile. Now he could really feel the pain and the wet.

He caught up to them just as they were heading up the 13th Avenue ramp. They all made it to the top without falling. Only Agnes was not out of breath.

“Is it ok if we take a shortcut?” she asked. She didn’t wait, but cut behind the fence that had signs posted saying, “No Trespassing—Property of Hennepin County Railroad Authority.”

Luz passed little Angel to Angel and the three of them followed. Fortunately, Agnes had slowed down a little, to step around the tree roots and other junk that was there. An old mattress, two-thirds of a bicycle, bottles, a bag of wet clothes, the remnants of a blue tarp.  

They followed the fence line for what seemed a long time. Neither Luz nor Angel could see where they were going, but they didn’t know what else to do but follow Agnes.  

Agnes stopped at a place where a tree had grown into the fence. Its main trunk surrounded the chain link, and little branches entwined in the top.

“Here’s where you go through,” she said.  

“Aren’t you coming with us?” Luz asked.

“Don’t worry, litet ljus,” she said.  “I will meet you where you are going.”

“But where are we going?” Angel asked.

“Go up this alley one block, cross the street by the Grease Pit. There’s a brick building halfway up the next. Go to the back door and ring three times and wait. Three times. No more, no less.”

Then, as if she were some kind of animal acquainted with the night, she slipped away down the ravine.

“Angel, what are we going to do?” Luz asked.

“Do you trust her?” he answered.

“I do. I don’t know why. We just met her, and we don’t know anything about her. But she said she knows Mother Light.”

“Right,” Angel said. “But how do we get through this fence?”

Both of them looked and touched and prodded the chain link to look for any opening. They were about to give up when Angelito said “Mami, papi, look—steps!”

Sure enough, there were little pieces of wood hammered into the tree trunk.  How hadn’t we seen them before? Angel wondered.

They were going to help Angelito climb up, but when they went to grab him, they didn’t see him.

“C’mon guys,” he said.  He was already on the other side of the fence.

The two weary parents scrambled up the tree over the fence. Luz scooped up Angel and started to  walk down the alley. Angel turned to look back at the tree, but somehow it didn’t seem to be there.  He was baffled how that could be, but Luz was calling him to follow quickly.

As they got to 28th, they could see a warm, golden glow coming from the alley across the street.  The glow grew slightly as they approached the building.  Following Agnes’ instructions, they rang three times, and waited for what seemed to be an eternity.

Angel was about to ring again, but Luz’ hand stopped him.

“She said ‘ring only three time’, remember?” she said.

Just then, the door opened and the warm glow they had seen was now accompanied by the smell of freshly baked bread and cinnamon.  And who was standing there, but Agnes, in a bright white dress, with a neckline trimmed in light blue and gold.

To be continued…

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