Dusk is bringing the day to a close as I enter St. Christopher’s Church in Detroit to hold a vigil for seven-year-old Brandon Foster, the youngest, baptized member of my congregation, who recently passed away. The crowd of mourners remain in their vehicles due to the state lock down.

Tall, male attendants wear masks that clash strangely with their black suits and matching ties, while vehicles make their way through a line to the lot. They offer the incoming drivers a blue program leaflet and a matching candle, honoring his mother’s request…Blue was Brandon’s favorite color…

The inscription on each candle and leaflet says, Forever in our Hearts, Brandon, February 9, 2013- March 7, 2020.

We learned an unfortunate truth today. The virus can take anyone, not just the elderly. At his father's suggestion, last rites for poor Brandon were performed over the phone. I spoke with his mother trying to offer comfort.

Being a 35-year-old female minister has always required flexibility. But I am weary from tears and lack of sleep. Reverend James once told me that the dark space beneath one’s eyelids is part of being a good shepherd. And he was right.

 I have memorized what I will say when I go out to speak, rather than struggle to read it from the page, because over the last few days my visual acuity has been deteriorating. I am scared. This should not happen at my age. I can’t even go to the doctor because of the lockdown.

Ermes never mentioned there would be any consequence for accepting a miracle. I didn’t even really ask him for one. But if I ever see him again, I’ll sure be asking him some questions.

Thankfully, I know all of the sacraments and holy words from memory for when I have to say them in a few minutes. Otherwise, Father Matthew would have had to take over this vigil. I can see enough to make it from one side of the cathedral to the other, for now. Something must have happened the other night that caused this, but I have no time to think of my problems when there are so many others suffering tonight.

Still, I need a few minutes of preparation before the task, so I carefully make my way to the altar to pray for strength and wisdom, hoping my words of faith and comfort will be enough to strengthen Brandon's family and the congregation tonight. But now I am having a terrible time getting to my knees. They are achy from playing basketball when I was young for the school tea, not to mention that, by now I can only see a few feet ahead.

The youth pastor Matthew would be glad to help were he not in one of the cells offering guidance to a blonde-haired young man named Braden. I raise my eyes to look at the beautiful altarpiece in the distance and cross myself. I need to feel strengthened by the image of Christ.

After several minutes, I end my prayer with the usual Amen. When I open my eyes, I see that Matthew is now beside me. He must have ended his conversation with the young man swiftly on my behalf. Helping me to my feet, he gently draws me to the back of the cathedral.

Thanking him, I ask, “Would you mind driving me home after the vigil? I have to speak to you about something in private.”

“Of course, sister Joann,” he replies, “But I think you should see a doctor about your eyes tomorrow? Didn’t you say it’s getting worse? ”

“Yes, but the clinics are crowded and have their hands full now. I hope that the problem will resolve on its own."

“I hope so, too,” he replies.

As he drives me home later that night, I begin to share my story, hoping he truly believes in miracles…


“A few nights ago, I retired to my quarters in the parsonage early, falling asleep while reading Surprised by Truth. I woke around 3 am with a scripture in his mind, Malachi 4:2.

“Yes, I think I know the one you are talking about,” he said, “But for you who fear my name, the son of righteousness will arrive with healing in his wings?” 

“Yes, that’s right.” I replied.

“Anyway, sitting up in my bed, I felt an unusual presence in the room, and then I heard a knocking sound. Then, I turned on the light and noticed the wall across from my bed had a small hole, a few inches in diameter, in the sheet rock. I thought someone had broken in the house. Then, the hole started expanding. It stretched to three feet within seconds. Not knowing what was about to happen next, I crossed myself for protection, and yelled, Who’s there? A silvery-blue aura began to shimmer around the edges of the gaping hole, and then it looked like there was something inside it. Then, something came out of the hole that looked like a photograph’s negative image. It seemed otherworldly, so I screamed. After several seconds had passed, it drifted back into the hole it came from. It looked back at me and I could then see tongues of fire formed its eyes. The space behind it changed to the appearance of a starry night sky.

I must be dreaming, I thought, but then the figure reached out, beckoning me to enter. I wondered then if it was the Angel of Death, but then it spoke with the gentlest voice I have ever heard.

‘Do not be afraid, it murmured, ‘Come inside, I have many good things to show you.’ A human hand reached out then, motioning for me to come inside.

It looked like shards of glass were brushing against my skin when I entered, but they did not harm me. The being’s appearance had then changed. Now, he looked like an attractive, man of around 5’11 and 180 lbs. with light-brown hair, wearing a closely-fit hat with eagle wings and brown sandals on his feet. His sandy-blonde beard was nicely groomed. He had piercing, hazel eyes that sparkled. There was a winged staff with two entangled serpents on a wall to one side of where he stood. I still wondered he was a spirit.

Seeming to read my thoughts, he took my hand and said,

‘I am only a guide. Come and see what is beyond your world.’

A warm village populated by many other humans from a time before I was even a young girl, perhaps the 1940’s, showed plainly in the distance. We first entered a nearby cottage where a woman in her mid-50’s was sewing. There was a pile of trousers and shirts hung up on racks. The clothing looked to be for children of all ages. I could tell she took pride in her handiwork. Next, my guide showed me a great hall of children, seated at long tables. There was a feast of braised meat, potatoes, cornbread, an array of other vegetables, and numerous desserts. After finishing the meal, each child came up to the guide, and gave him a hug, thanked him, then ran outside to play outdoors in a great meadow. I wondered why the children seemed so mature and was impressed at how they played in such harmony. One little boy who was older was helping another find a lost toy. Another was reading a story to a little girl. Some of the young ones were heading out to the woods to hunt quail and to the lake to fish so that they could bring meant home for the women to cook for supper. It seemed that the grownups trusted them to come and go without much supervision.

Then, we made our way to a very different cottage over the next hill which the guide called a place of healing. A boy around 8-years-old told me that he been born unable to walk prior to entering the portal, but now his legs were healed. A girl who had been aborted before her birth, damaging the tiniest parts of her body, was now beautiful and whole. The guide explained that the children received loving vibrations from maternal beings who used frequencies of healing light to heal them. When I asked was this place heaven, he replied,

‘This dimension is a place of hope and restoration. You must visit again soon in the future, but we have to go back to your home right away. I have a job for you.’

I wondered what the job might be, but I didn’t want to decline to help.

‘Of course, I’ll be glad to help in whatever way I can help, though I am not a healer. What do you want me to do?’

The man’s brow wrinkled and his voice deepened.

‘There is a boy in your congregation on your Earth who is very sick. There isn’t much time. You need to bring him here at once.”’

I wondered how. If I told anyone about the portal, no one would believe me. Again, he seemed to read my thoughts,

‘There is no need to explain to anyone, but you have to hurry. I leave you with an offering in good faith. Look, your left hand is fully restored.’

 I looked down to find that my left ring finger and pinky were suddenly normal, exactly as they were before a neighbor’s Doberman had torn them from my hand as a child. My mouth dropped open in wonder at what had just taken place. As a woman of God, I had always wanted to believe in healing, but could I ever explain this to anyone?

Who are you?’ I demanded, but I could not stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks.

‘I am Ermis,’ he replied, pushing me gently to the edge of the portal.'

After I stepped back into the real world, the intact wall reappeared restored it was before the incident. Kneeling beside the bed, I wondered if it was all just a dream. But there was no way to deny it. My hand remained healed. “

Looking at Matthew now, I could see that he was still listening to me intently. So, I went on to explain why I believed it was Brandon who I was supposed to have already brought to the portal, but that I had failed, and now he was dead…

“As you remember, Matthew, Wednesday, there was a meeting where we all discussed church matters. Sister JoAnn, Sister Agnes, and all of the other ministers including you, Robert, and Steve were there. I asked Robert how young Brandon was doing and he said he was doing better and that he would be leaving the hospital in a few days. Well, I started to assume then that maybe it was some other boy I was supposed to bring to the portal or that maybe I was losing my mind. But then later after a few days, we received the news that Brandon was suddenly near death again. When I tried to visit the hospital, I wasn’t allowed in due to the lockdown. So, I tried to call Ermes to ask what to do. I prayed, cried, shouted…I even tried to pinch at the sheetrock where the portal was before, but no one answered me. Then, I got the phone call from Robert that Brandon had just died.

By now, Matthew’s eyes squinted in disbelief and both eyebrows were descended. He was clearly not sure if he should believe anything I was saying.

Speaking through barely parted lips, he asked,

“Are you sure this wasn’t a vivid dream?”

“Of course, not. It’s real. Just look at my fingers. I know this seems crazy, but maybe if we bring Brandon’s body to him, the messenger will open the portal and heal him. I know you haven’t seen anything like this happen, but I have. How can you explain my hand?”

“I know, but even if we could bring him there, someone will notice his body is gone. We just can do that,” he replied.

“Yes, we can if we return it before dawn.”

It was clear he didn’t want to try anything that crazy, but I was determined.

“No, this is nuts,” he said, pleading, “How do you know this isn’t the work of some demon? Do we really want to take that chance? Isn’t it strange that you began to lose your sight as soon as your hand was made whole.”

I nodded, then looked at him, and asked,

“Can you think of a better idea? If you want this boy to live, there’s really no other way around this.”

  Reluctantly, he consented.

“Ok, ok, I will help you.”


Transferring the body to my home turned out to be a little harder than Father Matthew and I had anticipated. It was after midnight before the caretaker left for the night. Father Matthew told him we were meeting a couple of Brandon’s family members very late, then asked if we could stay and lock up before leaving. When we finally arrived back at my quarters, I had to be the lookout while Matthew brought the boy’s body in. Once inside, I felt for the deadbolt and fastened it, praying no one would come knocking while I tried to call upon Ermes to open the portal. Strangely enough, as soon as the deadbolt shut, the portal started to open on its own. Help was on the way. But as it would turn out, getting the help I needed was not going to be as simple as I thought…


While Matthew was holding Brandon’s lifeless body in his arms, I watched as Ermes continued opening the gateway. When the portal was fully open, I began to tell him what had happened, pleading with him to bring the boy back to life. He looked at the lifeless body, sadly shaking his head.

 “I told you to hurry. Now, it’s too late,” “I can’t do this.”

But I could tell from the way he was looking down at his feet that he was hiding something.

“No, that isn’t entirely true, is it? What aren’t you telling us?

Ermes replied that healing isn’t free. Only a life can be exchanged for another between one plane and the other. He wished aloud there was more he could do.

“Is this also why my sight is failing? “

“Yes, it works as an exchange, a balancing within the universe. If healing happens on one plane, it cannot remain so in a different plane without another gift being given from that plane to go in its place HERE to make up for the virtue removed. Virtue is what you call energy on your Earth. Sadly, the only way I can bring life back into the boy’s body is if someone is willing to sacrifice theirs. They must either stay in this plane or die in yours.”

“Then why did you even say bring him if he could not be healed without this type of exchange?”

He replied, “The reason I wanted you to bring the boy is because he has a special mission. The universe always meant for Brandon to be the healer of mankind during this pandemic. If he does not go back to your plane, many will die. This virus requires a miracle. It is not like all of the others your Earth has experienced.”

Ermes then showed me a beautiful vial of healing oil that if Brandon were to anoint someone with it, even if they were near death, they lived.

I answered,

“Then take me. I will stay here for eternity if needed.”

Ermes smiles and says,

“Ok, it is agreed then. Energy will then balance energy, and your world will be saved."

I stepped into the portal…but before doing so, took off my pastoral robe and gold cross, offering them to Matthew. Instantly, my vision returned to normal.

Matthew took the robe and cross, acknowledging acceptance of his mission. I was certain I could trust him to be the good shepherd my congregation needed now. 

Then, Ermes’ servant carried Brandon ‘s body to the cottage where the energy healers worked. I knew that things would be alright from this point on. The healed boy could become my world's healer now.

Looking at Matthew, I saw that his eyes betrayed sadness at leaving me behind, but he kept his voice even.

  “So, this is goodbye. How will I ever explain Brandon’s sudden resurrection?”

I smiled and said, “Just say it’s a miracle and leave it at that.”




April 24, 2020 20:13

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Holly Pierce
20:18 Apr 25, 2020

This is really interesting! There were a few very minor errors, but I really like the way the story builds up and the narrator sacrificed herself to save the boy and the world. Good job!


16:21 Oct 01, 2020

I know!!! the way the story progressed in a fulfilling and magical way... My heart was teared into pieces by the end!!!


Holly Pierce
00:20 Oct 03, 2020

I agree!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Lauren Oertel
18:36 May 01, 2020

Nice story! As someone who is not religious I wasn't sure this would work for me, but for the most part, it did. Here are some of the strongest parts that stood out to me, "tongues of fire formed its eyes," and "It looked like shards of glass were brushing against my skin when I entered." Great visuals there! I noticed some opportunities to strengthen your writing too, if you're interested (feel free to ignore if not). I typically do an adverb search of my writing (ctrl+f, search for "ly") since it tends to weaken the description. For ex...


Cynthia Prokarym
23:38 May 01, 2020

Hi Laurel!! I am glad you enjoyed the story! :-) Also, I greatly appreciate your feedback for improving this piece. You offered some great suggestions. Yes, removing unnecessary words is a big part of improving any piece of writing. ( Actually, I recently read the same advice somewhere else online. Not sure which site. ) I am pretty new to short story writing, but I have had one fiction book published. So, I am hoping helpful feedback like yours will help me hone my skills. With that said, I will definitely begin to use this informat...


Lauren Oertel
00:58 May 03, 2020

That's great - welcome to short story writing! What is the book you've already published? Congrats on that! I just started creative writing last year, so I still haven't been published, but I've taken tons of online and in-person writing classes and they're a lot of fun. I've submitted various short stories and some poems for some contests and literary magazines, but so far nothing has worked out. I'm guessing it takes about 100 rejections before something hits, so I just gotta keep working at it. :) I understand on the adverb thing. I us...


Cynthia Prokarym
23:41 May 10, 2020

The book is called Second Chance. Its on Kindle and available in paperback. It was published by Story Shares. It 's available in the U.S. and several other countries. Their books go into classrooms in many places.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply