The snow crunches beneath Miguel’s shoes as he tries to runs up the hill and over the embankment. He pauses for a moment, but hears the shouting coming closer behind him.
“Stop! Come on kid, give it up!”
The traction on his tennis shoes gives way on the wall of built up snow and ice. He slides several feet to the frozen river below. His breath billows out in puffs ahead of him. He turns just enough to see his pursuers reach the top of the embankment above him.
He can’t stop now. If he can just get to the other side he will be safe. He bravely steps onto the ice of the river and begins to run. He makes it several feet before he hears the first cracking sound beneath him.
Too scared to stop, he pushes on. A few more feet and there is another crack, louder this time. He stops moving long enough to see the ice break open under his feet and hear the roar of the river before it swallows him whole. The boots that were clutched in his hands land on a piece of undisrupted ice.
Above, the men watched in horror as the boy disappeared below the sheet of ice.
“Call 911!” One man shouts as he starts running down the icy embankment. He eases onto the ice, oblivious to the risk of stepping on to the shattered glass of the rushing river. “I Think I see his coat!”
The man gets onto his belly and slides farther onto the broken ice praying that it will hold him. He reaches for the glimpse of red that seems to be just below the water’s surface, but feels only the cold water rushing over his hand. “I can’t reach him… we need help, quickly!”
He keeps with his task, trying to push himself farther out on the ice and keep track of the red coat that seems to be getting farther away. Precious seconds tick by.
Finally the other man makes it out onto the river from farther down the bank. He is able to come up around the other side of the hole. “Any sign of him?” The new man inquires.
“I think I can still see a little of his jacket, but he seems to be drifting under the ice.”
“OK, we don’t have much time, I am going to get as close as I can and see if I can grab him, I can’t pull him straight up or the ice will break around me too. If I get to him, try and reach over me and pull him your way. Maybe we can pull him onto the side.”
They make their grab and this time get hold of the collar on the boy’s coat. Together they pull to free him from the icy current below. As they get him out they hear another crack. “Let’s slide together over to the river bank.”
The men pull the boy to safety just as the sounds of the ambulance could be heard making its way to the scene. They start CPR and hope that they got to him in time.
Another piece of the ice on the river suddenly breaks free and the boots the boy was holding slide into the unforgiving river.
At the hospital, Miguel comes too. His family and friends rejoice and tell him how lucky he is.
The doctor asks the rescuers how they got to the boy so quickly. The men look at each other. One shakes his head no and says simply to the doctor that they were in the right place at the right time.
Miguel remembers why they were chasing him and hangs his head down in shame. He should not have taken those boots from the store. He had wanted so badly to have real snow boots like his friend John at school. He looks into the eyes of the men that were chasing him. “I’m sorry”, is all he is able to say.
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