Fictional Short: The Healer

I was 3 hours old, surrounded by family in a hospital room the first time it happened. Grandpa had a heart attack a few months before, and he’d regained some strength, so he picked me up. For 2 hours, when he tried to put me down, I shrieked, until he picked me up again.

It was funny initially, but it became strange. Mom asked the nurse: “Have you seen this with other babies?” “No”, the nurse said, “I’ve been doing this 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”

I laid there, fidgeting, but oddly, I appeared to be, intentionally, leaning into my grandfather’s chest.

With a half-embarrassed, half-proud look, he said: “The kid already has strong family roots.”

A week later Grandpa had a check up on the heart stent he had implanted after his heart attack. The doctor was puzzled, looking at his X-ray. “Mr. Donnelly, it appears all your heart valves have, somehow, some way, spontaneously widened themselves. We’re going to go in and remove your stent, because you don’t need it anymore.”

At 9 months I stood atop a set of stairs with no kid guard fence. I strolled out into the air like there were no steps.

Mom was in mid cigarette-puff when she heard me nose-dive the stairs. When she reached me I was crying, shaken, but uninjured. Soon I was calm, over it, completely. While glad, she thought, “who’s kid is this?”

At 6 my brother crushed my hand in a door jam. Not only was there no blood, there was no bruise. At 8 I stepped on shards of glass; no cuts. At 10 my friend Eddie and I rode our bikes down a neighborhood hill when his front tire fell off. It was ugly. He face-planted into blacktop. Mom came running, yelling, “Eddie!” Eddie laid there a mess; crying and bleeding from the three-inch gash on his forehead. I touched it. He pushed my hand away and kept crying.

But just before my Mom reached us, he went quiet. “Are you ok!?” she yelled.

She grabbed Eddie, looked him over. “I can see your bloody”, but…I can’t find a cut on you anywhere.”

Eddie calmly said: “Andy fixed it.” I stood there plainly, with an innocent face and bloody hands.

In bed that night, Mom told Dad: “It happened. Maybe it’s possible – he’s never been hurt himself, has he?”

“There’s one way to find out,” Dad said.

The next morning Mom, Dad me and my two older brothers Dave, 12 and Cody, 13, ate breakfast. As Dave and I argued about NFL quarterbacks, Dad stared at Mom. “What?” she said. He looked down at his hands, a knife was in one of them. “Jim no.” She mouthed.

“Hey Andy, do Dad a favor and grab me some juice, will you?” As I crossed to the fridge my brothers didn’t notice Dad run the blade across his hand, drawing blood. “Ouch, damn it!” Dad said. “Jim!” Mom exhorted. “What happened?” I asked. “Your Dad cut himself.” I reached out and touched his hand. The blood remained, but the cut disappeared instantly. “Good Lord Karen this boy just healed my hand.” She and my brothers got up to look at it. “Ten seconds ago I was cut, and damned if now my hand isn’t completely sound!”

My family looked at me a bit strangely, but with awe.

“Andy, you’re amazing, you know that?!” Mom said. I beamed at the best feeling of my young life. It was the start of a lifelong addiction.

My brothers found ways to have fun with my new found skill. The three of us stood next to a red hot stove top burner in the kitchen.

“Ready?” Cody asked. I said yes. Cody reached up and placed his hand on the stove burner, for a 2-second count, then, predictably….”ahhhhhhhhhh!” he screamed. We touched hands. The pain disappeared as tears slid down his cheeks. “Man that hurts!” he said. “Let me try!” said Dave.

Over time, this was a source of fun for them, not so much so for me.

I was 11 the day I learned my purpose in life.

Our family was in the car when Dad screeched the brakes to a stop.

“Karen,” Dad motioned Mom toward something – a blind man in his 50′s walking on the sidewalk, using a cane.

“What?” she asked. “What do you think?!” he said. “Well ..I don’t know.”

He pulled the car over, then turned to me in the back seat.

“Andy, do you want to see if you can help this man?” “Help him?” I asked. “Yea, he’s blind, maybe you can help him to see. “Umm, sure, I can try.” After an introduction and nearly ten minutes the man broke down at Dad’s insane requests to let his son try to heal his blindness. “Oh, just go ahead.” The man said. “Even I have places to be.”

“Can you take your glasses off?” Dad asked. He did.

Dad picked me up so I was at face level with the man. “Go ahead, son.” I reached out and touched his closed eyes one at a time.

He slowly opened his eyes, blinking repeatedly, then he jerked his head back as if he’d been slapped by an invisible hand. “Oh my God, Lord in heaven.” He looked around, then focused on my face. “I’ve been blind 31 years, young man, and today, I can see!”

He hugged me so tight I couldn’t breathe. My life changed forever.

The media ran with the story. I became a household name. In a week.

I lived in a town of 12,000. It became too small, quickly.

People came in growing numbers; first locals, then statewide folks, then people from across the country, then from countries I’d never heard of.

Soon we moved to a bigger town that could handle 15 thousand visitors every day.

I was immediately paid big money for “medical services.”

My family bought a big house. Several years later at 18 I bought a mansion with a wing on it for seeing patients. We had a large waiting area, offices and evaluation rooms. I could heal brain tumors, cancers, and organ failures, but I couldn’t stop the aging process. And I couldn’t heal everyone, sometimes, particularly with old patients, it just didn’t work.

Randy and Maggie Dellen were in their 80′s when they came in. “Thank you so much for seeing us.” Maggie said, with a bright, grateful smile. Randy had throat cancer.

I tried to heal him, but it didn’t happen.

It was horrible sending them home not just with no hope, but having lost a hope they had when they came in.

I met my wife Sophia when she came in with her father, whose lungs were failing. She had piercing blue eyes and a smile that could power a small town.

I healed her father, and afterwards she asked if I would like to call her. “Absolutely.” I said.

A year later we married. Three years later we had 2 kids, Benjamin and Karen.

But I wasn’t present. 10 hours a day I saw hundreds of patients who just kept coming. I could have slowed down, but “then I’d lose people,” I’d say. It was a poor excuse, we lost people anyway. It’s impossible to keep up with all the people who were dying and didn’t want to.

So she raised the kids.

“Can you help Benjamin, he needs help potty training and I need you to dedicated yourself to him today.” She said.

“I can’t, I’ve got patients to see all afternoon.”

She walked away with angry, hurt eyes.

So I focused on what I could control; my work.

Healing people was a thrill I got used to and eventually came to rely on.

“You’re amazing!” A grateful mother said.

“I can’t thank you enough, you’ve given me a second chance.” A now cancer-free man said.

It’s a rush. And it’s easier than dealing with the ups, downs and struggles of a real, intimate relationship. Eventually Sophia left me and took Benjamin and Karen with her.

So I grew older in the mansion. I healed hundreds of thousands of people. The mansion was big and bright but one day it turned cold and dark. I was 53 on a Tuesday when I called in my first patient, a 42-year-old woman with uterine cancer. I couldn’t heal her.

Next, a 22-year-old with early onset Parkinson’s. What I did, didn’t work. By the 4th patient it was clear. My gift was gone. The crowds left as fast as they’d come 40 years before. A few weeks later I was alone. Really alone. I had been the healer. Now I needed to find a way to be healed myself. And my family was gone. Last week I was told that Benjamin was hit by a car. He stood up, brushed himself off, and walked home. Witnesses stood by, speechless.

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