Tobit lived on the far end of Corn Road, a sleepy little place where nothing much ever happened. Tobit was used to making the best of the quiet, finding ways to occupy his time as he waited ever so patiently for his eleventh birthday, only three days off. Thus it was he found himself on this day, skipping down the old train tracks when he saw the squirrel.
It was quite a sight: easily the biggest squirrel Tobit had ever seen. It was perched on a branch nibbling at a nut when it spied Tobit and froze.
“It’s ok, Squirrel,” said Tobit. “I ain’t gonna hurt you.”
The squirrel did not appear to understand the words and darted down the branch, leaping across to the next tree to get away from the threat. And this was the moment that would etch itself in Tobit’s mind for the rest of his life.
The squirrel landed on a small branch of the next tree, but it was not designed for a squirrel of his size. It snapped beneath his weight and fell straight down onto the hard dirt below.
The squirrel did not move.
“Oh no!” shouted Tobit, rushing off the tracks to the squirrel’s side. It lay there on top of the broken branch, still and lifeless.
“I’m sorry, Squirrel,” said Tobit, tears welling up in his eyes. “I didn’t mean to scare you like that. Please don’t be dead.” He grabbed a twig from the ground beside him and hesitantly tapped the squirrel in the side, hoping for some sign of life.
It did not move.
“I’m sorry!” shouted Tobit. “Come on, Squirrel, wake up!”
The tears were rushing freely now. Tobit squinted his eyes closed as hard as he could to block the vision of the dead squirrel on the ground. “Jesus,” he sobbed quietly. “Jesus if you can hear me, please save this poor squirrel. I didn’t mean to scare him. I really didn’t. Please, Jesus.”
His eyes came open and he wiped away the tears. “Come on, Jesus,” he pleaded one more time. He watched the squirrel still lying there for several moments, hoping against hope.
“Please!” shouted Tobit, his head moving up to the sky. “PLEASE!”
A shuffle beneath him. The squirrel’s eyes opened and he skittishly jumped up from his resting place, rushing away from Tobit up the nearest tree. The boy watched as the squirrel’s bushy tail disappeared into the leaves above him. There were tears in his eyes again but now they were tears of joy.
“Thank you, Jesus.”