Down in the Mine

Michael Harris tried to burn his house down a few days after the accident, almost in protest of his own survival. He had worked at the pit for over twenty years and had returned home every night safely. His son, Thomas, had returned home only once. Michael was the one who touched the wires together, to signal the surface. The resulting explosion rippled through the entire seam, snapping the support members, the roof and the walls crumbled in a powdery haze. Michael’s wife couldn’t be reached; she simply retreated into herself on hearing the news of her son’s death.

The owners closed the mine and pulled out of the town not long after. The council fenced up the entrance and let Mother Nature take over. Michael spent his days digging through the coal, desperate to find Thomas’s body to give him a proper burial.

Michael could sense the latent energy in the mine and after weeks of digging day and night he came across a piece of coal that was wriggling among the debris. It had all the features of a newborn. It held Michael’s finger in its fist and looked up at him with eyes like black diamonds. Michael cleared the coal, making space for the baby. He nurtured the newborn just like he had Thomas. His new ever-developing boy could be taught all of the things that parents teach their children; to walk, to talk. All it would take was a lot of care and affection.

His wife left the charred rocking chair on the porch for the first time since the accident. She came outside and met Michael and took the baby in her arms. His eyes twinkled in the afternoon sun as she clasped him to her breast.

The exhausted Michael consoled himself with the fact that his family was now mended. He stood at the entrance to the mine and watched as his family headed back towards home. His wife had always wanted Thomas to have a sibling even after Michael had had the vasectomy.

The sun burnt through the clouds evaporating them out of existence.

Liam Campbell has had flash fiction and short stories published on Short-Story.me. He has also had poetry published at Full of Crow Poetry.

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