Clearly annoyed by my words, she lowers her baggy eyes, blinking once – twice. She takes a deep breath that lasts 7.6 seconds.
“You know that’s not what I’m looking for, Elias,” she says in a light yet firm tone. Agnieszka is too kind of a person to display obvious annoyance, but I can detect her fine signals. I can read people like books, one of my various talents.
“What response would you deem satisfactory?” I query, looking at my feet. We are trudging through Central Park at an ungodly hour to “discover something new,” as Agnieszka suggested. Innumerable fallen leaves covering the whole spectrum of reds and oranges crunch under my feet, white noise filtering our sporadic interactions.
I tread upon the remains of the dead.
“Well, how do you feel about the park?” Agnieszka patiently coos in a manner that Mother used to address me in once upon a time. “When you look at the trees? The grass? The leaves? I just gave you a quick description to hear your reaction.”
I lethargically sweep my eyes around our surroundings. The grass has been trampled by thousands of feet, its dirt mixed with compost, carcasses, and excrement. The trees are bent over by their own weight, waiting for the leaves – the fruits of their labor – to shrivel and unceremoniously fall off.
They die slowly and painfully, enduring every second until their time comes.
“I don’t know,” I offer. She looks disappointed.
“The sky. Remember what you said about the sky during our last session? How does it look like now?”
The sky is a light cerulean. The sun beats down upon us like parents do their children. The cool air seeps past my leather gloves and into my skin, nipping it painfully. My lips feel black and blue, even though the probability that they are is less than 1/3.
Blue is the color the body assumes when it is dying or dead.
“It’s a clear day.” I elaborate.
“Does the absence of clouds make you feel differently than a couple of weeks ago, when it was a rainy day?” Agnieszka persistently pries. The sky is no longer eclipsed by ominous, dark gray clouds as it is on an April afternoon when you awaken with three broken bones in a hospital 2.9 days after being carried there. Now the sky is void. Empty.
Death is filled with emptiness. Life is devoid of fullness.
“Indeed. The sky is more enlightening of the world’s truths. The truths of existence.” I don’t expect her to understand. No one can. I have and will continue to reach new heights of knowledge. Only my mind can transcend intelligence and capture the morbid elegance of existence as my physical form experiences it. I will be great. The only thing that will forever confound me, a subject of time, is immortality.
Time slowly but surely leads all existence away from life’s unforgiving prison to death’s welcoming arms.
Agnieszka stops walking. “If you don’t tell me what you’re thinking,” she begins slowly, “I can’t understand you. That means I can’t tell you how much progress you’ve made, which means I have to file a report about your unresponsiveness, which means you’ll have to continue to see me, which means more cumbersome psychological treatment.” She looked at me tiredly with a pity I’ve seen duplicated in many judgmental eyes. The bags under her eyes add years to her face. “Do you understand?”
Herd mentality. Agnieszka’s feeble mind tells her to follow others and analyze me in the same way. To define me as a traumatized, abused child who has developed into a cynical, delirious teenager. A victim. She is incapable of thinking outside of the box. Insanity is defined as repeating an action and expecting a different outcome. Her treatments have not and will not “cure” my brilliant mind. There is nothing wrong with it. Yet the treatments continue. Thus, who is insane? I comprehend things other humans can only dream of comprehending. However, when no one understands a certain thing, it is assumed to be wrong. Abnormal.
Akin to copious corpses stacked upon each other.
“Stop saying that,” Agnieszka snaps. Her words are contrary to my calculations, taking me aback if only for few moments. “Elias.” Her voice lowers 2.5 notches. “I’m trying to help you, but if you don’t let me in, I can do nothing.”
Existence is nothing. Simpleton.
“As if this were of your free will. My ward hired you,” I retort. As calculated, she takes a deep breath and lowers her pale green eyes, absentmindedly touching her crisp long curls.
“I’m on your side, Elias,” she murmurs quietly.
White noise cannot filter the silence that follows.
“Lies.” I turn and sprint to the nearest tree about 10.7 meters away, climbing up with flawless technique, another of various talents. My muscles still remember how to climb after scaling a cliff with Father once upon a time. It is perhaps my only positive memory of him.
“Elias!” Agnieszka rushes to the tree trunk and tilts her heart shaped face towards me. She looks small and defenseless from this angle.
“Lies,” I hiss again. “Like my parents, you speak untruths. You say you are on my side, but you will kill me with your blows when the need suits you!” She blinks, taking in my position. I see the wheels in her head churning furiously, calculating to the best of its ability as her eyes observe my dark hair, pallid skin, furrowed brows, hazel eyes, sharp nose, taut lips, broad shoulders, long limbs, black button up, dress pants, $645 sneakers, and most importantly, the distance between the branch I stand on and the ground.
Deep breathing does not do the trick this time.
“I – I – ” Agnieszka stutters, unable to discern a path that does not lead to disaster. For once, her feeble mind captures the truth – there is no such path.
“Fallacies are the ultimate downfall. Can you begin to comprehend this? I do, which is why I see clearly. I understand that if I drop from here, my body will join that of the dead you tread on, a meaningless addition. It makes no difference in the grand scheme.” I move as if to take a step and the branch fails me, creaking and wobbling. I teeter and she covers her mouth, reaching for her phone to call for help.
“Rest assured I will leap if you move again.” I deadpan, calm again. Agnieszka only looks at me with huge, doe-like eyes. I reach and tear a handful of leaves, crushing them mercilessly.
“This was my throat not too long ago. You, my beloved ally who is always at my side, were not there to stop it. Father didn’t stop until I dropped. Like this.” I let the leafy dust flutter to the floor. “The world will never understand the mysteries of life and death like I do. I will be great,” I reveal amidst the dead.
Agnieszka’s expression cannot be successfully analyzed even by myself. A crow suddenly caws, creating white noise to filter the heavy silence between us. She gets down on one knee and extends her arms as if to glorify me.
“Duly noted.” She acknowledges, gesturing for me to descend into her arms.
Elias (German variant of Hebrew Elijah): my God is my Lord
Agnieszka (Polish): holy
Nicole Sanchez, Age 16, Grade 11, Stuyvesant High School, Silver Key