After an exhausting day of treasure hunting in a fairytale, I found myself in the mood for even more searching. I looked through my bookcases and a book by Jonathan Safran Foer caught my eye. Going into this book would mean a more serious search, one involving the truth in fact. I flipped through the book and from the first page I knew I had to go in. Extremely loud and incredibly close was such a beautifully sad book. Every character had felt so interesting and wise, which made for a hard decision. Although conversing through little notes wasn’t a dealbreaker, in the end I still had to go with Oskar Schell. He had always seemed like one of the most interesting kids in literature. Or at least one who asked as many questions as I did. I stopped reading at the start of Oskar’s search for clues and stumbled into Central Park.
I was just in time. He was already walking of Fifth Avenue so I had to run after him. Again I had to deal with the problem of introducing myself. Would he believe me? I slowly walked behind him, while thinking about this conundrum. I followed him onto Park Avenue without saying a word. Apparently I wasn’t being sneaky enough, because Oskar had noticed me.
‘Why are you following me?’
‘I… I’m not following you…’ I panicked and lying wasn’t one of my qualities.
‘You have walked behind me from the moment I left Central Park. I think that is following.’
‘You’re right. I was following you.’
‘Because I want to ask you a question.’
‘I don’t really remember.’
‘Do you forget a lot?’ I started laughing.
‘No I don’t. Not more than most people at least.’
‘How much is that?’
‘I thought I was the one with the question.’
‘But you forgot your question.’
‘That’s true. You’re pretty wordy. I like that.’
‘It’s someone who talks a lot.’ Oskar nodded at my explanation and fell silent. We had arrived at the 59th street Bridge. Oskar hesitated. I knew from his story that he was afraid of bridges.
‘Bridges really aren’t that scary. Public Transportation is worse.’
‘You think so too?’ I smiled and walked onto the bridge.
‘You need to get to Queens, don’t you? This is the only way.’
‘How do you know I have to go to Queens?’
‘I’ll tell you if you walk with me.’ He was obviously intrigued by my knowledge of his search and decided to follow.
‘How do you know I have to go to Queens?’ he asked again.
I thought about telling him the truth, but decided against it. It would have raised too many questions, which meant I could never ask mine.’
‘I’ m a friend of Stan. He told me where you were going and asked if I could keep an eye on you.’
‘I don’t need an eye on me. I know what I’m doing.’
‘I know. But I as I said, I had a question I needed to ask you.’
‘A question you forgot.’
‘Correct, but I’ve remembered it again. I wanted to ask you why you were going here.’ I had to improvise so Oskar would believe me. I knew I sounded implausible, but maybe he wouldn’t notice.
‘I’m looking for Black.’
‘I don’t know. Did you really forget that question?’
‘I really did.’ Luckily for me, Oskar was kind of naïve and believed me. I asked him more about his search for Black and after we got through some scepticism of who I was he decided to tell me everything. He had finally asked for my name and to be sure he told me his. When he told me about all the clues he had already found, his face lit up with excitement. After he was done talking about his search, he told me stories about his grandmother. I liked the way he told these stories. He was so honest about everything, like he didn’t have a sense of privacy. It was a nice way of looking at things.
‘Can you help me with the clues my dad left me?’
‘I don’t know. How would you want me to help?’
‘I’m not sure. But maybe you know something I don’t?’ I thought about this for a bit. Should I tell him something? Maybe give him some hope or a hint. But that would mean breaking the rules.
‘I’m sorry. But I can’t help you.’ He had a disappointed look on his face, but kept on walking. We were exactly halfway across the bridge and Oskar stopped.
‘You know, if we walk one millimetre that way we will be in Queens, but if we walk one millimetre backwards, we’ll be in Manhattan again.’
‘I know. How do we call this no man’s land?’
‘No man’s land? I don’t know. I guess it has no name.’ I only smiled at him. I felt bad that I couldn’t help him. I knew I had come to New York to ask a question, but there was no answer. Oskar had started talking about Stephen Hawking, but I wasn’t really listening anymore. I knew now that I wasn’t the one in need of answers this time. The sad thing was that I also wasn’t able to give them.
‘You look sad. Don’t you like Stephen Hawking?’ He had been staring at me for a while.
‘I like Stephen Hawking. But I feel kind of sad that I can’t help you.’
‘That’s ok. I know I’m the only one who can find the clues. My dad left them especially for me. So don’t feel sad. You wouldn’t get it anyway.
‘Thank you. That makes me feel a lot better.’ I smiled at Oskar and noticed we had come to the end of the bridge. It was time to leave.
‘Oskar, I have to go. But good luck searching for Black.’
‘Where do you have to go?’
‘I have to go home. I need to look for something myself.’
‘Look for what?’
‘I’m not sure yet.’
‘But then how do you know you need to look for something’
‘Oskar, sometimes you just know.’ I could tell by the look on his face that this still didn’t make a lot of sense.
‘I don’t have any more answers for you. Sometimes things stay unanswered. I don’t like it, but it’s true.’
‘I don’t like that either.’ We shook hands at the end of the bridge and while Oskar took his first steps in Queens in search of his fathers’ mystery, I went home, in search of a new mystery.