“All right,” I said, reaching for my pen, “let me have it.”
The boy was silent for silent for a short time, staring at his steepled fingers, seeming to collect his thoughts.
“Let me ask you a question,” the boy began slowly. “How do you think a person becomes a genius?”
“Becomes a genius? Is this a trick question?”
“No tricks. What’s your answer?”
“Well…” I replied, unsure of where this line of questioning was headed. “I always figured that geniuses were born, not made.”
“That’s a logical assumption,” the boy replied with a small smile. “You’re wrong, but it’s a logical assumption.”
“So geniuses aren’t naturally endowed with highly developed brains?”
“Not quite. We begin our lives with the same brains as anybody else. However, geniuses are given…unique opportunities to expand their knowledge than the average person.”
“I don’t understand. Do you mean you go to a special genius school or something?”
“No…what I mean is…” The boy paused and heaved a sigh. “I’m not explaining this very well, am I?”
I shook my head.
“All right…” He paused again, head bowed in thought. After a moment he looked up. “Let me ask you another question…If you had the opportunity to live your life over again, would you do it?”
At that, I slapped my notebook shut in disgust and stood.
“Okay,” I fumed, “you’re messing with me again, and I’m getting pretty sick of it.”
The boy genius puts his hands up in a placating gesture.
“No, I’m not. I know this is all sounds like gibberish so far, but once I explain everything, you’ll understand. Please, sit down.”
Reluctantly, I returned to my seat.
“Let me amend my previous question. What if you could live your life over again, with the knowledge you have now, would you do it?”
“I…I don’t know, maybe. Why?”
“Because,” the boy leaned in and whispered, “that’s how geniuses are made.”
I sat there speechless, staring incredulously at the boy. Was he saying what I thought he was saying? I looked for a smile, a twinkle in the eye, any indication that he was attempting to pull my leg again. Yet he continued to gaze at me with a serious expression.
“You can’t be serious,” I said finally.
“I am,” he replied.
“Are you actually expecting me to believe that it’s possible to go back in time— that you went back in time?”
“I do expect you to believe it, yes.”
“You’re telling me that you’re a time traveler?”
“Well…not a time traveler in the conventional sense. I don’t fly around in a time machine if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“What I’m thinking is that you’re nuts,” I said, again getting to my feet, “and that I’ve wasted a perfectly good morning listening to a kid who’s read one too many Ray Bradbury novels.”
I started to walk away before the boy genius’ next statement stopped me cold.
“I know about Bethany.”