I press my nose and hands against the chilly glass. With each breath, the steam-amoeba undulates upon the window. My eyes are trained upon the tree in the yard. It is a small shrub-of-a-tree, and it bears similarly-small fruit upon its branches. I’ve told Mother that this is a pawpaw tree, but she tells me this is impossible: we have no such tree in the yard. And yet my eyes are the zebra swallowtail, feasting upon its leaves from the other side of the glass.
“Mother, Father, look!” I yell, tearing my nose and hands away to glance into the empty space behind me. I turn back to the window. I allow my nose and hands to be drawn again to the cool surface. But a black haze begins to darken my view. I wrench myself away in shock. The pawpaw is disappearing behind black crystals; black black crystals spreading across the window. I stand on my tip-toes, trying to see the tree above the blackness, but the crystals beat me. I run across the room to the next window, but the crystals race alongside of me and the pawpaw is enveloped again. “My tree,” I whisper.
In desperation I try to scrub the crystals with my hand. They are cold; colder than the smooth surface of the glass. The coldness begins to burn, and I withdraw my hand. The black crystals are spreading across my skin. I try to wipe them off with my other hand, but the blackness only furthers its conquest. I turn away from the window and slump down to the floor. The crystals are now colonizing my knees and my feet. In confused despair, I allow my head to slump into my hands and my tears to brink their ridges. The black crystals begin to disintegrate me. I am slowly dissolving amid my own tears. My fingers, my knees, my toes begin to crumble into dust before my lowered eyes. And yet I feel no pain; only the burning cold of numbness. I close my eyes.
“But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” At the sound of the whispered words, I open my eyes. The salted dust is no longer before me; instead I see one pale, green pawpaw lying on the floor, faintly glowing. I reach down my disintegrated hands and pick up the fruit. I feel its warmth seep into my skin and spread throughout my body. Then the pawpaw itself seeps into me. Where black crystals once reigned, warm and glowing restoration begins to conquer. With my integrated hands I push myself up to my integrated knees and then to my integrated feet. I turn toward the once crystalized blackness and see clearly. I see the tree covered in pale, green pawpaws in the center of the yard, illuminated in light. I am once again a zebra swallowtail, my flight nourished by its leaves.