- AUTHOR: Blake
- TITLE: Walk On
- CATEGORY: Drama
- RATING: G
- SUMMARY: “Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t born a fighter.” Trinity finds a way to come to terms with her past.
Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t born a fighter. I haven’t always been the warrior I am now. There was a time, when I was young, when I was intrigued by shadows, not suspicious of them.
I see myself in the eyes of each new rookie. As I approach each possible target I remember Switch cornering me. And as each new rookie asks their questions I try to resolve my own philosophy.
I’m never sure what I believe. Not completely. Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever been complete in any sense of the word.
I know that the Matrix isn’t real. But the people in it are. I guess that’s the problem.
Rookies always talk about the past. They wonder aloud, and badger everyone with useless questions. And without fail, there is always one question that comes up. I’m hearing it now.
“So, if the Matrix isn’t real, then everything I did in there didn’t really happen. Is that it?”
Some other crewmember offers their ideas. I just quietly eat my breakfast, and pretend it’s scrambled eggs. It’s not all that hard really.
People say the Matrix isn’t real. I totally agree.
People say the Matrix cannot tell you who you are. That’s true, for nothing will ever tell you that but experience.
People say that the memories we have from our lives never even happened.
That, I refuse to believe. I was a coppertop, but I had a family. I knew parents, siblings, even a cat once. I went to school, and if I didn’t have friends I at least had allies.
Sure I left it all behind. That doesn’t mean I never miss it.
I wasn’t an only child. Everyone assumes I was, except Tank who knows better. He was here when I came out.
The rookie’s crying. When I see him, hunched over the galley table, I stop.
“What is it?”
“N-nothing – “
“Don’t give me that. What is it?”
He avoids looking at me with his wet, reddened eyes. “I, miss my family. I know it was just a lie but – “
“What’s a lie?”
“They, they weren’t really my family.”
I find myself sitting down opposite him.
“For your whole life that ‘lie’ has been father, mother and brother to you. Just because they don’t know the truth doesn’t mean their lives are worth nothing. Just because you can never see them again doesn’t mean they don’t miss you.”
He ducks his head, wiping his eyes.
I had an older brother. Sometimes he was the bane of my existence, other times he was my hero. Brothers are like that.
He said goodbye to me. He never understood me, but to him that didn’t really matter.
I explained. I told him it was for the best, safer for me to run now that I’d gone too far.
He just smiled. And he told me that no matter what I’d done or was going to do, I was still his little sister.
He hugged me then, standing in the doorway of our parent’s house at night, me with nothing but the clothes I stood up in and him with the knowledge that I’d never come home.
And when the old black car pulled up near the driveway, I turned my back.
“Leave it behind,” three little words were all he whispered. It’s all I needed to remind me.
They say smell evokes the most powerful memories. I think sound is a close second. What the Real world lacks in professional bands, it more than makes up for in sailors who sing the Matrix songs of their pasts. If you ever catch Tank in a cheerful mood, he’ll be humming some tune Mouse taught him. The tunnels of Zion echo with mistaken Simon and Garfunkel lyrics, and then those who sing old rock anthems louder to drown them out.
My brother loved U2. He had every single album.
His favourite song was Walk On.
And when he whispered those three words to me, I remembered. I remembered all the times he’d sung those words, the times I’d yell at him to shut up, the grin he’d have as he sang in the car driving me to school.
“You could have flown away, a singing bird in an open cage, who will only fly for freedom.”
“Simon, will you stop that already?”
And I remember how he’d laugh.
The rookie’s in training. Strapped down to the chair, jerking and shifting like he’s trying to wake up, his mind wrestles with the concept of killing.
He was innocent, until we unplugged him. In a way, I think we all were.
I hate headlines. Cypher has an odd fixation with digging through code and discovering how far the ripples have spread from our latest run. He reports the alleged death toll at breakfast the next day. On those days my food seemed to be something other than scrambled eggs. Since the rookie has come he’s stopped doing it.
He’s tired. Dead tired. Bone weary. Exhausted. Morpheus always pushes the rookies too far. He forgets they’re human, sometimes.
“Have you ever had to kill someone?” he asks as he passes me the spanner.
“Yes.” I use words efficiently these days.
I turn my head and look at him, hair in my eyes again. When I tuck it behind my ear I know I’ve left a line of grease on my cheek.
He holds my gaze, waiting for an answer.
“We’re at war here. Things get messy, things go wrong. People die.”
His brow furrows, and he glances away to examine the rust on the toolbox.
“Wake up already. This is the real world.”
Sometimes I catch myself thinking about my brother. Would he know who I am? Would he recognise this person I’ve become?
I hope he wouldn’t. I don’t think he’d like the idea of his little sister strapped with leather and metal, spinning knives and using my hands when I run out of bullets.
These hands used to be smudged with ink and tired from writing, these hands used to scramble eggs for Simon’s breakfast. No one could make his eggs for him but me. I forget why.
“Home, hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one.”
I stop short as I hear the rookie singing under his breath.
“Home, I can’t say where is but I know I’m going home . . . “
He leans into the brush as he scrubs the storeroom floor. I cannot fetch the maps Morpheus wants without going past him, but that off-key voice has me thrown. Completely.
I turn my face away and trust the wall to hold me up. And again, I remember.
I remember my brother laughing. I remember him grinning at me. I remember him wrapping me in an awkward hug on our front step as rain began to tingle against skin. I remember the trip to find Morpheus, with Switch’s gun in my face and my brother’s voice in my head.
“You alright?” I hear. The rookie’s noticed me, and crosses the room. One hand is raised, and fingers brush my sleeve. “Trin?”
I don’t let myself flinch.
And love, is not the easy thing. The only baggage you can bring, is all that you can’t leave behind.
I have to move past this. I have to walk on. I’ve told the rookie enough times to get used to the world as it is now; I have to do the same.
He doesn’t take his hand off my arm. I look at him, reading his concern in his expression.
Don’t let the mask slip. My hair’s in my eyes again.
“Trin? What’s wrong?”
I don’t dispute the name he uses. Once we’re back on deck I’ll outrank him.
“I’m fine Neo. Nothing’s wrong.”
I pull my arm away and walk past him to get the maps. When I leave I give him a look over my shoulder.