- AUTHOR: Chord
- TITLE: Ferris Wheel
- CATEGORY: Drama, Romance, Takes place during the movie: post Trinity-brings-Neo-food, pre Breakfast-before-Oracle.
- RATING: G
- SUMMARY: “Right now isn’t coincidental, and I wonder if you feel the same way.” Neo plays around with fate, memories and carnival rides.
- AUTHOR’S NOTES: Finished May 2003
The sound of footfall –half dragging, half shuffling– proceeding down a lengthy corridor stops abruptly. Accompanying the turn of a wheel is the high-pitched creak of rust and stubborn hinges, but he ignores the noise and pushes through.
Regret arrives a second after stepping into the mess hall; it took that long for the name that goes with her face to register in his mind.
She is seated at the table when he enters, and her eyes are trained on him. Forced to close the door under her scrutiny, he does so timidly, wincing at the scrape of heavy metal upon heavy metal. Then he turns around and they exchange gestures of recognition: his is a rookie’s slight jerk of the head and hers, a ranking officer’s dignified nod.
“I… I just wanted a glass of water, that’s all.”
He moves toward the sink and she remains wordless, impassive and unmoving. The silence that follows speaks for both of them in saying that neither one is too surprised at this encounter.
It is as understandable as it is unexplainable. They don’t mind.
Right now isn’t coincidental, and I wonder if you feel the same way.
He settles down across from her and cradles a tin cup in both hands. Half empty or half full? he asks himself before deciding it doesn’t really matter. Water is water. He takes a sip.
An answer for a question, and he fumbles with his words, “It’s the engines.”
She appears more curious than anything else, waiting patiently for an explanation while he hides behind the rim of his cup. He glances down at her hands lying carefree on the table’s smooth surface, palms upward, fingers loose. He slows his breathing down to a pace identical to hers.
Unknowingly, he draws calm from her. Unknowingly, she lets him.
“I’m from… well I was… in the Matrix I mean… from a quiet neighbourhood. Not much racket there but that could have been because people weren’t home most of the time…” Too much was said before he realises that she probably already knows all about where he used to live.
He was the job assigned to her by Morpheus, so she used to watch him all the time. At least that was what he had heard from Cypher.
“… I’m not complaining or anything, it’s just that…” trailing off gets harder when he knows he has to finish his sentences, eventually.
“It’s just what?”
Gazes meet. He blushes. She blinks. Hearts beat in time to rumbling machinery.
“…nothing. I suppose I’ll get used to it. Eventually.”
“I never have.”
Something flickers and the room pauses in a moment of indecision. He plays her words over and over again in his mind, a broken record he’d rather not fix, admiring how the level tone in her voice matches the even look she wears so casually. It isn’t indifference; she cares, albeit distantly, and suddenly, watching her watching him isn’t so bad a thing.
A half smile graces her lips and he grins back.
Morpheus didn’t mention your name when I was first introduced to the crew. I suppose he’d thought there wasn’t a need to, but I remember walking past you then, wishing he had.
You’d stood up and removed your welding mask as a sign of respect towards the captain. Strands of black hair fell into your face then, and you’d brushed them aside with one hand. That was the first time I noticed your eyes were a pale shade of blue, as opposed to the flashing green I’d first encountered in the Matrix.
I remember thinking the colour suited you. Then again, I don’t think I knew who you really was.
“So… couldn’t sleep, too?”
The question that leaves his tongue feels as frayed as the edges of his sweater’s sleeves. Fingers pick reverently at loose bits of thread peeking up at him in tones of navy blue and grey. Time passes without seeming to but the bitter chill in the air remains. His mouth goes dry once more, so he takes another sip of water.
“I don’t sleep very much.”
That one word invokes an instant response: her posture straightens, upright and rigid, her look sharpens, her entire being, suddenly on guard, tenses up: “… perhaps.”
He nods, whether out of acceptance or agreement he doesn’t know. Confusion pushes down on him from more sides than the mess hall has corners, and he shrinks back slightly to find refuge from the crashing waves behind his little tin cup.
The silence that fills empty spaces isn’t so forgiving now as it settles in: not quite awkward, not quite comfortable, but cold enough to freeze what might have been apologies, on his part.
The lighting system goes off, plunging the room into a hole of pitch black. A second later, the heating system goes off as well but he can’t recall if it was ever warm on the ship, before that.
If warmth exists in this world at all.
I like to pretend I know who you are.
The resistance fighter is the duty you stand by, the obligation to Zion by which you’ve paved your life’s road: an anonymous identity on my computer’s blank screen, an enigmatic night club stranger cloaked in leather, whispers, secrets and skin. The second – in – command is the position you hold aboard a hovercraft; ever the captain’s first mate, a figure of authority and power, one who quietly commands the respect she deserves. But there’s more to you than what I’ve already seen, more to you than the exterior you let most of us see. Everything has an inside, after all.
I like to pretend it isn’t a soldier who goes to sleep behind closed doors every night.
“Thank you,” he tells her, finally. Shadows keep him from seeing her expression but he pours sincerity into his words nonetheless, hoping that she can hear him. Hoping that she will listen.
“There isn’t a need to thank me…” finds him in the darkness and he releases a sigh, struggling for a way to make her understand.
“There is. Listen, this may sound strange but… well, I don’t know how I know this but…”
“Neo.” It’s the first time she uses his name to get his attention. Startled, he looks up and despite himself, smiles. He likes hearing his name in her voice.
Leaning forward, he can feel her do the same thing. Elbows on the table and neither one knows, blinded by lack of light, how close their faces are to the other’s. He can feel her breath on his skin, thinking, so warmth does exist, and is amazed by the revelation.
“ Neo…” she repeats, “… about bringing you dinner earlier this evening… you really don’t have to thank–”
“You just don’t need to. That’s all.”
She can tell he is puzzled by the fact that she knows what he was thanking her for.
“No, I meant why did you bring me dinner?”
He can tell he has caught her off guard by asking her why she did it.
It is the kind of question with the kind of answer that is best left to silence. For awhile, the other’s presence occupies the other’s mind until everything else vanishes into air they aren’t even aware exists anymore. Her hands on the table lie forgotten as is the cup he places next to them. Unused to the metal plug in his arm, the foreign weight causes his hand to falter a bit, and water spills.
Quietly, he reaches out and passes a sleeve over her hand, wiping it dry. She lets him. Actions take the place of words and the exchange is as understandable as it is unexplainable.
They don’t mind.
There are times when I feel as if I don’t have to pretend to know who you are. These are the times when I feel as if I already do.
What you feel, you can’t explain, but it’s there.
Morpheus’s words make sense in more ways than one, so I think back to The Matrix. There, I was Thomas A. Anderson, programmer for a respectable software company, a man creating memories from lies.
I remember the local fairs held in the Matrix, fairs that I would visit all the time. The evenings were always so cold but I’d walk the dirt paths anyway, just content to be among people for once. The air always smelled of cotton candy or hotdogs on grills while children of all ages ran from one booth to another, laughing, joking, tickets and tokens spilling out of shallow pockets. Balloons hung from metal poles that lined ramps leading up to certain rides. The wind would whip at the many-coloured streamers, flying about, paper rainbows under a starry sky.
I remember feeling incomplete then, as I’d wear out the soles of my shoes just wandering aimlessly around while others –families, couples, large groups of tourists — enjoyed themselves, something I couldn’t bring myself to do.
Even then, everything was far too dreamlike: too surreal, lights and lines blurring into one another like oil paint on canvas. But you were one of the crowd then, someone, somewhere, and something inside me insists that if I’d tried, I could have singled you out.
You could have been the woman on the ferris wheel, the lone rider on the yellow cart with a large, blue, number nine painted on its side. The ride operator would be getting on your nerves, insisting that there should be atleast two individuals in one cart, blabbing on about rules and regulations and you’d tune him out.
I’d see you do so, admire you, approach you.
I’ll ride with you, if you’re okay with it.
Turning your head in the other direction indicates that you couldn’t care less: you’d be nonchalant, I’d be anticipating your reaction, and the ride operator would demand a response from you. But I feel as if I already know what you would’ve said.
You would have agreed. Indifferently.
The small gate swings shut and the cart begins to rise. The ground falls away to make room for the tops of tents while carnival lights fade into upper level windows of nearby buildings.
No need to thank me breathe in, breathe out, and my hands would begin to shake. I’d amuse you, and you’d try not to show it.
But I do.
No, really, you don’t–
Why did you help me out, back there?
Then the ride would do it’s customary minute-long stop. The metal beams would groan under us: our cart is at the top of the wheel, looking down. You’d view the scenery and love every moment of it, I’d eye the cart’s floor, the ground below us and the distance of empty space in between. The wind ruffling my hair, and yours, would remind me of something horribly important.
I am afraid of heights. You’d find out.
Hey… you okay?
A jerky nod. More scared than clumsy. I’d turn to you then, hoping you’d do something to make the fear go away. Strangely enough, it feels as if you would have.
Yeah… yeah, I’m fine…
Sitting here in the mess hall, my wrist moist, your hand dry, our gazes locked without really looking, isn’t coincidental but there isn’t a need to wonder if you feel the same way.
Somehow, I already know that you do.
It is as understandable as it is unexplainable. They wouldn’t have it any other way.