Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 18, 2072

Click here for the 2016 table of contents.

Following the jump to the future, Mateo lovingly pulled back from Leona’s embrace. He pretended to be perturbed and said, “wow, I asked you to marry me a year ago, and you still haven’t given me an answer. I think that’s a record.”
She laughed. “Oh, were you being serious about that?” She was cracking her own joke, but at the same time, she needed to confirm that he did really mean it.
“I most certainly am serious.”
“We’ve only known each other—and I mean, really, mutually—for less than two months.”
“People get engaged in less time.”
“Yeah, and there’s a stigma about it, and we could look up the success rates on those marriages.”
“We could,” Mateo agreed, but somewhat condescendingly.
She stepped back a couple of paces to get a better look at him. “You only ask because I’m the only person in the universe who you could possibly be married to. I’m basically the last woman on Earth.”
“That’s not why I asked,” he argued. “Saga and Vearden were partners, and there’s not a single romantic feeling between them. They found spouses outside of the relationship. I’m not saying it’s the same thing—because you’re right—I don’t know anyone else, but I also don’t want anyone else. I had twenty-eight years to find “the one” which I think is plenty of time. You turned out to be her; what’s weird about that?”
“Well, that’s one way to look at it.”
“We could literally be the last two people on Earth. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t belong together, or that we couldn’t be compatible. The question of whether a relationship works out isn’t dependent on hypothetical relationships with other people. Do I love you, and do you love me, and do we both want this? Those are the only questions that matter.”
“But hypotheticals are important. If we were to fall out with each other down the line, it’s not like one of us could move out. We’re stuck with each other. Right now, that’s great, but I don’t know the future. I can’t promise I’ll always want that.”
“First of all, no one can know that. Well...the powers that be apparently can, but that’s irrelevant. The fact is that we could have a falling out even if we don’t get married, and that would still be awkward.”
“So you’re saying that marriage isn’t a big deal?”
“I’m saying that I don’t live my life worried about what might happen. Not anymore. We don’t have that luxury. Now, that doesn’t mean nothing matters, or that I throw a dart at a choice board. It just means all I go on is what I feel right now. And right now, I want to get engaged with the woman I love.”
“Okay,” she said quietly, still not convinced she should accept the proposal.
“I’m not asking you to marry me tomorrow. I’m asking for an engagement, a promise that you’re interested, and that you don’t want to lose me. Marriage is not a piece of paper. It’s not even for you to convince your partner of your dedication. It’s a promise to yourself.”
“I do love you, Mateo. I’m not saying no. I’m just not sure I’m ready.” She was becoming pretty stressed out. “It’s not that I’m not ready; that’s a weird way to say it. I don’t want anyone else but you. I guess I really am just hung up on the time. I waited for you for so long, and it just feels like someone else made the decision to put us together. I know that I chose you, but...how do I know that you chose me?”
“I suppose...” Mateo tried to figure out his words. “I suppose, even ignoring my actions for the last few weeks, it comes down to trust. You have to trust that when I kissed you for the first time, it’s because I wanted to. You have to trust that the only good thing that’s come out of being a salmon is getting to know you, and that I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else. And you have to trust that when I asked you to marry me, it wasn’t just because someone else paired us up. Yes, it’s true that you’re only not too young for me because I’m a time traveler. That tells us how we met, and hell, it might even be why. But that doesn’t mean it was necessarily going to work. That’s something we did. We both have to choose to stay together, and my proposal is an extension of that choice.”
“What if I decline? What is that an extension of? Does it mean I’ve ultimately not chosen you?”
“I can’t answer that. Only you can.”
She turned away to stare into space, like a character in a soap opera. “Yeah, I know. I don’t know why I asked that.”
He placed his fingers on her shoulder. “I’ll still be here even if you say no, and also if you just never give me an answer at all. Take as much time as you need, or ask that I never bring it up again, or just keep putting it off. It won’t bother me. Just don’t leave. The powers that be are, well, powerful. But they’re not God. If you want to leave, I’m sure you could find a way. But please don’t. I would rather we never discuss marriage again than risk losing you.”
Leona remained facing away from him, so he couldn’t know how she was reacting, but he continued to feel her warmth. “I don’t know how much time I’ll need, but I can promise to give you an answer. You won’t be left hanging forever. And you won’t just be left alone.” She finally turned back around. “I don’t wanna lose you either. This much I know.”
“Okay,” Mateo said particularly calmly. “We’ll wait. I need time to figure out how to buy rings in this time period anyway.”
Leona took in a deep breath, but slowly let it out. “Right now, we should go look for our family.”
“Oh, I forgot about them. I was so wrapped up in us.”
“I hope Makarion didn’t do anything to them.”
Just then, as if called, Aura and Theo walked into the warehouse. “We fell asleep, and didn’t realize you were back,” Theo admitted.
“We get so used to you not being around, off on your tribulations, that we forget to look for you,” Aura continued. “We’re sorry.”
“No, we’re sorry,” Mateo apologized. “We should have been more concerned when you disappeared yesterday.”
“Makarion just dropped us off at home,” she explained. “We didn’t even see him.”
Theo shook his head, confused by his own perspective. “There’s something very comforting about the man. He sure makes it seem like he’s not a bad guy.”
“Yeah, very different than Reaver,” Leona agreed.
“We just don’t know him very well.”
“Very true,” Makarion said. His sudden appearance was not surprising, even though they were confident the Cleanser was telling the truth when he claimed Makarion wasn’t capable of spying on them from another dimension.
“I’m feeling very repetitive,” Mateo said, “always asking whether we did something wrong. You keep changing things.”
“You’re referring to the fact that I never asked you to perform for me last year?”
“Yes,” Leona confirmed.
Makarion smiled knowingly. “That was never the deal. I’m not a weirdo who likes to watch. I just wanted you two to get over your fight.”
Mateo was worried about speaking up, but did it anyway, “not exactly that I’m complaining, but you promised not to change the rules.”
“I didn’t. I told you why I was having you dance. I just let you think there was more to it. I said I wanted you to perform for me, not necessarily in front of me. Just stop questioning it and let it be.” He began to talk with his hands. “I will tell you that I’m trying to keep you two together for my own reasons. The tribulations are going to get more dangerous. I don’t expect you to believe me, but I’ve really been holding back.”
“Can’t you just keep holding back?” Aura was defensive of her son.
Makarion was really struggling with how much he was willing to reveal. “It...it’s just.” He sighed. “It’s just—out of my hands.”
Now Theo was defensive. “What are you talking about? You can stop this anytime you want.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Of course you can! You told us you were free from the powers that be!”
“I still answer to someone!” This they did not know, and he clearly wished he hadn’t told them now.
“Who?”
“I can’t tell you that.” Makarion was noticeably scared.
“Oh, yes you can,” Theo argued. Wow, he was angry.
Makarion had had enough. “Do you want them to have the next DVD or not?”
Mateo finally stepped back into the conversation. “We want the DVD. It’s fine, you don’t have to tell us.”
Makarion handed them Transporter 3 and then disappeared. Click here for the next installment...

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