Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: May 17, 2071

They felt rested enough the following year that they decided to watch a few of their remaining films in real time; the ones that showed a little bit more technique. Neither of them were known for their dancing. Mateo didn’t enjoy it, and Leona’s life became wrapped up in salmon drama at such a young age that she gained little experience. After that was all over, they began to watch video tutorials for dancing online. They eventually made their way to a channel that showed them specific choreography they could use. Aura, Samsonite, and Theo had experience with old forms of dancing since it was expected out of socially accepted individuals back then. Together they came up with what they felt to be an interesting, albeit somewhat derivative dance number. Hopefully it would be good enough to keep Makarion happy, and disinclined to murder them.
As far as tribulations went, this was one of the easiest. They weren’t stressed about performing well, or being accurate, like with the others. They didn’t have to follow a storyboard very carefully, and they were not in any clear physical danger. Dancing so close together was awkward, though, since they still weren’t completely over their fight. To everyone else, it had been going on for years, but to them only days. They would need to find their way past it, but they didn’t know how to do that. Less than an hour from midnight, they deciding to start practicing again in an abandoned warehouse that was somehow very clean. Makarion had not indicated when they were actually going to perform for him, or where, or really under what conditions. It was possible he managed to gather an audience of thousands to watch them. He could apport them anywhere from here to Mars, at least. He might have been capable of traveling to other planets too, but there was no way to know his plans. It just wasn’t productive to let the anticipation get to them. The problem was, they were running out of time.
On the millionth run-through of the dance, things were going extremely well, despite them both messing up nearly every move. He dropped her once, and she stepped on his toes a couple of times. They were out of sync and out of order, but they were having fun. Choreography was great and all, but the improvisational skills they picked up from having been consumed with the art for the last two days were invaluable. Halfway through the bit, they tore themselves from the choreography and began to dance naturally, as if rehearsed, but with moves they had never tried before. Their eyes were locked, and their hearts connected. No one else was in the room. Literally. Their family had been there watching them, but suddenly disappeared. The music changed to a song they hadn’t been using, but Makarion was nowhere to be found. They were completely alone, and together. This music was slower and hypnotizing, causing them to lay their heads on each other’s shoulders. This was the part of the movie where feelings became real. Apparently that sort of thing wasn’t a creative contrivance. Music can really move you.
They hadn’t been listening to a vinyl record because, was that even possible in 2071? Yet, when the song was over, they could hear the distinct sound records made once at the end of the recording; static amidst consistent turning. They gently pulled their heads back and stared into each other’s eyes. Mateo was reminded of how and when he fell in love with her. She was just a kid when they met, so he had no feelings at the time. But he also hadn’t waited until she was his age and moving through time along with him. On April Fools’ day 2025, Leona’s birthday, Mateo was under quarantine. He had just traveled back from the future, a glitch in his pattern the likes of which has never been replicated without manipulation from a choosing one. Leona was still mad at him for having run away following the death of his father. And her anger only grew from him having never returned to the timestream in 2024, even though that wasn’t his fault. Looking back, she might have blamed herself for it. She helped designed the machine that was supposed to gather feedback from his time jumps, and they had always attributed that machine to his glitch. Did she feel responsible for what happened later?
This was the year Mateo killed his own mother from having brought a pathogen back from the future. But before they were aware that this happened, he was placed in a room covered in plastic sheeting in an attempt to prevent him from infecting others, not realizing that the damage had already been done. It was Leona’s birthday, and they celebrated it with his mother, Carol and their physicist friend, Duke Andrews. But there were times when Mateo and Leona were alone. A particular one of these times was when they were nearing the end of the night. They talked for hours without fear of being split apart at the strike of midnight. Throughout that time, much like during today’s dance rehearsal, only the two of them existed within reality. They didn’t talk about the things they had been through, or the people they had met. This was a deep and meaningful philosophical discussion about life, identity, and perspective. It was the only time Mateo felt on the same level as her, and capable of fully understanding what she was saying. They agreed on just about every point, but when they didn’t, they could still understand where the other was coming from.
Even while he was the one speaking, he really only had one thought. He didn’t want to ever lose her. In his head, he prayed to God and begged to the powers that be to keep the two of them together. That night, they did not kiss, or do anything else romantic for that matter. This wasn’t when they became boyfriend and girlfriend. It was the moment they became best friends. They did not yet know everything about each other, but they knew enough to know that nothing could keep them apart; not even time. A few years later, Leona would fall into his salmon pattern, but before they had any idea that this would happen, Mateo had already decided that she was his soulmate. If he stopped traveling through time millenia in the future—long after Leona was dead—and had the opportunity to settle down with someone, he knew he wouldn’t. She was the only one for him. Though he could not read her mind, he could see in her eyes that she was feeling the same way. Her attraction to him began years earlier, but it was only in 2025, inside quarantine sheeting, that their relationship could begin.
And now in the year 2071, those feelings were returning to them in full force. Again, they did not speak about what they were thinking. They just looked at each other telepathically, and an understanding formed between them. Mateo had been responsible for the death of two men. One of them was a friend who shouldn’t have been put in that position, and whose passing Mateo deeply regretted. The other was a powerful adversary who was making it his mission to make their lives hell. Regardless of their philosophical positions on life and death, Mateo had made the right call by pushing The Rogue towards the explosion. They couldn’t see him as a person, for he was an enemy combatant. And sometimes fighting, and even killing, was your only option. Standing here now in Mateo’s arms, Leona seemed to have finally resigned herself to this notion. What happened happened, and it was time to move on from it. They now faced a new enemy, and if they were going to survive him, they had to become a united front. It’s a cliché, but this really is war. The two met in a classy but passionate kiss, then they apologized to each other. The alarms on their watches rang out, indicating that they were near midnight. For whatever reason, Makarion never called upon them to perform the dance number. This tribulation was evidently over.
They smiled at each other lovingly. “Will you marry me?”

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