The Perspective of Water


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Scene Title The Perspective of Water
Synopsis Colette receives unexpected advice from a completely unanticipated direction.
Date June 19, 2018

The Bunker: Colette's Quarters

Beyond the large windows, Rochester is a glittering silhouette of lights against a starless night sky. A sole lamp is reflected in the window, beside a bed set low to the floor with blankets disheveled. In the dark reflection of the window, Colette Demsky stands in silent contemplation of the phone held in her hand.

585-226-5896: Try emulating water instead.

The text message stares back at her, like a shiny piece of broken glass reflecting light on the ground. Alluring and dangerous, depending on how you approach it. As she looks out the window, past her reflection and to Rochester's skyline a knot of uncertainty grows in the center of Colette’s chest. Her face is still flush with emotion from the conversation she'd just had with Hana, from the night that went from good to bad faster than she could track.

Threading a lock of dark hair behind one ear, Colette considers the message again and the unknown sender. This isn't Hana’s style, this isn't her cadence, and it isn't her way of saying anything. And yet… it happened here, in the Bunker, right under her nose.

Colette: Who is this?

It's the only sensible response.

The response is immediate — and perhaps not all Colette might have wanted, although precisely what she asked for.

585-226-5896: You can call me Tenzin.

A second message follows shortly after — long enough for Colette to receive and process the first, not so long as to leave her hanging on the verge of demanding more.

The header of this new message differs, the fiction of a phone number abandoned in tell-tale sign of a technopath.

Tenzin: If it reassures you, one could say my relationship with Wireless is not too dissimilar from yours. It merely falls in a very different sphere.

A thousand question blossom in Colette’s mind, and the digital nature of this conversation gives her a moment to think, rather than nervously fire off all the questions at once like she might if this were a face-to-face conversation. Ultimately, Colette leaves Tenzin hanging longer than he'd left her.

By the time she's composing a response, two thumbs furiously typing across the screen of her phone, Colette is standing closer to the window and shifting her weight back and forth from foot to foot with nervous energy.

Colette: What did your first message to me mean?
Colette: Why are you contacting me?
Colette: And why hasn't Hana mentioned you before?

Each one is rapid-fired, a quick series of questions skimmed off of the top of the soup of insecurity and caution that was her knee-jerk responses that first came to mind. As she sees the “sent” notification for each pop up, Colette wanders away from the window and paces her floor, doubting whether or not this is safe information security protocol.

But then the thought dawns on her: If something wireless is happening under Hana’s nose, is it really going unnoticed? And if so… who the hell is this?

Though Colette sends three distinct queries, in truth they all tangle around the same root. The digital entity on the other end of the conversation loses little time in responding, all of these questions being ones it had expected to receive at some point or another. Implicitly, it addresses them in reverse order.

Tenzin: I could say you did not have need to know. That would not be incorrect, but it would be incomplete.
Tenzin: Some information has value in inverse proportion to how widely it is known. And some is simply personal.

Hana's relationship with and attitude towards personal, private information being abundantly familiar to Colette by now.

Tenzin: You still do not need to know. But you and she both benefit from this conversation.
Tenzin: She would give much the same advice, if she were capable of objectivity on this matter.

Its final statement is rather more cryptic, an attempt at provoking thought rather than leading by the hand.

Tenzin: Consider the nature of water, and its relationship to stone.

“Persistent,” Colette says aloud with a quirk of her eyebrows up to indicate sarcasm to no one but herself. But she tucks the phone in her back pocket, pacing back from door to window, pausing at the single potted flower on a stand by her bedside. She settles down, sitting on the edge of the bed and looking at the plant with thoughtful silence. Beyond her, the night city shares no secrets and offers no advice. Much like water, it persists.

Shifting a bit, Colette pulls the phone out again and resumes her conversation with Tenzin.

Colette: I can see why she trusts you. You're both opaque. ;)
Colette: …is it rude to use emojis when talking to technopaths? I never actually thought to ask that.

Colette closes her eyes, puts a hand to her forehead. “Holy shit, really? Come on,” she mumbles to herself and rises back up to her feet, commencing pacing again.

Colette: Sorry. This is weird. I've only known a couple technopaths.
Colette: So, Tenzin. I get what you're implying, I think.

She pauses, brows furrowed, and types something faster into the phone.

Colette: Are you watching me?

Her attention pivots to the large, unblinded windows.

The phone remains quiescent as Colette contemplates, the faceless entity on the other side apparently as patient as the night is long.

Whether Tenzin is amused by the quip she finally sends, it keeps to itself — something else it has in common with their shared relation.

Tenzin: Emoji are, I understand, an imperfect substitute for the nuances of personal interaction.
Tenzin: I do not consider them rude, provided you do not expect me to try and interpret a string composed of nothing else.

The conversation lapses, waiting upon Colette's continuation.

Tenzin: Do you?

Half confirmation, half implicit prompt, the turnabout query comes before the Hound finishes typing her final statement. The response to that statement comes faster still:

Tenzin: No.

For all that letters on a screen are an opaque medium, it is somehow natural in context to impart a distinctly Gitelman flavor to that single syllable: brusque to the point of forbidding, weighted further with a considerable dose of why-would-I-even-want-to incredulity.

Colette: Christ, what are you her twin s

Delete delete delete delete

Colette closes her eyes and shakes her head, recenters, and comes at it again.

Colette: Not a lot of people can say they know or understand Hana. I'm taking a lot on faith assuming you know what you're talking about.

More satisfied with that response, Colette clicks send and only then wonders if deleting a half-composed text even matters. Are the messages going anywhere at all, or is she talking directly to her phone?

Colette: I want to believe you.

Her brows scrunch up as she types that, attention shifted to her muted reflection in the glass.

Colette: Because I don't want to lose her.

Can't sounded too desperate, even though it's more honest.

Tenzin: Don't be stupid.

That line could be remonstrance just as much as advice, and is another from the Gitelman lexicon, although Hana's equally apt to use a fucking idiot instead. Also not unlike Hana, the entity on the other side of this conversation fails to elaborate as to which it intends, or to explain just what stupidity entails.

After a moment's pause, it simply returns to the prior subject.

Tenzin: Her reaction to surprise is to raise defenses. To attack back.
Tenzin: You know this.

Certainly Colette should; they've had years enough of association, personal enough a relationship. The trick is in realizing that it applies to all contexts, regardless of how well-meant the ambush or who might be executing it.

That Tenzin is aware of the depth of their association… is at least consistent with the role it's assigned itself this eve.

Tenzin: Water erodes, gradual and interminable, layer by layer.
Tenzin: Suggest, and then let her come to terms with what you suggest.
Tenzin: One step at a time.

Blind eyes track from side to side, and Colette reconsiders the phone. For a moment she lets the conversation fall away, but it never leaves the forefront of her thoughts. The notion that this could just be Hana is only momentarily entertained, it doesn't make sense. Other possibilities, all with their own faults, come and go.

Once she's lingered on those impossibilities for a moment, she pulls the phone out of her pocket again and re-reads the last exchange. Whoever this is, they know too much intimate detail for it to be someone from outside. The likelihood is just too far gone. But it leaves some unusual answers in its wake.

Colette: You're right.

Seven plus years of insinuation into Hana’s life is proof of that.

Colette: Which is terrifying. Because no one knows her this well.

Digital silence lingers after Colette's sendings; for the first time in the entire conversation, the mystery on the other end seems to be without a ready response.

Outside, the howl of a siren filters through window glass, then fades away again, a passing blip in the city's everyday life. Inside, Colette's phone at last chimes its much more decorous acknowledgment of message received.

Tenzin: I have a unique perspective.

As digital silence resumes, it seems that is all the explanation the entity intends to provide.

Colette regards the phone with a mixture of uncertainty and wariness, all things considered. She lets the phone rest in her hand as she leans her back against the window, trying to form a response. She keeps looking at the screen, halfway writing a response and stopping, restarting her thoughts all over again.

Ultimately, the thrust of what she wanted to know has already been answered, and the enigma of who Tenzin is won't be resolved in a night, if at all. Had they wanted to reveal their identity, they would have, and nothing about this advice is dangerous, save for the already accepted inherent danger in trying to be a part of Hana Gitelman’s private life.

Colette: Thank you.

It's the only response that matters.

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