|Baptism by Fire
Author: Zephdae PM
Eugene has a conversation with God.Rated: Fiction T - English - Spiritual/Angst - Words: 1,267 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 1 - Published: 04-16-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4201975
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: I've never posted movie fanfiction before so it feels kinda weird. I actually wrote this dialogue when I was about 15, as an assignment for my philosophy class. Then today I watched Gattaca again for the first time since then, and I remembered this dialogue and dug it up and read it. I thought it was interesting. So here it is.
EUGENE: You know it didn't really hurt. I thought it would. But it was like I was already dead.
GOD: That chamber…your friend used it, didn't he?
EUGENE: Don't you know? It seems like you should.
Jerome used it, yes. Vincent, I suppose, although he was more of Jerome than I could ever be.
GOD: You never liked being Jerome.
EUGENE: No… It's strange, isn't it? Not losing yourself, just…never being yourself. I was never who everyone said I was, what my genes said I was. And yet…you become what they make you. Not just once.
You get requisitioned at birth. Your parents pick and choose, do they want athleticism, intelligence? Stamina, speed, strength, creativity. Tall, short, thin, sturdy. But happy? Can they choose happiness?
What parents wouldn't choose for their child to be happy? They think they can, I think. If we make them this, then they'll be happy, then they'll have what I always wanted. My father—
My father was a swimmer. He wanted to be the best. And he never was. He never was. And he thought, he thought that would be happiness, if he could just get to the top, no matter how, and stay there. He wanted to give me happiness. I know that.
I know that. But it didn't. You see? It didn't.
I'd been manufactured. I was supposed to be one of the best. My genes…they said I was good at this, this, this.
But what if I didn't want to be good at those things? It didn't matter. The second making. Baptism by water, baptism by fire.
I had to be good at those things, had to care about them, because otherwise I wouldn't measure up. I had to be good enough, perfect enough to live up to my genes.
Living up to my genes. That was the attitude, that was the problem. It's my first memory, you know. My parents. They'd say it, to coach me along I suppose, whenever they were doing something to challenge me, something most people didn't have to do. Advanced preschool—"to help you live up to your genes, Jerome." A personal trainer—"to help you live up to your genes."
I really couldn't win, like that. Even when I came out the best, it was just living up to my genes. That's all. It was expected. And if I wasn't the best, then I'd done something wrong, obviously hadn't tried my hardest. I could never accomplish anything.
GOD: You accomplished at least one thing.
That's all I can say for myself, really. That I helped Jerome with his dream. Not altruism. In some ways it was the only thing I ever truly did for myself.
Strange that a suicide attempt could lead to the one thing that would make me want to live.
GOD: So that did keep you alive, then, your relationship with Vincent.
EUGENE: With Jerome. But yes. I was borrowing his dream, I suppose. Never having had one myself. And I had a purpose in his dream, I was important there. And it felt important to me, not like everything else they told me was important. Getting the highest score or the fastest time, winning the gold medal. Being the best.
GOD: And yet you weren't happy with the silver.
Isn't it ironic?
I suppose…I suppose I was competitive. I was made to be. But the competitiveness went…it went the wrong direction.
I was supposed to want to beat people, to win. Instead I was competitive about attention, about how people saw me. They had to think I was the best, because I should be. I didn't care about winning for its own sake, I only cared that people saw me as the winner. Because I had to live up to my genes. It always came back to that, you see.
I tried to kill myself. Tried—you see I couldn't even get that right.
In some way I succeeded… I couldn't swim, couldn't run, couldn't walk, couldn't stand. I didn't have to worry about fulfilling anything now, because there was no potential there left to fulfill. But I still had to live with that final disappointment, that second-best, that last reminder that I hadn't done enough, hadn't been good enough.
I did decide to live with it. I didn't have to, you know. But I committed to the one thing that would require me to live—having someone else need my life.
And then when that need was gone.
When Jerome had gotten his dream.
I pulled myself up into a little box and flicked a switch and burned up my body.
Baptism by fire, again.
I don't know why he didn't realize. I told him, that night, that it wasn't a mistake to step in front of that car. I as good as told him I'd try it again. Why didn't he realize, when I showed him all the samples I'd collected? Enough for two lifetimes, I said. His life and mine.
Maybe he did realize, after all.
I think I know now why I chose to sell my genetic identity. I needed to do something that wasn't already ordained in every cell from my body.
GOD: To leave part of yourself behind.
EUGENE: Yes. Yes, exactly. I didn't have chilren, or the accomplishments that would leave any part of me behind. But I had to continue. I did it through Jerome.
He needed me. I suppose that was part of it as well. No one ever needed me, I don't think. My father, yes, perhaps he needed me to do what he couldn't, but Jerome… Jerome didn't need me to achieve anything, he needed me to help him achieve something. Behind-the-scenes. Secret.
GOD: Sounds like altruism to me. You gave your life up for him.
EUGENE: No. No.
Don't make me a savior.
GOD: Weren't you?
No. It was for myself, don't you see? To leave something behind. Like you said.
GOD: Maybe that's all altruism really is.
Maybe you're a martyr, a saint.
EUGENE: And maybe there's no such thing as altruism. Maybe it's all for ourselves, at the end.
Don't the martyrs believe they will receive all the glory of Paradise? Do they really sacrifice, then?
GOD: They sacrifice.
EUGENE: But still they expect rewards for themselves at the end? They expect praise and acknowledgement?
EUGENE: Then it's not purely sacrificial. Altruism is an illusion.
GOD: No. It's just misdefined.
EUGENE: Look here, why are we discussing all this? Aren't you supposed to be all-knowing?
GOD: Does it matter?
No, I suppose not.
And isn't it supposed to be perfect here? Then why don't my legs work?
GOD: Maybe you don't want them to.
EUGENE: Maybe I don't.