In which Charlie throws Mr. Wonka for a loop: what do you do when your routine is broken? The beginning of the end and meaningless wordplay. WonkaCharlie. Ambiguous.

loop
based on tim burton's c2005

We'll begin with a spin
Trav'ling in the world of my creation
What we'll see will defy explanation

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Want to change the world
There's nothing to it

> > program > >

To be fair, Grandpa Joe had noticed it first, in the late end of Charlie's 12th year.

He'd been walking somewhat placidly through the candy gardens and Wonka had just happened to be there, pondering a sugary leaf and tracing the edges with his slender fingers. That night at dinner, Grandpa saw it again, and let out a woof of dislike. He glanced towards Wonka, and furrowed his eyes. Charlie talked animatedly about some invention he was pondering, some way to make a confectionary in a grand scheme and Wonka listened patiently. Then Wonka turned to Grandpa Joe, and they locked their dark chocolate eyes for a very, very long moment.

After that, it was always a plastic smile on Wonka's face, when Grandpa Joe was around.

Really, it was to be understood if a person felt lonely in a castle of sugar and sweets, where everything imaginable could be created - except for, maybe, affection. So Grandpa Joe thought it understandable that Wonka would every now and then, be just like a normal person.

It would've been a normal thing that he would fall in love with Mrs. Bucket.

Willy Wonka had been called many things, but never had he been called 'normal'.

> > play > >

A burst of light flooded in past the shocked-open taffy-curtains of Willy Wonka's four-poster. Charlie Bucket beamed, his teeth much straighter and whiter than they had been at any point in his life, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Wonka and Wonka's Set-Right White Chewing Gum. As Willy, the younger Wonka, shot up from his pillow and stared at the boy from beyond lidded eyes and his vision asconding hair, he experienced a rare moment of doubt. For a moment, he had felt a half-thought whisper in his mind, Sometimes candy has a purpose after all. But he was probably just getting senile. He was getting into his forties, and to be honest, he felt perturbed by it.

Especially on mornings like these, with Charlie beaming down at his naked chest only halfway covered by his flavored bedsheets. Sometimes Willy worried that his bedsheets would gain a rather new flavor if Charlie beamed at him for quite too long. Occasionally, the candy genius wondered if Charlie had a recurring shock that he was chosen to someday take over the factory. Well, wishing was pointless, and that was wondferful indeed! And Charlie made such wishing into a lovely obsession. He was the embodiment of flawless youth, and a very prime example of one. If Wonka was to be believed, and he was, because he knew with utmost solidarity that the children of the world were dreadfully rotten.

Still, in spit of silver hairs and rotten children and the horrors of an alien known as Oprah Winfrey, it was lovely to see such a delectable flavor wake him before leaving to school.

"I'm off to school, Mr. Wonka," he said.

Willy Wonka simply blew a kiss and went back to snoring grandly. It was strange that on this particular morning, he did not actually go back to sleep but pretended, listening to Charlie trounce from the room. The way he had been doing every morning for the past four years.

> > loop > >

It had been exactly four years, two months, six days and eighteen hours since Wonka had found the silver hair and made his golden tickets, when Charlie bustled into Wonka's private inventing room, waving a strange loop of chocolate in his hand.

"It's a chocoloop!" he exclaimed, waving it about, "You can use it to tie things up and it'll hold perfectly because of all the nougat, 'see, and then when you're done using it, you can just eat it!"

"Show me daisy. Oh my, that's brilliant," clapped Willy, about to jump over and further investigate, when he quite honestly froze. See, it was a complicated thing. He had never liked touching people much, but his fingers trembled with an extraordinary urge to touch Charlie anyway. His mind was less eager to cooperate. So naturally, the chocolatier went against both of his gut instincts and sat there with his mouth open, occasionally opening and closing as if to say something, and failing quite overall.

Dear Charlie was simply too polite to interrupt.

"Well then," said Wonka at last, dabbing at invisible sweat on his forehead, "Then you invented a little loop, which is an altogether horrible idea."

Charlie beamed.

"-Imagine!" continued Wonka, his voice truly reflectful, "It shall be such a horrible nougat that it shall crush Slughorn on the stork and change!"

"The stock exchange," corrected Charlie.

"Oh no. You see, while the stock exchange is used by people, many other sorts of creatures, such as the South American color-changing storks, are used as economical units. Take for example Woogawooga land..."

"'... where storks are worth more than caramel bricks, and all candy gains its value,'" Charlie finished, noding with an endearing, almost doting affection, "Well, do come on, Mr. Wonka. Won't you try it?" asked Charlie eagerly, extending the knotty piece of chocolate out towards his 'hero's' hands. As Charlie reached forward, Wonka stepped back in perfect step - his face raw with unconcealed horror.

"It looks over-looped. That's not the kind way to treat your nougat," he squeaked, his eyes flicking constantly between Charlie's face and his desperately frightening hands.

Wonka wrapped his jacket around him more tightly.

"I'll make you a new piece," Charlie decided, putting the loop into his pocket, and looking at Willy - about his height, now - with adoring blue eyes. Then Charlie grabbed his arm and gave it a bit of a squeeze.

Willy Wonka shivered. He had never been loathe of touching people, really, but it was all that touching entailed: of relationships and, occasionally, a connection to the mass world in general. The world was a somewhat awful, and very boring, place, so he got bored quickly when he had to interact with it. But Charlie seemed different from the rest of them, maybe less rotten or maybe more pure. Saying it either way didn't make him out to be a very kind fellow, but Charlie was beyond words that the factory could describe. This was one of the many drawbacks of being stuck in the factory and away from the world - you could no longer interact properly with anything from it.

And hence the problem: Willy knew that he, too, was initially part of that scary world. And he had no idea what to do when it came to interacting with himself.

So when Charlie squeezed his arm like that, for some reason, Wonka found himself very, very much ready to run away.

"Yes, you do that, then, I'm going to go now," he babbled, turning about - and breaking free, of course, from Charlie's hold - "Until supper, sweet morning sunshine!"

"Until supper, Mr. Wonka," said Charlie in quiet, pleasant tones.

> > loop > >

There had been a lot of things on the chocolatier's mind, after all, even though they hadn't been very important at the time. Though in time those things would definitely become important.

He'd heard from an oompaloompa that Slugworth had been planting spies in Charlie's school. Well, that was unacceptable, because school was a very good place to be for children, generally. Wonka had never cared much for that place, from what he remembered, the food had been awful.

Besides, children these days were even more terrible than what they ate.

Thus, the answer was evident: Charlie would no longer go to school.

The problem was, however, that without any of Charlie's family about, he was the only one to make such a decision. It had been a respectful thing, to honor the late Buckets, but now it was entirely uneccesary and for that reason alone, Wonka put in a phone call, and the next thing he knew, he was at supper with Charlie himself, and telling the delightful tale.

"What!" Charlie dropped his spoon in surprise.

"It's a much better option," smiled Willy, "Than having you doing those silly math problems when you have ten fingers to count with, and toes, and my fingers if necesary - though I'd prefer you not to take them from my person."

Still, Wonka's protege was very pale. "That's not it, really. I mean, I need to be there."

"Well, perhaps there needs to be you here, too. Perhaps, indeed."

"Willy..."

Wonka felt, rather than knew, that his cheeks were staining themselves an awful color, but he was utterly gripped by the fact that Charlie had said his name. No one really called him that, not much anymore. An odd, sticky piece of taffy found its' way to get stuck in his throat.

"See, I was laying in bed this morning," That much was true, after all, "And then I had a startling epiphany, and I thought, 'What's wrong with you, Willy? This factory would've been so much greater had you simply quit school earlier!'" And that was true, he'd have been much better off if his creativity hadn't been so madly stifled by braces and algebraic brackets, but quitting school wasn't what he'd been pondering over - he'd just been thinking about Charlie, and that's all he ever did. Really, "You see, the creative juices, they're no good in school! All you do is sit, sit, sit! And without any candy, how can one's imagination survive? I'm certain that you secretly want to be free of that wretched place, exactly like all the other prisoners - ah, students, I mean, students..."

"Mr. Wonka, usually, you are proud that I'm different from the other children," said Charlie.

Except both of them knew that Charlie was very different from children, indeed: because he was no longer a child after all. He very well could near look down on Wonka for an inch. And besides, Willy didn't quite know what to say about the height difference, really.

"I really must admit, you are, different, aren't you?"

"The truth is," Charlie furrowed his brows and stared into his tomato soup, "You see, I promised Grandpa Joe that I would finish upper school, you see?"

Willy paused. What a silly thing for someone to say!

"Well! Could you say that you were finished right now, I wonder...?" He flailed out his arms at this, as if it alone will give him the answer to all of the universe's mysteries.

"I, well, I do'no," said Charlie, mystified. But he only remained subdued for a moment, his downcast eyes already slowly rising, "But I'll still keep busy inventing things, don't doubt it for a second. Even if I have to take rubbish like physics, I still've got a special chocoloop for you!"

And with that, the fifteen year old boy tossed a loop of chocolate nougat into the air. Willy Wonka stretched out his arm and caught it with that rare gentleness that he reserved only for his candy.

And of course for Charlie too.

See, Wonka knew that Charlie was the only person he had. And to a fair extent, it was true the other way around. It just wasn't true that family served to hinder a person. It was just that at some point, Willy felt hindered by not having a family, which was a rather increasingly difficult issue.

And Grandpa Joe's still haunting gaze pestered Wonka from beyond the grave. He couldn't tell Charlie to shy from that atrocious school, especially since Granpa's soul rested somewhere beneath the factory, with all those frightening souls. But since he wasn't really alive, and to be honest, none of the other grandparents were either, Charlie was the only person that Willy Wonka had left. And when Willy thought about it, Charlie was the only person that he had ever been... happy to have.

His heart steadily began to ache from too much chocolate and too little of anything else.

> > loop > >

A fan of swooping light cracked between Wonka's eyelids, bursting them open and into a world of color and smells and sights beyond dreams. He cocked his head slightly to the side, then smiled at Charlie's grinning face, and the backpack swung over his left shoulder. It had been a very, Very long time since he had ever used one for himself.

"I'm off to school!" Charlie announced, tugging at the taffy curtain with unabashed delight, "You'll be in the inventing room when I come home, right?"

"Left, actually," affirmed Wonka, pulling his sleeping cap further down his ears. He blinked a couple of times, wondering why Charlie would have to ask about the daily routine. It had been the same way since forever. Or what felt like a really long, long time.

Charlie ran off and Wonka tried to go back to sleep. But for the second day in a row, it didn't really work. He even tried to floss, and it didn't help a bit.

> > loop > >

9:30 came and went and by this point, fourteen oompaloompas had walked headfirst into the Glass Elevator. They were very good about seeing the elevator when it was hidden away. The fact that it was in "plain sight", however, proved madly disorienting.

Fortunately, these oompaloompas did not interfere with Willy Wonka's daily scheduled appointment. Whenever he hadn't been up all night working on his newest breakthrought with Charlie, he would come to the entrance hall and join his psychologist, Bob, for a brief rendezvous. He'd been a loyal patient for years now; the whole laying down and talking idea was rather exhilerating. And Bob was a very talented oompaloompa. He could identify nearly everything that went on, except what wasn't going on, because no one could measure that really. But Bob came very close.

And right now he was far too close to the issue.

Yes, he was colder than usual, and the chocolate wasn't clicking all the chemicals in his stomach like it was quite supposed to. He couldn't really sleep, and, he had a certain amount of creative discontent, to be entirely honest. Nothing he made tasted quite so tasty anymore. The factory's entire walls seemed to be slowly bending from the unhappy pressure; and, yes, the oompaloompas were clearly depressed. They were singing, except in a mumbling sort of fashion, even though Wonka had informed them that he was ambiguously deaf.

"...And I'm so jumpy," Wonka bemoaned, "Any moment now, they're going to jump out and break into a dance about me! I brought them coacoa, and this is what happens! I'll be forced to... Well, I don't know... Stand there and listen to them forewarn my own destruction, I suppose. On the bitter end, though, I didn't do anything wrong, I really didn't. Being in love is nothing wrong!"

Bob lowered his eyeglasses.

"...My, I.. Suppose you're right," croaked Willy, the most uncomfortable pounding in his chest trapping all his thoughts and breaths from any coherence at all. "I don't believe I've said that out loud before. Or thought of it really. No idea how you do it, it's rather incredible. Just don't know what to do about it. Maybe I need time to think it over. Yes, over time I've had plenty of thinking already... That's sort of how it goes and goes. Never enough thinking to make sense of myself. So until then, chocolate, that's always the best cure for it."

Another break before he was rambling again. "Oh, Charlie will be home soon. I see. That's good to know." And while it was good to know, for whatever reason, Wonka did not find it to be entirely reassuring.

He fiddled with the Chocoloop in his pocket.

He did not wish to speak with Charlie. He did not wish to touch Charlie or smile at Charlie or tell him that the chocolate factory was falling apart, because he had been so caught up in himself that the part of the outside world in him had become unhappy. And everything that he had loved, in turn, no longer shared in happiness.

And at that moment, Willy Wonka realized that his time at the factory had come to an end. He had finally seen himself for what he was, and not even his expansive imagination could show him a fantasy of 'otherwise'.

> > pause > >

"Where are you going," demanded Charlie.

He held the door to Wonka's room open and stood with his palm splayed across the wooden paneling. Willy started, and whipped away from Charlie so he could face his trunk of luggage.

"Good afternoon, daisy," he said.

"I thought we were going to be working in the invention room today," Charlie pointed out.

For a brief, un-responsive moment, Willy wondered if he could do magic of sorts and simply ask all the clothes to fold themselves neatly, and then rush out a secret passageway and not have to have this conversation. But really, it was a bit late to begin such an admittedly useful project because there wasn't any time to work, and he had to leave, forever, near precisely now.

Charlie swallowed and tried again. He was only fifteen after all, thought Willy, a sheen of sweat broken across his forehead. The boy couldn't be so perceptive of what was going on, yet - but then, Wonka had been teaching him to become more observant. At any time now, the boy would realize his mentor's feelings. That rejection was uncessary and undesired, so -

"I'm going on a trip to Norwegia, so take care of the factory on your own," he said at last, sweeping his bangs out of his dark chocolate eyes.

"Business is truly booming over there," remarked Charlie, his eyes sliding to take in his mentor's strangely stiffened form.

"I'm - I'm not going for business."

"And I don't get to go on vacation too? Well, then you better get back soon."

Willy Wonka went entirely still, before he let the words trickle from his mouth like a newborn butterfly, the wings wet and tightly shut together. "I don't intend on returning."

How could such pure words be so painful?

"You can't leave!" Charlie exclaimed, horrified and not entirely believing, his face pale and his eyes entirely too wide, "There's no way that I could be ready to take care of the factory like that."

"Oh, but you are," Willy waved this off, "You're ready whenever you need to be. You could've been ready months ago, actually. From the moment you first came to this factory."

"No, that's not true. I - I don't know how to make the chocolate room cold," he refuted.

"Neither do I," said Wonka, apparently back to packing his odd arrays of clothes, "Of course, the room is set at Standard temperature of Chocolate. If you just imagine the coldness being right, it will keep itself..."

"If I just imagine it? Fantasy into action, that's what you're always telling me, isn't it?" asked Charlie, his face suddenly red with indignation and perhaps a tinge of fear. "I can try, but sometimes, well, I don't know how to take action onto some things, not yet. Not on my own. I thought you were planning on teaching me for - well, for at least five, ten more years. I haven't seen all the rooms by the elevator, yet!"

"And I've barely seen them all, don't fret over it," said Wonka, stuffing a pair of archaille socks into his pile.

"Mr. Wonka, please, you have to explain the rooms to me, first, and - and for chrissakes, stop packing for a single second, won't you?"

To Charlie's surprise, Willy stopped. He rested his hands on the edge of his luggage; he closed his eyes. He moved a deep breath through his lungs before shifting around to look at his protege, and nodded for him to continue.

"I - I'll screw things up. For certain. I'm not ready," Charlie continued, his voice nearly whiny with worry, "Is this about school? I'll quit school. If I have to, to make you stay, I will..."

The chocolatier, with round brown eyes, just stared at the boy as if looking right through him. It was possible that he wasn't staring at Charlie at all, but at his hard white-chocolate walls. They were clever things, able to keep shape up to the heat of 105 degrees in Fahrenheit. White chocolate was light, after all, so it just didn't attract as much solar heat as dark chocolate. Such a simple solution in creating a chocolate world.

"... Or a lawsuit, I certainly can't deal with those. And what if Slugworth tries something again, Mr. Wonka?"

The name brought Willy back and he felt a part of himself cry out in pain.

"But he won't, he won't do anything," said Wonka, "Not until you're ready. You're too lucky for that to happen."

Charlie shook his head, and tried again, his voice wavering, as if he were exasperated for enduring this 'test' and just wanted Wonka to tell him that it was a horrible joke.

"Even if I manage the factory perfectly, what then? It would be awful. And I'd be so lonely, don't you realize?"

"The oompaloompas aren't leaving, too," said Wonka, serious and quiet, as if he were an entirely different person from the man who bantered with clauses and candies and realities and was actually quite a prodigy child stuck in the body of a disturbed adult.

"Of course the oompaloompas will be here, and it helps, but... They're not the same. I mean, they treat you differently. Not like another person. Not like family."

Willy Wonka said nothing, but instead turned his eyes to trace the patterns of the badge on Charlie's school uniform.

"You can't honestly leave me," Charlie spilled out at last, "Everyone in my family died. Everyone I ever loved is gone except for you..."

A shadow flitted over Willy Wonka's eyes. This was why he had to leave. Charlie saw him as family and he, he was shameful to spoil that trust. It was disgusting. It was a terribly wrong thing to love this boy, as Grandpa Joe's dislike had told him when they stared each other down for days and days.

"My, my," said Willy, wistful, "You're dramatic today..."

"I'm not being dramatic!" Charlie stepped forward, "You're the one who makes this place magical. You're Willy Wonka. If you leave, I could take care of the factory, and it would be alright, but it would just be no good. Frothing by waterfall means nothing if you're too sad to enjoy what you create... Everything I'll make will be sad."

Willy Wonka snapped his luggage case shut, and stared at his bedrest and the taffy curtains.

"I'm going to Norwegia," he announced. "Today. Right now. Precisely. Because it's time for parting, I wish you the best of your best luck with the factory, Ch... Ch..."

Willy Wonka brought a hand to his head.

"...You... You know?... Goodbye,... I..."

And with his other hand on the luggage case, he propelled himself off of the bed, and brushed directly past his startled heir.

He was, even now, a regular boy: neither stupid, nor smart, but average. And he took too long to understand what Willy Wonka had been trying to say, and when it became clear, the boy moved his shaking hand to rest on the doorframe. Chocolate stuck against the cold perspiration of his fingers. He didn't bother to lick it off or wipe it on his shirt. He let the chocolate mold to handprints as his eyes shone over with a flood of emotions that gathered like the dew.

"It's Charlie," he said, finally, and his name echoed through the emptiness of his chocolate factory. "Do you really wish to forget me, so much that you can't say my name anymore?"

The words bounced back to him: Charlie Charlie Charlie.

So Charlie Bucket, the luckiest boy in the world who no longer had anyone to love, sat there on the ground, his eyes tightly shut as he imagined that Willy Wonka still knew how to say his name. And it worked, almost, except for the troubling truth - that Mr. Wonka never said his name in loops.

Those were just the echoes of their wishes, as they faded into nothing.

> > end track > >

There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there, you'll be free
If you truly wish to be

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