In response to my post yesterday, I did have a couple of requests over on Flickr for the next little bit of my novel-in-progress. This hardly constitutes a petition, I know, but I do feel the need to keep what small number of fans I have satisfied (and, to be honest, the simple absence of any cries to make it stop is flattering to my needy author ego). Here, then, are the next few paragraphs of ‘Once Upon a Time in SL.’ Want some more? Request below.
Cybersex can be a thoroughly dull experience. Nothing is assured. Two people mechanically typing in a set of actions – as though from a script – might titillate mildly on the first few occasions out of a sense of exploring the taboo, but it rapidly becomes incredibly dull. When you find someone good in the metaverse, therefore, they are worth holding on to. When you find someone amazing, it’s usually love at first sight. Swellen was, in Len’s opinion, a definite ‘good’; far better, he told himself, than he had been expecting: far more insightful, far more open, far more inquisitive than he had imagined someone ordinarily so sanctimonious – as he saw it – could be. He would normally have preferred a little less submissiveness, but her tolerance of his own clumsiness at assuming a more dominant role enabled him to explore a side of his fantasies hitherto unexposed to his conscious attention. Yes, Swellen was definitely someone he wanted to know like this for at least a while longer.
Swellen, on the other hand, judged Len to be ‘amazing.’ In part it was his attention to detail in the words he used, in part it was his willingness to step outside his normal mode of operation. The larger part of it was, however, the sheer degree to which his apparent intellect had ultimately broken down and disintegrated under her seduction. His orgasm flattered her. By the end of the evening, Swellen was fairly sure she had fallen for Len; by the end of her second experience with him the following night, she was certain of it.
Nothing all that remarkable exists in this story so far, nor in what immediately followed. Depending on what generation you belong to, you might think it remarkable that such a thing could happen between two people who had never even seen so much as a photograph of each other, but that orientation presupposes an intention to one day move the relationship from the online world into real life. Neither Swellen nor Len had any such plans. Swellen was married in RL to an IT consultant who regularly made trips of anything between one week and six months to clients domestic and foreign. He wrote database scripts in a programming language called Perl; his skills were highly sought-after. Swellen loved her husband and didn’t want the comfortable life she had with him to change, but her mind craved constantly social and erotic stimulation. She sometimes wished her husband would engage with her online so that she could guide him out of his ingrained sexual inhibition – he was a gentle, once-a-month lover, who saw sex as a marital duty to be performed at exactly this frequency and who strategically failed to notice all suggestions to the contrary – but such journeys are long and difficult and she could never quite gather the enthusiasm or energy to start upon one (and neither could he). Len, meanwhile, had occupied the position of manager of a municipal leisure centre for just over a year and saw SL as his interim stopgap in the run-up to what he was convinced would be the social and romantic life he was destined for: dinner parties, barbecues, at least two children and a good position on some school’s governing body were amongst the many elements to this vision of perfect existence, which he was certain would only be delivered to him if he married well. As he saw it, SL relationships were the safest form of sex in existence and the release valve he needed to prevent him from making any grave social errors in his real life romantic speculation. The absolute non-transferability of any SL relationship into RL was something both he and Swellen made clear to each other before that first dance was over (it was one of those ‘hypothetical’ discussions). Their complete agreement on this point, in fact, was responsible for things subsequent happening substantially sooner rather than later.
No, there was nothing here that had never happened before in real life. Not really. An imbalance of affection existed. Depending upon the myriad of variables surrounding all instances of human relationships, this could have gone any number of ways in RL. When Len – as it was fairly inevitable he would do – grew tired of Swellen, he could have broken it off abruptly: a phone call, an email, a text message even in this increasingly cruel society. Or he could have been one of those men who lacked the courage to be brutal and hated, and drifted with the current in the hope that somehow he’d get out of it at some point downstream. Or he could have been one of those men who decided this was the best that they were going to get, perhaps because ‘nice’ really was the highest point they’d ever occupied and they had no conceptualisation of anything beyond it. And so on. Len was definitely within the category of men who lacked the courage to break things off, but he wasn’t quite so stoic that he was prepared to let the current make its decisions without at least a nudge in the direction he wanted. As he saw it, Second Life offered him some unique possibilities not available to him in the real world.
Though this is not to say that regret settled in overnight for him. Not at all. A month slipped by with very little difficulty. Len found Swellen to be very agreeable company. There was enough each night that was new to keep him interested in their relationship, and the niggles were really very rare. Occasionally she would snap at him. Once or twice she became passive-aggressive in her communication. These moments raised a frown from him, but nothing more than that and there is no indication that Len experienced any actual second thoughts over the wisdom of starting this relationship until at least a week after their wedding.
Oh yes, they got ‘married…