Could it be that who we all are is only ever a reflection of the people we’re with at any given moment?


A big question for a Sunday morning. Here is the next little bit of The man who had an affair with his wife.

Meanwhile, the conversation between Carbon and Swellen showed no signs of slowing down:

Carbon Holloway: So how would you describe third generation?

Swellen Carlton: Third generation – obviously – is sculpties.

Carbon Holloway: Ah, sculpties; how we loved them; and how quickly we forgot about their existence.

Swellen Carlton: Yes indeed.

Swellen Carlton: For what seemed at the time like an eternity they were the cornerstone of the SL fashion industry.

Swellen Carlton: Yet now, it’s more common to see a second generation outfit than a third.

Swellen Carlton: Very odd.

Carbon Holloway: I remember there being so many bits to an outfit: belt, cuffs, collar, flares, hood, pockets…

Carbon Holloway: All of them had to be minutely adjusted in their positioning for your avatar.

Swellen Carlton: Oh yes. Buying an outfit required a major time commitment when you got it home, just to sort out all the pieces.

Swellen Carlton: It was like buying some sort of a kit.

Carbon Holloway: It was!  That’s exactly what it was like!

Swellen Carlton: LOL

Carbon Holloway: I never really understood why they couldn’t just do a it all in one piece.

Swellen Carlton: Honestly, I have no idea.

Swellen Carlton: I really am no expert on these things.

Swellen Carlton: I both loved and hated sculpties.

Swellen Carlton: As much as they were a pain in the ass to organise, the end result when done properly was just stunning in comparison to a first or second generation avatar.

Carbon Holloway: Agreed.

Carbon Holloway: SL clothing was transformed by sculpties.

Carbon Holloway: Oh!  Your partner has gone.

Swellen Carlton: He had to get up early for a meeting.

Carbon Holloway: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to monopolise your time.

Carbon Holloway: I hope he wasn’t put out.

Swellen Carlton: If you were the sort of person who lost sleep over whether or not my partner would be put out by you monopolising my time during what is clearly a romantic date then I very much doubt you would have said hello in the first place.

Carbon Holloway: For the sake of accuracy, I feel compelled to point out that it was you who said hello, not me.

Swellen Carlton: For the sake of accuracy, I feel compelled to point out that I never actually used the word, ‘hello.’

Carbon Holloway: Pfft.  

Carbon Holloway: You don’t actually have to use the word ‘hello’ to say it.

Swellen Carlton: Actually, I couldn’t agree more, Mr Obvious-Crosshairs.

Carbon Holloway: I really have no idea what you’re talking about.

Swellen Carlton: You’re going to be the cause of my next headache, I can tell.

Carbon Holloway: It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s accused me of that.

Carbon Holloway: Anyway, was he?

Swellen Carlton: Was he what?

Carbon Holloway: Was he put out that I was talking to you?

Swellen Carlton: You seem to be assuming that he knew I was talking to you.

Carbon Holloway: He didn’t?

Swellen Carlton: I was rather hoping he would work it out – or at least some of it – from the fact that your crosshairs were stuck permanently to my head and that I was partaking very little in his conversation.  

Swellen Carlton: But my husband was very much stuck in self-absorbed mode this evening.

Carbon Holloway: Ah.

Carbon Holloway: Sore point?

Swellen Carlton: Not at all.

Swellen Carlton: Sometimes, evenings don’t work out the way you expect them too.

Swellen Carlton: That’s the way it goes.

Swellen Carlton: And for certain it wouldn’t be the first time a man took me out and then failed to recall I was in the same room as him for the next two hours.

Carbon Holloway: Ouch.

Carbon Holloway: Would it make things any better if I asked you to dance?

Swellen Carlton: It might.

Swellen Carlton: Though nothing smoochy, ok?  I don’t want people talking.

Carbon Holloway: Nothing smoochy, ok.

Carbon Holloway: Is a waltz good?

Swellen Carlton: A waltz will do nicely.

Carbon stepped forward from his casual bar lean and onto the polished wood of the dance floor.  How strange to hear Len spoken about in the third person like that.  How odd to be dancing with his ‘wife’ in the manner of two complete strangers.  But what struck him as most bizarre was that Swellen really did seem to be a completely different person in this context.  If he’d encountered her like this without knowing it was her he doubted very much he would have realised.  I change my identity and hers changes also, he mused.  Could it be that who we all are is only ever a reflection of the people we’re with at any given moment? Do we become locked in specific scripts with them and unable to discover any other aspect to each other’s personality?

She would give herself away soon, he assured himself.  It would not be long before she found something to get all righteous over and he’d rediscover that intense irritation he was becoming accustomed to as his reaction to Swellen’ words.

But, as the minutes became an hour and the hour became two hours, Carbon found himself becoming lost in conversation with this… this… fascinating woman.  The gliding waltz gave way to a floating American smooth and then they tangoed until the end of the evening.  She was the first to break the bubble and announce her bedtime.  Carbon found himself feeling genuine regret that the dance could not go on for longer.

Carbon Holloway: This has been a lot of fun!

Swellen Carlton: It really has.

Carbon Holloway: I’d suggest we should do it again, but well…

Swellen Carlton: But well what?

Carbon Holloway: Well I’m guessing there’s a cap on the number of times a man can take a married avatar dancing without her husband becoming jealous.

Swellen Carlton: Oh don’t be so absurd.

Swellen Carlton: All we’ve done here is chat, nothing more.

Swellen Carlton: You didn’t even make a pass at me.

Carbon Holloway: Would things have been different if I had?

Swellen Carlton: Yes.  They would have ended earlier than they’re ending now.

Carbon Holloway: I can’t promise I won’t make one next time.

Swellen Carlton: So there is going to be a next time?

Carbon Holloway: Most assuredly yes.

Swellen Carlton: So self-assured you are.

Swellen Carlton: Quite the opposite of my husband.

Swellen Carlton: Well we shall cross the bridge of your no doubt clumsy attempt at a pass when we come to it.

Carbon Holloway: Then that is a bridge I shall look forward to crossing.

Swellen Carlton: Until then, goodnight x

And into thin air she popped.  Carbon was left dancing on the spot by himself and it was a while before he got off the dance ball and found his way into the night air outside.  That, he decided, was now officially the weirdest night of his life in the metaverse.  Was it just that he had changed his mind about her?  But about Len and Swellen he hadn’t changed his mind at all. As Len he still wanted his ‘marriage’ with Swellen to be over as much as he had at the start of the evening.  As Carbon, however, he now wanted her badly.


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