It’s Monday and you’re missing the weekend already. Time for the next little bit of The man who had an affair with his wife.
The next evening, the very first thing Chris did as Carbon was to send her a friend request. He was eager to do so, to make contact with her again, to be with her again, to continue their conversation and to see where it led. At the very same time that he was doing this, he was with Swellen as Len and having a very tiresome disagreement over whether they should consider moving to a bigger plot of land (for all her efficient organisation of their now joint living space, she had quickly grown frustrated with the lack of potential for developing it – or, as Len put it to her, the lack of potential for buying stuff for it). Carbon, then, couldn’t wait to be with Swellen; Len, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to be rid of her.
It took Swellen a couple of minutes to respond and, whilst he waited, he started to worry that maybe Carbon wasn’t as established a potential male suitor as he’d thought he was. In fact, Swellen was midway through a paragraph-length message to Len in which she was listing the various ways in which their lives would be improved if they had a 64 by 32 metre plot in a seafront region and she was damned if she was going to lose her flow just to respond to a friend request there and then. But eventually she did agree to it, and she sent him a brief message suggesting he think of a nice place for them to meet up in when her husband went off-line in just over an hour or so. As much as he was delighted that she wanted to see him again and as much as it was a relief not to have to keep up the two simultaneous conversations – there really is only so long that this can be done without some sort of fatal error occurring – Carbon felt slightly put out at having to wait that long. Meanwhile, Len realised he was likely in for a full hour of dedicated purchase nagging and meekly gave in to Swellen’s demands. One hour of dedicated purchase nagging thereby was transformed into one hour of dedicated purchasing.
All this commitment Swellen appeared to be making to her ongoing relationship with Len troubled and disheartened Carbon slightly, and he had to remind himself that his objective was not to win her heart but to capture her body for just long enough that Len could walk in on them and therein obtain his watertight excuse for ending the relationship. That was the plan: he’d attract her; he’d romance her; he’d seduce her; he’d betray her. Len would come wandering inworld, complaining about not being able to sleep or saying that he’d come home from work unwell (depending on the time of day) and that would be that. But Carbon wasn’t so sure any more that this was the best course of action.
Later that night, he took Swellen to a post-apocalyptic theme park and they waltzed for an hour in front of the radioactive ferris wheel. “I’m thinking of making that pass now,” he told her eventually. “I was wondering when you were going to get around to that,” she replied. “Well,” he said, “I figured I’d leave enough time so that if it led to the evening ending I’d still have had a good night out.” “How ruthlessly efficient of you,” she responded. “You’d be surprised at how efficient I can be,” he replied. “Show me,” she told him, and they kissed. Then they took off their clothes and lay down together between the abandoned bumper cars. It was raw, savage, passionate sex. Swellen thought Carbon was good. Carbon thought Swellen was amazing.
(Len, by the way, completely forgot to turn up. Chris contemplated bringing him online, but of course there was always the risk that following this discovery – this confrontation, this public shaming – that Swellen might want nothing further to do with Carbon. She might blame the breakup on him. She might even flee from Second Life. It would be better, he reasoned, to leave it a little extra while before the orchestration of this moment. That way, it wouldn’t be a one-off thing that Len walked in on.)
All of this got Chris thinking. Aware as he was that sleeping with the same person as two different (and undeclared) avatars was one of Second Life’s most heinous crimes, he started wondering what deep, dark fear this judgement was actually based upon. Of course he understood that deception, betrayal and abuse of trust would be pretty high up on the list of any audit of specific reasons for why this particular behaviour was viewed in this particular way; all the same, he couldn’t help but wonder if at least a small part of it was based upon an unconscious fear of being ‘caught out,’ with the buried secret that no-one wanted revealed about themselves: the complete lack of consistency in their behaviour from one person to the next.
“Leave Len,” Carbon told Swellen the next day, after another hour of amazing sex. “Live with me. We’ll rent a room in a motel someplace. If you’re good to me and fix up some dinner every evening maybe I’ll look for a prefab in a nice area, something with some trees and a grassy sidewalk.”
“Leave Len? Are you kidding me? He’s my husband!” she replied. “I’ve just got him to buy a decent plot on the mainland. If I play my cards right we’ll be moved into a quarter homestead within three to six months. Anyway, I love Len. He’s wonderful. He’s not confident like you are but he has a way with words that makes me shiver.”
“Just the other night you were complaining he doesn’t pay you enough attention,” retorted Carbon. “That would never happen with me, babe. Who needs a quarter region when you’ve a dirty mattress and a stained sink in shared urban accommodation? We can have kids: three of them, if you like.”
“But surely you’re not serious?” she responded. “Why would anyone want dust and stains and leaking faucets that don’t even belong to you when you can have your own mansion and your own gardens and your own pool?”
“There are plenty of pools in (and around) ‘The Oiled Chamber,’ I’ll have you know, though admittedly probably different in size, shape, colour and bacterial content than the ones you’re thinking of.” He added, “And don’t call me Shirley.”
She laughed. They kicked this ball around for a few more sentences but it was clear to Carbon that all joking aside Swellen had no intention of leaving Len. So that only left the hard way: return to the original plan and have Len find out about them and end their relationship. It was far from ideal. Even if Swellen took it calmly, Carbon really didn’t want to be the rebound guy (perhaps a better term for him might be ‘prebound guy’) and have Swellen constantly pining after her ex. He decided to leave it another few days and see if Swellen’s feelings towards him changed at all.
A week passed, during which Carbon and Swellen met up each night for ever increasingly wild and improbable and – frankly – outrageous sex. They did it in a nightclub. They did it on a beach. They did it on a boat in the middle of the ocean. They did it in a dumpster alleyway. They did it in a haunted house. They did it in hers and Len’s bed. They did it in a country mansion and got banned by the owners when they returned home, their ejected naked bodies thrown into a neighbouring public region (“That’s mansion owners for you,” he told her. “Why on Earth would you want to be one of them?”).
Carbon asked her to leave Len every night, but each time her answer was the same. Meanwhile, Len himself became more and more work-obsessed, less and less attentive, and more and more eager to dump all his stress and worries and insecurities on Swellen every day. Absolutely none of it, however, made the blindest bit of difference.
Enough was enough. On the tenth day of their affair, Chris – with a Brexitesque certainty that some sort of change had to be better than no change at all – decided it was time for that third point in the triangle to be properly inked in and set about arranging the pieces for Len’s tragic stumble. Once more he brought Carbon on before Len logged off. He sent messages from the former to Swellen about wanting her in her own bed that night and she replied in a rap-to-the-knuckles manner that now was not the hour that she gave him attention in and where on Earth did he get his sexual energy from anyway? Len spent the evening bleating on about email etiquette again and tested out on Swellen his newly thought up “14 Rules of Email” that he had hopes might make a successful internet meme if pasted over a picture of Grumpy Cat. Finally, it was time for him to leave. Swellen insisted on a fifteen minute safety zone just in case Len came back online: it was her assertion that you could never be absolutely sure in SL if someone had actually logged off or if they’d been in the middle of their ‘goodnight script’ and crashed – and the problem with goodnight scripts was they had to be completed.
“At last,” Carbon said when finally she teleported him over.
“You’re unbelievable,” she told him. “Isn’t there anything else you’d rather do than just have sex all the time?”
“If I had you all to myself, Mansion Girl, then we might have time every now and then to squeeze in a quick diversion. In any case, I don’t hear you complaining.”
“You don’t,” she replied, “though FYI you likely soon will.”
“Then let’s not waste time yakking about it!”
They tumbled onto the bed. In an instant, her clothes were replaced by black lingerie. Swellen was the fastest changer Chris had ever met in Second Life. It sometimes seemed like magic the way she was able to move between outfits so quickly; he had no idea how she was able to navigate her inventory with such speed. Carbon dived onto her like an Olympic swimmer and, within minutes, the air above the bed was shimmering from all the textual arousal between them.
And then Chris brought Len online.