Well that was predictably awkward. I didn’t recognise Barb when she came to the door, I had to check her tag twice. She had her avatar on, as did I. Mine consists of untidying and darkening my hair a little, making my eyes a little bluer and covering up the skin-tags. I eliminate my wrinkles and lighten my skin too.
Hers though, was a complete overhaul. An hourglass figure instead of bell shaped, perfect complexion, perfect shading, dark purple hair and lips framing her perfect green eyes. Perfect is the only word I could think of to describe how she looked to me, especially her cleavage that seemed to invite you to dive in and take a swim.
She smiled sweetly and asked me in. Her house looked charming, decorated with an augmented reality theme that made it look like she had little paths running through each room between lush green little hillocks crowned with clusters of miniature trees, and with tiny sheep and deer frolicking about. Her husband slumped in a throne carved from a mini AR mountain.
He was shrouded in a long thick black hooded cloak. I wasn’t sure if the cloak was real or AR until he turned his head dramatically, and the fabric flowed like it had a mind of it’s own. Under the dark hood his shadowy face seemed human enough, though he’d made his eyes glow with red and yellow flashes, like they were burning.
He extended a hand that appeared to be clad in black metal, crafted to have several unnecessary sharp ridges, edges and points. He said, “Welcome to my home. I trust that you will be respectful.” He had deepened the tone of his voice. I made my way over to shake his uncomfortable looking hand, and my foot hit something solid sticking a little into the path.
I couldn’t see it because of the home image projected over everything, but something in the pile, of whatever it was under the pleasant green mound, shifted. I froze wondering if it would collapse, spilling what I assume was unreclaimed garbage all over. The smell of wet meadows and spring flowers masked any other smells that the N•Viron couldn’t mask.
Desperate to avoid talking about what just happened I asked, “Where are the kids?” “Oh they’re at their father’s”, replied Barb gratefully. It turns out that before she married the dark-shrouded banker sitting on his mountain, there was someone else. Kind, sweet and thoughtful. She thought he was the love of her life, and was pregnant with her second child when she found out he was cheating on her.
Her husband simply watched and nodded, as if he approved of the story. He had been the one that had told her about the infidelity, and was there to give her a shoulder to cry on. He had also given her and the kids a safe place to stay. The ex had become distraught and angry when she kicked him out. He was furious about it, continued to claim he’d never cheat on her. Barb said, “but I always knew he was too pretty for me”.
The approving nods continue as Barb said, “I know he has a right to spend time with them, but I’m afraid he’ll hurt them one day. He’s just so angry all the time.”
I don’t know how she can’t see how much he’s controlling and manipulating her. He’s hacked right into her personality, even choosing to look intimidating to enhance the effect. I think it looks laughable, but it clearly helps him feel like a big strong man. Despite this power over her there were instances when it seemed like Barb was deliberately trying to provoke him.
I got talking about where I was from and how much I miss it during the solstice. She said she’d love to go there, and said she’d run away with me if I ever chose to go back. “What?” I said, “and give up on the space adventure?” I say sarcastically. I’m beginning to hate the job, to be honest. “In a heartbeat!” she says. All right in front of her husband.
I don’t remember his name, but I didn’t want to ask because I should know it. Not even my N•Viron could tell me. His public tag was blank. He literally has no name. He didn’t seem to care that his wife just said she wants to run away with another man. Either he didn’t care, or he’s so confident in himself that he gave no credit to the idea that she’d actually leave.
The food wasn’t great. It wasn’t horrible either. Standard fare, nothing special. We kept talking for a few hours after the meal. Barb did most of the talking. Her husband said nothing that I remember, trying to seem mysterious no doubt. He barely moved except to go to the bathroom, striding over hillocks like a giant.
I kept staring at Barb’s chest as we talked. I made my excuses and left later than I should have. I still need to get some sleep before work. I have no idea what I’m going to say to her. Something in my guts is begging me not to go to work at all. I want to save her from the relationship, but who am I to say how she chooses to live her life?