art by Seth Alan Bareiss
My Avatar Has An Avatar
by Robert Bagnall
***Editor's Warning: racist slang***
I have an avatar.
I am forty-three years old. I am balding and thickening around the middle. I have a mediocre job with a mediocre company which has outward ambitions to be in the top twenty in their sector in five years, but inwardly merely wish to be still in business. My ambitions mirror theirs.
So, naturally, my avatar is in her early twenties, stick thin with enormous breasts, spiky hair and an attitude to match.
She is called Sandro. I'm not sure why. I may have hit some wrong keys.
We explore Second Earth together. She has a knife but prefers to use her fists. Actually, she prefers to purse her eyelids into cat-like slits and get her way that way. She spends a lot of time in bars and fast cars. I must confess that I occasionally get her to do things that I wouldn't want to detail to my wife. Let's not go there.
Recently she's been hard to get hold of. Normally I would log in and she'd be there, waiting, as if time had stood still for her and we'd never been apart. With me she goes cage fighting and plays bass in a band, Grudge Match.
Now, when I do get hold of her it's as if she doesn't really want to know. There's a momentary pause, a rolling of the eyes--at least I think that's what's going on, my monitor's definition isn't really good enough to tell--before she complies.
I get Grudge Match a gig at a wedding; I'm their de facto manager. Sandro turns to me. "A wedding?"
This isn't how it works. She's my avatar. She does what I do. She says what I type.
"Yes," I hiss at the screen. "A wedding." I feel ridiculous. "It's not that type of wedding. You don't have to wear tuxes or anything."
"Grudge Match don't play no wedding. We're real, get real." She stabs a threatening finger at me and disappears from my screen. This has never happened before.
I look at the beer bottle perched by my keyboard. It's late and nobody else seems to have been disturbed. I go to bed somewhat shaken and it takes me some time to get to sleep.
The next time I log on to Second Earth she is in front on a monitor of her own, her back to me. I press the controls to move her, pick up her bass, take her to rehearsal. But she waves me away without even turning round.
"Busy," she calls.