XLucidenialX, from An Invatation Out, by Shualee Cook

XLUCIDENIALX: (genderqueer) I don’t agree with what you said.  I admired it, which is far better, if you ask me. Admiration is the highest form of jealousy. Agreement is just an excuse for people to switch off their brains. You were right in saying that people use the Nets to hide from reality, but you went wrong in supposing they could ever succeed at it. Even if we came here to avoid it, we still have real thoughts, real desires, words that stir real emotion from those who hear them. Yes, this floor is merely an illusion. But reality haunts our every artificial step. It’s true that we never grow up the way you do – we live sheltered lives, free of accidents and miracles. We are seldom surprised and never bewildered, and our souls are poorer for that. But do you truly believe humankind would give all of that up if there were not something just as precious to be gained? Being our whole selves. Go on and laugh, but I can prove it to you. Tell me, if we were unplugged right now, and I didn’t like your appearance, would I come this close to you, or put my arm around you like this? And if you knew for certain I was a different type than you like, or a different gender, would you let me? So there you have it. If I am attracted, it’s not to pheromones, or the color of your eyes, which you really had nothing to do with. I am attracted to the choices you’ve made. If I say ‘you are so beautiful, Raskin’, I don’t mean your appearance, but who you are. For in here, there is no barrier between our souls. We both know this isn’t a hand, but my desire to reach out and touch you. And when I do, it isn’t your body I connect to. It is your bravery. Your goodness. Your bright simplicity of spirit. When two people kiss, it is not their lips that touch. It is their hope. Their want. Their desperate longing to be known. And is that any less real for being online?

Context: An Invitation Out takes place in a future where the middle and upper classes live entirely as online avatars in a neo-Victorian world of their own devising. In this scene XLucidenailX, a genderqueer A.I. designer, tries to convince Raskin, an “Outdweller”who still lives mostly in the physical world, that their reality isn’t as shallow as Raskin initially thinks.

More information: https://shualeecook.com

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