TUESDAY: The Virtual Partner Exprience


Copyright is held by the author.

EVERY MORNING I log on to the Internet and leave behind my broken body for a while. Here on the internet, we can be our true selves. For some that meant they could be their preferred gender. Others prefer to be anthropomorphic animals. As for me, I prefer to be able-bodied. On the Internet no one has to know about my disability. Online, however, I’m still a nobody but at least I have a chance at love and romance. After all, the real world holds nothing for me anymore. It’s just a mixture of people making progress in life via weddings and buying houses. That world never exists. Someday I’ll be living happily in the virtual world with my true love, my useless physical form shed at long last. If dreams don’t come true in the real world, let me live inside a dream forever. It’s clear society doesn’t want me.

In a way it has always been like this. My childhood, however, was full of joy. My parents did their best despite the circumstances, but the world was not always so kind. As soon as I became an adult, my disability pretty much forced me into poverty and put me in a nursing home far before my time. At least I have a space to myself. Granted it’s a hospital room all in name only, but it’s still a single room. I don’t go out much in the real world anymore. Few people want to talk to you when they sense death and decline. These days I just sit and dream of better times before the sadness is too much and I have to go online again. 

My avatar, or more accurately, my true self, walks into the main shopping plaza. Passing by an ad for various dildos shaped like animal dicks, I enter a store called The Partner Experience. In this store, you pay with virtual currency to have a date (or more) with a virtual partner. It’s the only way people like me ever get laid. I pay the 150 virtual bucks, choose my scenario, and enter. The world briefly dissolves and goes black.

I find myself inside of a horse drawn carriage. The red plush seats match the red interior. A handsome man sits by the window, his dark hair styled in a way that reminds me of Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid.  His gentle green eyes gaze warmly at me. 

“Did you have a good nap, babe? You looked so cute while sleeping.” He takes my hand and gently brings it to his lips, a beautiful smile crossing his face afterwards.

“I slept well.” I say softly. I woke up much better than I usually do anyway, not surrounded by the cold mechanical bars of my hospital bed as a caretaker comes in to clean me up and dress me in my day clothes. Here at least, they pretend to care about me as a person.

“We’re almost to the lake. Soon we’ll have our picnic.” He gazes out the window wistfully. “The day’s almost as perfect as you.”

I’m only perfect because this avatar is designed to hide my numerous flaws. The real me is weak and inferior. The virtual me is not. “Aww, thank you,” I reply, “You always know just what to say!” Because you’re just a program designed to whisk users like me away to a better reality. One where they can forget about all their problems and live in their ultimate daydreams.

The carriage rolls along through the bright sunny forest as birds chirp their little songs seemingly in time to the hooves clip clopping across the dirt paths. It feels calm and peaceful. I know that back in the real world my room must be hot and sticky. Here the temperature seems perfect. Why would you need to sweat or be too cold in a dream world after all? If only I could live in this world forever and abandon my flesh suit for good. At least in the virtual world, I’m treated with love and affection rather than just a warm hole to fill or a job creator.

Soon the carriage stops and we arrive at a beautiful sparkling lake next to a gorgeous log cabin. The coachman nods as we gather our things. My prince holds the door open for me as I step out, taking advantage of the fact that I have working legs. When I had my first virtual partner, I ran about on my legs for a good few minutes, beaming with joy at how they moved just like an able-bodied person’s legs would. These days it’s all the same to me.  He smiles a winning smile at me and for a moment I feel at peace. I’m no longer inadequate damaged goods. I’m a human being. 

The prince and I walk around for a bit, with him pointing out the various flora and fauna of the kingdom. Flowers in various colors wave around in the wind while birds sing their songs of joy and mating. All I can do is take your arm and smile. How are you so perfect? Why are people in real life so inferior compared to you?

“This place is so nice. Y’know, my favourite place was a waterfront beach town. The main attraction used to be the old Stork Club. Us kids used to play on the beach and look around at the old metalworking buildings turned into little gift shops. It was a place for artists and beachgoers alike. God, I wish you could see it.” My prince merely chuckles and smiles at me. He could never respond to me like a human being could.

Finally we get to a spot surrounded by wildflowers. My prince lays out a blanket and helps me to sit down, kissing my hand as he does so. He opens the lid and brings out an impressive spread of sandwiches, meats, and cheeses. He pours us some wine as well. I know these foods won’t ever physically nourish me. But it’s nice to pretend. It’s certainly better than the mushy barely edible food that gets served to me back in the real world.  

“Your beauty is beyond compare.” My prince says a smile always on his perfect face. Why can’t this dream just continue on forever? I’d love to rule the kingdom with him by my side. We could take vacations to this little cottage by the lake. He could save me from my nightmares.

However, all dreams must come to an end. We finish “eating” the food and lie back on the blanket looking up at the blue sky. The scene fades away and I head out of the store, looking to do virtual work in this virtual world so I can experience my dreams once again. At least my useless failing body can create content. 

Time to game the algorithm.


Image of Livia Turnbull, wearing glasses and smiling

Livia Turnbull is a Canadian writer with disabilities living in British Columbia. She has two post secondary degrees and writes to escape loneliness.

  1. Thanks for sharing this. We are all lonely in some way. It is a long journey. I now have permanently etched lines on my face. Seniors discounts come to me and I don’t even ask.

  2. Thank-you for sharing some of your life experience with us in such a creative way!

  3. I did write a comment of a few lines but it went into electricity. So I’ll express my appreciation, Livia, and hope to read your other work here or elsewhere. Regards. Mel

  4. Livia, this was an awesome story. Loved the virtual escapism to avoid the reality we sometimes try to avoid. Regards, Connie

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