When the figure on the screen emerged and kissed him back, he started.
"I'm never ready for that," he muttered, half-pleased and flushing. Enhanced Avatars had been around for years now, but Bertram had been a child of the 20th century decades before the Longevity Vaccine came along, and somehow he still longed for the Grand Antebellum, as the mavens called it. When they popped out of the screen like that, it still gave him the willies.
"Susan," he murmured.
"I'm here, Bertram," said the pixelated figure, leaning back in her chair with a faint smile. She was younger than he, originally scanned from a model in a Penney's catalog, if memory served. He had a vague memory of a pink checked sundress, sunglasses pushed up on her forehead, sandals. Or was that what she had been wearing the time--?
She began typing, probably IM'ing a friend.
"Susan, how far could you come into my world if you tried?" asked Bertram.
"No, it's not that," he added hastily. "Look, what if--what if I told you they had found a way for me to enter your world? To become a fully functioning avatar, unconstrained by my humanity."
"You've always lived in your head anyway, " Susan observed drily. She didn't believe him.
She stopped typing and looked at him carefully. That was when the lights suddenly went out, and with a soft zipf the screen flicked off.