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After 21 trips together, Iliom and Maruska are wondering about the next one.
Are they going to finally meet?
Iliom is endowed with elegant and sensitive beauty that seems a gauge of happiness forever. Maruska is spellbound. Love at first sight is mutual. The young woman has a smile and a captivating gaze that makes all resistance futile.
Even if our lovebirds seem to come straight out of a fairy tale, their conversations tend more towards the mundane than the magical. They are painstakingly knitting back together memories of their 21 trips.
“I remember the first one really well. I had chosen Venice for its gondolas,” says Maruska.
Yes, yes… I remember,” adds Iliom. I was furious. I had chosen Iceland but ended up in Venice.”
“You wanted to be reimbursed for the trip.”
“I didn’t insist. I was fascinated by you right from the start. You were constantly blinking. I thought you had a tic.”
“I couldn’t keep my sunglasses on my nose. It was my first trip,” said Maruska.
Australia, Korea, Belgium…. The two lovers scroll through the destinations and exert their critical minds.
“The worst was the trip to Brazil,” says Iliom.
“Oh, yes, they didn’t make much of an effort. They forced us to watch a documentary about the country for at least two hours,” adds Maruska.
“It was a Tongue Tour trip. They were misrated and had to close.”
“In the ‘nothing to write home about’ category, there’s also the Rice Field Tour trip.”
“I can’t remember anymore.”
“The trip to Vietnam. We changed locations every five minutes. We went from Saigon to Hanoi, then to Sapa.”
“Quite rightly. Going north then south so much our heads were spinning.”
“It was absolutely rubbish. We visited 14 cities in less than eight hours.”
“All the same, it was more stimulating than the trip to the top of Mont Blanc. We had to look at the mountains and the sky for ages.”
“I loved that,” says Maruska. “We had time to think and talk to each other. It’s really where I started thinking that I could never travel with anyone but you.”
A wave of emotion comes and goes. Loving smiles before moving on to the memories in the big thrills’ category.
“It took me weeks to recover from the September 11 trip,” says Maruska.
“They took it down,” adds Iliom. “The victim support associations filed a complaint for virtual voyeurism.”
“A good thing too. Tour operators have no ethics…. However, I do have very good memories of the Monovox trip,” says Maruska. “A colour, a musical note, a smell…. It was absolute sweetness. I realised that in our society of profusion, we were victims of a confusion of the senses.”
The couple lose themselves for a while in intellectual considerations, then return to their virtual reality of the moment.
“And what do you think of RIN?”
“RIN?” asks Iliom.
“Royal Intimate Nature…. It’s the trip we’re living right now. They didn’t mislead us about the goods. This castle is truly royal. We are both here and can reveal our true natures.
“I like it a lot,” Iliom merely says.
Maruska doesn’t insist. She had noticed how Iliom raised an eyebrow she talked about true nature. Both enjoy the silence for a few minutes. The young woman then speaks up:
“What will our next trip be? The virtual travel coach suggests we do an LMPR… Love Meeting in Physical Reality,” says Maruska. “It says that after 21 virtual trips we can take the plunge into reality. After the meeting of our minds, our bodies are ready to move closer.”
“We’ll see,” says Iliom.
While he dreams of seeing Maruska in real life, he is also terribly afraid.
A silence settles in. Emotion is visible in the pixels.
“You won’t be able to love me. I’m…”
Maruska hesitates to tell him that in her everyday life she finds herself too tall, too small, too fat, too thin…. In short, too ugly and crap to be loved.
“It’s your spirit I love,” says Iliom. “You know, I’m…
Like Maruska, he falls silent. He’s afraid to tell her that, in his crappy real life, he’s married and doesn’t allow himself the right to dream.
After giving vent to their cruel realities, they decide to depart for Mars. The trip has a good press. It removes all earthly burdens.