(March 7, 2009)

Years later, the thing I remember most clearly about you is your ability to construct and release incarnations of yourself. Life is a Halloween ball and everyone is dressed to conceal, but most people's masks end at the tips of their noses, and their shapes are just barely disguised by their costumes. You were something else entirely: a cascade of avatars spreading out in all directions from the shadowed core of your being, a theoretical place of truth that may or may not have existed in practice. You wove personalities out of other people's attributes and gave them life with the spark of your own poetry; it would have been a beautiful technique had it not been so saturated with deception.

I particularly liked the cryptohuman you built for me, and not just because I got to grow up with him. He was abrasive and gentle and genuine and sarcastic, and his eyes danced with the sort of mirth that had only been improved by its contact with sadness. He was cruel to many but kind to me, and the constant stream of lies that passed his lips were always intended for other people, never harming our trust. I loved him more than I could say, and he was a precious treasure I hoped never to lose. But like a clone with its cursed telemeres, all of your creations had a fatal flaw: when one collided with another, they both fell apart.

My you was a fabrication like all of the others, but it took me a long time to figure that out, because he seemed so real. Of course, that's why you gave me that iteration, isn't it? When you base the self that you project on the person who is to receive it, you ensure that it will seem plausible. People want to recognize something of themselves in their friends, because as much as opposites may attract, it is commonalities that bind us. That's a dangerous trait, because it allows us to overlook discrepancies in favour of the familiar. I had to catch a glimpse of another you as it came into direct conflict with mine before the truth became obvious.

I still wish it hadn't, and I hope that I'm wrong.