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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

MISSING MELTS

Late last November, a woman was sitting in her home office, waiting for her broken computer to be repaired, when the disease that had been wracking her heart took its final toll, and killed her. She was 33.

Days later, a ceremony and vigil was held in-world for her, the mourners in black, their heads bowed, gathered in a ring around a shrine that bore her real life photograph. It depicts a young African-American woman with vivacious eyes and a giant grin, and even if most of the residents who came to mourn didn't know her in that incarnation, they still knew her well enough. On November 24th, a capacity crowd was there to remember the woman that most of them had only known as a slender, sexy brunette, the wittily-named ingenue known as Meltsinyourmouth Steed.

Someone there did know her well enough to know the why and how of her passing.

"She died wishing she was in Second Life," Malora Brodsky tells me. "Her computer broke [the previous] Wednesday... She had to wait nine days from Thursday to get hers back. She was on [her] hubby's computer checking e-mail... his computer wouldn't play Second Life." But by then, Malora and her had known each other her well enough to speak by phone, which is what they'd been doing, the previous day.

"We talked on phone around Midnight, Saturday night," Malora says. "She was tired and TV'd out... she hated not being able to play Second Life."

"And she died a few hours later, pretty much."

"Yes. She didn't call me Sunday, like she usually did..." There's silence on her side of the channel. "So depressed." Malora is a voluptuous redhead with ice blue eyes, given to wearing blood red capes or silk stockings and little else. (Based in part on the videogame character BloodRayne, one of her favorites, and a look that Melts embraced, when Malora tried it on.)

Malora's silent for awhile longer, and I ask her if we should talk about this later.

"Pardon me," she finally says. "Old wounds are open again... gawd, I miss her so much. Her spirit was unequalled. She was so full of love."

She learned that Melts had died on the day it happened. "I called her house to tell her about my mother." They spoke every day, around lunchtime, and for a couple hours in the evening. "And her hubby said she passed away... I had a hard time understanding him [at first]."

News of her passing spread quickly through the Second Life community, and Melts' many friends began planning her memorial, for the following week.

"She loved everyone," Malora says. "But she [also] told everyone how she loved me. We were the happiest couple."

Because as it happens, Malora Brodsky was not just a friend. In Second Life, the two women were married to each other. "Other women propositioned her," says Malora, "and she wasn't interested in women, 'til she met me... We saw each other and stars flew. We knew we were destined for each other."

Their relationship began casually enough, at first, with some flirtation at one of the many Mature-themed events where the emphasis is on hot talk and exhibition.

"She saw me and it was, 'Oh my God, I want her.'" It was an attraction to each others' avatars, in the very early stages, but that quickly evolved into something more substantial. "She was very sexy and so outgoing and sweet, I wanted to meet her. So we started hanging out. Shortly after that, we started talking on phone. We were together every day. It felt so right. So we got married. We were inseparable, we were so in love."

Malora says she's been always attracted to women in real life, and has had some experiences in the past, but not actively involved with any now. "Nor was she," Malora adds. "I'm 46, not a spring chicken anymore." So at first, her fantasy life with women in-world was just that. "I wasn't looking for love, I was merely having fun," she says. But there were those flying stars, provoked by Melts' "spirit, her mere existence", and there it was.

There's a shrine to Meltsinyourmouth outside the Xanadu Skating Rink. Joey Williamson, another friend, built it in Melts' honor, a veiled shelter with a stone bench.

"Just an area for people to pay their respects," Williamson explains. "Spend a 'lil time with her."

Joey's a muscular man with a fiery phoenix tattooed across his broad back. "To me," he continues, "it's just to honor my best friend." The place is strewn with flowers, left there by friends who've come to remember Melts. There's also a glowing sphere casting beams of blue light in all directions, and hummingbirds fluttering about. "It's just a shining star, because she was a ray of sunlight to so many," says Williamson. "The hummingbirds I did along with a friend, and they're just there to keep Melts company and make her smile." And we stand there for awhile, Malora and I.

"Did you know she was that sick?" I ask her earlier.

"No," she says. "She [told me she] couldn't work 'cuz of back problems. Never knew of heart problems."

I wonder aloud why she never mentioned them to her in-world spouse.

"I dunno," says Malora Brodsky. "We were happy. That isn't a happy thing. She liked us happy."

And now Malora has to leave the world for now, so I thank her for sharing. "No problem," she says, and just before she disappears, she manages to type out one last thought:

"It will heal."

Thanks to Torley Torgeson, for the screenshots from Meltsinyourmouth Steed's memorial (first two from the first page.)

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Comments

This is so very sad ! I initially met Melts at a poker game in sedig. Later she visited the tribal drums for a few events and was a member of the tribe. She will be sorely missed, what a soul ! :(

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