‘Wake up, you’ll be late for work!’ Amy was shaking him to stir him from his slumber. Tim didn’t want to wake up. He’d been dreaming that he was on top of a mountain, looking out across the expansive vista of other mountains and trees on the slopes below.
‘I’m not going to work,’ he mumbled from under the duvet.
‘Are you ill?’ Amy quizzed.
‘Working from home again?’
‘Have you got a day off? You didn’t tell me if you have!’ she sounded tetchy.
‘No,’ Tim sighed. ‘I’m just not going to work.’
‘I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with you,’ Amy snapped as she flung herself from the bed and dashed about making herself ready.
Tim tensed. He felt a strange sense of déjà vu and something else just beneath the tension. A tingle of excitement and apprehension perhaps.
Before long, Amy had left for work and Tim found himself alone. He turned over and slept for another hour before being awoken by his phone. He turned over and picked up the device that lay buzzing and bleeping from his bedside table. He checked the caller ID. Seeing that it was Flashman, he killed the call and turned over again and slept for another half an hour before getting up and enjoying a leisurely breakfast. This was novel! But before long the novelty wore off and he began to feel restless. Restlessness gave way to agitation. He felt twitchy, fidgety. Resisting the urge to continually check and recheck his email was almost more than he could endure. It seemed unnatural, somehow. To remove the source of temptation, he stitched off his laptop and went for a walk. He had no idea where he was going. It didn’t matter: he simply needed to be out. He hesitated momentarily as he deliberated with himself over whether or not he should take his Blackberry. Going anywhere, even as far as the lavatory, or the back yard, felt somehow wrong, like a breach of protocol, or worse, like heading into a war zone without any kind of arms or protection.
The first thing that struck him was the extreme quietness that hung in the still air. He inhaled deeply and looked up, soaking in the sky’s blue hue and the delicate patterns the clouds traced across the vast expanse. Before long, he became aware that there were sounds to be heard, that the world was not silent. Sirens, but distant, sounded more calming than they did urgent. Birds chirped.
He awoke is a panic-stricken sweat. His jaw ached from grinding his teeth. His bruxism was beginning to wear him down, causing frequent toothache and dental sensitivity. He’d treated the last week like a holiday. He’d even let the charge on his Blackberry run down so he wasn’t being hassled by notifications of incoming messages or calls or texts and wasn’t tempted to switch it on. Ignoring the land-line was rather harder, but he’d turned the ringer down, or otherwise taken himself off for walks, drives and cycle rides. He’d spent all of Thursday from midday onwards in the pub.
So far, he knew inside himself that up to now he had only been dabbling, a few small token approximations of the principles of self-liberation. Small wonder nothing had really changed. He still felt tired and stressed and was still struggling to manage his time. Friday night he found himself walking aimlessly, a little drunk but alert in the cool night air. It was as he wandered he found himself struck dumb by a moment of clarity. This was his epiphany, and with it the realisation it had to be all or nothing.
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