Tim was spending a lot of time as he pleased, but was far from being a man of leisure. Things were shaping up on the allotment, but he was a long was off being self-sufficient. All too often, he found the temptation to do something else less boring instead too great, and would take himself off on long, meandering cycle rides or sit in the pub on his own with a book or a magazine, or even a newspaper. He’d never been a big reader before, but was starting to find it an enjoyable and stimulating pastime, although he preferred non-fiction books and still found the news as depressing as hell. Still, it only reinforced his belief that what he was doing was for the best. The world was sick and he wanted no part in it.
Amy saw things differently though. Tension had been mounting and the more Tim refused to join her on her social climbing excursions and uncomfortable engagements with people neither he nor she really liked, the more irritated she became.
It all came to ahead one Wednesday evening. Amy had been working late and Tim hadn’t been working at all. It had begun with Amy’s daily harangue about him getting another job, and he’d had to admit that money was beyond tight. His suggestion that they sell some of Amy’s DVDs and unwanted clothed had incensed her and she had given him a piece of her mind with a few home truths expressed in the most straightforward of terms.
‘You don’t get it, do you?’ he had said.
‘You’re right, I don’t. I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with you,’ he had snapped in reply. ‘You need your head checked. You’re not living in the real world!’
‘No,’ he’d replied in a measured tone, solid with confidence and conviction, ‘I’m part of the solution. Your way of living, following the herd, running on empty and perpetual stress, as though you’re actually gaining from it, is all wrong. Success – material success – is an illusion. No-one sees it because they’re scared.’
‘Don’t talk like that, you sound like you’re mad!’ Any had screamed.
Tim had shaken his head. ‘If only you knew’, he had sighed. ‘Look, you’re off to a party for Paul’s birthday tonight, right? Why are you going? You feel obliged,’ he had lectured. ‘You can’t say no because you can’t be seen to not be there. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, right? But what’s in it for you, really? You’ll make like you’re having a great time, but it’s all a complete lie. You think he’s boring and his girlfriend’s an idiot. Although to be honest, I think you’re jealous of her because she’s on a higher salary and likes everyone to know it.’
‘Look, I can’t be with you if you’re going to be such a prick,’ Amy had snarled. ‘I’ll be back for my stuff later.’ Then she turned tail and walked out, slamming the door behind her.
Tim’s face flushed, a combination of humiliation and anger. Fuck her. If Amy couldn’t get on board with what he was doing, and support him in making a better life for himself in an insane world based on facades and superficial exchanges devoid of contact or humanity in a culture of hyperinformation, he didn’t need her. It was her loss. One day she would realise he was in the right.
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