‘I often wonder,’ the man said, as he slid his arm under his girlfriend’s head and pulled her curled-up body closer to his, ‘why nearly ...

Wasted Time

   ‘I often wonder,’ the man said, as he slid his arm under his girlfriend’s head and pulled her curled-up body closer to his, ‘why nearly every minute of my life just feels like wasted time.’
   And, yeah, he did often wonder that; but the question was whether it actually needed to be said. The problem was that his post-coital mind would convince itself that it was wise enough to philosophise, to come up with big ideas and throw big statements around as if they were deep ideas no one had ever had before. He had the habit of believing that his trains of thought were worth spewing out, after he’d just made love. As is the case with a lot of men, the biggest loads of bollocks that had ever streamed from his mouth all followed the biggest loads that had ever streamed from his bollocks. Not that this was necessarily one of those times, it’s just worth remembering before we really get into this story.
   He continued. ‘Whenever I’m at work, I’m wishing I was somewhere else. I’m wasting the time I could be spending furthering my career on wishing my life away. That’s most of my week, nearly every week, for pretty much the rest of my life, written off.
   ‘When I’m not at work, I’m lying around, doing nothing. I’m thinking, or I’m worrying, or I’m wishing I was doing something useful. I never do what I need to do.
   ‘I know I should be cleaning the house. This house is never clean enough, and by the time one end of it is, the other end needs cleaning again. But even that would feel like a waste, when there are more important things to be getting on with.
   ‘I should be writing. I don’t write anywhere near as much as I want to. I really enjoy it, and it falls by the wayside. Although I suppose that’s partly because I just haven’t had any inspiration recently. I don’t know what to write about anymore.
   ‘Plus, there’s just no time to write, when I should be studying for my qualification. When my company folds, which it’s bound to sooner or later, how am I going to get a job anywhere else if I keep putting these exams off? I need to just get studying, accept that that’s what I need to do with my free time, even if it isn’t fun or exciting.
   ‘But god, that’s hard when there are a million things I’d rather be doing. Making stuff, watching stuff, reading stuff, exercising… Seeing you…
   ‘Do you know what I mean?’
   He stroked her arm, kissed the back of her neck as he spooned her; and she mumbled, he assumed in agreement.
   ‘Well, now that I mention you, I think that’s the real reason my time feels wasted. I don’t want to study because it doesn’t interest me. You do.
   ‘I can’t write because the only thing I want to write about is you. I construct these cheap, transparent stories in my head that are quite obviously all about us and are too soppy to put onto paper because no one would want to read them and they’d be about as entertaining as a train delay, but they’re all I can think of. The way I feel plays on repeat in my head, so it’s no surprise that it’s the only story I can come up with.
   ‘I don’t want to do anything practical like cook or clean when you’re not imminently arriving, because you’re not here to benefit from it. I’d live like a tramp, if you never came around. You’re the only reason this place has ever been Hoovered.
   ‘And as for work, work is just what passes the majority of the time between our meetings. My life has become a countdown to seeing you next, and that doesn’t depress me at all. What depresses me is when the countdown starts too high. It’s always too long until our next date, our weekend, our holiday, whatever. You’re all I ever want to see, activities with you are all I ever want to do. All the thinking I do, that’s thinking about you. All the worrying is worrying that you’re somewhere far away, forgetting about me – or worse, going off me.
   ‘I should be working to earn money to buy you things. I should be studying so I can earn even more of it. I should be cooking and cleaning so that you’ll never have to lift a finger. I should be writing to impress you, to keep you interested. I should be exercising to stay the way you like me. But I’m doing none of those things. I’m just wasting every minute of my time, wishing I was holding your hand, looking into your eyes.
   ‘…Is that creepy? Have I said too much?’
   Perhaps the bollocks comment was unfair. Maybe he just wanted to let that woman know how he felt. Maybe it would have been the most romantic thing she’d ever heard, and maybe it would have made her night.
   But as he leant over her head to look into her eyes, he realised that all that monologuing, all that heart-pouring, had just been wasted time.
   She’d fallen asleep, right at the start.
   Which was probably for the best, he realised. It was a bit creepy, after all.

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