Joby looked down at the note in his hand and sighed. She had her reasons, he was sure. Just like his boss had. Two life-changing slips of paper in one day. He tried to be angry. He thought about screaming in rage and frustration until the whole world cringed at the sound of it, but all he seemed able to feel right then was resignation. Shaking his head at the futility of it all, he set the good-bye letter down next to the pink slip. Maybe I should get them framed to commemorate the worst day of my life, he thought. It was ironic that neither party knew how their betrayals had coincided. Yet one had directly enabled the other. If his manager at the sim store hadn't let him work his entire shift before calling him in for his "evaluation", he would have walked in on Trish packing up her things. At least then she would have had to break up with him in person. As it was, both his former boss and his former girl friend got to have things entirely to their advantage and he was left with just enough money to survive for a couple more weeks, if he was careful. He needed to find another job and maybe a roommate or he was likely to end up sleeping under an overpass somewhere. But that was a concern for tomorrow. Tonight... well, tonight's concerns were more immediate.
Getting up from the unmade bed, Joby went into the living room, settled himself on the ragged couch, and eagerly booted up the fancy sim deck that sat on the coffee table. The sim deck, unlike its surroundings, was top-of-the-line. He had bought it last year, after his parents died in a car wreck and left him a small inheritance. The rest of their assets had been confiscated for back taxes, including the house he had grown up in. Trish had pleaded with him to save the money until they were ready to buy a house of their own, but he hadn't listened. He'd been scheming and plotting for the better part of a year, trying to come up with a way to afford the little technological wonder, so when the money suddenly became available, he simply couldn't resist. Ever since he went against her wishes, Trish had been harder and harder to live with. She had accused him of loving sims more than her, which was ridiculous. He only got on the sim deck so much because of her worsening attitude. Besides, it wasn't like she didn't use it, too, sometimes.
Joby took the ergonomic headset off the table and settled the contacts on the bare skin of his shaved head. The plastic and metal contacts had started wearing away patches of his shoulder-length hair anyway, so he'd finally just shaved it all off. Once his hair was gone, he'd found that the sims had less tendency to "dump" him in the middle of scenes, so he'd kept it that way. Trish, of course, had liked his hair long and disapproved of his decision to go bald. Putting his ex-girlfriend out of his mind, Joby eagerly reached for the rack holding his sim collection and spent the next several hours lost in other peoples' imaginary adventures.
The next morning, Joby woke up to the sound of the alarm clock going off in his bedroom.