Amy walks through Prospect Park in Brooklyn, thinking of how much of her life has come apart in the wake of Nick’s having been laid off. At first, he was optimistic about learning new skills that might help him get a different job, and spent his days reading classic novels and studying online language lessons—quickly, though, he descended into lethargy, and now spends his days eating take-out and playing video games in pajamas. When Amy loses her job at her magazine, too, Nick “barely shrugs,” telling Amy that at least she has her family’s money.
Nick is clearly resentful of Amy’s position—though he has claimed to be blasé about her fortune in his own timeline, Amy asserts that Nick has always seen Amy and the things that happen to her differently because of her money.
One afternoon, Amy comes home and begins cleaning the apartment. She finds bags full of luxury bespoke goods from high-end men’s stores. When she confronts Nick about the extravagant purchases, he claims that he bought the clothes for future job interviews. Amy is angry that Nick is provoking her into nagging him, trying to turn her into a kind of woman she’s never been and never wanted to be.
In this passage—which sets up a major twist which will be revealed in the present timeline, in Carthage—it’s impossible to say whether Amy is telling the truth about Nick’s overspending, or laying the groundwork for the story she wants to tell about Nick and his habits.
When Amy gets nervous about their “his-and-her layoffs,” she checks her bank account to calm her mind—she has nearly eight hundred thousand dollars in savings. Though her trust fund from the Amy books is a huge chunk of change, she knows it’s not enough to let her and Nick stop working forever—especially not in New York.
Amy’s money is her independence. Though it doesn’t guarantee her a stress-free or work-free life, it allows her not to worry—it will keep her afloat in a difficult time.
One day, Marybeth and Rand call to ask if they can come over. Amy grows frightened, afraid that one of her parents has fallen ill—instead, when they arrive, they sit Nick and Amy down to tell them they’ve fallen on hard times, having been living beyond their means for years. Marybeth asks to borrow money from Amy’s trust to help keep their mortgage payments on both their house and her brownstone afloat. Amy agrees, even when her parents request six hundred and fifty thousand dollars—and ask her to wire transfer it to them immediately.
With the news Marybeth and Rand bring, Amy knows that the flotation device of her trust fund is gone—without the money that symbolizes her independence, she is at the mercy of the economy and in uncharted territory.