For Your Time
by Jamie Lackey
The pamphlet arrives in your mailbox, sandwiched between the grocery store ads and the previous tenant's life insurance bill. The shiny, slick paper is thick between your fingers. Simple black letters on a dried-blood background say, "We Will Pay for your Time." Inside the explanation is long, scientific, boring. But the math is simple.
They will take thirty years of your life--not including weekends or holidays. They will take it in an instant, and pay you for the whole. They do not explain how. The pamphlet does not cover what they do with your time once they have it. But the number is more than you'd make in thirty years anyway. Enough to pay off your student loans, your car, your mortgage, with more than enough to live on, after. You can finally take that cruise that you've always dreamed of. You can quit your job.
You're already selling that time at work, anyway, right? And spending every minute of it miserable, wishing it was over.
You go and stand in line, behind a balding man in a suit, in front of a woman in a long cotton skirt who smells like patchouli. None of you speak. The line snakes around the block, and you all shuffle forward one step at a time.
Your palms sweat. You think of the money.