After Dinner Conversation

Volume 4, Issue 8, August 2023

Hilary Ayshford
Pages 49-59

Tempus Fugit

Who deserves to live the longest? How do you know if you should give or take extra time from others? In this philosophical short story fiction, Shelia gets a strange letter in the mail on her 69th birthday, along with a pamphlet from a strange company she has never heard of. She ignores the mailer, but a few weeks later, two salesmen arrive at her door. They explain to her that “everyone gets 70 years of life,” on average, but that it’s possible to give, or take, extra life from others. Life can be given, or taken, from those you know, or complete strangers. Perhaps some are more (artists, scientists) or less (criminals, drug addicts) deserving of the life they were naturally given. This is all too much for Shelia, who decides to simply put off the question for another day. Her 70th birthday eventually arrives, and the salesmen are back, asking for her decision. Should she give a few years to a loved one? If she does nothing, they explain to her, the community deficient will be taken from society as a whole. After due consideration, Shelia tears up the contracts, and decides to make no decision at all.