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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Luo

TIME and Again

Style: Fiction Writer's Statement: I explore the ways in which the menial routines of our daily lives impact us by imagining a society where days are no longer distinguishable.

“Good morning. Today is Thursday, October 28th, 2032.”

“Good morning. Today is Thursday, October 28th, 203—” 

I slam my hand on the incessant black box next to my bed. Its voice, repeating the same perpetual drone every morning, never fails to wake me up at exactly 7:55 AM. After peeling my corpse off of my opulent coffin, I drag myself into the kitchen to grab a pre-made cup of coffee and then make my way to the door. 

It would be impossible for me to recall the last time I ate three meals in a day — the redundant calories of breakfast have been lost to time for as long as I can remember. But it doesn’t matter; by 8:10 I’m sitting in my sturdy and reliable SUV and turning on my radio, about to head off for work.

A twist of the keys, and white noise instantly overwhelms the speakers, deafening static rushing through my eardrums. I can barely make out the song playing timidly in the background, but a single lyric tells me it’s the Billboard Top 50 once again. I cruise along the highway, and before long, my mind drowns under the ocean of sound as the stuffy, worn-out atmosphere suffocates me.

At 8:50 I’m inside the cubicle-flooded catacombs of Martin & Associates, traversing through a maze of hallways on the 29th floor to find my cell. Gently setting my coffee down, I plump myself onto my chair. The world fades away as I assume my role as Senior Accountant, diving headfirst into the sea of tasks that await me. My mind settles into familiarity as I sort through the abyss of files and spreadsheets that fill my desktop, and I dream through the rest of the day in a flash.

Lunch at 12:30 — check.

Conference call at 2:!5 — check.

Deadline at 3:45 — check.

In the car at 5:05 — check.

Back home at 5:45 — check.

Before I even realize it, the kitchen light beams on the spotless dish in the sink, and the glare shines like the moon on a clear, cool night. Today was pre-packaged spaghetti and meatballs; that means tomorrow is pre-packaged spaghetti and meatballs. How exciting. 

“Good morning. Today is Thursday, October 28th, 2032.”

“Good morning. Today is Thursday, Octob—”

My hand hits the snooze a bit faster this time. 7:55 AM — a new day and a new beginning, I think to myself. My car and job wait patiently in the driveway for me and I hurry along, coffee in hand. 

A twist of the keys, and “... as always, today is October 28th, 2032,” the reporter announces, “But tomorrow won’t be; in a groundbreaking decision, the 122nd Congress has repealed the TIME Act, the historic legislation that froze American calendars in the name of productivity, sparking protests across the nation as millions turned to the streets to express their disconte—” The static void arrives again, swallowing the audio whole.

I drive down the highway, the low hum of my car’s battery underscoring the jumbled radio dialogue. Peculiarly, the traffic begins to back up, and before I know it I’ve slowed down to a crawl. I spot fumes emerging from the cause — the wreckage of a crashed minivan — and steer away to take a detour. As I turn a corner, I watch as four young activists raise a sign and chant, with a frustrated crowd tailing behind. They protest in vain, shouting their demands at an empty conveyor belt as it drags along.

At 9:00 I step into a crowded glass elevator and watch as I ascend into purgatory ten minutes late. Usually, lush, beautiful mountains and glistening skyscrapers glamorize the city skyline from my floor at Martin & Associates. Today, smoke rises from across the streets as more and more demonstrators line the blocks and riot and dozens of news helicopters swarm the skies above. Fortunately, I have a schedule to catch up to, so I ignore the commotion below.

Lunch at 12:30 — check.

Conference at 2:30 — I’m the only one here.

Deadline at 4:15 — nobody to report to.

In the car at 5:05 — crowds to squeeze past.

I cruise along the highway as wind rushes past my face and the sun sets slowly past the horizon. The majestic canvas of the sky is tainted with inky billows of ash, and yet, its deep, warm beauty still radiates through the darkness. 

Suddenly, I slam on the brakes, watching as a huge crowd of protestors confront a rage-filled mob, blocking my path. I sit in my seat for a bit as the two groups face each other, the tension creeping with each moment. 

The white noise fades away and the familiar voice of the news anchor returns to my ears. They are discussing an appeal, but don’t last long against the ceaseless radio interference; a second or two passes and I’m drowning once again. 

I crank my volume knob to the max and floor the gas pedal.

Back home at 5:45 — check.

It only takes an hour or so to clean my tires, and when I’m done the cloudy night washes away all the color, painting my wet and dirty driveway pitch black. Pre-packaged spaghetti and meatballs, I think to myself. How exciting.

“Good morning. Today is Thursday, October 28th, 2032.”

“Good morning. Today is Thursday, October 28th, 2032.”



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