“You’re fired, Matt,” I said, and sighed sadly. “I’m sorry.”
The man across the desk did not appear surprised. He pursed his lips and, for a few seconds, stared blankly into my eyes, then dropped his gaze. He lifted his right hand slightly and ran the pad of his thumb over his fingernails.
“Of course. I understand. I know you couldn’t keep me on like this. I’m undependable,” he stated, in the same tone he used to talk about the weather.
I nodded. I might as well be honest about it. “You’re brilliant. The stuff you’ve written for me is the best I’ve ever had, no exaggeration. But I’m running a magazine here. I need articles on time and regularly. I have to do things by the clock. And you haven’t been able to meet that requirement.”
A bitter line appeared between his lips. “Time. That’s always the problem.”
“Why does it have to be you?” I said, more vehemently than I intended. “Damn it, Matt, I want your articles! I want you on staff, but not if you’re like this!” He said nothing, just kept staring at his fingernails.
“Never mind,” I continued. “I guess it’s my fault to some extent. I’ve known you long enough, I shouldn’t have made the gamble in the first place. I’ll get you the forms and information for the severance package. You can take it home with you.”
I pulled open a drawer behind me, fished out the papers I needed, and handed them to him. Matt took them gently from my hand and glanced at them, then caught my eyes with his own.
“I’m not going to argue with you,” he remarked, “but there are some, well, some circumstances that you should know about. I am inclined to tell you, and they might help explain. Not that they would convince you to keep me on, but they may make you feel a little less confused.”
“OK, shoot.” I leaned back in my chair and put my hands behind my head.
“How much time do I have?” he asked.
I checked my watch. “Exactly twenty-five minutes. Then I’ve got a meeting to look over the layout draft.”
“I’ll tell you what I can,” Matt said, and began:
“Time doesn’t work for me. Or I don’t work with time—I don’t know which. I’m … out of sync. With normal time, that is, what you and everyone else experience.
“You know how, when you’re doing something you greatly enjoy, time seems to fly, and it’s gone before you know it? Or how the seconds just crawl by when you’re in the middle of something unpleasant? Good. Now imagine that, sped up or slowed down a thousand-fold, and disassociated from whether you like or dislike what is going on. That’s a rough idea of what happens for me.” Continue reading