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Time for Evelyn
by Eric Suhem


Evelyn watched the clock tick toward midnight. Labor negotiations were at an impasse, the union representatives of the truck drivers refusing to make concessions on pensions, and management not budging on worker safety. Evelyn was the chief negotiator and had made progress in bringing the two sides closer together, but it was not enough, and a strike was called when the clock struck 12.


It was a protracted dispute, and Evelyn had been working extremely long hours for many days, without success. She was vilified in the press by politically-minded interests for not being able to achieve a settlement by the deadline. As the clock clicked past midnight, the union and management representatives got up to go, due back in 8 hours for a resumption of negotiations. Evelyn’s assistant got up and asked if she’d be leaving too to get some sleep.

     “No, I still need to work out some details in the follow-up plan,” said Evelyn while looking at her watch. “I’ll catch a few z’s later.”

     “Okay, we’ll see you in the morning.” said her assistant.


After working a few more minutes, Evelyn stared at the clock on the conference room wall, and her eyelids grew heavy. She fell asleep and veered off into a dream: …An old truck was being driven on a long stretch of desert highway, late at night with the headlights off. The truck was orange from bumper to bumper, except for a big yellow question mark painted on the back. There were no speedometers or odometers on the dashboard, only clocks. Evelyn was in the passenger seat, looking at the face of the driver, not seeing a mouth, eyes, or nose, but instead the face of a clock, with the long and short hands clicking from number to number. The truck pulled off the highway and stopped at a sand dune, where there stood a hooded figure in a red robe. The figure deposited a Timex watch on top of the sand dune, declaring, “Tick, tick, Evelyn… your time is running out, how will you choose to live this life?”… When Evelyn woke up, she was in the empty conference room, the clock showing 4 a.m.  She got up and left the negotiating table, never to return, her future ahead of her.


Evelyn took online classes in watchmaking, worked as an apprentice, and eventually became a watchmaker. As a negotiator, she had always been tyrannized by time and deadlines, but when she was inside the watch, tinkering with its mechanics and ripping up its gears, she felt in control of time. Evelyn leased office space and opened up a watch repair shop in a strip mall. Her watch business was instantly successful, and Evelyn became the go-to person in the area for timepiece mechanization. She loved what she was doing, and time seemed to fly by.


After several weeks, Nina, the manager of the nail salon next door, walked into Evelyn’s watch repair shop. “The owner of the strip mall is trying to renegotiate all of our leases and is threatening eviction,” said Nina, her fingernails stabbing at the air aggressively.


“Time is on our side,” said Evelyn, soon using her long-dormant skills as a negotiator to buy time and stave off eviction. Eventually, she was at the bargaining table with the strip mall owner, forging a new agreement and lease as the wall clock ticked.




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