Time, too much of it, was a dangerous thing.
Megan mulled this over as she was beginning to notice a few things. Peripheral things. Things that she otherwise would have completely ignored back when she was too busy.
Megan scoffed at the thought of her previous life. It was a trap, she always reasoned, the golden handcuffs of the high-paying nine to five. Sure, she had a roof over her head, an expensive one at that, and she wasn’t starving, but for all those comforts, she paid with her precious time and sanity.
Now, though, she finally had the luxury of having time. Enough time to think, to make connections out of thin air, to remember things in a different light, a clearer light.
Yes, it was very possible Megan was suffering from some kind of post-retirement psychosis. Alternatively and infinitely preferably, she was the most sane she has ever been her whole life.
She understood now. Everything was clicking into place.
Today for example, she had nothing planned. It was a weekday, Tuesday to be exact, the least exciting day of the week. Most people were busy running on their hamster wheels making that dollar. Not Megan. Not anymore. She had no ladies to lunch with, no friends to visit, no classes to attend, no jobs to do. It probably would depress most people having such an empty calendar. For her, it was liberating.
How did she get here? Megan purposely retired from the workforce at the ripe old age of thirty-three. She didn’t have a trust fund, nor did she find a rich partner to provide for her. No, Megan was working class born and raised, complete with student loans and a mortgage.
Her retirement plan really was quite simple. She was lucky enough to work in tech, around the time when being in tech was absurdly lucrative. She landed an unreasonably high salary right out of college, and her benefits included a good chunk of company stocks. The timing was right. It was a bull market for tech and her investments grew exponentially in an unprecedented short amount of time. Of course, all that comes up must come down. She saw the writing on the wall and moved all her assets before it all went to shit. After everything calmed down, she moved on to the next company, asked for double her old salary, and continued diligently squirreling away her money.
Yes, the pay in tech was good, but man, did she hate every single minute of it. It was soul sucking work. The only thing that kept her going was that it allowed her a way out of the rat race. She always knew the woking life wasn’t for her, growing up watching her parents slave away every day, living paycheck to paycheck, coming home exhausted to their bones, working to their graves. They didn’t even know themselves anymore outside of their careers. How could they? It consumed most of their lives.
They had that look in their eyes after they finally got to retire. Empty.
Megan swore she would never be like that.
Her mother had rolled her eyes when Megan made the mistake of verbalizing her concerns in the midst of learning her fifth coding language. “That’s just life, Meg. We work and we work. Nothing comes free. You better get used to it.”
Megan always resented her for that. She did not want to get used to it. She thought it was an unnecessarily depressing concept to instill in a child: life sucked and will always suck. Still, thanks to her mother, it started Megan on her path. For thirteen years she worked the grind, lived criminally below her means, and invested most of her inflated salary. As soon as she hit her magic number, three million dollars to be exact, she said fuck all you guys, I’m out of here before anybody knew what was happening.
That was probably the single most satisfying moment of her life.
No, she didn’t feel guilty about it. God knows, she paid the better quarter of her life for it. Her time, from here on out, was hers and hers alone. It was the principle of it, really.
Anyway, now that her days were not filled with mind numbing work and self-important bosses, she had come to realize a few things.
One, that reality was not as it seemed.
It all started when Megan watched her neighbor, Trina, coming in and out of her house in the morning.
Now, normally, Megan wouldn’t even notice her neighbors. She barely spoke to them the past ten years, save for the occasional perfunctory nod when she bumped into them walking their dog or watering their plants, and only when eye contact was unavoidable.
But now… now that she had time, she noticed that Trina would get up every morning, have coffee on her porch, then, at 7:45am on the dot, she would get into her dark green Subaru and drive away, presumably to work. She would return later that day at 5:30pm, with her honey hair in a bun and purse over her shoulder, apparently exhausted from a long workday. It went exactly like this, like clockwork, Monday to Friday.
Well, except on Tuesdays.
On Tuesdays, Megan would watch her leave in her car in the morning, but she wouldn’t see her come home. Of course, at first, Megan assumed Trina just stayed over at a friend’s, or a lover’s, or volunteered at the local homeless shelter, or some other painfully boring, logical, benign thing, and she would come home late that night when Megan was already asleep. Really, it was probably none of her business. In the morning, like clockwork, at 7:45am, Trina’s garage door would open and her dark green mini SUV would come out with her in it.
Made sense. Except one Tuesday night, Megan stayed up late - all night, in fact - and watched Trina’s garage door the entire time. Trina never came home. No car. No Uber. No lights flickering on and off inside the house. Not a peep of sound from her neighbor.
Just as Megan was getting ready to call the police the next morning, her jaw dropped when, at 7:45am on the dot, her garage door opened and her dark green Subaru pulled out.
Now, Megan was not one to jump to conclusions. Obviously, she had to test her theories. The first possibility was that she somehow missed Trina coming home. She doubted it, she had never once fallen asleep without noticing, thirteen years of pulling all nighters programming had trained her well. Still, she had to rule it out. So for the next three Tuesdays, Megan stayed up all night, watching Trina’s house, and every single time, she wouldn’t see her come home. But every Wednesday morning, Trina would magically appear on her porch, having her cup of coffee, right before leaving through her garage in her dark green Subaru.
How could a car appear in a garage that it never physically returned to?
There was no doubt in her mind. Megan had seen this before, in her days in software development. She felt it in her bones.
It was… a coding glitch.