Fiction: Youth for Life

Read More: A brief interview with Barbara A. Fischer

Youth for Life

Good morning, Ms. Smith. We know that’s not your real name. Youth for Life is committed to protecting your anonymity. But we can call you anything you’re comfortable with. Ms. Smith is fine? Noted.

First, let us say we applaud your courage, your foresight, your tenacity in seeking us out. We applaud your patience with our rigorous screening process and your openness in disclosing your financial records and medical history. You’ve had to jump through quite a few hoops to demonstrate your commitment. We applaud your agility!

As you know, all consultations with Youth for Life are made on the basis of trusted referrals. Who, exactly, referred you to us?

Your reticence is commendable. We know that whoever referred you to Youth for Life made you swear on something very special that you would not disclose that person’s identity. We will not ask you to breach that trust. We ask only that you disclose the very special thing you swore on. This is not a trick question. You must answer before we can proceed. Think of it as re-confirming your password.

The life of your child. Very good. Our records are in agreement.

On to the fine print items, which we realize have already been explained to you in excruciating detail.

Full disclosure: you may decide at any time during this final interview not to participate. No hard feelings. Though should you decide Youth for Life is not right for you, there will be certain penalties. Though nothing so drastic as the life your child!

Yet isn’t that what Youth for Life is all about? The life of your child? Her idyllic future? But rest assured. The penalties for deciding not to participate this late in the game will be of a financial nature only, as was explained to you when you granted Youth for Life power of attorney.

Although heavier penalties shall and will apply should you reveal to anyone the nature of your conversations with us. By anyone, we mean all entities described in Footnote 74. These include but are not limited to parents, sisters, brothers, best friends, lovers, attractive strangers in bars, etc. Should you choose to disregard our anonymity clause (Article Two, Section 7), Youth for Life reserves the right to preserve its anonymity in any way it deems necessary. This includes but is not limited to the release of psychiatric records attesting to the fact that you are not of sound mind, your history of frivolous lawsuits, police records detailing arrests for felonies, etc. As you will recall, you fully cooperated in the creation of these alternate records. They’re for our mutual protection!

To recap. You have read the 54-page Memorandum of Understanding which discloses that Youth for Life is an experimental initiative. You understand that it is not FDA approved.

Excellent. Let’s go over the bullet points.

Item One. Youth for Life is an experimental medical intervention that will allow your child to remain a child forever.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the miracle of that statement. Let’s not let that miracle get lost in a recitation of dry bullet points. Instead, imagine a lifetime of dress-up and Barbies and art projects and board games and Dr. Seuss and Sesame Street re-runs. Imagine the miracle of a child who stays a child. Forever!

Item Two. By “forever,” we don’t mean forever. We anticipate a normal life-span for the Perennially Young Child (PYC). Seventy-seven years in the case of males, seventy-nine in the case of females. These are based on current actuarial tables. Your PYC will not have eternal life. (We’re medical professionals–not God!) Rather, your child will fail to age (FTA).

Item Three. We do not guarantee with one hundred percent certainty that your child will FTA. But we can say that in the ten years the technology has been in existence, those children who have been treated have not progressed nor grown nor shown any signs of doing so beyond their biological age when initially treated.

Item Four. Your child will undergo a series of inoculations no more painful and carrying no greater risk than standard vaccinations, after which your child will not progress beyond the age when initially treated. In your daughter’s case, three years four months. We find three to be the optimal age. As you know, children younger than two and older than four are not eligible for Youth for Life.

Item Five. You and your PYC may not stay in the same geographic location longer than one year. Every twelve months, you and your PYC must relocate to a new locale not less than six hundred miles from your previous locale. For obvious reasons.

Item Six. After each relocation, Youth for Life will supply you and your PYC with new birth certificates, social security numbers, immunization records, driver’s licenses, etc. Moving and living expenses will be entirely your responsibility.

Item Seven. You may not marry nor form any long-term relationship. Again, for obvious reasons. See Footnote 74 which details all persons with whom you may not form long-term relationships, which includes–well, everyone. But you’ll have your PYC for company! And what better company than a sweet loving child  who is completely dependent upon you! Who worships you! Who thinks you can do no wrong!

Item Eight. Full disclosure! We’ve received reports from a handful of mothers (MPCYs—we refer to all our clients as “mothers”)–claiming their PYCs exhibit certain unpleasant teenage qualities, i.e., undisguised animosity, deceitfulness, and/or verbal and physical abuse quite beyond their arrested years. Let me stress that these negative behaviors are as statistically likely to occur as liver damage, a warning that can be read on any Tylenol insert. And frankly, we question the parenting skills of the MPCYs who allege negative outcomes. That’s why we’ve tightened our screening process. And why we’re certain they’ll never happen to you. We have every confidence that you’re equal to the task of successfully parenting a PYC.

Item Nine. Should you find you’re not equal to the task of parenting a PYC, Youth for Life does, as you know, offer a contingency plan.

Because let’s face facts. You’re a woman in her mid-forties. Your energy seems boundless now, but as you age, you may question whether you’re up to caring for your Perennially Young Child, who, like any young child, may prove to be a handful. A joyful handful, to be sure. Still, you may find that all that energy, no matter how sweetly displayed, wears on you. When you reach your sixties or seventies or even eighties, you may find that meeting the myriad needs of a PYC are more than you can handle. Perfectly understandable. […]

Subscribers can read the full version by logging in.
Not a subscriber? Sequestrum is a pay-what-you-can journal:
Our rates are variable so that everyone can enjoy outstanding literature.
Access this and all publications (and submit for free).

Subscribe Today


Barbara A. Fischer’s stories have appeared in Nimrod International, Louisville Review, Tampa Review, Calyx, and the Sycamore Review, among others.

Read More: A brief interview with Barbara A. Fischer