Author : Janie Brunson

“Welcome to the Talent Exchange Office. You must have a talent you would like to trade?”
“What is it? Your talent?”
“I … I can write poetry. In two languages. Puedo escribir en inglés y español. Sorry, English and Spanish.”
“A poet! There’s a very high demand for a talent like that. Both musicians and politicians can always use that kind of gift with words. Right through here, please. Now Mr. …”
“Just Eddie.”
“Eddie, then. Lean back and try to relax. It only takes a moment, and it’s painless. Physically, that is.”
“Señora! What do you mean?”
“You’re trembling, Eddie. It will be more difficult if you’re nervous. Deep breaths. Now, why are you trading in this talent?”
“My fiancée. I want us to have the wedding she sees in her dreams, with a white-frosted cake and beautiful live music and everyone in our family there, even the ones de México who can’t pay to travel.”
“That sounds wonderful. I’m sure you’ll get enough money from this to make it happen.”
“The thing is, she doesn’t know I’m here. She said I didn’t have to do this but … do you think she’ll notice a difference?”
“I’m afraid so, Eddie. Your ability to communicate will be … not what it was. Don’t look so terrified. You’ll be fine. You just won’t be able to carry on with descriptions of things people see in their dreams like you just did.”
“But I …”
“Tell me, what do you do for a living?”
“I work in the fields. I pick strawberries.”
“I thought so. Those rough hands of yours. Does your poetry help at all with your work? It seems to me that it might even get in the way, be distracting.”
“No, but it’s …”
“I’m about to start the procedure now, so please don’t talk until it’s done. Close your eyes. You’ll just feel a touch on your temple … Anyway, your talent will be put to good use by someone else. It will be used to lead people, to inspire them with art, to spread messages. It was always such a shame that so many of those with power and resources lacked that final component: talent. With yours, someone will do great things. Now, open your eyes, Eddie. It’s done. Didn’t hurt at all, did it?”
“How do you feel?”
“I feel … it’s different. I can’t say.”
“That’s normal. It will be a bit difficult to express yourself for a while. But you’ll get used to it.”
“Did … did you take all of it?”
“Yes. I’m afraid that’s the only way it works. I’m sorry. Take a moment. Here, dry your eyes. This emotional response is normal, too. Nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Gracias. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. I’m skilled at comforting people. That talent wasn’t mine originally. Now let’s see about your compensation.”
“Yes, Eddie?”
“If I can’t use words, how will I tell her that …”
“Don’t get frustrated; just say it as best you can, even if it doesn’t feel like enough. That’s what the rest of us do.”
“That I love her. How will I tell her that I love her?”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll manage. You’ll be able to bring this money home to her. It will be a lot. You are—were—very talented indeed.”