This story is from "The Mundane Uses of Magical Objects", my upcoming book of flash fiction fairy tales for adults.
They were too busy to live. They figured they might have time for that when they died. In the meantime, they answered phone calls every other second, using the seconds in between to send emails, drink coffee, to yell at their subordinates and to absorb the screams directed at them. Then they died.
But once they were dead, the promise of life did not materialize as they'd hoped. It is because they were dead. And it turns out you are pretty busy when you are dead. There are a lot of questions to answer and paperwork to fill out. So they figured they'd have time to live when they got reborn.
And they did have time to live when they were reborn. But it wasn't exactly the kind of life they envisioned, because they were reborn as slugs. And there's not much you get to do in the course of the day if you are a slug. You pretty much get excited by going from one side of the road to another. Especially if you don't get run over by something and have to start the whole cycle again. Which, of course, is exactly what happened.
And when they finally got reborn as people, they got back to not living. A fact that begged the question - were these cursed souls? A question we really didn't have time to answer if we had any chance of finishing our sandship before reaching the deserts of forevermore...
If you like this story, you can check out another one here.