This month for Ask the Pro we will continue on the Solve the Problem theme. Many authors were commenting that their writing had stalled as they attempted to cope with the reality that the new President had 1) actually been elected and 2) is unabashedly dismantling our democracy.
It was my hope that some of those authors would write a short story regarding their feelings (fear, anger, disbelief) and that the story would jump start their writing. Last month, I was delighted to post two short stories. Thank you Barbara Winkes and Victoria Avilan for submitting stories. The reader’s feedback was very encouraging!
We have another entry this month. What makes this submission a little different is that it is written by a friend, an attorney. She has written many legal briefs but has not written for fun or publication. Today, I am excited to post this new author’s short story. She asked if she could receive feedback. I assured her that the readers at Women and Words would provide her with excellent feedback that is helpful and encouraging. I think she did a bang up job on her first published piece. What do you think? Please leave your feedback in the comment section.
If you would like to participate in this Solve the Problem writing exercise, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to write Jove in the subject line.
THE HAND OF FATE
by Kara Lynn Kean
She walked to the podium. “I hate this,” she thought. “These people don’t care what I think. They don’t respect me. They just want their picture taken with me. If that’s how I wanted to live, I would move to DC.” But she soldiered on, gave the speech her handlers had prepared for her, and toughed it out through the rest of the luncheon. As soon as she could, she fled to the ladies’ room farthest from the banquet room where she’d given her speech. She’d been trapped by the public in public restrooms before, and she wasn’t going to let it happen again.
Just as she closed the stall door, she heard two sets of footsteps enter the restroom. “That was close,” she thought with a sigh, and then froze.
“What a disaster! The bimbo did it again!” The first woman moaned. “More bad publicity. You’d think she would have learned after the first time!”
“What happened?” asked the second woman.
“She gave another one of Michelle Obama’s speeches,” said the first woman. “What is wrong with her?”
“Wait a second,” the first woman replied. “You know she doesn’t write her own speeches. Nobody does these days. She was relying on the people her husband pays to write her speeches. Same with her website, when it said she got a degree in architecture and design after one year in college. Sounds like her people aren’t doing their jobs. Or maybe they are. Maybe this is another ploy by her husband – using her to throw up a smoke screen of bad publicity so he can screw something else up while she’s being crucified in the press. I feel bad for her. I doubt she ever dreamed that anything like this was going to happen to her when she married him. Whatever she thought she was getting when she married him has to be worse by an order of magnitude now.”
“Thanks so much,” said the second woman, as they left the restroom. “Now I can’t enjoy disliking her for being rich, spoiled, and gorgeous.”
After the door closed, she sat for a little while longer. Her marriage wasn’t anything like she’d expected. She knew she was marrying a rich and powerful man, who was opinionated and outspoken, and she expected a certain amount of egocentricity. What she learned about him, on the campaign trail and after the election, stunned her. It wasn’t just his Tweets and political pronouncements. What he thought of women generally had never seemed to apply to her. He had been affectionate, always appearing proud to have her on his arm. Now, he couldn’t seem to even see her. It was humiliating to have video of him speaking past her to his daughter at his inauguration, missing her congratulatory kiss when he was sworn in, dropping her hand when she tried to hold his at public appearances. It had reached the point where his PR people intervened. He’d agreed to hold her hand at events when other prominent couples were holding hands, to remind him. Great. But, not good enough.
What a life. She couldn’t divorce him for at least 3-1/2 years. Even then, the prenuptial agreement was going to be a real problem. Nevertheless, she would persist.
A knock on the stall door interrupted her musings. “Ma’am? Are you all right? You shouldn’t run off like that. What if something were to happen to you?” Agent Prince sounded frazzled. “Sploh nič,” she replied. “Nothing at all.”
Agent Prince escorted her to her limo, and got in the back seat with her. “We’re meeting your husband at the airport. You two are spending the weekend in Florida. Your bags are packed and on board. Everything’s ready to go.” “How do you bear it, Agent Prince?” she asked, with a sigh. “Being invisible, I mean.” “Oh, ma’am,” Agent Prince smiled, “I’m only invisible on the job. At home, I’m very visible.”
She spent the rest of the ride to the airport in silence, gazing out the window.
Even with the bathroom break, she arrived at the airport before her husband. When he arrived 45 minutes later, he brushed by her and strode across the tarmac. She caught up with him at the airstair, as he was giving last minute instructions to those on his staff that were staying in Washington, and followed him up the airstair. As she reached the top, he turned to wave at anyone who might be watching, and caught sight of one of his aides running across the tarmac. “Sir! Sir! Your phone!”
Unwilling to wait for Agent Trevor to bring him the phone, without which he was unable to function, her husband turned to jog down the airstairs at speed. “Can’t leave without my Android. I’m expecting an important call from Justin on my private line. Gonna be hu-u-u-a-a-A-H!!!” The toe of his shoe caught on the nosing at the edge of the top airstep. His arms windmilled for a moment as he tried to stop himself from falling, but his momentum carried him into a headfirst dive down the airstairs. His neck broke on the first somersault as he tumbled down the airstairs to land at Agent Trevor’s feet.
She looked down at the crumpled heap on the tarmac that had been her husband. “If you had been holding my hand,” she whispered, “I would have saved you.”