And the Busy World Is Hushed

A The West Wing story by Oro

I take a card
and recompose
myself from what
we call "the world."
  - from March Air by Devin Johnston


Disclaimer: Aaron Sorkin created Bartlet. John Wells created a mess.
Spoilers: S5 premiere, I guess.
Notes: BJ did beta. Josiah Bartlet for Mosca's free verse challenge.


In one of the guestrooms, banned from his own bedroom, he already notices the way light spills on the furniture come morning. The light makes things seem bigger, bulkier, maybe. Stranger, like those inanimate objects are set to attack him any moment now; he's being foolish, but he doesn't have much dynamic with anything else at the moment. Everyone seems to think that he ought to be left alone. There's a glass of neat scotch that he poured for himself when it was still dark out, still untouched on a wooden, lacquered coffee table next to the sofa. The way the sun hits it, violently, reminds him of his daughter's hair when she was a little girl, and he has no idea how anyone could expect him to be calm at all right now, stuck in this ghetto of not being able to do anything. His back is stiff against the uncomfortable couch, and he wonders if she's seen light this morning yet.

(He'll get down on his knees if she can still see; if she still has ten fingers and ten toes.)

This guestroom painfully lacks uniqueness, and though there are still guards behind the closed white doors, so does he. There is tranquility and silence around him, penetrating his quick mind and killing it from within, because he cannot bear to think of all the things he could be thinking about. Abbey and the girls went to pray for Zoey, and they told him to stay in this hellish world of serenity; to rest. They pray all the time now, and the words just repeat in his mind over and over again.

(Till the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes.)

They told him that he needs to recompose himself, that he should get some rest. The look in Abbey's eyes was loving again, she was concerned again, he could tell by the way her eyes were red and teary and she couldn't help but blink away the constant tears. They weren't thinking about death when they were so much younger and named their daughter life, and now it's all they can think of; but irony loves to just sneak up on a person like that. They told him that he needs to recompose himself, but he is all over the floor in bits and pieces of what he used to be, like a glass of water and jagged shards that made his skin rupture, but he couldn't apologize.

(He still cannot apologize for the life that he chose to the life he created.)

It's hell outside, he knows, and the world has never seemed scarier than it does right now. The sunlight caresses his outlines but he is still cold inside, and the last thing he wants to do is take that pill Abbey had given him before she went to church, the pill that would make the pain go away for about seven hours but can't bring Zoey home and can't make him powerful again. He used to be powerful; in his words and stature and sometimes even when it came to his physical appearance, but now he's just a guy with Multiple Sclerosis lying on a sofa in the middle of the White House.

(People pace quickly outside of the semi-secluded room, speaking in hushed voices.)

He used to be in constant motion, and every now and then he thinks that what paralyzes him now isn't unknowing, isn't worrying, and it sure as hell isn't the disease that makes his hands shake; it' s just that there is nothing else he should be doing, or could be doing. It would be too simple to sedate himself now, to fall into a blissful, dreamless slumber, but he wants to live through this thing he is sure he must have brought upon himself by being an arrogant bastard. He imagines himself as a tragic hero punished by the gods for having hubris, and he never meant to be that guy.

(Josh Lyman was a warning shot. Mrs. Landingham was an omen. This is the real thing.)

There's a soft knock on the door, and Abbey and the girls are back from church. The room is instantly filled with some feminine clatter he doesn't try to grasp the meaning of, three women talking about the news and lunch and whatever. Abbey walks towards the sofa and leans to kiss him. She tastes like solace and Communion wafer.

"Did you have a good rest?" She asks quietly.

"Yeah," he replies, avoiding her glance.



Feed the author!

Return to Stories by Author, Stories by Fandom, or Stories by Poem.