An Alternate Reality

I've long thought that somebody should do a novel based on what might have happened if dubya had not survived the pretzel-choking incident. I still think somebody should, and it's still not likely to be me. But I will occasionally feel the urge to write a short story or two set in that alternate reality...

January 31, 2002

A tear ran down from the corner of Laura's right eye. Her lower lip began to tremble. Condi realized Laura was about to break down, and put her arms around her, pulling her in close and patting her back. "It's okay to cry," she said softly, brushing her hand across Laura's cheek to wipe away the tears and running it through her hair. "It's all for the best. You knew it was just a matter of time."

Laura nodded, but started to cry softly. "Why didn't he chew his food better? I feel like if I'd been with him it would never have happened."

Condi sighed, thinking, "Undoubtedly that's true, but it was hardly your responsibility to make sure he chewed his pretzels instead of inhaling them whole while transfixed as little objects moved across the television screen." Instead she said, "You know it's not possible to be everywhere. When guys are watching football, well, you know they have trouble multi-tasking..."

Laura nodded slightly, distracted, and started to cry. "I have to move out now," she sobbed. "Lynne and Dick told me they want me out within the week. What will I do? I don't really want to live in the middle of nowhere in that hellish wasteland… It's like a fortress there, a spy center. I want to live out in the world again." She started sobbing now. Condi pulled back and looked Laura straight in the eyes.

"I'm going to be honest with you, Laura," she said. "I understand you were married for a long time, but you're going to have to start being independent now. You really don't have any choice. I've found a place in the country where you can stay for a while, get away from the politics thing, recharge your batteries, and start to get used to making your own decisions and living for yourself. It's a school with a variety of programs, including a residential retreat for adults. They have women's leadership workshops there that may be just what you need to give yourself something else to occupy your mind. You made lots of sacrifices for his career, and now you need to start living for yourself. You know it's true."

Laura sniffed, "Have I heard of this school?"

Condi responded, "I don't think you would have. It's a different sort of private school. It's called The Gold Star Academy of Discipline because one of its main programs provides discipline to young men who weren't able to graduate from high school because they didn't have proper motivation. I'm sure a mature woman like you could help by giving them...guidance."

Laura stifled another sob, sighed, and began to get herself under control as Condi continued. "We can have your things shipped to the ranch for storage while you're away. I've contacted the people at the retreat and I can make all the arrangements in a phone call."

"Should I do this?" Laura asked. "Barbara was telling me that -"

"Forget what Barbara says. She doesn't matter right now. What's important is that you take care of yourself." Condi gave Laura another hug, Releasing her, she leaned forward. Their cheeks touched, and each turned to face the other. This time Laura's fingers brushed across Condi's cheek. They gazed for a moment into each other's eyes, then Condi brought her forefinger up to touch Laura's lips. It traced around. Then pulling it away, she brought her own lips to Laura's. They kissed briefly, parted, then kissed again, longer and harder.

Laura stepped back, confused. Two weekends ago she would have been terrified at the idea of ignoring Barbara, but suddenly, hearing those words come from Condi's mouth made her feel liberated. The passion felt welling up within her was unlike any she had ever felt before. Condi put her hands on Laura's hips and pulled her in close. They sank together to the sofa and fell into each other's embrace...

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