It was a dark and stormy night. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock craned her neck to peer through the curtains that shrouded her front room’s bay windows. The street outside was glistening, illuminated in a patchy mosaic of porch lights and dense shadows.
She withdrew her face from the soothing coolness of the glass and turned to face the television, which lately seemed to be turned on all hours of the night. Set to a low volume, it was perpetually muttering about one thing or another. What she wanted most of all was to turn the damn thing off and head upstairs, but she knew the commercial would be coming on, and she needed to see it again, even though the very thought of it caused her throat to catch on a sharp intake of breath.
The last segment of local news was ending. Sure enough, it led right into the commercial:
Dammit. Dammit all! This was the last thing she needed. More pressure. More phone calls. Already, some of her staff members were threatening to quit. The lower paid ones who answered the phones, mostly, were talking about applying to law school. Time to get out of this office. If only she could, too, Barbara thought.
This term was supposed to be glorious. At least, easier than the campaign, where she had to out-spend her opponent by several million, just to eke out a 6-point win. She almost laughed when she caught herself actually feeling nostalgic for the campaign season. You’d think that being part of the trifecta of the Party that gained all three branches of government in one swoop would result in one long, ecstatic dance, where each Joint Resolution was choreographed to remove pieces of the last administration’s legacy, one exquisite repeal at a time.
Now, it was apparent that there would be nothing exquisite about this term. Other than the three paltry inaugural balls on the night of the 20th, it was back to the grind. Her constituents seemed intent on throwing sand in her gears too, bringing her normal schedule to a grinding halt. “When will you hold a Town Hall?” and “How could you not show up at the Town Hall you invited us to?” were the comments echoing interminably in her mind. This was why she needed the TV on all night, even the upstairs one, set to a quiet mutter.
This new commercial, which had been airing for just a few days, was bound to jam up her offices’ phones even more. She closed her eyes tightly and pressed them with her palms. It was a most effective, if temporary, eraser of the angry faces that shouted at her from all sides on the inside of her eyelids. And what about the Party leadership? “I’ll think about that later,” she told herself. What would it matter if she pleased Paul Ryan and voted to gut the ACA, only to lose her next reelection bid?
Sighing, she switched off the TV and moved toward the stairs. The night was dark and stormy, but clear and calm in comparison to the 115th Congress and her place in it.