“What the hell,” Congresswoman Barbara Comstock muttered, as she struggled with the duvet that had become twisted around her again for the third time that night. Lifting her head from her rumpled pillow, she checked her alarm clock display, also for the third time. 3 AM. The worst time of night. Of all 24 hours in a given day, there was literally no worse hour to be awake than 3 AM.
With a huff of frustration, she hoisted herself from her agitated repose and padded downstairs. She was met by the blue glow of the television screen, which she must have forgotten to turn off earlier. Collapsing onto the overstuffed sofa, she picked up her tablet and began scrolling to find something to read. Anything to distract her from what had been a most difficult day. Yet, technically, she had done well. The telephone Town Hall event had run smoothly – her staff had picked the questions she wanted to answer, and everyone had been on mute the entire time, except for her.
Her job felt like a near-impossible balancing act: reassuring voters that her party could do the impossible, yet distancing herself enough from some of the more insane elements of the GOP… without the leaders becoming upset. And the dissidents! God, they were relentless! Showing up at her offices all hours of the day, calling her staff incessantly, tweeting their endless criticisms into the void… with her name attached to a hashtag. It was nearly too much. She felt she could overcome it though, if only she persisted in doing her sub-committee work and showing up at small town events that were guaranteed to be attended by “friendlies.” Most of all, she needed to keep her eyes on the prize.
After all, the Senate was what she had her eye on. Her life-plan had two terms as Congresswoman calculated in, and not a term more. She was poised on the brink of another step up in her career: wresting Tim Kaine’s Senate seat away from him in the next election, and turning back the purple tide that threatened to engulf her state, if left unchecked.
At that very moment, her scrolling stopped on a most unpleasant visage: that of Carly Fiorina.
Of all the most ridiculous, outrageous pieces of news! Carly was considering a run for Kaine’s seat? How dare she? It was an unthinkable, preposterous kick in the teeth. For heaven’s sake, Carly had stumped for Barbara on the campaign trail last year! This simply could not be allowed. Just how many races would that woman have to lose before she threw in the towel and admitted her highest point had passed, and that being a second-rate executive for HP was the best she’d ever attain?
This could ruin everything! With a frisson of fear threatening to overtake her, she tossed the tablet onto the coffee table and launched herself off the sofa. She made her way over to the window, which was the only place she felt calm these days. For a few minutes, she simply stood, looking out onto the street, while running her fingers through her hair and clenching her fists to tug on the strands. Her life coach had insisted she try this whenever she felt the need to run away.
Why did the neighborhood look so depressing at 3 AM? No lights were on in any of the nearby houses, and no TV-strobing blue lights emitted from any upstairs windows. There was nothing to indicate that a single other human in the entire world was suffering from insomnia like she was. That was why 3 AM was the worst hour – it was when you felt most alone. Because, everyone else was sleeping, untroubled, while you were pacing the floor and pulling your hair.
Forcing several deep breaths, Barbara’s frown began to fade. Her life coach was right: she did want to run. Not away from her job, but rather toward Senator Kaine’s. She knew Carly would back off after a courtesy phone call. She would have to – because nobody ever beat Barbara. And if she didn’t defer? So, what? Nothing could be so daunting once the dawn came glittering through the trees.
She turned and went back to the couch. The dawn would come soon.
(Photo: Cheryl Senter/AP)