Don't own never will.

Thirty Seconds
By Ali Cherry

Who could have imagined that thirty seconds could totally destroy something that was so amazing? I don't mean my Presidency, because that has taken an enormous boost in the past few weeks. No I mean the loss of everything that worked in the Senior Staff.

Sam hasn't talked to me in a week. I ask him questions; he answers in an intelligent manner and then says, "Thank you, Mr. President."

I get the speeches that Toby and Charlie bring me, and I read nothing of the defeat I see in Sam's eyes at Senior Staff meetings, which have become tense discussions of this move and that move. I watch them, my protectors, my family, argue and I see a lack of appreciation that I never saw before. They treat Sam as if what he has to say has nothing to do with what they are arguing about.

Sam used to be my conscience. He was the one who always told me, this is the way to go. I remember the passion, when he told me to put Harrison on a bus. He was right. What has changed since those days when his passion overrode his mouth?

At this particular meeting, I'm just a bi-stander, just like Sam. They have finally decided on a path for whatever they were arguing about. Leo has noticed my inattention, has he noticed Sam's as well? I watch as Sam fingers a folder in his lap. He stopped paying attention to whatever they' re arguing about. Toby snaps his fingers in front of Sam's face.

"I need you to get me... " Toby begins to be cut off by Sam.

"I can't, Toby." I wonder at the steady quality of Sam's voice. But then again, Sam is the only one who comes out unflustered in an argument with Toby. Josh groans and slumps back against the couch. CJ sighs and does the same thing. Sam looks at them, waiting for an outburst.

"What do you mean, you can't?" Leo is looking suspicious. Has he detected the same change in the Senior Staff?

Sam stands up, his back straight and his shoulders back. He hands me the folder he was playing with just a minute ago. "I'm tendering my resignation effective immediately. I'll be out by the end of the day." His eyes connect with mine, and he gives me a smile. "It was a pleasure serving for you, Sir." He walks out of the meeting, and I notice that CJ and Josh are no longer slumped on the couch. They are in fact sitting up straight looking as shell-shocked as Leo and Toby. Did they think that he would stay and take all their frustration?

I decide to twist the knife a little more. "Toby? Do you have any one you' d like as your Deputy Communications Director?"

He shoots me a glare; he knows exactly what I meant. He's never imagined anyone as his Deputy, but Sam.

"You and Leo should probably start looking for someone."

"Mr. President, you aren't actually going to accept that, are you?" Josh is up now and pacing closer to the door. He runs his hands through his hair, making it stand on end. "He didn't mean it, sir."

"He gave me his resignation. What else did he mean, Josh?"

"He writes a significant portion of your speeches."

"Yes, he did."

"No one else writes you as well as he does."

"I believe that I can write-"

"NO!" Leo, Toby and CJ are on their feet now.

I sigh now. "Sam is an adult. He resigned and there is nothing I can do about it." I look at the folder in my hand. "We have things to do, so what 's next?"

Leo looks at the people gathered around the room in different stages of shock. "I think we're done, Mr. President."

"All right. Then lets get back to work people." I get up and move behind my desk. As soon as they're gone from the room, I call in Charlie.

"Yes, Sir."

"Would you catch Sam before he leaves and tell him I would like to see him in the residence."

"Is something wrong, Mr. President?"

"I just want to say goodbye properly, Charlie."


"He resigned, Charlie."

Charlie gives me a hurt look and then moves toward door. "Is that all, Mr. President?"

"What's next?"

"You have a meeting with the Labor Secretary about the proposed minimum wage increase."

"Show the Secretary in."

"Yes, sir."

"And Charlie, you'll take care of that thing?"

"Yes, sir."

End Part 1

Thirty Seconds - 2



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