The day is beautiful. There are a few wisps of clouds in the sky, and it's not supposed to rain for days. I suppose everything is on Jed's and my shoulders.
It's only a matter of time now. Jed has told the staff. He's making good on his promises to come clean. He's sicced Oliver Babish on me, the senior staff, and everyone else who ever touched anything that a Bartlet has handled. I wouldn't be surprised if he told the secret service to keep Zoey and Ellie on a leash. He's telling the truth to everyone.
Think about it. He's told the truth about every damn thing to every damn person. But when he told me he would only serve one term, wasn't that an untruth? Deep down, wasn't that a lie?
And now I'm on my way to the Residence to tell him so.
The West Wing is quiet for a change; I'd bet my license that the senior staffers are in the basement. Maybe with Babish. Who knows? But the point is that there aren't any familiar faces, or anyone to bring up more ghosts from the past that I thought had been laid to rest a long time ago.
The agents nod a respectful good-evening to me as I barrel through. "Is the President in?" I ask one of them crisply.
I guess word has gotten around not to screw with me at this point. "Yes, ma'am." One of them answers promptly.
I enter the main room of the residence like a ballistic missile. "Jed?" I call.
Damn the man. He isn't there. Instead the empty room greets me. If silence could be sarcastic this would apply.
I wait for him to come back from wherever he is. Immediately my head is split by a fierce yawn. I'm so tired. In more than one way. I'm so sick of everything, and I wish most of this would have never happened. It rips my heart apart every time I think of what might have been.
Where did we go so wrong, I wonder? How many speeches, or campaign stops ago did we somehow fuck it all up? We need a road map for life, honestly. Then we could just retrace our steps. Instead of flying down the highway we're stuck in construction. It feels like Michigan in the summertime.
How long has it been? I can't tell. But finally Jed steps into the room. "Hello," I say perfunctorily, rising to greet him.
"Hi, Abbey." He pecks me on the cheek, and the haggard look in his eyes, despite everything, breaks my heart. Damn it all, how I still love this man. "What's going on? Have you talked to Babish or C.J.?"
"No, I haven't." I turn away. "Jed, we need to talk."
To his credit, he doesn't try to dodge the issue. "I know." He sits on our bed and pats the space next to him wordlessly.
I can't sit there; it's too painful. Pointedly I perch on the edge of an armchair. "Jed," I begin, "I can't do this anymore."
"Do what anymore?"
"This." I gesture numbly at the room around me. "All this. I can't; I'm sick of it."
He shakes his head and chuckles, though without mirth. "Abbey, sometimes I feel the same way."
"But sometimes you don't." I'm on my feet. "Jed, I wanted to tell you. I feel like..." I trail off. This is quite possibly the most difficult thing I've ever done. How to tell the man you love without losing him?
"What do you feel like, Abbey?" He's all attentive now, all sweet and listening. If only this was normal.
Finally I burst through. "I feel lied to, Jed." The sheer force of the words is an indescribable lift. "I feel cheated, and lied to. You told me you'd only run for one term and now you've lied to me by even considering the possibility."
"That's not fair, Abbey." Now he's on his feet, worry and a touch of anger flowing through his countenance. "I agree, I've behaved badly. Hell, I'm about to get the flogging of my life from the American public, according to Joey Lucas. But I have never lied to you."
"The hell you haven't."
"I didn't lie." His voice is low and testy now. I know I've pushed his buttons, but deep down I think that's a good thing. "Not to you. I didn't lie to you ever."
My tone is soft. "Well, Jed, if that's true you're being very selfish."
"What?" His eyes are narrowed, and he looks at me with a mixture of hurt and anger.
"Think about it." My tone is sad and slow, and I'm suddenly hit by how much this will hurt me, despite being cathartic as it is. We've been living lies, after all. The truth hurts. "If you never lied to me, then you're following your own path despite telling me what I wanted to hear. That's selfish as hell in any book."
"Abbey." His voice is low and pleading; so seductive I almost break. "Abbey, it wasn't a lie when I made the deal with you."
"So it wasn't a lie." Tears are brimming in the depth of my soul. "But then if it wasn't a lie then, you're going back on your word now for even thinking about it."
I have him and he knows it. It really isn't fair. I don't enjoy this. But if I don't call him on it now he'll think he can do it again. And I will be damned if he's not around to do it to me again.
Did that even make sense?
God, I am in such hell right now.
And Jed knows it. "Abbey..." he begins, or tries to. "I want you to know that I never... I didn't..."
It's now or never, I have to say it, even as he flounders for words. "Jed, I have to go."
He surprises me. His face doesn't crumple as I half-expected it to. Instead, he gets mad. "Abbey!" My husband crosses the room in one quick movement until he's right in my face. He speaks in the low, tight tone that he sometimes uses with Ellie or Zoey. "Abbey, I understand you're mad. I understand that you have problems with me. But you'll have to get in line. And if you go that basically puts the final nail in the coffin. If you want me to retire that badly, Lady Macbeth, then why don't you go to Babish and lay the blame for the entire thing on me. What about my dreams?"
My blood boils.
"You son of a bitch." My eyes would shoot lasers if they could. "I did everything for you. *Everything.*" My tone is loud now. "What about *my* dreams? My practice? My life!"
He can't speak. My husband turns to the wall.
There is silence in that terrible room for quite some time. Finally one of us speaks. I can't tell who. "Please don't do this."
I rise, avoiding that area of the room. I feel fake. If I cannot trust my husband, everything that has happened here is a lie. "Jed, I'll support you no matter what you choose to do," I say, staring at the floor. And I mean it. I'm sick of fighting on top of everything else. "I'll leave a number for Babish or anyone who wants to get a hold of me. Lilly can tell everyone I'm ill. I don't know. They can think of something. But just please. I need time."
Finally Jed says something. "Will you come back?"
"I'll be back," I say, swiveling my head up to meet his gaze. "I promise."
The irony of this is not lost as I leave the room.