I don't own the characters and the limo's a rental, too. I'm sure there's a pumpkin coach somewhere with my name on it, too...
by Rebecca A. Anderson
"Dear Dr. Bartlet;
My name is Carolyn Helena Smith and I am 16 years old. I live in Kansas City, Missouri, with my grandmother. A year and two months ago, I collapsed at school, and was taken to Children's Mercy Hospital, where I was diagnosed with cancer. I have a golf-ball sized tumor in my cerebellum, and the doctors say I will be lucky to live another six months. I've always wanted to visit Washington D.C., but Nana hasn't ever had the money to take me. One of the things I want to do before I die is to come and see the White House. I love to read about the history of the United States, and I've always wanted to see the White House. I know you and the President probably will never see this letter, but I wanted to ask anyway if I could come stay at the White House for a week, just to see what really happens. It would mean so much to me. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Carolyn Helena Smith"
Carolyn carefully folded the letter and placed it into the envelope, then licked the seal and pressed the envelope closed. She added a stamp and handed it to her grandmother. "Nana, can you put this in the mailbox for me, please?" she asked sweetly.
"Of course, dear," Esther replied, taking the letter and relaying it to the mailbox.
TWO WEEKS LATER
"Mrs. Bartlet, here's some of your mail the Correspondence Office sent up that needs to be taken care of," said Judy Holmes, Abbey Bartlet's correspondence secretary, handing Abbey a small pile of mail. "They've been checked through, and the one on top I think you might want to look at. It's from a girl in Kansas City."
"I'll look at it as soon as I've finished drafting this thing for the ACS..." Abbey replied, chewing on the back end of her pen. "Can you ask someone to pull up the stats on cancer cases around power lines for me? I need them for this next point, and..."
"Why don't you just hire a speechwriter instead of doing it yourself?" Judy chuckled.
"Jadie, baby," Abbey grinned, "That would take away 90% of the fun!" She laid down the pen and rubbed her eyes. "Maybe I could look at some of my mail..." she said.
"Like I said, this one is from a girl in Kansas City. I can give you the address after you're done reading it, because I know you'll want to reply immediately," Judy said, handing Abbey the letter.
Abbey sighed and started reading the rhythmic, flowing penmanship, and by the time she reached the end of the letter, she was obviously fighting to keep her emotions in check. "Have Lilli call Mrs. Landingham. I want the next ten minutes of the President's time that he can spare," she instructed.
"Yes, ma'am," Judy said, leaving. When she came back, Abbey was wiping her eyes. "Mrs. Bartlet, the President says he's cleared the next hour."
"I don't know when I'll be back," Abbey said quietly, picking up the letter. "Work on those notecards we talked about yesterday, okay?" She walked to the West Wing, ignoring everyone, intent solely on the purpose of seeing her husband.
When she entered the Oval Office, Jed looked up from the folder he had been studying. "Are you okay, Abbey? You don't usually demand to see me during business hours," he teased.
"Jed, this is business," she said firmly, putting the letter on his desk. "Read this, please. It was in my mail pile this morning."
He picked up the sheet of regular notepaper and read it. Sighing, he looked at his wife over the rims of his glasses. "Do you want to bring her to the White House?" he asked quietly.
"I can't say no, Jed," Abbey said, sitting down on his lap. "The mother in me wants to do it, but the doctor in me balks at the very idea. We don't have the medical facilities here in the White House to deal with her condition if she takes a turn for the worse... and yet, I don't want to deny her this dream."
"I agree with you on that," he sighed. "If we plan it quickly, I think a week wouldn't be out of the question. She and Zoey would probably get along, and remember, Zoey's staying here for the summer, instead of going up to Liz's?"
"Yeah," Abbey said quietly. "Jed, I'm going to write Carolyn a letter right now."
"Why don't you just call her?" Jed asked. "Mrs. Landingham could get you the phone number right quick."
"Good idea," she murmured. Ten minutes later, she was dialing the phone of one Esther Smith, who lived at the address on the envelope. "Hello?" she said when someone picked up the phone. "May I speak to Carolyn, please?"
"I'm sorry, she's not here right now," Esther said apologetically. "She's back in the hospital for another round of treatment. Can I take a message...?"
Abbey felt her heart sink as she held her husband's hand tight. "Is there any way I could contact her at the hospital, Mrs. Smith?" she asked.
"Of course, I can give you the number," Esther said. "Just out of curiousity, who is this?"
"Umm... this is Dr. Abigail Bartlet," Abbey said, cringing slightly.
"As in, the First Lady Dr. Abigail Bartlet?" Esther asked.
"You got the letter?" Esther asked, her voice growing excited. "She was so enthusiastic when she was writing it, you have no idea..."
"Yes, I got the letter this morning," Abbeys aid with a smile. "I want to set it up so you both have two weeks in Washington, one on your own around the city, and one staying in the White House. I want Carolyn to have her dream of seeing the city."
"Dr. Bartlet, I... don't know what to say... Thank you..."
"It wasn't just me. It took a lot of courage for your granddaughter to write that letter, I'm sure," Abbey said gently. "To speak out is the hardest thing, sometimes."
"Yes, it is," Esther said quietly. "Would you like me to tell her, or would you like to tell her yourself?"
"I want to tell her, even though she'll probably wig out," Abbey chuckled. Esther gave her the number, and Abbey reciprocated in kind, giving Esther her private extension number at the White House. "If anything happens, I want you to let me know," Abbey insisted.
"I will, I promise," Esther said with a chuckle. "Now go give Lena the good news!"
Abbey hung up and then picked up the phone again, waiting for the switchboard operator, then said, "Connect me to (816) 555-4545, ext. 6543, please." She then waited tensely for the phone to ring.
A weak, sick sounding voice answered. "Hello?"
"Can I speak to Carolyn Smith, please?" Abbey asked.
"That's me," Carolyn said, trying to sound cheerful. "What can I help you with?"
"Carolyn, this is Abbey Bartlet."
"Nuh-uh... the First Lady doesn't read all her mail, so she couldn't have gotten my letter. I bet Megan put you up to this... how much did she pay you?" Carolyn asked.
"I don't know anyone named Megan," Abbey said. "I've got the letter right in front of me on the President's desk -- do you want me to quote it verbatim?"
Carolyn gulped audibly. "This isn't funny," she mumbled.
"No, it's not," Abbey replied. "But I'll tell you what we'll do. I'm going to give you a phone number, and I'm going to have you call that number and say your name. Then they will patch you through to me on our dollar instead of yours."
"Umm... if you're really in the Oval Office, ma'am, is the President with you? I can recognize his voice..." Carolyn said quietly.
"Jed, pumpkin, say something for dear Carolyn," Abbey insisted, handing him the phone.
"Hello, Carolyn. How are you doing?" A few moments later, he handed his wife the phone back.
"Okay, I believe you," Carolyn whispered. "I'm sorry..."
"It's fine," Abbey said, smiling a little. "I expected you to wig out or something, not not recognize me!"
"I assume you called my house first, and then got this number from Nana," Carolyn sighed. "Right?"
"Ma'am, I don't mean to sound rude, but... why are you calling me?"
"Because you and your grandmother are coming to Washington."
END PT. 1