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

December 2000

    Carolyn woke up in the middle of the night, sitting bolt-upright in the
bed, holding her head, crying.  Sharp, stabbing pains shot through her skull,
causing her so much pain she couldn't see straight -- not that she could see
in the dark, anyway.  Bright flashes of "light" encroached on her vision,
like a migraine, only worse.

    Momentarily forgetting where she was, she screamed, "NANA!"  Her
grandmother would have her pain pills...

    She should have taken them before she had gone to sleep, but her facade
for Abbey had seemed more important at the time.  Talk about a reality

    Her sobs grew with every moment that passed.  Her grandmother didn't
appear, and she needed her pills, so she got up out of bed, stumbling into
the bedside table, upsetting the lamp.  The lamp crashed to the floor,

    The door opened and someone came inside.  "What on earth?" the President
exclaimed, flipping on the overhead light.  Carolyn shrieked and covered her
eyes as the sudden light burned them, and her crying grew worse.

    Esther brushed past the President, Abbey on her heels, carrying a pill
bottle and a glass of water.  "It's okay, baby," Esther cooed, leading the
blinded Carolyn back to the bed.  "I've got your pills... I'm sorry,
sweetie... I'm sorry..."

    "Hurts," Carolyn wailed.  "It hurts so bad..."

    "I know, baby doll...  Take your pills, and it won't hurt so much,"
Esther promised, pouring two pills out of the vial.

    "Okay," Carolyn sniffled, closing her eyes and choking the pills down,
then washing them down completely with the water.  "Sit with me," she
insisted, her chin trembling.

    "I will, honey," Esther murmured, handing Jed the glass and pill bottle. 
She cradled her granddaughter as she would a small child, rocking her and
whispering soothingly until Carolyn again fell asleep.

    "I knew something wasn't right earlier, but I didn't say anything," Abbey
said quietly, her voice wavering slightly.  "I didn't think it was my place,

    "She's stubborn," Esther said ruefully.  "Spoiled and stubborn."  She
laid Carolyn back down.  "The pills will work for a few hours, and then who
knows," she sighed with a shrug.

    "I'm not going to be able to go back to sleep now, especially since I
have to be 'up' again in four hours," Jed sighed.  "Want to get a snack and
talk a bit?"

    "Sure," Esther agreed, pressing a kiss to Carolyn's forehead and getting
up.  "I feel sorry for whomever has to clean up the lamp," she chuckled.

    "Don't worry about it," Abbey said.  "It's a non-issue."  They went into
the hallway and closed the door with a soft click.  They went into the den,
where a small refridgerator of snacks was always kept stocked for the
President.  "We have... little smokies, dip, chips, baby carrots, and some
other stuff I don't even want to know about," Abbey said.  "And if you want
something heavier, we can send one of the agents down to the Mess."

    "Some carrots and dip will be fine," Esther said, settling onto the couch
and wearily closing her eyes.  "I wish her nights were longer..." she sighed,
rubbing her forehead.

    "Does she do that every night?" Jed asked, grabbing the smokies out of
the fridge, despite Abbey's slapping his hands.

    "Not every night," Esther said quietly.  "Not every night...  Thank you,
Dr. Bartlet," she said, accepting the carrots and dip.

    "Just enough nights," Abbey stated as a fact.  "Enough nights to make you
wish it was over."

    "Yes."  Esther's expression was haunted.

    "I've seen terminal cases before," Abbey said quietly, crunching on a
chip thoughtfully.  "They slip away so quickly, then nearly stop, then go
completely...  How long will the pills work?"

    "Maybe four hours.  Maybe less.  They don't take but the edge off the
pain," Esther whispered, stirring the dip with a carrot.  "I'd give anything
to make her pain go away."

    "Maybe... maybe God wants her life to be an example to others in her
position?" Jed said softly.

    "Josiah Bartlet, your nerve astounds me!" Abbey exploded, smacking her
husband.  "First you don't even know who she is, now you're unsympathetic..."

    "I didn't say I was unsympathetic.  I said maybe God is using her to show
other children in her position that dreams can still be reached, no matter
what!" Jed grumbled, rubbing his arm where his wife has slapped him.

    "Maybe he's right," Esther said.  "Maybe..."

    "Maybe doesn't mean anything.  It's just speculation," Abbey said firmly.
 "Zoey and I are taking Lena out tomorrow for a gown for the concert," she
said, changing the subject.

    "She's going to love it," Esther said with a smile.

    "Which is why we pulled it together," Jed said.

    Esther started to say something in reply, but began yawning instead. 
"Maybe we ought to go back to sleep?" Abbey suggested.

    "I won't disagree with that," Jed said with a grin.  "The only thing
worse than a jet-lagged President is a sleep-deprived President."

    "Or a horny President with his finger on the red button," Abbey teased,
ducking from his retalitorily playful smack.

    Esther chuckled.  "I'm going back to bed," she announced.  "See you both
later," she said, getting up and walking back to her bedroom.





Affirmation - 6




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