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

    "What do you think of this one?" Carolyn asked, coming out of the
changing room in a purple satin gown with a beaded bodice.

    "Eh..." Abbey murmured.

    "*I* like it," Zoey said with a smile.  "It's just enough without being
too much.  You ought to pay attention, mom," she teased, earning a dirty look
in response.

    "Do you like it?" Abbey inquired.

    "Yes," Carolyn said with a radiant smile that almost belied the pain she
was in.

    "We'll take it," Abbey said to the saleswoman.  "Charge it to the White
House, President Bartlet and Family.  Your manager will know how to handle
that transaction better than I will...  Are there shoes and a bag to go with

    The salewoman shook her head.  "We have the matching shoes, but not a
matching bag," she said regretfully.

    "We'll take the shoes, then, and then we'll need to look through your
bags," Abbey said, sighing.  When the saleswoman took off, she rolled her
eyes and murmured, "Why is nothing simple?"

    "Because it's Murphy's Law," Carolyn replied sweetly.  "Anything that can
go wrong is destined to."

    "Not true," Zoey murmured.  "Nothing is simple, simply because of the
complexities of life itself."

    "Philosophy, eh?" Abbey said, quirking her daughter a grin.

    Zoey shrugged.  "Common sense," she replied.

    "I need to sit down," Carolyn murmured weakly, swaying on her feet.

    Abbey sprang up and grabbed her to steady her.  "Okay, kidlet, sit..."
she urged, helping Carolyn sit down.  "Is your medicine wearing off?"

    "No... I just felt dizzy for a second," Carolyn said quietly, leaning
forward to tuck her head between her knees.  She opened her eyes and looked
at the toes of her white cotten socks peeping out from under the hem of the
skirt of the gown.  "Should I wear white hose or black hose?" she mumbled to

    "Pardon?" Abbey asked.

    "Nothin'," Carolyn replied, slowly sitting up again as the salewoman came
back in with the shoebox.

    "Will these work, Mrs. Bartlet?" she asked.

    "Lena, will these work?" Abbey asked.

    "Sure," Carolyn agreed.  She was willing to agree to most anything at
that point, so long as it would get her back to the White House.

    Zoey picked through the bag selections, until she came up with an antique
silver mesh reticule.  "Mom, what thinks ya?" she asked with a grin, holding
it up.

    "Oh, it looks lovely!" Abbey exclaimed.  "Lena, what do you think?"

    "I think it's nice," Carolyn said weakly, rubbing her eyes where the
tell-tale lights were starting up again.  She whispered a prayer that the
worst would hold off just a little while longer -- until they were in the
limo, even.  Abbey was watching her like a hawk, and Carolyn smiled a little
bit, trying to assuage her.

    "We'll take it," Abbey declared.  "Zoey, get Lena's street clothes -- we
have to take her to the limo like this," she said authoritatively, having a
full-grasp of what would come soon from the previous night's experience. 
"NOW, Zoey!"

    "Yes, mom," Zoey said obediently, going into the changing room and
grabbing all of the clothes they had entered the shop with.  When she came
out, Abbey was helping Carolyn to her feet and they headed for the door. 
Zoey sprinted to catch up as they raced to the limo.

    Abbey brought out Carolyn's pain pills and poured a soda for the
almost-inate girl.  "Hurry, sweetie and take these before the pain gets
worse," she insisted, helping Carolyn take the pills.

    "Thank you," Carolyn murmured weakly, her head dropping back.  "When we
get back... I don't want anyone to fuss over me.  No one," she said firmly. 
"I'm fine, except when it hurts like this."

    "Okay," Abbey said.  All of her medical training had not prepared her for
any of this.  Yes, she had treated terminal patients before, but she had
never allowed herself the luxury of a personally emotional relationship with
them.  With Carolyn, it somehow seemed different, as if the girl was opening
Abbey to things and realities she had never even thought existed.

    Carolyn's eyes fluttered closed as she fought to hold on until the
mdicine kicked in again.  Softly, she began singing... what, she didn't know.
 Eventually, the words solidified in her mind, and she realized she was
singing "A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins".  Her eyes opened again,
and she found herself giggling.  Abbey's frantic worry had eased, and even
she was laughing.  "I think the medicine's kicking in," Carolyn chuckled.

    "Let's get you back to the White House, then," Abbey suggested.

    "Yeah," Carolyn agreed.  She knew that the end was looming nearer than
even the doctors had predicted.  She knew she wouldn't be able to hold out
for 4 more months in the face of such agony.  "Wait," she said quietly.  "Can
you take me to an art supply store?" she asked.

    "Of course," Abbey said.  "Why?"

    A heartfult smile spread over Carolyn's lips, tendrils reaching up to
touch her eyes and make them sparkle.  "I want to get some sketch paper so I
can do some drawings of the monuments next week," she replied.

    "Cool," Zoey said with a grin.

    And so, the limo was diverted to an art supply store.  And neither Abbey
nor Zoey knew the thoughts going through Carolyn's mind...  Thoughts of
finality, and infamy.





Affirmation - 7




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