One Day in January
"I'll be down in just a moment."
She smiled and waited as the door closed. Framed in a rectangle of cold winter sunlight, Abbey stood by the window, her black coat heavy on her small figure. Outside, the sky was brilliantly blue above a landscape made blindingly white by last night's snowfall. It was as if the heavens had shed sparkling tears to cleanse the world for a new beginning.
It was a beautiful January day. And it was a day she had impatiently awaited for years. Today they could go home.
She breathed in a deep sigh as she stared out the window. Home.
She turned and surveyed the bedroom. It wasn't theirs anymore. All that remained of their presence was the last of the luggage and a few packing boxes. In all the chaotic years, this room had provided her only refuge, and it was this room alone that she would miss. Now that they were leaving, she found that this room held some of her dearest memories.
She closed her eyes and let the images flash vividly through her mind.
Abbey ran her fingers over the stiff brocade which hung from the bed canopy one last time, then she pulled on her gloves. As she walked to the door, she glimpsed something in one of the still open boxes. Jed's leather gloves. It was cold outside; he would need them. She picked them up and stuffed them in her coat pocket.
With a soft sigh, the door swung shut behind her, a sad and simple farewell to all her years in the White House. Abbey walked down the hall and didn't look back.
The motorcade made short work of the trip to Andrews. The line of vehicles slid to a halt next to the majestic bulk of Air Force One, and there was abrupt silence as the escort cars shut off their blaring sirens.
The Secret Service agents sprang to open the limousine doors and Ron reached in to help her out. Abbey stood irresolute for a moment, bludgeoned by the frigid wind, gathering her strength and composure for this last walk. The gusts tore at her hair and reached icy fingers through the lapels of her coat. She shivered and was unable to discern if it was from the cold or the emotions raging within her.
And, suddenly, it didn't matter. She raised her chin and stiffened her spine. She could do this. Then they were going home.
As Abbey walked toward the plane, the crowd gathered on the tarmac parted to let her pass. She walked calmly, eyes focused, knowing that Jed was just ahead of her, ready, as she was, for this final trip.
Then she heard the music, bright and brassy, the kind of pomp and circumstance that Jed loved. She smiled, imagining the glint in his eye.
She saw the military honor guard, standing motionless at attention. Beyond them was her husband. She put her hand in her coat pocket, ready to pull out his gloves. Then her steps faltered, her face suddenly serious as realized the futility of her actions.
She walked slowly forward, removed her own gloves and reached out to her husband.
Her wedding ring glistened in the sun as she placed her hands flat against the flag-draped bronze casket and bowed her head.
She closed her eyes as the tears came. They were going home.
Read this story and more West Wing fiction at the author's archive, The Presidential Suite.