The Other America

Paul Ryan thought first of his penis.

Staring into the abyss of his crotch, he lost focus. The doctor’s voice, before so clear, fell heavy past his ears. His vision blurred. He imagined the sound of an alarm, an ambulance, echoing through the clinic’s halls, responding to the emergency of a man at risk. It would arrive just in time. Swerve around a corner, knock over the nurse who had delivered his results, crash through this room and save his manhood. But there was no chance, there was no vehicular savior. Paul felt panic set in. A lump lodged in his throat. It stole his breath. The idea of something coming out. It choked him.

“Did you hear me, Paul?” a medical expert, harbinger.

“I don’t — ”

“Paul, you’re pregnant.” 

“Can — can we?”

“Yes, I’ve made the appointment.”

Paul looked down at his shorts. He had an erection. 

~

Ivanka studied her bracelet in the low light. The shine had faded long ago. Back when she’d sold the last of its diamonds, when she’d shed that final jeweled tear. The funny thing about inheritance is that it doesn’t keep. Sure, it glows at the beginning. It blinds. But time rusts privilege. No one warns you about oxidation — an extravagant word for such cruel task. Ivanka smiled at that. Cruel task. She’d write it in her journal later. Ivanka loved the time she spent with her journal. It was her me-time. A respite from the day’s stresses, from the growing tightness in her chest. She really needed to see a doctor. But who has the time in this fast-passed world?

Eyes still on her bracelet, Ivanka stretched, hitting a passing cart with a lithe arm — a journalist’s words at which she’d once blushed. But Ivanka didn’t feel lithe anymore. She felt tired. There were still a few hours left in her shift, but her body begged her to rest. Just thirty seconds, she thought. She leaned against a cold wall and snuggled in, rubbing ash against her lithe-less cheek. A foreman caught this from across the mine. He yelled her down.

“Coal doesn’t sleep!” 

And now, neither did Ivanka.

~

Toby Keith, Stacey Dash, @Jack, Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, and Betsy DeVos all eventually died. Three in a fire, two in Russia, and one covered in cash. 3 Doors Down released six more albums. Steve Bannon, to his last day, lived under a bridge. Jared Kushner, haunted by the ghost of his immigrant grandmother, went insane. Tiffany Trump got her TIME cover after voting to expand funding to Planned Parenthood. She spent three terms in the Senate. A lion ate Eric. Donald Jr. was lost at sea. Melania, after a swift divorce, retreated into a series of nesting dolls. No one know what happened to her husband.

~

And yet, Hillary felt at home.

The chair swiveled more than she’d imagined. She tested it again. Tapping her fingers against the arm, she thought how there wasn’t much gravitas to a swivel. But that could be fixed. Problems, she found, could always be fixed.

Sitting up straight, she turned her attention to the room. There was the door she’d spent her life trying to knock down. The ceiling she’d stared at, its branded seal hovering just out of reach. And there to the side of the desk — the sofa in which she’d spent so many nights fighting sleep, going over reports, advising forty-three. She’d not sit on that sofa again. Now, she occupied another seat. A seat of greater power. Of greater responsibility. A seat that demanded gravitas, swivel or no. She stopped tapping its arm. She stole her eyes from the room. She let loose. With a quick pivot of her heel, she spun in full three-sixty. She turned her heel again, this time stronger, more ambitious, lacking formality, a shattering movement — and whirled. Hillary Rodham Clinton laughed.

The President of the United States was having fun.