Living History

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I’ve recently written a new short story that I’d like to share with you, and it’s all thanks to Reedsy. You see, every Friday morning, they put out a shortlist of prompts in a contest. The whole idea is that a writer has to take one of five prompts, write a story between 1000-3000 words and submit it before the next Friday. There’s a cash prize involved to sweeten the pot. 

(Sound interesting? Check it out here)

So a couple of weeks ago, that’s what I did. Here’s the prompt,

Write about someone who never planned to make history but is now about to deliver a speech in front of millions.  

Here now, is part one of the short story that I submitted. Part two will be posted tomorrow.

****

She stood there, just inside the doors, going over her speech one more time, and I couldn’t help but think that I was gazing at history in the making.

Herstory, perhaps.

I was assigned as her bodyguard the day she decided to run for the White House. The first woman to make it this far, and an Independent at that, there was no way I was turning down this assignment. Rarely was I more than five steps away from her in public. Only her girlfriend got closer to her. Her life was in my hands – my responsibility. And now Alexis Kennedy was about to step out and accept the position she’d pursued since she left professional soccer.

The voice of the previous First Lady broke through my thoughts, “It is my great honor and pleasure to introduce President-Elect…Alexis Kennedy!”

“Soccer Ball is on the move,” I spoke quietly into my mic and followed Alexis and her girlfriend Harper through the double doors.

The applause was deafening, like a massive waterfall that never stopped. When she stepped up to the podium, I took my position twelve feet away and to her left. Too far away as far as I was concerned, but that was her rule at events like this. Never mind the shooting six months ago that had rattled all of us, the country included. Never mind that she was a target for all kinds of homophobes and haters alike.

No, Alexis had to prove to the world that she would not be beaten, not be intimidated and would never back down. 

The crowd was invitation-only, but I never let my guard down with this many people in attendance. Everyone seemed to be in high spirits and had eyes only for her. I wasn’t surprised to see more women than men in the crowd, but still, I remained watchful. 

She wore a snow-white pantsuit that set off her dark hair, and a bright, engaging smile as she waited for the applause to die down. Nature had blessed her with excellent bone structure and I knew she worked hard to maintain her classic good looks. But what drew people in was her charm and intelligence. She could debate foreign policy as if she’d been born to it. She had a domestic plan too I knew, formed by long hours of listening to policy-makers, and people that had served before her.

I watched as she shifted her weight off her left leg. I knew the sign – her knee was bothering her. The doctors had predicted a full recovery, but a shattered knee joint will heal, or not, as it wants. Clearly today was not a good day.

I lifted my sleeve and spoke into my cufflink mic. “Bring Soccer Ball’s cane just inside the door, please. She’ll want it as soon as she’s inside.”

Alexis refused to use the cane one minute more than she had to in public, no matter how often anyone told her it did not make her look weak. That was just the way she was. Determined, stubborn and confident.

Finally, she held up both hands.

“My friends,” she began. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to be standing before you this afternoon. I am deeply touched by your trust in me, and in this wonderful country we call home. I would not be standing up here without the support of so many people. I’ve always called Harper my rock, and this journey would have been a thousand times more difficult without her love.”

The crowd went wild while Harper turned red.

“I have one of the greatest teams of supporters, volunteers that braved all kinds of weather to do their part to make history. And together, we’ve done just that. Together, we can each step up and pitch in and look after not only ourselves but our neighbors, too. The color of our skin or who we love doesn’t matter. We all bleed the same, grieve the same and want the same things. We live, breathe, rise or fall as one. Together we can put our friends and neighbors back to work, provide children with more opportunities than ever before, go further in space and be free to hope once more. A little over a hundred years ago, this moment would have been called a fantasy. Women had no say in political matters, women were told who they could love and spend their lives with, and they certainly would not have been allowed to run this great country!”

Many in the crowd verbally agreed with her and nodded.

“I will not betray your trust in me. Those of you who voted for me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those of you who voted for someone else…thank you for taking part in such a historical moment. You helped strengthen the cornerstone of our democracy by simply exercising your right to vote. I will be your president too. The coming days will not always be easy, and we will not always agree. Our government will not be able to solve every roadblock we face but I will work with all of my colleagues to find solutions where we can. I serve at the pleasure of the people, and I believe that together we can restore this great nation. We can bring back hope, make prosperity an attainable dream for people of all economic backgrounds, and make our streets, schools and stadiums safe again. We can rise up, drawing our neighbors, friends and family with us. We can put aside our differences and focus on what makes us equals, and carve a better way forward for all. Join me in the days to come, work beside me to make our beloved country a land of peace and prosperity for everyone. And one day in the future, when historians look back to this, the first time a lesbian woman was voted into the highest office in the land, you will all be able to say that you stood shoulder to shoulder and took part in history!”

To say the crowd went wild would be an understatement. Women were crying, weeping openly, trembling at the emotional intensity. Men shouted, someone started chanting “Alexis, Alexis” and soon, every voice in that crowd carried the chant. Alexis gave up on the rest of her speech, which I knew was nearly done. She gestured to Harper, and they stood side by side, beaming. 

The crowd chanted for a long time, pouring their love over their newest President. The rest of the security detail and I inched closer, unable to hear each other even with the tech in our ears.

Finally, I saw Alexis turn her head and look for me. With a slow blink and an almost imperceptible nod, she and Harper began to make their way off the stage.

I raised my cufflink-mic to my mouth. “Soccer Ball is leaving the stage, tighten the net.”

My security team moved in and I stepped closer.

Only an arm-length away from the first female president, a flash in the crowd caught my attention.

“Gun!” I screamed. “Down, down!” I dove for Alexis, felt she and Harper go down beneath me and wondered why Harper had punched me in the chest.

To be continued tomorrow

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