Moments, Brief And Precious
by Sängerin

It isn't that happiness is rare in these corridors of power.

Laughter can be heard echoing from offices: the press room is a constant source of hilarity. Everyone knows that CJ can hold an audience better than most professional comedians. It's a skill that comes in handy when you want to deflect a roomful of press from the real story -- she can still raise a chuckle with her stories of the President coming to a 'sudden arborial halt' whilst cycling.

And Charlie. You just know when he's happy. There's this aura around him, especially when he's had a hand in whatever has made someone else happy. He thinks so much of others, and their happiness rubs off on him.

But happiness here is brief. Fleeting. Successes are followed immediately by disasters, moments of joy by national tragedies. Days of national celebration become tinged by personal crises.

All emotions are fleeting, here. Nothing stays the same for long. For some, that's what makes the job worth doing. It weighs down on others, more than they'd like to admit. The pace is frantic, so I guess I shouldn't expect anything to last for long. But it seems so unfair that their moments of joy should be so brief. The senior staff will file through the outer office, joking and as carefree as they've been since they were hired. You'll hear the banter from the Oval, but then Charlie's phone will ring, and his face will fall, and he'll have to take a piece of paper into the President. I couldn't do his job. I just couldn't.

Happiness is brief, and you know as you hear the laughter floating out from Toby's office that he'll be shouting again soon, that Donna's smiles can turn serious in an instant. That the adrenaline-charged times when the President is so exited that his words spill out over themselves are usually followed by momentary slack-jawed disbelief, as some other message on some other topic is brought to him.

It's not just the senior staff. The President was meeting with Mike Casper and the security team. They'd just managed to arrest the group responsible for the Kennesee State pool bombing, and the President and Mr Caspar were tripping over themselves to tell Mr McGarry. Then a phone rang. I was in the outer office, and heard the cellphone ring. It was inside the Oval -- it was the phone one of the security team. An Israeli plane had disappeared, but a friend of Mr McGarry's was on the plane. I saw the President's face fall. I saw Leo turn away. They'd been so excited. Now that moment of happiness was gone forever.

There are only moments of happiness. That's the way it is in this job. Euphoria turns swiftly to tragedy, and even in tragedy, there is no time to pause and grieve. Life goes on. The political wheel keeps turning. And you find yourself clutching at the memories of CJ's face lit up by her smile, of Toby's quiet chuckle, of the way Charlie's eyes sparkle when he grins. Because sooner or later the sparkle will be the result of tears.

That's the way it is in this job.


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