Hillary Clinton sits on her Throne of Power in the Fortress of Glass, glancing at the ceiling and sharpening her hammer.
She has been starting to hope. Earlier today she sent out one or two emails to old friends in Washington intimating they should “get drinks when I’m back.”
She has started to say “when” more than “if.”
She keeps seeing the number “45” everywhere she looks — records, temperatures — and when she does, she smiles a little to herself, as if it’s an omen.
At the back of her closet there is a checklist of Things To Accomplish that she wrote when she was 11, and of late she has been taking it out and looking at it and trying to decide what color to use when she checks that last box, at the very bottom of the list. In a gesture of optimism, she went out and bought a whole new set of colored pens.
Earlier she told radio host Keith Sweat she was making Bill warm up his saxophone to play in the White House. Having to listen to Bill play the saxophone would be a small price to pay for being in that house again.
She glances at an array of china. Those, she thinks. Bill should choose from among those.
Slowly, gradually, she becomes aware that her aides are whispering in the hallway.
“We have to tell her.”
“You tell her. I’m not telling her.”
Hillary pushes open the door.
“Tell me what?” she asks.
The second aide solemnly marches to the window and flings himself down three stories into a dumpster.
“Tell me what?” Hillary asks, a little more concerned. “What is it? Where’s Huma?”
The aide blanches. Hillary has never seen someone blanch before; she thought that it was something people only did in stories.
“Tell me what?”
“Maybe it would be best not to talk to Huma,” the aide says.
“What is it?”
The aide nervously extends a printed letter from James B. Comey at the FBI. Hillary skims it. At first, the phrases don’t make any sense.
She reads it again, but they still don’t.
Words jump out at her. “Appropriate investigative steps,” the letter says. “An unrelated case,” the letter says. “Emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”
“This doesn’t make any sense,” she says. Next to her, a pillar trembles. “That doesn’t make any—”
The pillar crashes to the ground. Across the room, a chair spontaneously bursts into flame.
It has been years since she was able to do this. She very nearly ruined prom once. Once, at Yale, she caused the instructor to float up several inches and spin around the room spewing papers everywhere. Fortunately, Professor Honey had given her more stimulating work after that, and it had stopped.
“Why would you release a thing like this now?” she asks. “Where’s Huma?”
The aide visibly swallows. Hillary does not mean to lift him three inches in the air but now he is floating, clutching at his throat.
“It’s the W—” he tries.
“The W—” He clutches at his collar. “The probe, it’s—”
With an effort Hillary lowers him back to the ground and releases him.
“The Weiner probe,” he finishes, collapsing into a heap on the floor. “Whatever they are, they’re from the devices in the Weiner probe.”
It begins snowing everywhere on the earth. All omelets everywhere are ruined. A man in a Whole Foods bakery decorating cakes with “CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BRIDE AND GROOM” suddenly finds that he is only able to write “YOU’RE MAKING A HORRIBLE MISTAKE” over and over.
“No,” Hillary says.
All the china shatters.
“No,” Hillary says.
The stock market gets confused and plummets 150 points.
Bill Clinton’s entire left arm goes numb. An entire foot of snow falls at once.
“No,” Hillary repeats. “This cannot be happening. We are too close. This cannot be. I will not—” She twitches. The ground outside is entirely blanketed with white. Some of it begins to coalesce into a gigantic snow-dragon. “Is this to be my whole life?” she asks. “Is it always going to come back to the ruinous acts of idiot wieners?”
“You didn’t mind that last week.”
“SILENCE!” Hillary shouts.
“Please don’t go full Elsa,” the aide whimpers. His lips are already blue with cold.
“This cannot be happening,” Hillary says. “Is not. This is not happening. I refuse to accept that this is happening.”
A great rumbling begins deep within the earth.
“How are they reporting it?” Hillary asks.
“They are saying that the investigation has been reopened,” the aide whimpers.
“Reopened?” Hillary asks. “But — that would imply it had been closed. Eleven days before the election, they are saying —”
The aide shrugs. “I’m sorry.”
With an effort, Hillary contains herself. “What are we doing about it?” she asks.
The White House turns an eerie pink and starts to hover six inches above the ground.
“We’re having John Podesta send them an angry email,” the aide says.
Clinton rolls her eyes. The earth shifts on its axis. “An email from John Podesta,” she says. “Well, that will fix all my problems.”
She laughs. It’s a different laugh than any of her laughs the aide has heard before. It has a primordial sadness to it, like the last despairing, lonely call of a creature that has awakened to find all others of its kind extinct.
She starts picking up the shards of china.
There is a long silence.
“Pete Williams doesn’t think it will have real legal consequences,” the aide volunteers.
“Well, that’s good.” Hillary laughs again, more softly. “Eleven days before the election,” she says. “I knew there was something I was forgetting.”
Hillary picks up more china. “Never hope,” she says. “That was what I was forgetting. Never hope.”