In the forest inside the White House, it is perpetual Martian winter, everything red, everything cold, the air foreign. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Columnist

Listen to me. The trees in the White House were all green when I got here. They were all green as recently as Monday. But the trees have turned.

Walk faster.

Don’t be afraid. The trees would smell it.

Things are wrong here. Little details are wrong. The attorney general is different. He hasn’t been confirmed by the Senate. We go nearly a month between daily press briefings. The trees are red. The phrase “Be Best” is everywhere. “Be Best.” As though to “be best” is grammatical and not the clumsy articulation of a child. But there are no children in the forest. This forest is no place for children.

Last year the trees were a hideous, ghastly white. It was always winter and never Christmas.

This year everything is red. It is perfectly natural that the trees are red. The trees are red (the Internet says) as a handmaid’s cloak. Do not think of blood. Keep walking.

Has anyone seen or heard from Scott Pruitt? Don’t look startled. Has anyone seen or heard from Jared Kushner? Do people even remember that there is such a person as Jared Kushner? Then what does his voice sound like? Can you remember ever hearing it? Keep walking. Look straight ahead.

You are all right. Keep to the path. Walk between the trees. Keep your face relaxed.

Do not look down the hallway, where someone appears to have been dragged a great distance and there is a wreckage of tiny red needles. It was only the grabbers. Let it be. Clutch only your White House Christmas ornament. You may hear something that is not quite a heartbeat. Walk on.

Outside the White House you will hear the great murmuring, the women in their hats, crying, “Mueller shall deliver us.” The litany goes up. The supplication echoes. “Mueller is coming to change everything. Everything will be Revealed. Nothing will be suffered to be hidden. The trees will crackle and burn in his magnifying glass’s purifying flame.”

Do not listen to the forest, which whispers that in the end he is only a man telling people what they already know. Keep to the path.

Staffers have wandered into the forest and not come out. You must count the trees as you pass them to keep to the right way. The angles are — I do not know how to put it — they are wrong.

If you keep walking and do not count the trees as you pass them, sometimes you will come across Jeff Sessions making a pair of dainty shoes, working his tiny hammer and adze so deftly that you can scarcely believe your eyes.

Or you will happen upon the hut deep in the forest that stands on chicken’s legs and plays “Fox & Friends.” It wants you to come in. It has a cooking show. Don’t go in. It is not a cooking show. You know what it is.

Deeper still in the scarlet wood, Matt Whitaker awaits in a chalet made entirely of Muscle Milks. Standing sentry is the Rat King. He will ask you to dance. He will ask to appear on a panel at your festival of ideas. You must keep walking.

You must count the trees carefully. The 11th tree is a Mistake. Do not look at it. Do not let it enter your imagination.

If your eyes alight upon the tree, transported, you will stumble upon the Mueller indictments in a clearing, cold and still. But it is not their time! At your footstep they will unseal, scream and become dust before your eyes. Then it will be only stillness. You will be alone in the forest, and no one will come for you.

Keep to the path.

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