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The Family-Elect

Margaret is proud of her daughter, the President-Elect of the United States. Though it may be good for the country, it’s likely to be bad for her family. At least the campaign is over. She isn’t looking forward to what’s next—she remembers it all too well from Bud’s term of office—Secret Service everywhere, reporters picking through her trash and trying to get family secrets from her hairdresser and the yard guys.

No, take that back. Doug is looking forward to being his mother’s Chief of Staff as much as his mama’s looking forward to being President. Doug’s wife Annie has her qualms about being in the spotlight, however peripherally. Margaret hopes she’ll be able to handle the escalation of Doug’s position without going back to her binge-and-purge ways.

Of course, Bud is licking his chops at the prospect of getting back into the corridors of power, even if it is on his ex-wife’s coattails. Probably lining up pretty interns, too….

It’s TJ she’s really worried about. He’s been sober, as far as she knows, for more than a year. He hasn’t shown up on Page Six in a long time, no PDAs with hot guys, no fights, no sneaking in and out of hotel rooms…but she can read him. The look on his face on Election Night had been thinly disguised panic, because he knows what’s coming, too.

He’s coming over for breakfast. Margaret knocks back a tumbler of orange juice and vodka—her usual morning “eye opener”—then rinses out the glass and refills it with straight juice because she doesn’t want to tempt TJ with the smell of it.

When her grandson arrives, he’s carrying a reusable shopping bag, and as soon as he’s said good morning and kissed her cheek, he asks to use her blender.

“Are you sure? I thought I’d make us pancakes.”

“Thanks, Grandma, but I’d really like to use your blender.”

Alarm bells go off. There’s only one use for a blender, as far as she’s concerned, and TJ’s not supposed to be drinking. He doesn’t seem to be drunk now though, and his blue eyes look normal. “It’s in that bottom cabinet to the left of the stove,” she says finally.

“Great.” He sets it up on the counter. Starts pulling things out of the shopping bag. A small can of fruit salad—he dumps it in and hits puree for a moment. Greek yogurt gets blended with the fruit pulp. He pulls out a huge jar of something, and breaks the cellophane seal holding the lid. “Protein powder,” he explains, scooping it into the mess in the blender. “A little milk for calcium….”

When he’s got the concoction just the way he wants it, he gets out two tall glasses and pours a splash of the mixture into one of them. “Try a little bit, it’s better than it looks.”

It’s actually not bad, although it would be better with a shot of coconut rum.

“Needs rum, right?” TJ says with an almost straight face. “No, don’t worry, I’m not going to screw it up. But that’s what you were thinking.” Damn it, the boy knows her.

He fills the other glass, and when he offers her more, she nods. Anything to encourage his sobriety, even if she is going to have to take a pill to handle the dairy.

“How are you holding up?” she asks him.

“Well, on the bright side, the campaign is over. I’m still amazed I made it through all that hoopla without having a psychotic break. And I know the fish bowl is a headache, but at least if I have a raving nervous breakdown, she’ll already be in office.”

“Is it that bad?” He doesn’t sound fragile, just mildly exasperated. “Tell me the truth, Teej—how are you?”

TJ sips his beverage. Wipes his upper lip with a paper napkin and considers. “I’m taking it one day at a time,” he says after a few moments.

“She didn’t do it to hurt you, you know. This has been Elaine’s dream since—”

“I know, since she was elected Class President in ninth grade.” TJ sighs, then gives her a quirk of his eyebrows, a flash of his old devil-may-care smirk. “The world doesn’t revolve around what I want.”

No, although Elaine seems to think what she wants trumps everyone else’s needs. Margaret sighs an echo.

“Don’t worry, Grandma. I’m hanging in there. I’m not mad at her. I may hate the family business, but I love my family.”

“You’re gonna be okay?”

TJ shrugs. “We’ll see. Ask me again in four years.”

From a prompt:


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September 2017

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