“The Senator wants the bill introduced in July. He doesn’t want to wait until September and then be scrambling.” Birch Bellamy paces in his dining room as three of us sit and listen to a speech we’ve memorized. “The last pass wasn’t good enough. He said his co-sponsor – who he’s keeping ridiculously secret – shot it down in five minutes. So you know what that means.”
“Back to the drawing board,” we say in unison.
“We can’t model it any more after the EU than this without having major Constitutional issues,” Nan said. My respect for Nan grew slowly over the month of June. She has total respect for words, which practically makes us sisters. Plus, she has (as far as anyone knows) actual credentials for this job. Nan would be the kind of girl I’d like to hang out with in my old life. One of them, anyway.
“This bill will never fly. We can do all the rewriting in the world and it’s never going anywhere. Freedom of speech, people.” Kevin is Senator X’s nephew, has no credentials (like me), and naysays every single idea.
“I absolutely hate this and by extension you, Naomi. But,” Birch pauses, “we may need to rethink some of those original ideas you proposed.”
I would not be more surprised if he slapped me. I flounder momentarily and then stutter some acknowledgement along with an excuse to go get my notes. The others perk up, ask questions. I disregard everything. This is big.
For more than a month now, Birch has threatened me with firing followed by blackballing if I mentioned the original language I wrote. He really must be scared.
I rush to my bag by the front door of his apartment, gulp a highly caffeinated beverage that burns all the way down, and gather my notes on the bill’s original language.
“Let’s just wait,” Birch says over the others’ questions as I enter. “Ah! There you are! Are you ready to present?”
“Present? Like, to you guys, right?”
“Yes, to us guys.” His face bears none of the strain it did five minutes ago. He seems oddly relieved. Maybe he needed to try all other avenues before he could accept this new one. “Why don’t we three go pick up some food while you gather your thoughts?”
I read my notes and the others leave the apartment.
Birch had asked us to come here to work today, Independence Day. None of us had to be cajoled. Nan’s family and my pretend family are out of state. Birch doesn’t care for this holiday for unknown reasons. Kevin – well, I can understand why he would skip another political family barbecue.
When the others return, sounding far more relaxed, I still rehash my notes. In parts, they sound a little ludicrous. I realize they need to be stitched together and worry someone will shut me down before I get through it all. Still, with Birch instigating, I have a fighting chance.