Miranda let herself into the house after a long and exhausting day. It was the culmination of a week from hell, made longer and more exhausting by the miasma of grief and sadness permeating Runway’s floor and the city of New York itself.
After dropping her keys and purse on the side table, Miranda stirred her fingers in the cut crystal bowl filled with political pins. Her eyes stung with tears as she ran a fingertip over the cloisonné ‘I believe that she will win’ and the arrowed H’s and cursive, gold-wrought Hillary. She had to blink rapidly to clear her eyes to see the glass pin Andrea brought back from the Democratic National Convention.
“We cracked the ceiling but it didn’t break,” she murmured to the vase of flowers standing sentry in the silent hall.
She toed off her shoes and shivered a little at the chill in the marble floor. With a very unladylike grunt, she bent down to pick them up, her calves tight from wearing the heels for ten hours. Dangling their straps from her index finger, she carried them with her into the kitchen.
She gusted out a big sigh at the sight. There were dirty dishes in the sink and an empty ice cream container on its side on the counter, surrounded by a puddle of melted Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk. Beside it was jar of fudge sauce and an opened bag of Biscoff cookies with a trail of crumbs leading to an open canister of marshmallow fluff.
Resolutely ignoring the mess, Miranda started a kettle to boil water for tea. She used the heart shaped tea infuser spoon Andrea had gifted to her and filled it with dried passionflowers. Miranda hoped the herbal concoction lived up to its hype and soothed her anxiety and calmed her circular thoughts. To the hot water in her mug, she added a generous dollop of Tupelo honey. Leaving it on a clear spot on the counter to steep for ten minutes, she turned her back on the kitchen and trudged upstairs.
Thinking Andrea might be napping, she tiptoed through the darkened bedroom until she reached the light switch inside the walk-in closet. Glancing at the bed, her brow furrowed to see the bed empty. As she wondered where her partner was, she headed into the closet. Peeling off her day wear and tossing the items into either the dry cleaning or laundry bag, she gratefully shrugged off her bra and took a deep cleansing breath only to cough.
The underlying scent of the laundry detergent and her perfume was nearly overwhelmed by the smell burnt popcorn. Shaking her head, Miranda pulled on some stretchy yoga pants and super soft socks. Tonight was a night for comfort, she decided. Running her hand over the faded Northwestern University seal on a grey sweatshirt, she pulled it over her head and mused that a major benefit of her involvement with the younger woman was the increase of casual wear in her wardrobe. Andrea’s insistence that she clearly delineate between work clothes and non-work clothes had the added benefit of more relaxed and happier times at home.
Miranda went into the bathroom and washed her hands and face. After wiping the makeup from her skin, she rubbed in some Swiss lotion, focusing on the puffy skin beneath her eyes. With her skincare routine done, she decided to track down her partner.
Following the odor of charred popcorn, she climbed up the next flight of stairs to the entertainment room. From the doorway, she saw the blue flickering of a movie. She could just make out an Andrea shaped mound in the center of the couch.
Her younger lover had made a nest out of several comforters and even had one covering her head. Starring intently at the screen, she mindlessly fed popcorn into her mouth, dropping several pieces to join the pile of other kernels on her lap.
Andy blinked and turned her head. “Miranda! I’m so glad you’re home.”
“Hopefully not just to do the dishes.”
“Huh?” Andy scratched her nose, not realizing she still had a handful of popcorn clenched in her fist. She dropped the kernels back into the bowl and wiped her hand on her shirt.
Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose. “Could you be more of a mess? You left the kitchen in a shambles!”
Big brown eyes starred up at her. Andy sniffed. “Sorry, Miranda.”
“What’s up with you?” Miranda asked. She stepped into the room and nearly stepped on a laptop. “What the…”
“Oh, I had to get that away from me.”
“My newsfeed was filled with so many triggers. I’ve had to unfriend so many cousins!”
“You aren’t the only who is developing election related PTSD.” Miranda set the computer on the coffee table. “Did you go into work today?”
“No. I tried but I just couldn’t face it.”
“All right. What are you watching?”
“All of them.”
“I…I had to. I had to see with my own eyes.”
“See what, sweetheart?”
“Voldemort can’t have won!” Andy wailed. “I keep watching to try and see where we went wrong.”
“You do realize that the election happened in real life and, as talented as JK Rowling is, she wasn’t prognosticating.”
“Yeah, but…” Andy wiped tears from her eyes. “I still don’t understand it. I can’t wrap my head around it and I want someone to blame!”
“Is finding fault really helpful?”
“I guess not but it might help me wake up from this nightmare.”
“Darling, it is a sad truth that our country has just elected a man who has used racism, bigotry, homophobia, and misogyny to ascend to the highest office in America.” Miranda sighed. “Even worse, the Vice-President-Elect is easily one of the most anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman politicians in recent history and will likely have a strong voice in Trump’s administration.”
Andy wailed and started rocking back and forth. After a moment or two, she asked, “Doesn’t it bother you? I can hardly function – I’ve stress eaten my weight in junk food!”
“Of course it bothers me. Right now, I’m grieving for what might have been and sickened by the thought of the progress we may lose.”
“I keep crying,” Andy said as she wiped her eyes with the heels of her hands.
“I do, too.” Miranda sat down on the couch and pulled Andy into her arms. She picked off a couple of stray kernels of popcorn. “We still have each other to lean on, even here amongst the rubble.”
“Sorry about the mess. I’m so out of sorts. I haven’t managed to do anything productive since they called it.”
Miranda thought back to that long Tuesday night and the way acid had churned in her stomach as Florida and Ohio and North Carolina had been called for Trump. By the time Wisconsin had been called, she had been a nervous wreck. She squeezed Andy tight. “It is going to be hard.”
“So hard,” Andy mumbled.
“Two to four years of hard.”
“There are the midterm elections coming up.”
“That’s right!” Andy sat up. “All 435 seats in the House and 34 of the Senate seats are up for re-election plus 34 of the states elect governors!”
“Exactly. However, to get things done, we need to take care of ourselves first.”
“What do you have in mind?”
“Let’s go run a bubble bath. We can soak together in some soothing lavender.”
“That sounds lovely,” Andy said as she leaned back into Miranda’s arms and snuggled close. “And then?”
“Take time to mourn.”
“No-one died…yet.” Andy sniffled. “I was so scared that those protests against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would turn deadly.”
“I’m even more frightened for our non-white, non-Christian friends who are trying to raise children in this poisonous atmosphere. We have heard their plan — mass repeal for everything from food stamps for the very poor to Obamacare to marriage equality.”
“Don’t forget mass deportations of immigrants.”
“Yes. The most vulnerable in our nation are in the crosshairs. So many haters have been emboldened by his election.”
She smiled when Andy wiggled around in her arms so she could return Miranda’s hug.
“Love trumps hate.”
“It has been hard to believe in the power of love these past few days.” Miranda brushed a lock of hair from Andy’s forehead.
“Some of that is on me – I’ve had a hard time connecting with anyone since...well, you know.”
“You’re not alone, my darling. It is going to take a while for us to get past this feeling of profound loss to the action stage.”
“There’s going to be some action?” Andy asked, waggling her eyebrows.
Miranda laughed and then kissed her fiercely. “I wasn’t talking of lovemaking, although I shan’t be saying no to that, either.”
“What kind, then?”
“We must move fiercely forward to protect what we achieved. We must support our allies and empower marginalized communities.”
Miranda glanced around the room. “I’m afforded many privileges, from my skin color to my wealth. I can donate to community organizations doing the lobbying, public advocacy and education.”
“My schedule is flexible. I could donate time and be a volunteer.”
“They may slow us down but they will never turn us back.”
“Exactly,” Miranda said as she held Andy close. “We’re stronger together.”