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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Family · #1944155
An ambitious woman makes a difficult choice to protect her family as best she knows how.
Written for "What a Character! : Official WDC Contest. Prompt for July 2013: Tell a story that gives the reader insight into your character's political views. . All constructive feedback appreciated.

Jodi grounded herself in the asymmetrical clacking of her heels across the study’s hardwood floor. She moved tersely in a familiar circuit across the surface of the room. She would shake her head as she moved away from the printer, disgusted, then walk across to the entry to the stairs to listen for the expected footsteps of the house’s other inhabitants. Finally, she would return to the printer and curse under her breath when it still had not yet completed its appointed task. Throughout the circuit, she would mumble under her breath, “I can’t believe she’s going to do it. Self-righteous hypocrite ...”

“The new floors have been down less than a month and you’re already attempting to wear a new hole in them.” Jodi froze and spun around to face Michael. At the sight of his impish grin and glimmering gold hazel eyes, the corners of her mouth started to pull upward. She wouldn’t be misdirected from her task, however.

“Take a look at this.” Her heels clicked across the floor as she walked over to the end table by the door and handed him the proof version of the next morning’s Daily Gazette without preamble. He gazed over the portrait of Governor Mary Martinez, her bright smile belied by the overt intensity in her eyes, before examining the headline: “Traditional Marriage at Risk: Governor Vows Veto on Same-Sex Legislation.”

Michael blinked before returning his gaze to his wife. “She’s actually going to veto it?”

Jodi’s shoulders slumped. “That’s what she says.” She resumed her click-clacking across the floor as she spoke. “The self-righteous hypocrite! The legislation was passed fair and square by a legitimate vote—a narrow one, mind you, but a legitimate one—and she wants to veto it because her so-called ‘constituents’ don’t support it. I suppose she’s right, if by ‘constituent’ she means ‘people with money that get me elected.’”

Michael approached his wife and pulled her into a strong embrace, effectively halting her violation of the floor. He inhaled the sweet mint of her overpriced shampoo as he held her close. He realized she was trembling in her anger. He gently ran his thick fingers through the soft strands of brown curls in an attempt to calm her. “Sweetie, there’s no need to get yourself worked up about it. You know it’s going to pass eventually, even if they have to overrule her veto to do it.”

Jodi tore herself from the embrace and continued on her circuit. “That’s not the point, Michael! I know that this will go through someday—it’s a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’—but I’ll be damned if that self-righteous, hypocritical, downright sorry excuse for a governor continues to spout such acrimonious hate speech without any sort of reprimand at all.” She paused. “You should read the article. She calls the LGBT community—and their associated allies--a group of ‘mentally-ill deviants’ who need therapy, not equal protection under the law.”

Michael frowned and dropped his hands to his sides. “What do you intend to do, then?”

Jodi smiled, but her acid green eyes displayed pure vindictive malice. “Something I should have done a long time ago.” She pulled the now drying pieces of paper from the printer and handed them to her husband, waiting for his inevitable outrage.

Jodi was amazed that none erupted. “These are quite—surprising, actually,” Michael stammered as his tanned skin began to redden. He flipped through the photographs slowly, examining each one thoroughly before moving to the next. Each grainy black and white photo featured two young women, obviously nude but tastefully covered by rumpled bed sheets and entwined in a passionate embrace. Though in most of the pictures their faces were obscured, in one two pairs of twinkling eyes smiled mischievously back at the camera. On one body sat the much younger yet easily recognizable face of one Governor Mary Martinez; on the other—Mrs. Jodi Cameron, his wife.

Michael glanced back at his wife, whose eyes were set in apology and resignation, but also in unfettered resolve. “When were these taken?” he finally asked.

Jodi smiled with neither teeth nor eyes. “Approximately sixteen years ago, a full three months before we met and a year before we married.” The corners of her mouth dipped in a frown as she asked the question she obviously couldn’t keep within the confines of her lips. “Do you hate me now?”

Without hesitation, Michael sat the photos on the end table, next to the proof of the Daily, and pulled Jodi into a fierce embrace. “Of course not, baby. I’ve loved you since the day I met you, and nothing you could ever say to me would change that.” He pulled back slightly and held her eyes with his own. “I will admit I’m a bit hurt that you hid something quite so massive from me.”

Jodi tucked her head into her husband’s solid chest. “There wasn’t much to tell. Mary and I had become—involved—maybe a year before I met you. I had thought it was serious, that our relationship would last, but Mary had her dreams of politics and was not ready to take a chance at having her supposed ‘innocent rendezvous’ exposed to the world at large.” She pulled her head back, and her face broke out in the first true grin she’d experienced since she’d seen the proof that afternoon. “And I am so glad it didn’t. Because I never would have found you, the love of my life. And I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now to actually do some good.”

Michael frowned and stepped away from his wife. “What are you planning on doing with those?”

Jodi shrugged. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? I’m taking them to Jordan and having him break the story. It might not change Governor Martinez’s tune on the legislation, but at the very least her political career will be ruined and she won’t be in the position to hurt anyone else.”

Michael crossed his arms over his chest. “And what about you, Jodi? What happens to you when this comes out? What happens to the lead editor position you’ve been hounding after for months? More importantly, what about us? Your husband and twelve-year-old daughter? I’m a cop, Jodi. What will this do to my standing in the force? What happens if they decide to pull me off of street work once this story breaks and stick me behind some desk somewhere where I have no prospects for promotion? We need to start bringing in extra money if we ever hope to get our daughter through college. And what about Andrea? What happens when her classmates find out her mother had an illicit liaison with a politician, and a woman to boot? Kids can be cruel, Jodi. Do you really want to put her through that unnecessarily?”

Jodi’s eyes gleamed as she watched her husband, his stature radiating the anger he so rarely allowed to show in his mannerisms easily directed at her. “I’m doing this for Andrea, Michael. Have you been so blinded by your job that you’ve not even noticed? She’s gay, Michael, at the very least bisexual, and puberty is going to be hard enough for her as it is. I won’t stand by and let hypocritical politicians decide who she can and cannot love, who she can or cannot choose to take as her life partner. I admit that things will be difficult at first, but at the very least she will know that her mother was willing to give up everything for her and for her right to choose. She’ll also know that at least one of her parents will understand what she’s going through.”

“Is all this true?” a tiny voice called from the entryway. Jodi and Michael turned quickly to see Andrea holding on to the door frame as if supporting herself as she slowly stepped into the room on shaky legs. Jodi’s heart hurt to look at her daughter looking so frightened. Her beautiful hazel eyes—the spitting image of her father’s—were glassy with tears withheld, and strands of her curly brown hair—just like her mother’s—fell into her face, attempting to hide it like a curtain.

Jodi’s breath caught at the look of confusion and pain in her only daughter’s eyes, but she could not run from her question. “Yes, sweetheart, it’s true.” She paused. “I’m not sure what you heard, so I’m not sure what questions you might have. Please, ask anything you want.”

Andrea just shook her head. “I heard everything. Mom, do you even love Dad? Why would you marry him if you were—if you were gay?”

At the look of pain in her daughter’s face Jodi stepped forward and pulled Andrea into her arms, realizing in surprise that Jodi no longer had to reach down to place her arms around her daughter’s neck. Andrea was growing up faster than Jodi had even imagined. “Oh, sweetheart, of course I love him. Your father is the love of my life. But relationships aren’t always as simple as that.” She pulled back and stared into wary hazel eyes. “No matter what, I am your mother, and I love you and your father, and I would love you no matter how complicated your life gets. I hope you’ll do the same for me.”

Andrea pulled away, and Jodi’s heart felt like it was shattering in her chest. The girl shook her head and wiped her eyes with the back of her hand, but she stood resolute. “Mom, do you remember that boy that was in the paper a few weeks ago? The one who was 16 but decided to kill himself because he was gay?” Jodi nodded her head warily. Andrea took a deep breath and continued. “I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want anyone to be that person. I want to be proud of who I am, and I want to be proud of who you are. If you think putting yourself out there like this, that it could make a difference for someone like him—or someone like me—then I want you to do it.” She smiled warily. “I may not understand completely, but I love you, and I am proud that you are my mother.”

Jodi pulled Andrea into her arms again, her own forgotten anger and fear spilling out of her in tears and sobs. Jodi hardly noticed when Michael’s arms circled around both of them and held them both close.

“Um, Mom, Dad, kinda need to breathe in here.” With that, the tension broke and the family giggled, pulling away from one another and wiping misty eyes. Andrea gave an impish grin that mirrored her father’s. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Go for it, Mom.”

Jodi looked at her husband, who gave resigned frown but nodded anyway. With a new resolution, she picked up the nearly forgotten photographs and walked towards the front door. Before she stepped through she called back, “Wish me luck!” Then, with a confidence she didn’t know she could feel, Jodi stepped into her next adventure.

Current Word Count: 1861
© Copyright 2013 Amalie Cantor - We Got This! (fallenmercury at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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