General Fiction posted November 13, 2017

This work has reached the exceptional level
Character study

Abigail Humphrey

by michaelcahill

In her hometown, Abby was known as the five-year-old who called 911 and saved her entire family from carbon monoxide poisoning. She had been outside playing. When she came inside, she found her mom on the kitchen floor and the alarm beeping above the doorway to the hall.
Her mom had told her what that round device was for and what it meant if the alarm was to go off. Even though her mom had told her to RUN out of the house, Abby had a different idea. She took her mom's cell phone off the table and dialed 911. "The poison alarm is beeping and my mom fell down. I have to run now".
The operator told her to take the phone with her and the rest is local lore. The paramedics arrived in time to revive her mom, her father in the family room and her five brothers and sisters in their bedrooms upstairs.

"You've got to be kidding me". Abby dabbed without purpose at her cheek with blush. The light brush of reddish powder had long since been expertly blended in to the light tone Adrian Arpels make-up she favoured. "I wasn't even used to being President of the PTA ... Secretary of Education hasn't settled in at all. Now this."
Considering her new position, this high school girl's bathroom was certainly inelegant as a powder room. The dank gymnasium little better as a staging ground for decisions to be that left her numb in body as well as mind.
Her mind drifted back to her own high school, Hubert H. Humphrey High. Humphrey was big in Minnesota, a state hero to say the least. She felt great pride at being elected student body president in her junior year. It was an honour usually reserved for seniors. Indeed, Sandra Swanson would probably never get over that ginger girl, Abby Glenn, defeating her soundly in her final year as belle of the school.
But it was Sandra who stood idly by while her best friend struggled to stay above water. Lois was asthmatic and the middle of Lake George was a precarious place to have an attack. Abby didn't hesitate. She kept shouting, "Inhaler! Inhaler!" as she steadily kicked to shore with Lois in tow.
Sandra never moved a muscle. "Her purse ... get her inhaler!" She was on shore pumping her chest by the time someone got the message. A few puffs later, Lois began to recover normal breath. Abby had saved her life though she sloughed off any mention of heroics.
Come election time, people remembered. Abby never mentioned it, not then, not at any time, nor would she entertain any praise other than a bear hug from Lois.
Abby campaigned on an anti-bully platform. Sandra sought better food in the cafeteria and cushions for the benches in the senior court.
Abigail Humphrey, wife of Robert Hubert Humphrey, grandson of Hubert, walked out into the converted gymnasium. She took a seat at the head of the table and looked from person to person. All eyes were fixed upon her. Whether she wished it or not, she was the center of attention.
It wouldn't take a mind reader to glean the thoughts of the people seated at the table. Not more than three months ago, she had been a grammar school teacher and president of the PTA in her hometown of Baileyville, Minnesota. The President had been getting heat from all quarters for his appointments of wealthy businessman and hawkish generals to the plumb Cabinet posts of his administration.
He'd picked Abby from a group of finalists for Teacher of the Year. It was practically a lark and he got blistered for it by the conservative press and his own party. But, at the same time, it soothed some liberal wounds and was met with excitement in the education field. In his mind, what difference is one liberal going to make? She won't be able to pass anything anyway, not with the budget I give her.
Well, all that thinking was now academic.
She nodded towards a man in military garb, laden with medals and stripes. "I believe we need to assure the world, we are more than ready to defend our country against all contingencies. What do you suggest?"
A sigh of relief went around the table ...
"Well, Madame President, I believe we should put birds in the air and deploy the Navy in exercises on a global basis. Nothing threatening, Ma'am, just maneuvers to let the world know, we are up and running. We have not been stopped, we are functioning normally and ready to defend ourselves against all contingencies."
President Humphrey looked at the general and nodded. He left the table with phone in hand.
"I'll be addressing the nation momentarily. When I'm done, I want to know all the details of where we're at. Is the White House salvageable? How many senators and representatives are left? My message will be brief. It will be one of confidence and reassurance. When I come back, I want reasons why that is a message of truth."
By the laws of succession, the Secretary of Education was now the President of the United States. The horror of the events leading up to this happenstance did not show in the confident steps of Abigail Humphrey as she approached the bank of microphones to address the nation. 


Story of the Month contest entry


Errrr ... yeah, this is too long and it's too much story and not enough CHARACTER. LOL

But it's SOME character ... I got carried away. :))

Club entry for the "Character Building" event in "Not A Flash In The Pan".  Locate a writing club.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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