Jeremy hated speech writing. Twiddling his thumbs in his office while the snowstorm raged outside as usual, made him happy his assistant had gone to school for that kind of thing. To be honest, he hated giving speeches, hated the questions, hated the way being surrounded by baffled eyes made him sweat behind the knees.
He looked at his calloused hands, feeling a little bit like an imposter in a politician meatsuit. Without thinking, he gently started to gnaw on the skin of his left hand’s thumb before turning his attention back to the window.
The room was more closely arranged like a small, hollow classroom than an office, but he opted for this one and its green, opulent carpets because of the windows. The air was claggy and warm.
Outside the snow swirled like mad. Inside, he felt the same.
Jeremy remembered the year the snowstorms started in high school. The city hadn’t seen weather like that for years, maybe even a decade then. After the climate had well and truly gone to hell, and they started finding cousins and neighbors frozen solid in the project buildings when the heat cut out, he had gotten on a soapbox. He had started screaming on the corners until the superintendent told him his spirit was right but he was on the wrong corner. So he started going to community meetings then, wrapped in six layers and a helmet so he could see, to scream there. That kind of thing had given him the reputation as a young man, in and out of the ring, as someone who fought for what mattered. Jeremy wiggled a knee as the nostalgia started to set in.
He wasn’t sure if being sequestered in the dark in his office as the scandal of the century descended on the city was helping much. He missed running and boxing and hitting his nerves in the kidneys when he did something stupid. That wasn’t his life anymore though. He chose to run for office. He was supposed to be fighting for more, more than just himself at least. Deep in the pit of his stomach he wished he had said no when his family had presented the idea to him.
He leaned away from the large, wooden desk when he noticed his thumb had sprouted a little blood.
“Mayor Dacoit, can you approve this for me? They’re…uh…they’re calling again for a comment,” said Chetna from the door, a sliver of light from behind her highlighting her greying hair.
She sighs when she sees him curling into himself and hiding his hands. “Jer, you can’t hide in here all day. People want to know where the storm money went–”
“I didn’t do it,” he said.
A tense silence fell between them. Him turned to the windows, her watching him. The floor space between them might as well have been a chasm.
“People still want to know what happened,” she said as she turned to leave.