“Inaugural Absence”

“Inaugural Absence,” by alumni Evan Cleveland (fiction, ’12) appears online at A Clean, Well-Lighted Place:

  In spite of the thousands that wait on the national mall, in spite of the over-coated dignitaries lining the stage, and in spite of the aging poet reviewing her lines as the icy wind lifts her white hair, her parting lips hidden behind a tartan scarf, the president-elect has vanished. Already a slight man, he had appeared diminished lately. Not simply sapped of gravitas by the long campaign, no, he’d seemed—somehow—less present, less there, and now, undiscoverable. Televisions first revealed the change, albeit slight. Excited crowds streamed over more space on those screens, the candidate a handshaking flurry isolated at the frame’s edge, until the cheering throngs, placards and voices lifted, swelled across even the widest of flat screens, their high definition exuberance clear, their candidate invisible, somewhere off camera perhaps. No more than an American-flag cuff-linked wrist appeared. But few noticed. The frantic news crawl flowed below, the steady undercurrent to market gains and losses. Pundits engaged in split screen debates to the side on strategy, tactics, polling, or projected electoral counts. Soon those debates unequally split the screen, accommodating larger round tables that accommodated more opinions that broke like tributaries into more commentary on the former opinions and more opinions on that commentary...[Keep Reading]…

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