“You never throw a wrench in it, in society,” says a woman with severely cropped hair, crisp with styling gel, as pure and white as politicians’ promises. “He will, number one, get our economy back on track, number two, reach across the aisle and work with everyone. It’s an obvious choice to me.”
Amber nods, swiveling slowly in her office chair, while the woman hovers across the high partition of the reception desk and pats her palm over a lawn sign promoting her politician of choice.
“Sure,” Amber smiles. “Well, my boss isn’t here, and it’s not my building. I can’t promise he’ll put it up.” The hum of the electric heaters resounds in the tiny office. A brilliant nighttime cityscape of New York City appears on Amber’s desktop screen. The woman clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth, studying Amber.
“What’s your vote, dear? I have bumper stickers in my car.”
Amber laughs, she runs her fingers through her long blonde hair as she responds, “My mom always told me never to tell people who you were voting for. I don’t even know who she voted for in the last election.”
“Your family doesn’t talk about politics?”
“Not really.” The desktop background switches to the skyline of Prague, shrouded in fog. Amber recognizes the somber statues of Charles Bridge, the castle rising above the horizon, the domed ceilings of countless cathedrals.
“That’s a shame. That’s a real shame.”
“Well, it just wasn’t – ”
“It’s such an important part of our daily lives. And you’re the future, aren’t you?”
Amber’s knee bounces up and down beneath her desk, beneath a sheet of paper scribbled over with notes and lists, all under the heading: “Where to Go.”
“You’ll soon be a leader of this community and look what’s happening, what’s happened.”
Amber skims the name of cities and countries she wrote down in thick black marker on the left side of the sheet, the corresponding notes on the right: Costa Rica (cheap, tropical, who to go with?), New Zealand (work in hostels, one year visa, speak English), Austin (live music, young people), Portland (Martin).
“Do your friends discuss politics?”
“Every time one of them says ‘middle class,’ you have to drink,” says Katie, pouring cheap Pinot Noir in Amber’s wine glass.
“You know what I don’t get – if there’s like a dozen people on the presidential ballot, why are only two debating?” Tyler rests his feet on the coffee table, unzips his black hoodie. “You have a bottle opener?”
“I’m voting Green Party,” says Katie matter-of-factly, plunking down on the couch beside Tyler, who shakes his head. Katie runs her fingers over her black bangs while Amber rises, walks to the kitchen. “Why?” she asks as she sifts through a drawer. “That’s like wasting a vote.”
“No, it’s not,” replies Katie. “I can’t believe you’d think that, and I can’t believe you wouldn’t vote Green Party – they’ve got two women on the ballot. And they’re from the East Coast. They’re smart.”
“That’s your reasoning?” laughs Tyler. “Thanks,” he takes the silver bottle opener from Amber, opens his Spotted Cow.
“Do you know how peaceful the world would be if it was run by women?” asks Katie.
“I’m the only guy in the room,” says Tyler. “I’m not arguing with you two about that.”
“I think it would be pretty peaceful,” says Amber, hugging her knees to her chest. “We like to work things out, laugh and visit, not start firing guns whenever we feel the need to show we’re the alpha country.”
“That’s why I’m voting Green Party,” Katie turns to the television.
“I’m going to lower taxes for the middle class – ” says the lean man with tight tie around his neck.
“Drink!” says Katie.
Amber sips on the wine, pungent and tart. She puckers her lips and closes her eyes as she swallows.
“So you’re voting Green Party, Amber?” asks Tyler.
“Well,” Amber coughs, studies the two men side by side on the screen, one pointing a finger at the other, who smiles and laughs. “That’s just not true. That’s not true.”
“I have a daughter, maybe your age, married, they have a little one, she goes to every school board meeting, town meetings, she gets involved,” says the woman.
“That’s great,” smiles Amber. “Maybe if, or when, I get more established I’ll do more of that.”
“What’s your opinion on abortion?”
“I find that’s a clear way to decide what side you’re leaning towards,” the woman scratches the side of her nose. “You seem unsure of your vote. I want you to know the facts and be sure.”
“Well, I think it’s a touchy subject.”
“I’ve made you uncomfortable. Oops, I hope you’ve not personally had to deal with that.” The woman maintains a steady gaze on Amber, as if waiting for a reaction. Amber glances at her list. Thailand is in her head; she forgot to write down Thailand. “Do you just want to leave the sign here, and I’ll let my boss decide what to do.”
“Well, I want to make sure it gets put up somewhere. If he doesn’t want it you think you’d put it up on your property.”
“I live above a yarn store,” says Amber, drumming a pencil on her list. “So, probably not.”
“Who owns that store? You know who they are voting for?”
“How do you feel about our military – you support our troops?”
“Yes. Of course. Listen, I’m thinking about leaving, so really, I don’t care.”
“Leaving? The U.S.?” the woman shakes her head. “You don’t care?”
“Yeah – I care, I just –”
“I hope you know what you’re doing,” the woman readjusts the sign under her arm and points the tip of her red fingernail at Amber. “You know there’s sex trafficking going on in a lot of places now. I saw something about it on Nightline.”
“Yeah, I think that happens in the U.S., too.”