“Are you sure this is what you want?” Logan asked, pen poised above the sheet of paper that he was about to sign.
“Yes,” Kate replied. She stood leaning against the counter, arms crossed over her chest.
Her eyes fixated on the Trump 2020 banner hanging outside the house, blowing lightly in the breeze. She’d never been more sure of anything.
“Don’t blame yourself,” Jenn had said to Kate earlier that week, as they ate lunch together in the break room at work.
“I should’ve known,” Kate said sullenly, picking at her salad. Her normal appetite seemed to have dissolved with her marriage.
“Sometimes you can’t know these things until they happen,” Jenn said apologetically, taking a bite of her turkey sandwich, and then a sip of her can of Diet Coke. “But you’re doing the right thing.”
Kate looked at her, the only person at work that she could truly call her friend and not just a coworker or an acquaintance. “You think so?” Kate asked.
Jenn nodded. “Definitely. I mean, I know I could never be with someone like that.”
Kate leaned forward slightly and said in a low voice, “I just feel like if he could possibly support someone like that, someone who openly disrespects not just women, for starters, but also so many other groups of people. It’s like he doesn’t respect me.”
“Exactly,” Jenn said.
Kate had never been a staunchly political person, but she was passionate about what she did believe in, and that was equal rights for all, regardless of race, sex, religion, class, sexual orientation, age, gender identity, or any other quality that could potentially be used against someone.
She happily voted for Barack Obama in the first two elections that she was eligible to vote. Sometime between the first and second election, she met Logan, but they’d never discussed their individual political opinions, too wrapped up in that new relationship haze of kissing and giggling and spending entire days in bed cuddling and eating chocolate and takeout from the Thai restaurant down the street. Kate had always assumed that he was the same as her. Now, she hated herself for making that assumption, for not asking more questions. But they’d been so young at the time, still in college, and somehow the idea that she could possibly be attracted to someone whose beliefs were so starkly different from her own didn’t occur to her.
It occurred to her now, though.
They got married a couple of years after they graduated from college. Again, the subject of politics never came up. They started their careers, they bought a car and a house. It wasn’t until spring of 2016 that Kate realized that something was very wrong.
They were cooking dinner together, the tiny TV kitchen on in the background. They’d been talking about their usual dinner topics – their work days, their weekend plans - when Kate happened to glance at the little TV to see Reince Priebus announcing Donald Trump as the Republican party’s nominee for president.
She scoffed, shaking her head. “Can you believe this?” she said, gesturing at the TV as she took a plate out of the cabinet.
“I know,” Logan said, his eyes lit up. “Isn’t it great?”
Kate looked up. “What?”
“He’s great, right? He’d make a great president,” Logan went on.
“No, he wouldn’t,” Kate argued, frowning. “Have you even listened to this buffoon speak?”
“Yes, and I like him,” Logan said.
“Okay, then have you heard what he’s said about women?” Kate glared at him; she could practically feel her blood pressure rising.
Logan rolled his eyes. “He’s not talking about you, Kate.”
“I’m aware,” she snapped. “But that doesn’t make it okay. Grab ’em by the pussy? Are you kidding me, Logan? You actually like this guy?”
Logan sighed. “Is this gonna be a thing with us?”
They stared at each other for a moment. Kate felt a distinct fight or flight sensation traveling through her body.
Logan went over to her and put his arms around her. “Is it?” he asked again.
She closed her eyes briefly, then took a deep breath. “No,” she said.
Months later, as they argued over it for umpteenth time, Logan would say, “I thought you said this wasn’t going to be a problem,” and Kate would remember saying it, and wondering to herself if back then she knew that she was lying, or if she really believed it wouldn’t be.
For a time, Kate tried to believe that he wouldn’t win, so in the end, it wouldn’t matter. Logan could love Donald Trump all he wanted – that wouldn’t make him President. So for a couple of months, she let the subject go. They avoided discussing politics, keeping their topics of conversation benign and boring and generic, like they were acquaintances meeting on the street and talking about the weather or asking about how so-and-so was doing and saying fine, even if they weren’t fine. And Kate was able to sleep at night believing that there was no way it could happen.
A few weeks before Election Day, Kate saw a red Make America Great Again cap on Logan’s dresser. She resisted the strong urge to grab it and throw it in the trash. But she didn’t even want to touch it, like just putting her fingers on the tight white stitching of the letters would infect her with close minded beliefs.
She didn’t see Logan wear the hat until several days before the election. It was Saturday. He’d been outside all morning doing yardwork. When he finished and went inside to wash up and have lunch, before she knew what she was doing she was snatching it off his head.
“Kate!” Logan said, taken by surprise at how brash she was being.
“No,” she said, backing away from him. “Don’t.”
Logan sighed. He rubbed the sides of his forehead with his fingers. His hands were dirty, and they left smudges of dirt on his temples. “Give me the hat, Katie.”
“I’m not comfortable with you wearing it in this house.”
“Katie. Come on,” Logan said, growing exasperated.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t.”
“You can’t what?”
“This is bullshit, Logan!” She threw the red hat on the floor, and it slid across the kitchen tiles. “How is this you? We’re married. I thought I knew you. I thought you cared about me.”
“You do know me,” he said. “And I do care about you.”
“Talk is cheap, Logan. You can say that you care about me all you want, but if you vote for this asshole, it isn’t true. Because he doesn’t give two shits about women, or how women are treated, or basically how anyone who isn’t a white man is treated. So tell me for real,” she said, gesturing toward the hat, “is this you?”
“Yes,” he said. “It is.”
Kate felt a lump begin to grow in her throat. “Then I don’t know if I can do this,” she said.
The next morning, after a night of stiff silence, Logan apologized and told Kate that he wouldn’t wear the hat if it bothered her. She reluctantly agreed, but that night in bed, she laid so her back was facing him, pretending to be asleep.
Logan went to a buddy’s house on the night of Election Day. He invited Kate, but she declined, saying that she had a headache and wanted to go to sleep early.
After she watched his car disappear down the road, Kate poured herself a bowl of cereal for dinner and flicked on the TV in the living room. She found a channel with election coverage, and she sat there on the couch all night, eating bowls of cereal in the dark, the only light the blue glow of the TV.
At some point, she fell asleep. When she woke up, Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States.
In the days after the election, Kate was quiet and sad. She tried to be okay with defeat, but this felt different. She felt betrayed, by her husband, who was supposed to love and support her more than anyone, and also by her country, who had somehow decided that their future, her future, was this.
Kate didn’t know what happened. She knew that she had voted, because she still had the little “I Voted” sticker stuck to her purse. But beyond that, she felt lost.
She remembered being in junior high when 9/11 happened, and seeing the outpouring of support and love in her town, American flags everywhere, that song “Proud to be an American” always playing on the radio. But now, she felt disappointed and let down and like any person who she happened to pass on the street might one of them. Someone from the other team. Someone who wanted to repress and manipulate, or if they were not someone who wanted to do those things, they could be someone who was okay with the person in the highest office in the country doing those things.
Logan, at least, was smart enough not to gloat. He seemed to want to go back to life as normal, before the election. And Kate thought that was what she wanted, too, but as the days after the election turned into weeks and months, it became apparent to her that she couldn’t do it. Nothing would be the same now.
One morning, sitting at her desk at work, sipping a mug of coffee, reading email, she knew with such sparkling clarity that what she wanted, more than anything, was freedom. She looked at the photo of her and Logan from their wedding day in its silver frame next to her computer monitor. They looked so happy – Logan wearing his tux and a fresh haircut, Kate in her strapless grown and long white lace veil. She knew, feeling tears burn her eyes, that she couldn’t be with him anymore.
She picked up the framed photo and placed it very gently into one of her desk drawers, so that she didn’t have to look at it anymore.
The first three years of the Trump presidency were some of the most difficult of Kate’s life. She tried to pay attention to the news, but it seemed like every other day the news was making her cry or rage, and dealing with such strong emotions so frequently became exhausting, so she stopped listening as much. She read the important stuff, but she didn’t immerse herself in it.
Without intending to, the distance between her and Logan began to grow. Logan got more involved with local politics, spending his weekends having lunch and playing golf at country clubs with local politicians who were known Trump supporters, and on weeknights he’d have dinner at restaurants that served $100 steaks. He never came home drunk or cruel, and he seemed happy, and Kate was just as content to not see him or spend time with him.
One evening when he was home for dinner, Kate overheard him on phone, talking animatedly. “Wow, thanks so much. That’s great,” he was saying when Kate entered the dining room carrying plates and silverware.
“What was that?” she asked when he hung up the phone.
“Bob wants me to run for town council,” he said excitedly. “Isn’t that awesome?”
“Wow,” Kate managed to say. “I didn’t know you were interested in politics like that.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t, not until recently,” he said. “These last couple of years. But there are great things happening, and I want to be part of it, and Bob thinks I could win. He says I have the personality and the spark, and I figure, why not at least try?”
Kate forced herself to smile back at him. “Yeah,” she said. “It never hurts to try.”
Two weeks later, Kate met with a divorce lawyer. Her lawyer was a woman several years older than her. She was tall, with blonde hair that she always had pulled back in a clip. She wore tortoiseshell eyeglasses and suits that reminded her of Hillary Clinton.
When the subject of the reason that Kate wanted a divorce came up, Kate hesitated.
“It’s okay,” the lawyer said. “Believe me, I’ve heard it all.”
Kate took a deep breath. “He’s a Trump supporter,” she said.
Instant understanding appeared on the lawyer’s face. “Ah,” she said.
Something in her lawyer’s expression made Kate say, “It’s not the first time you’ve heard this.”
The lawyer smiled, but it was a sad smile. “No, it’s not,” she said. “And I’m sure it won’t be the last.”
Which brought them to that night in the dining room, Logan staring at the divorce papers that Kate had handed to him.
“Kate, I love you,” he said. “This isn’t what I want.”
“You don’t know what you want.”
He looked at her. “I don’t want this.”
She stared back at him, right into his eyes, trying to find some trace of the man she’d fallen in love with when she was twenty-one. Where was the guy who brought her McDonald’s cheeseburgers at two in the morning, who rubbed her neck for her when she’d had a long day at work, who always remembered to pick up tampons for her from the store?
But he was gone. She couldn’t see him anymore.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t.”
Their divorce was final just in time for the beginning of the 2020 election. They both procrastinated discussing which one of them would move out and find another place to live. Kate secretly hoped that Logan would volunteer, but he didn’t, and neither did she. Then one day after work, she came home to a Trump/Pence banner hanging in front of the house, and she started looking for an apartment on Craiglist and packing her things.
The day she moved out, she rented a truck, and she loaded her things into the truck bed. It was summer, hot and sunny but not humid. Logan didn’t offer to help her. He watched her make trip after trip into the house and back out, carrying boxes, from a distance. They didn’t speak.
When she was done, she went inside to say goodbye. “I’m leaving,” she said, and there was ice in her own voice that she didn’t recognize.
“Okay,” he said. He was at the kitchen counter, drinking a glass of water. A bottle of Aspirin was on the counter.
“So, bye,” she said, lifting a hand.
“Bye,” he said back, not looking at her.
Relieved for the abbreviated farewell, she walked quickly to the front door. She was sweaty and looking forward to a shower and a meal. From behind her, Logan called, “Kate, wait.”
She stopped and turned around. “What?” she said.
“Just…” He struggled. Logan wasn’t often lost for words, and she found that she deviously liked seeing him like this, hesitant and unsure of himself. “Are you sure?” he asked her again.
She looked at him for a long moment. “Logan, I don’t know you,” she said.
“You do know me,” he replied.
After another moment, she said, “I don’t want to know you,” and she turned again, and walked out the door.
One day not long after she moved out, eating lunch at work with Jenn, Jenn said, “You know what you should do?
Kate popped a potato chip in her mouth. “What?”
“Run for town council.”
Kate stared at her.
Jenn grinned. “Against Logan.”
Kate continued to stare. Jenn continued to smile. Finally Kate said, “You’re kidding, right?”
“Nope,” Jenn said. “Not even a little bit.”
“No way,” Kate said.
“I bet you’ll win,” Jenn countered, stealing one of Kate’s chips.
“Not a chance.”
“Definitely a chance.”
“Not against Logan. He’s way more charismatic than me.
Jenn shook her head. “You’re more charismatic than you think.”
“I also don’t know shit about politics.”
They ate in silence for a few minutes. Then Kate said, “It would be kind of cool.”
“Right?” Jenn said. “I’ll be your amateur campaign manager.”
“We do need more women in office,” Kate said, and she slowly began giving herself permission to pursue a dream that she didn’t even know she had.
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What a sad, yet hopeful story. It's tragic that people who love each other are parting because of political, racial, and religious beliefs/differences. Differences can be reconciled, I've done it, but not with a person you live so closely with. That's the tragedy of humanity. "Part his arms around her" should be put. I also think if you threaded this secret dream of hers a little further through the story, it would fit the prompt better and then make the ending more solid. As usual, great job. Keep it up!
Yay! Thank you for writing about this. Someone needed to, and this was so realistic. I know this has happened with couples around America. It's sad that Logan isn't the man Kate thought he was. But, your ending is powerful and clever. I know who will win. Critique: “Yes,” he said. “It is. " You forgot a " after is. It's beautiful. So glad you're posting again. :)
This story is a gut punch. First off it is too well written. It is by far the saddest story I've ever read on Reedsy. The funny thing, and I mean funny peculiar not funny haha, is that you couldn't write the story in reverse. The people who love Trump and are accused of being hateful bigots, misogynists, homophobes, and white supremacists are far more accepting of people who disagree with them than the "Enlightened" ones who hate with such ferocity that they can't see the forest for the trees. I know people like this, people who justify...
I don't usually reply to comments, but given the current political climate here in the US and the highly polarizing and toxic last 4 years, I'll bite this time. Thank you for the compliments, but unfortunately, I don't think you're right. Writing my story in reverse and having it be realistic and believable isn't at all far fetched. It's heartbreaking, but there are evidently a lot of people in this country who are proud of their racism and bigotry and ignorance, people who have no respect for women or the LGBTQ community and or frankly any...
You won’t lose me. You’re a fantastic writer and passionate about what you believe in. You are also right that there are narrow minded people who hate based on sexual preference or gender identity or gender. I would be a fool to argue against it. I don’t believe it is however the rule anymore than it is the rule that all coastal elites look down on people in fly over country as being ignorant racist homophobic bigots. You are more than just a good writer in my book you are a good person. It takes a good person to defend those who are attacke...
Hii, Amy Sorry to intervene, in this brutal manner, I have a request for you would be kind to give a single glance over the vehicle which my team had been working over months. https://www.instagram.com/p/CHX5VUPBJOp/?igshid=5f72nb3cgg30 Sorry to take your time and If possible like the post.Because this would help team to win