In September I submitted a story for NPR’s “Three Minute Fiction” series titled “The Desk”, which sadly did not win.
I actually wrote two stories; The Desk and The Oath, but chose “The Desk” as I felt it had a thread that ran through three different presidents
So, I thought I would post The Desk for your enjoyment anyway.
Let me know what you think:
by Jason Stadtlander
Jared remembered the trip with his fifth grade class from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. His mother had told him about it two weeks prior, and he began marking off the days leading up to the trip on his calendar before bed each night. Jared’s presentiment of seeing the famous buildings from his history books was overwhelming. The Pentagon, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, and White House were swimming in his mind.
The tour of the White House had been magical, the spirits of famous men and important decisions made within those walls creating a buzz of excitement in Jared’s brain. The tour guide led his class down the halls where presidents had walked, passing through various rooms and finally stopping at the Map Room and Oval Office.
The historic room looked different than expected. The only real view Jared had seen as a television viewer was the desk with the window behind it. Five classmates walked about the periphery looking at paintings on the wall while he stood separately on the red-orange sunbeam carpet emblazoned with the presidential seal. Jared remained staring at the impressive wooden desk and could feel the history.
Two secret servicemen walked through the door followed by President Reagan. “Hello,” said the president, walking straight to Jared. “What’s your name?” His natural smile illuminated his face as he held out his hand.
“Jared. Jared Reddington, sir.”
“Well, Jared, would you like to see something special?”
Jared nodded bashfully. The president placed his hand on Jared’s shoulder, guiding him toward the back of the large desk. As they stood together, the president pointed to a cubbyhole beneath. “Do you see under there?”
Jared looked down at the space under the desk and back up at the president. “Yes.”
“Does it look like it would be fun to play there?” President Reagan asked with a mischievous smile.
Jared smiled. “Yes.”
“I know a child who played down there. His name was John F. Kennedy Junior. He played there while his daddy sat here working.”
Jared was amazed that a president had children. “Did your son ever play under there?”
President Reagan laughed. “No. My son was grown by the time I was elected. Do you know what else?”
“What?” the boy asked inquisitively.
The president bent down to Jared’s height. Smiling, he whispered, “Your children could play under this desk. All you have to do is become president.”
Jared now stood on the presidential seal of the United States looking down at a similar but not identical carpet to the one he had seen as a boy. His gaze shifted to the desk he had first set eyes on thirty-six years earlier, and President Reagan’s words echoed in his memory. All you have to do is become president.
Once again, Jared stepped around behind the impressive piece of furniture. Grabbing the chair, he pulled it back and sat down at the desk that was now his. Space beneath appeared much smaller now. He smiled just as his five-year-old, Stephen, yelled from down the hall.
“Daddy! There’s a statue of an old man in the . . . ” the boy stopped abruptly at the entrance to the Oval Office. “What’s wrong, Daddy?”
“Come here, Stephen,” Jared said.
Walking over to the desk, Stephen stopped and stood next to his father. “You see under there?” asked Jared, pointing.
“Looks like a fun place to play, huh?”
Stephen looked up at his father and smiled in eager anticipation. “Yes.”
The President tossed his son’s hair. “Go on then,” he said laughing, “play!”