06 Apr August Smith
Obama sits behind his large, wooden desk. He feels its oppressive weight. He feels the weight of the pens lined neatly across the top, each as heavy as a small moon. He feels the oppressive weight of the telephone, its gravitas calling his hand every third breath. Michelle enters the oval office. She says something about gun control. Obama is looking at his shoes, thinking about the solar system.
A mostly-unresponsive Obama plays Call of Duty Black Ops on the presidential Xbox 360. His kill-death ratio is 1 to 8. His team laughs in his ears and teabags his corpse. “Eat shit,” he says into his headset, before shutting off the system.
He then lies on the couch for three hours, holding the controller, wondering what time it is without moving his head to look at the clock.
A listless Obama plays Monopoly with his daughters. He and Natasha force Malia into bankruptcy. “I hate you!” she screams, storming off to her room. She is followed by a stoic secret service agent.
A wistful Obama steps onto the White House’s porch to smoke a cigarette. Snow drifts down from a rotten orange sky and he begins to think about the first time he kissed a girl. She was Amanda, and he was a nervous thirteen year-old, clutching her hand on a Hawaiian beach, the sky hollering red from a slowly setting sun, and the only thing he had to worry about was kissing her.
A fully-awake Obama interacts with his iPhone while Michelle sleeps at his side. He quickly browses through 200 pictures of Amanda on Facebook. He watches a chunky cellphone video from 2008 of himself and Michelle at a beach in Australia. He skims The Rolling Stone’s review of Beyoncé’s new album. He pours himself a glass of water and asks a secret service agent, “Was there ever a time when everyone was happy?” “No, Mr. President, sir,” replies the agent. “Not to my knowledge.”
Obama drinks the water. He crawls back into bed and nudges Michelle awake. “What,” she asks with a sleep-worn voice, the imprint of presidential pillows warm upon her face. “Nothing, never mind,” Obama says.
An agitated Obama sits in the bathroom after a press conference, reading the “obama” and “politics” hashtags on his phone. In North Dakota, a man named Derek Knaggs tweets: “fuck off #obama” and “if you take away our guns I will kill you #obama”. Obama favorites both tweets while smiling menacingly.
A manic Obama is surfing the web while sitting in a café. After a few short minutes of googling, he learns that Amanda died of a lung cancer six years prior.
Obama tries to think of what was going on six years ago. He pictures his wife’s face, but it slowly morphs into Mitt Romney’s grinning visage, then into Beyoncé’s heart-breaking smile. Obama pays for his coffee and scone and he leaves the café.
Obama is in Hawaii with his family. It is a cool, shady Sunday. After brunch, Obama leaves the presidential estate with its presidential phones and pillows and pens and family. Obama arrives at a cemetery. He kneels close to Amanda’s grave. He fixates on the sounds of birds in the trees and the feel of the cool grass on his ankles. He stands up quickly and stiffly. Obama is suddenly overwhelmed with happiness.
August Smith is a poet from Michigan. He runs Cool Skull Press and is an MFA candidate at University of Massachusetts Boston. His favorite race track on Mario Kart 64 is “Yoshi Valley.”