It rained throughout the night, and the clouds were barely breaking as the sun rose again the next day. Lisa slumped out of bed and grabbed the metal rose from it’s place on the nightstand. She dressed in loose jeans and a sweater and heated up the leftovers from the previous day for breakfast.
The clock said seven am by the time she picked up the phone and called Mike. She called his home phone, knowing he wouldn’t be up yet. He’d always been a night owl and answered drowsily.
“Mayor… Mayor…hello. Help?”
It was all Lisa could do to not burst out laughing.
“Mike, get up and get your stuff together, we’ve gotta do a ceremony today. Send someone with a copy of the ritual to the Crook residence and have everything set for noon. Mr. Crook will need a paid day off from work too, so talk to his boss.” She managed to fit everything in before he could fully comprehend, and held the phone away from her ear.
“WHAT?” His voice came through loud and clear and she winced at the sharpness, “No wait, are you serious? Really? We’re doing this?” His voice had gone from a shout to an incredulous whisper and she finally put the phone close to her ear again.
“Business first Mike. I’ll be there at noon. Get everything ready and make sure she brings her focus. And *paid* day off for her dad, I get the feeling he can’t really afford it otherwise.”
“Yeah, of course… can I ask a question?”
“Afterwards, Mike. I have to get ready.” She hung up before he could say anything else. She knew the question he would ask, and wanted more time to think on her answer. She spent the next hour watching the morning news talk about the storm last night, then called Mr. Crook to warn him that someone from city hall would be by soon. Camden was apparently still asleep, but the man sounded less exhausted at least.
Lisa hung up the phone again and turned off the news. The moment they heard about what was going to happen today she’d be dodging questions for weeks. Hopefully Mike would have the decency to wait for the press conference until everything was settled.
She had woken up too early. Now there was a three and a half hours of nothing to do until noon. After a few minutes of silence she got up and grabbed her purse, heading out the door. The doorman nodded as she hurried out into the cool air. She slung her purse over her shoulder, stuck her hands in her pockets, and set off to the store. It was in the opposite direction from city hall, and she was glad for that. The grocery store was a few blocks away as well, and she was passed by several cars heading out of town. She stopped and watched each time before hurrying along again.
The store was brightly lit and bustling with employees stocking and a few early birds with overflowing shopping carts. She grabbed a basket and checked out the front displays for a moment before heading down the aisle for tea. A sale tag caught her eye, four for five dollars on her favorite brand. She hunted down the flavor she wanted and sighed at the only two boxes on the shelf. This area had clearly been stocked already, so she grabbed a couple boxes of another flavor to get the sale and made her way around the store, grabbing some bread and a jar of peanut butter. She would have to go shopping again later in the week once things had been sorted but this would work for now.
It was only halfway back to her apartment that Lisa remembered the light bulbs. She turned around and stared back in the direction of the store bitterly, but decided against going back. A car slowed as it passed her and a family waved at her. She waved back and smiled politely until they moved on.
Back at her apartment she flipped the light switch and was relieved when it came on without a popping noise. Mr. Crook might have finally fixed the problem after all. She put away everything and looked at the clock. It was only nine thirty.
“Longest morning ever.” She muttered, sitting down to turn on the TV again. The phone rang and she jumped, nearly dropping it in her rush to answer, “Mike, what is it?”
“You uh… may want to come in earlier than noon.”
“Why? What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything, somebody may have let it slip that something was happening at noon with you. I already let them have it but the damage is done.”
“Mike… you are making me regret this already.”
“No, come on Lisa, just come in earlier and we’ll have it done and handled before they get their shit together and then I’ll make some excuse and throw them off.”
That was the closest Mike usually came to proper swearing, and Lisa took a deep breath to calm herself, “I’ll be there in half an hour, send someone to get Camden and her father. Nobody but the four of us gets into your office until it’s done.”
“Done. See you soon.” He hung up on her this time and she glared the phone. This had been a mistake, but she couldn’t back out now.
She headed back outside and started a brisk jog towards city hall. Nobody was on the street, and no cars passed her. She made it up the stairs unnoticed and the secretary opened the door without a word, shutting it as soon as she was inside.
“Sorry, really. They should be here in a couple minutes.” There was no smug look on the mayor’s face, much to her relief. She sat down to wait and true to his word they were escorted in, Jasper clutching a brochure and Camden looking ready to bounce off the walls. She was clutching her pen tightly and grinning so hard Lisa thought her jaw might unhinge.
“Alright, Jasper you stand here, Camden you’re opposite me. Let’s get this show on the road before anybody interrupts.” Lisa positioned them in the middle of the room as Mike closed the window curtains around the room. Jasper gave her a nervous look, his hands shaking slightly as she gestured for him to start reading.