In the darkened room, Jacob slumped over the desk, his face lit by the incandescence of the two wide editing screens. His chin was in his hand and there was a sheen of saliva around his mouth. He fought to keep his eyelids open as he wheeled to and fro through the footage. Then the room flooded with light, and Jacob shut his eyes tight to the painful stimulus.
"How's it going?" asked the silhouette in the doorway.
"Urgh," Jacob managed to get out.
"That good huh?"
"Shut the door!"
The light slowly faded. Jacob rubbed his eyes.
"Do you want me to add something new, Karen?"
"I think we're fine for now," said Karen.
"Oh. Every time you come in here you bring some new tape from the campaign trail. I mean, does she ever take a break? She must do a dozen events in a day."
"Not quite that many." Karen sat down in the swivel chair next to Jacob. "But really, how's it going?"
"I've got the fifteen second spot done," said Jacob. He handed Karen a DVDROM. "I think that's the right one."
"You need some rest."
"No kidding. I'm exhausted. And I've got the phrase Luna Diaz for Congress marching through my head like a mantra. I feel like I might never get it out."
"There's seven months left in the campaign," said Karen.
"Ugh," moaned Jacob. He pressed is palms to his eye sockets.
"You know, you are volunteering. You don't have to do this if you don't want to."
"No. It's fine. I'm just cranky. I want her to win. I mean, the alternatives are just...grim."
"I wouldn't go that far," chuckled Karen.
"But does she have to go to each little special interest groups function? She treats them all the same--"
"That's the point," said Karen in a motherly tone. "If you're cynical you'll see it as pandering, and if you're optimistic, you'll see it as egalitarian."
Jacob sat and thought about it for a moment.
"I guess I'm not much of an optimist at that point."
Karen clapped him on the back and stood up.
"I'll leave you to your work. You might want to shield your eyes. Oh, and the reason I disturbed you is to tell you that Luna will be by the offices in a few minutes. I know you haven't met her yet, so this would be a good opportunity--"
There were voices outside the door. Karen opened it a crack and peered out.
"She's here! Come on," said Karen.
Jacob got up reluctantly and Karen ushered him out the door and into the blinding light. Luna had just arrived, and wore a baby blue pant suit. Jacob recognized it from some earlier events and mentally ticked off confirmation that she rotated outfits on a ten day schedule.
Luna shook the hands of each of the smiling volunteers. She took a moment to speak to each personally, and never stopped smiling. Jacob rolled his eyes. That's not going to work on me, he thought. Shortly she came to Karen and Jacob and Karen introduced him to her.
"Thank you so much," said Luna, and she extended her hand towards Jacob. Her smile crinkled around her eyes.
"Uh..." muttered Jacob. His hand was instantly both sweaty and cold. He examined her long, straight, black hair, as he smelled the scent of her shampoo. The powder blue weave of her blazer caught his eye. "I like your suit," he whispered.
Luna raised her eyebrows. Karen suppressed a giggle. Jacob flashed Luna a crooked smile and brushed his bangs from his forehead.
"Yes, I do too," she said. She retracted her hand, and pressed the other against his hand. "Thanks again."
She moved along to another volunteer and Jacob gained sudden interest in the berber carpeting. Karen leaned into him.
"It's okay," she whispered.
"No. No it's not." Jacob shook his head vigorously. "That was so not okay."
When Luna was gone and off to her next appointment, Jacob ducked back into the editing room and sat under the desk in the dark. He brought his legs to his chest and pressed his hot face against his knees. Karen crept in after a few minutes and sat down cross-legged beside him.
"You know what she said?" she asked.
"She was flattered that you were so starstruck," said Karen.
"I swore I'd never let that happen to me."
"She said I should give you a raise."
"I'm a volunteer."
"I know. That's a little unfortunate. But it's the thought that counts, right?" Karen put her arm around his shoulder. "On the bright side, because there's always a bright side, at least you didn't blurt it out."