Lena Ziegler - "The Declaration Of Repentance"

I didn’t enter politics because I like the taste of blood. Call it a lucky coincidence. After all, you have to like it if you want to make it and not many can handle that rich, metallic taste, like rusted pennies in a jar. Bitter, yet somehow appealing.

It’s an acquired taste, I admit. One you can’t imagine liking back in that first campaign, when your hopes are even higher than your ideals, and you think all campaign slogans come the way yours did - spurred from hazy conversations with the future first lady in the backseat of her father’s Lincoln, tripping on the high of temporary ethical certainties yet to be challenged by a tedious reelection season. You believe that with her by your side, one day that ferocity for reform that bubbles through your veins will be enough to transform you into a real live President. No tricks. No pony rides. Just hard facts turned into evidence for a case against the other side. Back when you thought there was one.

Because after the initial unpleasantness wears off and the drained faces of the individuals you have stepped on begin to fade from your memory, you realize there is nothing more American than blood. Blue on the outside, red beneath the surface; two colors one in the same, funneled through the circulatory system of American government, propelled by the campaign dollars of red-blooded good ole boys and blue-blooded elitists.

And soon that home-cooked campaign slogan, spurred from passionate conversations with your future Presidential opposition on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is replaced by processed, canned, and scripted ideals, pre-packaged by strategists paid to recycle those once upheld by greater men, whose names have now been reduced to political vocabulary, reserved to convince the public that there is still some meaning in the Presidential title. And there is.

You won’t know it until you’re there, nursing the backwash of vodka and failure behind a desk in the oval office, counting the ways in which you’ve killed every man who counted on you for more than your title allows, that those who reach the top leave their ideals on the bottom.

You see, it’s no coincidence that blood tastes like money. But they never tell you that money tastes like blood. I never approved that message.

 

Lena is currently a student as Western Kentucky University pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing. She has been previously published in Harpoon Review, Red Earth Review, Miracle Monocle, and Lavender Bluegrass.