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"House of Ghosts"

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The President was advised not to step outside of the Oval Office all that Thursday. She cancelled her meetings, or otherwise held appointments that could not be postponed within the four walls of the historic room.

The room in the House with its ghosts.

The wide desk in the Office had been brought over to Washington from the Governors’ Mansion in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where it had served her for several years before winning the Presidency. Brought up in the Southwest, with its blend of Spanish Catholic and Native American Animism, Maria Ynez Whitefeather knew the power of spirits and totems. This belief is what informed her decision to bring the desk halfway across the country. Its top was crafted from the front door of an old mission -- the only part of the mission to survive a fire that claimed seventeen lives in 1847, but also spared the life of an ancestor of hers, who took shelter in the lee of the door. The door stayed with her family ever since, long since converted into a desk and held in her family as a spiritual object, a totem of faith.

Political advisors told her to be wary, upon winning the Presidency, of what message she would be sending. Bringing the desk to Washington meant removing the Resolute desk – a gift from Queen Victoria -- from the Oval Office, where Presidents had sat for decades, from Kennedy up to President Ventura.

Other advisors told her to remove the Resolute, and she listened without hesitation.

The room in the House with its ghosts.

They told her that Thursday that something bad would happen if she left the Office. After several séances held in the Lincoln White House, the President was killed. Perhaps Lincoln thought the advisors were simply theatre critics. President Garfield was killed. McKinley and, of course, Kennedy were killed.

All day, during her meetings, President Whitefeather would touch her hip pocket, feeling the outline of rosary beads and a wood-carved river otter totem from her father, who had always told her that living is a gift, not a burden. At the end of the day, when the doors to the Oval Office were closed, and the sound of voices beyond gradually drifted away in the direction of the West Wing, President Maria Ynez Whitefeather sat behind her desk and exhaled slowly, thanking her advisors for guidance.

Later that night, the President slipped on the green and white tiles – a favourite fixture of President Truman -- of the bathroom floor in the White House residence, striking her head on the edge of the bathtub and slipping into a coma from which she never recovered.

The bathroom ghosts didn’t like the Oval Office ghosts, the snooty bastards.

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