A touch.

A simple touch.

The mere sensation of his skin pressed against hers. His hand, his arm, his fingers, his lips. She is undone.

All the complexities and scruples of this messy world are forgotten. Nightmares fade and burdens lifted. She is calm, she is safe, she is in love.

She needs nothing more than the dizzy, airy feeling that walks hand-in-hand with being near him. The anticipation of his touch, the pending thought that at some point in the near future, he might make contact. This is why she remains by his side. There's the small, unimportant fact that she also happens to love him and is loved by him. But his touch, his soothing, healing touch rooted in his deep, seemingly bottomless love, rises supreme and paramount above all.

She is drowning in a babbling brook of her own tears, and in one swift movement, his arms encircle her waist. She is cured, all ailments remedied.

She is suffocating in a world, in a house of white, where she has less control and more boundaries than she would prefer. He is there, a gentle hand on her shoulder. All quams float away weightlessly with the breeze.

She forgets, sometimes, often, always, that he reigns supreme over the free world. In her shining green eyes, he is not Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces. He is not President Josiah Bartlet. He is Jed, Jethro, Jackass. She is not the First Lady of the United States of America. She is not Dr. Abigail Bartlet, M.D. She is Abbey, Sweet Knees, Hot Pants. Together, they are not the First Couple, admired, envied, feared. Together, they are Jed and Abbey, admired, envied, adored.

She pretends to be sound asleep and dreaming when he finally comes to bed at night. He feels bad, wishing he could have been there to watch her eyelids grow heavy and at last close. He slides under the covers and closer to her heart. She can feel him long before their fully-clothed bodies make contact beneath the sheets. The sheer anticipation of his touch, someday, will do her in.

Daylight breaks, sun shining, birds chirping gleefully. He awakens at some ungodly hour she has never seen. He glances over across to her side of the bed, guiltily. Asleep when he comes to bed, and asleep when he leaves in the morning. It is his fault, he knows, but he misses her. Once a month, they share breakfast. Not long. A quick exchanging of quips involving public policy or the children, then it is off to the office for both of them. Off to their respective cages.

The next day, she is gone. Arizona, Alabama, Argentina. He cannot keep up. She calls him once, to say hello. Then he calls her, to discuss their days so far. The third and last call of the day is anybody's guess. Sometimes it is she who is doing the calling, out of her mind with worry and anxious for reassurance. Sometimes it is he who is doing the calling, desperate for the sound of her voice.

While it is his touch that both unravels and eases her, it is her voice that provides him with such unadulterated ecstasy. The nuances of each sentence, each word, each syllable. The way she says his name, with an accent just short of southern authenticity. She speaks tenderly, then gradually the volume grows with either anger or passion, often both. Her voice is softened, like silk, as the conversation nears it's untimely end. She whispers words of love, wisdom, devotion, yearning. He is undone.

And the homecoming. A joyous mix of emotions overwhelms them both. A heart-wrenching combition of adoration, relief, excitement, thrill, happiness, desire, and hesitation. Both freely admit, without shame or trepidation, that each moment spent apart was one of indescribable agony that can be not compared to any other sentiment known to man. All is expressed through the glazed-over looks in their eyes, locked like chains of rusty metal that remain, for years, unsevered.

It is what makes him stay, what gives her hope, what calms his nerves, what illuminates her skin, what keeps him alive, what lets her live.

Two essential senses, their unalienable rights, their justice, their domestic tranquility, their common defense, their general welfare- to themselves and their posterity. It is their constitution, bearing only slight resemblance to that which holds together, like glue, the country they, as one entity, lead.

Two essential senses, touch and hearing. The foundations of their relationship, the unbreakable binds that tie them, that fasten the knot of their marriage.

They are undone.