I've lost count of how many times I've seen Donna sleep. I've seen her fall asleep on planes, on trains, in hotel rooms and one hot summer's night in 2000 on the corner of my hospital bed with her head balanced precariously on the metal head rail. For me, watching Donna Moss sleep is nothing new. She's been with the campaign for two days now and we're on the bus heading for a breakfast rally in the morning. It's late, there's only five of us on the bus, Bram is flicking through a local newspaper, Lou is dozing with her head against the window, the congressman and I are going over the message calendar for next week and Donna is curled up on a seat behind us all – sleeping.
I've lost count of how many times I've watched Donna sleep. She had this natural slow rhythm, peaceful and content. Tonight that rhythm's off – it's like someone in the orchestra hasn't told the percussion section to play with the rest of them. The foot curled up under her right leg is moving, trying to get somewhere and the rest of her isn't going, her breathing is fast and more uneven than I know it should be.
"That's some dream Donna's having" says Bram, nodding towards her. If he doesn't take the smirk off his face I may wipe it off.
Suddenly Donna's sleeping figure moves, sitting bolt upright, her face is twisted in obvious pain and she's screaming 'Josh!... Josh!'
I can feel Bram's eyes boring into my back and I ignore his lecherous 'hey dude, it's about you and I think she likes it man', I'm up off my feet and crouching down in front of her, taking her hands in mine. We haven't been us in a while and I'd put money on the fact that there's a few people on this campaign who would say we didn't even know each other. But I know what's happening and as messed up as we are right now I can't just leave her… She never left me, not for one second - did I just remember Donna not leaving? Well that's in stark opposition to my thoughts recently! Her eyes are open but she's not awake, she's staring at something in the background that only she can see. I rub my thumbs over hers and then I tap her thumb nail gently with mine.
"Donna… Donna…Wake up Donna"
The fog behind her eyes begins to clear and she blinks a few times as if trying to focus in the light. Her eyes clear and she's looking directly into mine.. She brings her hands away from mine and covers her face, holding her head with her elbows on her knees. I won't, I can't break contact with her, my hand goes to her shoulder as I feel someone's hand rest on mine. I look up and the congressman's nodding toward his private cabin at the back of the bus. I nod at him and urge Donna to stand, guiding her in an all too familiar way with my hand on her back toward the door. She moves into the cabin and sits on the seat, still quiet, her hands supporting her head again.
I lean against the door, my hands gripping the handle - back straight, head against the door frame, just like I've been told - never taking my eyes off her.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what Josh? I'm fine" she says weakly. That's not Donna's voice, where's the confidence, the warmth? It's cold and I don't know what she's trying to sell but I'm not buying.
"Don't, just don't."
"How long have they been going on?"
"Why didn't you tell me?" I ask, I see something spark in her eyes, something switches on.
"And when exactly was I supposed to do that Josh? Tell me?"
"Anytime Donna, I didn't go anywhere"
"You know dam well that when I came back from Germany you put the barriers up"
"No, Josh I'm serious here. I'm supposed to tell you that the nightmares couldn't get much worse and every personal detail in them but you put up the barricades again… From 'I'm still here as long as you need me' to 'Donna where's my thing for the thing I'm late' in the space of a week! Jesus Josh when they make you Chief of Staff you won't need a Secret Service detail, no bullet would ever be able to get through the barri… Oh my God… "
"No, Josh, Oh my God, I'm sorry, I never should…"
"Donna, it's fine"
"No, my god, I pra… I shouldn't… more than anyone…."
"What's in the nightmare?"
"When you talk about it, you rationalise it, when you rationalise it, the next time you'll realise it's a dream and you'll dream it you won't relive it…"
"You're quoting me to me?"
"Yeah, it's served me well in the past…"
"What's in the nightmare?"
"I'm… I'm sitting in a car and I can't see who's beside me but Fitz is in front, he's talking but I can't hear what he's saying, I can see his eyes… and then the world flips, I can feel the car turning over and I'm still looking at Fitz and I can feel the shudder of the car hitting the ground again and at that second I see Fitz's eyes change, there's nothing… nothing…"
"It's OK… you're doing… "
"…nothing there anymore and everything goes black when I open my eyes again I can see you, you're standing in front of a wall and I can see a something…."
"A something…a piece of metal… a bullet… heading towards you and I'm shouting at you but you don't hear me and…"
"And that's when you wake up"
"And that's when I wake up"
"Have you talked about this to someone?"
"What's your rationaliser?"
"Know something about this do you?"
"Just a little, what's your rationaliser?"
"I don't have one for the Fitz part, I saw that, I saw the exact second he… "
"I know… for anything else?"
"That you're still around… in one way or another"
"I'm still here Donna, I never went anywhere"
"Is that another dig at me for leaving?"
"Sorry it's just… what are you doing here, we haven't spoken properly in…"
"What's your trigger?"
"Your trigger. Brass quartet? YoYo Ma? the New York Philharmonic?"
"Anxiety, sleeping in a moving vehicle"
"So a presidential campaign is exactly the right place for you then?"
"You're firing me?"
"Maybe I should…?"
"This guy's walking down a street, when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up "Hey you! Can you help me out?" The doctor writes him a prescription, throws it down the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up "Father, I'm down in this hole, can you help me out?" The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey Joe, it's me, can you help me out?" And the friend jumps in the hole! Our guy says "Are you stupid? Now we're both down here!" and the friend says, "Yeah, but I've been down here before, and I know the way out."
"Didn't Leo copyright that?"
"'As long as I have a job, you have a job'… as long as you want it that is…"
"And another dig at me for leaving…"
"I'm serious Josh… I can't keep apologis…"
"I'm not asking you to… I don't know how we ended up like this… but I'm sorry you felt you couldn't come to me with…"
"I wanted to"
"I wanted you to"
"I miss you"
"I miss you too"
"I'll quit Josh… I just really embarrassed you…"
"You want to leave… again?"
"You're not over that are you?"
"I just think after that it would be easier if…"
"Bram thinks you were having an erotic dream about me?"
"And that makes it better how?"
"I don't know… but it seemed pretty good for me right?"
"Yeah… I'm sure that did wonders for your ego…"
"You're not going anywhere… unless you want to that is… I mean.. I…"
"I'm not going anywhere"
"But you do realise I'll have to spin thin the dream thing." smirk
"and it may not turn out as well for you as you might hope…"
"Get out there Gizelda… we've got a rally in the morning…"
"And if I can't brief the press they might make you do it?"
"And look where that might lead us…"
"A secret plan you don't support?"
"I didn't miss the mouth full of wise ass Donnatella"
"Oh but you did"
"Yeah I did…"