Bartlet for America. Donna had rehearsed the phrase in her car, a smile on her face and optimism in her voice, but it still felt new-a jumble-in her mouth, as if she wasn't worthy enough to say it. But, so far, no one had questioned her. No one in person, and no one over the phone.

It would be easier if she'd actually met this Josh Lyman. Received some kind of instruction. Directions. She'd disarmed the woman at the front desk with a smile and this Mr. Lyman's name. She'd read it in a newspaper article. As she stood at his desk-in front; she didn't dare step behind it-she balanced the phone on her shoulder and risked occasional backward glances, hoping for a clue, an opportunity to meet this man and preemptively explain herself before he stumbled upon her and-kicked her out? Reassigned her?

"You need experience. A way in. Maybe a campaign under your belt," a classmate had said. "Great chance to network. Build your resume." The advice hadn't been directed at her, but she'd always kept an open ear, and she'd filed it away, just in case. Just in case.

'Just in case' had arrived sooner than she'd anticipated, and, at the moment, she had no other plan.

After she set the phone back in its cradle and wrote a note-her best, neatest handwriting-she closed her eyes for a moment, her shoulders rising as she drew a shaky, nervous breath. Around her, the air filled with shrill phone rings, pager beeps, the flip and crease of papers. Endless chatter. Energy she could almost grasp in her fist. She'd imagined a more organized atmosphere-a neat, calm office, professional and orderly. Kept shelves, not cardboard boxes that nearly burst with signs, stickers, fresh blue balloons. The storefront shook with raw, fluid motion, and Donna let it fill her, seep into her blood until she breathed steadily. A part of the storm now, no longer swept up by it.

For the first time since she stepped into this new world, she let a real smile stretch across her face. Her smile grew wider when her own voice reached her ears as she spoke into the phone, "Bartlet for America" rolling off her tongue.

By the time Josh Lyman buzzed into his office, she'd already jumped the first hurdle. She knew she could handle the rest.