Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù / Flickr melania trump...
Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù / Flickr

Act One: Donald Trump fumbles his phone from the nightstand, pressing hard on buttons that seem enormous to his stubby fingers as he squints to watch each letter spill from his stream of unconsciousness onto the tiny, glowing screen.

Act Two: A keen observer reads these signals and recognizes in them the sounds of a confused child who has never known love, desperately clinging to an illusion of happiness while knowing it is all a lie.

Act Three: Cue the orchestra.

There may never have been a First Lady less prepared for or suited to the role. “This isn’t something she wanted and it isn’t something he ever thought he’d win,” one longtime friend of the Trumps’ told me. “She didn’t want this come hell or high water. I don’t think she thought it was going to happen.”

As if those photos of the White House decorations didn’t already signal a soul being tortured in a bleak landscape of despair. 

Vanity Fair’s article on Melania Trump is the perfect companion piece to images of her strolling the icy halls of her Burton-esque White House.

Melania Trump seems to be very much alone in her position. Her East Wing has only nine employees, fewer than half the number employed by Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. Public tours of the White House begin in the East Wing, through the glass triple doors of the Visitors Entrance. But despite her proximity to the public, much of Melania Trump’s life has remained in the shadows. She is the keeper of many of her husband’s secrets, and one can imagine that what binds the two of them together is that he may very well be the keeper of some of hers.

Ho, ho, holy cow is that bleak. 

Melania is apparently loved by the White House staff, which makes it easier to like her. And she apparently has a “gorgeous” office full of antiques and glitter. But still … those sprays of stiff, brittle white branches in her decorating seem like very accurate metaphors.

Despite suggestive public evidence—frowns during the inauguration ceremony, a wooden posture during the inaugural balls, and more than one video clip showing Donald attempting to hold his wife’s hand only to be swatted away—Melania’s friends are divided when it comes to how she feels about her husband. One told me that it is “old news” that she and her husband live essentially separate lives.

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