Bring on the Banter

Back from the Future

The West Wing

There's someone in Josh's office... Who is it? How did they get there?


It’s been a long day. All I want to do is grab my bag, say goodbye to Donna, go home and fall into bed. Unfortunately, that is not possible. Well at least not for a few more hours. It’s only 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

I have another meeting in an hour that I have to read up on. Donna said that she’d left the notes on my desk so I walk in to grab them.

Oh my God.

I think I almost had a heart attack.

I turned about to leave the office and there standing behind me, well now in front of me, is a young girl. She only looks to be about fourteen years old. How did it escape my attention that there was a girl standing in my office? Why didn’t Donna tell me? I bet this is some joke of hers. Well I’ll just go and let my assistant know that NOBODY gets away with messing with Joshua Lyman. Not even leggy, blonde, blue eyed… okay, I will NOT go there!

“Donna!” I shout as I approach her desk.

“Yes Josh?”

Look at her, sitting at her desk, all smug, thinking that she’s bested me. But oh, no. She hasn’t. I’ll get my revenge. My sweet, sweet revenge. I’m just biding my time, that’s all. It’s not that I’m afraid of her or anything. I’m not scared of assistant!

“There’s a girl in my office.” I inform her watching carefully for any changes of expression on her face. I’m ready to catch her out on her joke.

“No, there’s not.”

Okay, I’m tired, I’ll admit. But imagining that there’s a girl in my office? I don’t think so.

“I think that I would know if there was somebody in my office or not, and I’m telling you, there is.”

“What’s she doing in your office?” Donna looks genuinely puzzled. I had no idea that she was this good an actor. I know that drama was one of her minors at university, but I still never imagined that she could actually act. Catching her out may be harder that I originally thought.

“I don’t know. That’s why I came to ask you.”

“Why would I know?”

“Because it’s your job to know! That’s the whole reason I have an assistant. So that when I need assistance, such as finding out what a teenager is doing in my office, I can get it!”

Maybe she really didn’t know that there was a girl in my office. I mean, it’s not the first time that somebody has entered my office without her noticing. But, CJ getting in there unnoticed is completely different. She’s sneaky. This is just a teenager. You’d think that somebody would have questioned what she was doing in the Deputy Chief of Staff’s office.

“You don’t have to get so cranky Josh. Look, I’ll just go in there now and ask her why she’s in there.”


What! She’s actually just going to waltz in there and talk to this girl? This girl that managed to get past the United States secret service unnoticed?

“What now?” Donna’s beginning to look annoyed.

“Well…. What if she’s dangerous?” More importantly, what if she has plans to hurt me?!

“Do you really think that the secret service would have let her in the building if she was dangerous?”

“Well, that’s the thing.” Okay, I guess that I’m going to have to explain my theory to Donna. I’ll have to talk quietly though, who knows how many bugs the girl has planted around my office.

“What’s the thing?” Donna’s beginning to sound a bit nervous. And rightfully so. That girl could bring havoc to the nation. She could be a spy of some sort, like on Alias! Maybe the whole teenager thing is just a disguise...

“I’m not so sure that she was actually let into the building.”

“Josh, are you feeling okay? Do you have a temperature? Maybe you’d better lie down.” Donna asks me smiling slightly, while pressing the back of her hand up against my forehead. She thinks that I’m joking. Poor, naive Donna. She has no idea how serious this really is.

“I’m being serious Donna! I don’t think that she was given permission to come in here.”

“Well then, how did she get in? There’s no possible way to get past all the secret service without an ID.” How can she not see how suspicious all of this is!? Getting past the secret service is no easy task. There must be greater forces at work. I don’t think that she walked, or dug or flew her way in or anything. That’s a bit unrealistic. I think that she just appeared. So I tell Donna.

“I don’t think that she walked, or dug or flew or anything. I think that she just appeared.”

“What?! Josh is this meant to be funny? I could be working you know!” Donna looks mad. She’s mad? At me? My life is in danger and she thinks that I’m playing a practice joke on her?

“No I’m being perfectly serious! How else do you explain how nobody else saw her come?” How can she not understand?

“Is she small…? I don’t know. Maybe we were just so busy that we weren’t paying enough attention.” Ahhh, Donna, Donna, Donnatella. Trying to justify how the girl appeared in my office won’t work. I have already realised that there are greater forces at work. Maybe, it’s Russia...

“She just appeared.”

“Fine, Josh. Why don’t you go and ask her then?” ME? Is she INSANE? Does my life mean so little to her, that she’d just throw me in there to fend for myself?

“…..” My mouth won’t work; I’m so shocked by her indifference.


“Can you come with me?” Well, if I have to go in there, Donna’s at least got to come with me. So there!



“You were right.”

“Right about what?” That there’s a small Russian spy in my office?

“There IS a girl in your office.” Of course I’m right! Would I lie about something so serious? I can’t believe that she didn’t trust me!

“I told you there was! You didn’t believe me?”

“No.” Oh.


“She doesn’t look very old.” I told you that before!

“I told you. She’s a teenager.”

“How do you know that?” I looked at her. What did you think? That I actually SPOKE to her? She might have burned me in two with her laser eyes!

“Because she looks like a teenager.”

“Some people look younger than their age Josh.” How am I meant to respond to that? Does she want me to say how youthful she looks? She looks the same as she does everyday. Young, blonde, sparkling blue eyes like the ocean, alabaster skin… dammit! I’m doing it again!

“Are you fishing for compliments, Donnatella?”

“No…” She’s pouting. Oh God, she’s pouting. She knows that I can’t resist the pout. Must. Be. Strong.

“Oh for the love of God. Stop the pouting! Come on, let’s go in.”


“Hi” Donna spoke? She risked her life for me. That is the most courageous thing that I’ve ever seen.

“Hi” Oh God I can’t believe that I just spoke. I appear to still be in one piece.

“Hi” Woah. The girl spoke. She sounds young. And not really that dangerous at all… in fact, kind of innocent. But I mustn’t let her trickery fool me.

“Well… that went well.” Cracking jokes at a time like this, Donnatella? Who knows how temperamental this girl/woman/spy/thing is? We shouldn’t do anything dangerous… I don’t think that we should do anything at all.

“….?” I wonder if Donna really can read my mind. She always says she can, and some days I believe her. Okay. Donna? Back away. Slowly. We’ll just back away and then RUN!

“What Josh means to say is, hi, I’m Donna Moss and this is my boss Joshua Lyman. And you are?” Donna! Is she insane? She has already risked her life once without cause, and now she just goes and does it again. Without even consulting me? I mean, anything could have happened!

Is there some way that I can alert the secret service? Why don’t I have a cool button to alert them, like the President?

“Joanie” What?

“Joanie?” Did she just say?

“Joanie Lyman.” But that’s…

“Oh.” Yes, oh! Must get out of this office!

“Donna, can I speak to you for a second outside my office? We’ll be back in a minute.”


Okay, so now I don’t know what to think.

“Donna, there’s a teenager in my office saying she’s Joanie Lyman.”

“I know.” Oh, she knows does she? Joanie Lyman! That’s my sister’s name!

“Joanie Lyman. My sister’s name was Joanie Lyman.”

“I know.” Oh, she really does know. She doesn’t think that girl in there is really Joanie does she? I mean, she died years ago. She would be older than me…

“Do you think…? No, it’s not possible.”

“No” Ok, so she agrees with me. My sister is not standing in my office. But then, who is she?

“But then… who is she? I don’t have any other relatives” Mum and Dad were only children. So I don’t have cousins or anything…

“Maybe you do, but you didn’t know.” But how could I not know. Surely my Mother would have mentioned something.

“Don’t you think that my mother would have told me? Or more likely told you?”

“Yes, I do. But maybe she didn’t know either. Let’s go back inside and sort this out.” A long lost relative. Okay, that could be kind of cool.


“Sorry about that” Why is Donna apologizing? It’s not like we turned up in someone’s office uninvited.

“No problem.” She sounds pretty harmless. I figure that it’s safe to speak to her, especially if she’s my cousin.

“So you’re name’s Joanie Lyman?”

“Any relation to Josh Lyman?” Very nice Donna. Just sneaking that in there. I’ve taught her well.

“Yep. He’s my Dad.” What! Did she just say..?

“Donna? Outside.”


Hmm. Let’s see. There’s a strange girl standing in my office. At first I suspected spy, but no. Apparently she’s my kid!

“Donna. There’s a kid in my office claiming to be my kid.”

“Yes.” Is that all she can say?

“I don’t have a kid.”

“No.” Okay, what is with the one word answers? Anyway, now is it even possible that I have a child. How could I not have known about this?

“I think that I would know if I had a kid!”

“Maybe she’s mistaken…” Maybe she is… But wait. Donna trailed off! What was she going to say?


“What do you mean, ‘what’?” Oh, you know what I meant.

“Well you trailed off, but it sounded like you were going to say something.”

“No I wasn’t.” Yes, you were.

“Yes, you were.”

“No, I - . Look I’m not playing this with you!” She gets me to fall for her games every time, but not this time. I will not be misdirected.

“I just want to know what you were going to say!”

“It’s just that… maybe she is your daughter.” What! Donna really thinks that that girl might be my daughter?

“What? You don’t really believe that do you?”

“I don’t know what to believe. But all I know is that there is a teenage girl standing in the middle of you office claiming to be you daughter… and …” And what! Tell me! I’m dying here!

“What was that Donna? That last bit?”

“and she has your eyes!” My eyes! But my daughter would have bright blue eyes, just like her mother…

“She does?”

“Yes.” Oh.


“So… you’re saying that you’re my daughter?” I can’t believe that I might be standing talking to my daughter right now.

“Yes.” So she’s about fourteen… What did I do fourteen years ago? How old was I fourteen years ago?

“How old are you?”

“I just turned sixteen. July 14th.” Nice date. July 14. I can imagine my daughter being born on July 14. So how old was I then? Twenty? No, wait twenty one?

“So I was 21?”

“No” Huh?


“My father was 38 when I was born.” But I thought that she said that I was her father. Maybe she’s in the wrong office. Wow, I feel stupid. I can’t believe that I thought I actually had a daughter. I mean, I’m relieved, but… But Donna said that she had my eyes…

“So I’m not your father?”

“Yes. You are.” I am! But wait, how is that even possible?

“But how is that even possible? I’m only 36! And you’re already sixteen. You have obviously been born already! Is this some kind of practical joke? Because if it is, it’s not funny!”

“Joshua Lyman, is my father. I mean, you, are my father. But not for two more years.” Not for two more years. How can she be here if she’s not born for two more years? Who will I be with in two years to have a child with? Is she trying to say…?

“Are you trying to tell me…?”

“Yes. I’m from the future. 2019, to be exact.” The future. Oh, that explains it. Why the hell isn’t Donna putting a stop to all this crazy talk?

“Donna, are you hearing this?”

“Yes, Josh.” Ok, then make it stop.

“This girl is claiming to be my daughter from the future!”

“I know. I’m right here Josh.” So she is listening. But she knows that this isn’t even possible doesn’t she?

“It’s just… this isn’t possible!”

“She does look like you.” She said that before. That she had my eyes…

“Well maybe she is my daughter, from a relationship I had when I was younger, but she’s not my future daughter!”

“Josh…” She has to be kidding me! She really thinks that this girl is from the future? This isn’t some movie. Stuff like this doesn’t really happen.

“What Donna? Are you trying to tell me that you believe what she’s saying? That she’s from the future?”

“I don’t know what to believe. But she seems to be telling the truth.” Telling the truth…. Oh my God. This whole thing has been a lie. She was brainwashing us. Donna is apparently still under her spell. Will clicking my fingers wake her up? She is a spy! Or a terrorist or something! It’s the only explanation!

“How do we know that you’re not a terrorist? Okay, if you are who you claim to be, my daughter from the future, then give me some proof.” Yeah, ha! Take that! Let’s see what you can come up with.

“Some proof?” She looks nervous. She’s knows that I’ve caught her out!

“Yes, tell me or show me something that can prove that you are my daughter and that you are from the future.”


Donna is dragging me out of the office by my ear. Okay, it’s really beginning to hurt now. Is it even still attached! What is she doing, closing the door? That girl could be reading all the Government documents I have in there!

“Donna! What the hell are you doing? Let go of me. Open that door! Let me back in there! I want to hear what she has to say!”

“Josh, are you even hearing yourself? You have a sixteen year old girl in your office. Yes she may not be telling us the complete truth, but there is no reason for you to be accusing her of being a terrorist!” How do you know that she’s not!

“Well she might be!”

“She’s your daughter, Josh.” What? Okay, did Donna just say…?

“What? You think…?” Does she really think that…?

“I know. Just look at her. She has your eyes, your hair, your smile… fortunately not your temper.” Is that a tear? Is Donna crying? Oh, please don’t let her be crying. I never know what to do with a crying Donna.

“Donna? Are you crying?”

“No.” Oh okay. Well, if she says so. But that looked a lot like a tear rolling down her cheek. I must have imagined it. Okay fine then. I’ll go back in the office, calmly of course, and listen to what the girl has to say.

“Okay… Fine, then. I’m calm now. Let’s go back in there. I promise to be good.”

I’m always good…



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