Foto bij Remember me | Chapter twenty-five

In the following days, Krystal mentally prepared herself for the battle that was about to come. That basically meant, walking in circles in her apartment, muttering the text she was going to say, scrapping or adding a few lines and doing it all over again until she was so exhausted all she could do was bark at her girlfriend.
Despite being the Vice-President, she had trouble giving presentations. Talking in openly in general was hard for her, let alone in front of all the employees. Once she'd stand up there, she would be sure she'd have the impression they'd all hate her.
It annoyed Amber endlessly. She had never experienced trouble when she had to give a presentation, unlike Krystal, and didn't understand what was troubling her so much.
"You just gotta say to yourself 'I don't give a shit' and just do it! Then it doesn't matter if you forget your lines or make a mistake, because of your posture they won't notice it anyway!"
she had told her. And in every other situation, she would have followed her advice. But this was probably the most important presentation of her life; she needed to get those lines right! She had chosen them carefully, so that her audience would feel at least some sympathy towards her.
And she would need that, if she was going to overthrow her father.

Krystal drew up a document for Mr Evans in the days after their conversation. It wasn't much of a legal document — conspiracies like these never were quite legal — but at least it was written down black and white. She had already put her signature on the document. Later that day Evans came by to set his signature too and claim his copy.
"I look foreward to a pleasant cooperation, Ms Jung,"
he added, before he left her office again. With a sigh, Krystal had ran with her hand through her hair.

At the end of the week, Krystal held her meeting. It didn't happen often that the whole company and the press was invited; that only happened at very big occasions. But this was something big, and Krystal wanted everyone to know before she would begin her life as CEO of Jung Internationals. Better to get it right out in the open right away, right?
Amber was with her back stage when she was preparing. Behind the curtains she could hear the ruffling of feet and chairs, the immense sound of a crowd talking, wondering why they were called towards the great meeting room once more. Last time it had been when her father appointed her as Vice-President, less than a year ago.
Krystal was adjusting her ear piece as Amber patted her forehead with a tissue.
"Yukkie, you're all sweaty," she commented. Krystal shot her a foul look.
"Yes, thanks for accentuating that, Amber."

The other woman chuckled.
"You're going to do great. I'll be on the first row, if you don't know anymore, just look at me,"
she told her.
"If you're going to make funny faces I swear I will step off that stage and kill you."

Amber just chuckled and shrugged. She took Krystal's face in her hands and studied it elaborately before speaking.
"Take a few deep breaths, drink some water and go up that stage and tell them what you want to tell them. I can assure you they will stand by your side, I promise."

After that, she pressed a kiss on her lips. When they broke apart, she saw Amber's lips had gotten slightly redder of the stain that was left by her lipstick.
"I love you, no matter what happens,"
she said. Krystal was surprised how strong her voice actually sounded and how sure she was. Because no matter what the concequences would be of her speech, she knew she and Amber would stay together.
The other woman smiled, took her hand and pinched it reassuringly.
"I love you too,"
she replied. "But I have to go. Your scedule says that your speech starts at exactly eleven o'clock so I'll have to claim my spot."
They kissed good-bye and Amber left, leaving her with her thoughts and worries back stage.
But her words had reassured her a little bit. That didn't take away the nerves but it did ease her mind.
She had practised all night yesterday evening and she knew her lines by heart. Krystal closed her eyes to focus, concentrating on breathing slowly. Eventually, she was ticked upon her shoulder by the stage manager.
"It's time, Ms Jung. The team is all ready," he told her. Krystal nodded and smiled weakly.
"Thank you, Mr Andrews. Please, let them count down."
The stage manager nodded and signaled towards the person who was controlling her ear piece. He would be the person who would help her if she forgot her lines — but she knew she would not — and counted down until the moment she was supposed to walk up on stage. When the rest of the crew heard the word 'go', they'd know to shine on Krystal with the spotlights and turn on her microphone.
She heard the countdown in her ear piece and she stepped up on stage when she heard the 'go' and saw the signal. As soon as she set one foot on the stage, the crowd immediately grew silent. The spotlights were turned on and followed her to her stand. She turned towards the few hundred people watching her, placing her hands on the stand to support her body. For a moment, she adjusted her headset before speaking.
"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,"
As she said that, her eyes sought Amber in the crowd. It was hard to see anything but darkness when the lights shone in her face, but she managed to make up two thumbs up in the middle of the row. Two deep brown eyes watched her curiously, looking at her with a gaze of admiration. For a moment, their eyes met, and that gave her the courage to talk on.
"You must have been surprised when you saw the invitation e-mail in your inbox a few days ago. Normally, big meetings like these only happen once every few years and this would be the second big meeting in this year already. The reason for this is because I have something important to tell you.
As many of you might suspect, or hope, is that I am in a position to become the new CEO of Jung Internationals now CEO Jung's position is endangering his health. Being in such an important and stressful position will be too much for him any time soon. Whoever is going to be the next CEO won't be the concern to most of you. I am a candidate but there are others. As a possible candidate, I need to come clean to each and every one of you."

Krystal took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them again, she stared at Amber.
"I have been advised not to chase after the position that could be mine because of who I am. Because I am a woman. Because I am.. in love with a woman, also. And for a long time, I was convinced that that was the best thing to do too; to just let it slide and be happy with the position I have now. And I am. I am not fighting to become the next CEO because I'm after the money, or the title. I do it because I am going to be true to myself for the first time in my life. I won't let anyone tell me off because of my gender or sexuality.
Women, especially women who are not dating men, are discriminated against in this industry. Most of the audience is male and will probably not agree. For those who do not agree with me, I have a simple question: have you ever seen a woman in the position of CEO? Because I have not. And I am planning to break the glass ceiling for women and get that position. I'll be proud of my gender and of my girlfriend.
As candidate I wanted to make you familiar with the possible next CEO. I want you to know and support someone who you at least know something of, someone who is true to herself.
Nowadays my sexuality is moreover accepted but it happens daily in which people stare at me when I walk hand-in-hand. And that bothers me, but for every staring pair of eyes there's someone who comes up to me to tell me how brave I am. And that what's keep me going and makes me be proud of who I am. And if I am to become the CEO I want every one of you to be proud of me too.
That's why I am asking for your support, no matter what will happen or who will become CEO.
Thank you all for listening, and have a nice day."

When Krystal was done, her face seemed to burn. Even though the thick layer of make-up would probably hide her red cheeks, she still felt like she was going to explode at any moment. Carefully she let out a shaky breath when the silence of the audience endured and endured. They just stared at her.
Amber looked worriedly over her shoulder at the other employees and Krystal did the same. Did you clap at this sort of confessions? Did they agree with her or collectively decided that they were not going to support her.
Krystal's nails digged into the stand in front of her and tears welled up. She was ready to run off of the stage when she saw someone stand up and she let her head fall in utter desperation. But then she heard a lonesome clapping sound and she jerked her head up. The person who had gotten up — an elderly woman that she recognized to take the morning shifts at the information desk every Monday through Wednesday — was clapping. Her face wasn't happy nor sad. She simply stared at Krystal with such an determination and power that she couldn't help to stare back at her, with her mouth slightly opened because she could not believe what was happening.
There was a stir in the crowd, and suddenly a younger girl whom Krystal didn't know, stood up as well and started to clap along. She smiled at her.
And soon, more women joined, with some of the men as well. Slowly but surely, the ammount of people who started clapping grew. Some even cheered or whistled. A lot of the men stayed down though, muttering and whispering with each other with frowns on their faces.
But the ammount of people who stood up and clapped was bigger than the ammount of people who stayed seated. And she couldn't help to smile. Her eyes dartled off to Amber, who had gotten up and clapped too with an enormous proud grin on her face. Krystal smiled towards all of those women who supported her, thanked them another time and walked off the stage.
When she stole one last glance of the crowd, she spotted her father stand in the back.

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