"The first thing I remembered was the ringing of the church bells over the graveyard, whilst the singing of the choir accompanied the chest outside. The adults back then would have classified it as an unhappy series of events, but as a child you have no clue what's going on. As a child, you don't even have an idea who is in that chest and why your mother cries.
I remember that I held her hand to comfort her, not knowing that the strange man in the suit laying in that wooden chest was my father, cold and lifeless. I should have been the one who cried, who held my mother's hand whilst she pinched mine reassuringly.
My fate was sealed and everyone in the room knew except for me. People might think that my future was something positive. Great fortune, a successful career no matter what you did, fame. I, on the other hand, thought differently.
They had told me that it had been a car accident. An unfortunate incident. A lucky shot, as so to say. Painless. He would have died in less than a second. That's what my mother told me and back then, as a six-year-old, I had believed her with a nativity that only children possess. My mother would never lie to me, would she?
I grew up. Without a father, without a mother. My mother did not die, actually. She was simply not present in my life, at least, not in the way a mother should be in the life of their teenager. She was a wreck after my father's death.
It was only a matter of days before the Vice-President took over from her. She excused herself, trying to get out from under the crushing weight of the stares and the judgements and the pity by telling everyone that she wanted to focus on taking care of me. I had many people coming up to me, wishing me the best, not knowing that my mother had told them that I had been doing badly since my father's death. We both knew it was the other way around but for the sake of my mother's dignity, I accepted my role as the weak child who so desperately missed her daddy. I did miss him though, but not as much as I ought have, I realize now. I simply had never seen him much. It had almost felt like a stranger had died in my father's place.
But I aged and I started to understand more and more what it meant to be the heiress of Rilex Internationals. Even though my mother did not actively take part in the company anymore, she was still the assigned CEO and was therefore expected at parties, business meetings and more. I was never allowed to come, until I became eighteen years of age. By then, I had enrolled as an Economy major at the University of Tilburg, only a few years away of directly being in charge of Rilex.
My mother, then, found it a good time to start and educate me about the big, red, alarming hazard that is the business industry. But as she so cowardly explained that I should keep as far away from it as possible, I decided not to. To honour my father, to prove that I could do what he could not, I would continue his legacy. In that respect I am rather stubborn, I must admit. Hot-headed too.
I believe I completely distanced myself from my mother after that. The one thing we had in common - my father - turned out to be not as important to her as he was to me. Despite never having known him, his life, actions and choices have shaped mine. I was planning on fulfilling his destiny, knowing he would be proud if I did so.
I soon moved out and got my bachelor degree as well as my master's. It was only one day after my graduation from the university that I got a phone call from my father's old Vice President. In all those years, he had stayed in charge. He laid low, tried to run the company as good as possible but the years and the stress had eaten him away. His voice creaked through the phone as he congratulated me with graduating and invited me, for the first time alone, to visit the company to 'talk things through'. It took only a week before I walked into my father's office. And I suppose that was it the beginning of my career."
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