“Together, as a nation, we will defeat corruption. We will lead this country into a new era… one of prosperity for all!”
The crowd that packed the massive stadium roared. The President finished her speech, waving at them and smiling broadly.
Her reaction warmed her, it overwhelmed her even more than the heady feeling of power she felt every time she learned that she was now President.
She was touched that those people who had voted for her had now come to celebrate with her, no, to celebrate her.
People were cheering and staring at her in admiration. It felt like hope to her, a new beginning, a new day. This young woman with a vision would finally rule the country properly.
They danced wildly under the hot midday sun, those with hats they tossed in the air, and others dressed in full suits, those of the resembling national flags and armed with whistles, blew them until they turned red in the face, beating beads on skin-covered drums so hard they lost feeling in their fingers. But none of them cared; they were mad with joy.
The President stood on the dais and took it all in. She too was hopeful. It had been a long journey to get here, one fraught with peril, but as she stared down at the crowd, every peril and opposition she had encountered seemed worth it.
An easy one A tap on her shoulder from her bodyguard, a smartly dressed stoic military, indicated it was about time. She was awaited by the Chief Justice for her swearing-in. The thought of walking onto the State House lawn to take her oath made her dizzy.
With a final wave towards the crowd, who were roaring louder than ever, she turned and was escorted to a waiting convoy of cars.
Her ears were still ringing and her heart was pounding with adrenaline when, in the silent interior of the air-conditioned car, a phone rang shrilly. Her stoic bodyguard, who was also her aide today, fished the offending object from his breast pocket and handed it to her with a nod.
“Congratulations, my dear girl,” boomed a deep male voice over the line.
The President balked. He knew better than to address her like that now, even if he was an acquaintance of her father and one of the influential governors who had supported her bid.
“You should be proud of yourself, but don’t forget it those who helped you…”
The President sat up and listened intently. Did the governor say what she thought?
“…her speech – it got people going, but land reforms? An end-of-year exam?” There was a note of sarcasm in his voice as he began to lecture her.
The President sat in stunned silence for a minute before feeling the heat of anger rise in her chest rise. She had never been one to accept disrespect.
“You will not have the support of Parliament…”
He was still leaving and she cut him off, her voice firm despite the anger churning within her.
“Governor, now you hear this,” she inhaled sharply, “I fought and won based on my agenda, not because you took the stage with me once or twice she paused.
“We remove invaders from forests and our water towers to ensure our survival,” she continued as his stalled attempt at an answer came over the line.
“We will never move anyone with a charter without compensation,” he said, trying to drown it out.
She ignored him, however, and continued, “The review was publicly voted on, and the People were unanimous – they want it.”
She was sick of him. She wanted to bask in her former celebratory mood, but it was quickly fading as she realized she was about to.
“Thank you and good day,” she said, hanging up and tossing the phone away .
The President rubbed her temples with her fingertips and looked out the window. They pulled up in front of the stately white mansion that would be their home for the foreseeable future.
The phone next to her beeped as a message came through. Almost involuntarily she reached for it. It was the governor.
“Ask your father how he acquired the family farm and give him my regards,” read the message.
She felt ill, but her door opened and she was led out into a small waiting crowd. It was more subdued than the previous one. Graceful claps, nods, and a few mild smiles greeted her.
As she stood beside the Chief Justice to take her oath, she looked into the dozens of faces and saw only unsolicited favors from those who done it had shown her every kindness, future blackmail for her every past misstep, corrupt elements that would fight her at every decision…
But just outside she could still hear the people cheering. The President stood straighter and straightened her shoulders. She would try for her.