by Eliza June Sapphire
Legacy by Eliza June Sapphire, literary fiction short story

Cathy left her office on the fifth floor of the Holloway Plaza building and pushed the down button on the elevator. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, waiting for the metal doors to open. Stepping inside, she pushed the button for floor three, where her mother—Evelyn Holloway—had established an office for the coaching expert.

Her left eye twitched as she left the elevator and walked into the waiting room. The Holloway logo covered most of the back wall, as it did most of the offices in the building.

The smell of fresh coffee wafted around the room, Cathy’s favorite. But even that aroma did not lessen the tension in her neck or the stiffness in her shoulders.

This is so stupid, she thought, pacing back and forth. Why is coaching a requirement for this promotion? It makes no sense. And people think I’ve got it easy just because I’ve got the Holloway name.

Cathy huffed as the inner office door clicked open, causing her to stop mid-stride. Mandy, the coach, held one hand on the wooden door as she stepped back, her silver bracelets jingling. She smiled and waved her other hand into the room.

“Come on in, Cathy. Take a seat. Would you like a water or some coffee?” Mandy asked.

“No, thanks.” Cathy sat on the edge of one of the leather chairs, looking around the small space, avoiding eye contact. Inspirational paintings hung on two of the walls, while the third held a half-length, oval-shaped mirror. Heavy oak end tables sat on either side of the chairs. Tissue boxes sat atop them, along with company coasters.

The thud of the door closing felt so final, like a coffin. She had to force herself to remain sitting, glancing at the door every few moments. Who needs Mama’s approval, anyway!

Mandy sat across from Cathy with a relaxed posture in the matching leather chair. Clearing her throat, Mandy drew Cathy’s focus to her.

Well, she’s the expert. Let her start. Cathy pressed a tight smile onto her face as she took in the sepia-hued bohemian dress Mandy wore. It was the type of dress that Cathy enjoyed wearing, yet rarely had an opportunity to.

Mandy raised her brow as she spoke, as if she were asking for permission. “So, when we first met, I felt some hesitation on your part. I thought we could start a little differently than I normally would. If you don’t mind?”

Cathy waved her hand as if to say, the floor is all yours, displaying what she hoped was a tactful smile.

Mandy took a sip of her coffee, holding the cup in front of her with both hands. “What prompted you to come today?”

Cathy’s mouth opened. She stared at Mandy a moment before swallowing. “You know why I’m here. My mother demanded it.” Ok, so demanded may have been a bit strong. Cathy ran her hands down the front of her dark dress slacks, fidgeting with the crease.

“That’s part of it, yes. But you could have said no. Outside of the promotional requirement, what motivated you to agree to participate?”

This is so stupid. I wish I could just smack her. Cathy rotated in the chair, crossing her legs.

“I’m here because I want the job. In order to get the job, I have to do the coaching. That’s it.” Cathy was trying very hard to keep her voice level and the frustration off of her face.

Mandy took another sip of coffee. “Who are you?”

“What do you mean, who am I? You know who I am. My mother hired you. She pays you.”

Mandy chuckled, pushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear. “I know your name. I’m asking, how do you see yourself?”

Cathy fidgeted with the ring on her finger.

“Let’s try it this way,” Mandy set her coffee down and got up, walking over to the wall with the mirror. Grasping the edge of the oval mirror on either side of the wooden frame, she removed it from where it hung. Her bracelets jingled again as she moved gracefully back to her seat. Propping the mirror up in front of Cathy, she said, “Look into this mirror. Right now, what do you see?”

Cathy’s eyebrows squished together. “Um.”

Go ahead, tell me. What do you see?” Mandy tapped on the frame.

“It’s a mirror. I see, me.” Cathy responded hesitantly at first, then added more confidently, “I see Cathy Holloway.” She smiled smugly, sitting a little straighter.

“And what do you like about Cathy Holloway?”

What the hell kind of question is that? What do I like about myself?

“Well, I…” Cathy moved uncomfortably as she thought about the question. Well, I can pack a punch. Does that count?

“Don’t think so intensely about it. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind when I ask, what do you like about Cathy?”

“Well, I think I would be a great fit for the position. I have been employed…”

“No dear. That’s not what I asked. Set the promotion aside for a moment. What do you like about yourself?” Mandy placed the mirror on the floor, leaning it against the end table.

Cathy bit the inside of her lip, uncrossing her legs and then recrossing them in the opposite direction. “Well, I’m an early riser. I’m always the first one in the office, even before my mother.”

“And you enjoy that?” Mandy asked with her eyebrow raised.

No. I enjoy drinking margaritas and laying next to the pool until noon.

“I do. It’s responsible.” Cathy uncrossed her legs, sitting up straight.

“Ok. What else?”

“I’m ambitious and driven. I’m good with challenges.” Cathy nodded her head automatically.

“Those are great things to like about yourself.” Mandy smiled. “How confident are you in your ability to do those things?”

“I think my record speaks for itself.” Cathy spoke more harshly than she intended.

“Cathy, I’m not here to tell you or your mother whether you are the right fit for the position. Nor am I here to answer that question. I’m just trying to help you dig deeper into what you really want and how you see yourself.”

Cathy inhaled deeply and held it. The lemon scent of furniture polish stung the edge of her nose. After several seconds, she finally released her breath and flung herself back into the chair. I am so screwing this up.

“Let’s set everything else aside. If there were no other obstacles in your way. There was just you and your own hopes, dreams, and desires. Money isn’t an issue. Tell me, what would your ideal day look like?”

Cathy rubbed her forehead as she thought about the answer. Well, it can’t get much worse. “I don’t know. I like spontaneity. I like to travel. I guess if I could do anything, I would travel more. My day would start when I wake up and end when I am tired. Things like that, I suppose. I like to be around people.”

Mandy took another sip of coffee. “In this new promotional role that is available, what would a typical day look like?”

Cathy slumped down a little more into the chair.

“Well, it starts earlier than any other position at the company. It’s very structured. Basically, it’s a numbers game and there is very little outside interaction. Even members of the same team rarely work together. There’s not a lot of flexibility.”

“Interesting. How do you feel about your ideal day and the daily grind of this new position? How do they compare?” Mandy asked.

Cathy closed her eyes, taking deep, slow breaths as she massaged her temples. “I don’t know. I guess they don’t? I’m not sure the question really makes sense. I mean, one is a dream, and the other is a job.”

“You mentioned earlier that your mother demanded you attend coaching. How much does your mother’s opinion of you and your life decisions impact the opinion you have of yourself and the decisions that you make?”

“That’s a bit of a loaded question, don’t you think? My mom is paying you.”

Mandy responded so calmly that it was hard to stay annoyed with her. “Cathy, coaching sessions are private and privileged. You don’t have to answer me. Just yourself.”

Cathy swallowed several times. “My mom has done a lot for me. For our family. She built this company from the ground up as a single mom. I owe it to her…”

“Owe what to her, Cathy?”

“I don’t know. I just… I guess I feel like I have to be here. To work here. To do what needs to be done.” Cathy’s eyes filled with tears as she thought about her mother and the Holloway legacy.

Mandy picked the mirror back up and held it in front of Cathy again. “Tell me, dear. When you look in the mirror, who do you want to see? Do you think your mother wants you to see her? Or you?”

Cathy looked into the mirror, taking in her long blonde hair and her blue eyes—so much of her mother looked back. But the joy her mother so often exuded was missing from Cathy’s face. Holloway is my legacy, my mother’s blood, sweat, and tears. Can I really walk away from that? She put her hand to her chest as it tightened and looked away from her reflection.

“Let me ask you this, Cathy. What type of position would be an ideal fit for you here at Holloway? What would it look like for you to have a conversation with your mother about preserving Holloway but in a position fitted for you?”

Cathy’s wide eyes jumped to Mandy’s as the words sunk in. How the heck did I miss that as an option?

Eliza June Sapphire, author of "Legacy"
Eliza June Sapphire

Eliza June Sapphire is a home-schooling Mama of four and an aspiring homesteader in the making. When she isn't writing, she is digging into her genealogy and family folklore, snuggled up with a good book, or researching new things to learn. She is a graduate of Liberty University and is a Certified Life Coach, which served as an inspiration for this story. You can find more about Eliza June and all the ways to get in touch with her at her blog ElizaJuneSapphire.com.

Eliza June Sapphire

Eliza June Sapphire is a home-schooling Mama of four and an aspiring homesteader in the making. When she isn't writing, she is digging into her genealogy and family folklore, snuggled up with a good book, or researching new things to learn. She is a graduate of Liberty University and is a Certified Life Coach, which served as an inspiration for this story. You can find more about Eliza June and all the ways to get in touch with her at her blog ElizaJuneSapphire.com.

1 Comment

  1. John

    An engrossing read that left me hungry for more!

    Would love to read more from Eliza June.

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