The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent


When I learned I was going to be a mother, I cried. I hadn’t in a long time, and it felt great. My husband couldn’t begin to understand why. “I thought you wanted it too.” Of course I did. Having a baby would make me happy, but I was being selfish. What life would we be giving to our child? We’re both deeply broken human beings, how could any good come out of us?

Then there was something else, something darker. A fear, ingrained deep within me. A fear that my child won’t escape the fate my little sister suffered. It endured throughout all the pregnancy, making me believe every contraction was a potential miscarriage, keeping me in constant tension. By then, I barely had any real friends. I was occasionally allowed to speak to my friend from school, but honestly, the person that stuck with me the most was the brunette I met at law school. She became the right hand of my friend from school at her new startup. She often visited me home and talked to me. Everyone’s life was taking off except mine. I was stuck.

Meanwhile I watched my friend from school thrive in different “social movements” that perpetually merged and split again. She hacked her way through subcommittees, committees, groups, lobbies and parties. Eventually she became notorious when her startup was valued at a little over a billion dollars.

Uncle didn’t even let her see me at the hospital when my baby girl was born. He hated her deeply for whatever reason he chose not to share with me. I looked at my baby girl and knew… I just knew I would outlive her. It was a curse from the heavens, having that knowledge. But I vowed that I would make her life as pleasant as possible, even if it made her hate me.

For the next few years, I stayed home caring for her while my husband worked. He and I barely talked because he never spent any time at home. And I didn’t want him to. He humped female secretaries, lawyers, and essentially anything that felt drawn to his position of power. I told him the truth about how I felt: I didn’t care because I had never loved him and never would. All I asked of him was to be discreet.

Obviously, the scandals started rolling through the newspapers. I was a joke, he made me a joke. Our daughter was too young to understand yet, which was the only reason why I didn’t pick up and leave. No, I-I withstood it all. In fact, I grew more and more distant from high society and chose instead to spend my time with my daughter. The first word she spoke, you know what it was? “Nazi.” She heard it from the news so many times that it went before “mommy” in her little head.

It was then I looked at what I had accomplished. Four years after law school I meant nothing on my own. I had a disgraceful husband, lived among crooks and had made no impact on people’s lives. I didn’t want to live the rest of my life just taking care of my daughter, no matter how much I loved her. No, I needed more, or bitterness would kill me soon rather than later.

But what choices did I have? Yes, I knew sophisticated people and belonged to a powerful family. But I doubt anyone would support me if I ran for anything. I would have to find a way to gain support. Or, perhaps, to redirect support. My husband would run for governor in only a few months, we were all already preparing for his campaign.

So one morning I decided to talk to him. “I want to help with your campaign. Directly. I need to be back in the game, and you know I’ve never asked you for anything,” I say. He’s shaving himself as I speak. We hadn’t spoken more than four consecutive words to each other in weeks. “No,” he says plainly and continues shaving. “I already picked a staff. If you wanted to help, you should’ve asked before.”

I repress my anger by making a fist and pressing with my nails against my hand. “Fine, whatever. I’ll look for some committee to join then.” After he leaves home, I take my daughter out for a walk and text my friend from school through our mutual brunette friend. We meet at a cafeteria. She has seen my daughter in pictures, but never met her because I knew it was too dangerous. When my daughter sees her, she hides behind my legs. “Aww, she’s so cute,” says my friend from school. “You can call me… aunt. If you want,” my friend from school says lending her hand.

“Hi,” my daughter says, shaking her hand. Then we sit down in the cafeteria and talk while I watch my daughter chasing pigeons. “… so what can I do for you?” she asks, watching my daughter play. “I want to get back in the game,” I say. “I want to help run my husband’s campaign.” She sighs and takes a long sip from her coffee. “You know I always thought we would work together on something great?” she says. “I-I always had the feeling we should have,” I say. “But I thought I made the right choice by choosing him and now—”

“You can still change,” she says. “You can leave him and come with me, as you always wanted. As I always wished.” I take her hand. “I’ve thought about it a million times. And maybe, maybe soon enough I will. I have a plan to get natdec’s support and help you. It’s a great plan, and it starts with a position in my husband’s campaign.”

She smiles and nods. “Ok, ok, let’s see what you can manage,” she says. “Just remember if it all fails, I’ll always be there.” “Before I forget” I say, “I guess it goes without saying but don’t make it traceable back to you.” She nods. I pick up my daughter and tell her, “say goodbye to your aunt.” My daughter waves enthusiastically and yells “bye.” My friend from school comes closer to her and removes her own necklace. Then she places it around my daughter’s neck. “This necklace has been in my family for a veeery long time,” my friend from school says, “And now I want you to have it. Just remember every time you look at it, that I can always help you or your mommy with anything.”

I see a tear rolling down her cheek and wipe it with my hand. “Thanks, for everything,” I say. She cries because one of the few things she had wanted was to have a child, but she discovered a few years ago she couldn’t and it broke her heart. I would have helped her getting through it, but uncle would have known. Well, I won’t take this soviet surveillance anymore. I honestly don’t know how I’ve put up with it for so long. From now on, I will decide who I talk to.