The Victim

Chapter Three: Ascent

Stand up against injustice

After an hour preparing for the interview, two large vans with a whole tv crew arrive to campus. “Hello, nice to meet you,” she shakes my friend from school’s hand. “And thank you again,” she says to me. Again? Are you kidding me? You didn’t thank me a first time. “We’ll shoot it out here, if you agree” I say kindly. “Hmm, it’s unorthodox, but ok,” the hostess says. We set everything up just outside our building in campus. Even though it’s supposed to be almost winter, the weather is good. People walking by stop to watch. The camera is set facing our building, and we sit in front of the hostess. “Where are the others?” asks the hostess.

“On their way,” says the brunette. “They’ll be here.” “Can I listen to the tape?” asks the hostess. “Sure, here,” I hand her my phone and headphones. She listens to the whole recording with a straight face in silence. She takes a look at it and heads to the van. She hands it to someone there and gives him verbal instructions, but I don’t hear what she says exactly. “Ok, we’ll use a part of it now, more of it in the longer piece,” she explains. “Longer piece?” my friend from school asks. “Yes. This airs in a few hours, the other in a couple of days. Do you have any idea of how good the timing is?” she asks. I haven’t really looked at the news in a while, since I’ve been focusing on the exams.

“There’s another sexual scandal with—” starts the hostess. “Right, right,” interrupts her my friend from school as though she’s just realized. “There’s that disgusting movie producer.” I don’t buy her fake surprise. She knew all along and timed this perfectly. “You girls have no idea the impact this can have if you play it right,” she explains. My friend looks at her phone. “They’re here. Let me go get ’em,” she says before running out. “There’s also footage of his arrest in there,” I say to the hostess when we’re alone. She smiles. “Isn’t it curious how you’re always at the center of tragedy?” she asks me, catching me off guard.

“I know about your past roommate, who killed herself,” she goes on. “I’m a friend of the family.” I don’t like where this is going. I look down. “That was an awful tragedy,” I say. “Yes, but it’s not all. On the way here I also learned about your family.” My heart skips a beat. “I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere,” she says. “If you’re willing to tell it.” She taps my shoulder in show of support. “Please, don’t,” I say, composing myself. “I’ve been through a lot, but I don’t want people to look at me like a victim. I want them to look at me like—” My friend arrives with the two victims, and I shut up.

“Ok girls. First we’ll get you tv-ready, and then we’ll start with the questions,” the hostess says. Then, to me in private, “I would love to finish this conversation. Maybe later, at my hotel? I’ll text you address and time.” She starts to walk away, but then stops and turns. “Your story deserves to be told,” she says sympathetically. I don’t trust reporters, and I specially don’t trust her and never will. As the professionals prepare the other girls, my friend comes closer. “What did she want?” she asks me. “Nothing, just to talk to me about my life before, you know…” I answer. She nods.

The other girls come sit at some chairs by our side. “You,” the hostess says pointing at me, “You will go first. I’ll ask you about the teacher, you’ll say something about how class wasn’t a safe environment. You know, it’s your story. Also mention your past near-rape incident on this campus. Then,” She hesitates for a few moments. “Then I’ll move on to you,” she says looking at the blonde. “You will describe how he forced himself on you.” “Should I cry?” she asks. “I can cry on-demand,” offers the blonde. “Sure, if you can,” the hostess continues. “Now, you,” the hostess looks at my friend from school. “You will go next and explain how you convinced these girls to speak up, and how important it is that people stand up against injustice. Then we’ll move on to you,” she points at the brunette. “And finally to you,” she points to the other girl.

This last girl has been quiet the whole time. She’s been very nervous. “I-I’m not sure this is a good idea,” the last girl says, looking down. My friend from school stands in front of her and gently lifts her face. “Please, don’t make me do this,” the girl repeats. “Remember what we talked about,” says my friend from school. “This is important. You will do it.” The girl nods with a tear in her eye. “Ok,” she says. “Good,” the hostess concludes. “We’re all set up. You just act like that, exactly like that,” says the hostess to the girl. “You’ll put the final nail in his coffin.”