Victim

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Watch the Sky Media - Mystery, Crime & Horror
Everyone loves being a victim.

Submitted: November 10, 2016

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Submitted: November 10, 2016

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VICTIM

by Grant Fieldgrove

 

Amber Howard stood at the podium, her mascara dripping from her eyes and streaking down her face, as she cries so hard it muffles her speech. I’m in the back row, standing room only, watching.

All eyes on Amber. This is her big moment, her time to shine. Laid out in front of her is her dearly departed mom, tucked away in a seven-thousand dollar casket.

Her dad is now taking the stage to sweep his daughter up in his arms and remove her from the stage.

All eyes are still on Amber. That bitch.

The funeral ends and we’re all lined up to offer our condolences, all these kids from our school, giving her attention, one after another until it’s my turn. I lean over, Amber dressed in all black, seated on a fold-up chair, and say, “You look beautiful.”

This isn’t the first funeral I’ve ever been to before; in fact, it’s not even the first funeral I’ve been to this month.

Haley Mirovich, a friend of Amber, her sister drowned in the family swimming pool and everyone at school showed up for that funeral, too. It was a closed casket affair because the body, I had heard, swelled up to three times her normal size. I knelt down to Haley and said the exact same thing.

That bitch.

But now it’s Amber’s time to shine. I take her hand in mine, give it a little squeeze, and then move along so the next in line can do the same.

She’s still getting attention when the body is dropped into the ground, and blotchy make-up or not, she manages to look stunning as she bends down, grabs a handful of dirt, and tosses it down on her mom.

She’s pulled herself together at the after-party. Yeah, the after-party, because that’s what high school kids do, there is an after-party for everything, and Amber is the guest of honor. She’s sitting on the sofa, so heartbroken, still getting attention. Simon McDaniel, the guy I’ve had a crush on since middle school, brings her a drink, a colorful little foo-foo number that seems oddly out of place at a high school party, but it’s what Amber wants. And today, whatever Amber wants, Amber gets.

The girls I’m sitting with are all talking about how strong she is, how good she looks, how impressed they are she’s managing to keep it together so well. These are the same girls who called her an ugly slut two weeks ago and were absolutely relentless to her in the halls.

Jerome Hughes, the ex-boyfriend of one of the girls I’m sitting with, joins Amber on the sofa and puts his arm around her. It’s not long before she’s retreating into the closest bedroom with both Jerome and Simon, leaving me to hear about how lucky she is.

Lucky, I think. Her mom just died. I keep my mouth shut, though. As always. I bet none of these girls sitting around me even know my name.

It’s Miriam Huff, by the way, and I’m a nobody, just like Amber was before her mother was nice enough to be sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver. My best friend, Sherry Walters, couldn’t make it tonight, and I’m none too happy about that as these cackling hens around me continue to squawk about how great Amber is.

A long hour later, the bedroom door opens and out walks Amber, wearing just her pink camisole and skirt, her shirt probably tossed in a corner. Her hair is tousled, what would probably be called sex hair, and she sits back down on the sofa, drawing the eyes of everyone in the room. I have no idea where Simon or Jerome are or what they’re doing, but Sean Lucas, who I know from advanced algebra class, walks to the sofa and extends his hand to her, in it, a highball glass with a gold liquid and three ice cubes sloshing around. Amber smiles but doesn’t say thank you. She takes the drink and brings the glass to her lips just as Simon and Jerome walk out of the bedroom, fully dressed, with grotesque smiles practically disfiguring their faces.

By the end of the night, Amber is so drunk she’s lying in the bathroom. I’m with her because no one else would be. The party is down to a few stragglers too drunk to drive home, or passed out on the floor, or doing God knows what behind locked doors, and here I am, alone in a bathroom with Amber, the woman of the hour, holding her hair back as she pukes into the toilet, and I’m jealous of her.

I’m jealous of a girl whose mother just died.

Amber’s back arches like a frightened cat’s and I prepare myself for another round of vomit. It comes fast and violently and I find myself holding her hair with one hand and the back of her skirt with my other, just to make sure she doesn’t go face first into porcelain.

And that’s when I see it.

A small piece of paper that fell out of the back pocket of Amber’s way too short jean skirt. I wait for the heaves to subside and I reach down and grab it. It looks like a business card, but only has two words written across it.

VICTIMS INC.

Below that, a phone number.

I walked home alone that night.

I’m in my room after kicking my nosey sister out, sitting on the corner of my bed, cell phone in one hand, the mysterious card in the other. It’s late and it would be stupid to call right now. Surely, they would be closed.

But why not, I’ll leave a message.

A man answers on the first ring and I’m not sure what to say so I just say hello.

“Hello,” the man says. “How may I help you?”

I still have no idea what to say, so I just tell him I got his number from a friend.

“Excellent,” the man says.

Silence.

From outside the door, my sister is asking if she can come in. She’s always asking if she can come in and the answer is always the same. I have no idea how she manages to get in here while I’m gone. It’s the main reason I have to hide anything personal. It’s not my parents who snoop, it’s her.

“Are you there?” the man asks.

“Yes,” I say. “I’m here.”

“I can tell you are confused. Let me start by saying this call is encrypted and cannot be recovered or recorded. Also, I assume any friend who gave you this number trusts you, or else… Well, never mind. Did this friend tell you of our operation?”

“No,” I say and he tells me he doesn’t discuss business with someone he’s never met. I end the call and set the card down on my desk. I’m asleep in minutes.

The next day I am sitting in the waiting room of VICTIMS INC.

I didn’t know it at the time, but after I filled out paperwork and showed valid I.D., they were digging up dirt on me, which, sadly, is in pretty short supply. I’m lead from the waiting room into an office and have a conversation with a well-groomed man in his early fifties. He tells me of the service they offer and he promises me I’ll be the most popular girl at school for at least a week. After that, it’s up to me to keep the attention trained on me.

I nod.

“How much does all this cost?” I ask.

“Not a cent.”

I tell him I don’t understand and he goes into detail about quenching a thirst and by the time I walk out of the office, I understand completely and am totally excited to get started.

Now it’s my turn to shine. I’m wearing my best dress; my once perfect make-up is now a smeared mess as I struggle through the tears.

“Sherry Walters was my best friend,” I manage to choke out.

All eyes are on me and I love it.

“She didn’t deserve to die. She was too young, so full of life…and such a good swimmer, I just don’t understand how it could happen.”

I say all this through an abundance of tears.

Everyone in school is watching me. Simon is watching me. Sherry’s parents are watching me.

So this is what being in the spotlight feels like.

No one whisks me from the stage because I’m not ready for this to end yet.

All these phonies are standing around, talking about how much they loved Sherry, but it’s all bullshit and everyone knows it. Everyone knows she was my best friend, and no matter how much people try to share in the victimization, this is my day. My time to shine.

And shine I do.

At the party, it’s me getting handed drinks.

It’s me on the sofa with arms around my shoulders.

It’s me locked in the bedroom with Simon and two other guys I hardly know.

It’s me the girls are all jealous of, all talking about.

It’s me. It’s all about me.

And I love it. I deserve it because today, I am the real victim. Not Sherry, not her famiy, but me. Me me me.

Three weeks later and here I am, lying in the street, my legs broken, but that doesn’t even matter because the spine injury isn’t letting me feel them. Blood is spilling from the several lacerations over my body, but the internal bleeding is far worse. My head is pounding like someone is smacking it with a hammer, over and over. I imagine that is my brain swelling, or maybe hemorrhaging.

The truck that hit me drove off into the night but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who it was.

Before I slip off into the forever sleep, the last thing I think of is how could I have been so stupid to leave that card out where my sister could find it. 


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