Gemini

Reads: 95  | Likes: 1  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


Morgan wakes up one morning to discover a website has been set up calling her out for offensive tweets she didn't write. Or at least, didn't remember writing. Within a day her life changes as the
story goes viral and she has been publicly shamed across the country.

Submitted: March 23, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 23, 2018

A A A

A A A


I

MORGAN

Everyone who has ever been though a serious, earth-shattering event remembers their last normal day. The day before they had to adapt to their new, alien life or identity. I thought mine was when my parents died; it was in a car accident when I was 15. I went from being a normal girl in a middle class home who went to a good school and wore cool shoes to an orphan, living with her grandmother, going to a school where some kids had parents in prison, with shoes that were stolen or cool two years ago and clothes from bargain stores. I thought that was it for me, I had my fill of tragedy. I thought I wouldn't have any more 'last normal days' after that.

But I had my first last normal day and then I had my second. Lucky me, must be the Gemini influence in my life. Two of everything. I read that Gemini was the most hated star sign, because Geminis are two faced, and frivolous, and flaky, and they lie. They say one thing and think another. Not fair. I always tried so hard to be liked. I didn’t deserve to be tarred before I even opened my mouth. But that was what happened the second time.

It was a Tuesday, my husband Scott had already left to go for his morning run, and I was sleeping in. We had been out for dinner the night before and drank a bottle of wine. I drank three quarters and he, in the middle of training for a half marathon, had one quarter. After that we had lazy, efficient sex. The kind that comes after four years together, when the limerence fades and you’ve seen each other with the flu or holiday sickness or comforted each other through a panic attack. When you've screamed at each other and smelled each other’s sleep farts under the blankets and your partner becomes a real, grubby, messy person and not a myth. 

I was making an omelette using Scott’s extra leftover egg yolks (his omelettes used only whites, pepper and spring onion to taste) when I got a text message from Shannon, Scott’s ex and now close friend to us both.

Morgan, call me when you get a chance. There’s something you need to see.

Usually Shannon’s texts were punctuated with at least three emojis, not a cold, black full stop. My chest tightened and I called her, fingers trembling. Did someone die? Was it Scott, killed by a car crossing the road? The dozens of horrible possibilities rushed through my head in the five seconds it took Shannon to answer.

“Hey, what’s up?” my voice cracked with not having been used in at least 10 hours.

“Hey, Morgan, um, don’t freak out but there’s something online about you online and I don’t know what’s going on but I thought you should see it... are you near a computer?”

My stomach dropped. Shannon never used my name. In all correspondence it was always hey girl, hi lovely, or hello beautiful. Her immediate friendliness shocked me when I first met her, including the fact that she kissed me on the cheek with genuine warmth rather than an air kiss. How many people did that?

“Uh, yeah sure hang on a second.” I turned on my computer. “What is it?”

“Go to Tumblr, there’s a whole thing about you. And comments. People calling you things…”

“What the fuck? What’s it called?” I quickly signed in to Tumblr using my Facebook account and looked for the page.

“It’s called bigots get killed.”

The memory of the wine churned in my gut. Smoke started to rise off the oil in pan and I ran to the stove to take it off the heat. The eggs for the omelette were warming in the mug I had used to whisk them. The iphone hot against my ear, turning my cheek red.

Bigots get killed? Why would I be on there?”

“Look, I don’t know what’s going on but there are screenshots and stuff? Like, of tweets from you?”

I opened the page and there it was under the headline: Morgan Zampatti is a racist, bigoted whore who should be shot in the face.

Under that were screenshots from my twitter account. One tweet from January, read, “Bunch of Lebs on the train, hope I get home without being raped” a vomit emoji and #prayformorgan.

One from April, “I’m not a racist but seriously, can immigration give the Africans some deodorant when they get off the boat???” …another vomit emoji. A June tweet read, “seriously, I would actually water board my daughter if I found out she was a prostitute” and a red-face emoji. Another: “I fucking hate seeing Asian women with white men. Disgusting sucky sucky, bitches”. And finally, one from July, “lol just saw this huge tranny at Sephora. Aint no concealer gon' hide that Adams apples, my man.”

I tried to remember what the dates were, if they meant anything. I couldn’t remember ever going to Sephora, let alone seeing a transgender woman there. Aint? That wasn’t a word I used. It was so American. Nether was the word tranny. And I never said or typed out 'lol'. Not since the start of the last decade. The tweets were sent late at night or on weekends. I did ride on the train each day but never at 12.10am on a Wednesday, which was when that last tweet was sent. Did that matter?

“What the fuck is this Shannon?!”

“Dude, did you write this stuff?” her voice had some of its familiar sweetness but there was also an edge to it now. She wanted to believe I hadn’t written this, but was guarded in case I had. She didn’t want to believe she had spent four years being friends with someone who would write this awful stuff. She was Asian, and dating a white man. One of the people I had allegedly attacked in my tweets. I would be disturbed in her place.

“No! I don’t know anything about this! I would never write this.” I felt sick. I did like a drink, that was true, and I did sometimes black out. When that happened I looked and acted like a regular drunk but couldn’t form memories. Were these poisonous thoughts lurking under the surface, only to come out when all my inhibitions were down?

“Ok, good. I didn’t think you did. The tweets have all been deleted by the way.” Her normal voice was back.

“Does anyone else have access to your computer, your phone? If someone is trying to set you up we can go to the police?”

My mind jumped immediately to Hector. I worked at a small law firm doing accounts and admin. I signed up to Twitter when everyone else did but I mainly used it to look for memes and follow the news. Sometimes I tweeted about The Bachelor or boring stuff about books I was reading but I was careful to keep it G-rated. My bosses were adamant they could not have someone making the business look bad. Recently they hired Hector to help with IT and to train me in social media. He was given access to my phone and computer so I could tweet and Facebook stuff from out of the office if needed. It was only temporary but could he have held on to that access somehow? I was only as good as the average person with computers, how would I know?

Hector was a weird guy. He was heavy, acne-prone and fond of loud shirts, flamboyant ties and statements hats. At first I thought he was gay, because of his girlish inflections and feminine body language. His eyes had a way of looking past you when you spoke, never fully focusing on yours, always somewhere off on the horizon. His mouth was always slightly open in a dumb smile when he was happy and slack and jowly when neutral. Because I thought he was gay, I wasn’t worried when he asked me to lunch. I chatted about Scott, our marriage, how long I had been at the firm and a holiday we were planning to Fiji. Hector talked about how he had tried to do a working holiday in his parents’ native UK, how he had run out of money, how he was bullied at his old job, and how he wanted to move out of home. I felt sorry for him and told him to keep his chin up. He added me on Facebook that day and I accepted, thinking nothing of it.

After we had been on a few lunches where he bemoaned the state of his life and I commiserated, I started to sneak out for lunch early. Make excuses as to why we could not go together. I had a doctor’s appointment, I was meeting my husband, I had to work through lunch and eat at my desk. He started to follow me as I left the office, a few metres behind thinking I wouldn’t notice, until I had no choice but to buy lunch and then bring it back to the office lunchroom where I would sit there and he would talk at me. When I started leaving for lunch in my car so I could go further away, rendering him unable to follow me because he didn’t drive, the messages started. Always late at night, always hurried and misspelled, like he had been drinking. Wt are you up to? What happened? How was yr lunch tofay? Sorry I we couldn’t go together. Did I do something wrog? I rely like you, morgan. I just want to meet a nice grl like you and have a nice marriage like you. why wont you talk to me? why are you bein such a bich? Iw as always so nice to you.

I unfriended Hector and blocked him, thinking he would back off. The partners were not the most empathetic people in the world and didn't have time for their staff's personal drama, so I didn’t think complaining to them would achieve anything. But this new rejection turned Hector into a cold, menacing presence in the office. Sometimes I would catch him looking at me with his eyes like hard, green little marbles under his dark eyebrows. Like a cartoon villain. He followed me to the car park when I left for the day, standing in the middle of the bitumen as I drove off, glaring at me in my rear-view mirror.

Shannon knew all about Hector.

“Oh my god, it’s that psycho from work isn’t it?”

“Yeah. It could be him. Definitely.”

“Fuck. Let’s go to the police. I have the day off. I can go now if you want”

“Yeah. Let me confront him first though.”

“Okay. Chin up, babe. I love you. Call me as soon as you know what’s going on.”

Hector was not there when I arrived at work but Carina, one of the partners was. She was wearing what looked like a Gucci dress that cost more than our monthly rent and Jimmy Choos. Her sinewy arms were folded tight across her chest and her lips were pressed into a hard line that was almost as straight as her ironed brown hair. She was usually flat out at this time of the morning; her average workday started at 5am, but today she was standing at my desk waiting for me. There was a manila folder placed on my keyboard. She only broke her stance to walk to the door and re-lock it so nobody else could come in to the administration area.

My phone beeped.

“Morgan. I need to speak with you.” Her voice was clipped and hard, like she was trying not to scream at me. 

She nodded at the folder as I limply placed my bag by the desk and flopped onto my chair, slumping like there were not enough bones in my back.

“Can you explain that?”

My phone beeped again. Fuck, I swore internally at the unknown sender, leave me alone I don’t have time for this.

I opened the folder; printouts of the Tumblr page and the tweets were inside. My Twitter profile was blown up in one of them and compared to my Facebook page, which included the name of the firm as my workplace. There was also a picture of my car, a very distinctive hot pink Volkswagen Beetle, and our house. I could feel myself starting to sweat. On my lip, my armpits. Maybe when I stood up there would be a big sweat puddle on the chair.

“What are those?”

“I don’t know, Carina, I only saw it this morning when a friend showed me.”

“What about the tweets? Your tweets?”

“I don’t know about those, I didn’t write those…”

“No?” she pointed a razor-sharp French-polished nail at one of the pages. “There’s one where you mention one of our clients, one of our African clients, where you said they have criminal blood and your bosses shouldn’t have tried so hard to keep him out of jail.”

“What?” I hadn’t seen that one. I flipped through the pages and it was there. From a year ago. It must have been further down the page when I checked this morning.

“Carina, I swear, this wasn’t me. I have been hacked or something.” I could feel myself starting to cry. What was that book I saw on Carina’s desk? If you need to cry go outside? Carina was from the old school where women acted like men to get ahead in their careers, even if that meant slamming other women for displays of emotion. I willed the tears back into my head. Carina’s face reddened. 

“This is a very bad look,” she hissed. “This has been attached to you and because of that it has been linked to us. We can’t just let this go.”

“But, have you seen the other tweets I put up? They’re nothing? I…I didn’t do this. I actually think Hector had something to do with this. He’s been angry at me for months, he…”

“Oh, Morgan,” Camille’s jaw tightened. She thought I was lying. Wasn’t that always the first defence of the online scoundrel? Someone else did it. I was hacked.

My phone beeped again.

“We are going to have to let you go. I have had calls from media about this. If it turns out you were hacked…” she paused while suppressing an eye roll, “we can discuss where to go from there. But right now you need to pack your things and go home.” She turned on her heels and walked into her office, closing the door loudly.

I packed my things and walked out, numb. A car pulled up in the car park, a scrappy old blue Corolla, with a young bearded man inside.

“There she is”, he hissed at his friend, a woman with a black and green bob haircut in the font passenger seat. The woman had an iphone and aimed it at me as she walked towards my car. I got in and slammed the door, locking it just as they reached the driver’s side door.

“Ms Zampatti, I’m Brendan from Buzzfeed, just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about your tweets…” he knocked on the window, his voice fuzzy through the glass. The woman pressed the phone up close. I drove off, narrowly missing their feet and they flung back, shocked and glowering at me.

 

II

My phone beeped for what must have been the 20th time as I was waiting a the traffic lights. I was crying my vision blurred and I probably shouldn’t have been driving but I pushed home anyway, taking the freeway even though it would mean tolls. Extra money I would have to pay when I was suddenly without an income. But I needed to get home as fast as I can. I needed to be somewhere safe. I didn’t see the man standing on the footbridge and I didn’t see the brick until I heard it, an almighty bang that turned my windscreen into glass pellets in my lap. I swerved and smacked my car into a roadside barrier, the airbag punching my chest so hard I couldn’t breathe and felt like I was drowning.

I lay sat there for what seemed like hours before the red and blue lights arrived and people talked to me through the windshield. I didn’t know what they were saying, if they were trying to help me or if they were telling me I deserved this. For being a racist. A transphobe. For these things I didn’t remember tweeting but must have, in a momentary lapse of reason. Or a momentary lapse of me…a moment where I became another person. I reached out and touched the warm red brick, the thing that narrowly missed my head, which was wet from blood after I banged my temple on the side of the car. The brick was wrapped with a photo of me and some of the tweets. On it, in pink chalk were the words “bigots get killed”.

At the hospital, I couldn’t bring myself to speak to the nurses assigned to me. One was south Asian and one was African. I knew they both hated me. They had seen the brick, they had seen the page, they had seen the Buzzfeed article that went online an hour ago with my tweets screenshot from the Tumblr and they thought they knew what I was. This would affect their care, surely. Maybe they were planning to kill me too. Bigots get killed. I was sure I could see their eyes narrow at me, hear the tightness in their voices when they asked me a question; the inflection at the end artificially warm, like fake sugar. I wondered if they would slip poison in my food. Or give me a drip that was laced with something that would kill me. The south Asian nurse had taken three attempts to get the port in for a drip and my hand was throbbing and already starting to bruise. Was that deliberate?

The notifications on my phone came like a tide. A flurry of popups so fast I couldn’t read them. My facebook friends list had dropped from 567 people to 15. Just my grandma, some of my cousins, Scott and Shannon. My school friends were gone, including a girl I had been friends with since pre-school. The women who were my bridesmaids were all gone. There were a number of abusive messages from former friends sent before they signed off out of my life. Grandma had sent me a message asking if I was okay and that she had seen something on her email about me but couldn’t open it and didn’t know what it was but it looked bad. Poor grandma. She was interstate and probably completely confused about all of this. I cried big snotty tears thinking about her. Shannon said she had also got a bunch of abusive messages and media asking for comments, which she had told to fuck off. I turned to the text messages. One from Scott asking what we had planned for dinner. Then another asking if I was okay and telling me he would get to the hospital after work as soon as possible. There were texts from unknown numbers telling me to kill myself. Some more telling me they would find me and kill me. Others telling me they would rape me and then kill me. Racist bitch, sexist whore, whore-phobic shill, transphobic scum. After a while, the anonymous abuse blurred into itself and I just deleted them without reading, but more kept coming. My phone beeping like an animatronic children’s toy every five minutes, then every two minutes. I had to turn it on silent. And then one came through from Hector.

You are a nasty piece of work, aren’t you? A laugh emoji.

With shaking fingers I responded.

You did this, Hector. Tell me why.

An eye roll emoji. I didn’t do this but I can tell you what happened. Come to my house.

My forehead filled with blood and little white rage floaters ran in front of my retinas. This fucking creep.

No. Tell me now.

No. I don’t have to tell you at all. Come to my house and I will tell you. Come tonight. 8pm.

He sent me the address and a pin-drop map so I couldn’t get lost. He lived in the hills where phone coverage was patchy. I was about to throw my phone against the wall when Scott came in, pulling back the curtain that separated me from the rest of the emergency patients; older people with pneumonia, or the flu. People who had been in fights, people who heard voices. One man, a meth-head with missing teeth and a reddened face from years of sun exposure, was screaming abuse at the African nurse, calling her a scab and telling her to “go back to her own country”. She was shaking her head quietly as she filled in his chart but did not respond.

“Morgan, oh my god what happened? Someone threw a brick at the car?” he grabbed hold of me, his skin smelling like green leaves from the shower wash, his dark blond hair still damp, even hours after he had set out for his run.

“Yeah, the police came and spoke to me for a bit and they have it. Someone wrote all these things about me, Scott.” My eyes filled up and I started rambling about the website, the messages, the Buzzfeed article and getting fired.

“It’s okay, we’ll get to the bottom of it.” Scott worked at the gym and his income couldn’t support both of us but his parents had money. They were always reluctant to give any of it to Scott but given the circumstances, they would have to help, right?

“Let’s get some food and I’ll take you home. You can watch Netflix and ignore your phone,” he smiled and squeezed my hand. The African nurse came over and gently took the IV port out of my hand, pressing on the bleeding vein with a cotton ball under her blue-gloved finger. She explained what to do if I felt dizzy or nauseated and said I might not be able to think straight for a while. Use icepacks on sore spots and don’t drink any alcohol for 24 hours. No sedatives. She gave me a pamphlet about concussion and smiled, “come back straight away if you feel unwell.”

 

III

On the way home, Scott turned down his usual rock music radio station so all we could hear was the low growl of the engine, our breathing and the rumble of the tyres on the road. He asked me if I had written the tweets. With dread, I said I didn’t think so but couldn’t remember. Like clockwork, he started on again about my drinking.

“Well you do drink a lot, Morgan. I mean, I believe you when you say you don’t think that stuff and you’re not like that but... you know those blackouts make you do some crazy shit."

I knew. He had been telling me for years. I was embarrassing, I was sloppy, I was rude. 

I look down, picking at the skin on my wrists, pinching it with my nails until it left a crescent-shaped mark. A trick I had learned when I was younger, when someone was scolding me and I didn’t want them to think I was weak by crying.

“I don’t remember having that many blackouts in the past year, Scott.”

“How often do we open a bottle of wine? Or two bottles of wine. Every night? Every second night? How much does it take for you to get hammered? I barely drink it now that I’m training. It’s all you.”

“I know. I’m trying to slow down.”

“I would be so great if you could. I mean, your head would be clearer and it would be better for your health and…”

He stopped himself. He was about to say weight. I knew it. I was a petite size 6 when we met. Skinny and light and birdlike. Now I was older, more confortable and closer to a size 10-12. He always told me he loved me however I was but there were times when I could catch him looking. Like he had bought a product that was supposed to last 10 years and broke after five.

I pinched harder. Scott grabbed hold of my hand and squeezed it.

“Don’t do that. I’m sorry; I know you didn’t say that stuff. Forget what I said. Let’s just try and find out who has done this to you, okay?”

Scott was supposed to stay with me for 24 hours after I hit my head but at 6pm he got a text message from a client of his about a training session he had scheduled. I told him it was fine for him to go and he half-heartedly said he would cancel but I said we needed the money and insisted he go. The client lived in the middle of the city and Scott usually caught public transport there because he hated driving into the city. My phone had been switched off and I had not checked his computer or mine since I got home. I waited for him to leave, gave it 30 minutes in case he returned, then collected keys, my phone and a small pair of nail scissors that I would keep on me in case Hector tried anything. They were a feeble weapon but I couldn’t hide one of our kitchen knives on my person without him seeing. I tested my balance by doing some yoga poses in the mirror.

The drive was slow and winding on the hilly roads and I took my time, watching for kamikaze kangaroos and wombats. Hector's house was a beautiful cream and salmon modernist piece set against a steep hill with a balcony suspended over the cliff. The door was unlocked and Hector was waiting for me in the front room, like a poor man’s Hugh Hefner in what looked like a burgundy bathrobe monogrammed with his initials. He had shaved off his facial hair except for a thin moustache and without one of his “interesting” hats his head looked like a potato. His hair, bouffant because it hadn’t been cut recently, was held back with some sort of gel that smelled like Old Spice. A photo-realistic portrait of his parents hung over a mantle. A white-haired man in his 50s with striking green eyes and a cleft chin, and a woman, maybe 10 years younger with wavy blonde hair and high cheekbones. They sat with their hands on a 10-year-old Hector’s shoulders, smiling in a limp way that looked like they had been smiling for a while and were tired. Hector, clean skinned but with the same unfocused green eyes, was smiling with his teeth bared like a dog’s and had his chin tilted slightly downwards in the portrait, which made his forehead look too large compared to his jaw. I wondered if the painting was done from a photograph, and if this was really the best photograph for the artist to choose. The house was quiet; his parents were out for the night.

“Greetings, Ms Zampatti,” he gave a small bow as he stood up from his easy chair. “Can I offer you a refreshment? We have wine, brandy as well as tea and coffee.”

“Are you crazy, Hector? I came here for one thing and I wouldn’t take a drink from you if my life depended on it. That’s just asking to be date-raped” my voice came out a snarl. Being in this loopy man’s house I should have been afraid of what he would do but after the events of the day I felt numb. I felt nothing except rage and disgust for Hector.

“What an awful thing to say. I am a gentleman and always have been. You were wrong about me, Morgan. I would never do something like this to you.” He picked up a snifter glass of what looked like red ale and sipped it. Then sniffed it. Then sipped it again.

“Come on, show me what it is you want to show me.”

“Okay. Come with me. My computer is in the other room. It’s all there.”

I followed him up the stairs to the room at the back of the house overlooking the cliff. There was the balcony and the view of the city, a dazzling light display in the distance. The large glass doors were open and a cool breeze came into the room. It was beautiful. Hector sat on another leather armchair and crossed his legs as he opened the computer; he had board shorts on under his bathrobe.

“The tweets were photoshopped. They came from a fake account set up last year…well, an account without a name. Then someone pasted the text over your profile. That’s why there is no record on your profile of these tweets being there. Huffpost has just picked up this story. And news.com.au. The photoshop job is almost flawless.”

I exhaled heavily, not realising I had been holding my breath. So I didn’t write that garbage during a blackout and forget. But how quick was I to doubt myself? 

“Okay, great. Thanks.”

I turned to leave.

“Wait, don’t you want to know where these tweets were sent?  Think it might interest you.”

This could be a trap. Still. Any information I could give the police would make their job easier. And then I could clear my name faster.

“Okay, fine, where did they come from?”

Hector was looking at me strangely, the same odd smile he had in the portrait. The menacing smile, a poor mimicry of human emotion. He had pulled the laptop closer to himself in case I got a look at it.

“I was able to track the IP address and work out which computer they came from.”

“I figured. Congratulations on your computer skills. Spit it out.”

“There’s something I want from you. You can’t just get everything for free because you’re a pretty girl. That’s not fair. I did a lot of work to get this information and I deserve something in return.

I groaned, and fingered the nail scissors in my pocket. “What is it, for fucks sake? Why are you toying with me?”

“I was very hurt when you unfriended me, Morgan. I didn’t do anything wrong, and you had no reason to cut me out of your life. I thought you were a nice girl and what you did wasn’t nice. I was good to you.”

“Were you? I don’t remember you doing anything that nice.”

“I was very nice,” he said. His voice was even and gentle like a dad explaining something to their impatient child.

“If you want any more information about the person who did this to you, the person who is trying to smear you, then… you have to kiss me.”

A minute passed. Then another. I stared at him. He stared at me. His lips, wet with saliva, were pressed together. Like two slugs. I exploded.

“Go fuck yourself, you piece of shit. You fucking liar. You don’t have any more information about this, you set this whole thing up yourself.”

I bristled as he sat there, his smile evaporated. I wasn’t done. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to stab him, to burn him, to end him. How dare he force himself into my life like this? Try to ruin me for not wanting to be around him. What a tragic waste of air and skin. He was a human-shaped cancer.

“You are so pathetic, so disgusting, why don’t you do me a favour, do your parents a favour, you fucking leech, and kill yourself.”

I ran down the stairs, my thumping footsteps echoing throughout the house. My hands grasped the scissors as I turned around to see him standing at the top of the stairs, not chasing me, just staring. The skin on his face loose with fear or sadness or humiliation like someone had pulled his pants down at a school assembly. Or turned down his public proposal. He didn’t say anything. As I pulled away and sped off into the street, forgetting about the dangers and my weak headache, I saw him in my rear view mirror standing on the balcony.

 

IV

Scott was still not home when I returned two hours later. The house was quiet and so was the street. A neighbour was on her lawn calling for her cat, a fat black fur ball called Ennis. She saw me and waved with a ‘hello, love’. I waved back. I guess she didn’t spend much time online. I switched my phone back on to see 47 text messages, three missed calls and about 150 social media notifications. I poured myself a large glass of red wine, sat by the couch and opened the Facebook app. There were 595 comments under the Huffpost article, 1073 under the original Buzzfeed article, and a similar number for news.com.au. The latter had more “laugh” reacts than angry reacts with a disturbing number of people agreeing with the anti-African sentiment. Jesus, some of these comments were worse than the original tweets. One woman, a Janis Simpson from Toowoomba who had her dog as her profile picture, was talking about the benefits of lynching under one of the articles. Bitterness rose in my throat. Why was nobody tracking her down? Throwing bricks at her car?

The brick. 

My heart stopped a moment as I pulled open the message I got from Scott. I had messaged him from hospital telling him I had been in an accident. I hadn’t mentioned the brick. How did he know? Did he run into the paramedics outside? No, they would have already left. They didn’t hang around unless they were talking to police. The police had spoken to me before Scott got there and said they would come around to speak with me tomorrow. The clock read 10.45pm. Where was my husband? Who exercised at this hour?

I phoned Shannon but she didn’t pick up. I sent her a text and went to the bedroom where Scott’s computer was sitting on the floor connected to a charger. It was locked. I tried his birthday, no match. Mine… nothing there either. His mum’s didn’t work ad neither did his dad’s. Our anniversary was a dead end. Weird. Shannon still hadn’t responded, usually she responded within seconds. What’s the point in waiting if you want to talk to the person, was what she would say. I have no time for mind games or the people who play them.

I tried Shannon’s birthday. That worked. My stomach flipped and I wondered if this was the nausea or the head injury. I opened the web browser and there it was. The fake twitter account. The one with no face and five followers. All the racist slurs were there. The words that had been superimposed over my face.

Barely able to move, like my body was submerged in freezing water, I opened the Facebook tab. Scott, genius that he was, left his account permanently open. Three private messages. One a message thread from Shannon. Can’t wait to see you xo. Have you done it yet? What did she say? It’ll be so good when this is all over. I never stopped loving you, Scott.

I opened his Gmail. Instead of linking to his account, the one I had used while we were courting each other, it redirected to another one with the name “Paul Newman”. The first emails were sent late last night; emails to Buzzfeed, HuffPost and news.com.au. An email sent early this morning to Carina with a link to the Tumblr.

The temperature dropped in the room. I yanked the laptop off the charger and stumbled to the wardrobe for a coat. It was 11pm and I was woozy but the police station was only a couple of streets away so I could walk. They would be open. And I didn’t feel safe here. I didn’t want Scott to come back. I was scared to even look at him. What would he do to me when he realised I had discovered his plan? What if he threw the brick? Could he have done that? Could he have known where I was, when I would be near the bridge? I looked back at the phone, now cool, black and silent. I switched it off again.

I grabbed a small bag and shoved clothes shoes and toiletries inside, glancing at the clock every couple of minutes. Maybe Scott wouldn’t be back tonight. Maybe he thought I would have fallen asleep by now. I went to the cupboard where we kept our passports and saw a piece of paper had been placed at the top of the documents folder where we kept our car insurance, rental agreement and other papers. The paper, which looked like it had been recently moved there, was the policy agreement for the life insurance we had taken out a couple of years ago. $250,000 if either of us were to die in unexpected circumstances. On the top right hand corner was the faintest smudge of pink chalk. It seemed Scott had been recently looking at it. I shoved that into my bag too.

I huffed and wheezed in the frigid air as I power-walked to the police station with my bags. My asthma, combined with my crying, and the pain in my chest from the airbag was making it hard to breathe. Not that I would care if I stopped breathing. I wanted to die. I thought about what would have happened if I had died on the freeway. I could see my parents again, if there was an afterlife. I didn't know if I believed in one. But I would be free. No more abuse, no more betrayal. I thought about Scott but I just couldn’t imagine him writing that stuff about me. Calmly composing the tweets, photoshopping them onto my profile and sending social media attack dogs after me. I could only see his sweet face, his warm eyes when he smiled at me, or laughed at one of my jokes. I couldn’t see Shannon giggling, her eyes cold, over Facebook messenger, as she discussed how to take me down with my husband. How they would make everyone in the world hate me. She was always making fun of Scott, scoffing when he paraded around at the beach, when he would talk about how sexy he was and how everyone was jealous. She would playfully tell him she had seen better. That her new boyfriend, Chris was sexier. What happened to Chris? They broke up. Then she was with Jonathan. Then Samuel. Someone after him. Her ex boyfriends were a blurry conga line of pale men with Scott’s colouring. She always said she wouldn’t care if she never settled down like we did because she loved being single and having heaps of lovers. That she was #blessed. She lied. Why did they have to get rid of me in a way that was so cruel? Why did I have to die for them to have the life they wanted? The footpath turned on to a main road, I walked, sobbing, as cars honked their horns at me.

I hadn’t realised until it was too late that my crying had become audible. Then I saw him. He was on his bike, coming from the south. Slung over his shoulder was a length of rope. He saw me and froze.

“Morgan, sweetheart, what are you doing out here? You should be resting.”

 “Get out of my way, Scott.” My voice shook. He looked down and saw his laptop case. His eyes hardened.

“Come on. Give my the computer back.”

He stepped towards me.

“You tried to ruin me. You tried to have me killed.

“No I didn’t, that was someone else.” His voice was gentle, patient, like I was a crazy person he was tasked with looking after and had just accused him of recording my thoughts.  

“It was you. I know it was you. I found everything.”

He looked down and saw the computer in my hand. He scowled.

“Give me my computer.” He dropped the rope on the ground next to his bike and walked towards me.

I held it tighter to my chest, he took a step towards me. I stepped back and he jumped at me, much faster and stronger. I held on, the computer bag strap twisting and cutting the skin on my hand. I whimpered and grabbed it with both hands. He started slapping and pushing me, stepping on my toes to try and get the bag. We fought, edging close to the road, when he whipped around, causing me to trip. I let go of the bag to protect my face and as I fell it was flung on to the road. Cars drove around it, with one man leaning out of his ute to yell at Scott that he was an idiot. Why wasn’t anyone stopping?

Scott came over as I was getting to my feet, and grabbed me around the throat. A fresh wave of tears stared down my cheeks. I tried to speak.

“What?”

He loosed his grip slightly.

“Were you going to kill me with that rope? After the brick didn’t work? Make it look like a suicide?”

He sighed and ran his hands through his hair.

“Don’t say things you can’t take back, Morgan. That’s good advice for you.”

He grabbed my arm and started to drag me in the direction of our house, leaving the bike and rope on the ground.

“We’re going home. You’re embarrassing me out here.”

 “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

I tried to pull away and he grabbed me around the neck in a chokehold. I kicked him in the legs and scratched his forearm, he kicked the back of my knees, turning my legs to liquid. A small piece of cold metal banged against my thigh and I remembered. Lightheaded, I grabbed the scissors and jabbed them in the direction of his face. He screamed, let go of me and ran on to the road in the path of a large B-double truck, the scissors in his eye. The small thump as he went under its wheels the last sound he ever made.

 

V

A year on and some people still only know me as the racist twitter girl, but since changing my phone number most of the abuse ends up in my email spam folder before I get a chance to read it. That’s what happens when they only read the first story even if the follow-ups are more exciting. All the news outlets ran follow ups, with the tantalising extra information about the brick, the roadside struggle and my husband going under the wheels of a truck. Shannon pleaded guilty to using a carriage service to menace and harass but they couldn’t get her on conspiracy to murder because of a lack of evidence. She said she didn’t know anything about Scott’s plan to kill me. She said she thought he was just going to ask me for a divorce. She never even apologised. Just disappeared overseas and deleted all her social media. I had calls from breakfast TV, talk shows, and current affairs programs wanting to interview me. Even a crime documentary show from America asked if I wanted to be involved in a show they were putting together about spousal murder. I couldn’t do it within their deadline, so they did it all with actors and news clippings. My old law firm was still wary of taking me back on. Carina apologised, sort of, saying there was little she could do at the time and mud sticks, and all that, so I got a job with a new firm. A national anti-bullying organisation offered me a role as an ambassador, so I have also been speaking at public events, schools and universities. The high schools are the best, I love seeing the kids come up to me after I have spoken to tell me they have decided to be nicer to each other, or tell me that they were bullied but since hearing my story they know things can get better. An old friend, who re-connected after the incident, nominated me for a local hero of the year award. I didn’t win, but it was nice.

Then, one Tuesday night as I was relaxing with a glass of wine, just one, after another successful speaking job, this time for the state parliamentarians, I was sitting in my new home flipping through my phone when a message popped up. Anonymous number.

Have you seen this? Then a website. The blood rushed in my ears.

I opened my computer and typed the link in. A photo of Hector popped up above two dates; his birth and his death. Under that were screenshots of the messages he sent me. Under that was a video. Taken on the night I went to his house. It was me, from below, the angle of his laptop’s video camera as it sat on his lap. The sound, a loop of my words, over and over.

“You are so pathetic, so disgusting, why don’t you do me a favour, do your parents a favour, you fucking leech, and kill yourself.”

Kill yourself.

Kill yourself.

Kill yourself.

Morgankilledmyson.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2018 me3gan. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments: