“Hi everybody. It's Mae, and I'm making this video because I need to get a few things off my chest.”

Mae sits on her girlish, painted bed, hair piled high in a ponytail.

“If you're watching this, you probably recognize me from the news or a certain video recorded of me at a party, which is ironic since I had nothing to do with that. I don't even remember it, so. I wish that's not how you knew me. I'd rather be remembered for things I did, instead of things that were done to me.”

She is calm and composed, if tired. Her voice echoes against blank bedroom walls.

“What I'm trying to say is, I'm no victim. It's hard to admit that the person in the video is me. When I watch it, I feel like I'm looking at a stranger. And my reflection in the mirror looks nothing like the girl in the video, either. I don't want to be remembered as someone who had a bad thing done to her. I'd rather be remembered for things I do.”

Gazing into the distance, as if trying to remember specific instances, Mae wraps one finger around her ponytail.

“This whole experience is a blur. I got my phone back yesterday, for instance, and I found something on it that might be of interest to whomever watches this video. A few days after all this attention happened, Ethan's mom, whose name is Angela, contacted my mom, and invited her over. Well, when we got there both of Ethan's parents were there, along with their lawyer.”

She opens her mouth and sticks one finger down her throat.

“What I didn't know was that my mom was recording the whole thing. So there's proof that the Harringtons tried to bully me into silence. I believe the exact words were: The Harringtons are technically able to sue you for defamation.”

She drops the air quotes, grabs a pillow for emotional support.

“You can listen to it yourself. It's all on this phone. To be honest, I don't know if I'm ready for it to be made public, just like I don't know if I'm ready for this video to be made public. Attention isn't as...fun as it used to be.”

Mae closes around the pillow, flesh folding into cotton. She looks up with effort.

“There is another thing I'd like to say, but I'm not able to, so let me just say this. No matter what happens, I don't want people calling me the victim.”


chapter forty-six