It should have been an infrangible right. Her privacy. Her dignity. All lost because of one stupid mistake.
Clara remembers it clearly. Caught up in the thrill of the moment. With him. She’d have done anything for him. So when he asked, her response was swift, positive.
Alarm bells did ring when he whisked out the camera and its tripod and set it up immediately, but Clara silenced them, buried her concerns deep as he flicked record and climbed back on the bed.
‘So hot, Clarr,’ he said, kissing her.
She pulled away. Her eyes searched his face. ‘You’re sure it’s just for you and me, yeah?’
‘Clarr, babe. I don’t want to share you with anyone.’
She drifted in the pleasure of his attention; she quickly forgot this most intimate moment was being filmed.
That was two weeks ago. She’d not heard from him since, despite her repeated voicemail and text messages. The panic within rises like a tsunami, threatening to submerge her and toss her ashore like driftwood.
Now, she is at the local supermarket. A man approaches her, whispers, ‘You’re hot for it, aren’t you? Meet me in the loading dock.’
Clara freezes. Heat burns each pore, at the same time as her fingertips chill. ‘Excuse me?’ she asks. Her eyes are the size of plates.
‘Google hotnastychicks,’ he says as his eyes drag over her body. ‘Hot as fuck, Clara.’
She leaves her trolley in the aisle and rushes home. Flicking on her laptop, she impatiently paces around as it warms up. Clara punches in her password, clicks on the browser and types in the website address. The screen fills with twenty squares, each one a thumbnail of girls writhing, some naked, some barely covered. Clara gasps in horror as she scans and finds herself. She clicks on her arse and she fills the screen of her own laptop: her face, her nakedness, her sounds of ecstasy, her movements with him. Every blemish, every centimetre of her body there for anyone to see.
The world spins faster. Clara hangs her head between her knees to stop the whirling. Bile rises in the back of her throat; she coughs and spits it onto the floorboards between her feet. How could she have been so stupid? Why did she trust a man she barely knew?
Clara lifts her head. She’s about to slam the laptop shut, when a ribbon of text flows along the bottom of the video. She can’t believe what she’s reading: filthy words as if from her, directing viewers to call her. Her mobile number follows.
There’s no coming back from this, Clara knows; she’ll lose her job, her future, her friends. She’s read about other women, some even in their teens, who’ve had sex acts published on the internet. Their lives are never the same. Most end their misery with a bottle of pills or slicing their wrists wide open.
Clara moves to the bathroom.