It was premiere night and Zoey was nervous. Her new movie, a remake of Jaws, was already getting panned by critics. It’d seemed like a good career move. Quality roles for actresses of color were rare, plus her character delivered the movie’s iconic line, We’re gonna need a bigger boat. But, the backlash was swift. Twitter was bombarded with hatred – racist memes, messages, videos – all targeting her. She hadn’t left her home for days.
The car stopped. She wiped her wet eyes and emerged with a luminous smile. The fans were calling her name.
The room was spinning. The cheesy green disco lights on the dance floor seemed to whip around her at a dizzying pace. One last dance and she’d go. She’d been saying that for the past hour, but this time she meant it. She didn’t trust herself around this gorgeous man. Not after all the drinks she had. She didn’t even know his last name. She knew nothing of his personal history, his likes and dislikes. His character. Just that he was beautiful. And a great dancer.
He whispered something in her ear and she leaned her head back and laughed just as the room exploded. Flashes of fire, screaming, people running for cover, cries of suffering, hands over bleeding wounds. He crumpled to the floor and she knelt beside him, his white shirt drenched with red.
“Go. Just go,” he whispered, giving her hand a slight squeeze. She kissed his still-warm cheek and crawled for the back exit, weeping for a man whose last name she’d never learn.
It had been one of those perfect days. Blue sky, puffy, white clouds floating lazily over their heads. She and her beautiful little boys spending a day at the zoo, childish laughter in the air. Maybe that’s why Lacey had let them run ahead. My instincts told me it was safe. I just let them go. She’d been smiling when she heard the scream.
There was Zack down below, who’d somehow fallen into an enclosure. A huge reptile was charging him. Her youngest, Ben, screamed for her, his eyes wide in terror. Lacey held him close as she yelled for help. The shot from the zookeeper, the one that killed the creature, filled her with relief and sorrow.
Now, the world knew her name. She had no idea the creature that died was one of a rare, endangered species. The backlash had begun. Lacey was a bad mother. Her child should have been shot instead of the animal. She should have been shot. She was an idiot. A welfare mom. A drug addict. A loser.
There was a knock at the door. Her next door neighbor stepped inside and she braced herself for another attack.