The unusual phenomenon of people that can’t help laughing when you point a camera at them
(Prompt from CallMeGallifreya on Tumblr)
"You're not only on trial in the courts, but you're also on trial by the media."
Pam was still stunned and shellshocked. "...all I did was defend myself..."
"Yes. I know. Pam. Pamela. Focus. Look at me. We need to work on this right now."
Pam struggled to take her gaze away from the endlessly-replaying past in her head. Made herself look at her lawyer. She looked exactly like the kind of woman Mark would cheat on her with. And then bruise her for being herself and, if she wasn't already pregnant, force himself on her.
Tears fell anew. Mark... he was gone. Dead. She'd...
"Pam. Breathe. You're okay. We need to train you. It's important."
"Yes. Because of this," the lawyer pulled a camera out of her bitch bag and pointed it at Pam.
Pam instantly summoned a sunny smile and a giggle despite her emotional turmoil. Had to smile for the cameras. It was a survival instinct. If things didn't look good, Mark would keep hitting her until she passed out. And possibly afterwards.
She was shaking and hyperventilating after the camera went away. Her eyes fixed on the police officer who, despite being another woman, reminded her of Mark. If that officer so much as hiccoughed, Pam would probably scream. And then attempt to duck and cover under the table.
The lawyer was saying, "Pam," over and over again. Pam snatched her focus away from the officer and tried to give it to the lawyer.
"People all over America are going to see you laughing at the cameras. They're going to see a complete lack of remorse. And that means death threats. Snipers. Bombs. Hackers. Everything the public can throw at you, they will."
"...maybe i should die..." Pam squeaked. "...i killed him... I didn't mean to kill him. He's gonna be so mad..."
The lawyer's perfectly-painted face twisted up like she wanted to cry. "No. No. Don't believe that, please." Her hand was warm when she touched Pam's trembling hand. "It's going to be okay. We just need to get you ready for the cameras."
"They took my dress. And I don't have any makeup."
"That's not what I'm talking about, but we have one of your friends - they're babysitting the kids - pick out something comfortable and camera-friendly for you."
All this time. All this time and she hadn't thought of the kids. "Are they all right? I left such a mess..." Did they see the blood? Did they think she was dead?
"Your friend Cammie is keeping them over at her house."
Oh good. The kids practically lived at Cammie's anyway. "I didn't even think about them. I... I don't know what time it is..."
"It's time to focus. This," she flashed the camera briefly, "is your enemy, now. You don't smile at it. Do you understand?"
"...i don't know... he's going to hit me again if i don't look nice..."
"Mark isn't here. Remember? He's gone."
All she could think of was the complete shock in his face when her nail file pierced his ribs again and again. Until the pink foam bubbled out of his lips and he finally fell. By that time, he'd broken a cheekbone and her nose again. And cracked the orbit of her left eye. The doctors said something about mild internal injuries.
At least she wasn't pregnant any more. And the understanding ladies who'd initially looked after her had given her some pads to use. And new underwear. Mark had told her that nowhere had her size. The people who'd helped her had had no trouble.
"What am I going to do without him?" she quavered.
The lawyer sighed. "You're going to carry on. Remember his long business trips?"
Where he went to spend time with his other women, thought Pam. Oh yes.
"Remember how you dealt with that? How you paid the bills and fed the kids and kept the house together while he was away?"
Pam managed a nod.
"It's the same thing. Only he's not going to come back and turn everything upside-down. No more punches, Pam. No more 'two for flinching'. No need to hide supplies for the girls by pretending they're for the boys and letting the receipts fade in the sun. You don't need his authority. You can do this for yourself."
Her heart pounded at the very concept. There was not enough air.
"It's okay. You're going to be okay. I promise. Cammie and I are going to help. I have a team of forensic accountants tracking down all the other women. In court, I can show the jury what kind of man Mark was. But outside? The media is waiting. They have hundreds of cameras. And if you go giggling at them, they're not going to like it."
"...i can pretend they're all men," she quavered. "...mark didn't like it when i smiled at other men..."
"Good. Good." The pin on her chest said her name was Wendy Delain. "Let's try. I have a camera. It's a man, now."
She brought it out again. Pointed it at her.
An entirely different reflex took over. Look away from their eyes. Do that thing with her face that Mark said always made her look ugly.
"Okay," said Ms Delain. She put the camera away. "I can work with abject terror."