By Ekta R. Garg
Prompt: All the accusations against me were false.
All the accusations against me were false. But no one believed me. It became convenient to believe I was guilty.
They needed a scapegoat, I suppose, and as the newest member of the company it made sense to accuse me. In theory I had the least loyalty, the least invested. The least to gain from my job going well.
That’s what investigators said, anyway. How could they possibly know that I had more invested in that job than anyone else? What did it matter if a girl from a small Midwestern town had fought tooth and nail to come to the big city, only to land in the heart of one of the greatest scandals Corporate America had ever seen?
The Board members had made money. Their undocumented accounts had grown considerably, and they’d made sure to diversify their portfolios: some off-shore, some Swiss. I came to this city with naïve enthusiasm making my chest swell and my footsteps eager, but I realized I had the misfortune to walk right into my role as patsy.
Someone had warned me a long time ago that corporations only looked out for themselves. I wanted to prove that person wrong. But, then again, doesn’t every person have that moment in their lives when they want to prove a successful, semi-famous father wrong?
I often wonder what it would be like if my father hadn’t been such a high-profile district attorney. Would I have found so many ways to rebel? Would we have fought so many times about it? Would I have followed his career legacy and become an attorney as well? Was it an intentional dig to go into some completely creative?
“But, Dad,” I said when I came home from college and announced my major, “marketing is just like the law. You have to find the right way to spin something so people will buy into the garbage and think it was their idea to believe it all along.”
He narrowed his eyes, their shallow-lake icy blue color making the temperature drop a degree or two in the room.
“Well. At least it’s clear what you think of my career choice, Lily. But let me tell you something. I know that when I go to the office every day, I’m doing work that will make a difference in people’s lives. If you do this—you go through with this marketing nonsense—you’re just going to end up working for some large corporation that will bleed you dry and then dump you after they’ve extracted every last ounce of life from your soul.”
He made me mad at the time. Convinced me I’d made the right decision to be as unlike him as possible. Who knew that he’d actually call this right down to the letter? Who gave him the permission to be right about my life choices?
Fraud, they said. Obstruction of justice. Embezzlement. Those were at the top of the list, but it kept going.
I wanted to talk to my dad. Needed him to help me out. To use his contacts and his skills to save me. I couldn’t take the accusations anymore.
They were all lies. But if my father didn’t help me out, someone would find a way to turn them into the truth.