Silence grew around Brittany as she walked. She kept her eyes down, but she could still see faces change to disgust as they noticed her. The whole corridor became deathly quiet and she scarcely dared to breathe. She reached her locker and tried to vanish, but she could feel eyes upon her–every eye. She drew out her tablet and locked her purse in the locker, hurrying towards her first class. As she went somebody came up behind her and hissed a single hateful word.


She whirled, but she couldn’t tell who had said it, and at least thirty kids stared at her with accusing eyes. She trembled inside, but didn’t break down, getting strength from somewhere deep inside. Lies could hurt, but they were still lies.

She hurried to her class, and took her seat with eyes still downcast. She concentrated on her tablet, and within moments found her school Homeroom page filled with messages for her–over a hundred of them. She glanced down the list of subjects and they all seemed to be variations of that same one word. She had no idea what had happened, and tears filled her eyes. She blinked them back, feeling nauseated, but determined to fight back. How could anyone believe that about her?

She deleted all the messages and tried to concentrate on history, but it didn’t work. She knew that boys sometimes made up lies about girls that spiteful girls loved to believe, but she’d never heard of everyone buying the lie. She’d never even had the opportunity to be a slut. She’d never been alone with a boy since she turned twelve. Her parents were very strict, and she couldn’t sneak out with the alarm on, even if she’d had the inclination. She felt a natural curiosity, and knew all about the mechanics of sex, but she had never been boy crazy like some of her friends. She preferred books and music, especially Mozart, and cared a lot more about her clarinet than whether some goofy gangly messy-haired boy thought she was cute.

About halfway through first period the principal himself appeared, and summoned Brittany curtly. She blinked in surprise, and then followed him to the office, where he told her to sit down and then walked out, closing her in his office all alone. A few minutes later the door opened and her parents came in with the principal. They sat beside her, and her dad gave her a squeeze around the shoulders.

"I’m sorry to bring you here at such short notice," said the principal, Mr. Valdez, "especially calling you away from work. But this is a very serious matter, and I’m afraid it is disruptive. I don’t know how to put this. The whole school is buzzing with the fact that Brittany has starred in a…in an adult film."

Nothing in the world could’ve prepared Brittany for such a statement. Her mouth dropped open, her eyes bulged out, and she felt as if the world had just fallen to pieces around her.

"Preposterous!" Her father shouted the word, leaping to his feet. "Impossible! Never!"

"I’m afraid there can be no doubt," said the principal, "I don’t normally view such things, but I checked it myself. I also had a face analysis done. Here is the URL." He handed Brittany’s dad a slip of paper. "Brittany is suspended effective immediately. I intend to expel her as soon as possible. Meanwhile, you need to take her home at once. I’ll have everything in her locker sent home by courier. This is not a matter of a giddy girl flashing a camera for her boyfriend. It is a good deal more serious than that. I have never…I’m sorry, I feel quite ill just thinking about it. Please be off of the school premises within five minutes."

"You’re a damned liar!" Her father almost screamed the words, balling his fists. Mr. Valdez ducked around the table and opened the door. Two policemen stood without, looking puzzled.

"Please escort them off the campus, officers," said the principal, slipping between them and dodging to one side.

"Are we going to have a problem, sir?" One of the officers looked ready for action, the other seemed scared.

"No," said Brittany’s dad, his voice shaking with emotion. "The school is. When I get done with that son of…that snake of a principal, I’ll own this place!"

"Glad to hear it, sir," said the tough-looking officer.

Brittany felt so stunned that she became convinced she must be dreaming, but as her mother drew her into an embrace the tears started, and for a moment she became a tiny little girl, lost and afraid. It had to be a nightmare! It just had to be. She barely remembered getting into the car, going home, and as her mother lay her down on her bed she stared up at the ceiling in horror, because the nightmare just wouldn’t end.

"How could he say that?" Brittany whispered it, but her mother heard.

"I don’t know, honey," she said, "we’ll work this out somehow."

"That’s why they were all staring," said Brittany, "how could they believe it? I’ve never been alone with a boy since dad got all mad about walking around that campground with Jeffrey two years ago. I’ve never even seen an adult film."

"I know," her mother said, "I know. I don’t know how this happened, but I know you didn’t do that. There’s just no way you’ve could’ve."

Just then her father came in, tears streaming down his cheeks.

"How could you?" He looked broken and old. "Sweetheart, how could you do that?"

"John, you know it’s garbage," said her mother, "she’s never had the opportunity."

"Go look at it," said John, "tell me it’s not real. Please!"

Brittany’s mother left, but Brittany sat up, squared her shoulders, and looked her father right in the eye.

"I don’t know what you’ve seen," she said, "but I didn’t do anything bad. I’ve never even seen that kind of movie, daddy! I don’t know who it is you saw, but it’s not me."

Her mother appeared a moment later and looked shaken, but determined.

"It’s not her, John," she said, "Brittany isn’t quite that developed. She doesn’t have a mole on her left hip and two on her right breast. It looks like her, but it isn’t her. That girl isn’t fourteen, John. She’s probably twenty. She just looks like Brittany."

"Are you sure? Tell me you’re sure, Erica!"

"I’m sure," said Erica, "show him, honey."

Brittany pulled her shirt aside a little, but then her mother grabbed the collar and pulled it a little further down that Brittany would like. She blushed, and so did her father.

"Thank God!" He said it low, and then he grabbed Brittany roughly and hugged her so tightly she felt immediately breathless. "I’m sorry, sweetheart, I shouldn’t have believed even my eyes. I know you’re good all through."

"What about the face analysis?"

"It has to be photoshopped," said Erica, "you know, how they’ve been doing commercials and movies with dead celebrities superimposed on actors. Why would they do that to a girl like Britty?"

"I don’t know," said John, "but I’m going to find out."

It took less than a day. That very night he had the answer, and his anger grew so terrible it frightened Brittany to be in the same room with him. He’d found the website "," which allowed anyone to take pictures of anybody and have them superimposed on an adult actor of similar build. They could actually alter skin color as needed, and would alter the voice as well if a recording of the person in question was available. They bragged that their reality substitution software was perfect, and that it was impossible to tell where the ‘girl next door’ left off and the actress began. Brittany’s own face stared out at her from the website; she was being used as a before-and-after example by the website. She could instantly tell that the body of the naked actress with her face wasn’t her own. She wished she had a body like that, but not even close.

John remained so angry that Erica ended up calling the principal and after some argument, got him to view the website. Brittany waited in suspense, but then exhaled when her mother smiled, and took the phone from her mother’s hand.

"Brittany," said Mr. Valdez, "I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I feel terribly ashamed, making you an innocent victim twice over. I would like you to come to school tomorrow and sit up on the stage with me for an assembly. I will apologize in front of the whole school, teachers and students, so that everyone will know the truth. I’m also going to resign as principal, obviously I’m not the right man for this job. I should’ve dug deeper. I hope we can repair the harm I’ve done you, and I promise I’ll do everything I can to help you."

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