Beryl is a Soapie Addict. Does her addiction to other stuff have an effect on her reality?
|Word count 1055
The woman shuffled along the ice-covered sidewalk, dressed in a threadbare coat, a long woollen scarf wrapped around her neck. She wore no hat despite the cold, her straggly grey hair blew in the wind. In her trembling hand she clasped a prescription for Valium. She had found yet another doctor to prescribe her the pills.
Entering her one-bedroom apartment, Beryl unwound the scarf before greeting the cat.
“Hello, my precious. Mummy has some food for you.”
In the tiny kitchen, dirty pots and pans covered every surface. The old woman searched unsuccessfully for a bowl for the cat biscuits as the mangy creature cried a pitiful meow. It wound its body around her legs, before Beryl eventually gave up her search and tipped a pile of the biscuits directly onto the sticky floor.
As the feline chewed contentedly, the old lady poured herself a sizeable amount of cheap wine from a cask in the fridge. Turning on the television, she glanced at the clock, relieved she’d made it home in time for the Bold and the Beautiful, her favourite soapie.
Barely taking her eyes from the screen, she swallowed two Valium and gave a sigh of relief. Running out of her medication days ago, she’d known it was going to be difficult, maybe impossible this time, to find yet another doctor who didn’t know about her addiction. She had been lucky on this occasion and tried not to think about next time.
The apartment was cold, so she left her coat on and sank onto the stained blue sofa. Soon she became engrossed in the scene playing out in front of her. Brooke was arguing with Ridge.
As the recluse became more fascinated by the action, she absentmindedly swallowed three more Valium, washing them down with the wine.
She felt as if she knew these people on the screen. They were her friends and watching them fight distressed her.
It was easy for her to get involved in conversations between the characters, often joining in, giving advice. To Beryl, who had nothing else in her life, her soapies were real. The cast were her friends, neighbours, lovers and family. She worried about them and what was going to happen next. She’d cry with them and celebrate their successes. The woman was as addicted to soapies as she was to her medication and alcohol.
Pouring more wine from the cask she’d placed on the floor next to her, she watched and listened as Ridge accused his wife of having extra-marital affairs.
Brooke was denying everything.
“It’s not true. I wouldn’t cheat on you. You should know that. I love you,” she cried.
“Just tell me the truth, for once,” Ridge yelled.
Brooke turned on her husband. “Well, no one would blame me if I had been unfaithful. You are never here, and when you are, you’re always in your office, or on the phone.” She began weeping.
“Don’t start with the waterworks. They don’t work with me anymore.”
“How could you be so cruel,” Brooke whimpered.
“I have proof that you are a lying bitch.”
“Proof? There’s no proof. You’re insanely jealous.”
Ridge was gradually becoming more angry in the face of her denial and raised his arm as if to strike her.
Beryl leant forward, her face only a foot from the screen. Surely Ridge wouldn’t hit his beautiful wife?
Suddenly, Ridge’s raised fist reached through her television screen, grasped a handful of her coat and dragged her effortlessly into the scene playing out.
Beryl stood silently and warily on the thick carpet, disoriented to find herself in their beautiful apartment. Her eyes swept around the familiar room, at the photographs on the sideboard and the massive floral display on the polished dining table.
She turned her attention to the couple who were still fighting. They seem to be taking no notice of her and continued as if she wasn’t there.
“I’m telling you one more time, this is your last chance.” Ridge’s voice sounded menacing.
“Last chance? What are you talking about now?” Brooke ran her fingers through her long blonde hair in desperation.
“Your last chance to come clean.” Ridge stared coldly at his beautiful wife.
“I just don’t know who you are anymore, Ridge. You’ve changed into someone I don’t recognise.” Brooke turned to face to Beryl as if she was asking for help.
Beryl couldn’t move from her spot, yet she felt she should intervene between this couple who she’d watch get married. Then divorced and then married again.
“She loves you, Ridge,” she shouted, yet her words seemed to have no impact on them, and the scene continued playing out before her eyes.
“I told you, I have proof that you’re cheating. Bitch,” Ridge spat out. “So, this is your last chance to admit you’ve been sleeping with my brother.”
Brooke’s face paled. “He told you?”
“How could you do this to me?” Ridge reached into his pocket and brought out a small gun.
Brooke and Beryl gasped. “No!” they said together.
Ridge raised the gun. First, he pointed it at his wife, before turning it on himself.
There was only one thing to do. Beryl threw herself at Ridge, determined to knock the pistol out of his grasp.
There was a loud bang.
Beryl awoke to find herself sprawled on the shabby blue sofa in her tiny apartment. Gone were the luxurious furnishings and rugs, along with the crystal vases and beautiful flowers. On her chest lay her skinny cat, breathing fishy breath into her face.
“Oh, my God. It must have been the pills and the wine. I shouldn’t have mixed them.”
She pushed the cat off and rose to her feet. “Oh, my head,” she groaned.
The television was still on. There was a long close up of Brooke’s face. Tears ran slowly down her smooth cheeks. The theme music was playing. The closing credits ran down the screen. Had Ridge shot himself? Beryl didn’t know.
Staggering to the kitchen, she filled a dirty glass with water. With trembling hands, she raised it to her dry, cracked lips. Blood dripped from the ends of her fingers, causing the glass to slip from her grasp and splinter into dozens of pieces on the kitchen floor.
In the bathroom, Beryl gasped. She stood staring at her wild-eyed image in the mirror. The bullet hole in her shoulder seeped blood, turning her shapeless, old coat dark red.